The Compatibility of Christianity and Evolution: Honest Answers to 5 Pressing Questions

The compatibility of evolution and Christianity continues to be a hot topic, and I get a steady stream of insightful questions from all over the world and Canada asking for my take on some pressing issues. Below are just a few of the questions that have come my way, and, though technical and learned, I hope my answers are helpful.

1. If I accept evolution, is there a chance I might turn into a monkey myself? (D. from Kentucky). D, thank you for your question. There are several schools of thought on this issue, but to date there is no solid genetic evidence for such a process, though I know of experiments being conducted by some creationist groups, with test tubes and such, who are apparently close to a breakthrough. At this point we can only stay tuned.

2. I know some very stupid people, like this time my brother-in-law tried carving a turkey with a chain saw without first lubricating the chain!!  Am I right in thinking that Stanley is just “less evolved” or are there other possible explanations? (L. from Canada). First, L., I get this question a lot, so know that you are not alone. Remember that there are always alternate explanations, so don’t rush to slap the evolutionary label on something just because it seems to make sense. Though, in this case, it seems to make sense.

3. I see that you’ve written a book about evolution. I’ve also heard you also harm small animals. Why do you do that? (A. from MIT). Wow, A., that’s really crossing the line. What I do on my day off is my business. And stop trying to discredit the truth through ad hominem attacks on my character and believing rumors spread by trespassers. Plus, just because someone has to hypothetically let off some steam now and then in a way not everyone understands doesn’t mean it’s “wrong,” and even if it is, that’s got nothing to do with someone’s professional life. I also think your imprecise use of “harm” or “small” makes it hard to understand what you’re even asking.

4. Since the Bible is the word of God, it would help me if there was a verse in the Bible about evolution so I would know it’s OK to believe in it. Is there a verse like that? (P. from Greenland). I don’t know the Bible well enough to say, P., but I did ask that question once of a scientist at a conference in the Q&A after he gave a paper on primate nicotine addiction. He said, “Yes, there is a verse that tells you it’s OK to believe in evolution. It’s right next to the verse that tells you about gravity, penicillin, and that there is a western hemisphere.” I haven’t yet found those verses, and I’ll keep looking as time allows, but I’m beginning to wonder if he has no idea what he’s talking about.

5. I heard that every person alive today can trace his or her ancestry to a single gene pool in Africa about 100,000 or so years ago. I don’t mean to come off as racist, but what actually is a gene pool and does this mean that, in some real sense, I am related to Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, and the hosts of The View? According to the Wikipedia article, which I skimmed, a gene pool is not a literal body of water but a metaphor–a turn of phrase, if you will–for genetic information shared in a given population. Keeping in mind that no one has ever actually seen a “gene” and no one really knows what they “do,” according to “gene pool theory,” Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, and the “hosts” of The View (along with the Gilbert Gottfried and Phillies’ fans) actually make up their private own gene “pool,” as it were. So you are safe. Just avoid exchanges in bodily fluids.

This post originally appeared in March of this year. Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental and a product of your own imagination.

Adam’s Fall and Early Christian Notions of Sin
The Historical Adam: It's Time to Stop Hiding Under a Theological Security Blanket
best book on evolution and faith I've read in years (or, constructing a cathedral in your mind)
creating Adam, again and again
  • L. E. Alba

    This article & web site was a delight…a very pleasant and humorous surprise…very astute in a deceptively funny way. I bookmarked “patheos” for future visits.

  • Paul Bruggink

    Nice follow-up to yesterday’s blog.

  • Bev Mitchell

    I missed this before due to careless reading of a work that deserved better.
    “….questions from all over the world and Canada.” Very clever. We’ll take it as a compliment, L’s brother-in-law notwithstanding. :)

  • jesuswithoutbaggage

    I understand that Pauls’ rather long passage supporting evolution was in his lost letter to the Church at Corinth.

  • Evelyn

    Was that before or after Galileo’s house arrest?

    Seriously, as an historian and a Brit I feel I have to say that most of what we now understand as ‘the scientific method’ was developed in England in the C17th. Fervently anti-Roman at the time.

  • dangjin

    No one has yet been able to answer the question: Where in the Bible do both God and Jesus give permission to take science (and unbelieving thinking) over their Word?

    I am waiting for book, chapter and verse.

    • Dan

      “The heavens declare the glory of God.” – Psalm 19:1

    • Rick_K

      I’m always surprised by comments like this. It’s as if you think you’ve said something meaningful.

      The Bible is as irrelevant to science as Harry Potter is to auto mechanics. To say otherwise is to revel in the arrogance of ignorance.

    • Susan_G1

      “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matt. 22.37 That last part: ‘all your mind’ includes learning about God’s world through Science.

    • Tyler Francke

      Romans 1:19-20, along with several of the others that have been mentioned here, offer the clear teaching that nature, as a creation of an orderly and holy God, can be studied to reveal qualities of its Creator just as scripture can. I am a Christian, I accept evolution, and I know I, for one, don’t take “science and unbelieving thinking” over the Bible. I do, however, take the confirmed, evidence-based findings of science over your incorrect interpretation of the Bible.

  • Chaprich 56

    There is a hypothesis that posits more than one universe. If that is true, there is no universe, but “multiverses” of which our “universe” is one of several.

    • Muff Potter

      Roland of Gilead would agree sai. Mayhap the beams and The Dark Tower hold them all together.

  • Percival

    But how do you cut through all those feathers without the chain saw?

  • Jason