I suspect that a thousand years from now Christians will look back at the 21st century and say, “How could Christians have let themselves think that?” They’d have in mind our theology—some of the doctrines that are so precious to us and that we consider to be the backbone of Christianity.

And we do the same thing, don’t we? Of the people who lived 500 years ago we say, “How could they really have believed those things to be so important in their Christian faith?” We have in mind such doctrines as purgatory, indulgences, relics, the authority of the pope, apostolic succession, transubstantiation, the Inquisition, the sacramental system, Mariolatry, and so much more.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if a thousand years from now, or even in 500 years, people look back at our cherished doctrines and exclaim, “How could they believe all that?”

Why do I say this?

Because something is happening in our world that is likely to shake our systematic theology to its foundations when we better understand its implications. It won’t change the Bible or the theism that shapes our way of thinking. But as future theologians work at uncovering the implications of this discovery, they may find that some of the doctrines that form the essential structure of our creeds and confessions miss the mark. New insights and new doctrinal formulations will replace those we now treasure. People in the future will study the same Bible but understand it differently. Something is happening in our world right now that will bring vigorous theological revision for generations to come.

What is that “something”?

It’s an insight that began as a hypothesis in 1859, gradually developed into a scientific theory, and is fast becoming recognized as established fact. I refer to what we have been calling “the theory of evolution.”

Scientists recognize generally that the universe began with an enormous explosion—the “big bang.” They provide various scientific avenues to demonstrate the great age of the universe, perhaps as old as 15 billion years. The varied scientific disciplines provide convincing demonstrations of the continuous development of the universe since its beginning, such as producing over billions of years the vast reaches of space and the seemingly infinite number of stars and planets and galaxies that dot the heavens.

Our planet, Earth, has been part of this development. The scientists who study these things demonstrate how life appeared and how it has matured and diversified over millennia. They see this process of development producing a form of life called homo sapiens, and they trace this development from its common ancestry with other forms of life.

There may, of course, be areas of disagreement among scientists about certain items. But very few competent scientists will challenge the underlying process of development. These scientific discoveries can all be subsumed under the rubric of evolution—or, if one cannot get past the negative connotations of that term, we can use the alternative term development.

Implications for Theology
The question facing Christian thinkers is this: What effect does this process of evolution have on Christian theology? Do modern scientific discoveries have any implications for the way we understand the purpose of Christianity? If so, what are they? I am not going to argue whether or not evolution is true; I accept that the findings of modern science are reliable and must be taken as established fact. I also accept that the Bible’s basic teachings are just as definitive as those of science. So what might the implications for our theology be? If evolution is the catalyst for change, in what areas might we need to reconsider our traditional theological understanding?

Creation: We have traditionally accepted the words of Genesis 1—that God created the world as we know it today in seven literal 24-hour days—at face value. Bishop Ussher’s chronology even suggests the exact year when that that happened: 4004 bc. But there is no way we can possibly continue to hold that doctrine any more than we can hold the doctrines of a flat earth and a geocentric universe. One week for God to create the vast universe as we know it? That just doesn’t comport at all with the reality of a universe billions of years old. So we have to find a better way of understanding Genesis 1, a way that embraces scientific insights honestly and a way that also embraces the reality of God’s creative activity.

Adam and Eve: Traditionally we’ve been taught that Adam and Eve were the first human pair, Adam made out of dust and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But sustaining this doctrine is extremely difficult when we take seriously the human race as we know it today sharing ancestry with other primates such as chimpanzees. Where in the slow evolution of homo erectus and homo habilis and homo sapiens do Adam and Eve fit? We will have to find a better way of understanding what Genesis tells us about Adam and Eve, one that does justice to Genesis and also to what the Bible teaches about their connection to Jesus.

Fall into sin: We have traditionally understood Genesis to show the first human beings, in a state of innocence, living sinlessly in the Garden of Eden. They are then tempted. They yield to temptation and God sends them out of Eden. But if we take the discoveries of historical science seriously, where could we fit that story in? It would be extremely difficult to locate any such Garden of Eden, and even if were able to do so in modern Iraq, where is the scientific and historical evidence of a pristine origin and expulsion from that Garden? Furthermore, at which stage in human development would we place this event? We will have to find a much better way of understanding what sin is, where it comes from, and what its consequences are. Theologians will have to find a new way of articulating a truly biblical doctrine of sin and what effect it has on us.

Original sin: According to this doctrine, the fall of Adam and Eve is an actual historical event that plunged the entire human race into sin. Ever since, both the guilt of sin and the pollution of sin, theologically speaking, have been passed on from parent to child in such a way that we all come into the world tainted by them. We say that our children are conceived and born in sin. But if Adam and Eve are not understood as real historical people, then there can hardly be an inheritance of sinfulness from parent to child all the way back to Adam—in which case the entire doctrine of original sin falls by the wayside. We will have to find a better way of understanding not only what sin is but its effect on the population in general—a way that does justice both to the Bible and to science and that helps us understand how sin works in our own lives under God.

Salvation: We have traditionally understood the work of Jesus as dealing with the two aspects of original sin: guilt and pollution. Jesus removes our guilt by dying for our sins on the cross; he removes our pollution by sending us his Holy Spirit. This makes good sense, but if the doctrine of original sin needs to be revisited, theologians need to consider whether our understanding of Jesus also needs to be revised. Does the theory of evolution have any implications for how we understand Jesus’ ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension? How does Jesus fit into the ongoing process of evolution in the fullness of time? How does his ministry impact people in later generations? We’ll want our theologians to tackle this issue in a truly biblical way, preserving everything essential to the biblical story while fitting it into a new paradigm that defines meaningfully what Jesus Christ has done and what it means for us to be Christians.

God’s purpose in history: Evolution is a way of understanding history that describes a process of development taking place from the beginning of time. We, then, need to be asking questions like these: What is God’s purpose in all of this? If there is a meaningful process taking place in time and history, where is it going? What does God want the human race to become? What is our future over the long reach of time? Traditionally we have talked about an end of the world. But if we take evolution seriously—that is, the 15 billion years that already have passed—what are we to think about what the world will look like a billion years from now, or even a mere million? Can we see anything of God’s purpose for time and history, and can we get a glimpse from science of what that future might be—one that preserves what the Bible teaches but also is true to science? Our philosophical theologians will need to take a serious look at these questions. Major changes may well be in store for our eschatological doctrines.

I could go on and give my own insights about these doctrines, but this is sufficient to make the point that we need to take seriously in our theology the theory of evolution, now developed into established fact. Huge changes may well be taking place in tomorrow’s theological world, but we ought not be afraid of facing them. On the contrary! We should be excited and challenged by God’s grace to move onward and upward into more realistic insights into his Word and will. Who knows but that God has brought us into the world for such a time as this, to listen to what he has been saying and doing for billions of years and to take the lead in improving our understanding of biblical theology accordingly?

There are various ways we could respond. One option is denial—saying evolution can’t be true because it contradicts the Bible. Another option is inattention: who cares? Still another option is carelessness, or jumping to immature conclusions. The best option is prayerful attention, listening carefully to everything God is saying both in his original creation and in his redemptive gospel. If we can find the grace to do this humbly and obediently, surely we may trust the Lord to guide us into all the truth he wishes us to understand.

Committee on Creation and Science Report

E. The present apparent conflict between Christian faith and science over questions of origins cannot be easily resolved. Not only are there various interpretations of the evidence confronting natural science; there are also various plausible interpretations of Genesis 1. Thus all sides in the debates about origins should acknowledge that that they do not have a completely satisfactory solution to the problem and that therefore certain criticisms made by some of their opponents are at least partially justified. In the midst of such disputes, the church must firmly confess that which is the clear teaching of Scripture and central to the Christian faith; but cognizant of the legitimate freedom of science to examine the evidence and of the legitimate freedom of exegesis to interpret Scripture, the church must not bind consciences beyond that confession.

F. The Scripture clearly teaches that God is the Creator of all that is, that he created all things good, [and] that man and woman were made in his image to serve on God’s behalf as stewards of the world that he made. This biblical teaching of Creation stands in judgment over all naturalistic, evolutionistic worldviews.

J. . . . Some hold that this clear biblical teaching necessarily requires an explicit rejection of any theory which posits the existence of evolutionary forebears of the human race, that there is a clear clash of paradigms between prevailing evolutionary theories and the biblical account of origins. They argue that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see how a responsible exegesis of Genesis 1-3 does not rule out the evolutionary account of human origins. Others are not fully convinced that this clear biblical teaching requires such a rejection, for various reasons. . . . Some take Scripture (Job 38:4; 1 Cor. 13:8) to teach that God has no intention that we know all the answers in this area. Some believe that we are called to somehow take account of both of God’s revelations whether we currently know how to do that or not and that traditional conclusions would be compelling on scriptural grounds were it not that nature seems to be authoritatively telling us something else. That is not to say that the scientific theories are right, but only that neither we nor the church is presently in a position to state authoritatively that Scripture speaks definitively on this issue.

—from Report 28, Committee on Creation and Science, Section VIII: A Summary of Conclusions, Agenda for Synod 1991, pp. 408-9

 

 

Tomorrow’s Theology

  1. What is your gut reaction to Walhout’s statement “Something is happening in our world that is likely to shake our systematic theology to its foundations”?
  2. Is it possible to “not fear but face” these changes, as Walhout suggests? What is God’s purpose in all of this?
  3. How does Jesus fit into the ongoing process of evolution in the fullness of time? What does this mean for Christians?
  4. Walhout encourages theologians to take evolution seriously and also to tackle this issue in a truly biblical way. Describe the kind of faith needed to bridge the (seemingly dualistic) divide between these two realities.
  5. What is your prayer for theologians and scientists? What is your prayer for the church? What is your prayer for yourself as you meet new challenges to your understanding?


About the Author

Edwin Walhout is a retired minister of the Christian Reformed Church living in Grand Rapids, Mich. To read more by this author, visit Smashwords.com, where over two dozen of his e-books may be downloaded.

See comments (50)

Comments

I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation for Rev. Walhout's article. It took great courage to speak honestly and clearly on questions and concerns on the minds of many thinking believers. I would caution those who are willing to start gathering the sticks for the burning at the stake, and those so quick to declare heresy, that this conflict between scientific truth and contemporary theological positions is nothing new. Galileo said: "God reveals Himself to us no less excellently in the effects of nature than in the sacred words of Scripture…and so it seems that a natural phenomenon which is placed before our eyes by sensory experience should not be called into question, let alone condemned on account of scriptural passages whose words appear to have a different meaning.” Even more to the point, Augustine warned against denying the obvious because of the danger it poses to our gospel mission: “If they [the educated non-believer] find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?”

The truth, as uncomfortable for some as it clearly is, is that evolution as a process for developing diversity of life is not something thinking people can deny. That does not mean every detail is understood, nor does it mean that God played no active part in evolution beyond the initiation. But to deny the truth that God has revealed to us in his natural world to cling to a super-literal scriptural interpretation weakens our credibility and authority on biblical issues of supreme importance. It moves us toward the camp of stubborn Mormons who insist on the lost tribes in the Americas despite clear DNA evidence, and toward those 3000 members of the Flat Earth Society.

Rev. Walhout has merely pointed out some serious theological issues that we must address. Let's stop fearing sailing off the end of the globe and get to work on them.



Amen to Gerald Baron.................. but in the Banner?

Two days ago, I was at a fascinating dinosaur fossil bone bed site in northern Alberta.   Pachyrhinosaurus bones all over the place, skulls and ribs and limbs.  They have excavated parts of 32 different animals, and only uncovered a small percentage, perhaps 1% of the bone bed so far, which is covered by 500 feet of clay.  The interesting thing is that these fossils are in or under a seven inch to 18 inch layer of shale, under which appears to be more clay exactly the same as the clay above the shale.  They look like they all died in a catastrophe in the same place, adults and juveniles and babies, at the same time.  None found above this layer, nor presumably below.   So, you want to re-explain scripture?   How about re-explaining fossils? 

Supposedly these fossils are 73 million years old.  Nothing but clay above, supposedly scoured by continental glacier 10,000 years ago,  but why the clay below the shale then? 

In any case, even an old earth would not prove evolution, and this is a very important point to remember.  Evolution requires an old earth, but an old earth does not prove evolution.  Say this to yourself ten times in a row, so that it sinks in.  Because so often, old earth and evolution are made synonymous, when they are not. 

Gerald Baron, I'm a thinking person, and so far, I do not see incontrovertible evidence for evolution.  What if I was to say that no thinking person could believe that evolution as a theory of mud to man has been proven or reasonably demonstrated?   Does that then make you a non-thinking person? 

Part of being a thinking person means that you should consider the examples you use.  Where in scripture does it indicate that lost tribes when to the Americas?  Where in scripture does it indicate that the world is flat?   Did you know that even in medieval times, most scientists knew that the world was round, and that Thomas Aquinas the philosopher/theologian knew it was round?  Did you know that the earth's roundness was already understood even in 700 AD?  Did you know that the bible talks about the "circle of the earth"?  

If you like, you can follow the evolutionists as they fall off the edge of the earth, but creationists understand quite well that the earth is round and always has been.  Augustine was right, of course, about the significance of nature, but he also understood that man was now inclined to be sinful by fallen nature, something that humans have often denied both before the time of Christ, and afterwards. 

Hello Mr. Zylstra,

As to biblical references to a flat earth, here are a couple: Isaiah 11:12 and Job 37:3. I'd be interested in your reference to the circle of the earth.

It certainly is possible, as you demonstrate, that thinking people can deny evolution. However, I hope you would agree that there is very strong scientific consensus around the process of life diversification called evolution. I hope you would also agree that there are many thinking Christians, equally serious in their beliefs as yourself, who do accept evolution as a process God ordained as part of his creative directives. Despite what some atheist-scientists insist, evolution no more suggests that God is not needed than, as the Haarsma's point out, knowing what creates wind and rain suggests that God does not exist or play a role in the weather. I might be wrong, but I agree with Rev. Walhout, that years from now Christians will be quite surprised that at least some thoughtful Christians in the early part of the twenty-first century refused to believe that God would choose this method to create the stunning and marvelous diversity of life. 

We know what theology looks like with a very literal, non-scientific, interpretation of Genesis. I think what Rev. Walhout was suggesting was that perhaps it is time we look at our theology taking seriously the revealed nature of God through nature as well as scripture. For that call, I applaud him.

 

In John 1 we are informed that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 3:

 

 

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

John 5

 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.

47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

 

Therefore how can one claim to believe in Jesus but not believe what He tells us He did in Genesis and summarizes literally in stone:

 

Exodus 20

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 

For those who claim to be Christians but still prefer to cling to the myth of evolutionism:

2 Timothy 4

King James Version (KJV)

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Fables such as evolutionism: "Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless," says Professor Louis Bouroune, former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research, as quoted in The Advocate, March 8, 1984.

Suggest you watch "Expelled' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5EPymcWp-g) to learn more about the so-called consensus.

 

The "Flat Earth" belief is yet another evolutionist fallacy: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80&Itemid=62

Gerald, Isaiah 11:12 is translated differently in four different bible versions.  In the KJV it is translated as four corners, which theoretically could apply to a pyramid, and in the NIV it translates as four quarters, while in the New Living Translation as "the ends of the earth".  Interesting that the Hebrew apparently translates literally as "wings" of the earth.  So it seems there is no necessary correlation to a flat earth whatsoever from this verse.  Job 37:3 mentions "the ends" of the earth, which  the NLT translates as "in every direction".   Again, Hebrew is "wings" of the earth, which has little to do with flatness. 

On the other hand, Isaiah 40:22 says that God sits enthroned above the "circle of the earth".   Of course, a circle doesn't have to be a globe, but it's closer to a globe, than "wings" are to a flat.  

Yes, there is a large consensus among many scientists, which is significant, but not conclusive, since we know that at one time there was a great consensus among scientists that the earth was the center of the universe, and a great consensus that people could not fly.  At the time of Daniel, there was a great consensus that everyone should worship the king, instead of God, but yet the consensus was wrong.  And today there are thousands of scientists who believe that God created things pretty much as described in Genesis 1. 

Does evolution suggest that God is not needed any more than He is involved in rain and sunshine?  I understand what you are saying.  But as I recall, no where in scripture do we read that God did not use natural processes to accomplish rain and sunshine.   It is even possible that God used natural (though extremely unusual) processes to enable the flood.  But when we read Genesis, there are a couple of things that evolution does not sync with.  Those un-syncable things include "and God saw that it was good", they include "and the evening and the morning were the # day", and they include that God created man, then woman, and then they were good, but then they sinned/disobeyed for the first time.  Evolution is thus different than rain and sun in that it postulates that God did not create man separately, but only as part of a disease ridden, murderous, vicious eternal cycle of life, in which the strong survive and the less fit become extinct.  Now, you might propose that evolution did some things, and God did the rest directly, but you will have to draw a line that evolutionistic scientists are not willing to draw;   they will not accept such a melding. 

The question you must ask yourself is whether the conditions they make for evolution, are really conclusive, and whether they require evolution to be the only mechanism for the creation and development of life on earth.   Evolutionists and creationists both agree that mutations, adaptations, selections, extinctions take place.  Creationists even agree that some level of speciation occurs.  They both agree that fossils exist, and they both recognize that fossils tend to be found in different layers of earth.   But, they do not agree on the interpretation of all these facts.  Now it remains for you to figure out why scientifically they do not agree on the interpretation. 

Mr. Zylstra, are you not engaged in interpreting the meaning of scripture when you are dealing with the texts relating to the flat earth? Are you not finding ways to understand it apart from a purely literalist reading? I agree with you, but you are using a non-literal reading to defend a purely literal reading of other parts of the Bible. By saying "corners" doesn't really mean corners and the Hebrew could be read as wings, you are attempting to defend a reading of Genesis that a day means a 24 hour period. I'm afraid I find your argument contradictory.

I think the crux of the matter for us in this discussion is your statement about creationists and evolutionists. There are many of us who are both and see no contradiction in that. Not sure if you have read "The Language of God" by esteemed scientist and evangelical Christian Francis Collins. I'd hihgly recommend it to you, along with the Haarsma's "Origins." You might find their guide on interpreting scripture to be as helpful as I have.

I believe that there is strong scientific consensus around evolution. As a Christian I believe it is a process that God used to create the diversity of life. The marvelous working of this incredibly complex system and process is all the more reason to give praise to our Creator and Redeemer. Certainly, there is much diversity of opinion in the myriad details--such is the scientific undertaking. 

Going back to what this discussion is all about: Rev. Walhout suggested that if we take evolution seriously (as Christian creationists), it requires us to re-evaluate some of our important theological positions. There are those who do not want to do that, who think it dangerous, and who believe their own personal theology is God-ordained. I, for one, believe there is a difference in my ideas about God and the reality of the God I worship.

Gerald,  yes the passages you mentioned, about the "four corners" of the earth, are not literal.  Literal would be "wings" of the earth.   The assumption is that the intention of the passage is the ends or edges or wingtips or the farthest reaches of the earth.  "Wings" is itself a figurative term, as if the earth was a bird... or perhaps as far as birds can fly.   The point is that four corners is not "literal" because "wings" (Hebrew) is also not intended to be taken literally.   I was not using this as a comparison to Genesis 1;  I was only pointing out that the literal or figurative intention of this passage was not indicating the world was flat as you were suggesting.   The idea that the bible promoted a "flat earth" is a myth, a falsehood, as Joy Adam's link clearly points out.  The earth was known to be round long before a flat earth society was ever formed.  As early as 700 AD and also in the middle ages with theologian/philosopher Aquinas, the earth was well known to be round, not a dome, but a sphere.  The literature is clear on that. 

So now you make a connection that because these passages referring to "wings of the earth" were not literal, that therefore Genesis 1 should not be literal.   However, that is a fallacious argument.  Just because my name is John, doesn't mean that therefore your name should be John.   The way a passage should be understood should be based on the way it is written, as well as the references to it in other parts of scripture.   Yes there are many figurative stories, and there are many literary devices used in scripture.   The song of Solomon uses many literary devices in terms of descriptions, and the prophets use even actual physical real events as a type of literary device to explain God's relationship to his people.   Jesus used parables to teach.   Even His phrase, "Get behind me Satan" said to Peter, was both literal and figurative;  Jesus didn't mean that Peter was Satan, even though it was the words of Peter that Jesus was refering to. 

There is no denying that there are lots of literary devices and passages in scripture.  But just because there are, does not mean that Genesis 1 is purely figurative.  There are figurative aspects in the sense of a literary device, to Genesis 1.  For example, when it talks about a greater light and a lesser light, the difference between night and day is described, while the specifics of sun and moon and stars are implied.  So there is an aspect of description that is not physically explicit;  it refers only to the impact on earth, not to the origin of the light. 

Some figurative aspects doesn't mean that the whole story is pure fiction.   Water and earth are actually separated, sun and moon actually exist, plants, birds, fish, and animals actually exist.   Man and woman are real.   You can argue that "days" are merely figurative, and not literal.   But you would then have to explain why scripture uses "days" as a figurative description.   Even figurative words still have significance and meaning.   You would have to explain what God meant when he said at the end of every day, that He saw that "it was good".   Even if this is figurative, what is it then intended to mean?   You would have to explain why God said, "It is not good that man should be alone".   And why woman came from man's rib, rather than also from the dust.   How does this fit into scripture, and how does it fit into your perception of evolutionary processes?   You would have to explain why God asked man to be obedient, and the significance of man's disobedience.   If it is figurative, then what does it mean?  

Figurative words and passages, using literary devices of all kinds, are still intended to have a significant meaning and purpose.   Every parable told by Jesus was a story, a literary device, but every parable had a purpose that could be clearly understood.   If the parable made no sense, then the application of the parable also would make no sense. 

Are you following the "consensus" or do you really understand evolution (the theory and the data)?   Do you know how fast fossils can form?  Do you know why there are still organic tissues attached to some dinosaur fossils?   Do you know why some newly formed rocks from relatively new volcanoes are dated as millions of years old?   Do you know why some ancient rocks still seem to contain significant amounts of C14?  Do you know the scale of genetic differences between various species, including between man and the most similar primate?   You say that some are afraid to re-evaluate their theology.  Are you afraid to re-evaluate and challenge the "microbes to man" theory of evolution? 

Comments on a couple of posts by Gerald Bacon.

Consensus does not necessarily equal truth. The majority of people live their lives in denial regarding a God who created them and to whom they are accountable.

You make a statement where you refer to "the process of life diversification called evolution." This is a bit of bait & switch and unrelated to the article in question. If you are referring to observable facts of variation within kinds, adaptability and natural selection created within the animal kinds and within human kind this is hardly "evolution" as it is commonly understood. Natural selection is not disputed amongst Biblical creationists and was actually taught by a creationist in the 1800's.  Edward Blyth (1810–1873) was an English chemist and zoologist, Blyth wrote three major articles on natural selection that was published in The Magazine of Natural History from 1835 to 1837.  There can be major changes within kinds, but these were already present in the original pair.  Every change results in a loss of information, not a gain. Dogs do not turn into fish, chimpanzees do not turn into humans.

This isn't about facts or evidence or even who has more of either. Many have chosen to believe in evolution because they feel that since the "consensus" among scientists is that evolution is true, then they will believe in it too.

It's never been a science vs. faith issue, it's always been an always will be faith vs. faith.  The facts and the evidence are all the same, but to borrow a quote, "fossils don't come with a date stamp on them." Historical science is studied but it isn't observable, testable or repeatable. Scientists approach with presuppositions, so even in the case of Christian scientists such as Francis Collins or the Haarsma couple, their results are already predetermined.  They have an a priori commitment to evolution being true and so it is not the facts that lead them to their results, but their faith in evolution. Their books are exactly what one would expect knowing their beliefs, so to those who share their views feel that their books are well written, but to those who do not share their beliefs their books are simply predictable. We need to study origins keeping in mind what scripture teaches and what proposes the most logical worldview. Of course there are times when we need to admit that we just don't know and we need to take God's Word on faith. As I have stated before, those who suggest that the evidence for evolution is irrefutable and that it has been observed in some manner not being truthful either consciously or unconsciously.  It has never been observed and is admittedly far beyond the scope of possibility let alone probability.  

 

What I think John Zylstra was trying to convey is that it is incorrect to imply that scripture teaches a flat earth because it mentions the 4 corners of the earth. In the case of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Revelation, the passages are in prophetic, apocalyptic sections of Scripture, where (unlike Genesis) figurative language is frequently used.  Since there are also several passages that give allusion to the earth's sphericity and since people long before Christ figured out that the earth was round, it would be wrong to suggest that Christ and/or His disciples thought the earth was flat in Matthew 24.  To say that people believed in a flat earth to the scale that many seem to suggest is simply not true.  Flat earth myths are mostly the result of folklore. Weather forecasters speak of sunrise and sunset but this doesn't conclude that they believe in an earth centered universe. To handpick a few passages from the Bible that speak of the pillars of the earth or the 4 corners and to extrapolate from those passages that the Bible teaches a flat earth is simply absurd.  Today our maps are flat and we speak of the people of the East, West, North, and South. These are just a couple examples but it shows that even today we speak of things in 4 directions.  

Mr. Bosman (my wife of 40 years is a Bosman, so who knows, we might be family!), 

First on the flat earth question. There are about 3000 members of the flat earth society today. Why do they believe the earth is flat? Because they understand the Bible to say so. They believe if the Bible says so, in their interpretation of it, that means it is true despite any and all evidence to the contrary. There are young earth creationists who believe in Bishop Ussher's age because in their understanding of the Bible, that's what it says. And like the flat earth folks, no amount of evidence will convince them otherwise.

Regarding my "bait and switch" tactic of saying evolution is a process for life diversification. But you agree that natural selection is part of the process of diversifying life. OK by me. We'll use natural selection instead of evolution, since evolution is such a loaded term. And I completely agree with you that there are scientists who claim far more for evolution than can be proven by science. There are those, starting with Thomas Huxley of course, who claimed that evolution proved that God does not exist. Although masquerading as scientific claims, they are not. But one should not throw the baby of evolution out with the bath water of excessive claims.

 

Gerald, perhaps the problem is that "evolution" is itself an excessive claim.  It's not a baby.   But maybe the other problem is that there seem to be a lot of ideas or definitions of what evolution is.  Perhaps you should explain or define evolution as you see it.   Does it include spontaneous biogenesis?   Does it include development from microbes to man?   Or is it just diversification within kinds or within species?    

Hello again Mr. Baron. So your wife's maiden name was Bosman. That's pretty interesting! My dad came from Holland just after WWII.  He was an only boy, but I'm sure if we played Dutch bingo for a bit we would find some recent common ancestry :)  In truth we are all of one blood (Acts 17:26)

It may interest you that the current president of the Flat Earth Society is an evolutionist by the name of Daniel Shenton. http://creation.com/flat-earth-myth 

As stated in the article, although popular, the idea that a flat earth was taught by the church and that opponents to this idea were ridiculed and even chastised by the church is really just folklore. I suspect the number of "members" you stated (3,000) may be either exaggerated or at least partly comprised of curious web surfers who may either be interested or simply wanting to make fun of the society.  

Gerald, I too believe there is a difference in my ideas about God and the reality of the God I worship. You have eloquently expressed many of my thoughts.

I would love to see some discussion on how we might re-evaluate some of our important theological positions. The consensus here seems to be that that is not necessary or possible. I believe it is possible. I also believe that we should always be re-evaluating our theological positions, because even the best of them can lead to unintended results as they are lived out, so they need to be refined and clarified. 

Thanks Diane, I agree that we need to be continually evaluating our understanding (theology) because there is only one thing that seems certain about it: no matter how convinced we are we are bound to be wrong in most respects. Many years ago I read a book by Bernard Martin called "If God Does Not Die," which of course is not about God dying, but our faulty ideas of God must die if we are to grow "in the grace and knowledge of God." A couple of books relating to thinking through some of the theological implications of what Rev. Walhout has pointed out include Peter Enns book on understanding Adam (can't recall the name offhand), and John Walton's work on a new understanding of Genesis. The Haarsma's include his thoughts on Genesis as a description of the creation as the Temple of God in their excellent book called "Origins."

 

  "...but our faulty ideas of God must die if we are to grow "in the grace and knowledge of God."   Gerald, when I look at this statement I wonder how you will know whether or not you have faulty ideas of God or not.   Perhaps growing in the grace and knowledge of God is a faulty idea... then what?  How do you know? 

Diane and Gerald... if you want to revise some of your positions, you will have to identify them first.   If your position for example, is that scripture is obscure and hard to understand, then perhaps that could be revised.   Or if your position is that there was death and destruction and evil long before man, then that could be revised.   Or if your theology is that God never made a specific promise to Adam and Eve, then maybe that could be revised....

Gerald and Diane . . what you're both saying resonates with me as well . . a recent book (link here: http://www.amazon.com/End-Apologetics-The-Christian-Postmodern/dp/0801035988) called *end of apologetics* makes a similar point about theology - especially as it relates to evangelism and apologetics - being necessarily always in process 

of course, saying things like that, esp. in relation to the topic of evolution, freaks people out . . and it freaks me out too, and probably both of you, if it follows that theology-in-process must amount to giving up any of what i'd call essentials of the faith . .things like the reality of sin, the redemeptive work of Christ, his resurrection, salvation by grace through faith, etc. . . 

the thing is - and it seems like you'd both agree - if something like evolution did occur, i don't believe that accepting it has to lead to giving up any of these essentials . . 

i know that people here want to take a step back and question either evolution and/or whether accepting it necessarily leads to a loss of some of the essentials . . as i've said before, all that's fine . . but for me, arguing those two points isn't why i came here . .

i came to say that faith and evolution can co-exist without violence to either and to recommend resources for navigating that co-existence that (i believe) are better than Walhout . . resources like Enns (as Gerald recommends) . . but also others, like Denis Lamoureux, Francis Collins, John F. Haught, Keith B. Miller, Kenneth R. Miller, etc. . . 

so . . long story short: the path i'm talking about (and Gerald and Diane, it seems) is a possible one, an important one, one that honors God and attempts to understand Him, his word, his world . . and one which is starting to have more and more helpful guideposts along the way . . 

Very well said, Matt. I completely agree. Believing in evolution does nothing to change the essentials. Clinging to non-essentials, in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, seems to be the issue here.

Gerald, Matt, Diane...what do you believe about evolution? What is your definition of evolution? If there is not even consenses among you three, why would it cause you to re-evaluate your understanding of scripture and the doctrines based on it? 2 Timothy 4: 3-4

If this questioning "freaks you out", what will it do to the people you try to witness to? You may understand that God will never abandon you, whatever you believe about origins, but how will you convince someone who doesn't believe in God? 1 Peter 3:15

What are the "non-essentials" here?

hey Rosemarie . . just to be clear, it's the idea of theology-in-process that i said freaked people out . .and that it freaks me out *if* it means a loss of essentials . . in the case of evolution, i don't think it necessarily does . .

as to what evolution is and what our "consensus" definition is, i suppose it's a valid question, but i'm not interested in talking about that here . . the fact is that there *is* scientific consensus about certain evolutionary views and that fact ought to be taken into consideration when it comes to theology . . it's not the only consideration, of course, but it's one . . 

and as i've said here before, whether the "consensus" is right, i.e., whether some kind of evolution happened or not, from an *evangelistic perspective* - which is the one i'm here to draw attention to - there *must* be a Christian response to the issue of how evolution can co-exist with faith . . and to me, this has *everything* to do with people i witness to . . if you look back at some of my previous posts, you'll see that i'm very concerned with what i'd say to someone who "doesn't believe in God" . . not that, in your words, *i* will "convince" them (you'd agree, i'm sure, that doing so is what God does through the Spirit) . . but that i'll be able to have an answer (a la your reference from Peter) for someone who says, "I don't believe in God, but i might . . but I do believe in evolution 100%, firmly, and i'll never stop" . . if i'm forced - as some want to do - to make this an either/or and not a both/and situation for this person, i think that's trouble . . this is what i think we should avoid . .

and, if i may say while we're all here, it continues to be frustrating that *in this forum* the "sides" are so clear . . don't we all want more people to come to Christ? . . as i said, i know the idea of re-evaluation, etc. - theology-in-process - is scary, but (to me) this is still all about how to help more people into the kingdom . . is it really so vital to argue about fossils and the flat earth? . . who cares? . . we ought to care *precisely* about 1 Peter 3:15 . . don't give up essentials in your answer, obviously, but if God doesn't abandon us "whatever you believe about origins," then why don't we let that be a non-essential "in house" issue and get on with the real business? . . 

Amen, Matt. My thoughts exactly.

Ths discussion appears to be somewhat nebulous.  Matt, Gerald are saying that we wouldn't have to give up the essentials.  But they merely make the statement, without showing why we wouldn't.  So to test this, lets examine the question of "the reality of sin", which Matt said was an essential.   My question would be, what is the reality of sin and where did it come from?   How do we know that sin is real?  How would you explain sin to an evolutionist? 

it's not nebulous . . faith and evolution can co-exist without violence to either, that's what i've been saying clearly . . and again, for reasons i've given before, i'm not here to argue about how this might be so . . 

for anyone that actually, really wants to examine how it might be so, please see some of the resources i've posted here multiple times . . 

Hello John, the reality of sin is like the reality of light and dark. It is pretty obvious--assuming you have eyes to see it. Certainly, there are "fools" as the Bible calls them who for various reasons refuse to or unable to see what is plainly obvious to most. But because one believes in a process of natural selection as a way in which God creates does not mean that one throws out such essentials. John, I really have no intention or desire to convince you to believe other than you do. What I do fervently hope for and pray for is that committed Christians such as yourself will deal with what I consider inevitable changes in thinking and theology as we as a church come to grips with scientific fact. Now, hold on a moment. I'm not saying evolution--and certainly not in the extreme form you understand evolution to be--is an established fact, yet. And evolution is by far not the only challenge believers face in coming to grips with what science teaches. I suspect you may know a bit about quantum mechanics including the uncertainty principle, the observation dilemma, the wave/particle duality, the multiverse potential, quantum entanglement and "spooky action at a distance." All these things impact our understanding of the incredible world our Creator has made. Then there's dark energy and matter. Yes, we believers have work to do in understanding what the book of creation is telling us about our God. But we need to approach it with humility, caution and respect for all those whose opinions may differ. If not, we too will be tempted to light the fires for the heretics.

btw, John . . and i hesitate to post this, but feel led to (again) say something like this to you . . at various levels, it's shocking, and sad, and frustrating, and offensive that out of *everything* i said in my previous post - particularly paragraph 4, where i'm trying to make yet another heartfelt plea for exactly the *opposite* of a nebulous, contentious, pointless debate - your retort is what it is . . to back the train up and try to bog things down in defining things . . to be frank, it hurts me and hurts me for you that it's happening, and that you apparently can't see it happening . . 

Gerald, apparently I am a thick-headed numbskull that can't see what's happening (according to Matt). And probably will continue to be thickheaded and obstinate and obtuse, because I don't fall neatly in line with the assumptions being made by Matt and others like him that evolution (undefined) will not have any impact on the essentials of the christian faith.  But at least you are willing to dialogue about it. 

So you say that the reality of sin is like light and dark;  its pretty obvious. Unless one is a fool.  But how would you convince a convinced evolutionist who does not believe in God?  Wouldn't he say that sin is whatever people make it out to be as part of their adaptation to environmental conditions for the survival of their species?  That "sin" can change depending on the circumstances that we live in?  (Getting with the times).  And that sin has nothing to do with God, since God does not exist.  Is that what we believe sin to be? 

John, i'm not calling you those things . . and i'm honestly not trying to hurt you, brother . . any "conversation" between you and i here should've ended with our posts of June 4 . . go ahead and look back . . 

there's been nothing added since then, except unfortunate semi-animosity . . i think a re-reading of my posts will show that i tried to avoid this from the beginning . . were it not for my darn iphone notifications ( :) ) and how strongly i feel about the issue (and the continuing input of others) i'd have stopped hanging around here altogether . . perhaps that's best . .

anyway, just to clear up a couple things from your last post - not that i think it will necessarily help, but just for the record - i never said that evolution doesn't impact the essentials . . clearly it does . . that's why we're here . . i do believe that it can be reconciled without violence to or a loss of essentials, however . . this isn't an assumption, it's a claim .. for argumentation for this claim, please see the resources i cite . . 

and once again: my reasons for not dialoguing (with you, here) are probably clear to anyone watching closely, but if you want them specifically, just look back at the multiple places i gave them (again, as i tried to avoid this) in past posts . .

Here's one for you, John: http://creation.com/cs-lewis-and-the-great-myth

My prayer is that everyone enjoy this beautiful day God made....

thanks, Rosemarie . . i think Lewis' thoughts are applicable here in various ways, actually . . just to speak for myself quickly - in case it's being implied that i need to be eased out of the "myth" gently - i've said here, multiple times, all three of these things: 1) evolution isn't certain  2) i'm not 100% certain about it (one of the reasons i'm not debating) and 3) the truth or falsity of evolution doesn't change our evangelistic mandate to speak to those who *do* 100% believe it . . .  

Thankyou Rosemarie.   CS Lewis was a wise man. 

John, you ask the question: "how would I convince a convinced evolutionist who does not believe in God?" I guess I'm not sure what you mean by convinced evolutionist. I don't believe all who believe in evolution are atheists. A convinced materialist, one who believes that the material world as we currently know it is the only thing that is real and discounts any notion of what we call supernatural or spiritual, is of necessity an atheist. So, if your question is how would I convince an atheist or secular materialist? If I was talking to one of them, I doubt I would start with the issue of sin. I'd probably start by sharing with them a book called "There IS a God," by Anthony Flew. Mr. Flew was one of the most respected atheists philosophers through most of his life but late in life came to believe in God, much to the consternation of Richard Dawkins and his fundamentalist-atheist friends. When asked why he changed his mind he said he would always follow the evidence where it led him. In looking at what science teaches about our world, particularly fine-tuning but also the evidence found in the creation of life, he followed the evidence to God. 

I think we would both agree that discussions about the reality of sin don't mean much without an acceptance of the reality of God. But the point here is that one does not of necessity abandon belief in God, in Christ, in any of the other essentials just because he/she believes that science reasonably accurately describes the development of diversity of life through a process known as evolution.

Great, now I am a thick-headed numbskull squeezed into a small box!  things are really starting to hurt!  Ouch!  And apparently I have consigned "everyone esle to hell", although I can't remember when, but I must have a poor memory in this thick  numb skull. 

Gerald, I appreciate your approach, deciding not to initially talk about sin when dialoguing with an evolutionary atheist.  Because if you did, it would cause problems, wouldn't it.   I am finding it hard in these "dialogues" to actually get straight answers to my questions, and perhaps that is understandable.  Maybe it is okay. 

Did Mr. Flew come to believe in the God of the bible, or in an "intelligent designer"?   I agree the evidence of creation would/should lead one to God;  scripture itself indicates that as well.  I just finished watching a number of videos on the creatures of the sea, from kelp, to certain shrimp, krill, eels, sea lions, tube fish, cuttlefish, squid, and the various species of whales.  The variety is fantastic!  Amazing!!   Each type with its specific purpose and spot in the cycle of life. 

And “repeats himself.”  You forgot to add that.  But I don’t think I saw “thick-headed numbskull” on anyone’s definition of you, John.  I guess that’s like my accusing you of thinking that all people of other religions (even though they may believe in God and desire to honor him) are bound for hell.  Sorry John if I misrepresented you. By the way, John, where do you think people of other religions are bound for?  Heaven?

You expressed appreciation for Gerald’s approach of not wanting to confront the evolutionary atheist with sin initially.  But you seem to take your appreciation back in your further comments. I’m wondering (probably Matt too) how you would approach such a person?

I’m guessing that you, John, are so afraid of giving an inch to evolution because it would weaken many of your arguments (doctrines) for the Christian faith.  And that might begin with the infallibility or inerrancy of the Bible.  And if that were to be called into question then many other teachings could be called into question.  If you let the first domino fall how many others will follow?

Isn’t that why so many Christians are getting on the “genre” motif for the early chapters of Genesis? You can’t read those chapters as historical or literal.  It’s the one way to protect the integrity of the Bible?  Otherwise, the Bible becomes like the inspired books of other religions in which their adherents claim divine inspiration, but Christians know they are all false claims.  Only the Bible is truly inspired by God and therefore true.  Right?

Haha, you got me, Matt. ;)

But seriously, I can see where you're coming from: what does all this have to do with witnessing? It is not essential to your belief and it's not going to be essential to those you witness to. I can see where John is coming from: when it comes to the essentials, evolution has very different answers than the Bible. Walhout's article demonstrates that.

The Enemy is having quite a heyday here; getting us to nip at eachother like this. Joy, the passage you chose: Acts 17, is so appropriate in this discussion because Paul is addressing the Greeks... and according to my computer's dictionary definition of evolution, the Greeks were the first to propose the idea of "organic evolution". Studying the explanation of the definition reveals something to me: different people looked at the world around them and proposed explanations for what they observed: Lamarck studied "natural selection", Lyell studied geological deposits and Darwin combined the two. They are all just men; what is their answer to Job 38? "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?"

Very few people care about how the world came about. Very few Christians care about the issue of creation vs. evolution. But we are called to witness to all people, including the people who "100% believe in evolution". The church has fallen short here(who is the church? We are). First we didn't take evolution seriously and then we started compromising with it. It's time to wake up!

Joy, you are perhaps right to suggest that I am small minded.  I was not suggesting the same in regard to John.  There’s a big difference between saying someone is stuck in a small box and saying they are small minded.  I think John is very smart.  Hence, my surprise that he is stuck in a small box.  I think the editors of this post thought I was making unkind comments too, because it looks like my next to the last post has been removed from the comments altogether.  This one may not make it either.

Thanks for the quote from John 14:6. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” That makes the point very succinctly about the small box that Christians find themselves in.  There are numerous world religions and cults and countless smaller religions that occupy the hearts and minds of the world’s population.  All these religions claim their inspired Scriptures, just as do Christians.  And yet in the Christian’s mind God is consigning the vast majority of the world to hell, even when they may never have heard of Jesus.  On top of that, the Christian claims that only their Scripture is inspired by God, therefore the only true word of God that leads to salvation.  All other Scriptures are false as to leading one to have acceptance with God.  See how small the Christian’s box is?  It excludes everyone but themselves.  And it seems to make God as small as well.

Rosemarie, you may be right about the Greeks proposing some form of evolution.  But of course it was only speculation at that point in history.  There was no empirical evidence to support such a view.  Nor was there any empirical evidence to support Paul’s rebuttal.  The Christian message is one that has to be accepted by faith apart from any proofs.  Most, if not all religions at that time, were speculative (true today as well). 

But Christians have claimed that not only does their message of salvation carry validity but also the Christian Scripture is absolutely true and beyond doubt.  And so Christians of the past (and many of the present) for the most part have claimed a young earth, not older than 10,000 years old.  We can date back to Adam and Eve and then add seven days for creation and rest (says the Christian).  Of course, science has definitely concurred that the earth is billions of years old and that God has been at the creative process a lot more than six or seven days (but billions of years).  Even if you cut that down to millions of years God has been at his creative work a lot longer than what the Bible claims. So now the Christian is beginning to claim that maybe we can’t take the early chapters so literally.  And so some Christians are beginning to hedge on the length of a single day of creation.  Others are beginning to hedge on a literal Adam and Eve and the snake in the garden. I imagine, John is asking where is this all going.  Pretty soon there will be little left of the Bible’s creation story that can be understood as historic and true.  Is it just a myth?  But Christians are hedging because the evidence is leading, increasingly, in the direction of an evolution or process that has taken millions of years.  No longer is evolution simply an ancient Greek myth but is gaining empirical evidence, it’s gaining a more sound footing.

But if you cut down the Bible’s creation story, including Adam and Eve to myth, you will be cutting off the legs of some very important Christian teachings.  Edwin Walhout recognizes where the empirical evidence of science is likely leading and the harm it could do to the Christian message of hope.  He’s suggesting, that if God has been at work on this earth for millions, even billions of years, there’s a good chance the world won’t end any time soon.  That being so, will the Christian’s message become a farce in the face of scientific evidence, or does Christianity learn to somehow accommodate the increasing validity of scientific evidence. And after all creation does reveal God.  I think Walhout asks a good question.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preached Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is wiser than man's strength...But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that know one may boast before him. - 1 Corinthians 1:20-28

I was dismayed as I read this article and, at first, found myself wondering if it was meant as satirical. How can we allow a scientific theory based on chance and impersonal process to act as the judge of God's revelation?  The arguments Rev. Walhout presents do not build up saving faith.  

Well Kevin, looks like you may be into evangelism.  Is your quote from 1 Corinthians part of Evangelism 101?  Is this a little bit like the extreme Muslim calling the Christian an infidel with the hopes of winning him/her over to his side?  Grace and love to you, as well.  But honestly, if this works for you, then you pretty well have to stick with it.   Harriet, evolution does not necessarily have to be based on “chance and impersonal process.”  It’s called theistic evolution by which God is involved in the entire process. God is not likely finished yet.  And it’s wonderful to observe. Edwin Walhout’s arguments, as I see it, builds up a growing and inquiring faith.  Blessings to you.

Roger, salvation is a free gift to all those who will repent (turn away from sin) and put their faith in Christ to save them. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

When we die we will all stand before the judge of the universe. How will you do?

Ever lied, stolen, or looked with lust? Ever taken the God who gave us life and use his name as a curse word? If you can say "yes"  to breaking these commandments of God then by your own admission you're a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, and adulterer at heart. God is a holy, righteous judge. He hates sin! Jesus warned that God, in his wrath, will cast all who sin against him into eternal fire 'where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'. (Matthew 13:42) Does this concern you?

The good news is that God is rich in mercy, not wanting anyone to perish. Because salvation is a free gift to all who humble themselves and come to Jesus. It can't be earned as other religions you sited, require. "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". Then He rose from the dead, and defeated the power of the grave. If we repent and trust the Savior, God will forgive our sins and grant everlasting life. 

Hey Kevin, I guess your last post was your real evangelism message.  I appreciate your concern and your commitment.   I wish you luck in spreading the message.  But I think this comment format is meant to be in response to Edwin Walhout’s article.  I may be wrong but it doesn’t help if we get off on different tangents.  Otherwise, let me tell you about my grandchildren. Just kidding.  Edwin Walhout’s article has definitely given rise to a variety of comments.  For nearly all of us who have responded with comments, we have been surprised by the variety we’ve seen.  Some we agree with, some we don’t.  But that’s what makes a format like this interesting.  If we all agreed with each other, the comments wouldn’t have lasted a page.  I think some of my comments have provided some fodder for several of the responses to Edwin Walhout (or me).  But I think that most of the comments have been by people who have a healthy love and respect for the creator God whether he used a seven day creation or evolution or something between.  So keep up the good comments.

The bottom line is that there is not much evidence for evolution.  Remember, even if the world was old, as radiometrically dated, that still would not demonstrate or prove that evolution was the sole mechanism for generating all of life from primordial mud.  First, evolution is actually not a mechanism at all;  it is a theory that tries to bring together some observable mechanisms into a kind of unified theory.   It tries to bring together random mutations, adaptations, extinctions, selections, speciations, and endless amounts of time to postulate that microbiologists are merely descendants of microbes.  It could make sense, possibly, except that real evidence is lacking.  If evolution was the primary mechanism for biological change, we should be seeing more transitions than we see speciation.   We should be seeing this in present day biology as well as in the fossil record.  However, we don't see this.  It's kind of like saying that everyone is going to the beach, when in fact the traffic is predominantly in the other direction towards the football stadium.  Where is the evidence?  We should also be seeing changes or transitions which have an increase in genetic information.  But we don't see this.  Instead, the changes we see involve a decrease in information.  This is especially true for so-called "speciation", or development of varieties or similar but different genetic lines.  

So a theistic evolutionist would have to postulate that evolution was in effect up to the time of man, and then stopped happening?   And yet, even then, even the fossil record does not demonstrate transitional fossils (fossils of numerous failed attempts at improvements or at increasing genetic information).  

Yes, scripture is quite clear that God created different things at different times.  Even if Genesis 1 was allegorical, this would have to be a minimum take-away from the Genesis story.  Otherwise there would be no point to Genesis 1 at all.   But at least, for a theistic evolutionist, he would have to acknowledge that evolution is no longer happening today, in the time of God's rest both because scripture indicates God stopped creating, and because there is presently no evidence of evolution happening today.   If he could not acknowledge that, then he would have difficulty with his theory that God created through evolution, wouldn't he?     

A former evolutionist, biologist Dr. Jobe Martin eventually became a "creationist", after he had begun his teaching career, when he was challenged by some of his students.  He found that the claims of evolutionists about the origin of various anatomical aspects of many animals, such as "scales-to-feathers", "scales-to-teeth", were simply spurious and false.  Many other characteristics such as the giraffe's long neck and its arterial chambers to prevent problems with blood circulation, or the bombardier beetles ability to spray, or the elephant's trunk, or the penguins nesting of the egg, or beehives, or humming birds, or the huge nest of incubater bird, simply do not have reasonble evolutionary explanations, and intermediaries are missing.   Science itself tells you that evolution is an unreasonable theory.  For that reason, a more literal understanding of Genesis 1 is more reasonable than an "allegorical" reading.

Amen John!

Scripture doesn't support it; neither does actual science so why are some Christians belleving the evolution rubbish. 

 

for anyone still hanging around, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/books/review/francis-s-collins-by-the-book.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1374854616-e6NHyDa7681f%20N8kUh1esw is a short interview with Francis Collins . . much of it not pertinent to this forum, but he does include a listing of resources - from "convervative" to "edgier - on the issue of science and faith . .

I came across this article by Jonathan Dudley and thought it was on the mark. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-dudley/christian-faith-requires-_b_876345.html

In the evangelical community, the year 2011 has brought a resurgence of debate over evolution. The current issue of Christianity Today asks if genetic discoveries preclude an historical Adam. While BioLogos, the brainchild of NIH director Francis Collins, is seeking to promote theistic evolution among evangelicals, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently argued that true Christians should believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

As someone raised evangelical, I realize anti-evolutionists believe they are defending the Christian tradition. But as a seminary graduate now training to be a medical scientist, I can say that, in reality, they've abandoned it.

In theory, if not always in practice, past Christian theologians valued science out of the belief that God created the world scientists study. Augustine castigated those who made the Bible teach bad science, John Calvin argued that Genesis reflects a commoner's view of the physical world, and the Belgic confession likened scripture and nature to two books written by the same author.

These beliefs encouraged past Christians to accept the best science of their day, and these beliefs persisted even into the evangelical tradition. As Princeton Seminary's Charles Hodge, widely considered the father of modern evangelical theology, put it in 1859: "Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science."

In this analysis, Christians must accept sound science, not because they don't believe God created the world, but precisely because they do.

Of course, anti-evolutionists claim their rejection of evolution is not a rejection of science. Phillip Johnson, widely considered the leader of the Intelligent Design movement, states that all he's rejecting is the atheistic lens through which evolutionary scientists view the world. Evolution, he argues, is "based not upon any incontrovertible empirical evidence, but upon a highly philosophical presupposition."

And to a certain extent, this line of argument makes sense. Science is not a neutral enterprise. Prior beliefs undoubtedly influence interpretation. If one believes God created vertebrates with a similar design plan, one can acknowledge their structural similarities without believing in common descent. No amount of dating evidence will convince someone the Earth is 4.5 billion years old if that person believes God created the world to look old, with the appearance of age.

But beyond a certain point, this reasoning breaks down. Because no amount of talk about "worldviews" and "presuppositions" can change a simple fact: creationism has failed to provide an alternative explanation for the vast majority of evidence explained by evolution.

It has failed to explain why birds still carry genes to make teeth, whales to make legs, and humans to make tails.

It has failed to explain why the fossil record proposed by modern scientists can be used to make precise and accurate predictions about the location of transition fossils.

It has failed to explain why the fossil record demonstrates a precise order, with simple organisms in the deepest rocks and more complex ones toward the surface.

It has failed to explain why today's animals live in the same geographical area as fossils of similar species.

It has failed to explain why, if carnivorous dinosaurs lived at the same time as modern animals, we don't find the fossils of modern animals in the stomachs of fossilized dinosaurs.

It has failed to explain the broken genes that litter the DNA of humans and apes but are functional in lower vertebrates.

It has failed to explain how the genetic diversity we observe among humans could have arisen in a few thousand years from two biological ancestors.

Those who believe God created the world scientists study, even while ignoring most of the data compiled by those who study it, might as well rip dozens of pages out of their Bibles. Because if "nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible," it's basically the same thing.

Many think the widespread rejection of evolution doesn't really matter. Evolution is about what happened in the past, the argument goes, so rejecting it doesn't have an impact on policies we make today. And aside from school curricula, they may be right.

But the belief that scientists can discover truth, and that, once sufficiently debated, challenged and modified, it should be accepted even if it creates tensions for familiar belief systems, has an obvious impact on decisions that are made everyday. And it is that belief Christians reject when they reject evolution.

In doing so, they've not only led America astray on questions ranging from the value of stem cell research to the etiology of homosexuality to the causes of global warming. They've also abandoned a central commitment of orthodox Christianity.

Joy, I believe that evolotionary theory is correct precisely because it is not rubbish.  I hope that clears it up for you

Henry, your post is misrepresentative of the truth. Some of the things you list may be partly true but certainly are not telling of the whole story.  Either way they do nothing to either support evolution or detract from Biblical creationism. Some of the things you list are quite out of date and others are either only partly true or just plain false.  An extensive list of why evolution is not logical and cannot be supported could be assembled as well. That said there are some very basic questions that need to be asked before supporting such an idea. For example, how can death and bloodshed be present in a world before sin? What was the purpose of Jesus coming to earth as the "second Adam?" If God is then the originator of sin, how does one evangelize?   Evolution requires incredible faith in the wisdom of man with very limited "evidence" and has nothing to do with observational science. So this is and never has been a faith vs. science issue, but a faith vs. faith one. I'll put my faith in Someone who was there and wrote the account down for us. The evidence we see fits His story much better than the fairy tale man has come up with. I'm guessing you haven't really questioned the "evidence" you have been taught but are simply retelling the story. Many scientists who are Biblical creationists, became such because they came to question the evolutionary dogma they had been taught and realized the problems both from a scientific and Biblical position.

Hey Henry, thanks for your well written and thoughtful article.  It makes a lot of sense to me.  Hence the importance of Edwin Walhout’s original article.  If God has been at work for millions of years, even billions of years, then it is logical to think that human history will likely continue for several thousand more.  If that’s the case, will Christians need to rethink some of their dogma?  Will Christian theology (the explanation of what the Bible teaches) need some revamping to make sense five hundred years from now.  And maybe the time has already come.

Don’t get discouraged by the nay sayers.  We’ll always have them and their worn out arguments.  Thanks again.  Good job.

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