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Humans Are Special, But Genesis Is Fuzzy

Today we continue our series on how we, as Christians, can discuss and debate possibly devisive issues. We’re looking specifically at the issue of Christian evolution v. creationism (or Intelligent Design). I’ve asked my friend, Marcus Goodyear, to guest post today on the view of Christian evolution.

After watching 2001 as a boy, I worried I’d committed some sort of felony. I asked my dad about the gorilla-men. “My Sunday school teacher told us God made the world in six days.”

“That’s true, son,” my dad said. “It’s just a movie.”

Today we continue our series on how we, as Christians, can discuss and debate possibly devisive issues. We’re looking specifically at the issue of Christian evolution v. creationism (or Intelligent Design). I’ve asked my friend, Marcus Goodyear, to guest post today on the view of Christian evolution.

After watching 2001 as a boy, I worried I’d committed some sort of felony. I asked my dad about the gorilla-men. “My Sunday school teacher told us God made the world in six days.”

“That’s true, son,” my dad said. “It’s just a movie.”

I sighed, relieved that everything was right with the world again. I had the power to understand God.

But my dad wasn’t finished. “God created the world in six days, but did you know that a day with God can be like a thousand years? Check 2 Peter.”

I did, and I found this: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

I didn’t go back to Genesis and read a six thousand day creation. Instead, I wondered if maybe all of our numbers and descriptions of God were a little fuzzy. God isn’t bound by days and millennia.

I left it alone for a long time, but I never understood why so many Christians get so upset by evolution. Why didn’t they get more upset about poverty or war or greed?

***

Fast forward to the summer of 2007. Dr. Francis Collins and his team had finished decoding the human genome. Then Dr. Collins wrote The Language of God. In an interview with him, I asked him about his dream of starting the Bio Logos Foundation. Was he comfortable with being the spokesperson for Christian evolution?

I’m not sure what I expected him to say. Maybe I thought he would rally the troops of Christian Evolutionists to take on Intelligent Design. Maybe I expected him to express confidence that he would help his side win this war of ideas.
Instead he said this war of ideas isn’t necessary:

 

One of the great tragedies of our current era is that evolution is being portrayed as a threat to God. If science is God’s gift to us, along with the intelligence to explore his world, God could hardly be threatened by what we discover. It’s all his creation. The truth is the truth, and it’s all God’s truth. I reach out as much as I can to my Christian brothers and sisters and try to make a case that this is an unnecessary battle.

 

I realized that I was out of my league. I could no more debate him on the merits of evolutionary theory than they could debate me on the theme of mortification in Jane Austen’s books. (Ah, the glories of getting a Masters in English.)

At some point, I would have to trust the experts on this issue. Karl W. Giberson echoes this in his recent Books and Culture interview. He told Dr. Collins, “I believe in evolution because people like you that I trust have told me it’s true . . . All I know is that people I trust say it’s true and people that I have less confidence in say it is not.”

Ultimately, that is not very assuring.

But then I read Dr. Collins again:

 

It’s an awful circumstance we’ve put young people in. Many of them, raised in conservative Christian homes and taught that evolution is wrong, send emails to me every week. They are in crisis, trying to figure out whether the church that seems to be lying to them about origins is lying to them about everything else.

 

This is not a matter of trusting these men more than I trust the Bible. It is a matter of submitting to authorities. The beginning of Genesis is fuzzy enough without evolution. But then, I don’t see the need to believe in a young earth—or even an old earth without evolution.

***

“But man is special,” our pastor told me over lunch one day.

For the past four years I’ve been a member at a conservative church. Recently, in his sermon, our pastor labeled evolution as one of the great heresies being introduced into the church.

“Man is special,” he said. “We didn’t evolve from apes. And we need to weed out that kind of heresy.”

“Do you really want to weed me out?” I asked. “When you say that kind of stuff, I hear you saying, ‘Marcus, you are not welcome at our church.’ ”

I believe humans are special too. I just don’t see why evolution couldn’t be God’s method for creating the world—and his special creation, man. In the end he agreed not to compare evolutionists to Jezebel anymore. And I agreed not to make an issue of it publicly.

Really, that’s the best I can hope for unless we leave our church.

Even if all the scientists and science fiction movie makers are wrong, we ought to stop making an issue out of evolution, so others will be able to consider Jesus without distraction.

The heavens declare the glory of God. The human genome declares the glory of God. Let’s encourage scientists to find him there.

The Bible is true. I believe that. But I also believe that God is much bigger than our interpretations of the Bible.

Marcus Goodyear is the senior editor for The High Calling and Christianity Today’s Faith in the Workplace. He earned his bachelor’s of English from Texas A&M and his master’s of English from the University of Texas at San Antonio and taught English and Creative Writing for ten years. He blogs at GoodWordEditing.

Read part one of the series here.

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Heather Goodman received her Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and currently homeschools her three children. Her writing can be found in If:Equip, Art House, and other publications.

6 Comments

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    Lunch Pastor

    I can say with much
    I can say with much confidence (both pulpit notes and cd of the sermon) that the pastor quoted here said, “man did not evolve”. He did not question old earth, new earth; macro v. micro evolution nor the way God went about creating the universe.

    The great heresy was not evolution but the idea that mankind is not unique. That we are controlled by millions of years of genetic impulses and are therefore not responsible for our actions nor accountable to a holy God who created us in His image.

    The thrust of the sermon was churches who accept any teachings without subjecting it to the word of God displease God. The point was not that evolutionists were Jezebel’s that needed to be rooted out nor that evolution itself was wrong. The point was the church needs to be focused on the Bible, the love of Jesus and the mission of bringing light to a dark world.

    As a theologian I do not believe Genesis is fuzzy. God communicates very clearly. It is people who have a hard time seeing because of our preconceived ideas and the ramifications of changing the lenses we see our lives through to the reality that God has spoken into existence. The word of God is not fuzzy but mans perception of it is like looking through a dim glass. This applies to scientists, writers and pastors.

    Science and theology in their pure forms declare the glory of God. May Jesus be glorified.

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    Sue Bohlin

    You have to define evolution!

    Dr. Collins is a champion of theistic evolution, the idea that God may have used evolution to create. But he (and other Bible-believing evolutionists) are not dealing with the crux of the problem–which definition of evolution they mean.

    Evolution has several meanings depending on who you’re talking to. It can range from simply "change over time" (which no one has a problem with) to the meaning inherent in Charles Darwin’s theory: that undirected, purposeless, random mutations are responsible for the rise of non-life to life. That "all life forms today are descended from a single original life form that itself evolved from purely chemical precursors around 4 billion years ago." [My husband, Dr. Ray Bohlin, answering an email on the Probe.org website.]

    The point of evolutionary theory as a mechanistic explanation for how life happened is to push God out of the picture. The problem is that it’s a mechanistic explanation without a mechanism. Natural selection explains the variety within kinds, but it doesn’t explain how we got horses, wasps, and woodpeckers in the first place. It doesn’t explain the origin of complex adaptations like eyes, and flight, and sexual reproduction.

    I understand the logic of saying " I just don

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    Heather A. Goodman

    I should mention the

    I should mention the following resources that Marcus passed along to me. I didn’t have room to put them in post itself (it was getting too long), so I’ll add them here for those who are interested:

    Loving God with a Scientific Mind. An interview
    with Dr. Francis Collins. Part 1
    and Part 2

    From Curiosity to Jesus. An interview with Dr.
    John Medina.


    Evolution, the Bible, and the Book of Nature. An
    interview with Dr. Francis Collins.

    The BioLogos Foundation

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    Ajo

    There is no proof for the
    There is no proof for the “Origin” as described by Science and also “Matter” by its nature is not intelligent. So there is no need to accept an evolutionary world view. If you look at anything in this world, random process cannot build a complex system. And the single living cell is as complex as a space shuttle with even a disaster recovery process!

    If man was not created by God, but with millions of years of evolution, when did the fall happened? Why did Jesus came? It all becomes just a fuzzy story!..Of course we all can make stories or try to make God as per our understanding, but will not reach where God wants you to be!

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    David Austin

    Re: when is a day not a literal day

    To all;
    I dont have much time to comment on the views presented in this article but I must comment on the statement that implies that the DAY in Gen 1:5 is not a literal day.
    The author appears to imply that a day in Genesis 1:5 is not a literal day. She references the verse in 2 Peter 3:8 . Her contention that the day in gen 1:5 is not a literal day is not supported by modern biblical scholarship. Specifically, the scholars who translated the NETBible ( http://netbible.org ) example; If you go to Gen 1:5 in the NETBible and look at the notes you will read:

    "God called 1 the light

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      Heather A. Goodman

      I’d like to note that the
      I’d like to note that the views to which you respond were written by Mark.