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Previous. Next. Creation Or Evolution

Yes, you can be a Christian evolutionist [I’m one]

The title of this book says it all: Creation Or Evolution: Do we have to choose? by Denis Alexander (Monarch, 2008, ISBN 978-1-85424-746-9).

And no, of course we don’t have to choose! This is a robust and detailed look at the issues from an author who is both a committed evangelical believer and a high-level working scientist. You’ll have to work hard to get your head round some of the technical sections but it’s worth the effort, and his treatment of the relevant biblical passages is equally well developed and stretching.

The overall message is summarised at the end as follows: ‘Personal saving faith through Christ in the God who has brought all things into being and continues to sustain them by his powerful Word, is entirely compatible with the Darwinian theory of evolution.’ (p351) So if you’re a Young Earth Creationist, or even a proponent of Intelligent Design, prepare for some searching challenges here. To my mind the book’s conclusions are altogether safe.

Scientific literature of the kind with which we are familiar today was not established until a few centuries ago, and even then it was very different from current scientific prose, so clearly the Bible could not have been written as scientific narrative in that sense, for the simple reason that such a specialised literature had not yet been invented. (p43)

Christians often criticise atheist scientists for their poor grasp of theology with some justification, but sometimes the boot is on the other foot, and Christians make embarrassing declarations in public that reveal their inadequate grasp of biology and geology. (p48)

More than 99% of all the species that have ever lived on this planet are now extinct. (p104)

With some very recent fossil discoveries on board, we do now have some clear and detailed step-by-step transitional fossil records illustrating the evolution of one life form into something quite different. (p126)

As Christians we can perceive the evolutionary process simply as the way that God has chosen to bring biological diversity into being, including us. (p135)

Kingsley was surely correct in his objection to Gosse that if God has made everything with the appearance of great age, complete with tree rings, ice cores, fossils in ordered layers of sedimentary rocks, and genetic fossils in our genomes, but in reality everything is only a few thousand years old, then this surely makes God into a deceiver on a grand scale. (p141)

The Scottish evangelical Henry Drummond, who was much involved in the missions of Moody and Sankey, maintained that natural selection was 'a real and beautiful acquisition to natural theology' and that the Origin was 'perhaps the most important contribution to the literature of apologetics’ to have appeared during the nineteenth century. Indeed, Drummond built Darwin's theory into his own apologetics for Christian faith in his highly popular writings. (p172)

Once evolution is perceived as simply the method that God has chosen to create living things, no more, no less, then it ceases to be a bogey-man and takes its place along with all the other wonders of God's creation. (p182)

We do not have to read much further in the Genesis text to find the clear implication that ‘the man’ and ‘the woman’ were not the only people around at that time. When Cain was cursed by God following his murder of his brother Abel, he complains to God: ‘Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me’ (4:14). It is not wild animals that Cain is scared of here, but other people, as verse 15 makes clear. Two verses later we find Cain ‘building a city’. This does not sound like a non-populated world. (p198)

The cultural context of Adam and Eve as real individuals, farmers in a community of the Near East, perhaps around 6,000-8,000 years ago, is consistent with the Genesis text. (p241)

To achieve immortality in the form of a resurrection body we first need to shed our old physical bodies (verse 53). Truly we can cry triumphantly with the apostle: ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ (verse 55), but in joining in that victory song, we need to realise its implication. Physical death is intrinsic to the purposes of God for human life on this earth, and we cannot inherit the kingdom without going through its portal. (p267)

Though each supposedly ‘irreducibly complex’ system is proposed by ID proponents as being, in principle, inexplicable by normal evolutionary mechanisms, all we need to do is wait for a decade or so, often less, and a coherent evolutionary account begins to emerge. (p304)

The ID proponents are saying that because we don’t know exactly how a complex entity evolved, therefore it didn’t evolve, therefore it was ‘designed’. But that is a non sequitur. We could equally well say, perhaps with more honesty, that if we cannot currently explain the existence of some biological entity by law-like properties or evolution, then we are just ignorant as to how it came into being and should do more experimental work to find out. Use of the word ‘design’ in this context is not an explanation for anything, just another word for ignorance. (P314)

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