Why Evolution May Be More Important to the Church Than I Once Believed

Why Evolution May Be More Important to the Church Than I Once Believed March 12, 2017

My background is steeped in Young Earth Creationism (YEC). I heard it taught as gospel truth by my parents, my high school, my college, and every church I attended for a long time. I was trained to believe that churches which didn’t teach YEC were “liberal” or “apostate” or at least “compromisers.” And I personally spent five years working for Answers in Genesis (the ministry of Ken Ham), where I vigorously defended the YEC message myself.

Evolution

According to YEC, Darwinian evolution is a lie, and it’s a dangerous lie at that. YEC teaches (and I used to agree) that even allowing for the possibility of evolution would result in all manner of evils in society. The church has to get this right, I believed, or everything else would all go downhill.

When I began making my exit from fundamentalism, it had more to do with questions about hell and atonement, matters of peace and justice, the character of God, and the nature of the Bible. So I basically shelved the question of human origins. God created us—on that much I was certain—but does it really matter whether he created over seven literal days or over millions of years? I had come to the point where I simply didn’t see the debate as very important.

But I’ve been reflecting more on these matters lately, and I’m beginning to wonder whether the Young Earthers may have actually been onto something. Not about their scientific or historical claims, of course; those are bunk, plain and simple. Yet could their sense of urgency to get this right have been on target?

If YEC claims were correct, it would mean that God created humans specifically to be a certain way—that God had a meticulous design for us, and that if we deviate from that design, we are therefore outside of God’s will. It would reinforce the so-called “creation order” that Christians have used for so long to dictate relations between the sexes, i.e., to subordinate women and demonize the LGBTQ community.

On the other hand, given the reality of Darwinian evolution, we are forced to face the truth that evolution is how God chose to create—not through a single act of meticulous design, but through a long process of allowing nature take its course. There is no such thing as a “creation order;” we simply are how we have evolved to be. And we are still continuing to evolve. As Christians, we will still want to affirm that God has somehow been involved in the evolutionary process, but we can no longer make the claim that God designed us to be one specific way for all of time.

Thus we are free to affirm the role of women as fully equal to men in all areas of life. And we are free to affirm the LGBTQ community in pursuing their relationships according to their own orientations, rather than an assumed created orientation. We have no “creation order” forcing these groups into molds that they just don’t fit.

We must also own up to the fact that the New Testament arguments based on who came first (such as 1 Corinthians 11:8–9 and 1 Timothy 2:13–14) had a faulty premise and are therefore invalid. Furthermore, contra passages like Romans 1:26–27, humanity has no single created “nature” to contradict. Paul and his successors simply got these things wrong, based on their incorrect understanding of human origins. Humanity has evolved (and continues to evolve) many different natures. We need only follow the royal law of love and be true to our own orientations.

I’ll readily admit that not everyone agrees with these conclusions. There are a few Young Earthers who are nonetheless LGBTQ affirming and female empowering. (Thank God for them!) And there are quite a few Christians who acknowledge the reality of Darwinian evolution, yet continue to perpetuate “creation order” arguments. But I think that these groups must wrestle with some inconsistencies in their reasoning.

I must also acknowledge that I’m merely describing my personal thoughts on the matter (and in an off-the-cuff fashion) because they seem interesting enough to share. I’m not setting out to defend this idea in any depth. But if my thinking here is accurate, then it gives us grounds for correcting two of the most egregious sins the church has perpetuated throughout her history: sexism and homophobia.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Interesting article. Evolution is a fascinating subject to study and it’s unfortunate that you were denied the complexities of this science until later on. It has become the cornerstone of many other modern sciences, medicine, and has furthered our understanding extensively. I would encourage you to learn more about it.

  • To my mind, the more the YEC’s, Flat Earthers and such deny what is objectively proven, the more it puts people off the actual truths in the Gospel; the most important things. Like Jesus, Love, Joy and Peace, all the great stuff we have as Christ followers. Some see it that if you believe in Jesus, then you have to believe in YEC and all that – which if course is nonsense, but the outsider sees it that way. Yet another deception that keeps people out of the Kingdom!

  • Spirit Plumber

    Ultimately what you believe is up to you! But believing as many true things as possible has a tendency to make your life both easier and more meaningful.

    Evolution is used in science, industry, medicine, and engineering. If you don’t want to believe it, you don’t have to, but then you have to tune out things like GPS (which wouldn’t work if the universe was young), antibiotic resistance, gene therapy and so on. Your world ends up being dark and blurry and hard to understand…

  • Katherine Harms

    The Bible is truth. That does not mean that there is no figurative language in the Bible. Since the Bible is the Holy Spirit’s book, the Holy Spirit is the right source for guidance with the hard parts.

    Until somebody does actually prove that one species even can evolve into another species, my view of evolution will be quite conservative. It is obvious that living things have DNA and that DNA is behind the ability of an organism to survive all manner of threats to life, individually and as a species. It is not obvious that any species has ever turned into another species. So far creation is the only working explanation for all the different species around the world.

  • Taco Verhoef

    While the bible is a book written by people who looked at the world trough their understanding I still believe there is truth in these stories. And the evolution in the sence Darwin thought up, or made a theorie of seems so off for me that I can”t believe that. Also it looks like you’re trying to justify your believes by saying that evolution must be true and the story of creation must be false. Because English is not my main language I can’t go much deeper into this, but there is so much wrong with the way you put it. This does not mean I say that the way people teach sertain docterine from these statements are right.