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. Brandon

    Please, please stop talking... I was fine until you used the Vitamin C thing to "prove" primates and humans are related...
    You realize BATS can't make their own vitamin C, right? So can't a lot of birds...
    This does not ruin the rest of your argument but makes it look bad. Please come back and try again.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  2. FreedomFirst

    There is no god.

    Jesus said he was not of this world...His kingdom was in the stars (heaven). If all christians had pity on the human race, they would have, by now, built means to travel into stars (heaven) and left the human race in peace. The same applies to all religions

    April 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • joe wilson

      there is no GOD?
      there is no you.

      you are destined to burn in hell, so everything about you is worthless.
      you taint this planet with the slime of your demon cells. best purge yourself before GOD does it for you. you are a sinner. you must not be alone. take your family away with you to hell so you may burn away in agony. it is better that way. we will all rejoice at your suffering. your soul is not saved.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Joe, God already said what their end will be... They are fools, presumptuous, arrogant , with their hearts and souls full of darkness. What we are seeing happening before our own very eyes, it was foretold in the Scriptures long ago for the days nearing the end.
      It is hard not to get upset by their vile derogatory words, but just remember, we know their end! It is God who will have the last laugh!
      P.S. Read my comment on this page, posted at 1:18pm....
      God bless you!

      April 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  3. GH

    He states... "Evolution does not contradict the Bible unless you force an unreasonable interpretation on that ancient book." OK, lets interpret the Bible from its original language by which it was written. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. Therefore the word "create" in Genesis is the Hebrew word "bara" which interpreted to English means "to make something out of nothing."

    Science can't wrap its head around the original text of Scripture.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  4. tox

    If you want to know what Jesus would believe, read Matthew 19:4 which says “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” He believed that Adam and Eve were made at the beginning. (Not after years of evolution)
    Either embrace the Bible or reject it. Let's not pretend it can be both ways.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  5. David Johnson

    Yes, Jesus would believe in Evolution. But evolution would not believe in Jesus. LOL


    April 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Tommy2

    Warning to Creationists: Information may cause great harm to your ignorance!

    April 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Chris

    How can God create the Earth in six days if it take the Earth to EXIST to measure a day?

    April 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Maya

    To me, this kind of apologetic crap is as laughable as fundamentalists who claim that the earth wad created in six days. If the Bible is a scientifically inaccurate, has been proven wrong concerning the origin of our species and the creation of the planet, why should we take it on faith that it is right about anything else? The writers of the Bible were entirely in the dark about such matters, so they made things up according to their simplistic imaginations and the human tendency to assign purpose even where it doesn't exist. Why should we assume that they were any more enlightened on spiritual matters?

    Any deity worthy of worship doesn't demand or even desire it. The God of the Bible is downright preoccupied with humans worshipping him. If they don't, he simply punishes them for all eternity. This doesn't sound like an enlightened deity to me.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • GH

      Hmm, then what was the point of a man murdered on a cross? And then 3 days later he walks out of his grave? Even non-believing historians admit this happened.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • FreedomFirst

      Could you give a reference to non-believing historians who "believe" Jesus walked out of the grace? this is laughable, they believe it, they dont know it actually happened

      April 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  9. S101

    Why all the speculation about what Jesus would believe. All he wanted to say was already said and he didn't talk about evolution, so he obiously doesn't believe in it. In other words, he was completely ignorant of what would be discovered in the future. Aristotle already had a version of evolution out, so the knowledge was out there. God it seems doesn't do a good job with knowlege or predicting what will happen in the future.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  10. servantofTHEWORD

    Not surprised the author would invoke Darwin.Lets pray that our Lord and Saviour,Jesus Christ will have mercy on a lost soul.And man does not know the thoughts of God.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  11. joe wilson




    April 10, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • jheron

      Well for something to be the truth, it must be proven to be the truth...and so far, science has been doing a much better job than religion.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • joe wilson

      you have been reported for harassment.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  12. AtheistSteve

    By Thor's Hammer if I hear one more uneducated simpleton spout "but evolution is just a theory" I'm gonna gouge out my own eyeballs. One more time. Try to wrap your head around the idea that in science the word "theory" means "model". Weathermen use climate models to predict tomorrows weather and compared to evolution the climate models are far, far more chaotic and unpredictable. Millions of pieces of evidence and data from a dozen different scientific disciplines conform exactly to what the theory of evolution predicts and to deny it's validity is pure lunacy. Evolution did happen, mankind is decendant from a common ape ancestor and despite what you may believe the evidence is everywhere you look. Take for example EVERY single vertabrate creature on the planet(everything with a spine) whether it's a salmander, fish, mouse, bird, turtle, deer, giraffe, ape, buffalo or elephant EVERY last one is bi-laterally symetrical with 2 eyes, a nose, a mouth, 4 limbs and a tail. Some snakes have vestigal limb bones, some whales have vestigal hip bones and we have a remnant tail bone(which are in themselves perfect examples of adaptation by evolution). Not a single deviation from the same body pattern. That alone speaks to a common ancestor. If God had truly made each creature in it's "kind" then why aren't there many varieties of body pattern such as 1 or 3 eyes, 6 or 8 limbs(if someone tries to mention bugs here remember that I'm talking only about vertabrates) or any other physical characteristic that doesn't fit this pattern. You can't find even one....because it doesn't exist.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  13. joe wilson

    this is the truth of evolution

    April 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  14. snowboarder

    i always find it interesting how many jesus quotes are in the bible when it was not written until well after his death and i seriously doubt anyone was taking notes at the time.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Brandon

      Actually... people WERE taking notes... the 12 apostles. They pretty much followed him around all day everyday.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Martin

      There are no records of the apostles having written anything down at the time. It is unlikely that most of theme would have been able to read or write. The first writings about Jesus are in Greek not Aramaic so are not likely to have been written by the apostles. There is no evidence from during Jesus time of his existence. There are no historical stories about him till long after his death. That is if he even existed. The earliest writings about Jesus are by Saul or Paul and clearly he did not meet Jesus but only believed in him as a God not a man. There were several messiah around the period. Pialate had at least 4 crucified. Josephus the Historian wrote a page or so about most of them. There is only one reference to Jesus and it seems to be a 4th century addition by forgery.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  15. joe wilson

    this is the truth of the lord's word! watch and see the failure of evolution right before you

    April 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  16. PRISM 1234

    Man, in his quest for knowledge of truth on his own, apart from God, will like a blind man dabble poking his cane in every direction, ever searching , but never coming to the knowledge of truth. Yet in all his endeavors, no matter how far his paths take him in the fields of science to pursuit knowledge... at the end of every one of them he will find himself staring into the face of God.
    There is depth of wisdom in the words of the most loved (by some) and most hated (by others) Book, where the Holy Spirit of God, our Creator speaks these words:

    Oh, the depth of the riches, both of wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out...!!! Yet, He has hidden them from those who are wise in their own eyes, but revealed them to the humble, and those of broken and contrite hearts...

    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, because The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile, and HE discerns the intents of their hearts.

    Therefore let no one boast in mand in his "wisdom" and "might. For God has chosen the "foolish" things in the eyes of this world to put to shame the wise in their own eyes; and God has chosen the "weak" thinggs in the eyes of the world to put to shame the things which are "mighty", so that those who think they are wise, and reject Him who is the source of all wisdom and knowledge, by professing themselves to be wise, they became FOOLS !

    This is truly the picture of today's post- modern man!

    April 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • jheron

      Funny how wherever man has explored, he has found answers and knowledge which has helped bring us where we are today...and wherever man has ventured where it was thought was once God's domain, God was not found. The only place God truly hides now is in human's fear of death. God has always hid in the unknown, until man was able to shine his light on it, and that light was and is knowledge and questioning, theorizing and proving.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Jheron
      You obviously have to make yourself believe that , because if you didn't you would have to face reality that you have someone to answer to! That's the ral issue why so many of you live in a lie, even to the point of HIDING THE FACTS, which even scientists can not deny! ! !
      But , dear friend, think of it this way,and comfort yourself with this thought: about 50 years from now, depending on your age, you will KNOW!
      Nothing else needed to be said, because then you'll have it settled forever!

      April 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  17. Colin

    Here is a quick lesson in Evolution 101 for all those nauseating creationists who insist on misquoting evolutionists and saying we believe “it all just happen by chance.”

    The gist of the argument is that life is so complex that it could not happen by chance, therefore God did it.

    Putting aside the obvious contradiction that theists believe God just happened by chance, no person who accepts evolution believes for a moment that “it all just happened by chance.” The confusion (or, at times, deliberate obfuscation) comes from two vital roles played by chance in evolution.

    The first is the likelihood of survival. An organism that is more suited to its environment is more likely to survive and pass on its genes. A slightly faster lion, taller giraffe or better sighted hawk is more likely than its slower, shorter or more myopic brethren to live long enough to breed and pass on its genes. No rocket science here.

    The second role chance plays is that the very characteristic possessed by the parent that gave it the edge is more likely to be inherited by the child. Once again, no surprise here. One look around you will confirm that children tend to favor their parents.

    In neither case, however, is anything certain. It is not certain that the faster lion will outbreed its less endowed siblings. It might, for example, be killed as a cub by marauding hyenas or die of disease or drought. Nor is it certain that its speed will be passed on to its offspring. Some tall parents have short children, some fast lions, slow cubs. However, the chances of an offspring inheriting the advantageous trait of its parents and passing it on to its children are slightly better than for those that do not have the advantage. A fitter, more prepared athlete is not guaranteed, but certainly more likely to win a given athletic event than his more portly compet-itors.

    So far, easy. but here is the key. The way in which any child will differ from its parents will generally be small (such as eye color, height etc.) but, given enough time and enough generations, and provided some external element is selectively favoring specific traits, the differences will add up. Over thousands of generations, so much cu-mulative change builds up that the great-great-great etc. grandson will be so different from its great-great-great etc. grandfather as to amount to a new species.

    If, for example, a dog breeder only ever allows the fastest male dogs to breed with the fastest female dogs, after many years of such selective breeding the resultant dogs will differ so much in body shape, leg length and, perhaps, lung capacity from their ancestor as to be considered a separate breed. No one set of offspring will differ greatly from its parents, but it will differ a little more from its grandparents, and even a little more from its great-grandparents etc., until we go all the way back to the original dog, which will be quite different in appearance.

    In point of fact, this has happened. They are called Greyhounds and they differ considerably from the original Sighthounds from which they were bred. Likewise, when the trait chosen was ability to smell and track, one result, after many generations, was the Bloodhound, while selective breeding for the ability to herd sheep has resulted in the Collie and German Shepherd (note the name).

    All breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely (but not certain) that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in either the Middle East or Manchuria some 10,000 years ago. In any event, every last one of them, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the cu-mulative result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

    While there has not yet been enough time for different dog breeds to amount to separate species as opposed to breeds, that is just a matter of degree. Given enough time, and many thousands of years are generally required, the added up effects are so great that breeding and producing viable offspring with the original breed is no longer possible, and thus the new species emerges. The first signs of this can already be seen in dogs. The ability of a Chihuahua to mate with a Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound, absent artificial insemination, is probably approaching the theoretical at this point, regardless of which breed is the female.

    Evolution is, in fact, a work in process, as dog breeders all over the world, along with horse breeders, wheat farmers, rose growers and all other professions that depend on the traits of plants or animals to make their living, selectively breed for desired traits. Even the most cursory of research into any branch of horticulture or animal husbandry quickly reveals that the size, variety, health, longevity and resistance to disease of most of our domesticated plants and animals were the thing of dreams as recently as 100 years ago. Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the compete-tion if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bobby

      Please post more like this. More people need to accept that they have belief, not evidence backed up by years of sound science.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • joe wilson

      bobby i have reported you for abuse.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • jheron

      Why did you report Bobby? It couldn't be for the post above.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • joe wilson

      i have reported you too jheron. you are tainted like him and deserve to purged.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  18. joe wilson

    this is the truth of god
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFXmlH85Sb0&w=425&h=349%5D

    April 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  19. Kelly

    My God is a loving God; he's not some jerk who put a bunch of fake evidence out there to trick us. If you believe that all this evidence is just to fool humanity, then you're pretty much giving up on the idea that God loves us. A God that is willing to deliberately set up humanity for failure is not a God worthy of worship, but evil trying to disguise itself as good.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      i totally agree! people shouldnt try to cut God out of the picture because He is the reason we hav a picture!

      April 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • jheron

      Again Elizabeth, where is the proof of your God or any God at work?Until you have such proof that can be scientifically proven of your God existing, it has no place in the scientific community and should not be forced on other people.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • ladykaka

      So then your god wouldn't want you wasting time and effort in worshiping in him anyways.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Comes.from.a.Monkey

      HA, Kelly, yours is the loving god that allows children to be abused, tortured, mutilated, maimed on a daily basis, then killed. There is so much evil in this world, and how could an omnipotent omnibenevolent god just stand by and watch it all? Either 1. there is no god, or 2, this person is unimaginably evil..

      April 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Webbie

      Did you not read what Gilberson said? He's not saying God put things there to confuse you. He's saying science helps find God's truth.
      It is the creationists who say God plays tricks on us.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  20. Elizabeth

    the 'millions of years' since creation idea can be easily explained. First of all, scientists study the layers in the grand canyon for ideas on how old the earth is. Each layer of a certain type of rock equals so many years. When Mt. Saint Helen blew up, it laid thousands of years worth of layers in a matter of minutes. No scientist can say how many of those layers are simply different catastrophes that were laid in minutes, seconds, or even hours. Scientists are just trying to exclude God from the picture and say they figured it all out. It's not the case. Scientists aren't the only people that know stuff. There are others that have good ideas about how old the earth is and how we are here today and they should start listening.

    April 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • futuregeneticist

      "No scientist can say how many of those layers are simply different catastrophes that were laid in minutes, seconds, or even hours."
      Well, ACTUALLY.... we kind of can. Maybe like take a course on geology or something. These catastrophes you are talking about are the basis for geological dating: shifts in tectonic plates and volcanic activity. You have it completely wrong. Example: Magma escaping from the mid-Atlantic ridge helps us date back to various times within Earth's history

      April 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Eric

      Sorry honey, but you have no idea what you are talking about. By the way, it was Christian Geologists that came to the conclusion that the earth was older than 10,000 years. So there is no conspiracy to "disprove" God.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • futuregeneticist

      yeah Eric, wooo! 😀

      April 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • S101

      Each one of those "others" will have their own kooky ideas with too much variations on the details which can't be proven so it may as well be thrash.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • futuregeneticist


      this is how volcanoes work.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • futuregeneticist

      lol @ kooky ideas
      but you can't prove there is a God either eh? that is the whole principle of faith: belief without real concrete proof
      i'm sure you can really prove that gravity really exists either, but I don't see you jumping out of an 8 storey building
      and when you take your tylenol for a headache, did you ever think that the construction of the drug is based on many theories we can't really prove either? like M.O. theory and the pauli exclusion principle etc. just to name a few
      yet you still take your tylenol.
      and i think your mean "trash"
      thrash is a verb.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • futuregeneticist


      April 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • kirockk

      Sorry but scientist can tell the difference between disasters and natural occurrences. There are chemical changes in exposure over time.
      This does not change facts. What has to change is the small thinking of Christians. Science and God do not have to be in conflict. It is the small perceptions of God that Christians need to change. Conflict comes because these people put their own restrictions and personnel conflicts on God. Lets take genesis and look at it another way. The world and all things were created in six days. But we know that time is a transient thing. A day on earth would be different from a day on mars or some other world. A day for God could be billions of years for us. Its man's arrogance that says a day has to be 24 hours because we cant perceive of a larger existence. Open your eyes to science and god and be enlightened..

      April 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Martin

      Elizabeth you clearly have not studied geology. You are clearly not aware that geologists can tell if stuff has been created by catastrophe or laid down slowly by water or quickly by water. its all about particle shapes sizes and so on. The layers of the grand canyon have been laid down over millions of years. They have volcanic layers in them clearly proving they were not laid down in one event. The Grand canyon also was not carved out of soft flood deposits, It can clearly be proved to have been a slow gradual process. If you studied geomorphology and how rivers form their shapes it can clearly be seen that the huge meanders found on the Grand Canyon were formed SLOWLY over time.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • jheron

      Sorry Kirockk, but your interpretation is a new one. the people who wrote the bible believed firmly that it was 6 days. The Church simply had to acknowledge the Bible was not factual because there was too much proof it was wrong if taken literally. Up until that recent acknowledgment, the Bible was very much taken literally as the history of mankind.

      April 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • S101

      futuregenetist: "thrash" is probably appropriate.

      Getting to your point. We have refined our physical understanding of gravity through deduction and experimentation with the most recent attempt being ways to measure particles responsible for gravity. We will continue to refine because unlike God/religion there's no end point in science (problem -> deduction/experimentation -> understanding -> problem, ad infinitum).
      Pauli exclusion didn't come out of thin air (there's a math & physical basis for it). Try publishing in science and see how much hard work it is.

      April 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
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