The way the Theory of Evolution is presented can sometimes evoke feelings of disgust. The Christian may become instantly defensive, reminding himself not to be persuaded by the secular agenda. He may think that evolution changes who we are on a fundamental level. If true, it would mean that human beings are mere animals, the Bible is a fairy tale, and life is ultimately meaningless. This may be because atheistic scientists have taken a few too many victory laps with the Theory of Evolution. As Richard Dawkins said on page six of The Blind Watchmaker, “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” That might be one way to look at it. Yet at the same time, evolution reminds us of the beauty of Christ.
Most readers probably know a fact or two about Biblical Evolution (otherwise known as theistic evolution). For the Biblical Evolutionist, the Theory of Evolution does not change who we are. We still have our identity in Christ. It does not compromise the creation narratives. We can still take the text seriously. In fact, we might even interrupt Richard Dawkins’s victory lap because Biblical Evolution outstrips naturalistic evolution. Yet in a deeper way, Biblical Evolution reminds us of the beauty of Christ.
A Story of Resilience And Triumph
Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. Paul reminds us in Romans 1 that creation testifies to God’s attributes. When we look at the night sky or contemplate the expanse of the universe, we might be overwhelmed at the greatness of the cosmos. This is a mere metaphor, a shadow, of the greatness of Christ. But that awe does not end with cosmology. It continues even as we study the history of life. Evolution reminds us of the beauty of Christ, too.
Think of your ancestors of the last millennia. There were families and people bearing faces similar to yours who were alive during the most important moments in human history. Imagine that if you travel a bit further back, your ancestors lived in caves or even in the forest. Imagine that they had a bit more hair on their bodies than modern humans. They felt love, developed communities and triumphed over predators. Ultimately, those communities of our ancestors in the jungle transformed into modern human culture. Interestingly, we still carry within us many residual effects of those days; we bear the psychological traits necessary for the survival of our ancestors.
With that in mind, some rhetoricians argue that in the Theory of Evolution, death is the driving force of human history. Death is the hero. But I think that is just a case of summarizing somebody else’s view uncharitably. Death is not the hero. Community is the hero. Mankind persisted against incredible odds, migrating from the deserts of Africa and ultimately to the Promised Land that God promised to Abraham. The idea that a species could develop from a group of wandering apes just trying to survive, to the society that we have today, replete with books, debates, universities and Hollywood inspires as much awe as the expanse of the heavens. It is a metaphor for the glory of Christ.
It Deepens The Carmen Christi
The Carmen Christi is Philippians 2:5-11, thought by most theologians to be an early Christian hymn. The reason it is so significant is that it creates the basis for trinitarian theology. It testifies to, first of all, the deity of Christ, telling us that Christ is God. But it also says that prior to the incarnation, Christ was God, and yet did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, hence distinguishing between the Father and the Son and displaying an eternal relationship in the Godhead. Yet the Carmen Christi is about humility. It teaches what Christ did, surrendering his status and glory and taking on the nature of a servant.
Some people cringe in disgust at the idea of evolution, snarling as they remind us, “I’m not related to a monkey.” I can understand the revulsion in one sense, because there is a difference between man and beast. We are made in the image of God. At the same time, why do we esteem ourselves so much higher than animals that we would revolt in disgust at the idea? Think of how much greater we are than animals. In comparison, how much greater is Christ than mankind? Yet he surrendered his status and become a man.
When theologians talk about the incarnation, they refer to it as the humiliation. While we may revel in the idea of being human, above the animals, and revolt in disgust as someone suggests that we might be related to lower animals, Christ willingly humiliated himself by taking on the very nature of the scum of the earth. If the God-man was the offspring of a pack of wandering apes, struggling for survival, how much deeper is his humiliation, knowing exactly what he became? How much more profound is Paul’s message of humility?
Evolution Provides A Fuller Creation Narrative
I am not a concordist. I do not think we need to find a scientific model in the creation narratives. The creation narratives seem more like literature from the ancient Near East. Genesis is the word of God, but God let human beings write his word. Those human beings were influenced by the culture they lived in. Interestingly, our knowledge of that world began expanding as our knowledge of natural history was expanding.
There is a principle in hermeneutics known as the grammatical-historical principle. Proper exegesis entails understanding the text as literature, and as a piece of work deriving from its cultural context. As we learn more about the ancient Near East, proper hermeneutics dictate that we adapt how we interpret the creation narratives, not because of scientific input but historical input.
Further, as Biblical Evolutionists, we can glorify Christ by approaching his creation with scientific integrity. Most readers are probably familiar with the scientific method. The scientific method forces scientists to begin with a hypothesis for understanding a piece of data and testing that hypothesis. It does not permit the scientist to cling to unjustified assumptions, or to force the data to conform to their assumptions.
Consider that the prominent creationist ministry Answers in Genesis wrote, “The evolutionary biologist and creation biologist have different presuppositions regarding earth’s history. Therefore, they draw different conclusions when examining the same evidence.” On their model, everybody is skewing the evidence to favor their worldview, which of course they think justifies their betrayal of the scientific method. It is a clever rhetorical point, but nonetheless is still a betrayal of the scientific method. Biblical Evolution does not come with that sort of compromise.
To illustrate the severity of this point, biblical exegesis works in a manner similar to the scientific method. One of the first principles a theology 101 student will learn is everything she brings to the table. There is so much cultural baggage and traditional fluff that will influence her interpretation. Her goal should be strip herself of it as well as she can and understand the text of Scripture on its own terms. Imagine if you were to encounter an Arian (someone who denies that Jesus is God) who said, “We all have the same Scripture, we just interpret it according to our worldview.” They are confessing to twisting data and lacking any sort of exegetical integrity. Why is this behavior appropriate? Biblical Evolution reminds us of the beauty of Christ because it encourages us to behave with scientific integrity.
If Biblical Evolution reminds us of the beauty of Christ, why are so many Christians against it?
There is a prevailing narrative that many of us have unfortunately boughten into. We see it in our churches, politics, schools and in the mouths of laymen. We might hear somebody say that she is not so interested in religion because she is more influenced by science. People actually believe that there is a dichotomy, there is science or religion, and you cannot have both. Rather than pointing out that this is a false dichotomy, many Christians have positioned themselves on the losing end of this – exactly where the secularists want them. They will say, implicitly, “Ah, yes, it is indeed science versus religion. And let me tell you, sir, religion wins.” Many Christians oppose evolution simply because that is the relevant narrative.
We associate it with naturalism
Part of that narrative is that evolution is to be associated with naturalism. Naturalism is the doctrine that the natural world all that ever was, is, or will be. Evolution is part of the story, another way for the secularists to tell us that we can have a universe without God. But as I pointed out elsewhere, Biblical Evolution makes a bit more sense than naturalistic evolution. The fact that it took a long time does not mean that God is ruled out. In fact, that seems to be God’s mode of operation. He usually takes a very long time and lets the natural processes unfold. If we believe that God takes nine months to create one baby, and he uses a natural process, how long should it take him to create the entire human race?
How Evolution Reminds Us of The Beauty of Christ
Christ is the Creator of all, and if he chose to create us with natural processes, who are we to object? Should it be so shocking if our first glance at literature written 5000 years ago in a different world might not yield the most accurate impression? Evolution is not about atheism, as Richard Dawkins argues. We should look evolution in the same way that we look at the night sky, with awe and wonder at God’s creation.
How The King James Version Teaches Evolutionary Biology
The Case For Animal Death Before The Fall
CEREBRAL FAITH: Why Evolution Shouldn’t Be A Surprise