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Discussing the theory of evolution and Christianity and why the two do not conflict.

Posted by KnightofEquulei on Mar 31st, 2014

"Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268

"Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning."- Thomas Aquinas, Summ.Theol. I, 73, 1, ad. 3 et resp. 3

"God has established fixed laws governing the production of kinds and qualities of beings, and bringing them out of concealment into full view."
~ St. Augustine

These quotes from St Aquinas and Augustine both describe a form of evolution. Centuries before Darwin, these two saints had proposed a form of evolution. That's what this article is about: Christianity and evolution, which continues to remain a controversial subject although it really shouldn't be.

There are Christians today who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis and a 6 day creation, some even go as far as believing that the earth is only 6,000 years old despite all the evidence contrary. Early Church fathers struggled with the idea of a literal interpretation of The Bible such as Origen:

"For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally."

Origen here, shows that Genesis cannot be literal since it places the creation of the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day, yet there is already light and darkness on day one, not to mention solar days without a sun. I myself always doubted a literal interpretation of Genesis due to its "day to day" development process.

However, as always, I remain a critic of the godless evolution that atheists would propose. Intelligent Design has been reduced to being called "pseudo-science" even though it's a philosophy and not science. The way I see intelligent design and evolution is that the former defines the fixed laws and proprieties of this universe while the later (like all the processes of nature) was set in motion by God, as the instigator.

Atheistic evolution is refuted (as are all allegedly claimed "self-starting" natural processes) by the observable truth of causality. Everything that is an effect has a cause (in other words: everything in motion had an instigator). From this, we can say that evolution (just like all the other natural processes of the world) proceeded from something and was God's plan for the ever developing and expanding cosmos.

Evolution neither refutes God or Christianity. It's just another mechanism at work in a world wherein God instigated all processes at the initiation of the universe. This sound doctrine is supported by the philosophical arguments of the necessity for a First Cause/Prime Mover and the philosophical, scientific and observable fact of causality.

Evolution only explains the variation of species, not the origin of life or the universe and therefore it is a red herring (means that it misleads and distracts from the real argument) in the God debate as well as the debate against Christianity. The truth of the prophecies of Jesus and moral teachings of him are not invalidated by evolution. More importantly, evolution and the origin of life is irrelevant to the core themes of Christianity of Jesus as the Messiah and his teachings.

I hold that evolutionary processes occurred but I believe that the complexity of DNA reveals a designer was behind life (as Francis Collins would argue too) and that life was not a "spontaneous" event as the evidenceless hypothesis of abiogenesis would state.

If anyone says abiogenesis is an established fact or scientific theory, they're lying:

(1) What is the origin of life on Earth? Criticism of Abiogenesis and Panspermia.
science.howstuffworks.com/life/evolution/origin-of-life-on-earth5.htm

(2)Life on Earth Began Three Billion Years Ago. Discovery News. news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/life-began-3-billion-years-ago-dna-101220.htm

(3) The RNA World And Other Origin-of-Life Theories
panspermia.org/rnaworld.htm (This contains an index of sources at the bottom of the page) Karl R. Popper, "Reduction and the Essential Incompleteness of All Science," p 259-284, Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, Francisco Jose Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky, eds. University of California Press, 1974. p 271.

"Nobody understands the origin of life. If they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you." - Ken Nealson PhD, 2002 Robert Roy Britt, "The Search for the Scum of the Universe," Space.com, 21 May 2002.

(4) How Did Life Begin? NOVA and Andrew H. Knoll PhD, Havard University.
pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/how-did-life-begin.html

Abiogenesis is only being researched because the alternative would be to say "God did it" and since God isn't a scientific established fact, it's not a possible alternative in science, since science is all about testing and method. However the philosophy and logic (what we observe) argue against abiogenesis and establish God as the instigator. Even abiogenesis still wouldn't refute the concept of God but I believe many atheists use it (just like evolution) in an attempt to do so, even though its currently speculation and nothing more.

In conclusion: I hope this shows that evolution is not against Christianity or God as the creator. Evolution, however, isn't just misunderstood by creationists but by atheists who would use it as an argument against the existence of God, a view that even had Darwin perplexed.

In leaving, I leave this, from Laura Keynes, a direct descendant of Darwin who is Catholic:

"I like a good muddle, philosophically speaking, and uneasy truces make for the more interesting intellectual state," she says. "Atheists prefer certainty and use Darwin's theory of evolution to state categorically that God does not exist, overegging Darwin in their argument in a way that Darwin himself would be uncomfortable with. He thought agnosticism the more coherent position, saying, ‘I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect.' Resting in doubt, he allowed others their conscience. He set out to follow the evidence where it led, not bring down Christianity. The evidence did not have to lead inevitably to materialism, but, for various cultural reasons, this is where it led: to materialism and the culture of death. This is the real battle: the culture of life, supported by Christianity, vs. the culture of death, supported by materialism."

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ElfFriend
ElfFriend Apr 1 2014, 7:53pm says:

I don't even see one actual biblical quote... Also I don't have time to read all that text and look at all those links :( Got modding and studying to do so please try to keep things as short and summed up as possible if you want me to read it.

Anyways if the bible is understood from a literal perspective it excludes evolution from what I understand. It doesn't exclude change over time within a population but it excludes the idea that microbes became man... I find it kind of stupid and funny how some church leaders try to interpret Genesis metaphorically only because it somehow makes them seem smarter; like this is God's word and sure it probably is metaphoric to an extent but it also has elements of real history to it...

Just my 2 cents and I probably have no right to comment based on just reading the summary at the top...

+1 vote     reply to comment
KnightofEquulei
KnightofEquulei Apr 1 2014, 8:36pm replied:
Quote:Just my 2 cents and I probably have no right to comment based on just reading the summary at the top...

No, you don't. I mean that politely too :)

Quote:Anyways if the bible is understood from a literal perspective it excludes evolution from what I understand.

Not everything in The Bible is literal:

Job is allegorical, a parable.
Proverbs are allegorical moral teachings.
Psalms are songs/poems.
Song of Solomon is a song.
Book of Ruth is likely allegorical and a parable since it's attributed to the prophet Samuel.
Ecclesiastes is allegorical, a philosophy book.
Book of Lamentations is poetry.

Genesis is allegorical. At least most of it (archaeology has backed the existence of the Hittites tribe which was only mentioned in Genesis among other things in Genesis such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah).

Meanwhile, Jesus taught using metaphoric parables most of the time.

Besides, what makes the books of The Bible "holy" or "God's inspired word"? These were books collected and grouped by Emperor Constantine and his priests (others were burned). He left out The Book of Enoch and other books Jews used. These became "Apocrypha" and weren't considered "Biblical canon" by the church.

Why are the teachings of Origen (3rd century) and Saint Augustine (4th century) and Aquinus (13 century) not as valid as the teachings of the ancient teachers and saints? Did divine inspiration suddenly die after Constantine assembled what he thought was official?

The creation narrative of Genesis is inspired from Enûma Eliš, a creation narrative which mentions the flood (Epic of Gilgamesh). Genesis sets the LORD up as the one behind it all. It's not "God's divine word" or truth especially since Origen debunked the narrative as being literal.

Even before Origen, there were Jewish teachers who thought Genesis was metaphorical.

+2 votes     reply to comment
KnightofEquulei
KnightofEquulei Apr 1 2014, 8:38pm replied:

tldr

Quote:"For who that has understanding will suppose that the first and second and third day existed without a sun and moon and stars and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance and not literally."

Origen here, shows that Genesis cannot be literal since it places the creation of the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day, yet there is already light and darkness on day one, not to mention solar days without a sun. I myself always doubted a literal interpretation of Genesis due to its "day to day" development process.

+2 votes     reply to comment
ElfFriend
ElfFriend Apr 2 2014, 12:58am replied:

And what about Jesus's words here? Biblegateway.com is he not speaking of genesis and the old testament when he says earthly? Anyways what truely matters is whether one accepts Jesus as who he claimed he is. Evolution vs creation is just a detail. But its still a detail I would want to ask God when I stand before him.

0 votes     reply to comment
KnightofEquulei
KnightofEquulei Apr 2 2014, 1:36pm replied:

Earthly things such as lust, desire, forgiveness, emotion and all the other things associated with flesh. This refers to anything that's materialistic. Since Jesus mentions "heavenly" things in this same quote, we can assume the earthly things must relate to anything that relates to life on earth and not heaven (i.e becoming one with God).

In fact that quote is part of "Jesus Teaches Nicodemus" in which Jesus is speaking of the kingdom of God.

Jesus here, says that "no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

Nicodemus replies, "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!"

Jesus says in response, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus says "how can this be?"

That leads to the quote you mention:

"“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”"

I don't see how that's got anything to do with Genesis when examined within its narrative.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Lieutenant_Sunber
Lieutenant_Sunber Aug 4 2014, 11:08pm replied:

Actually the flesh has to do with personal abilities, strengths, talents, etc. You can't let the flesh get in the way of your walk with the Lord. It's what can allow the sin nature to dominate your life which will show in your actions and habits.

You can't rely on your own intellect or strengths to beat a particular sin that is plaguing you. You have to rely on what Christ did for you at the Cross. It's actually really simple once you get the hang of it but it can take a while to understand. For more information I'd advise you get affiliated with the Sonlife Broadcasting Network. Watch that for a while and you'll get what I mean. :-)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Quagrunner
Quagrunner May 2 2014, 12:24pm says:

"... some even go as far as believing that the earth is only 6,000 years old despite all the evidence contrary."

*waves hand wildly* Over here! Put me down on that list!

I don't think it would be inappropriate to ask... 'What evidence are you talking about that I'm not seeing?'

‘I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect.'

Darwin was right... SO profound that it's hard to decide which is LESS impossible: evolution or creation.

I believe God loves his creation... He's often made that clear in the Bible. Why should He make a system of life where death is the only way to progress? (Why should I believe that He loves His creation... that could be an allegory...)

So you're saying that Genesis is allegorical: Adam and Eve evolved from apes, the Garden of Eden is figurative (because, if it isn't, did Adam and Eve's parents get to live in it?), Cain did not commit the first murder, language evolved from grunts and not from God's command at Babel... The list goes on. If Genesis is allegorical, who is God?

I'm never going to be able to PROVE that God made the earth in 6 days, the same as you're never going to be able to PROVE that He didn't.

In conclusion: Of course the two conflict! Why should I believe the Bible if parts are allegorical and evolution happened? Did Christ die for monkeys, too? Why should I believe evolution happened if the Bible ISN'T allegorical?

[Please don't take any of this personally. I'm just trying to debate the concept, not you.]

+2 votes     reply to comment
bontanel
bontanel May 3 2014, 4:01am replied:

You should think of the Old Testament as more of a cultural book. Think of it as the expression of jewish history and culture as understood by them. The Old testament has songs, poetry, history, law systems, legends, traditions and religious rituals. It's a huge collection of the ancient writings of the jewish people and doesn't have an inherent religious nature unlike the New Testament. This is why it should't be treated as a historical account of origins.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Quagrunner
Quagrunner May 4 2014, 8:47am replied:

Since there is little to nothing in history (or science) that conflicts with the Old Testament, I see no reason to doubt the accuracy of the Genesis Creation account.

If you feel there is something that conflicts, please let me know.

0 votes     reply to comment
KnightofEquulei
KnightofEquulei May 4 2014, 12:53pm replied:

Asides from the scientific agreed age of the earth and the formation of planets that scientists have observed?

Theweek.com

Radiometric dating goes back far more than just 6,000 years and of course, the universe itself, is far older than 6,000 years old.

+3 votes     reply to comment
bontanel
bontanel May 4 2014, 3:01pm replied:

Noah's flood would be a start.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Yuribeard7
Yuribeard7 Jun 7 2014, 9:28am says:

Moved comment to next article.

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