Can You Believe Both the Bible and Evolution?

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Can You Believe Both the Bible and Evolution?

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Are we the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve or did God guide our journey into existence by the forces of evolution? The wisdom of this world, particularly in Europe, is increasingly embracing the idea that we can accept both the teachings of the Bible and the theory of evolution. But are they really compatible?

Wrote Clive Cookson in the Financial Times, "The Vatican, which often appeared ambivalent in the past, has recently gone out of its way to affirm the compatibility of evolutionary science with the Bible" (Dec. 23, 2005, emphasis added throughout).

Many clergymen believe in evolution

A movement known as the Clergy Letter Project, signed by 10,000 ordained ministers and priests in America, stated: "We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children" (ibid.).

It is astonishing to fully realize the grip that the concept of evolution has on increasing numbers who also profess to believe in God and presumably His Word. And yet at the same time growing numbers of competent scientists are becoming outspoken critics of Darwinism.

As the Australian molecular biologist and medical doctor Michael Denton, himself an agnostic, has written, evolutionary theory "is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe" ( Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1986, p. 77).

Even some who support intelligent design (ID) somehow conceive of it as also compatible with Darwinism. The Economist put it this way: "But if God has a plan for the world and everyone in it . . . then it is much easier to imagine evolution occurring under divine guidance than as a result of random mutation and the survival of the fittest."

Many believe that God has used the evolutionary process of natural selection to accomplish His ultimate purpose for the human family.

Even the noted paleontologist and agnostic Stephen Jay Gould saw fit to state, "Either half of my colleagues are enormously stupid or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with religious beliefs —and equally compatible with atheism" ("Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge," quoted in Dawkins' God, 2005, p. 80).

This approach—believing that a divine being guided the evolutionary process—is called theistic evolution. But according to what we find in the Bible, has God ever worked that way? The title of this article is: "Can You Believe Both the Bible and Evolution?" It could just as well have been titled "Can You Believe Both God and Evolution?"

Who made a man from dust?

Since there is so little understanding about what Scripture actually says on this subject, let's make the consistent biblical position very plain and clear. The human creation account begins in the first chapter of the very first book of the Bible.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth'" (Genesis 1:26).

Here Scripture draws a clear distinction between man and the animal world. Previous passages plainly show that mammals, birds and fish were definitely not created in the image of God (verses 20-25). Only man shares that awesome distinction and for a grand purpose. (To understand further, please request or download our free booklet Who Is God? )

God first states His intention to create human beings and then He does it. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (verse 27).

More details are revealed in the second chapter. "And the Lord God formed man [Adam] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).

The biblical narrative is in sharp contrast to those who believe that evolution has shaped dust into humanity. In essence this belief amounts to idolatry since evolution has been put in the place of God.

The narrative continues with the creation of Eve. "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man'" (Genesis 2:21-23).

The account shows that sex was created by God, not by evolution as so many scientists seem to claim. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (verse 24).

The Psalms confirm creation

Other books in the Bible, like the Psalms, confirm the Genesis account of the human creation. Consider the human eye. We may ask, who designed the first eye? How could the eye possibly be the product of an accidental mutation? How could aeons of gradual change produce an eye—an astoundingly complex organ that needs all of its highly integrated parts to function?

The psalmist gives the credit to God. "He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see?" (Psalm 94:9).

What did King David say about his own origins? "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). He attributed his existence directly to God and went on to describe how the Creator knew all of his parts even while he was in his mother's womb (verses 15-16).

David asked the crucial question: "What is man that You are mindful of Him . . . ? You made him a little lower than the angels . . ." (Psalm 8:4-5). He goes on to tell us how man has been given rule over the earth, including the flora and the fauna (verses 6-8).

Columnist Mark Steyn, writing in the British Spectator, said this pivotal passage "accurately conveys the central feature of our world—our dominion over pretty much everything else out there." He adds that the writer of this psalm "captured the essence of our reality better than your average geneticist" ("O Come, All Ye Faithless," Dec. 17, 2005).

Jesus Christ and Paul believed in man's creation

Notice what Jesus Christ Himself said: "But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female'" (Mark 10:6). Then in Matthew's parallel account Christ asks the question: "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female' . . . ?" (Matthew 19:4).

Christ's question underscores the importance of reading and believing the Bible—and in this case especially the creation accounts in the early chapters of Genesis.

When the apostle Paul confronted the blatant idolatry of the philosophers of Athens on the Areopagus, adjoining the Athenian Acropolis, he told them that "the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth" (Acts 17:24, 26, New International Version).

All generations of human beings came from one man—and that man was named Adam. Paul adds, "And so it is written [in Genesis]: ' The first man Adam became a living being'" (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Paul also understood the order in which the first man and first woman were created. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:13). And as surprising as it may seem, He also wrote: "For man [Adam] did not come from woman, but woman [Eve] from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man" (1 Corinthians 11:8-9, NIV).

Since all of their descendants were born of a woman (verse 12), Paul could not have written this passage unless he implicitly believed in the Genesis account.

Drawing the obvious conclusions

There is simply no way of reshaping the Bible into a book that also somehow supports the theory of evolution. If we are brave enough to accept the creation account at face value, then theistic evolution becomes impossible to believe. We cannot believe both the Bible and evolution. Both Old and New Testaments consistently support the account of the divine creation of Adam and Eve.

Logically, what we are obliged to do now is to examine the evidence for the authority and authenticity of the Bible, along with God's existence, and compare them with the viability of the theory of evolution. If you would like to seriously pursue these lines of thought, we invite you to request or download our free booklets Is the Bible True?, Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? GN

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  • Sheja

    the bible very much agrees with the evolution theory. why? God is not time bound so he could've created man in a second or in a billion years. God made man then ,a few verses later he breathed life into him. God formed man (look at a man then look at a gorilla and tell me the body part differences) then created him when he breathed life into him. In Ezekiel God said give breath to these bones, and kept on referencing to the spirit. the breath was spirit. without spirit a man is a simple animal. this is fact and truth and if you feel read the book of Genesis more thoroughly. then you shall see the truth.
    I have been a Christian for 13 years.

  • OscarIsaac74

    the bible very much agrees with evolution

    oh really??

    Where is the evidence for this?

    Evolution requires millions of years to work.

    Millions of years isnt what the Bible teaches.

    The only way someone can come to that conclusion is if they intentionally change what the Bible says and make it say what they want. Just like Hugh Ross.

    Jonathon Sarfarti has a book called "Refuting Compromise". It responds to Hugh Rosses book, one of his books.

    Also, another book called "Creation and Time" does the same thing. I dont know who the authors are but you should be able to find it.

    God is not time bound so he could have created man in a second or in a billion years.

    Oh He did it just like what the Bible says which is "Thousand of years".

  • Banksy

    I'm always learning & open minded & love science. I believe in the Holy Spirit & the possibility of a relationship with God & only being able to experience that or see it if a person truly takes the plunge. Beforehand believers just appear blind. I also am very open to God creating, experimenting (we do), being emotional, playful & extremely intelligent. I see so much variety & design in nature & the universe that it keeps me wondering :) If Moses communed with God & had his mind filled with visions & recollections from the greatest being in existence. How would you write that down? Eg. Taking 6+1 days 'literally' may not be correct & may be 7 million years. We don't know. What we do know is that it wasn't 7 earth days. Many animals died out before homosapians. arrived. The important thing is that (most of us) have choice to be a good or bad person. And the option is there to be a spiritual one too. That is an amazing thing as a species . The rewards for being like Christ was to people is truly beautiful & heart fulfilling. It makes living on Earth a great experience, a fulfilling one. Maybe God simply made the human race when God was ready to. Evolution and Creation side by side.

  • OscarIsaac74

    how in the world can you say: Evolution and Creation side by side?

    That makes no sense at all.

    Seriously!!! Search on Google for: "comparison between creation and evolution events", and in images, there is a green chart, showing the major differences in the order of events.

    Other than pretending that those differences dont exist, please give me one logical reason why you can say that they can be side by side.

  • ingodwetrust
    The larger universe is a much more (and I mean that exponentially) complicated place then our little peon brains on Earth can fathom. I wouldn't sweat this one out too long.. Remember the movie "The Rain Man" with Dustin H... Raymond could have remembered the date and day that Ken Jennings asked a question on the Manhattan Project. And he could have told you what color dress the lady was wearing standing next to him.. That is the kind of brain power you will have in Heaven... If one accepts Geologic Time, then you have pretty much got to accept the rest.. On the other hand, from the Earthlings point of view, there is no hope in evolution. I get it.. Plus, God could have easily created the Earth this morning, perhaps before breakfast.
  • ruffn3k
    Replying to Ivan Veller "Hi Ruffn3k, I don't understand the phrase, "we would be held to standards we could never comply with"--do you mean, without God's Spirit?" Sorry it took so long to respond, my point was that if we could prove that God was real then world governments would change their focus from liberty to making sure that everyone gets to Heaven, so any law or rule that was found in the Bible would become essentially federal law, no porn, no smoking, no sex outside of marriage, and the penalties would most likely be very severe, it's not that these are bad rules but as the Bible states we are sinners, we need Jesus to forgive us because we continually sin, so living under a government that strictly enforces all area's of Christian morality would be too much for many to take, there would be nearly no freedom since nearly everything in the world has sin in it or contributes to sin, having governments that don't force a belief in God or his rules allows us as humans to decide for ourselves if we want to follow the lords commands, and therefor allows God to fairly judge us, I hope I was able to explain my point, I'm not the best writer.
  • Hellbound
    Cain was cast out as a vagabond genesis 4:14-15. He feared for his life from other people....who where these people? Where did they come from? They are not all listed in the genealogy of Adam. It is likely that God made other people.
  • EstebanM
    cjgennaro Hi, I am sorry I am replying so late to your reply! I just got an email that someone had commented on my post. Well, when I said that Genesis seems to make reference to evolution I was talking about how God creates sea life and birds...some have translated that verse as saying "Let the waters produce all kinds of creatures, and birds that fly in the sky" The order is for the waters to produce birds. I say this with caution since I am not a biblical Hebrew expert. I am currently starting my second quarter of biblical Hebrew at Fuller Theological Seminary, hopefully I could tackle the Hebrew text on my own in the near future. As far as the genre of Genesis 1 (and 2) That pretty much all scholars agree is not a historical account of creation. Genesis 1 is more of a poem, that is not trying to provide a factual account of creation but rather a "song" speaking of God's amazing power!
  • calebjtaylor72
    The bible itself says "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." Nothing in the new testament says one must believe in "creationism", (i.e. that we can't believe the Big Bang/evolution - which are clearly "proven" scientific facts in the eyes of many - including myself...) As far as "locked out" goes... I did not mean absolutely, but that we DO have influence upon others. For example many people come to salvation if they see a miracle... that helps people as well as the Holy Spirit. Other things CAN help too...
  • cjgennaro
    Within species variation is not the same as new species generation. I would by no means say it is a small leap. Within species adaptation is fine. But species to species evolution can never be tested or proven. The wolf to dog is not new species generation. Species, as we define them, are more strict than what God created. God created the animals according to "kinds." These are most likely more general than what we would call a "species." Wolves and dogs belong to the same "kind." So then, all dogs and wolves would come from the same kind, but this wouldn't be macroevolution (speciation). It is microevolution (within the "kind" variability. That is how I see it.
  • Lena VanAusdle
    @calebjtaylor72 There are just a few things I would like to respond to you about. First, no one can "lock out" someone from the Kingdom of God, only God can do that, and He wants to see ALL men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)! Secondly, men can only be saved through belief in, and obedience to, Jesus Christ, God the Father, and what they teach us in their word (all of their word), and their word is true (John 17:17; Matthew 5:18). I'm not sure what "petty doctrine" that you're referring to, but belief in everything that the Bible teaches isn't petty, it's necessary.
  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi calebjtaylor, New discoveries in science, e.g. DNA’s immense complexity, & the way cells follow very specific structures in order to function, only disprove evolution to me more (Rom 1:20). Some cell processes required for the cell’s life wouldn’t even operate unless already in their complete state. A wolf “evolving” into a new species aided by man “domesticating it into a dog” isn’t evolution - it’s artificial selection, over time, to produce the many dog varieties of today. Chimpanzees bearing resemblance to humans doesn’t prove a common ancestor. How about this phenomena instead pointing to a common Creator? Despite some similarities between man & animals, we’re vastly different in that we’re created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27), with the ultimate goal of becoming divine members of His Family (1 Jn 3:1-2). We’re superior in intellect to the animals. We can think, reason, & create, due to a spiritual dimension even apart from God’s Spirit: the spirit in man, that can come only from a supernatural Being (1 Cor 2:11, Job 32:8). Some animals are trainable, but have man or evolution yet caused a chimp to design anything at all, let alone complex systems like computers?
  • calebjtaylor72
    There is no way Darwin's theory of evolution (the main essence of it) has been disproven. Time and time again well-meaning Christians have rejected new discoveries in science. As for evolution between species, what about the wolf which evolved into a new species (with the help of man domesticating it into the dog.) And look at dogs themselves, they are appear more different to each other than lions are to tigers! If it is that easy to evolve difference within a species, then it is a very very small step to become a different species altogether! Did God create Chimpanzees to look and be similar to humans just to trick us or tempt us?? I am a Christian with strong faith in God. What I am concerned about is well-meaning Christians locking out well-meaning atheists out of the Kingdom of God, because of petty doctrines, which in some cases may be the only reason they are holding back from true faith in God. The essence of Christianity are the teachings of Jesus and we should be emphasizing those.
  • cjgennaro
    There is no need to try and fit the evolutionary theory into the Biblical account. A person can be an atheist and not believe in evolution. In fact, there are such people that hold this belief. Without even looking at God, you can look at the evolutionary theory, which is filled with holes, and see that it is false.
  • mojo0520
    I'll start by saying that I do believe in both god and evolution and its very difficult to give friends, who don't share this belief a reasonable and intelligent explanation. There really is no answer. God made me and he also made me the way I am; inquisitive and always wanting to know how or why things happen, so I have faith that I won't be shunned from heaven for my beliefs. I believe every person has the right to their own beliefs and who am I to judge them or say they are right or wrong. One thing I do know the answer to is the question of race I noticed a lot of people wondered about. All human beings have the genes to be any skin color.The skin turns lighter or darker based on where our ancestors lived on earth. For example if you live near equator your skin is darker to protect you from the sun. If you're light skinned and live where the sun is less hot or strong, having light skin is necessary in order to more easily absorb essential nutrients such as vitamin d. If we lived way longer life spans any person could start out light and gradually get darker if they migrated from 1 region to another. At least that's what I learned in Anthropology!!
  • 1consigliere
    Hi there to the believers. About this topic I need to say my point of view based on my research. The evolution theory is not only a theory: it does exist. It's a monstruosity but it is a reality. There are bones and there are findings, there are proves that what they believe into it is soon or later being found. How does this happen? It's important not to under evaluate the power of the devil. There is a powerful god behind the evolution and there are miracles being done. It's a sort of twisting of the time frame and expansion of time frames that is always happening because of strong faith in science. Thus those who support science are a sort of anti-christ who gives strenght to such phenomena. It's very important to expose the facts as they are without trying to deny that they are able to support their theories. It's unfortunate that so many people believe in science and their works. Only science that does charity works is not so bad but science that fights the truth in the Bible very hard are the devil. Science fighting Catholic brothers very hard are the devil as well. The devil is also operating into the Catholic Church to support science and he is outside of it. Believe!
  • Ivan Veller
    It’s “impossible to fully…on our own” obey “God's commandments in the full spirit and intent”: “the ultimate righteousness that God is creating in His children…exceeds what any person is capable of having and expressing fully without the divine help…of His Holy Spirit”: “we are able to keep the Law with the help of the Holy Spirit…to keep the commandments through Christ living in us and changing us so that we have the kind of heart that is capable of being humbly obedient to God”: “The change is for God to write His laws in our minds & hearts”: “The Holy Spirit makes overcoming possible…Christianity is a lifetime of overcoming and growing—of transforming our thoughts and mind to become like Jesus Christ”:
  • Ivan Veller
    Hi Ruffn3k, I don't understand the phrase, "we would be held to standards we could never comply with"--do you mean, without God's Spirit?
  • ruffn3k
    I always thought that the first story of Genesis had to do with Moses's ability to explain what God showed him about how the Earth was created, in that sense, Moses would not of even understood evolution, and had he tried to teach his followers such they would consider him mad. Take into account that in the Garden of Eden there were already trees, flowers, even a snake, which would seem to me that evolution had already been taking place for quite a while. If there's one thing we know about God is that he never takes the quick-n-easy route, so it makes sense to me that he would say to himself, "I'll create man", and instead of just plopping a man on Earth, he took the looooong road of evolution, also take into consideration that evolution helps with true free will, if we KNEW for sure the Earth was only 5000 years old it would nigh impossible to disprove God, our laws would reflect that, and we would be held to standards we could never comply with, evolution gives Man the ability to say to himself "God does not exist", and then allows the man to make his own decisions on what is right and wrong, giving God the best ability to see how man works on his own and if that man can be saved
  • cjgennaro
    Esteban, I don't really understand how you see Genesis describing evolution. Everything reproduces "according to its kind" in Genesis. There is no one species changing into other species as evolution would have it. Also, Christ said that God Himself created the first man and woman (Mtt 19:4). So would you also suggest that Christ did not mean this literally? I don't see any indication in scripture that the Genesis account is anything other than literal. Why would you think it is figurative?
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