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Acceptable Evolution

Can a Christian accept evolution? It depends on your definitions. Let’s define a Christian as someone who believes that he or she is saved through the death on the cross of Jesus Christ, Son of the Most High God–the Creator. And let’s define evolution as the descent–with modification–of many diverse life forms from a common ancestor, caused by nature’s mechanisms such as genetic alterations and differences in survival.

Whether people can accept both propositions depends on whether they believe that God guides nature’s mechanisms by His providential hand or, alternately, whether they believe nature acts autonomously. If nature is assumed to be autonomous, one must either reject belief in God as Creator or in the reality of nature.

The first is the logical error of atheists like Richard Dawkins. In the second case, one must reject the reality of nature, because the physical data cannot possibly be reconciled with the predictions of the theories of special creation or a young earth.

I am quite aware that a lot of people disagree with that statement, but that is because they do not really know the shape of the data.

Keep in mind that data is recorded, real observations, not scientists’ interpretations.

Some data simply cannot be wished away, any more than cancer cells in a lymph node can be counted as unreal just because cancer does not fit in with one’s plans for the next five years.

But the choice is not necessary. If one believes that nature is governed by God, nature’s processes simply show God’s providence at work.

For such people, therefore, evolution only describes how God chose to act in creation.

Such people can both believe in the Savior and accept evolution. Rather than excluding God from nature, their view insists that He is always actively, imminently and intimately present–just as He is in their own lives.

They can see God’s hand at work in the evolutionary process and praise His name for what He did. There is no point in only bringing God in for the hard spots. A doctrine of God’s occasional presence is also a doctrine of His usual absence. 

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