Can you be both a Christian and an Evolutionist?

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How did we and our world come to be?

God directly created the world and the species as we see them during six 24-hour days.
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39%
Each day could have lasted for thousands or millions of years, but otherwise I agree with #1.
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46%
God directly created humans through the process of evolution.
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15%
Life arose spontaneously as a result of the natural laws of the universe. We're the culmination of a long process of natural selection.
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No votes
Life on earth originated due to the involvement of an advanced civilization on another world
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No votes
 
Total votes : 61

Can you be both a Christian and an Evolutionist?

Postby Christopher » Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:08 pm

I'd like to know what you guys thing about being a Christian and an Evolutionist? Is it possible?
(I saw a similar forum thread about evolution vs. adaptation, but didn't want to side-track the discussion there.)

- Full Disclosure -

Bottom line: I'm not here to argue for the sake of arguing, or to cause anyone who's young in their faith to stumble into Humanism. I brought this up because I believe that the creationist interpretation of scripture is really pushing a lot of intelligent and moral individuals away from salvation.

My background: Went in to college as a vocal young-earth creationist. Chose Pre-Med as one of my majors, and focused on microbiology and genetics.

Term definitions, as I'm using them:
Christian: An individual who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Additionally, I'm associating that this individual should have a firm basis in the Word of God, as well.
Evolutionist: A person who believes that the diversity of life on this planet can be traced back through a series of genetic changes/mutations to a conglomeration of inert materials. Additionally, I'm implying that our physical bodies are developmentally related to other species such as the Bonobo and the Chimpanzee.
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Postby xxemozislovexx » Sat Oct 18, 2008 11:18 pm

I wont go theological cause thats not my forte. But like the spanish sayin goes " you can't serve two masters at once"
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Postby jochanaan » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:11 am

I think you can be both, Christopher. Many scholars consider the first chapter of Genesis to be allegorical or otherwise non-literal in its language, while many believers who are also scientists (my father was one) see no conflict between the Bible and science. And there are a number of skeptics (in the best, fullest sense of the word) that see difficulties with both strict creationism and strict evolutionism; such folks may be either believing Christians or unbelievers.

I for one don't believe my salvation depends on whether I believe Genesis is literal or not; the God I serve is very merciful and utterly worthy of my trust whether he created the Earth in six days or six eons. :D
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Postby natman » Sun Oct 19, 2008 7:31 am

I chose option #2, "Each day could have lasted for thousands or millions of years, but otherwise I agree with #1."

I would also say that I believe that it is "possible" to be an evolutionist AND a Christian, to a limited point. By this, I mean that IF science actually pointed to species developing out of other species, then there would have had to have been some point when God said, "This is finally man' and woman, Adam and Eve". For without an actual Fall, forcing the need for sacrifice and redemption, the rest of the Bible narrative, including the life of Christ Jesus is irrelevant.

I strongly believe that all truth and therefore all science, even evolutionary science, points ultimately to a creator, God. However, I do not see that any aspect of evolutionary science, including the geologic record, the fossil record, DNA structure and the laws of physicas and probability point to Darwinian or neo-Darwinian evolution, often referred to as "Macro-Evolution". Certainly, we see modifications within species and/or the generation of sub-species ("Micro-Evolution"). (A "species" is defined here as a group of organizims which are able to "genetically" reporduce). However, we never see the creation of complete new species, and certainly not at the higher levels. And, based on the complexities of the DNA molecule and the accuracy of it's associated replication mechanisms, there simply is not enough time according to the evolutionary model for the plethora of life to have evolved on this planet. Even the greatest evolutionist of all time admit that.

Rather, what we do see is what we would expect to see, thousands of species becoming extinct over time. Rather than the addition of DNA information over time (the generation of new species), we see a steady loss of DNA information over time (extinction).

I went into college after two years of highschool biology and oceanography as a confirmed atheist and neo-Darwinian evolutionist. At the end of my first year of college biology, I was even stronger in my stance. However, during my second year of college biology, I was fortunate enough to have been involved in a state-wide DNA experiment on the Mexican fruitfly which was invading and desimating California crops. In the process, we created some very interesting "one-up" variations of the fly, including one with an extra set of wings, one that was sexully over-endowed, one with a set of legs where one pair of wings would have been, all of which, as it turned out, were detrimental to the survival of the organism. However, each mod only lasted a single generation. What I discovered in the process is the amazing complexity and vastness of information stored in the DNA molecule and it even more amazing ability to self-repair and correct itself. We also found the need for mutations to occur simutaneously and exactly at the same points in both genders of sexually-reproducing species in order for the trait to carry on.

I think that the bottom line is that IF God had used a mechanism such as macro-evolution to create life, and particularly human life, the fossil record would be filled with millions, if not billions of examples of pre-humans and there would be no need for evolutionists to go through all the trouble to create their own "icons" to make their case.
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Postby bn2bnude » Sun Oct 19, 2008 7:46 am

I've got to weigh in with Joch.

I don't see any edict in the Bible that states "You have to believe the world sprung into existence THIS WAY. Other than God did have a hand in it I guess that does leave out your last two choices but doesn't eliminate the possibility of evolution being directed by God.

I don't look on Genesis as allegorical but also know there is some interpretation "wiggle room" so to speak when dealing with what a day is.

Like you, I have been at various times, an avid "creationist". Where I am at this point in my faith... It just doesn't matter that much as long as someone does admit God had a hand in it.

I would, if you are still wondering about your own opinion, read or watch Lee Strobel's "A case for a Creator" book or DVD. I'd also recommend "Expelled" from Ben Stein to give you perspectives on where God fits in with what a creationist or Intelligent Design proponent faces in academia.
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Postby Larryk1052 » Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:45 am

The belief in evolution is not necessary for salvation. Salvation comes from repentence of sin and asking for forgiveness through what Jesus has done for us on the cross. As for the poll I believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis. How to defend this position to "inteligent" skeptics is a subject for another discussion.
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Creation vs Evolution

Postby jimmy » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:32 pm

Without the creative act, God has no moral authority and hence there is no sin. If there is no sin then Christ's redemptive death and resurrection have no meaning what so ever. I have had SO MANY personal interventions by God in my life that I know He exists and He IS the creator of all things. Science has not found a single example of one species actually becoming another. Sure, there are similarities but the wide variations seen in species are due to the vast limits God set on DNA. Read Genesis with an open mind and you will find God telling us that each species was and does reproduce after its own kind. This is a direct reference to DNA! In every example (proof) I have listened to, or read, by an Evolutionist the final "proof" always is supported by one or more logical fallacies, usually the circular argument.

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Postby Jon-Marc » Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:51 pm

I have no idea if one can be born again and still believe in a false teaching like evolution, but God created everything; nothing evolved. Actually, there are lots of people who claim to be Christians who believe in all kinds of false teachings.
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Postby Christopher » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:37 pm

Thanks to everyone for all the involved, intelligent posts!

xxemozislovexx wrote:I wont go theological cause thats not my forte. But like the spanish sayin goes " you can't serve two masters at once"
If evolution was just the way that God created our bodies (to later breathe souls into), then does it really count as a master?

jochanaan wrote:Many scholars consider the first chapter of Genesis to be allegorical or otherwise non-literal in its language, while many believers who are also scientists (my father was one) see no conflict between the Bible and science.
Your Dad sounds like a pretty cool guy! I think he's right believing there's no conflict between the Bible and science. If the Bible is truthful, and our observations are truthful as well, then there must be a way to rectify the two. I like your take on salvation as well. Right on!

bn2bnude wrote:Like you, I have been at various times, an avid "creationist". Where I am at this point in my faith... It just doesn't matter that much as long as someone does admit God had a hand in it.
I'm with you here on this one, bn2bnude. I mean, I could care less how a person believes the world was created. Even if they fancy the Terry Pratchett theory of the world as a spinning disk on the backs of four turtles! My only problem is when people start preaching the turtle model (or any other model of creation) as fact. Having spent a lot of time going to church in a small university town, I saw the young-earth creationism teaching push a lot smart, intelligent, and moral people away from church. That's why I brought it up here. I hope that some Christians can at least examine their view of creationism, or at least see that public advocacy of their creation beliefs might not be helping to bring people into church.

Larryk1052 wrote:The belief in evolution is not necessary for salvation. Salvation comes from repentence of sin and asking for forgiveness through what Jesus has done for us on the cross. As for the poll I believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis. How to defend this position to "inteligent" skeptics is a subject for another discussion.
I whole heartedly agree with your definition of salvation. What are some of the foundations for your belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis? (I genuinely want to know.)

Jon-Marc wrote:... but God created everything; nothing evolved
Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?


Alright, I'm out for now. God bless you all!
- Christopher
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Postby John » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:33 am

Christopher, I don't write much because I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words but I agree with Jon-Marc. There is a web-site you my find interesting www.icr.org it may help you with some of your questions.

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Postby Jon-Marc » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:08 pm

The two cannot both be true because they contradict each other, and I choose to believe what God's word says in Genesis where it states that He spoke everything (except Adam and Eve) into existence. Then He created Adam and Eve by hand and breathed the breath of life into them. There is no mention of evolution having a part in God's creation.
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Postby Hymie » Sun Nov 09, 2008 7:13 pm

It has been my experience over the years that whenever there is a conflict, the truth is most often somewhere in between. I am also aware that when it comes to a conflict between the church (not the bible) and science, the church has not faired too well with the truth. Just because the Bible uses the phrase, “as far as the east is from the west” does not mean that the earth is flat. Just because the Bible says the sun rises and sets and, at times, stood still does not mean that the sun revolves around the earth.
Likewise, just because the Bible speaks of creation in time periods of days does not, necessarily, mean it took place in six 24 hour periods. In fact, the Bible is not clear on what is meant by “days” or the process of creation.
Here is what is pretty clear to me. There is evidence that the earth has been around for far longer that can be accounted for if we take the six days of creation as 24 hour periods.
The other thing that is clear to me is the irrefutable truth that however long it took, and whatever process He used to bring the universe into existence, God did it. That is the thing I can be dogmatic about.
I can also see some credence in the “big bang” theory that the church and scientist spar over so much. The theory says that the whole universe is expanding and that, if you extrapolate backwards, it started as a single point. That sounds very much like God creating the universe from nothing to me.
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Postby Djadja » Sun Nov 09, 2008 7:26 pm

In my response to Christopher's "Hi!" post, I referred to "Evolutionism." Interesting then that this thread asks if one can be a Christian and an Evolutionist. As I defined Evolutionism there, my answer would be no, because Evolutionism claims no place for God is necessary in explaining evolution. As I see it, that would be like saying there is no place for the acorn in explaining how the oak tree evolved from its beginning. You cannot have the oak tree without the acorn. The oak tree is implicit in the acorn.

Does that mean there is no place for chance in creation? Why limit God and say He cannot use chance events? I for one see God's handiwork in evolution as self evident. Indeed, it is a wonder to me how anyone can fail to see God in all of it. Life is a continuous whole, and evolution is our snapshot superimposed on it. We see the acorn, the sapling, and the mature tree, but the tree is one tree. The divisions we impose on it are ours. That's all that evolution is: our divisions on the undivided wholeness* that is God's creation.

Like bn2bnude, "I have been at various times, an avid 'creationist,'" and before accepting Christ was like natman, once "a confirmed atheist and neo-Darwinian evolutionist." So I've not only seen this from both sides, I've been both sides in my own spiritual evolution (otherwise known as the path Jesus has set me upon).

A well known book on this topic published in 1907 was Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson. But my favorite reading on this is by Bob Godwin. His book, One Cosmos Under God, is a very freeform (as in freeform jazz) attempt to show that there can be no conflict between science (if properly understood) and religion.

*undivided wholeness in the physical, not moral sense. Evolution does not mean there was no fall.
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Postby bn2bnude » Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:35 pm

Djadja wrote:Does that mean there is no place for chance in creation? Why limit God and say He cannot use chance events? I for one see God's handiwork in evolution as self evident. Indeed, it is a wonder to me how anyone can fail to see God in all of it. Life is a continuous whole, and evolution is our snapshot superimposed on it. We see the acorn, the sapling, and the mature tree, but the tree is one tree. The divisions we impose on it are ours. That's all that evolution is: our divisions on the undivided wholeness* that is God's creation.


I agree, we shouldn't limit God on how he does things. The only exception I would take to the statement is the word "chance" that you used above. While I don't know HOW this world was created, I do believe that a creator was actively involved. If for instance, as some suggest, creation happened via a theistic-evolution, I would argue that God wouldn't just "wind it up" and let it go. I'd argue that God's hand was in every phase of that occuring.
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Postby Djadja » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:20 pm

bn2bnude,

I wasn't suggesting a Deistic "watchmaker God" who wound up the world and let it go. I agree with you "that God's hand was in every phase of that occuring."

When an artist is creating a painting, he has an idea of what he wants the end result to be. But the brushstrokes, guided as they are, have a dynamic element of chance about them. It is that God has invested the universe with purpose, and within that purpose all events, even chance ones, work for the final result.
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