11 thoughts on “Basics of Evolution for Christians

  1. Bravo, you have summed up quite nicely the view I have held for probably longer than you have been alive and the problem I have with the church taking the unbending view that God and evolution cannot co-exist. I have been saying for a long time now that the church is keeping people away with this view and for the life of me cannot understand why they cannot put God into evolution and see how incredible and beautiful that is. Also, my experience is that God works evolutionarily in almost everything, very seldom does He snap his fingers and correct/fix marriages, relationships, health issues, etc. etc. etc. Even the coming of the Messiah, first and second coming, was and is a long time coming.
    Nice compilation, Eric.

    • Thank you, and I love your point about God using gradual change in all that he does.
      Another thing I didn’t really touch on is that a lot of people dismiss my arguments because I’m young and they are unfamiliar with this reasoning. But you show that evolutionary creationism isn’t something that has just popped up recently- you’ve been living it for decades and Augustine and many other important church figures viewed the creation account metaphorically centuries before Darwin lived.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I understand the YEC and the TE, it’s the OEC that always puzzle me. Like when someone says “Jesus was just a nice guy.” Thats just wrong, he either was our Savior, or he was a crazy psychotic con-artist! I could be wrong, but I find more problem then solutions when you get to OEC,

    There are a few other sects of beliefs you’re leaving out. but for the broad strokes of the Christian belief spectrum, well done.

    I think you’re point of the bible is not a text book, but a love letter hits it on the head for me. Not to disregard the books of the Bible that are law based, and are rigid with how to’s. But what I find while reading Genesis is a letter of intent, a letter where God tells us the why of what he did, not that Adam and Eve really ate the apple (pear) but that that was in our nature and we were never NOT going to eat the apple. So he have sin, and allowed us to understand it.

    Just my 3am ramblings, Great post and thanks for sharing in such a clear way!

  3. So I know this was written a few weeks back…guess I’m a little late to the game.

    Great summary of the different view of beginnings. Here is my difficulties with evolution as the beginning of man…

    For evolution to be feasible, death must be present. There cannot be any transferable change no matter what amount of time if there is no death. But according to Genesis 3, death came about as the result of mankind’s first sin. So if evolution were to be possible, death must have already existed which makes it redundant that God would punish mankind with something they already faced. Either mankind existed before death, or death before mankind. I can only read the former from Genesis 3.

    • First of all, we seriously need to get together asap. This month is crazy but would frisbee golf in Eureka or washington some weekday evening work?

      Second, your concerns with evolution are completely valid and I’ve had to contend with that for years as I do think that’s one of the trickier aspects of this. I’m far from an expert but a couple things to think about is the distinction between spiritual and physical death, as well as what constitutes life. Neither is a satisfactory answer unfortunately, but vegetation dies when you eat it and the bacteria in our systems that help to digest those vegetables also die.

      I won’t claim that my system is bulletproof, but the evidence of death before the fall is pretty vast which makes me think it is a problem with hermeneutics. This was never meant to convince anybody that evolution is true, only to inform. But I would love to discuss this more if you are interested.

    • Aaron, I am not as strong with my Hebrew as I’d like, So someone else may know better. But the word for Die, is Muth, which is only used for the tree of fruit pre Genesis 6. Post Genesis 3 we see the word Sin introduced. So what I have heard and am not super strong on. Before Genesis 4 we have no words that describe evil things. Evil is only talked about with the Serpent, and the Tree. And even the Serpent is more imagery.

      So the idea is this, the “Death” in Genesis 2 and 3 is more referring to the grand idea of Sin. Which is why after they ate the fruit they did not “die” in the sense of their heart stopped, but they did feel the need to cloth and hide themselves.

      We also see the Serpant mention in G3:5 “Ye shall not surely die:5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

      Now, this is what I understand, and am not by ANY MEANS saying I’m correct!!! These are just some of the ways I’ve come to understand the stories in Genesis. I’d be happy to try and elaborate if needed, but I hope this at least helps you in seeing where we with Theistic Evolution beliefs are coming from. Hope this helps!!!

      • I’m not clear what you mean by death being used for the tree of fruit pre Genesis 6. Do you mean when the tree of fruit is mentioned other places? I didn’t think that tree was mentioned anywhere else.

        Also, Adam and Eve very much died a physical death. God said they would die after they ate the fruit and they did die, even if it didn’t occur in the following seconds or minutes. I would caution against using the words of the serpent in 3:5 as proof that God didn’t mean physical death. The serpant’s goal was to deceive and I don’t think think we should so easily accept his statements as truth when he’s referred to as ‘the father of lies’

        • Hey sorry, I wasn’t clear there. I meant using the word Death in chapters 2 and 3. Where after the eating of the tree the word used for evil is Sin. As we see in Genesis Chapters 4 and on.

          As for what happened to Adam and Eve, I am not arguing the fact that they did not die. I do think that is one of the problems that came with eating of the tree(or at least knowledge of). I think the bigger problem that came out of it was their knowledge of sin, and being cast out of Eden, Genesis is also not very clear if they were going to die (physically) before hand; out of the punishments God talks about in Genesis 3, Death is never listed.

          Hope this helps a little. And it’s not a perfect understanding, the same way a true creationist has to jump around some major scientific theories to get their ideas to work. Either way Genesis is a hard book to get through, with an eye of science, or theology.

          The website Eric posted is a rather good site that deals with a few issues that people have brought up over time, and I would recommend you take a gander, as this one blog I don’t think can hold all the complexities of evolution and God!!!

          • Maybe I’m not understanding what you’re saying about the Hebrew word for death but it is used in Genesis 5 to speak of death in the same way it’s used in the first 3 chapters.

            And I agree that Genesis does not directly state that death came through Adam, but Romans 5:12 does make that statement.

            I agree that my understanding of Scripture does not always mesh with scientific theory, but I will always unashamedly start with Scripture and interpret scientific theories through that lens. I KNOW the Bible to be true but have yet to be convinced about scientific theories since those have changed so much over the centuries while the Bible has remained true through it all.

            And I know there is no logic or proof in this statement…but when I read Genesis, and all the Bible for that matter, I cannot bring myself to believe that mankind ever evolved from a lower species. We’ve been specifically made, loved, and redeemed. I simply choose to believe in a God that could and did create all of creation in 7 days, because nothing in the Bible leads me to believe otherwise unless I try to manipulate it to. (Ok…done with my passionate monologue now)

            But I will take some time soon to look through the websites mentioned above.

            • “I agree that my understanding of Scripture does not always mesh with scientific theory, but I will always unashamedly start with Scripture and interpret scientific theories through that lens.”

              I actually think this is perfectly valid reasoning. I personally don’t find a need for science and faith to be combative, but if you can’t in good conscience resolve the two then it makes sense to choose God over science. Twisting scripture to make it fit one’s scientific understanding is just as bad as twisting the scientific method to fit with one’s interpretation of scripture.

              Like I said, I find neither of those single-minded approaches necessary but it has taken a lot of studying and praying for me to be comfortable in this ongoing discussion. My aim with this post was never to convince anybody of the theory of evolution, merely to allow space for graceful disagreement on a non-essential doctrine. I’ve found what comes to mind when most evangelicals hear ‘evolution’ has very little in common with the scientific theory of the same name. In the same way ‘creationism’ is generally understood to be a single monolithic viewpoint by our culture, when it is actually several distinct concepts under the same umbrella.

              One thing I think is important to note, the evidence for an old earth and for evolution is overwhelming from a scientific perspective, even if it leaves us with some things to work through theologically. As you noted, scientific theories have changed over the years as we have learned more. I think this is a strength, not a weakness; and one we would do well to learn from. I know that sounds scary, but let me explain:

              The church has been wrong before, but that does not mean God was wrong. We were wrong about a flat earth, we were wrong about geocentrism, and we were wrong about slavery. In each of these instances a solid scriptural argument could made in defense of the prevailing doctrine of the day. And they were made. The fallout from these scenarios only hurt the church. I’m not making a “might makes right” argument, but we need to learn to admit when we are wrong without projecting our error onto God or His scripture.

              This might get a little off topic, but I’m going to springboard off of Michael’s comment above:
              “Also, my experience is that God works evolutionarily in almost everything, very seldom does He snap his fingers and correct/fix marriages, relationships, health issues, etc. etc. etc. Even the coming of the Messiah, first and second coming, was and is a long time coming.”

              We can see this not just our own lives and walks, but in dietary restrictions for God’s chosen people throughout scripture. In Eden it was all plants, but after the flood animals were on the menu. Then with the giving of the law some animals were deemed unclean. In Acts, Peter received the vision of the descending sheet and the menu changed again. Did God change? Did the heavenly cafeteria menu change from vegan to kosher to bacon-wrapped shrimp kabobs? Or was he always ahead of us pulling us towards something better?

              Some people want to say the world has been getting worse every day since The Fall. But I think the new covenant is closer to God’s heart than the old covenant was. I think that loving your enemy is better than killing them. I think that pork-chops are better than broccoli. I think Jesus is better than Adam.

              Further up and further in.

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