The Problems with Evolution

The Problems with Creation

There are a great deal of Protestants, and particularly evangelicals, who, for religious reasons, do not believe in the theory of evolution. It may seem superfluous to note the religious motivation behind this trend, but it is not. Evolution is rejected by many nominally theistic people simply for being a ludicrous idea. It is among the more dedicated theistic people, however, that we find the strong religious objections—objections that have nothing to do with the ludicrousness of the idea. The proof is in the pudding: it is possible to have long arguments about the theory of evolution without ever mentioning a single scientific fact. The people at American Atheists know it, and the people at Focus on the Family know it. So instead of wasting time talking about science, let us talk about the real issue—religion.

Although there are many religious objections to evolution, I have distilled them to five essentials. I will neither defend nor attack these points. Rather, I will attempt to demonstrate that, for Christians, the problems with evolution are the same as the problems without it.

The Image of God

If we are descended from lower life forms, how then have we been made in God’s image? Furthermore, does this not reduce us to the same level as animals? We ask these questions as if they have definite answers; however, the answer has always been up to us. The physical differences between a human and a chimpanzee are what they are. We know exactly how different, and how similar, we are to other animals. These facts will stay exactly the same whether humans were created from the dust in a single day, or whether they share a common ancestor with chimpanzees. You have a skeleton, muscles, and a brain. You are made with all the same fundamental parts as chimpanzees, and you share 98% of your DNA with them. Are you an animal? You have a consciousness, which you may perceive to be a soul, and there is no way to know whether animals—or which among them—experience consciousness. You have a capacity for distinctly human behaviours such as language, abstraction, morality, and the belief in God. Are you made in God’s image? You will answer these questions by observing the way that things are. It doesn’t matter how they got that way.

Original Sin

If there was no Garden of Eden and a subsequent Fall, how did sin come into the world? If the world was not perfect before the Fall, how could a good God have created a world full of evil?

The following story is true, regardless of your beliefs: at first, there was nothing. At some point, everything came to be. Humans then came to be, and at a singular point in time, a human being—having acquired a sense of morality—committed an act that Christians today would call “sin.” It was the first time it had ever happened, and ever since then, there has been no stopping it.

How could God create an imperfect world from the offset? If you are Christian, you have accepted that you were born into a sinful state—that you are inevitably destined to commit moral wrongs, which you believe have the natural consequence of separation from God. You, the individual, were created in the very middle of this mess. Why do you not complain about this? Is this so far removed from the idea that God created your earliest ancestors in this condition? If God had truly intended to keep evil out of the world, do you not believe he could have done so? To ask why God created an imperfect world is the same as to ask why he created a perfect world that was destined to become imperfect. It does not hold water to deny the inevitability of this outcome, or to say that we needed to have made a free choice at some time in the past—will we have no choice in heaven? If not, why were these choices not taken away from us the first time around? One might say that it was necessary to put the human race through the experience of this imperfect world. In that case, it does not seem to matter whether or not it was once perfect, because the outcome was inevitable and inexplicable.

Overall, this is a legitimate question, and a question that has led some people to reject religion altogether. But it is a question that has always been there.

The Involvement of God

If evolution explains life, what place is there left for God?

If optics explains rainbows, what place is there left for God?

The Veracity of the Bible and the Words of the Ancients

If the creation account in Genesis is not accurate, how can we trust that anything else in the Bible is accurate? This is an important question. The assumption that leads us to ask this question, however, is that everything in the Bible is not only perfectly accurate, but literally accurate. Even 2 Timothy 3:16 does not say this, but uses the word useful (instead of “literally accurate”) and righteousness (instead of “science”). Of course, this point is not satisfying. The real question is this: if you believe in the Bible, how did you decide that it was true in the first place? You could not have used the Bible, because you did not yet trust it.

Clearly, a mix of evidence and personal experience led you to trust the Bible, and that same weighing of evidence and personal experience is what will ultimately lead you to every conclusion that you make. If the creation account is not an account of what physically took place, does this change something in the sense that we now must rely on human judgement instead of the authoritative words of the Bible? We are already relying on human judgement when we decide on the particular capacity in which the Bible is to be believed.

If Jesus and the Apostle Paul took the events in Genesis literally, then how can we believe in Jesus, and how can we trust Paul? As per the above, the Apostle Paul would not (technically) be in error either way. That he understood Genesis literally is incidental, because it is expected that he would have. As for Jesus, consider the things he says on the matter. They are few—and are they any more troubling than him calling mustard seeds the “smallest of all seeds,” when, in fact, they are not? The significance of Jesus’ words remains the same. Our understanding of his factual knowledge and condition as a human being may change, but this is a finer theological point than it is made out to be.

A great deal of religious fervor is poured into attempts to discredit the theory of evolution. I do not think this is helpful, because discrediting evolution would not solve any of the problems that are making people so upset.


One Response to “The Problems with Evolution”

  1. “If evolution explains life, what place is there left for God?
    If optics explains rainbows, what place is there left for God?”

    Love this!

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