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Austin Grigg

Husband, father of three boys, dabbling theologian, web developer and business owner.

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Evolution and Genesis

For a long time now I've loosely (and I say loosely because I hadn't really thought it through) held the belief that Christianity and evolution can co-exist.  I reasoned that God could have very well decided to create the perfect conditions and started the Big Bang and done His work of creation through evolution.  If someone's belief in evolution was a hurdle for them to believe the Gospel and what God has done, then that seemed to satisfy the tension for me.  The problem with that argument is the Bible.

I started what should be a lengthy and beautiful endeavor to read through and study Genesis.  After reading the first chapter I was just struct by the way God threw himself into the process of creation.  He spoke things into being, He placed the stars in the heavens and picked out the Sun and the Moon specifically for the earth.  He breathed the breath of life into us.  He worked up such a sweat that He rested on the seventh day.  I believe that all of scripture is true and after reading Genesis 1, I can not come away without believing that the Bible and evolution are wholeheartedly at odds.

Now, the Bible leaves space for mystery and I certainly don't claim to know the mind of God, but I can not continue believing that God created the Earth through evolution.  The more I began to think about this the less it made sense.  My understanding of the person of God is He is deeply involved in our lives, cares deeply about what happens in this world, and does not stand idly by.  If I believe that about Him now, I also believe that about Him since the beginning.

Our pastor Jamie has been talking about how so many people are leaving the Church and the faith as they get out of high school and on into their twenties.  He believes a large part of it has to do with the Church not taking a stand against evolution and what we believe to be true.  He says it is crucial that we teach our children what God's word says and that they can believe it to be true.  If evolution is true, then there isn't really a need for God and the reality is we are desperately in need of God.

I still have a lot to process and some research to do in the scientific support for intelligent design.  I don't believe science and the Bible have to be at odds -- God created the laws of science that govern the world.  This can be a pretty heated topic and I would love some good discussion around it.

Peace to you.
Excellent and thoughful post!

2 books for you, Darwin's Black Box by Dr. Michael Behe and In Six Days by Dr. John Ashton

Maybe I'll post more when I have time...

While I have my reservations about some aspects of evolutionary theory, I still believe that it is not entirely incompatible with story in Genesis. Have you ever noticed how the order of creation (light, sky/water, plants, sea creatures, land creatures) loosely follows the evolutionary process?

I have to say I whole-heartedly disagree with your pastor - I think the rejection (rather than the acceptance) of scientific concepts like evolution, climate change, and stem cell research out of hand have alienated many people from the faith. I do not see how theistic evolution negates our need for God.

The information I've consumed so far on intelligent design has left me skeptical of its merits as a "science," but I'm still open. I'd be interested to hear where your search takes you.

Just wanted to throw some thoughts out there. Thanks for posting this. Peace to you.

Austin, Having majored in the biological sciences...

Having majored in the biological sciences at a secular university I began to lean heavily toward evolution. Frankly, I discovered later that evolution is the "religion" of most scientists. The Creator God in the Person of Jesus Christ (one of His roles in the Trinity) has given us His intelligent design. Placed in us as we are made in His image and likeness. Therefore, He expects us and gives us the intelligence to explore, ponder, research, and use our minds to discover the magnitude of His creative power.

A couple of key questions to ponder:
1. How can a Sovereign God who is all knowing, who possesses all wisdom, who is present everywhere simultaneously througout the universe, who is not limited by time or space; not have the power to create everything from nothing as the Genesis 1 account describes? The word "bara" in Hebrew means nothing!
2. If we believe this is what the Bible teacheas about God, then why is not plausible and possible for Him to do anything and everything He desires to do and accomplish? It's all about Him and His glory anyway - not man's!

I don't know if God completed the creation story in six 24 hour days or six epochs of time, BUT, I believe if that's what He did then He did it!

If the Bible is God's divine and inspired revelation of Himself to mankind and it points to man's problem - sin (rebellion) and offers the only solution (salvation by His grace through faith in Christ alone), and His story demonstrates repeatedly and ultimately that it's all about His Name's glory and fame foever, then I do not have any difficulty at all believing the accuracy and inerrancy of the Genesis creation story.

I'm proud of you for continuing to seek God and explore His matchless providence and power. I look forward to hearing more about what God is teaching you through His Word and by His Spirit.

Love you,

Justin, as always, I appreciate your honest investigation and thought. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond with some of my thoughts.

I would not venture to say that it is outside of the scope of God's imagination and power for Him to have set evolution in motion -- but what I think I realized, is that view, that picture, didn't line up with the ethos of the God I know and see in the first few chapters of Genesis (as well as throughout the Bible).

When it talks about God breathing the breath of life into man in Genesis 2, I picture God leaning over Adam and filling his lungs with his own breath. I remember Winn teaching one Sunday about this passage and he was fired up, imagining God getting his hands dirty, forming Adam like a potter with clay.

The message of the Gospel is that our God is not far off -- that he is Emmanuel. He came in flesh and blood and that same God created the world and I don't see him setting off the big bang and stepping back. Genesis 3 talks about God walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He was present.

Anyway, I guess my argument was more theological , I'm still in the process of investigating the science.

Thanks for the dialogue.

Thanks for responding, Austin. I want to offer that I have some resistance to the idea that evolution is incongruent with God forming Adam out of clay and presents God as sparking creation and then "stepping back." God moves every day in our lives in active, present, powerful ways that are not necessarily detectable with our senses. I see the possibility of God using evolution to create the world as just as God-filled as God speaking things into being. From this perspective, God would be present in every step of the evolutionary process, just as he sustains every electron rotating every nucleus and every chemical bond holding every molecule together. Evolution could simply be the method God used when forming Adam out of clay (remember that the "out of clay" imagery is still consistent with evolution, as the tiny microbe becomes the man). Evolution does not necessarily negate God's presence or power.

As to the Big Bang - that's not evolution, but I still don't see it as incompatible with the story of Genesis. Scientists theorize the event of the big bang by observing red shift and the fact that the universe is expanding. They then suppose the universe was once very small and compact, and we are experiencing the aftermath of a great explosion. This great explosion could have been a part of God's creation process -- we're not really told. And as Winn likes to point out, this could be because Genesis is not necessarily about science. It is about what you're connecting with - the story of God's power, creativity, justice, and love.

By the way, congratulations again on your new journey into fatherhood!

Justin, I don't necessarily disagree with your premise, I just saw an incongruence between the story of Genesis and my understanding of the tenants of evolution. Part of it comes down to the fact that I tend to translate the Bible literally. That doesn't mean I don't recognize metaphor and hyperbole in the Bible, but I believe that there was a flood and ark, God literally parted the Red Sea, and Genesis seams to be telling me that God hovered over the waters and formed man in his own image. That same God came to Earth in human flesh literally, not figuratively, God became a man -- that's what makes the story so powerful.

I also don't have a real firm grasp on the distinction between evolution, the big bang, and the different theories, but it seems to me that the big proponents of these theories are not lovers of God. Evolution can be used by scientists to explain away a need for God (not saying that it does, just that it can be used that way). I heard someone say recently that there are two main tenants of atheism: "There is no God, and I hate him". It is funny to me how passionately some people strive to disprove God -- all their energy trying to dispel something they don't believe exists.

All that to say, I highly respect your views, particularly because I know the kind of thought you put into what you believe. I just wanted to share what I am compelled to believe and ask, if you believe the Bible to be true, if it raises some questions about evolution.

To questioning,

Austin, I too believe in that creation, the ark, ...

I too believe in that creation, the ark, the Red Sea, the incarnation, and the resurrection were literal events. But I am hesistant to say that God's use of evolution in the creation story would negate any of the truth found in the Bible or define them as "figurative."

I would very much encourage you not to characterize all those who believe in scientific theories such as evolution or the big bang as atheists or those who do not love God. This is the primary thing I would like to express, because the truth of it is that I am not 100% sure of what I believe about the precise methods God employed during creation or even the flood. I think it's very, very important to the rational integrity of our faith that we allow room for those who believe in these concepts. Because I firmly believe there are a great many believers out there who believe in evolution and the big bang because of a rational, unbiased, and thorough examination of the evidence they have found for them in nature -- not out of any desire to explain away a need for God.

To questioning!


Justin, As often happens, the internet is unfortu...

As often happens, the internet is unfortunately not always the best medium for communication. I wholeheartedly agree that we must (as you beautifully said) allow room for those who believe in evolution, the big bang, and other creation theories to share our faith. I believe this to be an open-handed issue -- meaning that it is one we can agree to disagree on because it is not foundational to the essence of our faith. I thought it was worth the discourse because it does help paint our view of God and his intention for us, but it should not be a dividing issue.

As I said before, science does not have to contend with Christianity. The Bible says all truth is from God and God created the natural laws, so if we follow the evidence and seek out the truth then I believe it will lead us toward God.

I apologize if I characterized all people believing in evolution as atheists, that was certainly not my intention. I do think it is worth recognizing that there are those who believe and preach evolution as a substitute for God, for truth. Not those who genuinely believe the Bible and are searching for truth, but we should be on guard against the lies and false prophets trying to distort the truth that God says will come.

I hope you understand my heart and maybe these are enough words for now, or we might resume this discourse again in a different forum.

Peace to you.

Austin, I absolutely understand your heart. I thi...

I absolutely understand your heart. I think this is a good place to close. Peace to you!


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