Monday, September 26, 2016

Theistic Evolution

Often, although arrogant, we as Christians get the idea that we are privy to more information than, say, scientists, through the Scriptures, and that if empirical scientific data goes against a literalist interpretation of creationism, we should go with a literalist interpretation of the Scriptures. It is not only wrong, but it breeds intellectual dishonesty. Also,  we should leave the scientific analysis to the scientific society. After all, they have specific professional qualifications to interpret data and come to a conclusion based on years of experience. While it is true scientists do not always agree, if the vast majority do agree, that position is more likely than not the right conclusion until opinions change through further information. Can a majority of scientists agree and still be wrong? Absolutely, but it's best to draw conclusions from professionals. Some Christians lose faith in Christ because they do not see the literalist translation of Genesis plausible in light of scientific evidence. It's Biblically unnecessary to interpret the creation story in a verbatim fashion for accepting its historical, truth claim.

As Christians, it's essential not to deduce beyond what the Bible asserts, for example, Tim. 3:16 teaches, which I believe is true: the Bible is "useful for cultivation, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man [and woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." The Bible represents a fundamental truth about God's divine interaction with man. However, some instructors go beyond what the text indicates and pull the historical veracity out of context to build misleading and outright false claims. Forming binding applications, teaching Tim 3:16, for example, is formational for rebuking natural science which is a form of biblicism bordering bibliolatry. Which is to say, at times, Bible teachers build biblical claims to the idolization of scriptural passages which wasn't calloused translated in such a convoluted construct.

At times, Christians dismiss natural science by attempting to fit creation science into the Bible, thus denying the historicity of the Biblical truth in exchange for a scientific fallacy. Natural science without a designer is the cornerstone of the disagreement with the biblical truth claim: God created elements for the intention of flourishing for His divine purpose. Natural science, on the other hand, tells us how but not why. However, that does not impede the relativity of natural science as some Christians suggest.

For thousands of years, theologians of all stripes have agreed the beginning of Genesis provides a foundation for the Christian faith. It is not merely a  literal account of Creationism. But the central focus is to articulate a message of faith. Genesis does not provide a clear scientific explanation or accurate report for the design of Creation, which is something God-given scientific knowledge does provide. Many who take the creation story literal disavow their own nuanced approach to say, for example, the book of Revelation where scripture talks about dragons; does anyone actually believe it is to be thought the Bible speaking of literal dragons? Of course, not. Like with any writing, parts can be taken literally while others ambiguous, others figurative, allegorical or a parable; no matter which, if taken in the correct context, is still 100% true. In that, the teachings within the Bible either 100% represent God's true teaching or they don't. For this reason, you need a pastor with wisdom and one who is guided by God's spirit.

"I’m not a scientist, but I respect the scientific consensus that says that the earth is — what, something like a few billions of years old, right? I don’t have any trouble reconciling that consensus with my faith. I don’t think the 7 days in Genesis have to be literal 24-hour days. I don’t have strong opinions about the specifics of how to teach these issues — that’s for school boards to decide, and I’m not running for school board — but I think religion and science can be conversation partners, and I think kids can benefit from that conversation." (4).

The creation narrative is  100% true, whether spiritual or literal, the Lord God wants us to use the Creation story for natural wisdom and spiritual empowerment. The Creation story has elements of science others, indicate a spiritual truth; teaching within the context of a critically guided approach from God's wisdom for man's understanding. In that who we are as people have spiritual and physical attributes, which coincides with human nature as both literal and spiritual. Genesis also speaks about gender roles in a Biblical context for spiritual truth. Today, most Christians do not completely follow these roles, yet they still are 100% authentic. The spiritual nature of the God-ordained roles in the home must not be compromised; which I say again has a spiritual component to the text. If we only find a literal interpretation with the Bible, we will never grow spiritually. Sure, we'll have plenty of head knowledge, but that won't build spiritual character. Often, on YouTube or other video venues, you see people post videos based purely on a literal interpretation of the verses.  I see people like a man called 'coach' use the Bible to bash but never to spiritually build. Why is this, you ask? Because most right-wing Christians boldly proclaim a literal interpretation without a single glance at the spiritual truth within passages. Being bold is admirable, but only if you're right find a literal interpretation within the Bible, we will never grow spiritually. Sure, we'll have plenty of head knowledge, but that won't build spiritual character. Often, on YouTube or other video venues, you see people post videos based purely on a literal interpretation of the verses.  I see people like a man called 'coach' use the Bible to bash but never to spiritually build. Why is this, you ask? Because most right-wing Christians boldly proclaim a literalness interpretation without a single glance at the spiritual truth within passages. Being bold is admirable, but only if you're right.
Please understand this line of thought is to provoke even urge you to differentiate between spiritual truth over literal truth when appropriate. As previously stated, some things in the Bible are literal. And once again the Bible is literally 100% truth and without error, if deciphered through the spirit and with the wisdom of God, not man made cliches. But always remember, truth doesn't require an excuse not to love all people.

So Theistic Evolution is hard for some people to believe or wrap their minds around, because when most people think of evolution or hear of that terrible word, "evolution," they associate that with atheism, when in fact, atheism has nothing to do with evolution. Evolution makes no claim as to whether God does or doesn't exist, therefore, the implication that God didn't create us is flawed in that, whether  God  did so by Intelligent Design or through Theistic Evolution,
God created, arranged all life forms in a certain state to flourish and to grow to a certain position, in other words, God-controlled evolution. There's nothing unbiblical about this position. Surely, it shall be stated, Therefore,  you're denying the Garden of Eden was not in a perfect state. First, I have said nothing of the sort. But people jump to random conclusions. Since you brought up animals in the Garden, nowhere does the Scriptures make the claim animals didn't die.   If theistic evolution were true and animals did die before the fall of man, that wouldn't be in conflict with Biblical Doctrine.
With a simple mind, I can understand why people would associate evolution with atheism because science is replaced with rational faith; but that doesn't mean Theistic Evolution is false. Just because atheists ascribe no God to His creation doesn't make the method false.There are so many scientific disciplines that together confirm a known facts about the universe. Thus, creating the theory  of evolution. And some people say: "well what if it's the theory, then it doesn't mean that it's true."  To that, I would agree with science, like anything outside the Bible, can have errors, but people have a hard time understanding the difference between a theory and a hypothesis.

A hypothesis is an educated guess based on some knowledge of a subject. Whereas a theory is an embodiment of scientific disciplines confirming the same thing more or less in each discipline that evolution is indeed possible; in other words the theory of gravity we no gravity exists, but it is still a theory we know germs exist, but it's still a theory.

Some people, such as De Principiis, held to the belief that sometimes spiritual teachings could be understood through historical events, and at other times, religious events could only be known, through the stories themselves and not in a literal sense. Because to read some Bible stories in a literal sense would make it difficult to interpret with critical insight.

In General

In the Book of Genesis, the creation story gives a six-day account for the nature of all of human existence, the planets,  and everything else for that matter, but did the early church believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis or were there multiple interpretations of the creation story other than literal? This question has pushed me to find a reasonable answer.

 First, many people assume Darwin's  theory in The Origin of Species, published in 1859, must have shaken the Christian faith to its very core with the revelation life came to be through an evolutionary process instead of the literal interpretation of the Bible. Furthermore,  if evolution were true, it'd mean to agree with that theory one would have to walk away from their faith in Christ (which is not true).

  As a matter of fact, the early church held different views on creationism. For example, John Calvin  (1509-1564), John Wesley (1703-1791)  and St. Augustine (354-430) believed in the idea of Accommodation, which is the view Genesis 1-2 were written in an allegorical arrangement, something easy for regular folk to understand.

Additionally, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225- 1274) held the view that the six days of  Genesis actually happened in a single day of creation. Furthermore, Aquinas argued God did not create things in their final state rather with the potential to beautifully develop as He intended. Of course, Aquinas' view of creation is what we'd call today Theistic Evolution.

Early Church Thought During the 5th century, among other early church leaders, St. Augustine of Hippo, a bishop in Northern Africa held the view the first two chapters of Genesis are written to suit the understanding of the people at that time. In other words, the first two chapters of Genesis were written to show, in simple terms, God's creation. But that Genesis 1-2 were not meant to be taken literally. Again, St. Augustine held the view God created the earth with the capacity to flourish, which is harmonious with biologic evolution, but with God in control.

St. Thomas Aquinas held the view everything was created in a single day with the potential to flourish, to grow, to evolve. In fact, Aquinas stated: "On the day on which God created the heaven and the earth, He also created every plant of the field, not, indeed, actually, but “before it sprung up in the earth,” that is, potentially.All things were not distinguished and adorned together, not from a want of power on God’s part, as requiring time in which to work, but that due order might be observed in the instituting of the world.1"

John Wesley. An Anglican minister and early leader in the Methodist movement, Wesley, like Augustine, thought the scriptures were written in terms suitable for their audience. He writes,
"The inspired penman in this history [Genesis] [wrote] for the Jews first and, calculating his narratives for the infant state of the church, describes things by their outward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be led into the understanding of the mysteries couched under them.1" also, Wesley claims the scriptures weren't written to gratify curiosity rather they were written to lead us to God.

In Conclusion

Finally, throughout history, the churches view on creation and the literal interpretation has not been consistent. Of course, for many people, they think one must believe the Scriptures literally, or you're not a real Christian. But, most folks fail to find the nuance in the scriptures and their meaning. The teachings are 100% correct, but not all Scripture was written to be taken as literal rather there's a meaning, which is to bring us closer to God. But, through careful study and in light of scientific revelation, the scriptures shouldn't change, but the view of scriptures can be understood in the context of God's revelation in science through His word.

What I believe.

I contend God created everything over the process of billions of actual years. Nothing formed without Him, so from start to finish God Almighty controlled the process of what many people refer to as evolution. However, I propose Theistic Evolution as the process whereby everything God, He created by His control and His will.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and the only way by which our relationship with God can restore fellowship. He was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus Christ, crucified, died, and rose from the dead three days later. His death for our sins and shed blood and His resurrection paid the price for our sins. We have salvation and eternal life in heaven if we believe in Jesus Christ and trust in His grace.

Bringing the lost to be redeemed in Christ.
As Christians one of, if not the most important, duties is to witness to bring people to know Christ and the gift of salvation. (Acts 1:8). I believe in living the Christian life God has given to those He's redeemed.  I believe that one day God Almighty will judge every person who has ever lived. Jesus Christ will be the judge, but Jesus Christ will also be our Advocate before Satan. We face judgment according to John 3:16, "Whosoever believes in Jesus Christ will not perish, but will have eternal life." If people reject Christ, condemnation to an eternity apart from God, in Hades/hell awaits them.

So, Who is Right Science or Faith?
Pastors Say Earth is Less Than 10,000 Years Old Therefore You Must Present Christian based Science with the ones who have no problem with Theistic Evolution.
Now, many Christians claim, because their pastor told them, the earth is 10,000 years old, they believe it.  However, it's better to discern spiritual aspects of God with the physical attributes of His beautiful creation. Let's think about it for a moment, Astronomy, Genetics, linguistics, geology, plate tectonics, and archeology all say it is a lot older. The probable figure is about 4 billion years for planet Earth, and roughly 3 billion for life itself. And, of course, no one was there 4 billion years ago to observe this take place, but through extensive scrutinized scientific hypothesis, research, trial, and observation present a conclusion based on facts.

No, It's Not Heresy To Agree with Objective Faith.
So, by now many Christian's faces' are red with anger and the charge of heresy need to understand the man Bishop Usher was not inspired by the Holy Spirit when he gave a time life for the Bible. In other words, just because he said it doesn't mean the totality of points to an early aged earth. Man indeed started within the Biblical account, as a Christian I believe this.

One can believe the Bible is without error and believe in the nuance of the Biblical context. By using resources, God has blessed us with strengthens faith in His magnificent handiwork. As one pastor, whom shall remain nameless, said God is not a magician. I agree God is not a magician, although God can do whatever he decides to do for His will's sake. But, what I found out is God isn't a selfish God, and His will includes man. For all men to come to repentance, knowing they're sinners, and cannot save themselves; therefore, Christ died on the cross three days later the risen Savior conquered sin and death and sealed Satan's ultimate fate.

No Evidence Animals Had Eternal Life Before The Fall of Man.

There exists no Biblical certainty that animals did not die before the fall of man, but the Bible does not suggest such a characterization of things be they animals; it was only when man rebelled that man would die a natural death. Also, we would need a Savior to pay the price of sin. Someone had to pay, and it could not just be anyone; there's no such thing as a "free" lunch the only one whom could pay would be God Himself. Since He is perfect His judgment is perfect; therefore, any mercy would also have to be perfect, or there could be no comparison to mercy or condemnation.

Be Considerate of Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

If you've spoken to me about evolution, in the past, I would have furiously argued against such a notion. However, words can be interchangeable, especially when we talk about: "Evolution claims the earth is billions of years old." Only the proposition and question thereof distort a valid godly response.  One could accept the preponderance of evidence based on the grounds from all these fields of studies; which is too conclusive to dismiss. Believing the earth is 10,000 years old, isn't compatible with most scientific fields study, or get this, the Bible.

Romans 1:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Isaiah 42:5-9
New International Version (NIV)
5 This is what God the LORD says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.


Here are some that explain that our creation was a process:

Job 10:9
Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?

Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand.


Other interesting "science" verses:

Isaiah 55:10
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

Job 36:27-29
New International Version (NIV)
27 “He draws up the drops of water,
which distil as rain to the streams[a];
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?

1). How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin? http://biologos.org/questions/early-interpretations-of-genesis

2). Allegorical interpretations of Genesis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegorical_interpretations_of_Genesis

3). Church historians on allegorical interpretation of Genesis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegorical_interpretations_of_Genesis#Christian_bible_reference_to_an_Old_Testament_story_as_allegorical

4). Ross Douthat. (19 Nov. 2012). Marco Rubio and the Age of the Earth. The New York Times. http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/?module=BlogMain&action=Click&region=Header&pgtype=Blogs&version=Blog%20Post&contentCollection=Opinion

5). Ed Brayton. (24 Nov. 2012). Rubio’s Scientific Ignorance. Patheos.http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2012/11/24/rubios-scientific-ignorance/

6).  Allie Conti. (28 October 2015). Pope Francis Says Evolution and the Big Bang Are OK by Him. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/pope-francis-says-evolution-and-the-big-bang-are-ok-by-him-100

7). Carl Drews. (24 October 2014). Theistic Evolution.  http://www.theistic-evolution.com/theisticevolution.html#Genesis is First and Foremost a Faith Account

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