Theological reasons for believing in evolution

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.

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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.

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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?

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

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

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.

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@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?

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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.

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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

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.

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Every time you open the Bible you have to make interpretative decisions that consider the literary style, authorial intent and historical context. The plain reading often fails short. Do you believe that Jesus is literally a vine?

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A vine was a well known symbol to Jews of Jesus’s day, and therefore was obviously a metaphor. Genesis reads like a narrative, with all those vav-consecutives, action statements, and time references. Why wouldn’t you take it at face value? An easy rule is, take the text’s straightforward meaning if you can. Metaphors and grand symbols punctuated here and there in someone’s discourse are pretty easy to deal with.

Evolutionary theory didn’t come along until millennia after God told people through Genesis 1-2 how long Creation took, and through the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 just how long ago all that was. So those poor hearers of God’s infallible word were in the dark, where they had to think, “Hmm, God’s spent a lot of ink explain how the cosmos came about. But I don’t think this text means what it says at face value. To bad we don’t have someone to explain scientifically how it really happened.” Or you have to posit some alternative standard of the way about Hebrews read a text which involves quite a bit of gymnastics.

EXACTLY! It does NOT read like a science text! Historical? YES! Literal? NO!

Because the names of those trees sound more like metaphors than real trees. If I say a place is full of lying snakes and nosy rats are you really going to take this at face value as referring to fauna? Well “life” and “knowledge” don’t fit any better in conjunction with trees unless you are just telling a fairy tale in which the listener is not expected to really believe such things exist.

That is like saying an elementary school teacher is lying because he doesn’t get into the details of quantum field theory. It is not just a matter of accuracy. It is a question of what they need to know at the time and what is actually meant to be communicated. Nothing in Genesis even begins to suggest that this text is in any way intended to explain HOW God created the universe and everything in it, as if it were some kind of “creation for dummies” book.

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You’re asserting that the two trees didn’t exist except as part of a fairy tale. What’s your basis for this assertion?

I partially agree with you: God tells us that He created humanity from dirt. And he created things relatively instantaneously (in the space of days and in a certain order), but He didn’t tell us how He did all this, because, as you say, this is not a science textbook.

Who are you and Pete Enns and Walter Kaiser and Karl Gibson and to determine the bounds of what God wanted to convey in Gen. 1-11 and what the early faithful needed to know, especially if you end up, with this hermeneutic, upending the plain meaning of the text?

What if I said I think all those Resurrection and Appearance stories of Jesus were simply to convey the real truth that Jesus lives on in our hearts, since we all know that people don’t rise from the dead? That’s where your hermeneutic takes you.

Quantum Field Theory?? The idea that the Earth was created in 6 days 6000 years ago is not an advanced concept. Anyone can can grasp it.

How can you compare the level of detail in quantum Field Theory with the amazing simplicity of the Genesis Creation account?
These are pretty basic facts being presented in the text. Ones that elementary school teachers would be confident that their students would grasp. The whole “Genesis is not a science textbook” is a mantra and a canard.

No that is not what I am asserting. But the basis of my assertion is the names of the trees. As metaphors they sound like an explanation of something real, but as trees they sound like something in a fairy tale, just like talking animals. So the same applies to the snake. Representing the angel Lucifer as the snake does in most of Christian theology, this story then becomes an explanation for the fall of man, but insisting on an actual talking snake makes it sound more like the Walt Disney movie “Robin Hood.”

No. Genesis tells us that God created a single man Adam from dust. As a science text explaining how God did things this makes no sense whatsoever. But if I tried to describe making things from elementary particles, the word “dust” might be as close as I can get to this. And besides the pretty obvious incorporation of the narrative into a homily about a day of rest, there really isn’t any talk the time God’s actions took. After all, what do the words, “morning,” “evening,” and “day” all mean mean before there was even a sun?

We are people who God presumably wants to communicate something to. If that is what this book is, then how can we not make our determinations about God is trying to convey in this text? What the text conveys certainly does depend on the genre. If it is just a comic book, then magic fruit and talking snakes work just fine. But if this is supposed to be something relevant to our lives in the modern word beyond mere entertainment for children then these will not do it. Actually, if this originated in a fireside tale shared with the whole community, as I think it was, then it was probably intended to serve both purposes at the same time.

Then I would say you are entitled to your opinion. But as for me, I would say that violations of the laws of nature are not required for the miraculous. A lot of things can look like death, and CPR might look like you are resurrecting someone from the dead if you are not familiar with it.

You were the one complaining about Genesis not explaining scientifically how it really happened. QFT has a great deal to do with how science answers that question these days. Since 6 days and 6000 years does not fit the evidence, then that would hardly fit the bill of a scientific explanation.

So are you saying Jesus didn’t really die?

No, I’m not complaining that Genesis isn’t a scientific explanation. I’m complaining against the notion that taking Genesis 1-2 at face value means asserting some detailed scientific explanation.

Nope. Obviously I was a little careless in reading your response. Sorry about that. I go with Paul in 1 Cor 15 where he takes great pains to explain that resurrection is to a spiritual body and not to a physical body. So in cases where it is a physical body like Lazarus then no I don’t think they died according to the modern understanding of the word. But when we are talking about Jesus then yes he died and was resurrected to a spiritual body, which explains a number of things about the narrative, like why it was more difficult to recognize him and how He appeared in a room without opening the door.

I don’t believe I did any such thing. I object to treating Genesis as a science text as if it were giving a detailed explanation of how God did things. But I think I made it clear that if you do read this in a naively literal way then the result is a comic book or a fairy tale.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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