The evolution of Evolution

Posted by Sam Hailes  ·  17 visitor comments

Of all the internal debates within Christianity, the subject of evolution is one which often sparks the most controversy and argument. Should Christians accept Darwin's theory, and what does the Bible really teach?

Creation

by Suus Wansink

Dr Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute at Cambridge University has given a resounding "no" in answer to the title of his book: Creation and Evolution: Do we have to choose?

“As far as Europe is concerned, Christians started modern science. It’s very sad to see a segment of the Christian community that has become anti science and reject a theory which gives the framework for the whole of modern biology with no theological or scientific need to do that. 

“They are sadly misled if they think defending creationism is going to help evangelism or church growth. It just means the scientific community think they are stupid for no good reason. That’s very sad. I don’t think we should put unnecessary blocks in people coming to faith.”

Believing that six day creationists hold an “extreme view” which attracts a lot of publicity, Dr Alexander wants Christians to accept evolution as the process God used to create life on earth.

Dominic Statham

Creation Ministries International (CMI)

But Dominic Statham from Creation Ministries International (CMI) and author of Evolution: Good Science? says evolution undermines the Bible.

“If you accept the theory of evolution, then you’re going to start saying the Bible isn’t quite right about creation. As soon as people say the Bible isn’t quite right about creation, they‘ll ask ‘is it quite right about this global flood?’ As soon as they say ‘I don’t think it’s quite right about that’, it’s a slippery slope and people say ‘what about the virgin birth and the resurrection?’”

James Lee, who is studying preaching at Spurgeon's College, London doesn’t buy the slippery slope argument and accuses it of adding unnecessary “heat” to the argument.

“Six day creationists feel they are defending the one historic interpretation of Genesis one and two but I think there’s always been diversity and there’s always been debate.”

Dominic argues that the “clear majority” of Bible scholars prior to the 19th century “accepted a recent creation in six literal 24 hour days…The view has changed as people sought to accommodate science or what some claim to be science into the Bible.”

He also asserts that “very few people” deny Jesus believed in a literal six day creation and Adam and Eve.

 "I concluded the theory of evolution was ideologically driven rather than scientifically driven"

“I’d always be nervous about claiming to know exactly what Jesus and Paul would have done with verses we disagree about,” James hits back. “There’s different genres in the Bible. We’d interpret a poem very differently to how we would a historical narrative. Poetry is still true, it’s just God’s word in a different way.”

But rather than ditching evolution in order to embrace Genesis, Dr Peter Enns, author of the Evolution of Adam has re-examined what the Genesis story communicates.

Dr Denis Alexander

Author of Creation and Evolution: Do we have to choose?

The most controversial element of Dr Enns new book is his assertion that Adam and Eve did not exist as historical, real figures.

While admitting such a belief raises difficult theological questions (how did sin enter the world? What makes us human), Dr Enns is confident in his view.

“The fact that Evolution causes theological problems doesn’t mean evolution is wrong. It means we have a theological problem.

“I have to take the word of the majority of scientist both Christians and non Christians from whom I believe the evidence is absolutely overwhelming and cannot be denied.”

“The fact that Evolution causes theological problems doesn’t mean evolution is wrong it means we have a theological problem."

Dr Alexander claims no one had ever heard of creationism when he was a student at Oxford University. “Young earth creationism started in the early 1960s. It’s a very new movement.”

“There was a poll done in 2009 of the British population. Around 10% of the British population are young earth creationists, which is quite high. It’s been exported from America in the past few decades.”

While Dr Alexander is convinced of the validity of evolution, Dominic describes the idea as a “faith”.

“People say belief in evolution is scientific and people of faith believe in creation but the reality is that evolution is every bit as much of a faith as belief in creation.”

Dominic’s journey through the complex scientific and theological implications of accepting evolution began eight years ago when he struggled to reconcile evolution with the Bible.

“I decided to look into it myself. I wasn’t looking for evidence against evolution, I actually wanted to know what the evidence for evolution was. I was quite amazed. I expected to come across strong scientific arguments supporting that position, I was surprised they didn’t have them. Bit by bit I concluded the theory of evolution was ideologically driven rather than scientifically driven.”

Dominic quotes James Barr, a professor of Hebrew at Oxford University in the 1980s as saying: “Probably, as far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the idea that creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience”.

There is one point that Dominic and some evolutionaries agree on: A young earth interpretation of Genesis and a modern day mainstream view of evolution are incompatible.

The Evolution of Adam

Peter Enns controversial new book

 From six day creationists through to theistic evolutionists there is little consensus.

It's not just the arguments that cause disagreement, but the arguments about the arguments.

Is the following quote a summary of the absurdity of evolution or a false dichotomy creationists love to pose? “Are we made in God’s image with a divine purpose, or are we the lucky descendants of haphazardly advanced primates, having evolved up from the right combination of proto-amino acids, and a nearby lightening strike (Frankenstein-style), one lucky day, long, long ago…?”

Theistic evolutionaries will claim the science has tipped the balance and Darwin’s theory although often modified, was heading in the right direction. They will be criticized for not taking the Bible seriously enough. Creationists will question the accuracy of dating methods and some fossils. They will be criticized for peddling a ‘conspiracy theorist’ attitude toward science.

As Christians debate the past, what will it mean for the future? Again, there is little consensus, but James believes attitudes among young Christians are changing.

“We’ve come out of a very dogmatic period as a church where you followed your denominational line on issues. Our generation has come out of that saying we’re post denominational, we want to look at things ourselves and come to our own conclusions and be independent thinkers.”

Christian attitudes toward evolution do appear to be evolving. Whether they are progressing or digressing is another matter. Perhaps only time will tell.

3rd May

May 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes

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Mike Viccary

Mike Viccary

Posts: 1

Well this is all very sad. I have just finished a book on Genesis 1 to 11 in which I discuss the whole issue starting with a look at the doctrine of Scripture and then a look at the nature of science. In essence the argument boils down to this. Are we going to believe what God has openly declared? Or are we going to believe what a group of men say? I know that people will respond by saying "Mike it isn't that simple!" But in truth it is. To suggest that young earth creationism is a new idea passed to us from America is a lie. There have been young earth creationists in the UK throughout the last two centuries. A simple example would be "The Evolution Protest Movement" (later the Creation Science Movement). As a scientist it has always struck me as patently absurd that evolution as an idea has ever been seriously considered. From the physics point of view no one has 'explained' how order arises from disorder and how the problem of directed specific energy requirements for new attributes (e.g. the eye) have come about. Dawkins' mount improbable explanation poses far more problems than it attempts to solve. Rising from a simple to a more complex organism requires specific and directed energy as well as resources and claiming that biology chemistry and physics is enough to 'make it so' is poppycock! On the Biblical side no one has quite grasped the clear point that if we have a true and faithful 'revelation from God' in the Bible, then what we have must be 100% true and correct. It is no use dodging the issue by saying that poems convey truth in a different way to historical narrative. First Genesis from chapter one onwards is historical narrative - it is not poetic. Second the poetic accounts of creation (e.g. in the Psalms) all convey the truth as revealed in Genesis. Statements of fact are repeated within them such as "He spoke and it was done" (Psalm 33v9). Quite frankly the main problem is because people have invested far too much faith in science and what it (or the great new priesthood) declares. My quest has been to try and understand the real nature of science and the Bible. For me I think it self evident that science is something which changes through the ages. Charles Singer the historian of science wrote that "the science of one age becomes the magic of the next". In stark contrast the figures used to describe the word of God are polar opposites to that concept. The Bible is rock solid and is so secure that it is found in heaven (Psalm 119v89). The great point is that Christ and all the NT writers accepted the historicity and veracity of the OT including Genesis. The NT references all of the main characters and events in Genesis 1 to 11 as being true and historical. If Christ felt no need to correct the Scriptures why should we? There is no theological problem at all. There is a fear problem. I know full well that we look foolish to the world because we do not accept what the majority say but then aren't we taught by Paul that this world's wisdom is foolish? Further, that to be friends with the world is to be at war with God? The faith of Christ is simple. This is what our Saviour says. Believe in Him and His words. The task of apologetics is to show the error of man's mistakes (e.g. evolution) and to declare the rightness and reasonableness of God's word. I declare that a God who used evolution as the means to make life is a fraud. Evolution works by death! Death is simply 'not good'. Christ came to conquer death because it was an evil thing. I declare that God created this world in 6 days some 6000 years ago. I have spent some time working out the implications of these ideas in my book. My starting point was to consider what God said first because He is reliable. The wonder is that He took so long! There are good reasons that He took 6 days and the Scriptures teach us that it was for our working and rest pattern for life and also to indicate aspects of the great work of salvation. The Lord is to be believed. Evolution is a vacuous nonsense because it doesn't explain anything at all. It essentially says "in the beginning there was nothing at all and then through time and 'the laws of science' all has come to be". How absurd! The Bible states that things exist because there is an infinite all-powerful all-knowing God who exists in three persons. This God made all things from nothing. He made people in His image. We have personality and can think and rationalise because a SUPREME PERSON made us. How does evolution account for personality? Its materialistic reductionism gets it into a nightmare fix as it squirms to wrestle with Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem and pleads all sorts of vain excuses. The long and the short of it all is: Believe God for every man is a liar!

Friday, 4th May 2012 at 10:33AM

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Jonathan Bush

Jonathan Bush

Posts: 18

A fascinating and revealing article Sam. Colours to the mast up front: I believe that the Bible is true and that "science" should be validated by scripture, not the other way round. I do not believe in Evolution. I accept the process happens, but only within a kind. So Darwin's finches and breeds of dogs and roses are all real and demonstrable. but it the idea that this then crosses species remains an unproven theory. To me, the article illustrates how humanism has crept insidiously into the church. The problem is not an academic question of "How long was a day?", or similar, it is about Romans 5 and related scriptures. If we evolved, then there was not a single common ancestor, so that means that everything the Bible teaches about our condition is untrue. !Cor 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive". This becomes a nonsense of no value if I am not descended from Adam. There is a view that says, in effect, "Who cares? Genesis and other OT stories are just that stories, not to be taken literally, but there to illustrate higher truths. Get with the programme, meet Jesus in the NT and that's enough." But that is cutting off the branch on which we sit. It is as simple and as foundational as this: If The Genesis creation story is not true, then we don't need Jesus, plus Jesus was wrong! The only way to square the circle between evolution and scripture is to reinterpret or remove parts of scripture.

Friday, 4th May 2012 at 11:55AM

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Gaz Gibbons

Gaz Gibbons

Posts: 7

I find so many Christians who take the line that creation happened in an evolutionary way! It's baffling to me as there is no way that they sit together. I love Mike Viccary's quote "The wonder is that He took so long! ".

Friday, 4th May 2012 at 12:36PM

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Dale

Dale

Posts: 1

Firstly I'd like to say that I agree with Sam that the new generation should look at things for themselves in order to come to their own conclusions. As a former Christian myself I have the greatest respect for the basic teachings of the Bible; to love one another as you would yourself, the story of the good samaritan and its teachings on charity. But what I can't understand is the stubborn arguements against evolution which are evident in the comments section. Jonathan, "If The Genesis creation story is not true, then we don't need Jesus, plus Jesus was wrong!". Are you saying that if somehow you were to believe in evolution it means that all Jesus' teachings about love and basic human rights are wrong?!! And Mike ""in the beginning there was nothing at all and then through time and 'the laws of science' all has come to be"". Why must that be absurd?? Could you not consider even that these laws of science and the process of evolution may be the result of divine guidence or God's plan as you'd say. I think it is important to have an open mind and open discussion about evolution vs creationism and I think Sam is right to bring it up. By stubbornly ignoring science and emerging theories on life and it's processes you are alienating yourself from a society which increasingly disagrees with you, not over the most important part of your beliefs but over an arguement that doesn't matter. Whether or not God crafted the universe within a week or we are all part of a beautiful story of atoms rearranging to form a species of life that is able to understand its own existence, what difference should it really make to your morality or compassionate beliefs.

Friday, 4th May 2012 at 3:23PM

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J

J

Posts: 2

Fascinating comments. I find it strange why Christians can't accept that Genesis 1 is as much poetry as Song of Songs is, or as other parts of The Bible are that we take as poetry. To argue a 'slippery slope' is a bit weird to me. we're arguing over a text that doesn't claim to be a historical record. This doesn't mean God didn't create the world, to say that evolution disproves a God is absurd. It's actually perfectly logical to assume that a God who made the laws of space and time would use the laws he made to create a universe. Why would God break the rules that he made himself? Can't we see evolution as something God made as part of his creation? Now imagine you've been given the job of explaining the concept of creation (with evolution and all the complexities with it) to some of the first humans created. You need to communicate that you created everything, there was order and purpose, and it took time to do. I don't see a need for God to tell us all the details. I'm not making Jesus out to be a liar, either. We go in and out of poetic talk (especially when quoting people) all the time. Jesus said that the earth was created in 6 days, and God rested for 1 as an analogy for keeping the sabbath holy, not to make a point about creation. 'Are we going to believe what God has openly declared?' I pose this question back: Are we going to claim our interpretation is God's declaration? Or is he not more concerned that people are arguing about evolution rather than doing what all Christians are called to do: Tell people about Jesus' grace.

Friday, 4th May 2012 at 5:19PM

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A Christian, and proud of it

A Christian, and proud of it

Posts: 4

Genesis was meant as historical fact. Jesus himself quoted it! If Jesus (God) used genesis as historical fact, then you can't doubt one without doubting the other. Genesis is absolutely true. As for why you can't put 'evolution as something God made as part of his creation', if God used natural selection, which according to 'scientists' was one of the main drives of evolution (natural selection does exist, but in order to drive adaptation. natural selection is also a result of the fall), and is essentially the death of the weak, as part of his creation, then why couldn't Hitler kill whom he thought was weak? this was actually Hitler's main argument for commiting genocide. If God did it, and in fact improved the world with it, then wouldn't Hitler have been helping God? Ridiculous! Evolution and Genesis are incompatible.

Thursday, 1st November 2012 at 7:06PM

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Fuzzy Anglican

Fuzzy Anglican

Posts: 2

The Bible was never meant to be taken literally, the Jews (who wrote Genesis) do not take it literally, they interpret it. St Augustin himself wrote an interpretation of Genesis which is entirely symbolical (birds represent something, trees somehting else, etc) God is everywhere, and in everything, so why can't He be in evolution as well? I see the glory of God refected in the natural world, including the fact that birds are descended from the dinosaurs. What I'd like to know is, if Genesis is scientifically accurate, where are the dinosaurs? Eh?

Saturday, 5th May 2012 at 2:30PM

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A Christian, and proud of it

A Christian, and proud of it

Posts: 4

the dinosaurs were made on the sixth day. If every single land animal was listed, the chapter would be quite a bit longer. The birds were made on a completely different day. Also God isn't 'in everything'. He is all knowing, but to suggest that he is actually 'in everything' (including rocks, dirt, and erroneous theories) is absurd.

Thursday, 1st November 2012 at 5:33PM

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Sabine

Sabine

Posts: 1

I hounestly do no understand the whole slippery slope arguement. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Why would the bible have to be 100% correct to be Gods word, ie inspired by Him? Why cld I not believe the rest of the bible if Genesis strikes me as poetic? Why wld the ideas of people thousands of years ago about how the earth came to be have any bearing on how credible Matthew's account of Jesus's life is? What kind of idea about inspiration of Gods worth is behind that? It cannot have a single fault in it? I wish you good luck with that one, but personally, as a Christian, I cannot for the life of me have the slightest bit of an issue with God's word bearing utterly human marks. How cld you possibly deny it has?

Sunday, 6th May 2012 at 5:44PM

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Gaz Gibbons

Gaz Gibbons

Posts: 7

Don't get me started on dinosaurs! Dinosaur simply means "terrible lizard" and was first used in the mid 1800s. It has nothing to do with anything being millions of years old! As such we still have dinosaurs today - crocs and gators anyone? These so called evolutionary "scientists" [and I use the word scientist loosely] are constantly finding "living dinosaurs" that they once insisted were extinct! There are no hard facts for macroevolution as it is a made-up science with no provable evidence. The major problem with the evolution theory though is that there is so much invested in it - so much funding, so many careers, so much time and effort into keeping this ridiculous theory going, that they cannot stand up and go "Ok... we were wrong. Sorry about that!". So let's stop humouring them, and let's redirect these billions of pounds of wasted funds, and wasted human resources, and channel it into something worthwhile! God created... It's scripture. We will never know exactly how or when, we weren't there... no-one was! We have to trust the Word of God. Not the word of some mad scientist!

Tuesday, 8th May 2012 at 12:11PM

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Jason

Jason

Posts: 1

I'm a Christian and have been trying to reconcile my faith with Evolution. I'm slowly getting there and Pete Enns (and Denis Alexander) have helped tremendously. Rather than bashing science, evolution, dating techniques, etc, take an honest look at some of the evidence that we have compiled in the last 10 to 20 years (on human evolution alone). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_human_evolution_fossils

Wednesday, 16th May 2012 at 9:48AM

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Steve

Steve

Posts: 5

This debate will role on and on. I am a Christian and love the Bible but believe it is open to interpretation. The opening chapter of Genesis is as I understand it a description of an earth centred universe that was accepted as true at the time. Whether the earth is 6,000 years old or 6,000 million years old makes no difference to God who is eternal and for whom such values are meaningless. I think we get too hooked on these matters. Jesus is far more concerned with how we live our lives and our attitudes to our fellow men and of course to God Himself. That should be the focus of our attention....These matters of interpretation of Biblical truth are very much secondary.

Wednesday, 16th May 2012 at 9:49AM

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KingOfAlbion

KingOfAlbion

Posts: 2

The fact that people still link to Answers In Genesis as if it were a reputable source amazes me, it really does. I cannot figure out how they can look at what they post and say "Yes, this makes so much more sense than reality based evidence!" Answers In Genesis doesn't even site its sources, nor does it provide any actual evidence (like many Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates), they just make claims against evolution that they have made several times before and which have already been disproven with actual science. What's even worse about all of this is that the article implies that evolution has some sort of say in the creation of the universe, or the solar system, or even Earth. Evolution deals with the existence of life and how it evolved. The process of how life came to exist? That's currently being studied, the 2 areas of study are known as "Abiogenesis" (the study of life from non-living matter), and "Biogensis" (the study of life arising from life). The process of how the universe came to be? The Big Bang Theory, which also has an overwhelmingly large amount of evidence in support of it (Cosmic Background Radiation anyone?). So back onto the topic of evolution: - Micro-Evolution & Macro-Evolution are only seperated by time. Macro-Evolution is simply the build up of all of the small changes brought about through Micro-Evolution. - Macro-Evolution is known as Speciation, which has been observed. Seriously, look it up: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB910.html - Anybody claiming that "too many careers and too much money" is entrenched in the idea that Evolution is true for it to ever be abandoned has no idea of how science works, or how the Scientific Method works. The person that manages to come up with peer reviewed and testable evidence that contradicts Evolutionary Biology will win a Nobel Prize for re-shaping our entire understanding of the natural, biological world. As it stands, scientists that study evolution are testing on a daily basis on finding ways to disprove the theory, which in over 150 years has only helped strengthen the amount of evidence for it. - But lets say it was a global conspiracy...are you aware of how many people that would involve? How many millions of people were lying? How many millions of people had somehow managed to hide all contradictory evidence? And lets not forget that a good percentage of the scientific community do have a religious belief (for instance the leader of the Human Genome Project is a Christian), so not everyone can be biased against your belief right? Or are they also liars? - Also, what about all of the practical applications of Evolutionary Biology? Those anti-biotics that you take when you're ill? All those cows and horses and sheep bred specifically for specific jobs? All those plants directly evolved to grow the best fruit or veg, or look the nicest? There are thousands of practical applications for Evolution...none for Creationism. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA215.html - Also there's the fact that Creationism/Intelligent Design has yet to provide ANY evidence in its support other than "The Bible says it's true/The Qur'an says its true/etc,etc" is very important here. Even if Evolution were found to not be true, this would not automatically make Creationism true (especially given that there are Creationists for near enough every religious group out there, which one is true?). Evolutionary Biology has mountains of supporting evidence, yet Creationists have failed both in court and in scientific journals to show anything that realistically supports their arguments. - The evolution of the eye? Darwin answered this himself, and since his time we have found many further explanations within the animal kingdom for how the eye evolved: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB301.html http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA113_1.html http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB921_1.html For anybody that genuinely feels that they have an argument against evolutionary biology, first check out this index: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html That index contains every known claim against Evolution, and the rebuttals to those claims. Still don't agree with what is said there? Then collect the evidence in support of your argument, and publish it in a Scientific Journal and get it peer reviewed and fact checked by the whole world. The Scientific Method and The Burden of Proof requires all claims to be backed with evidence, and all scientific claims to be backed with evidence that can be tested repeatedly to get the same results. I can greatly suggest looking into the book "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry A. Coyne for an easy to read, yet in-depth, look into the evidence in support of evolution and any arguments against them.

Wednesday, 16th May 2012 at 9:59AM

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KingOfAlbion

KingOfAlbion

Posts: 2

Wow...I wrote that with spaces and everything, and it comes out like that? Fun... Needless to say, I gave a couple of links, but it appears to have borked the site a little and posted hundreds...

Wednesday, 16th May 2012 at 9:47AM

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A Christian, and proud of it

A Christian, and proud of it

Posts: 4

Think about this. Information can only originate from a mind. Also, information is immaterial. If a person who only speaks Chinese talks to a person who can only speak English, the words spoken would not carry any information. If the chinese speaker spoke to another chinese speaker however, the words would carry information. The words themselves are not information. It is the decoding of the spoken words inside the mind that produces the information. Cells inside all organisms (Or in some cases, cells that are organisms) require information to operate; the decoding of the DNA that occurs in a cell's nucleus can only be done if there is something to decode with, to change what is on the DNA into information that can then be used. Now back to the second sentence. Information can only originate from within a mind. The systems that are keeping the cell alive are dependant on information. Without it, the cell wouldn't know what it had to do. It would just become material, devoid of life. Life is dependant on information that must have first originated within a mind. The mind of God, our creator. Saying, as evolution claims, that life came from pieces of physical material, that, as such, cannot carry information, which, again, is immaterial, is like saying you can create a computer program by soldering wires together. I JUST DISPROVED EVOLUTION.

Thursday, 1st November 2012 at 7:25PM

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Gareth Powell

Gareth Powell

Posts: 1

If you cannot believe the creation account as literal then you cannot trust the rest of the Bible as God's infallible Word. If there was no creation account then you have no fall of man bringing death and sin into the world and therefore no need for Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. And you have millions of years of death before man existed and a loving God declaring death and suffering to be good. That would mean there was no need for salvation because death was already part of the plan. There are so many ways in which you cannot reconcile evolution with the Bible. The Genesis accounts of creation and the flood are historical narratives of real events and the foundation of the Gospel story and I believe them to be so. For in depth and scientific refutation of evolution and support of creationism I recommend you visit answersingenesis.org

Wednesday, 16th May 2012 at 10:02AM

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A Christian, and proud of it

A Christian, and proud of it

Posts: 4

Think about this. Information can only originate from a mind. Also, information is immaterial. If a person who only speaks Chinese talks to a person who can only speak English, the words spoken would not carry any information. If the chinese speaker spoke to another chinese speaker however, the words would carry information. The words themselves are not information. It is the decoding of the spoken words inside the mind that produces the information. Cells inside all organisms (Or in some cases, cells that are organisms) require information to operate; the decoding of the DNA that occurs in a cell's nucleus can only be done if there is something to decode with, to change what is on the DNA into information that can then be used. Now back to the second sentence. Information can only originate from within a mind. The systems that are keeping the cell alive are dependant on information. Without it, the cell wouldn't know what it had to do. It would just become material, devoid of life. Life is dependant on information that must have first originated within a mind. The mind of God, our creator. Saying, as evolution claims, that life came from pieces of physical material, that, as such, cannot carry information, which, again, is immaterial, is like saying you can create a computer program by soldering wires together. I JUST DISPROVED EVOLUTION.

Thursday, 1st November 2012 at 7:30PM

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