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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. gupsphoo

    Jesus was a cult leader who was executed by the Roman Empire. I doubt he would have the necessary intelligence to understand evolutionary science.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  2. gupsphoo

    Do you actually think Jesus the cult leader could understand the science of evolution? I don't think so!

    April 11, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  3. doctore0

    SPOILER: Jesus is made up... made by men to fool men

    April 11, 2011 at 5:35 am |
  4. OldCliches

    tHank you for wasting my Time!

    April 11, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  5. JEPD

    What does it matter what a man who lived two thousand years ago might think about a discovery that was not yet discovered when this man was alive? It isn't relevant. This is one of those articles the belief blog runs so they can get comments from people who want to argue. A real fan the flames opportunity.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:05 am |
  6. Chandu

    "intentional counter-memory" This reviews is best for religiousness And it is good sound for read, Thank you for review.And you can get more about jesus from this niche Jesus Potter Harry Christ

    April 11, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  7. blackinese

    breaking news!!!

    Asian Scientists discovered that Asians need 234,000,000,000 years to evolve into a white person while Gorillas need 50 years to evolve into a N*gga. i wonder how long it'll take me
    White people? 100 years to become mayonaise

    racist evolutionists!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • Fo shizzle?

      I'll bet your a writer for CNN, aren't you. You post idiotic comments to get reactionary responses to your articles. I'd recognize the American news media calling card anywhere. Jesus and evolution... Racist evolutionists...that's hilarious! Get back to your news flashing CNN writer! Gotcha!

      April 11, 2011 at 5:13 am |
  8. mejoe

    Why is the sillyness, this doesn't give any sense, stop being crazy trying to compromise, never could Jesus act as u think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    u wanna know what would jesus do? laugh at u and say "what a restless soul, why not he feel the warmth of my breath hearing me as near as he can be and let his soul rest"!!!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  9. Dave in Arizona

    Science vs. belief aside, which is something to take more pride in:
    1. The fact that we've survived, evolved, and have existed over millions of years, or
    2. That we've only been around for a few thousand years and the product of inbreeding?

    I'll take #1, thank you.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  10. ConsiderThis

    Science is not a buffet; it's a method. You do not get to pick and choose what parts of it to "believe". It's all the fruit of the same tree. If evolution is wrong, then your cellphone only works by coincidence because scientists don't have any idea how ANYTHING works.

    Our understanding of genetics informs our understanding of evolution and vice versa. If one is wrong, both are wrong. There's no in between. And yet, there's genetically engineered insulin for diabetics and genetically engineered food on the table. If you truly did not believe in evolution, you'd never go anywhere NEAR a hospital. If evolution is false, then we're totally wrong about everything we think we know about genetics. You'd have to be crazy to go get medical care that's based entirely on wrong information.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:00 am |
    • ushdnobtr

      All generalizations are false. Now, I will not insult your intelligence; you may be a Nobel Prize winner, but it isn't in a scientific field. Your comparison is ridiculous. Evolution is a theory that fits as many of the facts as possible, if it isn't, in fact, the correct theory it doesn't refute the science of genetics. Or that of cellphones. Both genetics and cellular technology have been developed as the result of demonstrable, empirical, REPEATABLE research.

      DNA is a building block. Simply put, if I want a creature that is bipedal, has two arms that end in hands with opposable thumbs, and has X cranial capacity, I need DNA information that codes the creature for that. So, I have humans and I have apes. Their DNA MUST be similar, because they LOOK similar. The fact that one will develop cell phones and the other will use a stick to dig ants out of a hole is another aspect of this argument, but I wasn't a philosophy major.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:37 am |
    • Mark

      What in the hell possesses you to make such great claims for the belief of evolution? Most of the science you're describing was made possible by the research and ambition of people who believed in creation. Guy's like Newton and Einstein who spent as much time studying God and creation as they did science.
      The scientific community has become pretty arrogant over the last few decades. They love spreading the false notion that belief in atheistic evolution is somehow responsible for every convenience and technology westerners are lucky enough to have access too. It's simply not true though.
      Pretty much everything you do in your daily life is thanks to Newton. What in the hell has Richard Dawkins ever done for you?

      April 11, 2011 at 5:53 am |
  11. Bruce

    He would have needed a little more education than most people at that time had.

    But

    Assuming he really was all knowing, I guess he always knew, just never said because the people around him at the time wouldn't get it.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  12. MHZ35

    The four gospels seem to paint a man that thoroughly believed the law & the prophets. Jesus himself considered Adam to be a real person and the accounts of Genesis to have actually occurred.

    And as for the quote at the beginning of the article: "I am the truth", don't you think it's missing the point to merely take away the idea that Christians ought to be concerned with what is scientifically factual? You're right that Jesus is concerned with truth. He also, in the same breath, says HE is truth. That's a pretty serious claim. Anyone else we'd say they were a lunatic.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:56 am |
  13. josh

    What a bunch of lies. He obviously doesn't know scripture at all.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  14. God's Creation = Gods Cremation

    How about this one? Did they sound just alike? I tried to make this one sound female.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  15. I see you are a troll

    Armageddon is such a troll. Why not tell us how you think child-molesters should be priests? You sick piece of tripe.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:43 am |
  16. Armageddon

    You've got the nerve to quote: Jesus once famously said, “I am the Truth.”??? how pitiful you intelligence.

    Evolution: At Odds With God’s Word

    The Bible teaches: that creation was instigated by the supernatural word of God. There was no death, no suffering, no pain. Everything was “very good.” Evolution teaches that creation was instigated by a “supernatural” big bang. There was death and decay from the very beginning.

    The Bible teaches: that a global cataclysmic flood formed the geologic layers and that mankind has been devolving since his creation. Evolution teaches that slow wind and water erosion formed the geologic layers over millions of years. Man has been evolving since the beginning.

    The Bible teaches: only Jesus Christ can save the human race and restore us to paradise — and only through grace by faith. Evolution teaches, as the devil said 6,000 years ago, that the human race can save itself, and we will one day become like gods if we try hard enough.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  17. SatanSlayer

    No, Jesus does not "believe" in evolution, because it is not a faith to be believed in. Evolution is scientific fact, and like Jesus, is the truth.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:26 am |
  18. steward

    Uhhh... if you believe in Jesus, you know, God from God, light from light, one in being with the father and all that stuff...

    Then it wouldn't matter if he believed it or not, he'd know it as a matter of certainty, being the creator and all that.

    If you don't believe in Jesus, why would it matter whether or not someone you think is either a fictional character or just another rabbi wandering around in 782 A.U.C. would have believed in evolution or not?

    CNN comes up with some real losers for articles, but sheeeesh.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:15 am |
    • josh

      u mean b.c?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  19. fourtimes10p

    This idea the author puts forward is so far removed from the truth it almost eclipses the lack of a comprehensive ability for the audience replying to ruminate what science is about.
    Science doesn’t disprove the creation account on whether it occurred of 6 days, 6 billion years, or 12 billion years. Science is a tool used to understand the world around us using a compendium of human knowledge. Nothing in science is absolutely true, any respectable Scientist knows this, it’s only when the general public gets a hold of these scientific ideas and equates them to anything else do we arrive at the preposterous.
    Anything at any given moment in Science is subject to change, from our understanding of gravity, DNA, and the methods geologist use to measure the age of the Earth. Even scientific law is subject to change.
    To say that Jesus would believe in Evolution is an attempt to incite discord and create controversy or one man’s personal belief with a loose foundation in science. Radiometric dating is the most accepted method we use to date the age of rocks and other materials. Without going into too much detail we measure radio activity/decay to date the Earth. Is it possible that these rates changed dramatically as to make it an invalid method to date the age of the Earth? Yes, but until more evidence is gather to the contrary.
    Jesus would believe in the truth, not in science. Dr. Giberson, Science and your personal beliefs have no place together when given to the public under a guise of a man holding a PhD expressing personal thoughts, but rather a man using his scientific background as a physicist. What a shame.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  20. Mike

    Im sorry folks. but the bible is a load of garbage.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Luis

      Isn't is possible to meet in the middle? Using a combination of both instead of having to believe in only one?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Stop the insanity

      Luis, when one side knows that the Bible is full of lies and the other refuses to question their nonsensical beliefs in those lies there can be no meeting in the middle.

      It's like asking a psychologist to agree with the psychotic patient and to join in the psychosis. Religion is insane, comforting though it may be. We have no real indication that anything in particular happens to a "person" after death.
      All we have is hearsay / second-hand gossip / tales written about people who never wrote a single thing themselves.
      And you would trust your soul to gossip? To thrice-told tales re-interpreted and re-translated thousands of years after they were supposedly written?
      Your soul is that cheap? You could really care less about your soul that much? You don't care that you've been lied to?
      Why don't you just light yourself on fire? It would make about as much sense as what you're doing now....

      April 11, 2011 at 3:28 am |
    • Bob

      Mike – I hope you have actually read the whole Bible before making such bold claims... know this: yes, Christians believe in a more defined, concrete idea, but at the same time for someone to believe that their way of thinking (i.e. the bible is a load of garbage) requires just the same amount of faith and audacity to claim this view as truth. Your denial of the Christian faith is an act of faith in itself, one that cannot be proven explicitly, the same way Christianity can't be proven.

      If you enjoy logic, things that are not garbage, I encourage you to read "Reason For God," by Timothy Keller. I hope you'll truly research this eternal matter before you make any more such claims!

      April 11, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • Atheism is GREAT!

      "Im sorry folks. but the bible is a load of garbage." also, god isn't real, it's nothing more than a manmade construct. Jesus isn't real either, it's just a story, similar to MANY other stories with the names changed and the story tailored for christianity.

      Religion was created by man, to help explain the unknown, to help cope with death, to help explain questions to which we do not have answers to. Some human beings are hard wired and have a psychological need to believe in a higher supernatural power, to wrap themselves up in a blanket so they can go through life and not worry and have the anxiety of coping with death/starvation/natural disasters/the unknown.

      For example, the story of jesus and all stories like it, originated from people who used to worship the "sun", because the sun helped their crops grow, the sun visited every day, the sun helped them determine the seasons. It's really "the sun" and not "the son".

      There is no evidence that jesus existed, nor that god exists, but some people need to believe these things to get them through the day, or to get them through life. Thankfully the number of atheists and agnostics and non-theists is growing, and man no longer needs the mystical/magical belief of a higher/supernatural being to explain the unexplained. Many things have been debunked again and again through science, not everything, yet, but many things that were once attributed to whatever "god" and whatever "religion".

      Man is slowly growing out of this childlike phase, and I for one, welcome it. I would rather have my eyes open to the reality of life, to embrace it fully with my fellow human beings, than to have a false veil covering my life, and to believe in man-made false gods or follow man-made false religions. Do you research as to why religion was created and why god was created, in the first place, before you blindly follow whatever religion you follow... unless you were brainwashed as a child, in that case, you might be screwed... just like those brainwashed children of hate groups, different belief, same technique used to make you dumb.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:54 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.