Posts

Showing posts from November, 2014

Evolution and the Image of God

Image
Is the theory of evolution hopelessly at odds with the biblical teaching that humankind bears God's image (Genesis 1:27)? Many creationists think so. "How," they ask, "could the Image of God have been acquired by humanity through evolution, which involves the survival of the fittest---a process that seems so at odds with the nature of God revealed in Jesus Christ?"

This is a fair question, because the image of God placed by God upon the human family seems directly related to God's nature as an eternal, triune communion of love, cooperation and mutual indwelling. How is that nature imaged in humanity if humanity evolved through ruthless "dog-eat-dog" competition? Again, a good question.

But there is a problem with these questions, namely that they reflect a common misunderstanding of the nature of evolution as it has come to be understood by evolutionary science. In God and Evolution? the Implications of Darwin's theory for fundamentalism, the …

Examining the origins debate, part 8 (conclusion)

Image
This is the 8th and concluding post in a series exploring Gerald Rau's book Mapping the Origins Debate. For other posts in the series, click a number: 123456, 7.


The nature of science and a call for humility Rau concludes his book by reminding us that we all approach the origins debate with deeply held presuppositions, particularly in how we view science. Though we might assume widespread agreement on the definition of "science," the reality is otherwise. The definition has changed over the years and continues to do so. As a result, the parties in the origins debate often disagree on this fundamental issue. Resolving the disagreement will take a large dose of humility on all sides.

In the 20th century, science typically was defined as pertaining nearly exclusively to the gathering and interpretation of empirical evidence. But today many acknowledge that science is not (and, indeed, cannot) be entirely empirical (objective). Why? Because the scientific method nec…

God and evolution?

Image
Before returning to our exploration of Mapping the Origins Debate, I thought it would be helpful to make mention of another book on the topic, God and Evolution (the implications of Darwin's theory for fundamentalism, the Bible and the meaning of life). This book was written by Daniel Samson who years ago was a pastor in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) -- the predecessor of Grace Communion International (GCI). Daniel makes an in-depth case for theistic evolution, addressing objections from Christian fundamentalists who embrace strict creationist origins models.

Daniel's book provides a helpful, detailed and generally up-to-date review of the scientific evidence for evolution (the book was published in 2006). I recommend the book for its depth and clarity. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, it will help you understand the relevant issues that must be addressed by any serious student of the topic.

During much of his time as a WCG pastor, Daniel embraced WCG's vers…

Examining the origins debate, part 7

Image
This is part 7 in a series exploring Gerald Rau's book Mapping the Origins Debate. For other posts in the series, click a number: 123456, 8.


Learning from each of the origins models To help us learn from all six of the origins models, Rau points out the strengths and weaknesses of each, particularly related to how each explains all of the scientific evidence (not just the evidence that is easily adapted to the model).

Strengths of each model
Strengths of neo-Darwinian evolutionist models. The primary strengths of his group of models largely has to do with explaining gradual change and common descent. In astronomy, the idea of gradual development following the big bang, recently has been bolstered by several lines of evidence including cosmic microwave background radiation patterns. These lines of evidence point to a similar date for the beginning of the universe. Evidence from genetics indicates gradual development of species in that it points to the gradual accumulation o…

Examining the origins debate, part 6

Image
This is part 6 in a series exploring Gerald Rau's book Mapping the Origins Debate. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234, 5, 78.


The origin of humans To be successful, each origins model must credibly address the origin of humans, which in one sense is a subset of the origin of species. Models that are strictly creationist view humans and all other species as created fully developed by God. Models that are strictly evolutionist view humans as one species among the many that arose through evolutionary processes. Theistic evolutionist models see humans as arising through mechanisms that involve both creation (supernaturalistic forces) and evolution (naturalistic forces).  
Adding to the complexity to the origins debate is how each model defines what it means to be human. Are humans qualitatively or only quantitatively different from animals? Do humans have a soul (spirit) and in some way bear the "image of God"? Of course, some of these questions are b…