Jesus Would Believe in Evolution

Or rather Jesus believes in evolution (present tense if he’s still alive) according to Dr. Karl W. Giberson of the BioLogos Foundation. In opinion piece by R. Albert Mohler on The Christian Post called “Throwing the Bible Under The Bus”, the author criticizes Giberson on his defense of theistic evolution and acknowledgement that, while inspired, the Bible is not a source for science.

Mohler, of course, is president of  The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and embraces a literalist view of Biblical origins. Adam and Eve are historical figures and the description of how the world came into being magically is also scientific fact (or is it creationist fact, science be damned).

Mohler does a pretty good hatchet job on Gilberson by comparing him to John Updike’s character Reverend Clarence Arthur Wilmot in the book In the Beauty of the Lilies. This fictional reverend stopped believing in God because he lost confidence in the Bible. Writes Mohler, “The influence of liberal critics of the Bible had reached him even at seminary years before, and now he saw the Scriptures as just another human book.”

I admittedly have not read In the Beauty of the Lilies and have to put it on my reading list. The characters sound fascinating. Wiki will allow me to cheat a bit and get a further description of Reverend Wilmot:

“The first section [of the book], set mainly in Paterson, New Jersey, is centered on Clarence Wilmot, a minister in his forties who abruptly loses his faith one very hot afternoon shortly before a dinner party. His loss of faith is presented as coinciding with the fainting spell of the 17 year old silent film actress Mary Pickford, who is at local landmark Lambert Castle making a film with D.W. Griffith. His decision to leave the ministry has serious social and financial consequences for his wife and three children, 16 year old Jared, 14 year old Esther and 10 year old Ted. Unable to find work suitable for a man of his education, Clarence is reduced to selling encyclopedias door to door, a job he performs poorly. Growing more and more depressed and withdrawn, he only finds solace in the nickelodeon cinemas of the time and dies prematurely.”

Um, wow. So that’s the comparison? A theistic evolutionist compared to a man who has a crisis of faith, becomes depressed and dies? Really?

I decided to visit the BioLogos site to find more info on this theist destined for depression as well as other theistic evolutionary thinkers who must be real bummers when it comes to their faith. Here’s what is said in an article called “Why BioLogos?” by Darrel Falk, President of The BioLogos Foundation, (hopefully BL will forgive me for quoting so much but I think this says a lot about the attitudes of theistic evolutionists):

Outside of my family and my personal relationship with God, there is nothing in recent years that has shaped me more profoundly than the Sunday School class I teach. It all began ten years ago, when I was asked to do a three week series on biology and faith. The attendees were septuagenarians and octogenarians, so they had grown up within or immediately following the era of the Scopes Trial. Most had given little thought to science; all had given much thought to religion. I talked about the evidence for evolution and why the fact of evolution created no spiritual crisis for me; indeed, I told them it significantly enriched my understanding of the nature of God. Even though this was a group of elderly lifelong evangelical Christians, the discussions went surprisingly well. They threw no blackboard erasures at me and they didn’t shout me down or have me ejected from the church. Indeed, to my amazement, they asked me back—they wanted me to be their teacher.

I don’t know…sounds like Darrel and the rest of the BioLogos members are excited about god and science and they don’t feel the need to deny what they refer to as “the fact of evolution.”

Look, I’m very critical of theistic evolutionists but I do wonder that if modern religion is all about faith  combined with being realistic about what we know to be true, couldn’t there be a reconciliation? After all, literalist Christians ignore a large portion of Old Testament laws because they violate current law (can’t go around stoning people, now can we?). They also insert the more recent discoveries of dinosaurs into the Flood story (and no, Leviathan is not an adequate reference to a dinosaur as it is a mythological creature). Religion is full of inconsistencies which require faith so I’m thinking it is unfair to brand theistic evolutionists as any less Christian and certainly it is unfair to say they’re similar to John Updike’s depiction.

Theistic evolution’s biggest problem is that God’s evolutionary design is a cruel process, but no less cruel than God punishing sin by drowning all the animals of the world except for the ones that lined up to get on Noah’s Ark. And at the very least, theistic evolution isn’t being blind to real science. Biblical literalism is an all or nothing proposition which may finally collapse as more and more discoveries of fossils are found–including transitional forms being added to collection of current transitional forms (yes, there are transitional forms!). Theistic evolution, ironically, will adapt and survive as literalism may die out. In a sense, we could even say that theistic evolution is an example of “survival of the fittest”…except that this is not biology, but religion.

SIDENOTE: It may be that the fact of evolution will gain acceptance in gradual steps and that the next step is a public acceptance of theistic evolution. Atheism is a hard road for a majority of people even as most atheists are really agnostic-atheists and are not out to make claims that can’t be proven. Atheism is also not required to accept evolution, though atheists don’t see the point in filling in the blank with god on unanswered questions.

If you’re a creationist, maybe you should take a step forward and consider theistic evolution. The battle over evolution is one that is growing amongst Christians and is not what I would call an atheist issue where you’re required to give up your faith. See the article on “On Answering Answers in Genesis’s Question” where BioLogos confronts one of their literalist critics–Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.

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