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My Take: Jesus would believe in evolution and so should you
The most compelling evidence for evolution comes from the study of genes.
April 10th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Jesus would believe in evolution and so should you

Editor's Note: Karl W. Giberson, Ph.D., is vice president of The BioLogos Foundation and is the author or coauthor of seven books, including The Language of Science and Faith.

By Karl W. Giberson, Special to CNN

Jesus once famously said, “I am the Truth.”

Christianity at its best embodies this provocative idea and has long been committed to preserving, expanding and sharing truth. Most of the great universities of the world were founded by Christians committed to the truth—in all its forms—and to training new generations to carry it forward.

When science began in the 17th century, Christians eagerly applied the new knowledge to alleviate suffering and improve living conditions.

But when it comes to the truth of evolution, many Christians feel compelled to look the other way. They hold on to a particular interpretation of an ancient story in Genesis that they have fashioned into a modern account of origins - a story that began as an oral tradition for a wandering tribe of Jews thousands of years ago.

This is the view on display in a $27 million dollar Creation Museum in Kentucky. It inspired the Institute for Creation Research, which purports to offer scientific support for creationism.

And it’s hardly a fringe view. A 2010 Gallup poll indicated that 4 in 10 Americans think that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” (http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/four-americans-believe-strict-creationism.aspx)

While Genesis contains wonderful insights into the relationship between God and the creation, it simply does not contain scientific ideas about the origin of the universe, the age of the earth or the development of life.

For more than two centuries, careful scientific research, much of it done by Christians, has demonstrated clearly that the earth is billions years old, not mere thousands, as many creationists argue. We now know that the human race began millions of years ago in Africa - not thousands of years ago in the Middle East, as the story in Genesis suggests.

And all life forms are related to each other though evolution. These are important truths that science has discovered through careful research. They are not “opinions” that can be set aside if you don’t like them.

Anyone who values truth must take these ideas seriously, for they have been established as true beyond any reasonable doubt.

There is much evidence for evolution. The most compelling comes from the study of genes, especially now that the Human Genome Project has been completed and the genomes of many other species being constantly mapped.

In particular, humans share an unfortunate “broken gene” with many other primates, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and macaques. This gene, which works fine in most mammals, enables the production of Vitamin C. Species with broken versions of the gene can’t make Vitamin C and must get it from foods like oranges and lemons.

Thousands of hapless sailors died painful deaths scurvy during the age of exploration because their “Vitamin C” gene was broken.

How can different species have identical broken genes? The only reasonable explanation is that they inherited it from a common ancestor.

Not surprisingly, evolution since the time of Darwin has claimed that humans, orangutans, chimpanzees, and macaques evolved recently from a common ancestor. The new evidence from genetics corroborates this.

Such evidence proves common ancestry with a level of certainty comparable to the evidence that the earth goes around the sun.

This is but one of many, many evidences that support the truth of evolution - that make it a “sacred fact” that Christians must embrace in the name of truth. And they should embrace this truth with enthusiasm, for this is the world that God created.

Christians must come to welcome - rather than fear - the ideas of evolution. Truths about Nature are sacred, for they speak of our Creator. Such truths constitute “God’s second book” for Christians to read alongside the Bible.

In the 17th century, Galileo used the metaphor of the “two books” to help Christians of his generation understand the sacred truth that the earth moves about the sun. “The Bible,” he liked to say, “tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens ago.”

To understand how the heavens go we must read the book of Nature, not the Bible.

The Book of nature reveals the truth that God created the world through gradual processes over billions of years, rather than over the course of six days, as many creationists believe.

Evolution does not contradict the Bible unless you force an unreasonable interpretation on that ancient book.

To suppose, as the so-called young earth creationists do, that God dictated modern scientific ideas to ancient and uncomprehending scribes is to distort the biblical message beyond recognition. Modern science was not in the worldview of the biblical authors and it is not in the Bible.

Science is not a sinister enterprise aimed at destroying faith. It’s an honest exploration of the wonderful world that God created.

We are often asked to think about what Jesus would do, if he lived among us today. Who would Jesus vote for? What car would he drive?

To these questions we should add “What would Jesus believe about origins?”

And the answer? Jesus would believe evolution, of course. He cares for the Truth.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Karl W. Giberson.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Faith Now • Opinion • Science

soundoff (3,562 Responses)
  1. Lorene Filippini

    Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. The several kinds of anemia are produced by a variety of underlying causes. It can be classified in a variety of ways, based on the morphology of RBCs, underlying etiologic mechanisms, and discernible clinical spectra, to mention a few. The three main classes include excessive blood loss (acutely such as a hemorrhage or chronically through low-volume loss), excessive blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or deficient red blood cell production (ineffective hematopoiesis).',.."

    Till next time
    <http://foodsupplementdigest.com/index.php

    June 7, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  2. michelle

    I dont believe this crap this is alllllllllll wrong every wasnt just an "accident". There must of been a creator God. If there was a series of accidents that made everything perfect, then dont you think in this century there would be accidents stilll going on. My dad said "Accidents don't happen there caused of carelessness." I just hope that people come on this website and think this crap is all true. BECAUSE IT ISNT!

    May 21, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  3. Cain

    THE THEORY OF THE ORIGIN OF LIFE, IS BASED ON EVOLUTION. WATCH THIS VIDEO AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY THE ORIGIN OF LIFE DIRECTLY CONNECTS TO JESUS. THIS COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE. SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE IS DISCUSSED.

    March 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  4. Evolution is Divine

    This "God" does not just govern life, but also the inanimate physics of the universe which birthed life and allowed it to progress to a point where it now has a consciousness capable of deciphering itself through our subjective perspectives and realities. Those laws of physics are infallible, and I for one am grateful that they operate as they do because life as we know it depends on it.

    That said, sickle-cell anemia, cancer, malaria, ebola, etc. are all pieces of the fabric of life, a part of the design, and all of their operations are manifestations of the physics of our universe which allow for our wonderful biotic world to exist. In that sense, in the sense that these laws of physics never fail even to the detriment of living beings, yes, God is infallible. Our subconscious understanding of the laws of physics and the natural laws He has set forth to allow our existence to come about cannot be observed, and to say that He is flawed because we see disease is viewing things from a very limited point of view, that being a living human being with an aversion to disease and loss of health.

    The argument that because there is suffering in the world, God is not perfect is very limited. It presupposes that in order for something to be perfect, we must be capable of observing the perfection. As I mentioned before, our subconscious understanding of the laws of the universe does not question the perfection which allows us to breath, drink, eat, and procreate, it simply understands that perfection because ultimately every cell division, firing of a neuron, lysis of a cell, infection etc. is subject to those laws, whether we consciously see them as perfect or not.

    It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't. You are here. I am here. The laws of the universe which allow us to be here are perfect and infallible, whether we like them or not. And if they are fallible, then what good is the rigorous activity of discerning them through science?

    January 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  5. jesusay

    You should read this Bible study on EXACTLY what Jesus Would Say regarding Evolution: http://www.jesusay.com/vb5/forum/edification/what-would-jesus-say/342-what-would-jesus-say-about-the-theory-of-evolution#post342

    You're way off base, Jesus would not believe in Evolution. Jesus said that He IS The Word and the Word (The Bible) has a whole different story on evolution, including many scriptures that might go unnoticed on the subject.

    January 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Cain

      WATCH MY VIDEO AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY.

      March 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  6. LillyCoths

    I am a Biology major. "you can not teach Biology without evolution" -my prof. Personally, I love the idea that God could create life slowly out of a single celled living organism. Like a painter (or at least a good one) you must start and then build upon your colors. God is not some magician in the sky ....Poof it exists. Take any theology course and you will see how detailed and methodical the character of God is. Thus logically it would be against his nature to just poof something into existence. I love biology, every pain staking detail of DNA -one mess up in an amino acid sequence and you get sickle-cell anima, or the proteins don't function correctly. Life is much more complex than poof. However, It is not random either.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      LillyCoths,

      So this "God" painstakingly designs sickle-cell anemia and each and every other nasty, debilitating and fatal genetic condition?

      January 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Evolution is Divine

      A Frayed Knot,

      This "God" does not just govern life, but also the inanimate physics of the universe which birthed life and allowed it to progress to a point where it now has a consciousness capable of deciphering itself through our subjective perspectives and realities. Those laws of physics are infallible, and I for one am grateful that they operate as they do because life as we know it depends on it.

      That said, sickle-cell anemia, cancer, malaria, ebola, etc. are all pieces of the fabric of life, a part of the design, and all of their operations are manifestations of the physics of our universe which allow for our wonderful biotic world to exist. In that sense, in the sense that these laws of physics never fail even to the detriment of living beings, yes, God is infallible. Our subconscious understanding of the laws of physics and the natural laws He has set forth to allow our existence to come about cannot be observed, and to say that He is flawed because we see disease is viewing things from a very limited point of view, that being a living human being with an aversion to disease and loss of health.

      The argument that because there is suffering in the world, God is not perfect is very limited. It presupposes that in order for something to be perfect, we must be capable of observing the perfection. As I mentioned before, our subconscious understanding of the laws of the universe does not question the perfection which allows us to breath, drink, eat, and procreate, it simply understands that perfection because ultimately every cell division, firing of a neuron, lysis of a cell, infection etc. is subject to those laws, whether we consciously see them as perfect or not.

      It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't. You are here. I am here. The laws of the universe which allow us to be here are perfect and infallible, whether we like them or not. And if they are fallible, then what good is the rigorous activity of discerning them through science?

      January 24, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.