Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Creation vs. Evolution: Does it HAVE to be this way?

Recently a well meaning pastor from another church in town asked if our church would be willing to attend and promote an upcoming event his church was sponsoring on creationism. He patiently explained to me that, in his opinion, the schools were teaching our children to NOT believe the creation story as recounted in Genesis and were instead substituting the theory of evolution as scientific fact. It reminded me of a friend of ours who has a son nearly the same age as my own who made a comment to me one day about this saying that he could not understand how anyone could ever try to blend creation with evolution once they knew the facts of the situation.

Now I guess I am more of a middle of the road kind of pastor and theological thinker, but I have issues with this whole debate. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why not appreciate the valuable contributions both sides of this discussion offer?

First- creation. I find it hard to remove God's interest and participation from the process of creation. The arguments of how long a day is to God and how literal we should take the creation story are not as important to me as the concept that God is intimately involved with the process of creation. That God uses the spoken Word to bring this creation into being and that every aspect of God's creation is good. The connection between different species makes sense when one realizes the hand of the artist behind their creation. Why would God create such beauty and then limit its ability to adapt and evolve in accordance with God's grace? There is a part of that desperately clings to the necessity of God's involvement with creation, since I find myself needing to believe that God is actively involved in my own life.

Second- evolution. All of creation is connected to the rest of creation. When one living organism as a species suffers or thrives it affects others in that ecosystem either positively or negatively. What is so troubling about being distantly related to other animals as a part of God's creation? What is so anti-Godly about humans and animals adapting to the environment in which we find ourselves. It makes a lot of sense that those most successful at adapting would have the best chance to pass along their genes to the next generation.

Notice here that I have left out discussions about dinosaurs, carbon dating, Biblical literalism, etc... These distract from the main point of this thought process- that even though there are issues with each point of view there is wisdom and experience that serves to validate both the theory of evolution and the creation story.


  1. "There is a part of that desperately clings to the necessity of God's involvement with creation, since I find myself needing to believe that God is actively involved in my own life. "

    What an interesting statement. The hardest thing of all to do is to distinguish between a real pattern in nature and one we have imposed out of our need to hold on to our existing world view.

  2. Thanks for your comment Scott. I think we continue to struggle with the Copernican revolution over and over again. The world revolves around me, the world revolves around me. It might be impossible to completely detach oneself from this concept. I believe that it is more important to recognize our commitment to our beliefs, and acknowledge that one of the reasons we believe the way we do is because this is the way we WANT to believe.

  3. There's one thing no one likes to admit that makes your approach the most sensible, Tom. And that is what we know about the universe, compared to what there is to know, is next to nothing. It would appear that a humble and reverent approach that recognizes our own limitations- one like yours- might help us make more progress with the problems we face as a species.