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. sweets

    Are you serious? This article is rubbish. Was this article really written by a professor at a Nazarene University? Please, take this hogwash to another university and teach it there.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  2. sweets

    All I can say right now is....YIKES! Really? Are you serious? Is this article and hogwash really being taught by a professor from a Nazarene University? Please...someone do something to turn this ship back around...and fast!

    April 13, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  3. Mike

    Scripture says, speaking of Jesus "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible...all things were created by him and for him". (Colossians 1:15,16). It doesn't imply in any way there that Jesus "created" a process of "evolution" that would start with some single cell life & then take eons to change into multicellular life which would then take more eons to change into a mouse which would then take eons & many changes to finally get to us. And after the 6th day of Creation God called everything he had made, including Adam & Eve", very good. Why would God call eons of evolution within those 6 "days" good, when those eons would have contained untold numbers of deaths, when scripture calls "death" the last enemy that is to be destroyed? Of course, good objective science points more clearly to a quick creation of the same "kinds" we see alive today & in fossils, rather than an evolutionary process.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  4. 2011

    What I don't understand is that how can someone believe in Christianity, Jesus and the Bilble and also believe that Jesus (a Human, son of a Human) is actually God, The Lord of the Worlds, The Creator of Creation, The Owner of the Day of Judgement, while there's no such mention anywhere in the Bible in the first place. Jesus (son of Mary) died and how can God possibly die? then, who created the people (e.g. his mother Mary) before Jesus was born? Enlighten me, please, it's totally confusing.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Edward Vieira

    Believing in evolution makes me think God is not an all powerful and eternal God. As the account goes, "everything that is and was, was made by the word of His mouth." Evolution does not offer anyone a hope after death. According to it we are here today and gone tomorrow. Then there is the problem, if we evoluted from monkeys there would be no more monkeys today. There's a lot more to consider, but I choose to just share this little bit here.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  6. Timmy

    The author of this Book did not do his research very well because, Jesus' clear answer on this subject has already been recorded in the Bible for anyone to read at Matthew 19:4-6. Check it out, see if Jesus said man evolved or was created.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  7. tjguy

    Giberson ends his grand re-interpretation of God's Truth with these smug words:

    "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."

    Poor Jesus! Poor ignorant eternal Son of God! What a shame that the Creator Himself did not know about evolution! If only he would have known about evolution, He would certainly have believed in it. Because He values truth. Imagine how many problems could have been avoided had He known! How tragic that He didn't know!

    There you have it out of their own mouths! The guys at Biologos want us to embrace, trust, love, and entrust our eternal destiny to a Messiah, a Creator, who they claim was scientifically ignorant and deceived because He was teaching false things about our origins.

    I will agree with him on one thing. Jesus certainly does care for the Truth. In fact, He claimed to BE the Truth! And He claimed that God's Word itself was truth. I don't think we have to guess at whether or not Jesus would believe in evolution if he knew about it. He tells us clearly what He believes and what we should believe in Jn 5:45-47.

    "Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

    I guess Giberson thinks He was clearly wrong in making such claims. I'm surprised the Nazarene Church allows this kind of trash to be taught in their school. He is attacking the very foundations of their faith! How foolish! How long can an orgainzation stand when it's foundations have been destroyed? How can you build a faith on a false history or have any confidence whatsoever that Scripture is true if you have to go throughout Scripture twisting and tweaking passage after passage in a frantic effort to keep it in agreement with modern day science?

    And he thinks that Jesus would approve? WoW! This kind of teaching will lead many astray, because there is no truth to remain faithful to. It has been destroyed!

    April 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  8. Samuel Raines

    There is no God. There is only us at this point in time. I feel bad for religious people; I feel that they are scared to death of dying and they need to believe that it is not the end. Everyone is scared of dying. But just because I want something to be true does not make it true. I'm sorry, but that's the way it works. So I wish everyone a very happy and fulfilling life, and afterward, we will be as we were before we were ever born: nothing.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • J

      I feel equally bad for atheists. They live empty, meaningless lives(in their own minds). People misuse the term "faith". There is no such thing as "faith" that God exists. There is only "faith" that he will keep his promises. Because the fact that he exists is a given. You would literally have to be blindfolded to not recognize the evidence of God not only on this planet, but throughout the infinite universes. Men that refute God will always attempt to fabricate other explanations for their existence. It's a rebellious nature that derives from deeply rooted inhibitions of accountability. For those people, I do extend my deepest sympathy.

      April 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  9. J

    Folks, allow me to offer this for those of you who insist on squabbling. The Atheist's best argument is evolution. The Christian doesn't have an argument; only a defense. Supporting the theory of evolution is so problematic that modern day evolutionary scientists are retreating from the arena of scientific testing and building their case more in the metaphysical realm. This is because problematic enigmas are mounting without plausible explanation and most of them have conceded the fossil record as evidence because it seems to overwhelmingly support creation. The tides are changing ladies and gentlemen. Intelligent design is gaining ground rapidly due to undeniable evidence. These are the "facts" which are relevant today on these discussion boards.

    April 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  10. Jimbo

    We are composed of molicules and those molecules are composed of atoms and those atoms are composed of particles, thus, we evolved from sub-atomic strata. Why give the apes undue credit? It is the quantum unified field throry that has spawned our existence. We are one with the universe. The rocks and minerals are just as much our ancestors! The slug and the trilobite are my brother!

    April 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Jimbo

    Jesus would believe in Evolution? How can anyone presume to say what Jesus would or would not believe in? The evolutionary "proofs" also prove that there is a common thread between all living things. There is a creator. Or there is a random accidental force called nature. But what you call nature is a euphemism for God.
    I doubt Jesus would believe in evolution. Jesus only did what he saw his Father God doing. He didn't come here to launch His opinions and explain the universe. He came to show us that God is, and having shown us Who God is and what He is like, He allowed us to kill Him. Then He rose from the dead to show us that death has no meaning for God. Death isn't the final word.
    Now, you are free to believe in evolution. You are free to be an athiest. I would never deny you the free will the creator gave you. As for me, I think I will trust Jesus and what He is promising. The future looks a lot brighter this way, and considering the mess we are making with this planet, the idea that a bunch of inhanced apes can fix it, is just too depressing to even consider. Our historical track record isn't very good. We need God.

    April 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Just curious, but if he wanted to show us that death had no meaning to God, then why didn't he stick around and just not die? A 2000 year old man would be a good bit of "evidence" for Christianity.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Jimbo

      That is God's mystery. If you could prove it it wouldn't be of faith, and faith is the doorway to find God. Jesus never intended to offer proofs. God will not impose upon the free will He gave mankind. We are free to use our intellect and reason to expell God from His Own creation. "All who come to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" If this is absurd to you it is because you haven't discovered the secret place within yourself where faith lies dorment. Jesus is the key that unlocks that doorway. If we could prove God, the mystery of the journey of discovery would end. God will never allow that. It will always be by faith.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Jimbo..ah the great we have no answers to this will do.. brilliant. So the Riddler in the Batmans series was really god?

      April 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • tjguy

      "How can anyone presume to say what Jesus would or would not believe in?"

      Simple! Read what He said in the Bible.

      It is not presumptuous to take Jesus at His word. That is why He gave us the Bible. On the other hand, I believe it is presumptuous not to take believe His Word.

      April 26, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  12. SAS

    There can be no question of what Jesus thought about evolution if you are a true Christian. That is because He created it. He knows how it was done, so it was not a matter of belief or faith for him.

    April 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  13. The Grizz

    The broken vit. C gene just goes to DIS-PROVE evolution. Due to sin the CREATION is spiraling down. Genes do not advance or improve, just get broken. Just the reverse of what evolution would need. Professing to be wise, they became fools!

    April 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @The Grizz
      "The broken vit. C gene just goes to DIS-PROVE evolution."
      The Theory of Evolution doesn't say that changes are always positive. However, if you want a positive change how about the continuation of lactase production into adulthood, which is not universal. In fact, most mammals and many humans, primarily in Africa and Asia, don't produce lactase much past weening and therefore can't tolerate dairy products beyond childhood.

      Due to sin the CREATION is spiraling down. Genes do not advance or improve, just get broken. Just the reverse of what evolution would need. Professing to be wise, they became fools!

      April 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  14. J

    Wow, the display of ignorance on these discussion boards by intelligent humans is staggering. Have you people ever noticed that there are no winners to these arguments? Here's an idea... If you are all content with your belief, why don't you try exercising it?

    April 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  15. Face

    Why are creatards so dumb??!?!

    DOVER VS WADE 2005 court case..... SOLVED!!!
    verdict?......evolution wins again!! since the late 1800's its been like this...tards attacking something they DON'T LIKE and know nothing about!

    April 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • tjguy

      Sorry. We aren't so gullible to give any credit to the response that the honorable Judge copied almost verbatim from the ACLU's briefs. This guy was bias from the start.

      If you think a court case decides this issue, if you think a 21st century judge knows more than God, Hmmm. Doesn't fly with me.

      April 26, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  16. Bill

    Christianity and Creationism are only found together in North America. Christians worldwide tend to accept evolution.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  17. Tom Piper'Sr.

    @doc..I ordered a box of pizza but you've given me only the box.

    I was asking for a LAW that STATES the invariable FACTS w/c is enforceable not PRINCIPLES that BEAR only UNDERSTANDINGS and ASSUMPTIONS.

    Sorry to say that it doesn't help a lot..but thanks though for your thought.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aww, aren't you cute? Too bad you're an ignorant yahoo.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  18. Apotropoxy

    We can't expect anyone who lived 2,000 years ago to believe in evolution.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Theophilus

      Actually, people at the time of Christ, and long before, believed in what we would call evolution. Read what the Epicureans wrote, it is very insightful. Lucretius wrote out how everything came to be starting with the atoms and ending with the living things, while not invoking the gods at all (see De Rerum Natura 5:416-431). It was these beliefs, among others, that the apostle Paul addressed on Mars Hill in Athens (see Acts 17). Whether you like it or not, Jesus was exposed to the very ideas, and even many of the specific arguments, faced by Christians today. He clearly embraced the literal truth of Genesis.
      I'm sure Dr. Giberson is sincere in his faith, but in the words of Jesus, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." Matthew 22:29. He seems to also be unfamiliar with history and thought around the time of Christ.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  19. brad

    As a Catholic who has studied much of Origin of Species, I think Jesus view of evolution might have been something like this:
    " I already knew how life works, but you've written well, Mr. Darwin. However, I'm less interested in WHAT humankind is than in WHO he is."

    April 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • NomNomNom

      That's what I'm going to tell my doctor next time he prescribes meds to me. It doesn't matter how I work....it only matters who I am...

      April 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • tjguy

      Or, it could have been this:

      John 5:46-47

      "For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings(Genesis), how will you believe my words?"

      I prefer Jesus' words to your speculation.

      April 26, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  20. STBV

    All of you guys squabbling over your theories theories about what kind of monkey we came from, should be more concerned about where you will spend eternity. Please check out this website and get prepared.


    April 12, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Nonimus

      Thanks for the advice, but I plan on spending eternity where I spent the 13+ billion years before I was born.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
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