Evolution is Ordained and Sustained by God: Slideshow 7 by Denis Lamoureux

Today we have Denis Lamoureux’s 7th and next-to-last slideshow summarizing his popular book I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution. Lamoureux continues his presentation on chapter 6 of his book, which deals with the specifics of human evolution.  (For those new to this series, all previous posts are linked in last week’s installment.)

The topic today includes how to talk about humans as sinful and made in the image of God in light of evolution. Lamoureux uses a helpful analogy between embryology and evolution to illustrate his point. He also insists (and I agree) that “Adam” (whether understood as an individual or a population) cannot be “tacked on” to evolution any more than a 3-tiered universe can be tacked on to the Big Bang and cosmic evolution. The puzzle of evolution and Christianity has to be solved some other way.

Lamoureux is associate professor of science and religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. He holds three earned doctoral degrees—dentistry, theology, and biology–which uniquely qualifies him to speak to the issue of human origins and Christian faith. He gets the science, he gets the hermeneutics, and he articulates both clearly for non-specialists (full bio here).

I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution is a great introduction to his view of origins called “evolutionary creation.” For those of you who are beyond the beginner’s stage, you can read his much thicker book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution.

  • Ariel Harper

    Dr. Enns, I greatly appreciate you posting these slideshows. They have been really helpful. I am reading through your book The Evolution of Adam and I’m finding it very helpful as well. (I actually recommended it to a friend yesterday that was looking for some new books to read…however, I don’t she will be expecting such a topic coming from me and more than likely isn’t looking for such either. I’ve already got myself into some “trouble” by sharing one of your post via fb! ;) ) I just want people to know about these resources b/c my experience of living in the south is you don’t talk about such things and if you do you best be siding with a literal reading of Genesis and evolution is wrong and untrue. That is how I was raised and how I believed most of my life. My husband has recently left the Christian faith. He is very science and math-minded and his talk of evolution and what-not got me questioning a lot of things. I was led to your book The E of A at just the right time and I’m so thankful! I wanted a Christian’s perspective on the topic and your book has provided just that and has also lead me to other books too by you and others. (btw, Genesis for Normal People–loved it!!)

    I do have a couple of questions: In chapter 4 of The E of A on page 62 you stated “the historical evidence for Israel’s presence in Egypt, the exodus, and the conquest of Canaan is somewhat sparse.” I just want to make sure I understand your viewpoint clearly… Are you saying that all of that is just stories and not facts…all the battles of Joshua…and all the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea are made-up stories??? (Stories to teach a principle?)

    What books would you recommend that would help learn about these OT passages?

    This journey of rethinking Genesis has been challenging. It has lead to more questions, of course. It has caused me to question a lot about my faith and a lot about the Bible and what I can and can’t trust in it. Your blog has been helpful in so many ways. But it has also caused me to wonder how you read the Bible as spiritual food (“devotional” type reading). I love the learning and finding new things that I’ve never thought of before. I love the study of Genesis. I love the topics you discuss on here b/c of how you are willing to face the difficult, messy, uneasy parts of Scripture and the Christian faith instead of brushing over them or giving cliche’ Sunday school answers. Here is my struggle… how does one read the Bible as spiritual food with all these questions? How should one view the Bible? Principles to live by, rules, suggestions, etc…?
    Rethinking inerrancy, inspiration, authority of Scripture has left my head is spinning! :)

    If you have time, I’d really appreciate your answers and recommendations. :)
    Thanks again for your books and blog!

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear Ariel,
      It’s quite shocking the first time one is exposed to this material, but be assured with some practice you will get more comfortable with it over time.

      I found that those BIG spiritual truths in Scripture are easy to find if one is one their knees with an open heart. The main Messages I found as a young earth creationist are the very same ones today that I identify as a professional theologian.

      Hope this encourages you.
      Blessings,
      Denis

      • Ariel Harper

        Thank you for your response Dr. Lamoureux! And thank YOU for putting together the powerpoint! I’ve been watching all of them thus far. I plan on reading your book too.
        Yes, it sure is quite shocking at first and difficult to find circles in which I can open up and talk about what I’m learning. I did open up a few months ago during a Bible study I was apart of. We were studying the early chapters of Genesis. When I mentioned that I didn’t take it literally, you’d have thought I grew horns and burn the Bible right there in front of them! haha! Thank you very much for your encouragement. I appreciate it!
        Blessings to you,
        Ariel

  • James

    Relating evolutionary and biblical stories, I think you should try to keep the terminology of each separate. Some words describing human nature (sinful, image of God, spiritual, etc.) fit best in the biblical story. Rather than simply calling these words, or the process that includes them, mysterious you might try to explain them using scientific terms (consciousness, emergence, top-down causation, etc.–maybe you do elsewhere). Of course, words like Adam and the 3-tiered universe are assigned properly to the biblical story. I think both biblical and evolutionary stories (and many others) merge in Ultimate Reality, known fully only to God. Attempting to piece together that larger story is where the real fun begins and I believe your slideshows make strides in that direction. I hope this doesn’t come across, Denis, as overly critical of your good work–or denying the unique value of the Bible!

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear James,
      Your comments are fine and they could open an entirely new discussion, especially one on a Christian interpretation of evolutionary psychology. All I’m attempting to do is to emphasize that though humans evolved, we still have the spiritual realities of the Image of God and sin. And of course, those are theological beliefs, not scientific facts.
      Best,
      Denis

  • unkleE

    Thanks for bringing these lectures to our attention, I have really appreciated them and learned from them. But I was less sure about this one.

    I’m not really sure whether i agree that the image of God grows gradually in a child during pregnancy, in fact, I’m not really sure if I have a very concrete idea what “the image of God” is. The DNA that makes a person is there from the beginning, but mental and physical features grow gradually. The ability to sin must come gradually – how much can anyone sin in a womb??? – but that remains true after birth, so if the ability to sin is an indicator of the image of God, then we may lack that image until some time after birth. (Not sure what this says about abortion and “neonatal termination”, but let’s not go there for now). So I have no specific objection, but many questions.

    But when it comes to drawing the analogy to evolution, I am even less convinced (though I have yet to read the book). Could some people have 50% of the image of God? Denis has already suggested not. I feel happy with the idea of evolution leading to a form of hominin suitable for the image of God around 50,000 years ago, but I feel it seems more likely that the creation of the “new humanity” was sudden rather than gradual – and not because I want an “Adam and Eve”, because I accept there wasn’t such people.

    That’s my initial reaction, but we’ll see how things go. Thanks again.

  • rvs

    We are more than flesh–I appreciated arriving at that point, after listening carefully to the lucid presentation. How might science study the spiritual world? Ghost Hunters–presumably–is not the best answer. Thanks for this.

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear RVS,
      That’s a massive question. The quick answer is that science does not deal with the spiritual.
      But we might offer indirect arguments. For example, if humans are created in the Image of God, we should not be surprised that with the manifestation of this spiritual reality, creatures with an incredible creative impulse might appear. And this could be aligned to the arrival of behaviorally modern humans 50,000 years ago.
      Just a speculation,
      Denis

  • Chad S.

    I was hoping the next installment from Dr. Lamoureux was posted… Looking forward to it!


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