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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 • Opinion • Science

soundoff (3,562 Responses)
  1. Truth Teller

    Things evolve, yes, but Jehovah directly created all life on earth. How can anyone believe that life started by itself without intervention from a creator?

    April 10, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Colin

      Simple, because your "creator" theory answers nothing. Who created the creator? Let me guess, the creator was always there and is magic. Dark ages nonsense.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Anna2

      What about YOUR theory Colin? What was before the Big Bang? What "banged" and where did it come from?

      Can you see now that BOTH of your arguments are ridiculous?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Liesmith

      @Anna2:

      What banged? Nothing. The "big bang" was originally a derisive term for the theory that stuck because it's honestly pretty catchy. It refers to the rapid expansion of space-time from a singularity, not an actual explosion.

      What was there before? That's kind of an impossible question because you're literally asking what existed before time.

      Where did the singularity come from and why did it expand? Dunno. There are theories, but the truth is that we may never know. The beauty of science is that you can sometimes just say "I don't know", and it doesn't cause everything else to come tumbling down.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Colin

      Absolutely not. Substantial evidence points to the Big Bang. It may turn out to be incorrect, but it is the best theory we have today. It is supported by the red shift, the uniform microwave background radiation and the abundance of hydrogen i nthe Universe, amoungst other facts and is certainly on a different plane altogether to six days and a talking snake.

      As to what came before the BB, I suspect it is an endless cycle of big bangs and big crunches, but do not know. It may well be that time itsalf was created in the BB. We don't know.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Anna2

      With other words, you guys have no clue, just like the Creationists...... 🙂

      April 10, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Liesmith

      @Anna2

      Yep...just like creationists. Especially the part where science involves continual research and every single hypothesis must stand up to rigorous testing to even meet the standard of "theory". As Colin pointed out, background radiation is measured by satellites and fits mathematical predictions and the Doppler effect is clearly observed in light from distant stars. In addition to that, every piece of geological evidence supports the scientific model of Earth's age. Every one of millions of points of data supports the theory of evolution and natural selection. The beginning stages of abiogenesis have been replicated in-lab, and genetic modification of organisms has taken place since time immemorial in the form of plant and animal breeding. All of this is convergent onto the origins of species, the origins of life on earth, the origins of the earth, and up to the big bang...but there our knowledge is limited for the moment.

      But all of that is completely equal to: Goddunnit, and I can prove it because I have a single few-thousand-year-old book that says so.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • saresudog

      Liesmith, don't bring all that learning $%*# in here.LOL

      Anna2. Do you struggle with cognitive dissonance much?

      April 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  2. Jay S

    One great thing about science is that it is based on fact. The scientific method can be used to prove these facts. A lot of people out there are confused. They guess about the age of the earth, the origin of all life, the formation of the mountains and valleys, etc. These people are so sure they're right, yet they constantly revise their timetable for all these events and others. My advice... use the scientific method to prove your theories, no excuses... and take your atheistic political agendas elsewhere. Sincerely, a christian who loves science and truth.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  3. BruceV

    Another evolutionist ignoring the very significant issues with evolution (lack of transitional fossils, how life began, 2nd law of thermodynamics, unexplainable increases in genetic information,...). These and many other reasons push evolution outside the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' category.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Eric G.

      So, if all of the verified evidence supporting evolution theory is incorrect, does that prove to you that creation theory is correct?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  4. LookAndSEE

    Quotations of Jesus that say no to Evolution:Luke 17:6 "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. Mark 10:6 "From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female"

    April 10, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Can you prove that a person by the name of Jesus actually said that?

      No?

      I didn't think so.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  5. lucy

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

    Was this before or after they burned all those witches?

    April 10, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  6. Tim in Tennessee

    Paul spoke of not being caught up in "endless genealogies" (in other words, let's focus on what is important). Christ performed many miracles which I believe substantiates His power over living cells, evolution, etc. Jesus also on several occasions spoke of forgiving sin in reference to what he said to heal the person (ie: take up your bed and walk). This is and should be the essence of our conversation. Christ died and rose again for the remission of our sins. Accept that and live an abundant life, and quit arguing about “endless genealogies”.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Colin

      And, I assume Tim, that your only evidence of these magic acts you call miracles is that they are recorded in the Gospels. How can you trust these to be true, if we now know much of the bible is sheer mythology?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Eric G.

      Sorry, you must provide verifiable evidence to support your claims of resurection and miracles. Without that evidence, your position is invalid.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Liesmith

      "substantiates". You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Tim in Tennessee

      Romans 1:19 what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  7. Anna2

    The author is a smartass. He doesn't know more than anybody else. Neither Creationism nor Evolutionism has been proven. Everybody who swears on something he/she isn't absolutely sure of, is an idiot.

    The ONLY TRUTH is that we have no idea how life started.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Colin

      Not so, evolution is a cold hard fact. To the extent it is inconsistent with your belief, you need to modify your belief, or accept that you are living in "pretend land".

      April 10, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Anna2

      Bunch of bull. NOTHING has been proven. AND I HAVE NO BELIEF. You know, there are people without belief who think evolution is wrong.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Colin

      There are people without belief who think the World is flat, the government was behiond 9-11 and thast man never landed on the moon. So what. Your denial of evolution is no less asinine just because it is not driven by a religious motive. Although, it does pique my curiosity as to the source of your voluntasry blindness.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      The truth is, Anna, that you have most likely never read any serious book(s) on the subject.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Anna2

      What if I told you that there is a THIRD solution that makes sense and nobody has thought of? I am not going to tell you what, but it makes 100% sense and disproves both Evolutionism and Creationism. And no, it is NOT Intelligent Design. BTW, I am in the process of writing a book about it. Would you buy my book?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  8. Alexandre Vieira

    Like in evolution, this article is another step moving forward to the understanding the god does not exist.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  9. Colin

    Somewhat refreshing. However, he should not stop at allowing science to torpedoe the first part of Genesis and then drop back into the great pretend of religion as he reads toward Exodus. The same scinetific principals that have destroyed Genesis have shown pretty clearly that an overwhelming amound of the Bible is sheer nonsense.

    It is a collection on Middle Eastern myths, written by unknown superst-itious authors 2,000 years ago and cobbled together during the Dark Ages. Well, of course it's nonsense. How could it not be, given how it came to be. There is no god. We are on our own in this big black void of space. Get over it.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Actually, the bible is an amalgam of myths, fairy tales, anecdotes and stories that dates as far back as 6000 years, or more.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  10. Zach

    Does it matter if Jesus would believe in evolution or not? He was on this Earth to spread Chirstianity and love. Why would he care whether or not humans came from apes? Either way, Genesis says that God made the Earth, humans, seas, animals, skies, sun, stars, etc. If you believe that the Bible is all about Truth and that it spreads truth to Christians, why do you disregard it and label it "a story that began as an oral tradition for a wandering tribe of Jews thousands of years ago."

    April 10, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Colin

      Sometimes I can only shake my head in awe at the committed Christian's ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  11. buckup

    call JESUS-911.
    If he answers he probably knows what you are going to ask, but ask it anyway.
    Listen closely and ask for a recording so we can all hear it..

    April 10, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  12. albert

    Since Christ is such a big part of the Bible, the answer would be no he would not believe in evolution. He would see evolution for what it really is, satanic propaganda which discredits God.

    I always find it interesting when Science boasts and brags for all of their "discoveries", and inventions. They like to take credit for these things. These things are nothing compared to what is out in nature. Yet we are to believe that things in nature happened by chance? This logic is truly absurd. Science does have a place, but playing God is not its place.

    There are humble scientist, when making a discovery will say, "So that's how God did it!" These scientists are on the right track. They realize when looking at the perfect order of say the universe, that something so precise could not have happened by chance. Same with the human design. Humans are above and beyond any creature. We can love, exercise our free will, and most importantly we can pursue our belief in God and worship him if we choose to do so. In fact, humans have a built in urge to do so. No other creature on the planet can do this. Evolution? No design.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Eric G.

      Science makes no claims of knowledge without supporting verifiable evidence. Religion makes claims of absolute knowledge without, and in most cases, in spite of verifiable evidence.

      So, whos logic is totally absurd?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Satanic propaganda?

      Wha?

      Yeah, sure, okay.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Nofo

      What scientist believes there is perfect order in the universe?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • saresudog

      Satanic propaganda? You take delusion to an all new level. You would have been great during the Salem witch trials. I love how people like you conveniently use science in your everyday lives, yet conveniently debunk it when it threatens your precious mythical belief system. People like you scare me.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  13. Rik

    Science has a small problem with chirality. All nucleic acids are right handed (DNA) and all the proteins that manage it are left handed in structure. This would be like nature making a car wash under the hope that eventually there would be a car.

    Most of you have probably not heard of chirality, the handedness of molecules, so take a fun intellectual challenge and go read about it. The earth may be 15 billion years old but God's fingerprint is still on creation. Science also didn't like the concept of a singularity event (big bang) but science got to that truth eventually. Now the first three words of Genesis are proven..."In the beginning..."

    April 10, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Ben Dover

      Take the crack pipe away from your mouth, you have no clue what you are talking about.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • JPC

      You didn't explain what the "problem" is, except to assert that there was one. And there is no problem.

      You see, in the lab both nucleic and amino acids can be made in both chiralities – left-handed and right-handed. Many of them have also been found, in meteoritic material in space, for example (so they do spontaneously form in nature). Their chemistries are virtually identical, as long as the chiralities are switched consistently (i.e. all left-handed or all right-handed) – this is based on a fundamental law of physics known as "parity symmetry" which, to the best of our knowledge, is respected by all relevant interactions (the only exceptions to parity symmetry are certain exotic processes which occur within atomic nuclei, and have no effect on biochemistry or organic chemistry).

      Therefore you could have life using either chirality, and it would work just as well.

      So the fact that all living organisms use molecules with the same chiralities is can be taken as evidence for common descent:

      (Here i'll use one of those batty probability arguments creationists are so fond of... note that I'm not endorsing this argument, just showing how easy it is to come up with fallacious arguments like this)

      Of the millions of species on the earth, the probability that all of them, if independently created or formed, would have the same chirality is 1 in 2^(millions), which is of the order of a googol multiplied by itself 10,000 times, and is googols of times larger than the number of atoms in the universe.

      Alternately, if all living organisms are descended from a single common ancestor, then there is no problem, since they all inherited the same chiralities of molecules from that ancestor.

      Note that you can't construe shared chirality as evidence for common design because, after all, there's no reason why God would have to make all living things use the same chirality of molecules. Indeed, in independent de novo creation of each species, God would have been free to make each and every one with whatever chirality He pleased.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Liesmith

      http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090505051329AA0fLFw

      April 10, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  14. josh

    Jason's description reflects a broader view of evolution once described by Stephen Hawking. Intellectual advancement as evolution.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  15. give your head a shake

    Clearly, the only logical explanation, is that Adam and Eve must have been apes, right? There, both creationism and "fast" evolution are correct!

    April 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  16. icedawg

    That question indicates an ignorance of who Jesus is. But it is typical of popular culture. Everything came into existence through Him. Draw the conclusion.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Eric G.

      "Everything came into existence through Him."

      I am sorry, but you must first provide verifiable evidence to support your claim of the existence of "Him" before you can begin to make claims as to the actions of "Him".

      What is more important to you, faith or truth?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Jesus is the mythical character in an ancient novel.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • RangerDOS

      @Bill: the big bang is just a theory, among many, in modern novels. 🙂

      April 10, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • saresudog

      RangerDOS, how do you decide which theories YOU chose to believe and which ones YOU don't?

      April 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  17. Ben Dover

    Does it matter. "Jesus" and "Mohammed" never existed. You'd think the most important "man" in the past 2000 years, especially to christianity, would have legitimate proof of existence like Cesar, Aristotle, Plato, Alexander the Great, etc. But there is absolutely no proof and the entire concept of "god" is ludicrous with no empirical/scientific data to support it, ONLY blind, dumb faith. Religions were created to explain that which their small minds could not grasp (at the time, just ask Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, etc.), to subjugate, control and profit from the people. It's that simple. "god" is a myth.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • RangerDOS

      There is "no proof" that there was an "Alexander the Great", not in writing, and many other historical figures. They are considered to be real because of the impact they had on history itself. Chill, nobody knows the truth, especially archeologists, and historians, and theologians, and that is what makes all of this fun!

      April 10, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Ray

      Just wanted to point out that Mohammed did indeed exist, and is buried in Medina in his mosque. He not a "myth". Do your research, please.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Leroy

      If God does not exist, then who created the colliding particles that instigated the "Big Bang"? Another retarded athiest.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Andy

      Leroy,

      Just because we do not know the answer to that question does not mean we need to "make up" things like gods so that we can feel we understand the situation. The simple fact is that we have no idea how life started. Period. Believing that your God started life is no more right or wrong than me believing that a Banana Monster lite a fart on fire in space started the big bang. Cannot prove/disprove God or Banana Monster.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @Ben Dover
      Mohammed did exist. He is written about in other history books other than the koran.

      @Leroy
      You are using the 'god of the gaps' principle, which means that u use god as an excuse to explain away the things u do not understand, yet... In the middle ages the church thought sick people got sick because of demons. So if someone got the flu they would send a priest to the house to say a pray and cure them. Until microbes (germs) was found out by science (germ theory of disease) to be the cause of the flu and many other diseases, the religious assumed it was god (or in this case demons) based on BLIND faith. You are doing the exact same thing here. Instead of investigating why this happened like science does, u'd rather say 'god did it!' which doesn't explain anything and is intellectually lazy.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  18. josh

    Why is it that the nature of evolution is only disputed when it is applied to living organisms? Look it up in the dictionary. Evolution is gradual change. BUT, a special 2nd definition is applied to describe how it applies to biological organisms (and it is also demoted to a theory). You have to ask yourself, all you doubters of evolution, what just doesn't look right when you see that?

    April 10, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Jared

      While you're looking at your dictionary I suggest looking up the difference between theory and scientific theory.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • josh

      Excellent point, Jared. We now also have to break down the definition of "theory" to appease another community.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  19. Stephen

    If, as it is said in the bible, that man was made in God's image, then it goes to reason that God has similar characteristics to those found in most humans. He is a tool maker that likes to take a break from work once in a while and rest. If he rests then he must use tools to keep his creation functioning while he is not actively attending to it's every detail. I am suggesting that he, as any "creator" would, set up the rules of nature to carry out his plan while he goes off and does other things. Evolution is an ingeniously complex system worthy of the Creator. I see no conflict between believing in the existance of a creator and believeing that he is capable of, and indeed inclined to, build systems that carry out his will.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Ben Dover

      Total BS. I find it amusing that whenever the "god squad"/christians are proven to be the mouthbreathers they are that they lie about what they believe and said and change the goalposts. "god" is a myth. I suggest you all reag Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District.

      PS: Evolution is BOTH a theory AND a fact, to those of you are obviously scientifically, intellectually and logically challenged and have no background in science. Good luck with that.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Ben Dover evolutionism is no more a fact than creationism. In fact both are based on theory. Just because you want to be crude and call entire segments of society names doesn't validity your argument.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Ben Dover

      RangerDOS, I can see you never made it past 6th grade and fail to understand that what a scientific theory is, such as Gravitational theory, Atomic theory, cellular theory. Thank you for removing all doubt how ignorant you are.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  20. Zeus

    Q: Which record will you never find in a Christian music store?
    A: The fossil record.

    April 10, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Liesmith

      *ba-dum-TSH!*

      April 10, 2011 at 9:40 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.