Evolution is a subject that evokes strong emotions for some, but no matter what your stand is, I trust you will find the next few sessions informative and exciting. Even those of you who are not really that interested in the topic of evolution, I think you will be pleasantly surprised about the theological possibilities presented in this series.
Firstly, I want to be clear that this is not a Creation vs Evolution debate.
So why then? Here are some very important statistics:
Barna Group: “three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.” One of the major reasons given is that church/faith is incompatible with science.
Can you see that at the very least, we should talk about this. Many leave their faith because they are taught that you cannot be a Christian, believe the Scriptures and believe in evolution.
But consider this:
Dr. Francis Collins – Human Genome Project. Believer, relationship with Jesus Christ – yet firmly believes that evolution is the process by which God creates.
N.T. Wright – Respected theologian (Quote + resource link) “If Creation is Through Christ, Evolution is What You Would Expect”
Richard Rohr – God seems to have created things that continue to create and recreate themselves from the inside out. A fully incarnate God creates through evolution.
Many scientists who are believers … many theologians who find evolution not only compatible with the scriptures but illuminating.
So what will these sessions about evolution be about?
Many reject the idea of evolution because of theological reasons, specific ways of interpreting scripture. And many reject their faith because of perceived incompatibilities with evolutionary science.
I will therefore focus on the theological implications and possibilities of creation through the process of evolution. The focus will not be the science – I will provide links to some excellent resources for those who are interested in the science. But in these sessions we’ll begin with the assumption that evolution is the process whereby the diversity and complexity of life came about.
God of gaps, or the God revealed in Jesus – incarnate?
For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
The wonder of a human being formed within the womb is both a natural process and a divine gift. When David says “You knit me together in my mother’s womb”, we understand that. God does not intervene against nature to knit every unborn child together.
But neither does this natural process exclude God’s involvement.
Those on the extreme sides of creation/evolution arguments would try and frame their arguments in the following way. On one side there are those who argue that because we can explain the process by which life evolved, the way creation happens, there is no room for God. Those on the other side will point to the many places where we do not have clear explanations and based on that argue for God’s necessary intervention to create.
This type of argument is known as the god of the gaps, namely, everything we can’t explain we credit to the intervention of God. But this argument is very weak. Firstly, as we are gaining insights and advancing our scientific explanations, the gap in which this god supposedly exists becomes ever smaller.
The God revealed in Jesus though, is not a God of the gaps, but rather the incarnate one; interwoven in our fleshly earthly reality. So let me be clear about what this means: Even if science advance to explain every process from the beginning of creation until now, it would not in any way diminish the God of whom I speak. For this God is an integral part of all reality, of every process and the more we understand these processes the greater my awe and worship of this God. This is the God who makes it all possible – the reason why there is something rather than nothing.