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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. Cletus

    If Jesus was truly the son of God, then of course he would believe in evolution since his father created nature that way.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • jerry

      if the truth be known Jesus would not believe in evolution . He would say how foolish to believe in such myths.
      Believe in me and my words . I am the creator! The bible is my word of truth and not the book of "nature".
      I believe God's word tells us not to add or subtract from His word..

      April 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  2. Watcher

    Who cares what someone who lived over 2000 years would think today? Really! Start thinking about what YOU would do or think.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  3. Mark Smith

    Would Jesus have believed the Holocaust happened, or in x-rays, or Einstein’s theory of relativity, or black holes?

    The one difference between these theories and the theory of evolution is that there is as much or more evidence for evolution than there is for the Holocaust, x-rays, relativity, or black holes.

    Does it really matter whether any one person believes in these? They have been shown to be valid theories by scientists all around the world who work to the highest standard of certainty we know: the scientific method. The Scientific Method really works, but sometimes it takes a long time because it has to weed out things like individuals errors and biases, politics, etc.

    Yes, evolution is just another of these theories. It is easily disprovable – all manner of discoveries would instantly explode it. Though after nearly 200 years of trying, no one has. And although there are many hypotheses, guesses, and statements of certainty about how old the world is and how it has changed, none of those raise to the bar of even being called a scientific theory.

    I wish the Bible would have mentioned the Internet or the hyperlink.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  4. JK

    First: I am not a creationist or an evolutionist. I would like to point out, however, that we have no evidence of macro-evolution. Darwin, and all other scientists, only observed micro-evolution, which is not proof of macro-evolution, and which is what they are basing their theories on. I have observed that the Darwinists are just as fundamentalist in their beliefs as those they criticize for not believing the same as they do. I see two very similar religions: Darwinism and Fundamentalism.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      Just because you assert something as true does not mean it actually is. Creation Ministries International even lists ‘Creationists believe in microevolution but not macroevolution' as one of the "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use". You should get with the times, pal.

      http://creation.com/arguments-we-think-creationists-should-not-use

      April 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  5. Andrew

    What would Jesus say about the parallels his story of virgin birth, resurrection, and being God's son, have with those of pagan gods that came before him?

    April 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  6. Joshua

    I think another important question is would Jesus believe in America? I don't think he would approve. http://www.theruggedgent.com/2011/03/18/state-of-the-union/
    I seriously can't believe america can call itself a democracy with a straiht face, or that a lage majority of it's inhabitants claim it is a Christian nation.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  7. think thank thunk

    Would Jesus have believed in creationism? Would Jesus have believed that the moon is made of green cheese? Would Jesus have believed that the earth is bigger than the sun?

    April 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  8. Joh

    I'm not even a Christian and I for now I think it's evident an evolutionary process took place. But saying what the historical Jesus would or would not 'believe' is just nonsense and a horrible argument for someone to 'believe' anything.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  9. csfd271

    so do ya'll also know that Charles Darwin actually didn't believe in his own theory? the reason he was propagating this lie was because his young daughter had died and he was upset at God for allowing this to happen.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • scott

      your comment is inaccurate and ridiculous. Of course Darwin believed in his own theory. He just was not aware how far it extended. He only thought his theory applied to the animal world. Please actually get your information right before you post ignorant stupid post's.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  10. tj66

    This is reduclous. Leave your anti-religous comments at the door and state your case for evolution. All the author is doing his encouraging HATE (read the comments to see plenty of examples). The case for/against evolution should have NOTHING to do with religion.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • PERSPECTIVE

      There is no case against evolution because any case against it has been disproved. Thus, in the court of Science which is based on rational and sane precedent of empirical studies, the evidence demands we call evolution FACT. Is it on same par as mathematical truths? NO. Nothing is. But is it proven beyond any sane doubt based on empirical evidence? Absolutely. This does not mean people are insane that don’t believe in evolution. They have just never bothered to learn the proofs…….much like in higher math were many people just don’t care about it. This doesn’t make people uniformed on evolutions stupid, illogical, or irrational. The human condition is a weird and wonderful thing and we all are guilty of putting faith in preconceived opinions and calling them truth because we need them to be in order to make sense of the stories that tell us who we are.
      Leave Truth to God and God to Truth and evolution to the scientists whom all point to evolution and the Big Bang as being sound and valid. Anything that thinks differently is not thinking logically or looking at the facts. There is no middle ground here. 2 + 2 = 4. Evolution is Fact, the Big Bang is Fact Did God create math , the Big Bang, and evolution??? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Here there is plenty of middle ground because we simply do not know.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  11. phillip

    there's this idea that Hebrew is an original divine language and that YHWH (the original hebrew word for god) is actually representative of the 4 primary molecules of DNA. In the begining, there was the word.... etc....

    http://www.keysofenoch.org/html/dna_divine_names.html

    April 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • ihtfpaeoh

      Wow Glenn Beck, sounds like you have come up with yet another conspiracy theory.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  12. RangerDOS

    To theorize that everything started with the Big Bang, where all that is now the universe, ie the universe itself, was infintesably small, smaller than a microbe, and millions of degrees hot, you can theorize the possibility of an intelligence, beyond what we understand or could comprehend, >God<, contriving such an event. Why? You could postulate many maybes on that one. I believe in God. I also believe that man, when the is more than one, can screw up just about anything, and blaming it on God is convenient. But the great thing about America is that we can believe in what we want. And if you don't want to believe at all, that's okay also, just don't ram that down my throat, because I'll push back, hard, intellectually or any which way I need to guard my freedoms.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  13. LouAz

    Buy my book ! Buy my book ! For Jesus of course, buy my book ! Operators are standing by . . .

    April 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  14. Mark

    All this assigning certain actions (WWJD) or beliefs to Jesus is rather arrogant, to say the least. Make your arguments, but stop pretending you know what Jesus would be all about if he lived today. In the first century, most of the leaders of the day misjudged what the Messiah would be like, and Jesus had to take them to task. I'm afraid that if he showed up on the scene today, few would recognize him for who he is.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  15. Jahoba

    I know for a fact that the earth is only 360 years old and was actually created by the GREAT JAHOBA. Who created us from cat throw-up on top of his invisible mountain. AFter we ate from his holy cookie jar he sent us here to earth to live.
    I know he is real cause when I pray to him and ask for things he always answers by either granting me my wish or not granting me my wish.
    And no amount of evidence to the contrary can make me dis-believe this magical story!!

    April 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  16. Creation & Evolution: One & The Same

    According to this article, 4 in 10 Americans embrace peer pressure stemming from the authority figures in their lives, and have no capacity for analysis or reason. They're complete morons because they can't think for themselves. That explains why progress has stopped in the U.S. and we've gone from superpower to global laughing stock.

    April 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  17. Rosiepose

    If you have to ask that question, it is plain to see that you don't have a clue.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  18. JustPlainJoe

    The difficulties with this conversation is that many (most?) Americans have so little education in logic, philosophy and science that they are unprepared for the process of asking questions and sharing ideas. We just retreat into dogmas so we dont have to talk to each other. America has become the "unexamined life" written Large.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Al Lukehart

      This is a sad, but true, point.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • John

      JustPlainJoe you are just plain right!

      April 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Roger Coziol

    He would not only have believed it. He would have explained it to you. Did Jesus saw reality behind the form? Which is exactly what science is doing. There is a lot of information lost about the past (entropy). What really happened will never be clear. The Greeks developed physics and maths. They developed the first "modern" view about reality. We know now through science that what we see as reality is a form produced by the brain. An "objective" reality exists (there is something there) but to see it you need to see behind the forms. Even if you do not understand everything you can still perceive this "hidden"reality. This is how the brain evolved. Could that be what people interpret as God? Could it be that Jesus was aware of these scientific developments? The first Christians did not fear death. This is only possible if you see reality as it is. Can you imagine a world without the fear of death? Can you see reality?

    April 10, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Al Lukehart

      Well said.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • ihtfpaeoh

      " The first Christians did not fear death. This is only possible if you see reality as it is. Can you imagine a world without the fear of death? Can you see reality?"

      The 9/11 terrorists did not fear death either. Does that make their beliefs "reality"?

      April 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  20. Canuck1979

    Jesus could not have believed in anything because Jesus did not exist. The Jesus story was a vision of St. Paul the apostle in 50AD. St. Paul never mentions 99% of the story we know today, and says "If Jesus had lived on earth, he would not even have been a priest". The gospels then took his story and added pagan religious beliefs to it to make the full story we know today. This is historical fact. Something they dont teach you in religion class. You're welcome.

    April 10, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Studied much history, heh? Did you graduate high school in Canada? I heard that the US was going to assimilate Canada as a territory like Puerto Rico, seeing that you guys can't make it with out a king or queen in charge. Maybe then you can have access to real history books that aren't we sores by some half baked socialist government like is in Canada.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Jers

      There is extensive research on the historical version (rather than the biblical version) of Jesus's life. Most of this research takes Jesus to be a historical person who did exist. If what you claim is true, then it is widely unrepresentative of the broad swath of scholarly work on the matter.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      He can't hear you, he has moose fat in his ears, helps with the cold weather...

      April 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • A. Russel Wallace

      Not disagreeing with you Canuck, I would just like to know if you have any sources on that. I would like to read. Also, don't listen to this nut above, he can't even construct complete sentences or an argument other than attacking your country.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • ihtfpaeoh

      RangerDOS, why don't you add something constructive to the conversation? All you offer are insults about someone from Canada. Moose fat? How intelligent.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Herb Conner

      Historical fact why? Because you said so, I suppose. Not only are there direct witness accounts of his existence, but extra-biblical accounts as well. Yours, like the author's contentions, are baseless.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      Oh I can construct complete sentences. Well maybe. Maybe not... But I do know when I hear someone that knows little to nothing about history, like the moose fat smearing Canuck. As far as you two idi*ts, well, bring it own, let's hear an intelligent, well thought out argument from you.

      April 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      Canada is a socialist government aren't they? They do use moose fat right? At least some of them do, don't they?

      April 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      Hey Canuck, where did you get the 99%? The same place south of your ears that you are putting the moose fat in?

      April 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • RangerDOS

      The only thing more full of moose fat than this Canuck is the anti-American Nazi Tea Party! What a crock, this isn't fact! This Canuck blurted out some lies so he could solidify his position as an atheist which he can't do on his own logic. What a maroon!

      April 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Canuck1979

      The problem with most Christians, including members of my own family, is they don't know anything about the history of their own beliefs. Well, I was a history nut which is why I took religious history in University. If you don't believe me, crack open an encyclopedia, and read!!!!! I'm sure most of you don't know when the Gospels were written, who Saul...aka, St. Paul the apostle was....etc...because like me, you believed everything your priest told you growing up. Also, I"m not an atheist, I'm agnostic. I have the knowledge now to say "I Dont know". Also, yes, the first gospel of MArk was based on Pagan beliefs (Virgin birth...etc.)...not a unique story. Do some research.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Canuck1979

      Also, if you actually studied religion, you would no that there is not one word written about Jesus prior to the writing of St. Paul the Apostle. Guys, this is a fact! Argue all you want, not one word has ever been found prior to the writing of St. Paul.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.