Evolution & Genesis
Nature and Scripture, as we have seen, are complementary. This means that science and theology should be complementary, too. Might science and Genesis clash less than we think? Could God have used the process of evolution for the creation and diversification of life forms? Here some of the common objections are considered.
"Evolution is only a theory, not fact." I used to say this myself! But to be fair, that's not how "theory" is used in science. A theory is a comprehensive explanation of the facts, a way of making sense of the data. Gravitation is a theory -- yet that hardly means we're safe skydiving without a parachute. Einstein forever changed how gravity is understood, but he didn't render gravity obsolete. At any rate, evolution is well supported by facts: the fossil record, speciation even today, and the conclusive findings of genetics. It is possible that a better theory, or a different version of the theory, will undermine evolution. Evolution isn't sacrosanct, just the best model for what is observed.
"No true Christian accepts evolution." Actually, nearly all accept at least some evolution; the disagreement lies in how much. Microevolution, the accumulation of small changes through reproduction, is hardly controversial. Some Christians deny macroevolution (one species changing into another), while others accept most (but not all) macroevolutionary events. And it is normal for believers working in science to accept evolution as a robust working hypothesis. The only view we men and women of faith are bound to reject is atheistic evolution -- the mistaken notion that even without God there would be a creation.
"Darwin undermines faith." As noted last week, Charles Darwin had no intention of rendering faith obsolete. He was only trying to make sense of the facts. When Darwin released his Origin (1859), some of his biggest fans were Bible believers! Already before 1800 the entire geological column, with its unvarying succession of levels and fossils, had been worked out, with the implication that the world was unspeakably ancient. The conclusion had been reached not by skeptics, but by Bible believers.
"Scientists unfairly rule out the supernatural." Science deals with nature, not supernature. It's neither for nor against the supernatural. A Geiger counter has no bias against kilograms; it just can't weigh them. Similarly, neither is science prejudiced against the beauty of a symphony. It has nothing to say about beauty -- even if it can explain the acoustics of sound. A few scientists have an agenda, and trade on their authority in one (fairly small) domain to lecture others on faith, though in my experience most are persons of integrity.
"If Evolution is true, then we're only animals! Your great... great grandfather may have been an ape, but mine wasn't. The notion is insulting." (Speaking of "insulting"...) The Bible classifies us as both belonging to and ruling over the animals -- yet only when we live spiritually, faithfully bearing the image of God. Otherwise, we begin to descend to the level of the flesh. Genetically we have much in common with other animals. Yet, unlike them, we have a choice: to live by the flesh or to live by the Spirit! For the person insulted by human evolution, it gets worse. The Bible describes us as made of earth (Gen 2:7). Dirt! Adam, which is a play on words with 'adamah (the word for earth, ground, dust) reminds us of our lowly origins and our heavenly Creator. Remembering our origins should keep us humble!
Want to learn more about Genesis and Evolution? There are 14 more points valuable in the discussion -- click for the full article. Note: this is premium material -- membership required. There's also a free podcast, Questions on Genesis.
Before we move to the next unit in Answering Skeptics, we'll suggest answers to the common questions you might be asked by seekers and skeptics alike.
Subscribe to the newsletter here.