Education Church Attendance Partisanship Related To Beliefs
PRINCETON, NJ — Controversy about the origin of human beings continues to rage even today, nearly 150 years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. School districts have attempted, with varying degrees of legal success, to force teachers to teach students that the Darwinian, evolutionary explanation for the origin of life is just one of many theories. Advocates of the “creationism” perspective continue to argue that the biblical story of creation — in which God created humans in their present form on the sixth day of creation — is as viable and as valid as the evolutionary perspective. Scientists largely assume that the argument should be over and that the evolutionary explanation is so well established by scientific evidence that there is no longer any room for debate.
Americans, in general, are not so quick to agree with the preponderance of scientific evidence. Surveys repeatedly show that a substantial portion of Americans do not believe that the theory of evolution best explains where life came from.
Gallup has asked about the origin of humans in several different ways over the years, including this question:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings — ?
= Volunteered response
There is, as expected, a strong relationship between this measure of religiosity and belief that God created humans.
The Credibility Of Gods Word
If the Creation narrative is only an allegory, what about other parts of the Bible such as the translation of Elijah to heaven, Jonah and the big fish, and the miracles and resurrection of Jesus? If we dismiss the accuracy of the biblical Creation account, we are free to dismiss other parts of Scripture and thus become the judge of what is or is not true in spite of what Jesus and the Bible authors say.
Creation By Natural Selection
Put simply, the church has always affirmed the doctrine of creation as presented above. One of its earliest statements of faith the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed affirmed, We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. In a later theological development, Thomas Aquinas rejected the idea that the creation itself possesses the ability to create or develop other living realities. He reasoned that only God, as absolute being, possesses the power of creating, which is impossible for created things. His position stands against theistic evolution views that attribute creative power to matter and its development by purely natural processes . Similarly, Protestant theology continued to affirm the traditional doctrine of creation.
Accordingly, Christians who embrace theistic evolution, in addition to being at odds with the biblical account of creation, place themselves outside of the historical position of the church. While believing that God created matter, they fall short of affirming that God created not only nonliving matter but all visible things and invisible things . Gods creation, therefore, was not a creation of generic material but of specific kinds and varieties of creatures .
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How Should A Christian Respond To A Question Over Evolution
I have been asked many times by Christians and non-believers about evolution. They asked me what I think about it. Did I believe that evolution was true? What about all the evidence for evolution? How can I not believe in evolution with all the facts that science has proven? Why do you believe in creation when there is real, hard evidence for evolution?
These are all great questions and I always answer in a loving, kind, but intelligent way. Peter told us to Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect for . The point of emphasis to me is to answer them with gentleness and respect. Nobody has ever been argued into heaven and no one has won a soul to Christ by winning a debate. I have had experiences with other Christians who get into heated arguments with evolutionists and the debate turns into an all out fight. The debate lowers itself into name calling, vehement exchanges, and behavior very unbecoming of a believer in Christ.
Can A Christian Believe In Evolution And Be Saved
A person that believes in Christ and believes in evolution can still be saved. This is good news to many Christians who do believe in evolution and in God. A person is saved by their faith in Christ and that believer can not lose their salvation or not be saved despite their belief in evolution. Even though a Christian has imperfect understanding about the universe and the origin of life, I see no reason why they can not still be saved according to Scripture . A persons salvation is not based upon false reasoning or faulty assumptions. A persons salvation is based upon a secure, firm, foundational principle that those who are Christs will remain as Christs .
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Bible Authors Believed In The Creation Narrative
Many of the authors of both Old Testament and New Testament clearly accepted the Creation account as accurate history: David , Nehemiah , Isaiah , and Paul . Jesus, Himself, accepts Creation as a literal historical event. Referring to the creation of Adam and Eve, He said, He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female . The expression at the beginning is the same expression used in the first three verses of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. If each day of Creation were a long, indefinite period of time, the Creation of humans, occurring as it did at the end of the sixth day of Creation, would not have been at the beginning of Creation, but after six long eons of time.
Who Are The Other People Cain Is Referring To In Genesis 4
When we look at the Pentateuch, Moses was often sparse in historical details. He does, however, often provide explanations for certain situations that a closer reading provides. In other words, the evolutionary interpretation is unnecessary when one reads Genesis 4 and 5 together.
In Genesis 4, after Cain kills Abel, he voices to God his fear of others finding and killing him. In other words, he is fearful of blood retribution, something common throughout all cultures of the world even up to the present. Where did these people come from? They were other descendants of Adam and Eve, since it appears Cain murdered Abel over a century after they had been born. Note that:
In light of this, there is a more textually-consistent explanation for the people living in the world when Cain killed Abel than resorting to theistic evolution to explain their presence.
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The Week Of Seven Days
If life developed gradually over millions of years, there would be no explanation for the weekly cycle. The day, month, and year are based on natural movements of the earth, moon, and sun. But there is no astronomical basis for the seven-day week. It had its origin at Creation when God made the earth and everything on it in six daysand rested on the seventh day.
If we look carefully at the biblical Creation account, it is very difficult to come to any other conclusion but that Moses, the author, intended to describe literal, 24-hour days. The Hebrew word, yom, has the same meaning as our English word day. In both languages the word can refer to literal days or it can refer to longer periods of time. For example, we may use expressions such as the day of our forefathers. However, in Hebrew, if a numeral accompanies the word yom, it always means a literal day. There are no exceptions. In the Creation account, yom is associated with day one, day two, day three, etc. Moses also makes use of the following expressions: evening and morning , light and darkness , night and day . He could hardly have made it more clear that he was referring to literal days.
If each day in the Creation account is actually a long period of time, plants would have been created long before insects, since plants were created on the third day and insects were created on the fifth day. Yet many plants cannot survive without the pollination provided by insects.
Success Of The Species
Evolutionary success hinges on adaptation to ones environment becoming smarter, faster, stronger, or developing advantageous physical features. The Bible says we do not succeed as a species or as individuals at all: The world will end. Salvation leads to perfect union with Christ even as creation is perishing.
Success in Christian terms involves laying down ones life in service to Christ, not surviving at all costs. Christ died for all human beings, but salvation is not general: Each man or woman must choose to believe in Jesus alone for salvation.
Mature and foundational faith is stronger because it acknowledges weakness, an idea counterintuitive in modern Western society especially. And faith is not genetically inherited: Our strength in weakness is not passed on but develops personally. Ones family might promote Christian values, but this is no guarantee for the next generation.
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Image Of God As Our Cognitive Abilities
One view is that the image of God refers to uniquely human cognitive abilities. When people talk of the things that make us human, they often refer to abilities like reason and rationality, mathematics and language, laughter and emotions, caring and empathy, and cultural products like music and art.
Theologians have historically connected image-bearing with humankinds unparalleled capacity for rational thought. Saint Augustine wrote, Mans excellence consists in the fact that God made him to His own image by giving him an intellectual soul, which raises him above the beasts of the field.1 Saint Thomas Aquinas also emphasized intellect and rationality in his discussion of image bearing.2
Some people today challenge whether there is a substantial difference between the cognitive abilities of humans and other animals. Studies of animal behavior show that animals not only laugh and cry and care for each other, but can learn some sign language and even have basic reasoning ability.
But while some think these similarities mean that humans are just another animal, a strong case can be made for human distinctiveness from a host of disciplinesand often by scholars who have no obvious religious motivations.3 We might even say that from a scientific point of view, we differ in kind and not just in degree from other species. Kevin Laland, Professor of Behavioral and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, writes,
Study : What Religious Ideas Do Students Think One Has To Reject In Order To Accept Evolution If Students Write That Evolution Has To Be Atheistic Is This Associated With Lower Evolution Acceptance
Although prior qualitative research has shown that students can have concerns about their ability to maintain their religious beliefs and accept evolution , we do not know exactly what religious ideas college biology students think someone would have to reject to accept evolution. Students could have a wide variety of perceptions, including that someone has to completely reject a belief in God in order to accept evolution, which could negatively affect religious students acceptance of evolution. Thus, in study 1, we asked students to answer an open-ended question about the religious ideas that would have to be rejected for someone to accept evolution. We hypothesized that some students would say that it is necessary to reject a belief in God in order to accept evolution, and we also hypothesized that highly religious students who wrote that evolution is atheistic would accept evolution less than highly religious students who did not. This exploratory study allowed us to investigate potential student perceptions and their association with student levels of evolution acceptance.
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Comparing Genesis & Evolution
Nevertheless, the pressure to accept the conventional history of the world and its evolutionary processes is compelling to some Christians. Lets ask a few additional questions in regard to it:
Why is the conventional, evolutionary view of history incompatible with the history recorded in Genesis?
- According to Genesis, God created animals, birds, and plants fully-formed and unique as created kinds. Although there is great genetic potential for change within kinds, created kinds themselves are distinct. According to theistic evolution, there is a long, progressive connection of all living creatures that can be represented in one tree of life.
- According to Genesis, Adam was immediately made in the image of God, and Eve was made from Adam both of them were created fully-formed. Mankind therefore occupies a unique position in the creation and has no direct relationship to any other created kinds. According to theistic evolution, however, man is just a higher-order primate, directly related to other modern primates through an extinct common ancestor.
- According to Genesis, death entered the world with the sin of Adam. This means there was no death in the world prior to Adams sin. Yet, according to theistic evolution, death was an essential part of the world prior to Adams sin. As a necessary part of natural selection, death is one of the mechanisms necessary for the evolution of all species.
Why Does This Matter
Every person was made in Gods image by his hand and, as such, should be treated with respect and dignity.
Moreover, its only because man keeps his image of God even in a broken or distorted form that man is redeemable and worth redeeming. Without it, God would have had no reason to send His Son to die on our behalf.
This same man defended himself against temptation, against Satan, by holding up the Word of God as a shield. He trusted its solidity, its heft, in the face of the monster. Furthermore, the notion of evolution as a random phenomenon implies that some people are better than others based on their genetic coding.
When the world is cruel, hope comes from believing God: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . Each of us is uniquely made, a comforting reality for those who feel forgotten, invisible, and alone.
God tells us that we were not products of chance but deliberately crafted into the people he intended us to be, to face challenges he foresaw. Suffering will come regardless of our belief systems, but only hope makes suffering bearable.
Finally, to believe in creation-by-evolution would be like saying all of Scripture is God-breathed except the parts about creation, purpose, our role as image-bearers, and so on. Once one starts choosing what to believe and what to dismiss, why stop at Genesis?
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Evolutionary Thought Since Darwin
Since Darwins time, evolution has become the dominant dogma in the sciences, even in seemingly unrelated areas. It is impossible to go to a secular school and not get overdosed with evolutionary teaching. The base model of the dogma has changed very little since Darwin.
Evolutionists still teach that man evolved from apelike creatures over millions of years. Other aspects of the idea have been filled in so that the evolutionary skeleton looks a little more complete, at least for public consumption. However, digging beneath the surface reveals things are not well in the evolutionary dogma.
Evolution became permanently immortalized in American culture in 1925 in what was termed the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee. Attempting to challenge a Tennessee state law that forbade teaching human evolution, the ACLU prompted a substitute teacher named John Scopes to admit to breaking the law, even though he later acknowledged he had never done so. The trial took on monumental proportions when two of the most famous lawyers in America, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, took opposite positions. The trial ended with Scopes being convicted, but not before Darrow tricked Bryan into testifying and used him as a pincushion to mock the Bible.
Does The Bibles Account Allow For Living Things To Change Over Time
Yes. The Bible says that God created living things according to their kinds. Can variation occur within a kind? Yes. However, does observed adaptation within a kind prove that eventually new kinds can evolve? No.
Consider an example: In the 1970s, researchers studied finches on the Galápagos Islands. They noted that climate changes caused finches with slightly larger beaks to survive more readily. This, some concluded, provided evidence of evolution. But was it evidence of evolution, or was it simply adaptation? Years later, the finches with smaller beaks once again dominated the population. This experiment led Jeffrey H. Schwartz, a professor of anthropology, to conclude that while adaptation may help a species survive under changing circumstances, it is not creating anything new.
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