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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. dz

    Since Jesus was there at creation, I think he would tell you what was right rather than the other way around.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • caddiemurray

      Well said, dz!! Just what I was thinking - Jesus wouldn't "believe in" evolution. The Bible says He (the "Word") CREATED everything (John 1), so instead of "believing in" the details of how it happened, He KNOWS how it happened. Now, He may have chosen to use evolution as the means (or one of the means) of creating it, I believe there is room for that in the Biblical account, but my point is that He was there, so He knows.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  2. MAX

    Giberson you are an educated terd, to claim such nonsense about the vitamin C gene being one of the only differences between mankind and apes is absurd. Where is the ability to reason? We DO NOT know mankind began in Africa, we know because we have not found anything older elsewhere. To claim you know something, requires for there to be complete conceptual understanding of a topic of discussion, and clearly you dont "know" anything. Science has only proved the historical accounts made by the bible, and the fact of the matter is, the more you play with science(fire) the more likely it is to bite you in the rear. Species jumping is impossible microevolution set up through adaptation is possible. I will only believe in science when they are able to identify me a "gay" gene that accounts for the actions of those who were born that way. When science is able to find me something that is "in between" two distinct species we have on earth i will believe that we really did come from monkeys. You are a disgrace to maknking and discrediting the existence of a creator will lead us to no avails. Science and religion can coexist but when manking gets arrogant and prideful about "knowing" different things that cannot be fully fathomed that is where we go wrong.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  3. hiyousuckers!

    What an ignorant question. The media will never be able to cope with anything of truth regarding Jesus, because then they would have to relinquish their control. Jesus was there when the earth was created. He holds all things together. He would be the one asking you the questions, like do you believe in the Son?

    April 10, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Havildar

      Not only Jesus but every living thing on Earth was present in spirit at the time the "Big Bang" took place and life as we know it was born in its full evolutionary glory.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  4. Fan

    Listen to this song:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-vDhYTlCNw&w=480&h=390]

    April 10, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  5. Ian

    Yeah, Jesus would believe in evolution. He was no Dummy. He was always dumbing things down for the masses so that they could wrap thier heads around things that he got, but that nobody else did. I could see him trying to dumb down the idea of evolution so that the masses of fundamentalists could get the parable.. Just sayin.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  6. tf

    It's like asking Wright Brothers if they belive the airplane evolved. Why would they believe it developed on its own since they were the ones who built it??? Why would Jesus beleive in evolution? He's the one who created mankind... The question is self-defeating.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Colin

      No, actually, it is more like asking if Samson or Hercules believed in steroids. There is a small core truth to the whole Jesus legend, and then most of it is sheer mythology – from the Iron Age. There is no credible reason to think he had magic powers, rose from the dead or that he was sacrificed (by himself) to himslef to negate a rule that he himself made. It really is, upon reflection, childish nonsense.

      I am sorry if this means one mmust stare their own mortality in the face, but you will die. Get over it.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Havildar

      Except an Airplane does not reproduces itself. So man invented it Not God. Look at the Embryo all stages of Evolution are present from an egg to a full term human child at birth.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  7. Lisa

    I believe in both evolution and creationism. My question is – the Bible says that God created everything in 6 days and took the 7th off, right? So which human put a time on what God's time is? The 24 hour day is our time measurement here on earth, but how do any of us know what a day in God's life is measured like. If He lives in the heavens, I am pretty sure the 24 hour day here on earth isn't the time measurement He goes by. Maybe a day for God is a million or even a billion years. Would that not allow for things to be put in place gradually like evolution claims, and yet still be attributed to God? I don't understand why everyone has to be absolute in one corner or the other, instead of acknowledging that maybe BOTH could have been happening at the same time.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Meggie

      I agree, Lisa. Well put.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @Lisa
      you said, "I believe in both evolution and creationism."
      First off, there is no such thing as believing in evolution. It is a fact with verifiable evidence, u either accept it or not. Creationism on the other hand does not explain evidence of our origins and relies on magic answers, that's why u would need to believe in creationism.
      You agree with the fact of gravity and the theory of gravity right? I'm pretty sure that u wont jump off a tall building because u know that the theory of gravity asserts that u will accelerate at 9.8m/s(squared) to your imminent death. So because u agree with the theory of gravity, should i say that u believe in it?? No, u either accept the fact of gravity, or not.
      you said, "the Bible says that God created everything in 6 days and took the 7th off, right? ...Maybe a day for God is a million or even a billion years. "
      Sure u can squeeze out an excuse for why the bible is off by a huge timescale error by stretching it and saying that a day meant millions/billions of years. But there are many other things mentioned in the genesis creation myth that show u that it is false and u cannot wiggle your way around it. things like:
      1. FACT: If a brother and sister have a child together, there is a high probability of that child suffering from retardation.
      Based on this fact, why isn't most of the world suffering from retardation if we all came from Adam and Eve?
      2. FACT: The first early humans were walking this earth 200k-500k years ago, and came out of AFRICA.
      Based on this fact, how does the Adam and Eve story hold up to such a vast error in timescale? God created the world in 7 days, and even if you say that 1 day = 1000 years, the number is still way off!
      3. FACT: The stars we see in the night sky are just other suns (some larger than our sun, some smaller). They were also formed BEFORE our sun.
      Genesis 1:3 says: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. <– This means that the sun was created.
      Genesis 1:16 says: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
      Why did God make the stars AFTER our sun?? It contradicts FACT.
      4. FACT: Land animals were present BEFORE animals who could aviate.
      Genesis 1:20 says: And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
      Genesis 1:21 says: And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
      Why did god do the reverse??

      These contradictions cannot be explained away. And there are many other problems with creationism too if u accept that adam and eve is false.

      So I don't think that BOTH evolution and creationism can co-exist and happen at the same time since creationism does not stand up to evidence, but contradicts facts.

      April 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  8. Zippy

    Many Christians believe in evolution. Besides "what would Jesus believe"? Stupid premise. If he believes Jesus is the son of God, then he would understand that Jesus would know if man was created 10,000 years ago or if he evolved over millions of years. If he does not believe Jesus is the son of God, then what does it matter what Jesus would have believed?
    Bah.
    Just another guy peddling his worthless book.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  9. arturo

    look in the sky, it's the magical white man sitting in the clouds..................

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

      Obi-wan?

      April 10, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  10. jim krip

    If not for the story of Jesus we would not have the western knowledge of today, he was a great out the box thinker for his day. just like scientists today the brake new ground as Jesus did. so I think he would have believed when presented with the facts, as he was a smart cookie. trick master voice thrower and good looking Jew.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Jeremy

      Like! smart and funny response

      April 10, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  11. God

    jesus is my mexican that cuts the grass in heaven

    April 10, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Rationalist

      Your jokes about being "God" are going to get you an audience with the real God – try to impress Him then, with your juvenile ridicule of His mercy & grace through His Son, Jesus Christ ! Pity you...

      April 11, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @Rationalist
      Why wouldn't his jokes get him in trouble with Krishna, or Ra, or Shiva, or Zeus? How are u so sure it will be Jesus?
      If the Hindu god is the right god, then the worst is he will be re-incarnated as an ant.

      All of these religions with their different UNVERIFIABLE afterlife stories sound too funny to me. Don't u feel the same being a rationalist?

      April 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  12. Ed

    The old DNA argument. A cloud is 100 % water, A watermelon is 98% water . Therefore a cloud missed being a watermelon by 2 %. I'm sure they share common ancestors though ! Proves nothing. Science explains nothing it just names & describes stuff.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Colin

      The sharing of large chunks of DNA is a second, independent and totally conclusive proof of evolution. If you don't like that it conflicts with your beliefs, modify them . The natural world will not conform to Iron Age fantasies of talking snakes and big floods.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Havildar

      Just look at the various stages that the "baby" undergoes in the Womb from an egg to a human child at birth. All stages of evolution is right there before your face. Belive it or not. All life is connected on this Earth. Science proves it.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Ed G

      You are an idiot and simpleton.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Ed G

      You are a simpleton.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  13. Colin

    The ability of the Catholic to engage in self delusion is seemingly limitless. We know that large chunks of the Bible are sheer nonsense. Everytime a scientist or historian proves this, the Catholics claim "yes, we knew that all along". Odd that you spent 2,000 years claiming Genises was literal. Only when Darwin proved you wrong did you change your tune (well a number of decades later).

    I guess when you claim a monopoly on the truth in the dark Ages, you paint yourself into a corner or two.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  14. Adrian

    The real question should be which "Jesus". This single source citation approach used is rather weak. Try analyzing the various philosophies before the rise of Christanity and I am willing to bet some of you will be surprised. If there is indeed a god, fraud and theft must have been strong characteristics of theirs. Would Jesus believe in evolution? Probably not but then again he probably would have thought the world was flat and was the center of the universe, which in his era was likely held as common knowledge. Things like mRSA and other forms of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains are rather convincing some form of evolution is going on. Then again I imagine some enlightened individual will assert we have these things because the devil did them to us because of our worship in science. There are many, MANY religions and I am willing to bet they all professed, to one degree or another, their eccentric self-righteous view that they were the right one.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Havildar

      A better question to ask would be "Woul;d Jesus agree with the tactics of the Lunatic Right Wing Christian Churches"? The answer if one really reads the Bible is NO. It is not fiction when Jesus tells the Rich man to distribute his wealth to the poor and follow him. The Right wing Conservative whose God is Greed and Wealth would choke at even Jesus suggesting that they do that. Just look at the Teaparty Republicans in Congress all greed and zero heart.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  15. Derrick

    Anyone who is interested in this subject should read Francis Collins' "The Language of God," a fascinating book by one of the top geneticists in the world, who is also a devout Christian. He does a great job describing the evidence of evolution in the human genome, while also explaining how acceptance of evolution is not inconsistent with a belief in God or in his role as Creator.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Colin

      I read it. It is apologist nonsense. The very same methods he uses to prove his points, he totally downplays when they point to a conclusion he does not like.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • grist

      Franics Collins presents an internally inconsistent argument in his book. On the one hand he tells Christians to reject a "god of the gaps", where a belief in a god is based on finding gaps in scientific understanding of nature (because those gaps are often found). Then he goes on to say that he cannot come up with an explanation for how it all started, and he uses that to argue for his god. However, that is just another gap. And recent ideas put forward by Stephen Hawking, says that that gap may have been filled. Francis Collins is a good scientist but he did not present a logical argument in his book.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  16. RangerDOS

    I've been working in the tech and science world for forty years, and what amazes me the most is the religious zeal that both the creationists and the evolutionists have in their arguments and acquisitions. true believer in either science or god can deny the existence of either argument, the problem is that there are not enough facts for either, it's theory versus faith, and both work out well when applied the right way. So everybody continue your rabid ranting, your calling of names, both sides are wrong and both sides might have some valid points.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • someoneelse

      There is no battle between science and religion. Religion is a belief. Science is a tool. Science either proves or disproves things. Nothing more. You cannot have a belief in science anymore than you can have a belief in a hammer and that it will drive a nail in when used.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Sure you can, have you ever heard of a theory? An hypothesis? And educated guess? All tools in science.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Havildar

      Look where science has brought us to our present time and the tools that we use. Each has it's own place. Science goes as far back as the developement of Religion into prehistory not just the 17th century.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  17. Caboose

    Hey, I give props to this guy. We could use more educated, reasonable Christians in the world!

    April 10, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  18. Steve

    When I was studying for confirmation I made the mistake of asking about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs fossils, insisted the Lutheran Minister, were put in the rocks thousands of years ago by Satan to fool mankind. I was pretty sure he was making this up and forcing me to choose between natural history and Jesus. I chose dinosaurs and have never attended a church service since.

    My cathedral is the forest, the mountains, the ocean, where the true glory of God's creation is there for all contemplate. My God is an evolutionists. As for Satan? He's probably working he's will through oil companies.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Havildar

      Why there should be a conflict just does not make sense. Evolution did take place over Millions of Years. Follow the Human Embryo and you see the different stages of Evolution in Humans.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • RangerDOS

      I've heard this same sad tale in these blogs about a thousand times. If that is all it took to shake your faith in anything you are never going to be consistent in life, you'll be waffling all over the place every time some one says something.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • 2011

      Great insight and smart decision.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • John

      RangerDOS, Steve didn't say he rejected god. he said he rejected the teachings of his naive minister

      April 10, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Dinosnores

      Congratulations Steve, you let one guy do your thinking for you and cost you your soul. Appearantly Satan put that minister in your path in order to fool you with his idiotic statement into eternal damnation. Satan is probably very pleased with how effortless its getting to turn people against God. Ever think dinosaurs aren't in the bible because they don't matter? The bible doesnt mention alot of things simply because its not supposed to be a blow by blow history book, its God's communication to humans about how to live righteous life and death and its about what's NOT on Earth. "The Dinosaur Story" may be a book that's still undiscovered but I doubt God would think giant lizards are important enough to write one word about.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Dinosnores

      John your reading comprehension scares me. He said he was forced to choose between Jesus and natural history and he's never been to church again. What do you think that means? Let's try something simpler... Dick and Jane had a dog named Spot...

      April 10, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Actually @Steve he said he choose between dinosaurs and Jesus. Can you guess which one he chose? Yeah, but I've got no problem with that, it's the fact that just one argument made hi do it. Is that all it took?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  19. sooner08

    God created the heavens and earth. Would this not also include evolution?

    April 10, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • God

      I did??? LOL. you are stuuuupid

      April 10, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  20. Anonymous

    For some great free videos On this topic, see godofwondersvideo.org. Even if you believe evolution in some form, it's worth taking a look at these videos for unbiased information about the other side of this debate. It's simply astonishing.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Havildar

      Videos are great but give a lopsided view and presents only one viewpoint.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • God

      go away

      April 10, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • RangerDOS

      @God: really? That's your attempt at intellectual conversation? Well, as you sit in you meager existence in parent( s) basement, using their computer, wonder why in heck didn't you ever graduate Hightower school, you also wonder why you can't get a female of the species to like you. I just suppose that you are going to sit there for a long time, being smelly, and pimply, and trying to be humorous. You are definitely going to be an example for Darwin as you will probably go extinct some day.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Rudy

      You said "Jesus would believe evolution, of course. He cares for the Truth." THATS assuming Evolution is True. If you actually read the bible Jesus speaks of Adam a real person, not he's great great transitional father lame.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:40 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.