Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Christians, Creation, and Evolution

Filed under: Doctrine,Religion and Science — Henry Imler @ 11:46 pm

The Attitude of some towards Science
A wide number of Christians reject the theory of evolution in all of forms. Some even reject the idea of the progression of the fossil record. To aid in their disproving of evolution, many Christians also deny the old age of the earth. They have built quite an elaborate array of arguments around and supporting this idea. Some more extreme or fundamental Christians have gone so far as to say that the fossil progression evident in the fossil record is actually a gigantic ruse by Satan to deceive us. Some say that God used Satan to fake the fossil record to test our faith.

Why is all of this the case? Why do Christians try so hard to disprove the popular science of the day? Actually, most of the reasoning is quite valid, even if it is not sound. It all comes down to assumptions, to one’s worldview. Worldviews, of course, vary from person to person, sect to sect, religion to religion, with varying closeness to reality. Some Christians begin with the following premises:

  • God instantaneously created the first man from dust. (Gen 2:5-7)
  • God created the Heavens and Earth and all of the life contained therein in 7 consecutive 24 hour periods. (Gen 1-2:3)

Now, if God created the first man directly and instantaneously from dirt then any and all other claims about the creation of man are mutually exclusive and therefore are false, since the above premises are considered to be true in a literal sense. Naturalistic Darwinian Evolution claims that humans are the product of many millions of years of trial and error in the replication of genetic material with the arbitrator being successful reproduction. This version of evolution clearly violates the above premises. Therefore, Naturalistic Evolution is necessarily false in the eyes of literalistic Christians.

Literalistic Christians place their reading of the Bible over science. What is science? At the very least, science is the philosophy of the observable world. That is to say, science, at its most basic level observes the natural world and tries to make sense of it. It has evolved over the years to take and increasingly naturalistic view of the world. It makes sense to prefer a natural explanation to a supernatural one.

Literalism is placed hard against a wall when it encounters what else comes from the dirt, fossils, and what lies above the dirt, the sky. As a person who wants very badly to be a literalistic, I see the fossil record and it showing a progression in the complexity of the organisms in the fossils and it is hard to deny their testimony. Words have have various meanings and we as humans err often in the interpretation of them.

Fossils, on the other hand, do not lie. It is undeniable, the progression of the fossil record, that there were simple organisms on the earth and then over thousands of years they disappeared and more complex organisms appeared, the most complex of those are humans.

This undeniable truth does not allow for the above literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1-2:3. What do we do with this? We can see that God did not create all of the organisms that have ever lived in one day. Empirical evidence shows us that this is not true. Now, I still maintain that the Bible is God’s word. I am therefore forced to conclude that another interpretation besides a literalistic young earth interpretation of Genesis must be correct.

Personally, when it comes to Genesis 1 & 2, I tend to favor Alan Heyward’s divine fiat theory. Under this view, God issued commands on six consecutive days and those commands took varying, overlapping periods of time to work themselves out. The upside is that it keeps to the narrative and at the same time allows for science to be science and for us to trust it.

When it comes to the story of life I am unsure. I have not read anything that convinces me that life can spontaneously arise. From what I have read, despite the hopes of scientists, they cannot recreate the processes that they hypothesize created the spark of organic life. In light of this, I very much believe (and think) that God did at the very least created the spark of life. What happened after that is where I lose my footing.

For a long time, I was strictly opposed to Darwinian Evolution. As a matter of fact, I was also strictly opposed to Theistic Evolution because the bible seemed to read the other way. However, science is starting to convince me about the actuality of evolution. Well, at least about evolution as God’s tool to develop the species up to man. The progression in the fossil record speaks for itself. My hanging points on the scientific side involved the arguments that Heywood gave against it. However, recent readings are changing my view on this. Consider the software program Avida, wrote by Chris Adami. For over seventeen years Avida has been emulating the evolutionary process. The project that was started in the late 1990s is considered to not only to mimic evolution, but be an instance of evolution. The creatures in Avida are small snippets of code that replicate, mutate, compete and compete with one another for resources. In the process of evolving they have demonstrated the finer point of Darwinian Theory. They evolve in spurts, similar to what the fossil record suggests happened on earth. This program and its results have been one of the final straws in winning over critics of Darwin by demonstrating in practice qualms found with the theory.

What about the origin of man? I think I can easily handle the evolution of all other beings, but my reading of Genesis 2:5-7 doesn’t seem to allow for the evolution of man. That combined with the hoaxes increase my suspicious about the origins of man from evolution.

I’d like to get some of your perspectives on this issue:

  1. Can evolution be Christianized?
  2. Can an evolutionary account of man’s origins be Christianized?

One last thing, history is what happened. If evolution is true, I must adapt my theology to fit it in.

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3 Comments »

  1. Hello,
    Could I suggest that the fossil record may be interpreted within a literal Biblical framework as being primarily the result of Noah’s flood. After all, to get a fossil you need rapid burial of an organism and a worldwide flood would have provided plenty of sediment that would have allowed this to occur.
    I am not familiar with Avida, but as a general comment any computer program will do what it is programmed to do. How closely does it mimic reality? After all even the so-called ‘simple cell’ is a hugely complex structure, much more complex than anything constructed by man. To my understanding there has not been a single information-increasing mutation observed in all studies of biological entities, ie a random change that results in a new structure. Yet evolution proposes that billions of such events have occurred – so I wouldn’t be putting my faith in this program as a sound basis for a belief of origins.

    Science consists of making observations and interpreting the data which is done within a person’s philisophical framework; if you start with a belief that nature is all that there is, ie God is excluded, then of course you have to come up with an evolutionary storyof some kind to explain our world.

    I would suggest that reinterpreting the Bible to fit with current and popular scientific theories is dangerous, and akin to saying that man knows better than God.

    On the other hand you can start with an assumption that God made everything as described in the Bible, and view the evidence from that starting point.

    The best website I have found that addresses these issues (and more) in a lot more depth is creationontheweb.org .

    I hope this helps!

    Comment by Wayne — April 14, 2007 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

  2. How can Christians explain the fact that the record of life on earth dates back Millions of years and the man does not. Also the bible is relativly new to and which writings made it into the bible were a selection of men?

    Comment by Mike H — September 7, 2007 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Raaj — November 11, 2007 @ 6:05 am | Reply


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