Monday, May 9, 2011

B6. Evolution Is Not a Four-Letter Word

“Do I believe in evolution?”  Huh?  Well, yes.  Is it possible not to believe in evolution?  Is it possible not to believe in gravity?  Or tides?  Or the sun?  Or sowing and harvesting?  Can this really be a serious question?
It is serious for a particular segment of the Christian community that has been taught to believe that God and science are enemies.  If one is truth, they are taught, the other necessarily is not.  “Says who?”, I ask my Christian brothers and sisters.  Do not be cheated of the intelligence God has given us!
We’ve heard the choice:  evolution vs. creationism, or more recently evolution vs. intelligent design.  To set up such a juxtaposition is to overlook the very nature of God’s creation.
The word “evolution” is the noun form of the verb “evolve”, which means to change.  Thus “evolution” simple means natural change.  If there is no evolution, you are exactly the same size as you were when you were born, with the same level of intelligence, the same level of faith, the same personality.  If there is no evolution, society has always been computer-driven, digitized, global.  If there is no evolution, we are living in the same family structures, the same education systems, and the same infrastructures as our ancestors in the 1800s, the 1100s and 400 BC.  Evolution is as inevitable as life itself.  We have been taught to hate the word, without even stopping to question what it means or represents.
Somehow we have allowed ourselves to believe that God and science cannot coexist.  There is a deep and obvious flaw to this thinking.  If God is perfect, and if God created the universe, then can we not expect God’s creation to be perfectly created?  What exactly is God’s creation?  It is all of nature, everything that is natural, every living thing, creature, or law of nature ever in existence.  It is trees, flowers, grass, weeds, potatoes, bananas, onions, herbs, dinosaurs, octopi, bumblebees, puppies, solar systems, earthquakes, snow, evaporation, gestation, birth, death, gender . . . And do you know what we call the study of all things natural?  Science!
Why, my Christian friends, would God and God’s creation be out of harmony with each other?
Now, granted, humans have brought some discord.  Human scientists have been proven wrong many times, and human Christians have been proven wrong many times.  Science is always making new discoveries that discredit previous hypotheses and assumptions.  Christians have misinterpreted Scripture to condone slavery, to wage “holy wars,” to justify the Holocaust, to silence women . . .
In the 16th century when Copernicus discovered that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our solar system, the Christian world was infuriated!  Martin Luther quoted Joshua 10:13 and called Copernicus a fool.  John Calvin quoted Psalm 93 and asked who was going to place Copernicus’ authority over that of the Holy Spirit.  Melanchthon quoted Eccles. 1:4-5 and called for all who believed Copernicus to be exterminated “to preserve the truth revealed by God.”
May we note, however, that, without the human element, if God indeed created the universe, then science and the creator God, in their purest state, are in perfect alignment!  The laws of nature are set by the Creator.  Gravity is predictable.  Fruit-bearing trees sprout from tiny seeds.  Human intimacy perpetuates procreation.  The phases of the moon change continuously with the earth’s rotations.   All of nature is set to evolve, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. 
The Bible is not a book of science.  It was written thousands of years ago by several different men of scattered generations.  Their scientific understanding was that of the cultures in which they lived.  Just as our generation’s understanding will be archaic to those who read our writings thousands of years from now, so is theirs to the scientific understanding of the 21st century.
And in defense of Darwin, how many of us have ever read his actual works?  Me either (actually I started his Origin of Species twice, but stopped both times before completing it), but I am certain that the simplistic condemnations we hear perpetuated from our church pulpits (“If we came from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?”) bear no resemblance and show no real understanding of what Darwin or any reputable scientist would ever claim.  We never fully understand any issue when all we know about the other side is what our own side tells us.  (Here, read his works for yourself.  They're available on-line for free:

The word "evolution" has been kidnapped and vilified by many of our Christian churches.  It is time we took it back, my Christian brothers and sisters.  To condemn science is to dress in foolishness. Science encompasses all that is nature, and all that is nature is God's creation.  There should be only harmony, and this harmony is visible.  Can you look upon the vastness of the ocean and not see the Creator?  Do you not see God's face in the breathtaking majesty of the mountains?  Was God not evident the first time you held your newborn baby?

Our human scientific understanding has been, is, and forever on this earth will be incomplete, as is our finite understanding of God.  Both the Creator and the Creation are far richer than our human minds will ever take us.  To begin, however, to see them as in tune to each other brings a fresh new start to experiencing the wonders of God.


kellbell said...

"To condemn science is to dress in foolishness." I love that. Now that I am finally free of having to believe the Bible as literal, I am ironically seeing more truth in it than I ever use to. The Adam and Eve story for example...once you can let go of trying to defend it as scientific, you realize there are 'clues' as to it's meaning in other places in the Bible. I talk about it a little on this post, if you want to read it. :)

Kathy said...

Indeed, Kel, there is great depth when we can let go of the legalism and embrace the freedom that Truth brings. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your own blog post. I especially loved your yesterday post.