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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. Janet Fernandez

    So many mis-statements here, so little time. One of the most ridiculous things he says is that sailors died of scurvy because their vitamin C gene was broken. Um...no. They died of scurvy because if the supply of citrus fruits was not heavily guarded, they would raid it, then not have a sufficient supply to last the voyage. Also, he says evolution is not opinion. That's true. Technically, in fact scientifically speaking, it is a theory - just like creationism. This guy's arrogance exceeds any annoying Bible-thumper I have ever encountered.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • Poor Janet

      Janet doesn't know the definition of the word theory. Don't educate yourself Janet! Just keep having strong opinions on the internet.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  2. hhindu

    This is the main Truth and the Truth I need most: That I am going to heaven and spent million of years in happiness... such that I don 't care the 'truth' of how many centuries the age of the world or how did God created it. I will leave them behind,, anyway!
    Glory to the Truth, Jesus Christ!

    April 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  3. geoff

    Evolution does not contradict the Bible unless you force an unreasonable interpretation on that ancient book.- yes it does. the Bible is a collection of scribbles put together by people trying to tell a story, written by bronze age sheep farmers for bronze age sheep farmers about things that nobody involved knew anything about (which is apparent if you actually read the book). I would love to see the leap necessary in order to get from 'God made the world in 7 days' to 'God created the world over billions of years'. Or 'God made man out of dust and woman out of man's rib' to 'God made man through a slow and gradual process spanning millions of years' Common....if you are going to preach about Christianity being 'the Truth' then try and be honest yourself : admit the TRUTH about the Bible. (see above if you are not sure what that is)

    April 11, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  4. texas2e

    This is a wonderfully written piece. I am almost 51 years old and I remember having a similiar discussion with creationists in 1977 in my high school biology class. Not much has changed since then- except the progress in moleculular genetics. And the mapping of the cosmic background radiation placing the age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years- not six thousand. The age of the earth is 4.54 billion years ± 1%. The elements of the earth and our bodies heavier than hydrogen were created in the interior of stars and super novae. The origin of modern humans- probably about 200,000 years ago, admittedly a bit less precise. I find the appreciation of this knowledge to be very meaningful. Even liberating.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  5. Majid

    I am a muslim born man.
    I can tell you that islam is arabic version of Jewish. and when you read bible , it is just those who was written by people.
    People around the world should grow up and start to believe in humanity. they should know that they are alive once and they should live as good as possible and try to make a better future for their children and people.

    Religion.... I can just say that we should be a real human that is all we have but if people still believe in any religion , we should respect to what they think.... they will change or not , no matter , we are human , that is important

    April 11, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  6. desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael or Voiceinthedesert)

    Christianity has always accepted evolution as part of the Creation Plan. It has never, and never will, accept evolution without the Creator, as "creator." It's simple as that! All the schools have to do, is agree to this, and the "problem" of evolution will be no more!

    April 11, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  7. Alvin

    The creation in genesis doesnt say the universe was created in six literal 24hrs/day. The word "day" was used to separate the phases of creation. If I remember correctly, The signs for seasons, years, etc was created in day 4 in the book of genesis.

    I believe we evolve from dusts/dirt, not from apes. Why? Most, if not, all of the elements that can be found in dirt can also be found in a human's body.

    Why do we have similarities w/ animals? Because we have the same author, God.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:34 am |
    • Alin

      Ah, me too!Just received mine from The Book Depository tyeesrday. Paid with the money that was never mine. Paypal, the numbers on the screen turn into books. Yeah!

      March 4, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  8. Frank Blunt

    It's impossible to reconcile logic and science with any thing written in the Jewish book of fairy tales. That this fellow is trying to do this shows how out of touch he is with reality.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • sobe4you

      Frank, do you have something to back up your claim?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:36 am |
  9. sobe4you

    If evolutionists say "if God created man than who created God", how can they say a Big Bang just happened and thats what created life? Well then my question is who created the Big Bang? People on here have tried and tried again to say that we have been able to recently reproduce a replicating cell, well if the earth is millions of years old, how could that cell then become 100,000 of species of animals, insects, plants, and minerals that have so much complexity to them today that even one single variation in their genetic makeup will cause a possible defect?

    April 11, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  10. PTG

    It's all good and well to try and understand things, but what many neglect is that, if we're talking about an all-powerful God that can create life, the rules that we and the earth abide by might be different for Him. Whereas we can look at genes and say, "They would need to come together over time, with several factors in place," God could say, "I'm going to make it how I want it." If I want to make a cake, I must follow a recipe, with several ingredients in place; God could just say "Bam" and there's the cake.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  11. StuckInTheMiddleWithYou

    The Bible is a book about how to live in good manner on Earth and how to prepare your soul for the afterlife in the Kingdom of Heaven, stop there. Jesus, when he lived with us on Earth did not have the time to explain the mechanics of biology and other sciences, but for Him to be able to heal broken people, be sure He understood those mechanics. Evolution is a process on our planet and in our universe, which God created, God therefore created the process of evolution, which from God's perspective is a good design, because his creatures great and small can adapt to change.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  12. Jeff

    just two things – 1) there is IRREFUTABLE proof of evolution. It is FACT not theory. Just look around you. Genesis is an interesting parable and lesson but it is not meant to be taken as literal truth. 2) The Bible was written by MAN and while there is also irrefutable proof of Jesus and his life, death and teachings, the Bible as we know it today has gone through countless rewrites due to personal and political agendas and misinterpretations due to being handed down orally for many years before being written down. it is not anti Christian to be open minded about where we came from and how we got here.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:18 am |
    • skyjmpr

      Amen.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:23 am |
    • geoff

      You have no idea what the word 'theory' means when used in the world of science. Thanks for the ignorant comment though! Also, there is very little evidence that Jesus was an historical figure, so claiming that there is proof of his life, death and teachings is a little premature, don't you think?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  13. cho

    No one in the world is resurrected from death but only Jesus Christ. That's why He is the Truth.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  14. Heyitsme

    I honestly don't care what we evolved from or how... The only question that I always ask myself is how everything came from nothing... It's kind of scary thinking deep into it, say there is a creator we would call god... Where did he come from? Maybe god is the energy that created earth but what created the energy? Where did space or universe come from? How could it all have just been there forever....but how could something started it all. Ugh brain hurts

    April 11, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • Mike

      Many a night drinking have I pondered such things haha. Indeed it does boggle the mind to try and comprehend the origin of everything.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  15. Randy Roberts

    Would Zeus Mithras Odin Ra Shiva....................................( I could probably go on for hours) believe in evolution? Why are we treating science like it is a religion? It is not. Please pay attention in class.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:07 am |
  16. Marcus

    It saddens me that the knowledge of this world has blinded the eyes of men and they cannot see the Glory of God as the Heavens and the Earth boldly proclaim....It is the workings of Satan... 😦 ....Be not deceived my brethren; God is not mocked; whatever a man sows that is what he will reap (Gal 6:7).

    April 11, 2011 at 6:03 am |
    • ABP

      Fck you, retard!

      April 11, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • try harder

      Marcus, that was Earth shattering! Thank you. I bet everything that goes beyond what you believe personally is from Satan. Right? Not going to take the initiative to understand things for yourself? Just blame it on Satan. It's sad that people like you are blind to your own potential, because of the lazy religious tendency to just pass responsibility to a deity or that deity's arch enemy. There are real life problems that need real life solutions that your blame will not reconcile. Don't just throw up your hands and give up for the guilt of Beelzibub. God does not approve of the servant who buries talents. Make decisions for yourself. Stop depending on a religion to make decisions for you. Be stronger.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Marcus

      Try Harder – One day you will know the Truth and you will proclaim that he is Lord to the glory of the Father.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  17. nana

    boring................

    April 11, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  18. gupsphoo

    Man you people actually believe that Jesus the cult leader could understand evolution? Are you from Texas or something?

    April 11, 2011 at 5:47 am |
  19. Gerald

    The author should have done some actual research before offending Christians and attempting to discredit Jesus and the Bible. There still remain many serious issues regarding the theory of evolution. As we learn more about the world around us, we continue to learn things that defy the theory of evolution. Absolutely one of the worst articles I've ever read. CNN is consistently getting worse. I only stop by cnn.com on rare occasion but apparently, I need to forget about it completely.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • IEK

      Name one.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:34 am |
    • geoff

      defy the theory of evolution – name one thing (not from the Creation Museum) that we know with absolute certainty that 'defies the theory of evolution'. I am sure that scientists around the world are EAGERLY awaiting your post.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • Gerald

      @GEoff,

      Read a couple of my later posts. I could add alot more but I offer commets about the fossil record and what we have been finding inside dinasour fossils lately for example.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • Sarducar

      Dear Gerald,
      and magical creature who waved his hands and created Universe just makes perfects sense. Do you believe in Santa Claus, unicorns and goblins ? and BTW who created God..if you can accept the fact the God always been there then you should have no problem accepting the fact the evolution is the driving force of the progress.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  20. Ben

    The bible never says the earth is only a few thousands of years old. The earth was already in existence before the Genesis story starts ,we have no idea how old the earth is (scientists don't either), "Day" doesn't always refer to 24 hours – that's a lunar day – a work day can be longer or shorter and we often refer to the day as the period of sunlight which Genesis 1:5 does also. So Day can take on different meanings, in Genesis it could have taken God millions of years, billions or a few moments, the bible doesn't say. Those who try to come up with a length of time in the Genesis story are just silly, it's more dangerous than good.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • Ben

      Jesus supported the literal interpretation of Genesis when he said God created them "Male and Female" (Matthew 19:4). Yes God took billions of years to create the earth, bu this is not evolution, it's process, two different things.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:48 am |
    • gupsphoo

      The Bible says the Universe was created in 6 days. Please provide POSITIVE evidence for that claim.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:50 am |
    • Gerald

      God creates the universe. God creates man. Man thinks he is smart enough to figure how God did or didn't do it.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • IDSWIzzard

      As for the time, why does everybody always ignore the line from the bible that states a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day? Have to agree with the poster, it could have been "days" in some term, but how long is a "day" in reference to the creation?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • Gerald

      There is no reason to doubt what God tells us in the Bible. If He uses symbolism, He will define it, otherwise, He means what He says and you can have faith in that. I have found His Word to always be true. Science is always learning and often as wrong as wrong can be. I like science, but we have much to learn.

      Evolution is more like a religion, it is not in fact based on real science. Around the turn of century, during the monkey trial, evolution had its chance to bring data to the courtroom and scientists produced a tooth and tried to sell it as evidence of an early form of man. The tooth turned out to belong to an extinct pig. LOL. Today, there are many areas of science that disprove evolution. For example, the fossil record. Life forms always appear in the fossil record fully formed and functional. Although we have billions of fossils, the fossil record has defied evolution from the beginning. What is not seen in the fossil record is the steady progressive change of one kind of thing into something completely different. Instead, if something new shows up in the rocks, it shows up all at once and fully formed, and then it stays the same. According to Darwin, there were crucial points in the evolutionary history and all of those points "conveniently" lack fossil evidence. The direct ancestor of every genus is missing. "Modern gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees spring out of nowhere," writes paleontologist Donald Johansen. Many paleontologists understand the fossil record actually supports creation and defies evolution.

      If you believe in evolution, you would have to believe life started simple, and morphed from one genus to another by way of tens of thousands of evolutionary changes, each taking place over tens of thousands of years. All during this time, these life forms would have existed on earth but somehow, miraculously, all traces of the transitionary life forms vanished without a trace, yet we have all kinds of fossils that match the life forms as they are today, and some we know that are extinct, like the saber toothed tiger or the wooly mammoth. Life forms in the fossil record are always fully formed and functional, and according to the fossil record there is no evidence of life forms evolving. I'm not sure if some of you fathom what I am saying but just dwell on that for a while.
      .

      April 11, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • ABP

      The bible is crap.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Leonard C. Jackson Jr.

      The so called facts in this article are horribly inaccurate. I am perplexed that CNN would allow an article to be published on it's web page before doing your own homework on the subject. It only takes a simple reading of the bible. It's clear this man never read the bible for himself, but has rather gone off of things that he heard or thought the bible said. First, to simplify this whole so called debate of "What would Jesus think...?" The answer is very simple if you read your bible, Jesus Himself said in Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. Notice He said "CREATION GOD MADE THEM". This isn't speculation, but what He said Himself. Also, the bible never taught that human existence began in the Middle East. It clearly shows that it began in Africa in the description of the Garden of Eden and rivers that were flowing from the Garden. Finally, the bible also shows Jesus to be the God of creation in
      Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ......

      Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.....

      Joh 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not....

      Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.....
      I think that it is totally irresponsible to allow such "UN-truth" to be published on your web page without investigating the facts for yourself.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • geoff

      The Bible claims that God made man out of dust and woman out of the rib of man. Please explain how that in any way means 'god made man through a gradual process spanning millions of years'.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • Dessad

      ["Christianity at its best embodies this provocative idea and has long been committed to preserving, expanding and sharing truth. "] Right. Christianity and truth go 'hand in hand'. How can anyone take this 'article' seriously, when it leads off with such a blindly self-serving statement? Christianity has never been about truth–no religious is. All religions are about "control"–nothing more, nothing less. Control over a population of people who lack the capacity for critical thinking.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:58 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.