Creation vs. evolution?

March 9, 2009

Last Friday, I saw a license plate border that caught my attention: On the bottom was a “Darwin fish” with legs, but upside-down as though dead. (I wish I could find an image of it.) It read,

Fish Don’t Walk
And Jesus Still Lives

Um.

mudskippers

I’m glad my faith does not depend on denying science. Doing so is a lose-lose proposition; it’s bad for faith, and bad for science. Why is creation at odds with evolution? I recommend the blog of my boyhood friend Jim Kidder: Science and Religion: A View from an Evolutionary Creationist.

What do you think? Does your confidence in a creator prevent you from accepting evolution? Conversely, does your confidence in evolution prevent you from accepting a creator?

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

31 responses to Creation vs. evolution?

  1. Neither — and sadly, my weariness at the mean-spirited shots each “camp” takes at the other make me want to avoid the discussion altogether. My first reaction to seeing the title of your post was “Oh no — not again…” =O(

    • agreed with keith…this “debate” is a huge distraction away from Christ, and anything that keeps people you from Christ should be cut off.
      as far as personal opinion: regardless of how things got started, evolution is how the world God created works presently. why argue about the past when all we have is the present?

      • Nathan, I think my wife would echo your sentiment: “Well, here we are. So now what?” It’s funny but if you google my name, you’ll find a quotation of me (as if it were something famous) which you reminded me of:
        Lord, remove every barrier the enemy has put in place, so that the only barrier which remains is the cross itself.
        (I think it was something I wrote in an email forum, back before the Web exploded. It must have caught someone’s attention, because there it is.)

      • Theistic evolution should be cut off. What you say is an oxymoron: bringing people to believe in the Bible (creation) should be cut off even though these are the words of Christ, all of which are breathed by God and do not err and do not change (like humans and their theories).

        • Matt, thanks for your comment. I think I understand, but I disagree. This isn’t the first time that science has led us to rethink how we read the Bible. Go back to Copernicus and Galileo. Their observations were directly challenged by the church, because it went against the way they read the Bible. But that’s not the same thing as going against God, you see.

          It does require you to let go of old ideas, and that can be scary at first. We want to trust our ideas of God. But can we trust God, not our ideas?

          • Hi Jon,

            What denomination do you belong to? According to the principle of Sola Scriptura, the Bible is the sole highest authority. Science, medicine, etc. are all authorities because we trust our doctor when he prescribes some medication to us. he is an authority. But the Bible is the sole highest authority of all, even above scientific theories. Therefore science does not lead us to rethink the Bible, this is eisegesis (readking into the Bible), not exegesis (interpretation).

            Where do Galileo and Copernicus contradict the Bible? I don’t think they do. In medieval times the ruler’s sphere was a depiction of the round earth. That the Roman church believed the world was flat or that the earth was the exxact center of the universe is one thing, but what does the Bible really say on these topics?

            Have a nice day, and thanks for considering my post.

            Matthew

            • Matt,

              I suppose “my denomination” would be Vineyard.

              Doesn’t “Sola Scriptura” mean the scriptures contain everything necessary for salvation? It isn’t a science book, and can’t be, because what we consider science didn’t exist yet.

              I hold to John Wesley’s teaching that we use four different sources to come to theological conclusions: scripture, tradition, reason and experience. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesleyan_Quadrilateral.

              As for Galileo: People of the time believed that the sun went around the earth. Galileo’s discoveries gave strength to the idea that the earth went around the sun. He was accused of heresy, forced to deny his own discoveries, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

              I see strong parallels between the attitudes of the church then toward heliocentrism and the attitudes of (some of) the church now toward evolution. (Except that unlike Galileo’s day, the Catholic church has stated that there is no conflict between faith and evolution.)

              • Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the sole highest authority. Not Scripture + reason + tradition + experience. The Romish church oppressed Galilei which was wrong. What do I have to do with Rome? Let them do their own thing, they are heretical in a multitude of other teachings. On creation however, their catechism is inline with 6 day literal Biblical creation, how odd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YarEnJ5IAdw

                By the way just because people in Biblical times did not hold our view od modern science doesn’t influence how the Bible was written. You just have to let go of trying to bring evolution and the Bible together. That’s what’s really deterring you from interpreting Scripture in an unbiased manner.

                • Matt,

                  I’m not “trying to bring evolution and the Bible together,” because I don’t see them in conflict. Your idea that the Bible is somehow written outside of human cultures, or readable outside of human cultures, is a denial of your own humanity. Oh, and you casually dismiss entire blocks of the Body of Christ (like Wesleyan tradition). And “Romish”? That strikes me as a word of hatred.

                  I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. But I’m going to take the risk of offending you, because you’re not seeing the connection I’m drawing between a heliocentrism and evolution. “What do I have to do with Rome?” Your attitudes are the same: you’re quick to condemn as heresy what you don’t understand.

                  • Ironic that maybe the Catholic church, by committing these heinous acts in the name of God, actually learned the lessons that Christians who did not commit these acts need to learn today.

                    God works in mysterious ways. The Catholic church isn’t infallible by any means or even close but it seems Catholicism learned the lesson on a marriage with science that the rest of us should take under consideration without having to learn it the hard way that they did.

                    • Interesting observation, Dave. Today, there’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, established by the Vatican. How many other churches have done this? (There is the pseudo-science of the Discovery Institute, I suppose, but that’s more like apologetics than science.)

                    • Isn’t the Scripture the sole highest authority? What about the Bereans who took even Paul’s authority yet still searched the Scriptures to see whether these things were so? See Acts 17:10-11.

                  • I was Roman Catholic up until the end of high school. I now it’s a false religion. The Bible was written under the inspiration of God. Why do we need any human culture or philiophy to mix it up with?

                  • I grew up Roman Catholic. Mary, saints, purgatory, where in the Bible are they?

                    If evolution and the Bible are not in conflict, what does day and night, morning mean in the 6 days of creation?

                    The Bible was written under the inspiration of God, see 2Tim. 3:16-17; why does God’s inspiration necessarily have to depend on human culture? Just as God’s thoughts are way way aboveours?

    • Keith, I don’t mean to wear you out! You’re sounding like a certain bowl of petunias…

  2. **sigh**
    I agree completely about removing the focus from Christ…so many “discussions” like this one tend to do that…but how can a person deny the existence of evolution overall when it’s so clearly evident? I certainly don’t believe we as humans evolved from an ape…believing that would deny creation completely, but if you look at our animals and creatures now, they don’t look much like those in Jesus’ day I’m sure…except for the donkey…I think there’s no where for him to evolve… 🙂
    As always Jon, great, thought-provoking blog!

  3. Ahh…the priceless evolution vs. creation debate.
    I’ll cut to the chase on my beliefs:
    I’m one of those “The earth is 6,000 years old” guys. I really can’t force myself to sit on the ever uncomfortable “God created evolution” fence.
    Maybe my belief comes from upbringing, maybe from my church, who knows. All I know is that I believe there is a creator, he created man 6,000 years ago, and there’s really not enough evidence to say otherwise.
    Not to pick any fights, but the consensus from other comments on this post that I read seem to say “of course God created man.” as well as “of course evolution exists.” I think to say that is to say “God made man, stepped back and said ‘have at it!'” which I really don’t think is the case.
    Just my two cents worth 🙂
    Also- Jon, I’m already enjoying the blog! Feel free to give mine a pass-by if ya get the chance: http://groundshaking.blogspot.com

  4. i think the whole debate stems from a misunderstanding of the bible. you can’t treat it like a text book. the creation story is a great example of hebrew poetry which is certainly not intended to be literal. like other types of poetry, hebrew poetry is emotive and symbolic.
    one of my favorite examples is david saying God knit him together in his mother’s womb (thank you, waltke). taken literally, he is saying that he was not formed in the old fashioned way. but it’s not literal, he’s indicating that more important than the science of birth is the fact that God is behind it. my reading of the creation account is the same: more important than the science behind it is the fact that God is creator and creation is good.
    recently, i was reading christ and culture by neibuhr and he points out that denying modern science/technology could lead to all kinds of issues. for instance, if i’m a paramedic, does that mean i should only rub oil on an injured person’s wounds, as is demonstrated in the parable of the good samaritan? no, it would be downright irresponsible.
    i believe that the Bible can teach us a great deal about life, but it isn’t intended to replace science or any other discipline. you’re right, jon, that creates a lose-lose situation.

    • Frances, thanks for bringing us your schoolin’ — I appreciate it.
      I find that science can actually inform my faith and my reading of the Bible. For example, I teach my kids “we are made of stars” along with everything else. So if, by origin and evolution, we are not so different from the rest of creation, what does that mean for our being given dominion over the world? Isn’t it like the choosing of Israel, or the choosing of any individual or group: we are not chosen because we are special, but we are special because we are chosen. And we are chosen because we have been invited to partner in God’s mission. Suddenly “dominion” has little to do with domination, and more to do with redemption.

    • Frances-
      I acknowledge your position, and totally see how you reached that conclusion.
      Unfortunately, I believe you are in error because of one assumption your argument fails to blatantly say:
      God and Science don’t belong together.
      “i believe that the Bible can teach us a great deal about life, but it isn’t intended to replace science or any other discipline.”
      In my experience, the Bible is to be taken literately. I know for a fact that Jesus died on the cross because of love. I know for a fact that all my sins are forgiven, and there’s nothing I can do to step out of His love. I also know I want to reciprocate on the love he shows me, and I want to be a vessel for that love so it can overflow into others.
      Key word: love.
      To say the Bible is simply poetic imagery is to say that God’s love is meaningless. It’s to say that science explains our existence, and really life is only made of cold hard facts. And from what I know about science, cold hard facts are always shifting. My bedrock lies in Christ, and the grace he has displaid to me through the Bible.
      To me, the Bible is not a textbook, but neither is it a massive extended metaphor or allegory. Rather, it’s a book God gave to mankind in order so that he might show his passionate and never ending love for me. And for you.
      That’s where I’m at in my journey anyways 🙂 Glad to see we’re all thinking this through on here.
      Jon- I really am enjoying your blog! Also, I find entertainment in your tweets throughout the day- keep it up!

      • Hey Colin,
        Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your thoughts and think we agree far more than disagree.
        I didn’t say that God and science don’t belong together because I believe that as Creator, God put all scientific principles in place. This isn’t to say that I see science as God (as many people do), but that I see God behind science. One profound experience for me was in reading a physiology textbook about the many reasons that human beings have the perfect body temperature. Even though it wasn’t a Christian book, let alone the Bible, I could clearly see God’s work and it led me to a place of worship. How people can study science and not see intelligent design is beyond me.
        I totally agree with you about the purpose of the Bible. I see it as a means for God to communicate truth about himself, his love, and redemption. I also think that God chose to use a book to convey this truth. He could have used other means, but the Bible is a book. To say that poetic imagery renders God’s love meaningless is like saying that a Shakespearean sonnet is less effective than bullet points about love. They are simply different. In fact, I would argue that the emotive nature of poetry can tap into a part of people that bullet points could not.
        I do take the Bible literally when I think that was the intent. For instance, I would not look for hidden meaning in a direct command of Jesus. I think Christians would be hard pressed to take literally and apply directly the parts of the Bible that are poetic, narrative, or prophetic. It doesn’t make them less true; it just means we have to dig deeper and pray harder about what God wants us to learn from them.
        Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Colin,
    Whew, I’m afraid my response has turned into an entire post. In fact, I think I will post it separately. Check out what Frances writes above. And if you get some time, check out my friend’s blog — like you have lots of time in high school, ha! 🙂 Anyway, thanks for coming by. Out of hundreds of posts, this is the first time I have gone into this topic. There’s plenty of other stuff here, and hopefully you will find some of it useful, encouraging and challenging.

  6. Well, I was going to take my response to Colin and make it a blog post in its own right. But I would rather not take the focus away from what Frances wrote. And Colin is going through something terribly hard right now. Pray for him and his family.

  7. Neither, but accepting evolution would cause me to jettison most of Genesis, which I can’t do. Once we start trying to decipher which parts of the Bible are allegory, we start denying the parts we like least. I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture in their original languages.

    • Dana, I think you identify the primary reason evangelicals reject evolution: Fear of a slippery slope. It’s as though, if you read stories figuratively, you have to throw away the Bible. And that’s just not so.
      I teach my children not to be anti-science. At the same time, I also refer to the Genesis stories. (The other night, it was about “the two trees” in the garden, and how we continue to pursue the wrong one and call it religion.)

  8. I just read this book called GENE616. It was the most amazing book I have ever read. In it the author explains how the world was “created” why and by whom, how the garden of Eden got its name, how Adam “named” all the animals, how Eve was made from Adam’s rib, how Lucifer changed himself into a serpant, why it didn’t rain in the garden, what the number of the beast really means, how the war in heaven was really fought and on and on and does it in a way using science where it seems completely plausible. I have read it three times now and I am still noticing new things. My wife is reading it now. It is just amazing! It makes you believe that both Science and Creationism are just two forces working together not two forces in opposition to each other. YOu would swear when you read it that the author was actually there when the earth was created!

  9. My confidence in the Creator does prevent me from accepting evolution but only because the revelation the Creator has given us does not allow for evolution since the whole creation process only took six days. Furthermore, the evidence of science does not support evolution either. If science supported evolution I would expect to see many cases of one specie evolving into another even today. The most logical explanation for the fossil record is explained by a world-wide flood rather than millions and billions of years of natural decay. For these reasons I elect creation in the creation vs. evolution debate.

    • Steve,
      Where I disagree is not on one, but two of your fundamental premises:

      1) You’re pinning everything on a literal reading of Genesis 1. But faithful, believing Christians read that in many ways. (Reading on to Genesis 2 gives us a different creation story, where things happen in a different order. Why? And what does that say about the 7 days of Genesis 1?)

      2) “The evidence of science does not support evolution either.” That’s laughably unscientific. The theory of evolution has been heavily scrutinized, refined, and repeatedly verified.

      I recommend the teacher’s guide Misconceptions About Teaching Evolution which addresses the science, as well as the supposed conflict between science and religion.

      • Admittedly, many parts of evolution are weaker than others. I think it is about as poor form to umbrella the whole thing as polished science as it is to dismiss it altogether for blind faith.

  10. John, Genesis 2 is a synopsis of Genesis 1, I agree with Steve that Genesis is to be taken literally because it’s written in the style of a historical account. As for the science (or lack thereof) involved I have many reasons to agree with Steve again ,but I will cite only 2 main ones here. The ongoing e coli experiment at the university of Michigan I think it is, has gone through something like 100,000 generations of e coli and they found e coli that processed citrates, unfortunately for darwinian evolutionists that deosnt mean they have evolved into something other than e coli. I can confidently say that even if they went through a million generations, the ecoli would remain e coli, no darwinian evolution observed. Secondly I dont know if you’ve ever seen the raw footage of Dawkins being unable to answer the simple question about no new information observed in the genome by any evolutionary process, but I believe that little video clip will go down in science history concerning the death of the theory of darwinian evolution. Anyone can access the clip by googling “dawkins stumped-raw footage”. Even more interesting in a certain sense is the second part of the clip where Dawkins proclaims “,…theres a popular misunderstanding….that somehow fish turned into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles….but you see.. that isnt how evolution works at all….” . And this from a leading popularizer of the theory?? Maybe I’m missing something but Dr. Dawkins seems to have little or no logic in his thinking. replies? anyone?