[sword-devel] OT: can you be a Christian evolutionist?

Leon Brooks sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sun, 23 Dec 2001 09:19:08 +0800

On Friday 21 December 2001 13:50, Chris wrote:
>> The first is a claim to creation ex nihilo, the second
>> the fulfilled prophecy. Other ancient books make creation claims, but all
>> of them involve supernatural beings modifying pre-existent material.

> Don't get me wrong. I'm not an apoligist for evolution - not at all.
> But I can see where a Christian might say, well God created
> everything, but maybe he didn't snap his fingers, maybe
> he went through a process to get to the end result.

He did, it took six days (more specifically, six night-and-day periods), so 
says Genesis 1:1-2:3.

> There
> might be two scriptural arguments, God didn't make the world
> in one shot, but he made it in steps.

Also a true claim, with metered time as above, same verses.

> IF God were describing
> evolution, we wouldn't expect a biology course, we might
> expect an abstract summary that the process was multi-staged.

We might also run into a plethora of immediate problems with both Scripture 
and natural observations.

Such as: how do we explain vast tracts of fossils laid down en masse and in 
turbulent conditions in and around obviously water-laid (it is, after all, 
called ``sedimentary'') rock, if not by the flood of Noah? There are many 
details - such as a dramatic absence of gradual erosion between seams - which 
eliminate millions of years as a possibility.

And if it is the flood of Noah, where are the millions of years' worth of 
remains  If His creation was ``very good'' (a la Genesis 1:25) at every 
stage, and death did not enter the world until Adam (Romans 5:12,14), what 
then of millions of years of deaths (e.g. of Neandertal men) up to that point?

> Secondly, he didn't even make woman by snapping his
> fingers, he modified a man. Not the same thing I know,
> but it is a precedent that God doesn't always start ex nihilo.

Interesting argument. As I understand it, this could be summed up as, God 
didn't document or even particularly hint at millions of years of modifying 
His creatures, but did describe one modification that he made. He modified 
the snake (Genesis 3:14), but I can't see this pointing to any form of 

God probably (and this is inferred, not stated) modified most if not all of 
his wildlife when he laid a curse on the Earth (Genesis 3:17, 5:29), and 
there is a hint (Genesis 8:21) that this inferred modification was for a time 
progressive. If He documented that, why not document millions of years in 
modifications beforehand?

> The entropy arguments aren't that good. If you have a
> mutation mechanism, and a selection mechanism, then
> there can be a reduction in entropy.

The largest possible reduction - for example, ridiculously optimistic 
environmental assumptions like ``the entire universe is made of amino acids'' 
- is nowhere near enough. This is only an appealing argument if it's not 
thought through and tested.

> The question is, was
> there enough time, and a big enough sampling
> to result in life as we know it without God.

The rare but telling admissions from the evolutionary camp should be more 
than enough to lay such ideas to rest. National Geographic, flagship of 
evolution, published an article in 1954 from George Wald claiming in verse 
that ``Time itself performs the miracles.'' 25 years later (1979) they 
reprinted the article, in /Life: Origin and Evolution/ but added a telling 

    Although stimulating, this article probably represents one of
    the very few times in his professional life when Wald has been
    wrong. [...] Harold Morowitz, in his book /Energy Flow and
    Biology/, computed that merely to create a bacterium would
    require more time than the Universe might ever see if chance
    combinations of its molecules were the only driving force.

> The point is, a thoughtful Christian could possibly believe
> in evolution.

This is so, but it is an unstable state. On the day that said Christian is 
forced to reconcile his belief in an omnipotent Lord and His book against a 
belief in evolution, one or the other will go. Our obligation - our part of 
the Great Commission - is to see that (s)he is suitably equipped to make a 
good choice, one based on only a little more thinking than the above.

I should point out in all fairness that we are all, in a sense, in an 
unstable state, forever learning and never really getting the entire point, 
so that circumstances can force the most dedicated of us (think of the 
Disciple, Peter and the cock crowing, Luke 22:60-62) into a corner where the 
``best'' decision often appears to not be the Lord's way.

> I realise it raises a bunch of problems, but
> we shouldn't get all obsessive about this issue. I'm sure
> the Enemy uses it for his purposes.

Obsessive, no. But to let such things slide is also wrong. As you would not 
spend the majority of your life tidying your house so it looks mint-condition 
perfect, so you would also not neglect one important part (the foundations, 
in this case) to the point where the termites (or damp, or frost, pick a 
nemesis suited to your region) collapsed it.

Cheers; Leon.