Why I’m not an evolutionist: Reason #1

November 5, 2006 at 10:20 pm Leave a comment

I’ve received more questions than I can count in the past few weeks about my views on the relationship between Christianity and evolution. In light of the stimulus I’ve gotten from Jonathan, Stephen, Michael Ruse, and others, I’ve finally decided to post a short series entitled “Why I’m Not an Evolutionist.”

Today, I’ll kick things off by discussing my first reason for opposing evolution, which is theological:

Reason #1: Christianity and evolution give contradictory accounts of the origin of sin and death and are thus theologically incompatible

The question at issue is this: When and why did death and suffering originate? Are they the result of sin, or are they an integral part of God’s creative work in bringing the world into existence?

Christian theology and evolutionary theory differ markedly on the answers to these questions. To see how, let’s look at the biblical view first.

“You shall surely die”

According to the Bible, death didn’t exist in the beginning. The book of Genesis says that God created a perfect, sinless world, unmarred by struggle or strife. When he finished creating, he pronounced his creation “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

304.gifIn the biblical account, death did not enter the world until the first human sin. According to Genesis, God made clear to Adam and Eve exactly what food they were to eat, and only one tree was prohibited: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17).

Death, then, is clearly a consequence of disobedience.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God explained to the pair the consequences of their actions: Eve’s sorrows would be multiplied and she would begin to experience pain in childbirth (Gen. 3:16); Adam would be forced to toil to produce food and would have to struggle to grow vegetation among the thorns and thistles of the newly cursed ground (3:17-18).

At the end of it all, the human pair would return to the dust from which they were made:

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19)

Thus, according to the Bible, death, suffering, and toil are all a result of sin.

Death and suffering: Just par for the course?

Contrast the biblical picture, however, with the story presented by evolution.

According to Darwin’s theory, death and suffering have been part of the world ever since its inception. The two tenets of Darwin’s theory—random variation and natural selection—both involve suffering.

Random variation implies that most variations will be harmful and only a tiny few will be beneficial. This means most of the time the evolutionary process is working to the detriment of the organisms in question.

Natural selection, a concept popularized in the phrase “survival of the fittest,” requires that only those organisms most fit for survival will live on; the others will die.

Thus, death and suffering are inherent in the concept of evolution, and therefore existed before sin ever entered the world.

Irreconcilable accounts

So the conflict is this: Christianity is built on the premise that death and suffering are a consequence of sin and a disastrous departure from what God intended for this world. Evolution is built on the premise that death and suffering are simply par for the course: they are an integral part of the evolutionary process and are in some sense the way things are “supposed” to be.

To the best of my knowledge, these two accounts of the origin of death and suffering are incompatible. Since I am persuaded of the broad historical accuracy of the Christian faith, I am compelled to believe macroevolution is an inaccurate account of the origins of life.

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Note to self: Get a spare key Why I’m not an evolutionist: Reason #2

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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