A common line in modern Christian thought is that the Christian faith is compatible with evolution. To see my previous thoughts on the subject, read my article “Evolution and Creation.” But during a men’s book discussion at Hopkins on the topic of science and Christianity, a friend brought up many good, tough questions regarding the compatibility of Christianity with the theory of evolution. The overall question, in my own summary:
Is evolution actually compatible with Christianity, or does that claim break down as it is worked out? In other words, is the statement that evolution is compatible with Christianity a statement that can only be made on a vague, overarching scale, but doesn’t actually work?
In particular, the questions raised included:
- If humans came about through an evolutionary process, then who were the first humans referred to in the Bible as Adam and Eve?
- If humans resulted from an evolutionary process, are they special in any real way (made in the image of God)?
- If humans were produced by an evolutionary process, then wouldn’t that imply that the world involved death from the beginning and was never the perfect garden described in Genesis?
- If humans came about through evolution, then when and where was sin introduced into the world?
As both a well-trained biologist and campus minister, I found it troubling that I had no real theories in response to these questions. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I would like to have intelligent responses and theories to these sorts of questions. So once again, I began a search for some answers or theories from respected Christian scientists, to see if any responses even exist.
I turned first to The Language of God by Francis Collins, considered to be one of the best Christian works in this area. Collins was very helpful on the general subject of science and faith, but stopped where these new questions pick up. Since Collins is considered to be one of the better sources on the subject, I began to despair that no one had yet taken on these questions at the forefront of the science and Christianity conversation.
But after talking to trusted mentors and friends, I was eventually directed to BioLogos.org, the best source that I have found so far on these more in-depth questions. Though many of the articles are presently incomplete, BioLogos as a resource furthered my understanding of how science and Christianity could be compatible by offering new but legitimate ways of interpreting scripture. You can read the BioLogos articles, especially those found under Questions, for all of the detailed responses. Many of these responses are difficult for me to absorb because I am so accustomed to interpreting scripture in a certain way. But I believe that if I can get over that, I will discover that the Bible perfectly fits what we are continuing to discover about the universe. This was certainly true when it was discovered that the universe does not in fact revolve around the earth – it felt impossible to hold alongside faith, but in the end proved to be easy.
Personally, I am satisfied that there are legitimate theories about how Christianity and science are compatible, and I don’t feel a pressing need to have all of the answers. You might be wondering how I am able to say that, and that is the question that I will tackle in next week’s post as I relate the rest of my journey for answers in science and faith!