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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. Tom

    Wow!

    Who has shown evolution to be true? Just because you, a man, say evolution is true, God the Son should say ... "You caught me in your very logical argument ... didn't see that one coming"? Hardly.

    Neither you nor I were there to see Creation. You say it started with a bang, and I say it happened when God said "let there be ...". So it comes down to the person in whom you put your faith and trust. I trust God. You trust yourself. If I am wrong, I lose nothing. If you're wrong, you'll re-visit this little article when kneeling at God's feet ...

    Sadly there will be no Mulligans then ... you'll have lost all.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Wow Indeed!

      Welcome to fifty years ago. Evolution has been proven awhile now. If you roll a cable between points a and b you can just follow the cable back to a you wouldn't need to be there at the initial unfurling to see where it starts.
      As far as this pascals wager you propose. I'm sure that Ganeesh will kiss you in h=ll.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  2. Logicrules

    This was an interesting Article. To be honest, I don't think evolution can be reconciled to the bible. You have the stories in Genesis speaking of God creating mankind full grown, naming animals,etc. How does that work with Evolution that teaches we are descendants of Prime-apes and not Adam and Eve? One has to deny the Genesis account completely to accept Evolution. Which would then question Christian doctrine in general. I'm sorry, it doesn't work.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  3. The Truth

    As an adjunct, whywontgodhealamputees -d o t- com is another great resource for the truth about the fallacy of God.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Danny

      And to see some quality arguments for the God of the Bible's existence visit answersingenesis d o t org.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  4. Catie

    The bible is a plain book addressed to plain men and it means what it says. J. Gresham Machen
    John 1:1-3

    April 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  5. The Truth

    All you bible thumpers need to read up at godisimaginary . com and put this fairy tale to rest once and for all. So you were duped, brainwashed and indoctrinated. Let it go already. We who are and have remained grounded and connected with reality will welcome you back, no problem.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  6. Timmy

    Jesus already expressed his view in the Bible at Matthew 19:4-6. In those scriptures Jesus acknowledged that God CREATED the first pair of humans. Its really that simple, Jesus did not believe in evolution because he already believed in creation. The Bible can stand on its own merits, it is sold and does not need anyone to come to its defense. It like a tool however, you just need to know how to use and handle it properly. I can confidently say that no one who actually looks up that passage in the Bible could truthfully say Jesus believed otherwise.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  7. BenB

    an interesting article... for "Christian Evolutionists", if one swallows evolution (it IS STILL a theory), the big question then becomes how to reconcile the "Nature's book account" with the "Revealed Scriptural account" without doing damage to the
    theology of the scriptures. it is clear from scripture that Jesus, Paul, and Peter (other apostles?) all believed in a literal Adam
    and Eve and all believed in creation. -not so clear that they all believed in a literal 7-day creation, though... so how to reconcile?

    April 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Anna2

    This is the ORIGINAL Anna2, Fck you all, get off my MENSA membership and kiss me where the sun don't shine. I DID TELL YOU REPEATEDLY THAT AN IDIOT IS WRITING UNDER MY NAME. If you are too stupid to realize that something has been written by an idiot and not somebody with an IQ of 160+, then you are the one who is stupid.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • The Truth

      Doh!

      April 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • D'oh indeed

      @Anna2 Nobody cares about you or your troll. You seem to have a severe case of vain. Nobody cares about your "160+" IQ (Really, people lie on the internet all the time) You must not be too smart to let a troll get the best of you.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  9. Drew

    This article makes me laugh. The Bible states, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness covered the face of the deep..." Tell me again how this is even SLIGHTLY compatible with the theory of evolution?

    April 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  10. Diane

    I don't understand all the hullaballoo regarding evolution vs. creationism. As a believer in God & follower of Christ, it's all the same thing, told from different perspectives. I had a college professor once who said (and not a religious one at that) "Science should only deepen ones faith in God" and it rang true for me. Jane Goodall, who is among the faithful, has stated that she's held the bones of lesser humans in her hands, yet doesn't discount creationism at all. Man's discoveries allow us to peek behind the curtain, so to speak, and it's all very fascinating.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • The Truth

      Your studies are incomplete. Make your way over to godisimaginary dot c o m and be truly enlightened.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  11. Rick

    Someone please demonstrate this "fact" of evolution please. Saying it's a fact doesn't make it so no matter how often it's repeated. Again you need to prove how mutations lead to a net INCREASE in genetic information. This no one has done nor can they. Scientists have mutated fruit flies by applying intelligence and guess what...no increase in genetic information and get this...they're still fruit flies. But if you have enough faith and enough of evolutions pixie dust ( TIME )then all by themselves they'll turn into you.
    Here's the thing, we've all got the same evidence. The only difference is what predisposition you bring to it. To claim something as hopelessly problematic as "the theory of evolution" a fact belies who has
    the real blind faith.
    In fact if you tried to spell the above quote by chance random processes with scrabble letters the probability would be one in one hundred quintillion. And at a thousand letters per microsecond would take over 25 billion years.
    The probability of the first protein forming is the same as a blind man finding a single marked grain of sand in the Sahara three times in a row.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Drew

      THANK YOU. At least one other person on here doesn't blindly follow what so-called "expert scientists" say. People believe in something they literally know nothing about.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • BenB

      hi Rick, interesting thoughts... since *REALLY*, neither evolution, nor creationism (as discussed in the Bible), are "proveable" completely yet, i personally think both should be allowed to be given equal time as theories... -we just don't have all the
      evidence needed (yet) to conclusively prove one or the other (using the scientific method). additionally, the Biblical account
      of creation does not rule out evolution per-se... perhaps God did take billions of years to form the universe, earth, and
      the life inhabiting it?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Rick

      @BenB
      Thanks for your comments Ben but I would have to strongly disagree on evolution being at all compatible with the biblical narrative. Maybe if you stand on your head while doing yoga there might seem to be a way to jamb it in, but when take the text as written it doesn't fit at all. Christians who say it fits must distort the scriptures to do so. For instance Adam and Eve would be standing on ground that contained "millions" of years of fossils which show evidence of suffering, violence, and disease. And then God said he looked on all he had made and "it was good" There's no getting around that one. The bible says death came as a RESULT of sin. The evolutionists will always skip major parts of the scriptures when they set up their straw men. Their most skipped part is the part about the curse on all of creation. They look ignorantly at the way things are now and blame God for it when in reality it is our fault. Funny though, according to their worldview life has no meaning or point and yet they get so bent out of shape at those of us who think otherwise. Why do they bother paying any attention to us?

      April 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  12. joannebb

    This makes sense if one interprets the Bible from their own world view which includes evolution. However, Scripture is quite clear as to how God created the heavens and the earth and it was in six literal days, not millions of years through the process of evolution, as Giberson professes.

    In Matthew 19:14 Jesus quite clearly states "And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female.’" Note "at the beginning" not millions of years after the beginning. If Giberson's Jesus would believe in evolution then this is not the Jesus of the Bible, the Son of God, who did the creating, as stated in John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) , and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. "

    This gentleman is one of many who does a great disservice to the Word of God.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • ProChoiceAtheist/Wife2AtheistSteve

      If you are going to try to prove the accuracy of a God or any form of deity, please do so without using scripture. The Bible's version of Evolution is Creationism which makes no logical sense.

      April 12, 2011 at 5:01 am |
  13. ProChoiceAtheist/Wife2AtheistSteve

    How about we all act as adults here??? Seriously, Creationists will never be convinced that they are can't possibly be right and those of us who believe in reality will never fall for the book they take their creationist mumbo from. I find no excuse for people to fall for something as pre-historic and inaccurate as the Bible...not when there is no much evidence to the contrary. I've read the Bible, as most Atheists have...my Mom is buried in church cemetery...I even attended church religiously every Sunday...I've evolved to be a free thinker and I accept nothing without it being evidenced. I see no reason to accept something that can't be shown to be true. People have ranted on about Atheists going to hell...how do you expect us to accept that when we outright admit that we do not accept a God??? To accept that would require a belief in something that can't be shown to be true.
    This is why our world can never live in peace...no matter what we say and how much evidence is given Creationists and Christians alike will continue to argue with us and threaten us with eternal damnation.
    Once again there is no excuse to be stupid...the bible is a fallacy, science is real and when it makes mistakes it corrects itself.
    As Carl Sagan stated "Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence."

    April 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Drew

      Ah, yes, you are obviously the voice of clear-minded and intelligent adults. Creationists are "stupid", eh? Yes, that is the voice of reason.

      I hope you can sense the sarcasm.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Eli

      By what authority do you speak? You fail to see the truth because of your hardened hearts. You marry in churches (God's house), celebrate Christmas (the birthday of Jesus Christ), call to God in despair saying, "Oh my God". You even consider the possibility of other life forms in the universe, but yet you haven't seen them–blind faith. You hypocrite. You will never get scientific proof or a "sign" from God because you have eyes that won't see and ears that won't hear. You say that God's people persecute you? Not so. The only persecution is by those who don't believe. God gives us the choice as a loving Father to believe in Him or not. And He will reward those whose faith was never shaken. It is not the will of the Father that any person should be lost and there will be greater joy in Heaven for the lost sheep that finds his way to God. Whoever has ears ought to hear. I will pray for you. That's all I can do for you.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Andi

      If you've ever read the Bible and compared it to the time period and other historical records from that time, you'd know that it is one of the most historically correct books out there. Look at the evidence it contains about the life at that time. Yes, it has parables...but that was Jesus trying to get his point across. And if you compare the Bible to historic books and records of the same time, you'll see resemblance. Perhaps you need to watch the movie "The Case for Christ"...it was about an atheist who is out to disprove God and Jesus. You'll be interested in what he found.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • The Truth

      To Eli and you other two – ProChoiceAtheist/Wife2AtheistSteve is absolutely correct. If you go to the site godisimaginary you will get a much needed deprogramming because you folks are seriously brainwashed. Go to that site, read it and watch your fallacies fall like rain. Logic and truth is a -m o f o-... it destroys fantasy every time.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • ProChoiceAtheist/Wife2AtheistSteve

      @Eli: I'm not more of hypocrite than you or any other Christian on the face of this planet! No, I do not use the word God in any form. As a matter of fact the word 'God' is just that...a word!! I do not celebrate Christmas for what Christians assume it is (they by the way stole the holiday from the Pagans); I do not celebrate Easter; I do not celebrate any religious holiday period. My heart is not hardened....I am very capable of love and compassion and all other emotion without the need for biblical non-sense. I am not the one making claims of a person who has never presented himself in the flesh...if he/she is so worldly and all knowing it would make sense for 'it' to prove it exists and stop the questioning minds. The burden of proof falls on the shoulders of the believers not the non-believers...you claim there is a God, now it is up to you to prove there is one...until then keep your delusions to yourself! Keep your prayer, it is not required in my life...Hands that work are far better than lips that pray! And as is quite obvious, Christians do attack non-believers.
      My point was that your belief system is stupid, not that you personally are but I will stand corrected on that after what you spewed to be the truth....you obviously have no sense as to what reality is and that alone makes you stupid.

      @Andi, the Bible has time and time again proven to be historically inaccurate. Read about the history of the Bible and you will see for yourself that it was written by 40 some odd men who never met one another over the course of 400 or so year and translated too many times to count. Get your facts straight! The Bible is full of incest, child abuse, wife beating/abuse, murder, etc and you call that good...I'd say it's criminal and in society today that would equate to jail time. Get over yourself...you're basing your opinion on something that is yet to be proven and until it is proven I see no reason to accept it as the truth.
      Really, my life is wonderful without the use of any religious doctrine telling me how to live...I don't need a book to tell me that murder is wrong-oh right it doesn't say that...it actually condones murder!
      The bottom line is that Creationists and non-believers will never agree...Creationists won't allow it b/c they seek things blindly, as we non-believers seek the truth and accept the facts as they become evidenced through science.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  14. Just Me

    Evolutionists use word play. Be weary of their words, they are like politicians, they can make anything seem true, while looking you in the eyes.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  15. Ken

    Very good article which as a Catholic I agree with. Science shouldn't and can't be forced to conform to Faith as they are only in conflict if people make them be. Faith provides a moral guide to the path of Reason protecting it from falling into immoral practices and amoral purposes, and evolution certainly isn't either. Rather evolution, like the studies being conducted with the Supercollider, is an attempt to come to a greater understanding of creation. This will help humanity to both improve itself, and better our understanding of God's ordered, and rational creation.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Priscilla

      I agree. I believe God is why, evolution is how.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  16. Name. Charles

    Jesus believed in the truth if evolution is true he would support it.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  17. Corie Robe

    It seems to me that God and Evolution are both theory. Why do people still argue to prove a point? It's more like arguing on who's stupidity is more potent. This is amazing.
    Evolution may only be a theory, but I bet it would be a Law long before God ever could....

    April 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Theory? What's a theory?

      The germ theory of illness: that some illnesses are caused by microscopic organisms.
      The heliocentric solar system: that the planets in our solar system orbit around the sun.
      The round Earth theory: that the Earth is round, and not flat, or some other shape.
      The atomic theory of matter: that all matter is made up of atoms.

      Atoms and germs are theories? But they're facts? What's the definition of a theory?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Theory? What's a theory?

      "The theory of evolution" is a misnomer. The theory part of the statement is "by natural selection." That is, does evolution occur because of natural selection or by some other method? Evolution is, in fact, a fact. It is constantly observed in nature; it is constantly observed in the lab. In truth (to not say fact so many times), scientists considered evolution a fact before Darwin proposed his theory. Consider Lamarckian evolution, which predates Darwin's theory. This theory also proposed that all warm blooded animals (a more specific statement than Darwin's) arose from a common ancestor, but did not propose the correct method.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • ComeOn

      The word theory in Theory of Evolution is not the common usage of the word that means a conjecture or unproven statement. In fact, it doesn't really mean that something is unproven at all. The best way I can explain this is to quote Dictionary.com, "A theory in technical use is a more or less verified or established explanation accounting for known facts or phenomena: the theory of relativity."

      It has a body of evidence supporting it and is accepted as the explanation surrounding a series of facts. Of course, a theory can be disproven... but there are no real competing ideas (that are even close to being verified by the scientific method)

      April 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  18. The things people say

    Okay after a good solid laugh while reading these... people simple facts... If you never saw it, its just hear say. Im sorry if you have grown up to think religion had a point other than conforming the masses.

    and @Anna2... I read something about you being in MESA... Did you know there are people with autisim that are members also. IQ has little to do with actual smarts. Please dont use it as a basis in a blog about god and religion, it's just silly.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  19. Gord

    Haha, looks like somebody took the MENSA test and failed is ever since pssed off at those who passed 🙂

    April 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Anna2

      Thanks for coming to my defence Gord. God bless.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Anna2

      You are such a little troll! It's DEFENSE! I know because I'm a member of Menza!

      April 11, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  20. Corie Robe

    @ Anna2-original.

    Your nonsense is a troll to this page.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:49 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.