Could Jesus have accepted Evolutionary Theory?

Discussion in 'Questions?' started by Tiffy, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    If Darwin had published Origin of Species in 25AD, would Jesus have read and enjoyed it or condemned it in his preaching?

    If Jesus had accepted evolutionary theory how might that have affected the content of his teaching and the mission and purpose of his life?
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  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Well Jesus being God would have known the truth of the matter in its fullness. It would not have affected his mission or purpose. His mission and purpose was to save us from our sins.
     
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  3. Ananias

    Ananias Member Anglican

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    I'm not sure that question is even answerable in the way you've phrased it. The Origin of Species is a direct product of the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of intellectualism/scholasticism in the Western Church through the Middle Ages. Transporting that book back in time to 25AD would be like transporting a flat-screen television or an iPhone back to that time -- it's doubtful anyone could make sense of it at all.

    I suspect -- but obviously do not know for sure -- that had Jesus read the book in 25AD, he would have tossed it away as the rankest kind of heretical mumbo-jumbo. God created man in his own image, and I have no doubt at all that Jesus (as fully Man and fully God) would have understood that in the same sense everyone else did until Darwin came along: as a direct creation by God, not as an evolution from ape forbears. (The very notion would have horrified him.) John tells us that Christ was with God and Christ was God in the beginning when the world was made (John 1:1-3). Christ knew every detail of creation because he was there; he participated in it. He was the divine Word who brought the cosmos into being.

    Christians in modern times struggle to adapt the modern scientific cosmology with that of the ancient middle-east, but that is because we live on the other side of 2000 years of scientific discovery (and moral and spiritual corruption). Is the creation story in Genesis compatible with modern scientific theory? Possibly, but not certainly. Modern scientific consensus might be wrong, as it often has been in the past. Even now there is a significant problem with the Modern Synthesis of evolutionary theory (advanced by Michael Behe among others) that seems to render the current evolutionary theory flatly impossible. See here:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089LOM5G/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    As Christians, we must affirm that the Genesis story is correct and true. Jesus Christ quoted constantly from the Scriptures (which in his day was only the Old Testament since the New Testament had yet to be written). In particular, he quoted Genesis in the passage in Matt. 19:4 which states "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female". It is clear from this reading that Jesus speaks of men and women as created beings.
     
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  4. tstor

    tstor Member

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    Considering that evolution is true, I assume Jesus would have appreciated it. An odd question though.
     
  5. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Who better to know how it was actually made to work. John 16:12. Perhaps, like you say, THEY wouldn't have understood it.

    I don't think it would have made a single difference to everything he taught and did though. He was not interested in being seen as a paleontological professor. He was the creator and saviour of the whole shebang and he may have considered it to have been a smart move to make everything make itself. Mark 4:28. He shows a remarkably astute and 'modern' understanding of germination and growth here. It is in fact the earth and not just the seed that produces, the soil itself contributes mightily to the end result. Creation is a self perpetuating process, not just a 'magical', single initiating act.
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    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Life would be dull without the odd question, don't you think?
     
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  7. tstor

    tstor Member

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    Perhaps!
     
  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Our Lord referred to the first seven chapters of Genesis no less than fifteen times in the Gospels. In all contexts, He spoke of the Genesis events as historical facts, including Adam and the Flood. Jesus clearly believed and preached Creation as put forth in Genesis. One can believe in Darwin or in Jesus, but he cannot believe in both with any integrity. The two are incompatible.
     
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  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I don't think Darwin asked anyone to believe in him. He just expected people to consider the facts he presented to them and reach logical conclusions based upon those facts. Jesus did pretty much the same thing really except he went further and suggested that his disciples believe in him as well as and because of, the facts he presented. John 14:1-4. John 14:11. I can't see any logical reason a person shouldn't believe in Jesus and also believe that Darwin put up a very good argument explaining the way creation works.

    If I were to say Romeo and Juliet were 'Star Crossed Lovers' who met a tragic death, would I be lying?

    Would I be saying that they actually existed as historical figures though, rather than legendary examples of youthful love?

    I don't think so, though you might think I was actually doing that rather than simply employing them as a teaching aid in my current lecture on youthful love. It would be you who was mistaken, not me.

    Is King Arthur of the round table, fictitious or mythic?
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    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  10. Ananias

    Ananias Member Anglican

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    The problem is both of them can't be right.

    Oh, you can spin some modernist argument about how God "created" man through a long, slow evolution from single-celled organism to an ensouled human being, and how Genesis 1 is simply a highly symbolic representation of that process...but it won't wash. Was Adam Homo Sapiens? Homo habilis? Homo erectus? A Neanderthal? Did proto-humans exist before Adam? If so, what made Adam different? Was "creation" simply the ensoulment process? How would that work? Were proto-human apes capable of sin? If not, were they truly human, or just animals? (For animals, being soulless, cannot sin.) Was Adam an animal at birth, and became ensouled later, or was he the First Man right from the start? In this scenario, Adam had a mother and father; were they human beings too, or just animals?

    You see the problem, I hope. You cannot simply wave away Genesis as some sort of symbolic overlay on the process of evolutionary theory. It won't work.

    You're going to need to explain to me how this notion is not completely heretical; it is certainly un-Biblical.

    Romeo and Juliet: fiction. King Arthur: fiction. Both stories may be (very loosely) based on historical persons, but remain fiction for all that. Nor were Shakespeare or Malory working under Divine inspiration while writing their respective tales.
     
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  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    When I started this thread I anticipated that there would be those who would be of the opinion that Jesus actually preached against evolution. To set Jesus against Darwin and suggest that only one or the other can be "right", thus putting the other in the "wrong" needs some evidence from scripture to support it.

    That is why I asked the question the way I did.

    Can you provide chapter and verse of what Jesus said that he could not have said if he agreed with Darwins theory? Or conversely can you for certain, quote any of Jesus' sayings which expressly refute any acceptance of evolutionary theory?

    Then we can examine the various other explanations that might explain how Jesus may not have been arguing against evolution in the way that you obviously are. Jesus's teaching agenda actually did not include any criticisms of Darwins ideas so it does not all boil down to who was right or wrong, him or Darwin.

    You have posed many pertinent questions here. Let's see if there are any plausible answers to them from any of the members in the forum. That's what odd questions hope to elicit.
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    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  12. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think you will find that the ancient world was extremely intellectual and sophisticated. Some of the technology created then, such as the Antikythera mechanism, was long considered a modern forgery because it was so complicated, with hundreds of gears, and predated Western geared mechanisms by at least 1200 years. Ancient technology (Roman, specifically) was so highly developed that even today they're making History Channel documentaries trying to explain to people how it worked. And ancient philosophy was so sophisticated and technical that I'd argue it was never surpassed, and certainly the post-Enlightenment era saw a collapse of serious thinking, not any kind of high example of it. Anything written today would have been easily understood by the ancients, whereas some stuff written by the ancients we still don't fully understand today (parts of Aristotle, Plotinus; the Cassandra baffled me when I tried to read it).

    Anyway to answer the OP, I would say unequivocally yes. Not that the current theory of evolution is infallible, but rather that there was a natural process of development of human organisms, across millions of years. This is a simple fact: life existed for millions of years, and there was a natural process of its development. Man was not dropped from the sky, into a plastic themepark called "Earth".

    However Darwin's theory, as most of science, is always ready for new evidence to overturn or update it, so whether it's his view that's accurate, or something someone will write in 2039 that will create a new paradigm of natural development, the fact is, there was one, and our Lord would have zero objections to it. Moreover you can see hints of the natural process in the Old Testament, the proof-text for the 'young earth' adherents.
     
  13. Ananias

    Ananias Member Anglican

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    This falls under the "prove you're not beating your wife" fallacy. You can't prove a negative.

    We only know what Jesus said via the holy scriptures. He no doubt said many other things (John 21:25), but all we know of his sayings are what are preserved in scripture. And going by scripture, Jesus affirmed again and again that man is a being created by God in God's own image. If there had been some other origin, I'm sure our Lord and Savior would have mentioned it, and the Apostles would surely have passed this wisdom along to us.

    Jesus would not have quoted Genesis in Matt 19:4 if man were not a created being. Jesus affirms the Old Covenant in Matt. 5:17 (which includes the creation of man in Genesis): "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Not an iota, not a dot (not a jot or a tittle, if you're used to the KJV). Jesus affirms all things in the Old Covenant including God's special creation of mankind.

    Bear in mind that as you read Genesis, and read of God's creation of Adam and then Eve, you are reading of Jesus Christ as the Logos, a member of the Holy Trinity. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit worked in triune singularity to create the cosmos, and Man within it. Jesus Christ doesn't need to be told how human beings got put on earth. He put them there! He knows the how, the why, the what, and the when. Darwin's little treatise has nothing to teach him. (In fact, Darwin could have profited from ingesting more of the Bible.)

    EDIT: I suppose I should add that I'm not particularly dogmatic when it comes to the age of the cosmos. I don't think believing in a twelve-billion-year-old universe makes you a heretic. But on the question of human creation and human nature, I will always favor scripture over any other authority. I view scripture as inerrant and true -- when scripture and reality seem to be at odds, I presume the error lies with us, not with scripture. We live in a fallen world.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  14. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I recognize that this may be provocative, as it has been in previous threads over the years, but IMO one simply cannot be a serious Christian and accept Darwin's theory. It is one of many iterations of the heresy of modernism.
     
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  15. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Darwin's theory can be seen either as something specific, the precise details he outlined in his book, or as something general, namely that there was some kind of long-term development of human life. We're not compelled to accept the precise details (other than the science and evidence itself); on the level of science people can debate precisely how life has developed over the long-term. But in its broad outlines, I don't see how anyone can reject the idea that there was a long-term development of living organisms (whether following Darwin's system or not). The only alternative to that is that God plopped man from the sky onto a plastic (pseudo-organic) themepark that doesn't change in any way.

    I believe one of the Anglican Archbishops had sent a letter to Darwin, thanking him and saying something like, "I always knew that God had created man, but until your book came out I never knew how."
     
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  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    A quite orthodoxly Anglican opinion, if I may say so. Soapy Sam didn't get much support from the C of E in scientific or theological circles.
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  17. Ananias

    Ananias Member Anglican

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    If God (through Jesus Christ) can raise a man from the dead, and if Christ himself was raised, then God can raise a man from the dust (or from nothing at all, come to that). As Christians we must accept the reality of God's absolute control over life and creation. Without that, there is nothing and we are nothing.
     
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  18. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Was the human race Homo Sapiens? Homo habilis? Homo erectus? A Neanderthal?

    That was the question you asked in another form. The name Adam actually means mankind, (the human race), not necessarily just a particular proto-Mk1 man. In the story Adam is THE Mk1 man of course, but then that may be a story, like the Good Samaritan or Nathan's story about the man who owned only one lamb. 2 Sam.12:1-9. Was Nathan telling the truth when he said:

    "There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter".

    Or was he telling a story?

    Answer: He was telling a story because according to Nathan the rich man was actually David, but it was not just a lamb that he had purloined from a poor man. It was another man's wife.
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  19. Ananias

    Ananias Member Anglican

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    A story? Who's telling that story? God?

    If the creation of Adam and Eve was a "story", were Cain and Abel a "story" too? How about Noah and the Ark? Another story? Joseph? Abraham? Isaac? Is the whole book of Genesis just a bunch of fables cooked up by some Jewish storytellers to ease us into the next "story" of Moses and the Exodus? Why not call the entire Old Testament a collection of stories and fables unanchored to actual history? Of course, if we do that we must discard the New Testament as well, because Jesus quoted from the Old Testament at length in support of his own claim to be the Son of God and the true Messiah promised by the Old Testament prophets. Paul quotes from the Old Testament frequently in his letters.

    Jesus often spoke in parables, as did Nathan in your example, but the Bible in no way indicates that any of the events in Genesis or Exodus are related as a parable (or legend, or myth). Jews were pretty clearly expected to take it as literal history, and so are Christians, since Jesus Christ himself affirmed the Old Testament, and his own role as the fulfillment of that covenant. Neither Jesus nor the apostles give any indication that they read the Pentateuch books anything other than literally.

    The books of the Pentateuch were written as, and accepted as, true scripture. If you discard their truth, you basically throw out the entirety of scripture because the truth of the New Testament absolutely and fundamentally depends on the truth of the Old.
     
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  20. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Everyone agrees. :handshake: