It may be among my life’s work to reconcile the concept of evolution, which is true without any doubt in my mind, to the type of Christianity (from which I come and am surrounded by) that believes evolution to be patently false and bases their reasons directly from scripture. It is my intent to reconcile the two concurrent ideas into one unified idea, bridging the two so that one side can identify with the other, and the other can identify with the one.
First and foremost, if you believe that evolution is false based on a reading from the text of scripture, then you must be reading a very different scripture than the one I see. I will not use a specific translation in order to bend my interpretation, nor will I make my assertions and proposals as if they were red-lettered. This is conjecture; an argument from within canon. In the way that iron sharpens iron, please first consider my proposals with as hard of a heart as you can muster. Then, consider it again in your idle thoughts when the heat generates shape.
I came from a background of Christianity in my youth but not coming to a relationship with Christ until my early twenties. I had a rebellious period where the rules-system of Christianity did not make sense when compared to a so-called loving connection with God and I washed my hands of it at some point in high school until a college minister made the crucial connection between the two for me at which point an AH-HA! moment transpired and I became a resolute Jesus freak. Christianity, as it turns out, is, actually, highly compatible with the “but-this-but-this” type of thinking to which I had embraced as a rejection of Christianity, whereas the questioning elements had actually strengthened a foothold toward Christ rather than away. If you interested in this disconnect, I can elaborate elsewhere. This particular AH-HA! moment is the kind of event that could easily transpire between the evolutionary biologist and the creationist Christian, I think, that connects the two seemingly perpendicular lines of reason into a very interestingly parallel pattern.
My interest in the parallels of Christianity and evolution came largely from two influences.
The first way came as a result of my language study in university. I encountered the idea that a dictionary is not the end-all reference text for “prescriptive” correctness of usage, but that it is rather descriptive of English. That is, a dictionary is a tally of observations about how the ordinary person uses English out in the wild, and lists them in order of frequency. For instance, “go” in the dictionary is listed both as “to travel”, and “to fit” as in a square block may not “go” into the circle hole. If more people have been observed to use go when they intended to mean travel, then the travel definition is listed earlier in the entry.
If less people had been observed to use go when they intended to mean to fit, then the fit definition would be listed later within the entry for go. The list of ways that “go” was used was not a limitation on the ways “go” was allowed to be used, but were merely the limited ways in which “go” had been observed by the publisher’s researchers. The publisher also generally has a sufficiency threshold, that limited which words (or which ways words were used) could enter the pages their dictionary — but exclusion did not mean therefore that it was an illegal or improper usage, since these were strictly observations.
The second influence into converging evolution and creationist thinking was an article I read on the study of how behavior alters DNA over generations, in a newish branch of study into epigenetics. This line of thinking, to me, was as if scripture were leaping out and demanding to be recognized in modern science, in the sense that behavior (sin) was already known scripturally to be inheritable and would result in atypical circumstances within the lineage of the person who did it. In John 9 Christ’s disciples were traveling with him and they encountered a man who had been blind from birth. A brief conversation unfolded indicating that it was already well known and popularly-believed that blindness or other unfavorable atypical traits came about as a result of errancy of behavior within successive generations within a specific parent-offspring lineage.
I then began to research into the possibility that scripture itself was not actually prescriptive, but rather descriptive in the scientific way. In science, generally, overwhelming amounts of data goes into the formation of a theory — it’s not merely a proposal that people believe, but is rather a pattern that can be observed by the general masses in analysis of this same large amount of data. Like a dictionary that observes statistically significant trends in how the masses use words, evolution is an idea held widely by a statistically significant number of people in response to a statistically significant pattern that emerges from a very large amount of data. It’s not a needle in a haystack, it’s the observation of the haystack.
My proposal is that the bible canon is descriptive, rather than prescriptive. Scripture is a large amount of data, from which patterns can be observed and speculated about. I propose that the writers of the bible are their-age scientists writing papers describing, rather than prescribing, observations of their time. God, as they understood it, was the passage of time itself and that time itself were personified. Time, after all, I think scientists can easily agree without waxing too philosophical, was, is, and is to come. The phrase “was, is, and is to come” (Rev 1:8) itself describes time, and time is the crucial element of the observation of evolution.
Creationist and evolutionists can likewise agree that beings are brought into existence by time (although much debate on how much). In Exodus 3, when Moses was first propositioned by God to free the enslaved Hebrews from Egypt, Moses asks God what named authority would God have Moses say that Moses comes as a representative of, as a way to credibly substantiate himself as someone representing God. God told him to say that Moses comes to free the Hebrews by the authority of the name “I Am”. “I Am” identifies in the present-tense, an idea which both modern science and creationist can agree always exists regardless of the relativity of who is experiencing it. Each person, everywhere, regardless of traveling at the speed of light, asleep, in an altered state of consciousness, or awake in the most scientifically observable form of it, does exist and experience the present tense, in the now. It is always now.
Over the course of the passage of now, creationists and modern science can agree that what currently exists in the environment, by one way or another, is and formerly wasn’t, but that the environment was changed, in one way or another, alongside the presence of now, at the time of the changes. During the changes, the changing events were at some point “now” then, and the over the passage of time, or the progression of the presently-experienced moment of time was always in existence during all of the changes.
If literal versions of the creation story are to be believed, then God instituted science since Adam was tasked in the Garden of Eden as noted in Genesis 2 with tending the garden. God also brought animals to Adam to view and name, and essentially “whatever Adam named them, that’s what its name was.” Giving animals names would require the differentiation between what is or isn’t an animal, and itself could be the foundation of science itself. Moses himself expressed scientific inquiry when encountering the bush that was not consumed, and is attributed as saying basically, “That’s weird,” and then going over to examine it. Flames he had encountered previously, and bushes he had encountered previously, but a flame that did not consume a bush and a bush that was not consumed by flame was an event sufficiently statistically significant that it warranted examination.
I propose that all science is the differentiation between what is and what isn’t according to categories of being. Differentiation is not a callous observation necessarily, and two similar-looking things may not actually be the same thing, requiring a lot of study. I propose that Adam was the first scientist, who took observation of his environment, named elements within it in order to care for them better, noting relationships between one element and another such as the growth of plants in different types of soil as someone tasked with tending a garden might need to know.
I propose also that those who are uninterested in new ideas, who fail to pursue new ways to categorize things and ideas, who refuse to engage in questioning their previous ideas and coming up with better ways to arrange those ideas in ways that make more sense with how things can now be observed in the light of new evidence, are those who depart from God’s original purposes for man, and who depart from the most fundamental aspects of science.