I am a Christian, a follower of Christ and his teachings, and subscribe to the sometimes radical idea that love, truth, fairness, non-violence and forgiveness are more effective tools in affecting social change in the world – in service to what some Christians refer to, as the Kingdom of God. I’m also a rational, reasonable, educated, and relatively intelligent man, with what some conservative believers might call “doubt,” that I prefer to characterize as a healthy and robust measure of inquiry and skepticism. I believe in Evolution, and its foundations in science, and have never considered that belief to be contradictory to my spiritual faith – and here’s why.
Most religious objections I hear from my fellow Christians to Evolution seem to revolve around their interpretation of an ancient Hebrew text still found in most of our Bibles, in the Old Testament, as the Book of Genesis (often punctuated by the absurdity that we didn’t come from monkeys). In it, creation is described in some detail, including an account of the creation of man, animals, and of course, the Earth itself. Most scholars agree that our earliest texts for Genesis seem to have been written in the 5th or 6th centuries BCE, during the time of the Babylonian exile. Even if you maintain that the account was provided to us during the time of Moses himself, who lived by most accounts around the time between 1391-1271 BCE, the earliest the story could have been composed, it pales in comparison to far more ancient evidence available to us that speaks to creation (and its evolution) – found not in scrolls or scripture, but in ourselves, written in God’s second language, nature. The entire Bible contains 3,566,480 letters. Evidence from the fossil record, from the DNA contained in every one of our living cells (shared with every other living thing) tells a different story. Human DNA, which is by no means the most complex, contains over three billion letters – that’s 3,000,000,000,000. I suspect that if God really didn’t want you to know about it, He probably wouldn’t have written the message on every single cell in your body. And yes, Evolution contradicts, entirely, what Genesis says to us, in the absence of crude attempts to interpret Genesis as a parable mirroring scientific discovery.
Frankly, I’m not surprised that Moses, or any ancient living over 3,000 years ago, got it wrong, despite the intuitive sequence used by the author that at least recognized that stars preceded planets in the over all scheme of development. Even Genesis itself does not maintain that all of creation happened simultaneously, but rather, over a period of time (albeit quite dramatically condensed) and in stages. I’m pretty sure Jesus read, or at least knew, of the story Himself, but frankly, He seems to me to have had more important priorities on His mind – most of them far more dangerous and seditious, like revolution and social change, paradigm shifts advocating non-violence and love as alternatives to brute force and violence, inclusive and fair distribution of both societal and spiritual rights and privileges, and salvation from sin, paramount among them. Debating creation and Evolution simply didn’t seem to be a part of His agenda, not least by virtue of the fact that Darwin hadn’t discerned it yet – at least that’s not how I read my New Testament account of Him.
Moses got it wrong. So what? That has nothing to do with Jesus’ message, or salvation for that matter. I’m fine with it, perfectly comfortable actually, and I don’t view an alternative creation account as being particularly threatening to my faith. If anything, Evolution, and its implications, seem to suggest to me, personally, that God is far “bigger” than Moses or any of the patriarchs could have ever imagined. After all, we were just starting to get acquainted with Yahweh back then. I’m cool with that. Really.
As a Christian, I think a lot of us waste a lot of time resisting this uncomfortable nemesis of Evolution we’ve inherited from science – everything from worrying about whether it’s being taught in our schools, to building Disney like theme parks displaying absurdities that depict humans walking with dinosaurs in a desperate attempt to hold onto a myth, and demonstrate the degree to which our ignorance is prepared to support it and reconcile contrary evidence within it. That’s not what my Jesus is, or ever was, about – at all. He was a champion of truth, and an agent provacateur who inspired us to think outside of the box, and to question authority. Personally, I think He’d be thrilled with Evolution, and quite possibly would find an even richer backdrop for His famous parables within it. He reminded us, through His sacrifice, that we are all connected to God. Evolution reminds us that we are all connected to each other, and all living things.
Evolution is not some trick of the devil, it’s not a blasphemy, and it’s not some scientific heretical attack on Christian beliefs, values, or doctrine. It shouldn’t be treated as a form of intellectual leprosy within our churches either. As Christians, we’re called into the light, of both wisdom and knowledge, spiritually and otherwise, and to simply ignore God’s message as expressed through the heavens, and life itself, is nothing short of an insult to the beauty and wonder of it all. If that scares you while you’re sitting in the pew, then I would suggest that you re-examine your faith – because if it doesn’t support truth, it may not be as close to God as you think.
I know I’m not going to get a lot of “Amens!” from my brothers and sisters on this one, and frankly, that’s ok. I love you anyway. I do hope however, that you’ll understand that not every Evolutionist is the anti-Christ trying to tear down your church. If you’re really afraid that you might be descended from a monkey, stop thinking like one, and find out for yourself. I promise you, you won’t lose your soul.