Saturday, June 25, 2011

Evolution vs. Creationism: Can't we have both?

If you believe in God and the Bible, you believe that God created everything, and that He created everything in 7 days. Okay. I'm good with that, and I'm going to explain here and now why this is NOT the antithesis of evolution.

Let's begin with a story: I was driving back from somewhere to my hometown with a good friend's daughter in the car. We'd been talking about a variety of things - she was about 10 at the time and very curious about life. She was distressed because she had learned at school about dinosaurs, but her grandmother had told her that there were no dinosaurs because they weren't mentioned in the Bible.

I thought carefully about her question. I could have easily brushed the question off with a sarcastic rejoinder such as: "Well, they don't mention cars in the Bible, either, but you're riding in one, aren't you?" Because I cared about her and her grandmother, I decided to tell her what I really believe.

I believe in evolution; it is a science, so saying you don't believe in evolution is the equivalent of saying you don't believe in the law of gravity. I also believe that people have the right to believe in God and the Bible and the story of creation. What I told her was that in my opinion the two things, evolution and creation, didn't have to be diametrically opposed to one another (of course, I didn't say 'diametrically opposed' to a 10-year-old, but you get the idea). What if God created all the original animals and mammals - say, dinosaurs and primates - and created those animals to evolve into the animals, primates, and even humans we have around us today?

She was thrilled with this answer (later, I discovered that her grandmother was LESS thrilled), and I think it caused her to really begin to think about the way science and religion can co-exist. My own beliefs are my own, and I will keep them private, but I don't think people have to choose to believe either in God and the Bible or in evolution. I think there's room for them both in our world, if we just let our minds open up a  little and allow for all possibilities.

Her next question was about how God could have created everything in seven days (This was one argument her grandmother used to pooh-pooh evolution, since scientists claim that evolving takes millennia.). This one was much easier. Since there is nothing in the Bible about how long GOD'S day was, why couldn't His day be as short as one second or as long as one millennium? People who believe in the Bible, believe that it is the word of God written down by men. These same people surely understand and believe that men are flawed creatures capable of, even destined to, make mistakes. So logic tells us that in writing down even divinely-inspired words, men could have, and probably did, make mistakes in the transcription of those words. Anyone who has served as a translator knows how tricky it is to get not only the language correct, but the inflection, the slang, the accent, and even the intent. Why, then, would it not have been likely that the men writing down what they claimed was the word of the creator, may have made mistakes in the language they used? Furthermore, since the original Bible was written down, it has been translated hundreds of times into many different languages and versions - would it not also make sense that in these translations, mistakes could (indeed, would) have been made?

My point is, there doesn't have to be a conflict between creationists and evolutionists. The two can co-exist in harmony, as long as they allow a little flexibility into their beliefs.

9 comments:

Best O' Books said...

Wonderful post--thought-provoking and a great starting point for many a dinner table discussion! Rae, Bestobooks@gmail.com
http://thebestobooks.blogspot.com

Sharon Henning said...

Hi there! Found you on book blogs and following. I'll give you an argument against evolution:
1: It's a theory not a law (like gravity).
2: It cannot be not scientifically proven. For that you have to be able to observe it and repeat it.
3: It contradicts the 2nd law of thermodynamics
Here's why God didn't use evolution to create the universe:
1:God is a God of order not chaos. (1 Cor 14:33)Evolution by its definition asserts that the world was created by a series of random acts.
2: Finally and most importantly: Sin caused death. Evolution requires death to precede sin. It contradicts the whole purpose of the Gospel. Why did Christ die on the Cross to defeat death through the forgiveness of sins if sin isn't the cause of things dying?

I don't know where you stand in your beliefs but as a Christian this in and of itself determines the impossibility of God creating the world through evolution.
Anyway, thank you for your post and take care:)

Sharon Henning said...

HI! Me again. One last thing: Dinosaurs are mentioned in the Bible. Your friend's grandmother needs to read the book of Job. Take care again!

jmrinaldo said...

Best O'Books, thanks for your comment. I think discussing such "hot button" topics is fun! It really gets people riled up!

jmrinaldo said...

Hey, Sharon, it sounds like I touched a nerve in this post. I respect your right to have an opinion on the matter of evolution, but seriously, you don't believe it's science? So, fossils, carbon dating, and cave paintings, etc. mean nothing to you? Do you think scientists just made up the whole evolution thing to get Christians whipped into a frenzy?
I still believe there's room for both beliefs, and I definitely do believe evolution is a science.
One final point: evolution does not address sin - sin is not science.
Thanks for your thought-provoking comments!

jmrinaldo said...

Sharon, just an update from me. I went back and re-read Job, and I found references to a "behemoth" and to a "leviathon". Either of these could be defined as a large animal, but nowhere in my KJV of the Bible does it mention dinosaurs. Incidentally, the book of Job also mentions unicorns and dragons. Are we to believe that these animals exist(ed)?
Joe

Sharon Henning said...

Hi Rinaldo: I wasn't going to answer since your tone was a little condescending (leaving a comment equates getting riled up?)and you didn't counter any of my last arguments although you seem to expect me to counter yours so here goes:
1: Carbon dating has been proven to be highly flawed and isn't used for anything older than 14,000 years.
2:How do cave paintings prove evolution?
3: Fossils, as we now know them to develop, prove a world wide natural disaster since the object fossilized had to be trapped in mud at lightening speed such as in a flash flood (hmm can we say, Noah?)Scientists also uniformly agree that a worldwide natural disaster disproves evolution.
4:Scientists didn't create evolution to get a reaction out of Christians but they don't want to believe in God and have developed a system to exclude him. (Have your read Darwin's Origin of the Species-shall I lend you my copy?)
5: Many people interpret the description of behemoth in Job to be a brachiosaurus.
6: Why can't unicorns and dragons have existed? Dragons sound a lot like dinosaurs to me.
Finally, I've already stated why evolution is incompatible with Christianity: death does not precede sin. The Bible clearly states that sin caused death and Christ's payment on the cross defeated death so all who believe may have everlasting life (John 3 :16)
Maybe I shouldn't bring this up because it's probably a sensitive subject but I read your profile and I want you to know that I have the greatest respect for people like you who man up and take responsibility such as raising your precious child. I'm keeping you in my prayers and for God to bless and keep your daughter.

jmrinaldo said...

Sharon, if you felt my tone was condescending, I apologize; that was not my intent.
To address the issues you presented:
1) By whom has carbon dating been proven to be highly flawed? That has not been my impression of the scientific studies that have been done.
2)Cave paintings reinforce earlier "versions" of people; they also tell stories that show earlier "versions" of animals, thus supporting evolution.
3) Though it is true that fossils could prove natural disasters, they don't necessarily prove that there was only one; nor do they prove that all the animals that became fossilized did so at the exact same time in history.
4) I know many people who believe in God who also know that evolution is a science, and again, I would argue that the two beliefs are NOT mutually exclusive.
5) "Many people" interpret the description of behemoth in Job to be a brachiosaurus. So, if there were brachiosauruses in Job's time, that means Noah took two of them on the ark with him as well...according to your theory, then, brachiosauruses should still be around in their original form. Right? Since they are not...
6) Again, if unicorns and dragons existed in the time of Job, why are there none now, and why are there no fossils of these to be found?
I still don't understand your argument about sin and death, etc. This has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with believing that the Bible is literally true in every aspect as if God dictated it to someone verbatim, and as if it had never been changed, adapted, or translated by anyone but was still in its original language and with its original meanings. No rational human being could possibly believe that with question.
Two more arguments for continued evolution are all around us: over time human beings have grown taller - research shows that as we have evolved, we have gotten taller. This is a scientific fact. If evolution were not true, no such thing could have happened. Don't you agree?
Also, germs, bacteria, viruses, etc. have evolved to be more and more resistant to antibiotics. This is also a form of evolution. See my point?
I'm not saying you are wrong to believe what you do. I'm just saying that it is not the only absolutely true "theory".

Thank you for reading my profile and for your comments regarding my daughter. I feel privileged to be responsible for her, and I don't expect kudos for it. I certainly have learned more from her than she has from me.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these issues with you. You are a thoughtful blog reader, and your comments are very insightful and thought-provoking.

Jen said...

I stumbled across this post in a random Google search for "creation vs. evolution." I couldn't agree more with your points; you sum up my exact feelings on this issue! I was raised a Christian, and adhere to the basic tenets of the faith, but a lot of my views on certain issues, such as this one, don't jibe with "tradition." As a person in the medical field, I see the human body as a remarkable, miraculous thing, and one that adapts in astonishing ways in order to survive. I have always thought that beliefs in creation and evolution can exist in tandem with one another. I always tell people that it's as simple as believing that "God's creation evolves." :)