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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. rebajeanne

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v20/n2/genetics

    Where is the fossil record of evolution? One species slowly changing to another? DOESN'T EXIST

    April 10, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  2. Joe Vignolo, Derry, NH

    The real story of Jesus is that he was a dissident trying to stir up the people to revolt against a repressive system. That's why he got arrested, was falsely convicted in a phony show trial held in biased court and then was publicly tortured and executed. It's how repressive systems always work. The elitists at the top and their cronies in the middle run and control everything and have their paid underlings (the Roman soldiers in this case) go around terrorizing the people and doing all the actual dirty work. It only stops if enough people get together, gang up on the rulers and take the power back.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Anna2

      Joe Vignolo, finally somebody with common sense 🙂

      April 10, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  3. Justin Beiber

    Darwinians arguably are fools! There's no way that I came from ape.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Kevin B

      No one believes you came from an ape. You don't understand evolution if you think anyone does.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  4. sleepytime

    Zeus would believe in gravity and so should you.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  5. R

    1) People do not either believe or don't believe in evolution, people either accept it or not. If you want to use the word "believe" then you have to talk about Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, God (Jesus, Zeus, Shiva, the flying spaghetti monster, etc).

    2) I am not sure which rhetoric is more dangerous, the one that fundamentalist christians use of the one that this author uses: "...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."

    The reason why statements like these are dangerous is because they insert religious myths while seemingly embracing scientific facts (an oxymoron if you will). Science hasn't proven that there is a god but at the same time it hasn't disproved it. The difference is that scientists go to the lab and do experiments to try to find accurate explanations; creationists on the other hand, find a magic explanation and attribute it to what we don't know yet.
    Yes, evolutionary biology has some holes but it is a solidly grounded scientific discipline whose principles and postulates have been proven without any doubt (btw, there are much better examples than the Vitamin C one). The main problem of creationism is that it stems (and feeds) from the holes of evolutionary biology and this is why no one with more than two neurons take it seriously. Here is a direct quote from a creationist: "Because evolutionary biology hasn't explained everything, therefore God must exist and must have created everything."
    My fellow Americans (and the author of this article), please tell me that you understand why this statement is so dangerous and so wrong.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  6. Dood

    Of course Christ would believe in evolution. His Father planned it. I'll never, ever understand why people would believe that God would not use what He created in His Plan. Much of the Old Testament was written in metaphor. Fundamentalist XN's will be chasing their tails trying to explain this one, so they should just accept it. One day to God may mean a billion years to man.

    I think there were 3 major events in the universe:

    1st is the creation of nothing to something (before the universe was created to it coming into existence.)
    2nd is the creation of non-life to the first living primordial protozoa (or whatever that unicellular life form was).
    3rd is going from non-sentient to sentient beings, which in my opinion, is Adam and Eve.

    What's the problem? I see it as beautiful and symbolic. Very Trinitarian.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  7. Ayershole

    Christianity is a copycat religion anyways. Doesn't matter what Jesus would believe in.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  8. Dea2

    God created evolution. He snapped His fingers and the universe went "BANG" at least that's what I tell my ultra conservative family members who don't believe in evolution and science. That usually shuts them up long enough to change the subject. For myself, I believe that God did indeed guide our entire history, call me naive, call me ignorant for believing in something I can't see, but everytime a new scientific discovery is announced I marvel at how well the universe was put together. Science and faith aren't mutually exclusive, they can enhance and compliment each other. God gave us free will, He gave us brains to make our world a better place, but we seem to have forgotten to take care of His world and His people somewhere along the way. That's why I don't understand the GOP's complete disregard for the environment and efforts to gut the EPA. Maybe that should be your next topic, Is God a treehugger?

    April 10, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  9. T3chsupport

    I always found it funny how people will tell you that God is all powerful and all knowing and very mysterious... but there's no way in hell he'd have created life in such that it could evolve!

    LOL @ people thinking they know what can't possibly be known.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  10. upandupmusic

    This article is useless regardless of your beleif in evolution or lack thereof. First, the so called "genetic" evidence presented by the author is ridiculously flawed and one could use those same genetics to easily support a world that used natural selection (observable science) and not evolution (faith-based science). Lets be honest, regardless on what side of the fence you fall on....the author stating that evolution is proved "with a level of certainty comparable to the evidence that the earth goes around the sun." iss disingenuos at best. As mentioned, one is observable (which no one san dispute) the other THEORY relies on interpretation. Thats why they're are new views of evolution every year. Bottom line is if you take the Bible as your ultimate authority, you cannot really find much support for evoltion. If you take man's theories about the orgin of the world as more insighful as the Bible and then fit that presuppostion into what you read, I'm sure through mental gymnastics you can try to fit evolution in there. I personally beleive that on the authority of Scripture evolution is not necessary and far from being proved.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • adamB

      instead of wasting your time with all the excessive writing, maybe next time just expedite the process by just listing the things you clearly don't understand. Could I also suggest looking up what the term THEORY means as a scientific term as opposed to the common one.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  11. pgAngel

    Science seeks evidence,...Evidence is irrelevant to faith.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  12. Gaven

    If Jesus, should the historical have really ever existed, were alive today he would not believe himself to be the son of God. He would look at the marvels man has accomplished and realize that any "miracle" he allegedly performed doesn't hold a candle to the knowledge and achievement man has been able to accomplish once the church stood out of science's way. He would gaze upon the wonders we have built, then look upon himself in a mirror and say, "Wow. I'm just an ordinary guy with a positive message...just like hundreds of life coaches, like Tony Robbins." If Jesus opened a couple of science books, he would have no doubt that evolution is real and that it takes place at microlevels each and every day. I am also pretty sure he would scold every Christian out there that has taken the Christian religion and used it for their own evil deeds and purposes. If Jesus were here today...he would be disappointed in his followers, the hypocrites that they are, and denounce any ideology bestowing his name in favor of reason, rationality, and science.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Frank Grimes

      Also....Donald Trump would also be asking for his birth certificate

      April 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  13. John

    If Christains would actually read the Bible, they would find out how repulsive it it & why it was taken out of schools. They worship it but never read it. They believe in Prayer, yet they never have a prayer answered. Have you Christains given up all your worldly goods to follow you God? If you haven't , you aren't Christains. You better read these verses:
    Matthew 6:19, 6:24, 19:21, Luke 14:33, Phil 2:3 and Acts 2:44-45.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Ruth Babbah

      Totally true. People who wants to know the Truth should read the Bible. The Bible is a Book of Life and the instructions for us by the Most High God. Yes, He gave us choices in our life but the choices of being good and righteous and if we choose to be rebellious and stray away from His Commandment then we should know the consequences of it. He has given us His Laws, Statues and Commandment to follow and obey it.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  14. Brent Slensker

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

    What a load of BS!...In the 17th Century christians were zealously burning witches not doing Science!

    April 10, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  15. umbuna

    Wouldnt be funny to see a bunch of animals bowing down to some rock in the woods. LOL how would you argue with that. Um, but thats not going to happen is it... I of course believe in evolution. I think it is sad that humans are not going to make the cut. In part, I assume, because of agruments such as these.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  16. myklds

    Was this the same author who ti-tled a blog that "Sarah Palin said she would shut-up?"

    It never ceased to amuse me how people evolved to be like Satan, using even the most stupid means just to deceive other people and push their political agenda.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  17. 2011

    For people who really want to understand the basics and evidence of evolution, please read Richard Dawkin's The Greatest Show On Earth.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Mike

      Fantastic book and a fantastic idea. It is a shame though that these people rejecting evolution won't even take the time to really understand it. Why read a book full of ideas that don't support their delusions?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • KlausVos

      biggest issue with creationists is lack of understanding of their opponent, every time I get into a debate (which I like to do, though some devolve to less than friendly) I have to explain how it works, it makes the debate much less interesting because it's too easy for either side to get angry when the debate is just one person shouting their ideology and quote scripture as proof while the other tries to explain theirs to someone who obviously doesn't want to learn

      ATTENTION ALL CREATIONISTS understand evolution before you bash it, that is all

      April 10, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • JP

      I read it but didn't love it. I found that it was full of holes that got explained away by saying "That is the only logical conclusion". To be honest, my impression was that The Greatest Show on Earth was about as useful as talking to your Local Pastor about Jesus. If you want to believe something you can always fill in the holes.

      I was hoping Dawkins would offer a more open approach, admitting that there are a few leaps of faith that evolution has to take, but instead he was as stubborn as all my religious friends.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  18. bobhood

    I think everybody should use these patented religious mind tricks in their everyday lives. Let's try it out: I don't believe in Jesus, therefore he does not exist. Wow, that was easy. Let's try another: I believe in reality, therefore God does not exist. Excellent! Two thousand years of ignorance, butchery and bigotry have actually produced something useful! o_O

    April 10, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • allaisa

      Fine God exists, but which God? Allah, Father of Jesus, Vishnu or some one else. Did they all talk say earth was created 6000 years ago? If they cannot agree amongst themselves how can we? BTW according to Hinduism (Vishnu is their God), earth was created billions of years ago.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  19. Mike

    I think the responses to this article show that Americans are indeed NOT interested in the truth, but are more interested in preserving their particular mythologies. This sad fact leads to an attack on science in the classroom where non-scientists push for the proliferation of non-science in the science classroom. There is NO DEBATE among serious scientists as to the validity of the theory of evolution (modern synthesis). But when someone's beliefs aren't based in rationality then they won't care about what is actually true, only what they percieve to to be their own subjective "truth" that is rooted in indoctrination and the belief of ideas without any evidence.

    April 10, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  20. Freethinker

    If we still have monkeys and apes, how come we still dont have cavemen?? Where are all of the species half way through their evolution now, and where are all the transitional fossils Darwin predicted??

    Get the truth....www.truthofalltruths.org

    April 10, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Mike

      Your stupidity is painful to read.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • FifthApe

      Holly shoot. Any wonder why we are SO far behind in science.

      April 10, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • james

      we didnt evolve from apes, we evolved from a common ancestor as apes, and humans were most of the cavemen, neaderthals on the other hand were pretty much forced out by humans and brought to extinction.

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

      OK, but if we have evolved, we should have evidence of half-evolved people and half-evolved apes, shouldn't we?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • common_sense

      your lack of scientific knowledge is the perfect example of how ignorance and stupidity is grasping this country and smashing it into the ground. besides, creationism has no conflict with evolution in the first place. if god created this universe, he would have the capability to guide evolution through natural selection. and in the end, it doesn't matter if god exists, and if he does exists, who god is. we all die, what comes after is just speculation. In the end, "life" after death doesn't matter, you are gone from this world, the only world that is relevant.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • KlausVos

      Try understanding evolution before arguing against it. Not only does using incorrect conceptions about evolution hurt you personal points, it hurts other peoples points and you end up making me think that all Creationists are as stupid as you, which is not the case because I have several Creationist friends much much smarter than you. Most of them say they understand they have no evidence but that they are ok with it. I honestly don't care what you believe, just don't go purporting non-sense as science or trying to force my children to follow you religious beliefs. If you want to argue effectively, understand your opponent and your own side, be careful how you say things, and don't be so g*d d**n stupid.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • sleepytime

      If my cousins are still alive why aren't my great great great grandparents?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • adamB

      "half-evolved" does not make any sense

      April 10, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • EJL

      Freethinker- You obviously havent studied the process of evolution.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Anna2

      Half-evolved makes a lot of sense. Or are you saying evolution happened at once, not gradually?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Kevin B

      There is no such thing as "half-evolved." Humans are still evolving, as are other primates.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Anna2

      OK, then let me rephrase it. Where are the remains of those between the "common ancestors of apes" and today's people?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • allaisa

      Caveman? Buddy, did you in the mirror lately?

      April 10, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • adamB

      Something that is "half-evolved" could not exist. I think you mean is where are the species that are halfway between the beginning and humans, a kind of half human half whatever the hell else hybrid. The term for that would be intermediary species. But that is still a really poor example because then do you mean halfway between the first life form, most likely similar to bacteria, and humans? That would most likely be another bacteria-like species which I think you would find unsatisfactory to your arguments. How about halfway between the first mammals and humans? We don't exactly know what halfway really means but there are tons of examples of intermediary mammals. Frame your question in a logical way and then i'm sure someone will try to answer you.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Anna2

      adamB: Typical. Every time you have no answer to a question you start harping on the expressions. I assume I am talking to intelligent people who would understand when I mean, even if I am not using the scientifically correct term.

      April 10, 2011 at 11:49 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.