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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. Dr Somethinstan

    No. Jesus knew as much about science back then as his young Earth followers do today.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  2. Two Witnesses

    Jesus may or may not "believe" in evolution...but he damn sure believes in devilution.....

    April 10, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  3. AsayaYeahyas

    "When science began in the 17th century, Christians eagerly applied the new knowledge to alleviate suffering and improve living conditions." That is BS Christians have always been reluctant of science even when it helped people. In many cases they still are today. The world would be better off without religions.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  4. Two Witnesses

    This is kind of a stupid question, sort of like asking if Henry Ford would believe in the internal combustion engine. Only worse.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  5. TrueGovernmentsGuilty

    Anyone who has ever built, designed, or "created" something should believe in evolution. God is the greatest creator of all, and it is absurd to think that he didnt allow for improvements in his creations.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  6. Eric G.

    The interesting thing to me is that the author of this article is still using his belief in his God as a "gap filler". He acknowledges that evolution theory has been proven "beyond a reasonable doubt", and then states that "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".

    At what point will humanity stop inserting a "god" where their understanding ends? Faith is not a path to truth.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  7. Christian Adeline

    Wow... Believers in evolution are pretty desperate to support their lies nowadays!!

    April 10, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Tomingtheuniverse

      Why would you think that evolution is a lie?
      All the evidence point toward evolution and the big bang theory, not towards creationism.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  8. plump

    well not all christians take this so literally you have soeme you are fundementalists and those who are...some beilie it is a stroy just to say how sin entered the world, besides if God did create the world all in seven days why would he he is God and has all the time in the world so why would he create the world in the week so this allows eveltuion to take place God had so much time that he made things evelove

    April 10, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Pete

      whoa, please take a look at what you just wrote. see anything wrong with it?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  9. Newfie

    Like many other things in the book, Jesus, start mixing evolution into the rest of the myths so you don't lose more christians, because you can't dispute the facts.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  10. rahul kalra

    Watch This Full News With Video :- http://bit.ly/fwiyvH

    April 10, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  11. Matt

    Despite the fact that evolution is THE TRUTH, Jesus would not have believed it. He would've believed in whatever myths were around when he (allegedly) lived. To ask if he could or would believe in a modern scientific theory is frankly ridiculous. But, unfortunately, it's the thing that passes for news on CNN these days.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  12. Sivi

    ....for 40 years are like 1 day that passed yesterday.... Isn't that also in the bible? this in itself shows the metaphoric nature of the book. Wouldn't it be sinful to deny God's genius in giving us a brain to think and to try to find the truth on our own? Evolution and procreation (and the way the world works) are neat things (and God made). Science is helping us to understand the complicated world better and better in an evolutionary way. Could we not appreciate God's work by trying to find that truth?

    April 10, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  13. pumpernickel1988

    I am not a grammar nazi, but if you want your argument to be taken seriously, you should present it professionally without grammatical errors. There are more grammatical errors in this article than a Survey of Writing student's first essay.

    In general though, I agree almost totally with what the author has to say.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  14. El Kababa

    Religions change all the time. The Christianity of 200AD, 500 AD, 1500 AD, 1776 AD, and 2011 AD are not even the same religions. Their gods have the same names (Yahweh, God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Satan, Holy Ghost) but that's like knowing five guys named John Smith. They have the same name but they are not the same man.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • JD

      It's obvious from your post you don't know too much about religion. Jesus and Christ are not 2 different people. Haven't you ever heart anyone one say 'Jesus Christ'?

      April 10, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • JD

      Oh yeah and Yahweh was the orignal name for Jesus (Hebrew I think but can't remember for sure) and Holy Ghost is not a God, it's the spirit of God.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  15. P.Pilate

    Christians that say the Theory of Evolution is a faith, or that it's just a guess that's why it's a theory, have no understanding of what a scientific theory is. In the year 2011 that is just ignorant.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  16. aj

    Great article!! This is exactly how I have felt for some time now but I have been hesitant to publicly admit to.

    thank you. God Bless the author!

    April 10, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  17. validusvis

    If your god created everything then it must have created the ability to evolve. But that makes too much sense though, eh?

    April 10, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  18. Aaron

    This articel is completely embarrassing to the writer. It is a horrible stab and trying to accept evolutionary beliefs and make them compatible with the Bible. They certainly do not go hand-in-hand. Check this out and you will understand.

    http://www.youtube.com
    ppsimmons channel – watch hthe videos and be amazed

    IDon't let evolution become an embarrassment in your life.

    April 10, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • P.Pilate

      The words "epic fail" can't even begin to describe the nonsense of trying to discredit evolution. Hey but the Earth was flat, it was the center of the universe... religion is never wrong, and I'm sure isn't wrong now.

      April 10, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • FifthApe

      ppsimmons is one of the BIGGEST jokes on U-tube. A laughing stock.

      April 10, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Pete

      What?? PLease kill yourself and save the rest of us from having to subsidize your stupidity. Do us a favor and cut your genes out of the gene pool, it'll facilitate and accelerate our evolution. unbelievable

      April 10, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  19. nana

    blah blah blah

    April 10, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  20. JJ

    Jesus said " I am the Way the Truth and the LIfe"". So, he was saying he is the Truth. Jesus would not BELIEVE in evolution, he would KNOW that it was True, a proven fact. Just because you believe something is true cannot make it real. But evolution has been backed up by countless pieces of scientific evidence, so if you are denying it you are denying the Truth. You are denying Jesus.
    Please check out www (dot) truthcontest (dot) com, and check out The Present (with religion).

    April 10, 2011 at 8:45 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.