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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. SayYaWantRevolution

    What day did God create fossils?

    Why can't these ignorant knuckle draggers just accept that God created evolution. They voted for shallow, ignoramuses like shrub jr and the repubs because they support the right to lifers and support war. Stupid. Organized religion is what is wrong with this world.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • pithymcgee

      There's no evidence to suggest that "God created evolution." There's far more evidence of a naturalistic origin.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  2. Robert

    (insert sarcasm) I know evolution is false because we don't have unicorns or talking snakes and donkeys any longer.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  3. Henry Plantagenet

    I agree with some of what you said, but...science began in the 17th century? The Greeks were exploring many branches of science 2000 years ago, and even the Arabs were exploring Hellenic scientific advances centuries ago despite the fact that it conflicted with Islamic teaching. The Chinese came up with gunpowder, paper, seismographs, compasses, the crossbow and hot-air balloons before Columbus.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  4. Brian Ten Eyck

    "Evolution does not contradict the Bible unless you force an unreasonable interpretation on that ancient book."
    I continue to wait for someone to show me the passage or footnote in the Bible that gives its readers permission to interpret its contents as allegory, and not the literal revealed word of God. Dr. Giberson has penned a pleasant fiction about Jesus, for whom a wheel barrow was high technology, but his post hoc rationalization necessarily applies his own moral code–NOT that of Abraham's God–to the matter of evolution.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  5. Dan

    It seems my earlier post was removed, guess it was just too convincing of creation.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  6. 2011

    Creationism is a fabrication which is still supported by fundamentalist Christianity, one of the most ignorant version of Christianity today. Evolution is good science; creationism is bad religion.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  7. albert

    "Any intelligent, self-thinking human being"

    Those words are nothing more than manipulative. There is no convincing case for evolution. It's still just a theory. Your religion is science,and you more than likely believe anything scientific because you think that makes you smart. I doubt that you have read all the scientific data. If you had, you would realize that the theory is flawed and has many gaps in it.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Toby

      Religion is very flawed too. We don't have all the answers in science, but we've made incredible strides in the last 100 years. Think of what we'll know in 1000 years. Back in the day of Jesus, the consensus was that the sun revolved around the earth, and the earth was flat. We know better now, don't we.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Atheistone

      If it didn't have gaps, it would be complete. That is exactly why it moves ahead answering more and more questions. The only way it wouldn't have gaps is if ALL of the questions were answered!! Science would be done. Stop digging in your heels and being a dumba$$. You even know what you said is full of holes you self-deluded imbicile!

      April 10, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  8. jimtanker

    "Christians eagerly applied the new knowledge "

    What a bunch of cr@p. How about scientists who just happen to be christians bettering mankind. Most people back then didnt have a choice whether they were christians or not.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  9. Victor

    I have found one common thread in those that reject evolution for religious reasons: they are ignorant of both evolution and the Bible with no interest on increasing their knowledge in either.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  10. jim krip

    VATICAN HAS ITS OWN SPACE OBSERVATORY...... ??????????? ANSWER THAT ONE

    April 10, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Colin

      It also has its own toilettes. That does not make the Pope a plumber.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  11. Dani

    Pros and Cons makes our world a better place. Reading all these opinions of facts or otherwise, excites my sense of thoughts. So what if we connect the dots scientifically, we're going to end up at the "Big Bang Theory." But before the BBT is "Nothing" or maybe "GOD". Beleive it or Not.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  12. rjz

    I absolutelybelieve evolution is a prediction scientific fact and creation a compelling and teaching mythology, but I doubt the author has convinced much of anyone with this unconvincing argument. The broken vitamin C gene? How could that have gotten there? If your belief is framed by the argument that 'because I don't understand how something so complex as a human could have evolved and not created; because I can't fathom it, that is proof that it was created,' then clearly, this mythology of a god creating matching genes in some creatures is well within god's abilities.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  13. Anna2

    Next thing will be "Jesus would have bombed Lybia".

    April 10, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  14. Fan

    Lets try this one more time.
    Listen to this song.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-vDhYTlCNw&w=640&h=360]

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

      Even better. Try this link.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGNRYNdVT7g&w=640&h=360]

      April 10, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  15. jim krip

    TOOOO MANY PEOPLE WATCHING DISCOVERY CHANNEL?????..... YOUR BORN REPRODUCE AND DIE THAT IS YOUR FUNCTION. NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY OR HOW YOU SAY IT, WILL NOT CHANGE THESE TRUTHS. BELIEVE OR NOT WHO CARES YOUR GOING TO DIE, AND EVERYTHING YOU SAY WILL DIE, BUILT ON STUPIDITY THAT'S WHY WE WILL NEVER HAVE PEACE AND WE CANT GO BACK AND CHANGE IT. we are stupid all of us.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  16. Rick

    People that believe in Darwin's drawings are ignorant! Basically that's all of his evidence is drawings. An Ape is still an Ape no matter how you look at it.

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

      Bravo, bravo little one! Come baack and comment when you get into the eighth grade.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  17. JC

    It amazes me in this day and age that we continue to have this debate. Do we need to debate that the earth is round? That moons orbit Jupiter? That the tiny points of light in the night sky are distant suns, galaxies, etc.

    Evolution is not only a scientific fact it is occurring ALL AROUND US everyday. Bacteria that we easily dealt with simple antibiotics have now EVOLVED to become resistant. Plants evolve to become drought resistant and deal with climate issues.

    BTW, with the exception of the Whales, the book of Genesis gets the order of animals right and matches the evolutionary record... How come the same people who say we must take the bible literaly word for word in Genesis are the same ones who apply all kinds of one day = one century mumbo-jumbo to the Book of Revelation...

    April 10, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  18. JOE IN PA

    Dear Dr Giberson,

    Many of your colleges have reached the same conclusion – specific evolution is a myth. Given the complication and specific design of complexity of rna/ dna there are no serious mathematicians or biologists for that matter who would blindly accept the probability of self replication into the sophisticated and eloquent product we have today.
    Given the option of a 747 being created by it's self out a random chance is comparable to your assertion that we must accept the Alsop fable you propose.

    Dr, please provide me with another present example in any region of physics, biology, astro physics where this phenomena has taken place. There is no other evidence of where super complexity is a result of a simpler level of origin. Please be accountable to your scientific discipline and accept the fact the science cannot provide an answer for the complexity of our. level of complexity.
    Thank you
    Joe in Pa

    April 10, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • jimtanker

      Wow, you really have no clue about how evolution functions do you? Keep the faith. Let others think for you.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Mike

      Mathematician here. The 747 analogy is bunk and has been shown to be an awful analogy over and overy and over. There is no mechanism for selection of parts in a randomly assembled 747, and you make the assumption that evolution is random. Evolution is NOT random. You presume that the complex forms of RNA and DNA did not evolve from earlier self replicating molicules. Given the massive amount of time it had to happen and the amount of building blocks available, the probability of it happening is nearly inevitable.

      Non-random selection of random genetic mutations. *Non-random*. As in "not random".

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

      "It's really, really complicated and I don't get it or know anyone who does so we all agree, god did it!!"
      This country is amazing! A population of idiots!

      April 10, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Wow, you really have no clue about how evolution functions do you.."

      And WOW! .... say, do you ? Sure.... you was there, sure, you've seen it all happen! You are really PATHETIC! Go bury your head in sand and hum yourself a lulibie!

      April 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  19. someguy

    Why are we fighting about this? We'll all know for sure the truth when we die. And then, we won't care that we fought about the truth, You'll be with God, or rot in the ground. Either way, you won't care.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  20. Sergio

    Their is so much evidence for evolution, it would be like my zoology professors once said "not believing in evolution is like not believing in long pants". The bible says there were unicorns, talking snakes, talking donkeys, Giants, etc. If you have on bit of intelligence and actually think about all the irrational immoral things the bibles states you should do/shouldn't do. Science has led us to advanced technology, not creationism. I cant wait to the day when creationism is abolished from the world. Science holds the key for our future success in generations to come.

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

      "my zoology professors once said "not believing in evolution is like not believing in long pants".

      So basically you were manipulated into thinking that evolution is fact. The truth is that the theory of evolution is flawed. Since your teacher manipulated your thinking at an early age, it is hard for you to dis-believe what he taught you.

      Science is basically your religion.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:41 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.