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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  1. #1 by simiain on April 28, 2009 - 8:03 pm

    You know, this question astounds me, no matter where people stand in this argument they end up using a bit of theism that they aren’t particularly sure holds up their position. more from the christian side than from the atheist.

    The atheist says ‘evolution proves that life is a natural accidental process that has occurred in our cosmos right here and therefore can happen anywhere else’

    the agnostic always says ‘this proves nothing’ (bloody liberal democrats)

    and then the theists wade in, missing a big fat crucial point.

    If God is the god of love who gave life free will, why would God be directing anything, to be directive is entirely against the concept of free will.

    If we have a God of Love and Truth who wanted to experience what free life would do, then what we currently live would be a probable – mathematically any possibility has a possibility and this is the one we ended up with – outcome.

    Life is not perfect, it wasn’t perfect in Jesus day, nor in the myriad days before, but his word speaks to those past days as much as it speaks to the present.

    The Oneness that binds all life, imagined life, and so it grew, from little viruses into plankton into fish – lungfish – duck-billed platypus stylee thingies of different types only one of which survives today – and from there branching into the variety of mammalian life that is part of the wider astonishing abundance of different beings, who’s DNA all demonstrate a common beginning.

    According to my DNA I’m 99% Chimpanzee and 51% Bananas, even the Banana is my brother, we are one life, why is this not a reason for us to rejoice?

    Because it contradicts a folk story that predates writing that any culture who value genealogy is going to make up.

    Abraham wrote his name on a stick and taught his sons to do the same, this act continued through the legendary ‘Rod of Jesse’ and on to modern times.

    Abraham never mentioned Adam and Eve, they got mentioned by someone much later, asked by an acolyte so who came before them and before him and before him and before him and at the exasperation point – GOD.

    The early Torah is a fairly good (but occasionally proven inaccurate) history of a people. Written to remember and honour forebears and big up the nation listening now, first an oral tradition and later written down. But when we exist in a world where so much bullshit is sold as truth, why do we expect the past to be any different? and why because it is old bullshit are we expected to place our entire faith backing this old bullshit rather than rejoicing in God’s greatest gift, the FREE WILL to develop as species according to our prayers, we continue to develop often in accordance with prayer, this doesn’t prove that we were once perfect it proves that we desire to reach out for love. How does that argue with the ‘Findings (he didn’t make them up, they’ve been duplicated) of Darwin.’

    Young Earth Creationists……..Why does a God of Truth and Love put fossils there to test our faith, If God did such a thing, God would not be the God of Truth and Love.

    A God of Deceit and Bullshit would do such a thing, so one belief denies the other. Shirley?

  2. #2 by AJ on July 6, 2009 - 2:25 am

    When I read or hear of people who say that evolution screams of a designer i have to wonder why he couldnt get it right the first time. unless the loss of over 99 % of his creations were a part of his plan.

    Extinction, though, is usually a natural phenomenon; it is estimated that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.[2][3]

    wikipedia. butother sources give the same number

    sounds like a total screw up

  3. #3 by Christian Beyer on July 7, 2009 - 5:48 am

    Hey, AJ. Welcome. Sorry I didn’t respond to sooner – busy weekend.

    …unless the loss of over 99 % of his creations were a part of his plan…sounds like a total screw up

    It sure does. I’m not sure that this is the case (meaning that God has a ‘plan’ – that the Universe is entirely predetermined). But what if the extinction of species, including man, IS part of his plan? Perhaps, and of course I am speculating, new life is not possible without the end of old life. Or does old life not just disappear but actually become new life? Isn’t that what evolution is all about? (What would life be like if there were no death? Would it even be possible?)

    If we believe that natural history isn’t about God’s plan but ONLY about the course of nature then couldn’t we then say that nature is totally screwed up? But we wouldn’t. When we attempt to define God too closely (as most theists and atheists do) then when we make all kinds of assumptions about ‘him’ that unnecessarily tests the credibility of such a concept. The atheist will then dismiss the concept and the theist will then make up religion to explain it.

    Anyway, most theists see physical death as a deviation of God’s plan or at worst a transition to another aspect of life – a totally spiritual, metaphysical or supernatural aspect. (There does seem to be a metaphysical element to science so…why not?) Looking at it that way takes some of the sting out of death.

  4. #4 by marcus kropp on September 4, 2010 - 11:52 am

    I like your comments but do not be so quick to rule out, as you say, the bullshit. Even Charles has holes and what re-creation (pun) are you talking? Where we watch evolution happen (bullshit). And even though I do not subscribe to the dinosaur idea, the hole concept is that the devil did it, hello. You guys sure use critical thinking and so do others and guess what? Many very hi IQ people believed, not because they were scared of dying either. We all have to accept that, no way around it, especially when you get to experience it at home and there is sting regardless what you believe.

    I was an atheist, believed in evolution, until something I cannot explain happened, over and over, until finally I found faith, no organized religion mind you, just faith. Having this really changes your perspective on life, makes you see things different and in a good way, no judging like some of these so called religious people do. (I know we all judge, you know what I mean).

    I came around and now the only thing I do with my time is research everything under the sun. Whatever happens to interest me at the moment. Though it feels somewhat guided (don’t laugh, I know how silly that sounds) I enjoy this at least. There is a difference between fun and happy. Notice the Constitution (for what it is worth these days) says pursuit of happy, not fun.

    Anyway, hope not to offend anyone (none intended) or don’t take it like I am know anything (I do not), just an opinion since I was doing some research for my assignment.

    Good luck to ya all.

    MK

  5. #5 by marcus kropp on September 4, 2010 - 11:54 am

    lol, like I am know anything, that’s me Mr Know no anything.

  6. #6 by Andre Telea on June 7, 2011 - 11:47 am

    This is one Christian who has brought Christ into his life and, man, am I ever better for it. Fact is, though, when I accepted Jesus (as my savior who loves me no matter what; imagine that, me of all people), I never felt compelled to drop my belief in the theory of natural selection. Indeed, I now see what the vast majority of scientists around the globe (40% of at least the American scientific community, by the way, believes in God) agree on about evolution/natural selection as being a most wondrous miracle of God.
    As for the natural selection being in conflict w/ the concept of The Fall of Man (Original Sin), it is no more so than the literal-versus-metaphorical interpretation of creation. Man HAS fallen. That’s pretty evident. Jesus came to answer for that. And that’s a good thing.

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