Archive for August 8th, 2008

Evolving Christians: Is Darwin Really the Enemy of Faith?

Concerning God and Evolution, there seems to be 5 primary positions;:

1. Atheists who feel that Evolution thoroughly disproves the existence of God

2. Atheist/agnostics who feel that Evolution has no bearing on whether or not there is a God

3. Theists who feel that Evolution has no bearing on whether or not there is a God

4. Theists who feel that Evolution is incompatible with the existence of God

5. Theists who feel that Evolution is further evidence for the existence of God
(Tell me if I missed any.)

I belong to the fifth camp. There is just too much cool stuff going on for it to be accidental. The more involved it gets, the more intricate and deliberate, the more it screams God. You could go insane contemplating the patience needed for such an inconceivable process. The creation of this universe has taken nearly 14 billion years and is far from finished. God as Master Chef, not short-order cook.

However, the Theory of Evolution does go against a literal reading of the Genesis creation accounts, and quite a few Christians have distinct problems with this. Even so, there are many more Christians who see no inconsistency between Evolution and scripture, even Genesis 1 and 2.

Genesis 2:7 states that “God formed man out of the slime of the earth” which, if anything, sounds more disgusting than saying that man and ape share a common ancestor. But, according to the Theory of Evolution, man and ape do share a common ancestor, a one celled organism that lived in the primordial “slime of Earth”. Most mainline Protestant denominations as well as the Catholic Church have been able to accept the Theory of Evolution as not posing a threat to their faith. Where atheistic evolutionists and theistic evolutionists usually differ is over whether or not natural selection was random or instead guided by the proverbial Hand of Providence. We may never resolve that particular argument.

Now, we know that a lot of Christians have zero tolerance for Evolution (at least for Macro-Evolution) even to the point where they might say that one cannot entertain this theory and remain faithful to Christ. Personally, I could never see how this was the case. Why should my faith in Christ be questioned because I might see the logic in this idea of animal and human development? Certainly God is big enough to use Evolution to suit his plans and a metaphorical reading of Genesis can be consistent with current theories of cosmology as well as evolution.

Most of the arguments that I’ve encountered appeared to me as merely re-workings of legalistically literal interpretations of scriptures, coupled with a natural recoiling from the idea that humans may have descended (actually, ascended) from ‘apes’. Recently I’ve come to understand a much stronger Christian objection to the Theory of Evolution and it has to do with the prevailing conservative doctrine of the sacrificial atonement of Christ.

From their perspective, to accept Evolution is to, logically, dismiss the literalism of Genesis, and thereby the existence of the two individuals named Adam and Eve (although literal readings of scripture was not always the norm). For some Christians, to say that there was no original couple who ate the Forbidden Fruit also means that there was no Fall of Man, which then removes the basis for the doctrine of Original Sin. Without Original Sin we are left with no foundation for the Total Depravity of Man and consequently no doctrine of Election (at least for the Biblical literalists ). With no Fall, no Original Sin, no Total Depravity, then what reason was there for the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection?

B.B. Warfield the principal of Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921, himself a Calvinist, once said

“I do not think that there is any general statement in the Bible or any part of the account of creation, either as given in Genesis 1 and 2 or elsewhere alluded to, that need be opposed to evolution.”

So, one fairly conservative (by today’s standard) Christian has found no conflict between his faith, the Bible and Darwin’s theory. And I have heard some atheists say that they do not see Evolution as providing ample evidence for the non-existence of God.

I am not interested in opening up debate over the validity of Evolution, but whether the theory is detrimental to (or supportive of) the Christian (or any other) faith in God. Personally, if this theory were either conclusively proven or thoroughly debunked, it would have no bearing on my beliefs.

Where do you stand?


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