Theological reasons for believing in evolution


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

Are there any theological/biblical reasons to predict the evolution of species? I agree with NT Wright that if Christ is the creator, we ought to expect that he used evolution, since the story of Christ is one of growth through overcoming challenge.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #2

I would use slightly different language- that is not that we ought to expect that Christ used evolution, but that the evolutionary process can be consistent/in harmony with orthodox Christian theology. Many theologians and otherwise well meaning Christians (and most particularly apologists) can often read modern science back in to the text (or at least bits and pieces of science). However, such things are not really there at all (i.e. no scientific revelation in the Bible).

I think one might be hard pressed to find many scientific predictions ever that actually come from the Scriptures/orthodox Christian theology. Broadly speaking there is the sense that God is a lawgiver and thus some earlier scientists began looking for laws of nature or perhaps centuries later when Michael Faraday believed that God was the creator of both magnetism and electricity and thus they should be related to one another (side note: it’s a good thing he didn’t try to unite electromagnetism with gravity as 175 years later we are still working on that one).


(Randy) #3

Quote from Walton in Jesus Creed below:

Great passage. Thanks.

(0:20-1:20 )I just want to make two quick points here. The first one is that in the Bible there is no scientific revelation.That’s such an important point. Israel is not getting any new understanding of the material world, its mechanisms, its operations, or anything of that sort. No new information. Now they can observe the world, and they might make some of the same observations we make when we observe the world in our modern times. But they didn’t get that by revelation.

In other words, anything that is in the Bible about the workings of the material world were things that Israel already believed and that all the nations around them already believed. Like I mentioned with the waters, the waters above and the waters below in Genesis One. Everyone in the ancient world believed that. That’s not kind of a breakthrough revelation. And that is true all the way through the Old Testament.


(Randy) #4

I like that idea, particularly if life is a continuum of increasing responsibility and intelligence from the first form to us–and thus even our descendants may be more responsible to, and able to interact with, God than we.


#5

All throughout redemptive history God graciously reveals himself in ways that confound anthropocentric (man-centered) expectations. The kingdom came like a mustard seed (Matt 12) not a military coup, as was the expectation of the Hebrew people under Roman oppression. The logic of the cross, that the incarnate Son of God was crucified to save sinners while vindicating the glory of God (Rom 3:23-36), was foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor 1:23). The Bible is practically unintelligible when we approach it from an anthropocentric view that places us at the center of reality. Though we’re God’s image bearers, we aren’t the main character in the story. God is the great “I AM,” absolute reality with Creator rights, foremost committed to his own glory. But this is great news: he made us to glorify and enjoy him forever (Isaiah 43:7). In his love for us he relentlessly aims to bring us into relationship with himself, the blessed fellowship of the triune God (Jn 17).

To many Christians, evolutionary theory is offensive because it threatens our anthropocentric intuition and expectations of the way we expect God to create us as his image-bearers. It is inefficient (as we define it), with so much death and countless mutations along the way. We are like pots that say to the potter: “Why did you make me like this?” But who are we to demand that God explain himself? He is always in the business of confounding our man-centered expectations. The very greatness that makes him seem to great to be near is the same greatness that enables him to do whatever he wants, including be near to us.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

Amen! And to this the scriptures also show a God who doesn’t seem to mind if the pots do get cheeky at times and make demands, requests, or put forward questions of justice. Think of Abraham’s episode with God over Sodom and Gomorrah, or Jesus’ stories of servants who are expected to take initiative and wisely use what they were given (and in fact were expected to use it in one way or another and not just bury it, as the last servant discovers to his dismay.)


(George Brooks) #7

@pevaquark and @Reggie_O_Donoghue

Something we hardly ever see written is what YECs think God is doing about mutations and natural selection since things dried out after the big flood.

Let’s say we absolutely agreed with the idea that God used a series of Special Creations to fill the world with living creatures. Okay… now what?

Is God no longer interested in all those genomes he launched? Does he or doesn’t he continue to manage and (shall we say? … ) “curate” all those genomes?

Would a YEC insist that all those genomes remain unchanged from 6000 years ago when he first made them? Or would YECs admit that the genomes have no doubt changed during that time? Maybe not by much … but still, not the way the populations were when God first set them up.

So… did God arrange for those changes? Or did he turn his back on them?


(Matthew Pevarnik) #8

I think the perspective is that He is letting them all rot away into maximal genetic entropy, right? That is with such a high mutational load we have many problems and birth defects and then He will come back?


(George Brooks) #9

@pevaquark

Huh? How depressing! Have you heard this view stated?!
I suppose it has some viability … but does that include the human genome? Is he letting the human genome suffer increasing Rot?


(Matthew Pevarnik) #10

It’s the natural consequence of the faulty idea of genetic entropy, i.e. see http://www.geneticentropy.org/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zOxFFiVY1A. The argument is that the mutational load is increasing at an alarming rate (thus human beings cannot have been around for that long and must have been created with a ‘perfect’ genome). It will only continue to build up mutations until yeah… severe genetic/birth defects will be the norm. God would not really be involved in the mutations but just lets them build up with no mechanism to get rid of them. Not sure when in that process Jesus would return.


(Mitchell W McKain) #11

Are there theological reasons to believe in evolution?

YES! I couldn’t be a Christian without evolution. Why? The philosophical problem of evil and suffering as first asked by Epicurius and often expanded upon by others really only works when God is in the role of a designer. But evolution does not work that way. Instead it suggests that design is incompatible with very nature of life itself. Through it we are coming to understand that life is a self-organizing process (of which there are many examples in the universe) which has attained the capacity to learn and adapt to a changing environment. That last word is key, because it means that living things do not develop in a vacuum, but in a place where there can be such things as farmers, shepherds, teachers and parents. This leaves no reason to attribute imperfections to the creator, for his role must be like these other examples of life creators, to sow and water seeds like farmers, guide and protect like shepherds, inform and inspire like teachers, and to impart a heritage like a parent. Design has nothing to do with any of this.


(Madd Scientist) #12

Our linguistic gymnastics will not change the facts. The act of creative processes described in Genesis are very clear about various species. “KINDS” refer to various species as we understand them. In spite of the close resemblances of genetic sequences in monkeys and humans, we are distinct species. Such resemblances should not prompt us to predict that we evolved.Either the creative processes in Genesis accounts are true or Evolution is true. Both cannot be true.


(John Warren) #13

Well this (the quote from Walton) is just an assertion. I like the simpler assertion that you can take God at His word in a straightforward manner. If all Genesis is doing is repeating the erroneous cosmologies of Israel’s Near Eastern neighbors, why should I trust the Bible?


(John Warren) #14

I wouldn’t narrow kinds down to species. Probably genera or families.


(John Warren) #15

Why must Good be like these other “life creators”?


(Mitchell W McKain) #16

Your linguistic gymnastics will not change the facts. Creationism cannot explain why birds still carry genes to make teeth, why whales have the genes to make legs, and humans have the genes to make tails. For you these may be a reason to refuse to hear, to see, or to understand, treating scientists like demonic enemies. But for me it is a reason to believe in a God of love and freedom who welcomes scientists like me into a relationship with Him. I have to wonder about your reasons for this obsession with some divine sanctity for “kinds.” Is it possible that when you not talking about evolution then you use the same word for different ethnic ancestries?

The only thing we need to choose between is evolution and your interpretation of Genesis. Well my choice is clear. I have nothing but complete rejection for the way you choose to read this book. So you read it your way as an anti-science text with magical fruit, while I will continue to read it my way as a message from God with a deep spiritual meaning about what happened with Adam and Eve to bring about the world we see around us, and thus why we need Jesus in our lives.


(George Brooks) #17

@Madd_Scientist

If there was a pre-Adam population of humans God made through God-governed Evolution…

AND

If God used Special Creation to make Adam and Eve,

Then BOTH coukd be true!

Are you familiar with this dual approach to Creation?


(Timothy Willett) #18

In my experience, YEC almost implies a pessimistic amillenial eschtological view and overall way of interpreting history. Basically they usually see the world as getting more and more evil and think that it will eventually get so evil God has to nuke it and just bring the few lone survivors to “heaven”.

The natural world is seen as getting continually worse and human morality and spirituality is also seen as getting continually worse. This is in general why it is so popular among conservative evengelicals, in my opinion, as conservative Christianity has generally tied it’s self to conservative political ideology which tends to see that things are getting progressively worse than they were in the glory days as opposed to progressivism which tends to error in the opposite side, which tends to see almost all change as progress.

I actually think that evolutionary creation provides a good balanced view in this area, as it provides the view that God’s world is always progressing in the long run, yet it’s progressing through death, mutation and other rather unexpected ways that wouldn’t intuitively make you think it’s progressing at all.


(Albert Leo) #19

Your response to @Madd_Scientist was addressed to me as well. I want to be sure that you know that I am 100% agreement with your quote above. However, I am put off with your stating that you have nothing but contempt for his reading of Genesis. That demeans the objectives of this Forum (gracious dialog). I am surprised the moderators let you get away with it.
Al Leo


(Phil) #20

Guess your are right. This is all a waste of time.

Actually, the key work in your statement is “all.” Of course it is not all, and of course it isn’t even what Genesis is doing.