Christian Theism & Evolution – 4 Quick Points.

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The following points illustrate, albeit briefly, how Christian theism & evolution interact with each other and where debate is prevalent among Christians.

1. Many Christians believe in evolution.

As science has revealed the workings of the natural world more & more Christians embrace some form of theistic evolution. Theistic evolution, although not claimed to be a scientific theory, houses several views about how evolution relates to religious beliefs in contrast to special creation views. Many prominent Christian thinkers hold to some form of theistic evolution, for example, Francis Collins, Tim Keller, N.T. Wright, and Pope Francis to name a few. The Catholic Church likewise believes in the compatibility of evolution & Christian theism (4).

2. Many Christian scientists believe in evolution.

A report of study suggests that “Scientists almost unanimously accept Darwinian evolution over millions of years as the source of human origins. But 40% of biologists, mathematicians, physicians, and astronomers include God in the process” (1).

This is affirmed by the ministry of Francis Collins (2). Collins is a geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project. He has a ministry called Biologos & he is also the author of the book The Language of God where he writes about the compatibility between Darwinian evolution and Christianity. God of Evolution is a further website dedicated to the interaction between evolution & Christianity.

3. It’s debated.

To many Christians evolution is controversial and they would argue that it is antithetical to Christianity and/or the Bible. This group is divided with some of them believing in Young Earth Creationism (the belief that the Earth is less than 10 000 years old) & Old Earth Creationism (that the Earth is 4 billion years old). Since around 40% (3) of Americans believe the Earth to be only 10 000 years then conflict with other Christians holding to theistic evolution or Old Earth Creationism is inevitable. It’s also unfortunate that there is a lot of intolerance from Young Earth proponents to those who interpret the Genesis creation account differently (although both sides can be blamed here). This conflict is also unfortunate because it takes so much attention away from where Christianity is strongest: the historical resurrection of Jesus.

4. It’s mostly limited to Genesis.

Perceived conflict that evolution has with the Bible is more or less limited to the Genesis creation account (although some of Paul’s letters in the New Testament may be of interest here). For example, questions arise: Were Adam & Eve the first humans? Or did Adam & Eve evolve from apelike ancestors?

Another theological question may come from the Apostle Paul who writes that sin entered into the universe through one man, Adam (Rom. 5:12). But evolution says humans could not have descended from a single pair of humans, Adam & Eve. If so, then how did sin spread to all of mankind? Although certain creation ministries propound that evolution is incompatible with Christian theism as a result of this, other Christian think tanks have forwarded theories of how evolution and original sin are compatible (4).

References:

1. Witham, L. 1997. Many Scientists See God’s Hand in Evolution. Available.

2. About Biologos, “What We Believe.” Available.

3. Ghose, T. 2014. 4 in 10 Americans Believe God Created Earth 10,000 Years Ago. Available.

4. Murphy, G. 2015. Evolution and the “Original Sins” (Part 1). Available.

5. Catholic Answers. 2004. Adam, Eve, and Evolution. Available.

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3 responses to “Christian Theism & Evolution – 4 Quick Points.

  1. Thanks for the article. I agree that evolution is something that we should continue to look at as Christians. Have you considered Historical Creationism from Sailhammer? Also I disagree with the controversy being limited to Genesis, because of Jesus as the second Adam (in the NT) and the ten days mentioned in Exodus. These are issues for evolutionist Christians but not insurmountable.

  2. Apes act sociably toward one another as well as anti-socially (i.e., befriending as well as feuding with each other, hating as well as forgiving–see primatologist Franz Van der Waal’s studies). And such a mixed bag of behaviors most likely preceded the arrival of species of humans. But if so, how does one interpret “original sin” since the cosmos seems to have been set up with mixed blessings right from the start rather than ever having been nothing but “good.” (Even the human instinct to lash out quickly at things that bother us is a hormonally-based defense mechanism going back in time much further than our species, yet it continues to disrupt plenty of people’s lives.) And God employed a trail of predation and death and loads of extinct species over billions of years before one tiny offshoot of that trail led to humans.

    Also, if God is nothing but goodness, how could even the hypothetical idea of “evil” ever arise inside the creator’s mind, or be let loose in things that arose directly out of His will, His foresight and His power? How can there be room for evil to ever intrude upon a cosmos created and sustained in every minute aspect by a totally good God?

  3. BELOW ARE EXAMPLES OF THE “MIXED BAG” OF BEHAVIORS OUR SPECIES INHERITED (WAS BORN INTO) VIA COMMON ANCESTRY WITH THE GREAT APES. IN WHAT SENSE DID OUR SPECIES “FALL,” SINCE SUCH A MIXED BAG OF BEHAVIORS LONG PRE-DATES HUMANITY AND CONTINUES RIGHT UP TILL TODAY :

    “Monkeys, apes, and humans all engage in reconciliation behavior (stretching out a hand, smiling, kissing, embracing, and so on), so such behavior is probably over thirty million years old, preceding the evolutionary divergence of these primates… Reconciliation behavior [is thus] a shared heritage of the primate order… When social animals are involved…antagonists do more than estimate their chances of winning before they engage in a fight; they also take into account how much they need their opponent. The contested resource often is simply not worth putting a valuable relationship at risk. And if aggression does occur, both parties may hurry to repair the damage. Victory is rarely absolute among interdependent competitors, whether animal or human.”
    Frans De Waal, Peacemaking Among Primates (see also, Morton Hunt, The Compassionate Beast: What Science is Discovering About the Humane Side of Humankind; and, Alfie Kohn, The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life; and see especially the chapter on “Kindness” in de Waalʼs latest work, Our Inner Ape.)

    “When Washoe [the chimpanzee] was about seven or eight years old, I witnessed an event that told about Washoe as a person, as well as causing me to reflect on human nature. [The account proceeds to describe the chimp island at the Institute for Primate Studies]…One day a young female by the name of Cindy could not resist the temptation of the mainland and jumped over the electric fence in an attempt to leap the moat. She hit the water with a great splash which caught my attention. I started running toward the moat intent on diving in to save her. [Chimps cannot swim.] As I approached I saw Washoe running toward the electric fence. Cindy had come to the surface, thrashing and submerging again. Then I witnessed Washoe jumping the electric fence and landing next to the fence on about a foot of bank. She then held on to the long grass at the waterʼs edge and stepped out onto the slippery mud underneath the waterʼs surface. With the reach of her long arm, she grasped one of Cindyʼs flailing arms as she resurfaced and pulled her to the safety of the bank…Washoeʼs act gave me a new perspective on chimpanzees. I was impressed with her heroism in risking her life on the slippery banks. She cared about someone in trouble; someone she didnʼt even know that well.”
    Roger Fouts, “Friends Of Washoe” Newsletter

    “The happy-go-lucky chimpanzee has turned out to be the most lethal ape – an organized, cooperative warrior.”
    Michael Ghiglieri, “War Among the Chimps,” Discover, Nov. 1987

    “The males from the larger band of chimpanzees began to make trips south to the patch of land occupied by the splinter unit. The marauders’ purpose was simple: to harass and ultimately kill the separatists. They beat their former friends mercilessly, breaking bones, opening massive wounds, and leaving the resultant cripples to die a slow and lingering death. When the raids were over, five males and one elderly female had been murdered. The separatist group had been destroyed; and its sexual active females and part of its territory had been annexed by the males of the band from the home turf.”

    “Mountain gorillas become killers when their social groups come face-to-face…One gorilla group will deliberately seek out another and provoke a conflict…An enormous male left a skirmish with his flesh so badly ripped that the head of an arm bone and numerous ligaments stuck out through the broken skin. Another left the battle scene with eight massive wounds where the enemy had bitten him on the head and arms. The site where the conflict had raged was covered with blood…Fossey actually recovered gorilla skulls with canine cusps from other gorillas still embedded in the skull’s crest.”
    Howard Bloom,The Lucifer Principle

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