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Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
07-28-2009, 10:41 AM (This post was last modified: 07-28-2009 07:13 PM by clarence clutterbuck.)
Post: #1
Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
Many moderate Christians would answer yes to this question, and even the Catholic Church has recently made statements claiming acceptance of evolutionary theory, but is there an inherent incongruity in combining the two worldviews?

The theory of evolution says that the death of individual organisms has been an essential fact of biology throughout the 3.8 billion year history of life on Earth, and that fossil evidence shows how this fact has applied as much to humans as it does to other species. Evolutionary biologists also theorise convincingly that the human moral sense derives from the complex social interactions that evolved in our more primitive pecursors.

Biblical doctrine states however, that humans were specially created by the Judeo Christian God to be the immortal apex of His creative works, and that it was the actions of the first human couple, in the form of Adam and Eve and their Original Sin, that initiated a damaged moral character that began the onset of death in humans. This leads into another fundamental doctrine of Christianity, namely that humanity needed saving from the effects of the Original Sin death curse by the human sacrifice of Jesus, and that it is only individuals who subscribe to this idea who will be rewarded with eternal life.

Much as I feel more respect for Christians who accept evolution than I do for the ones who resort to outright denial of the evidence, I feel that the contradictory views of human origins presented by evolutionary theory and Biblical doctrine are ultimately irreconcilable, because the view of humans gradually arising from earlier forms makes the introduction into the world of sin as described in the Adam and Eve story untenable, and without the sin idea there is no need for the human sacrifice of Jesus.

I'm interested in learning how evolution accepting Christians explain or rationalize these anomalies.
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07-28-2009, 11:24 AM
Post: #2
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
Hmm . . . this is a tough question. I do understand where you are coming from, but I also believe that someone is Christian more or less because they say they are. All attempts by Christians that I know to limit who gets to call themselves Christian can be used against themselves as well.

It's true, no one who takes the Bible literally can believe in evolution. I also personally think that if you do not take the Bible literally then it becomes useless as a religious text. It still remains good for moral uses, and as a historical text in certain instances, but it is ridiculous to claim that the parts that talk about the divinity of Christ and the existence of god are real while the parts that talk about creation are not.

But can they call themselves Christians? Um . . . sure, why not?

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07-28-2009, 11:38 AM (This post was last modified: 07-28-2009 11:56 AM by Anglican.)
Post: #3
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
(07-28-2009 10:41 AM)clarence clutterbuck Wrote:  Evolutionary biologists also theorise convincingly that the human moral sense derives from the evolved social interactions between our more primitive pecursors.

That would definitely be contested. You could conceivably make a case for saying that co-operation within your group would confer an evolutionary advantage, but morality otherwise sounds very much like something which evolution didn't ought to approve of. In the parable of the good samaritan, for example, it is precisely altruism to somebody outside of the group which is being praised. A more modern example is Oscar Schnidler. The wishfiul thinking here is on the part of those biologists who are atheists (usually fairly militant atheists at that).


Quote:Biblical doctrine however, states that humans were specially created by the Judeo Christian God to be the immortal apex of His creative works, and that it was the actions of the first human couple, in the form of Adam and Eve and their Original Sin, that initiated a damaged moral character that began the onset of death in humans.

The Fall is a myth, but not in the modern derogatory sense of the word. It is meant to point to the fact that human's are very far from perfect, even judged by the morality of the tenth century BC. How did that come about? Well there is no easy answer to that, but the author wanted to say, that however human imperfection is to be understood, the blame is not to be pinned on a good God. Since there was only one other place where blame could plausibly be pinned, that is where he proceeded to pin it, but he would have been perfectly well aware that what he was writing wasn't literally true. It was a story with a point to it. He makes no attempt to answer the factual question of how things came to be the way they are, because there was no answer available to him, but he did want to say where he thought the blame ought to be laid.

Much to the chagrin of some atheists, the word mystery tends to get used a lot in religion.
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07-28-2009, 11:42 AM
Post: #4
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
Yes, Anglican. It is contested. That's why it's a convincing theory instead of an accepted scientific fact.

And the Good Samaritan is actually an example of evolutionary morality at work. The precise question asked to Jesus was "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus responded with a parable that explained that. The Pharisee and the Levite, by ignoring the man, proved that they were not part of that man's community. If they had been, they would have tried to help him, thus making the community stronger, better able to survive, and more evolutionarily viable.

The Samaritan, on the other hand, was a very forward-thinking person who recognized that this man, despite living in another town, was still part of his community. Was still his "neighbor". It is this idea of the ever-expanding neighborhood that allows our current global society, and the continuing advance of civilization.

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07-28-2009, 12:23 PM
Post: #5
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
(07-28-2009 11:42 AM)GTseng3 Wrote:  Yes, Anglican. It is contested. That's why it's a convincing theory instead of an accepted scientific fact.

It's just as well that you didn't put "scientific" in front of "theory," because it is not exactly obvious how it could be falsified.
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07-28-2009, 08:56 PM
Post: #6
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
On the contrary, the theory can absolutely be falsified. All you have to do is show that human moral sense does not derive from the evolved social interactions of our precursors. If the theory is false, a bit of delving into anthropology and sociology should show that.

There are many sciences, perfectly legitimate sciences, that deal with things like ethics and morality. The idea that ethics evolved as an evolutionary process for the continuation of society is a perfectly legitimate scientific theory, and falsifiable through study and understanding of modern and ancient societies, as much as any theory in these fields are.

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07-28-2009, 09:04 PM
Post: #7
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
I think the eternal life issue is misdirection. In the so-called Christian system of religious practice, the various denominations and doctrines are replete with discrepancies, inconsistencies and misdirection’s. So the concept of eternal life as postulated by “the church” has to be viewed through a lens of reservation.
When I think about the type of personality it takes to convince large groups of people to do anything I can see without any difficulty that those personality types have always been and continue to be thinkers and as such not above “using the force” on the less thoughtful, to do their bidding.
I’ve seen death and I accept the fact that my biological process includes “recycling”. The cessation of life as I understand it will occur eventually. The evidence of biological death is, irrefutable and very easy to articulate. The brain activity, heart, liver and all major physical bodily functions stop and no longer operate unassisted. Stick a fork in me I’m dead.
Yet, the questions remain, for me at least, is there “something else”? Do I have a “soul” am I really a “spiritual being” in a flesh body waiting to be released into eternity by the death of the flesh? Does that mean anything?
I realize that my questions aren’t necessarily scientific in nature. That however, doesn’t change the fact that I have questions. And these questions are not isolated to just me or the fringes of humanity, as evidenced by the fact that in every single community of mankind there exists and has existed throughout time, esoteric systems of addressing the possibility of “something else”.
These systems, innumerable prehistorically, have always had and continue to have basic similarities. And true to the principles of evolution, “the evolved social interactions between our more primitive precursors” (and that’s a whole other subject) has narrowed the field to a handful of systems.
The systems that are left have histories to which they are chained and one can easily see that the driving force behind any of the dominant systems is basically power or control. The packaging changes but the motives are all very, much the same. They’ve even documented their “traditions” and developed rituals and dogmas, and “philosophies” to perpetuate their own systems and when that didn’t and/or doesn’t work, the ultimate solution is to kill the infidel!
Just an aside, it always amuses me to hear our ancestors characterized as primitive. As if…
So, the concept of eternal life is dangled as the carrot for those who jump through the correct hoop. There’s just enough truth in the overall basic dogma of “the church” to attract the attention of the masses. The concept is after all, worthy of hopeful investigation. As I’ve said, the concept of “something else” is shared throughout the community of mankind. And who wouldn’t want to live forever?
So, on the one-hand there’s the “pseudo-science” of whatever method, and on the other there’s the disciplined trial and error, observe, log and repeat method. Both methods yield results, the one immediate, flashy, sexy, hopeful, malleable, etc. and the latter maybe all of those things but mostly, a long time coming. Those results are then characterized by those thinkers I earlier mentioned.
Now not all of the thinkers throughout history have been “bad guys” but knowing what I know about mob-mentality and given the evidence of recorded overall human nature. I’m going to have to say that the current state of affairs in a majority of the churches of today’s popular religions is a direct result of thinkers, about 2000 years ago who thought along the lines of P.T. Barnum.
The obvious question then becomes, why. Why have religions? I think that’s a fair question and one that hasn’t been asked enough, especially by Believers.
I’ll try to respond. Religions are needed for balance.
In short the scientific method is, to say a thing is so and then set out to prove through rigorous trial and error that the thing is not so. Over the centuries the scientific community has observed and recorded events and phenomena and logged details that have created an impressive lexicon.
That method is valid and effective. It's also, stoic and dispassionate. While that's not an indictment in and of itself it is a fact.
So in a perfect world religion would be the vehicle that brings those esoteric, non-scientific, questions to science to cognitively apply that impressive lexicon to and quantify.

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09-05-2009, 02:20 PM
Post: #8
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
(07-28-2009 11:24 AM)GTseng3 Wrote:  Hmm . . . this is a tough question. I do understand where you are coming from, but I also believe that someone is Christian more or less because they say they are. All attempts by Christians that I know to limit who gets to call themselves Christian can be used against themselves as well.

It's true, no one who takes the Bible literally can believe in evolution. I also personally think that if you do not take the Bible literally then it becomes useless as a religious text. It still remains good for moral uses, and as a historical text in certain instances, but it is ridiculous to claim that the parts that talk about the divinity of Christ and the existence of god are real while the parts that talk about creation are not.

But can they call themselves Christians? Um . . . sure, why not?

I am not sure I see why taking the Bible literally interferes with science or evolution. Just because the Bible is a spiritual book does not mean it is without error in my opinion. I think there are shades of grey in everything. I believe there is a God as billions of people worldwide believe in a higher power and have believed this for thousands of years. I believe in Jesus as because that is who I grew up with. I do not think God puts one religion above another. He just gives us different ways to reach him (I use him as that is what I grew up with).

Evolution in my opinion is from God. When God gave people the bible he made it so people of that time period would understand it relatively easily. I mean I doubt that many of them had much of an understanding of dinosaurs and atoms and space flight etc etc.
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09-08-2009, 10:06 AM
Post: #9
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
Well, good for you for realizing that you only believe in Jesus because that is how you grew up. However, I would ask you - does that make it right? I believed in young-earth 6-literal-day creationism when I grew up. I also believed that public education had been manipulated by Satan directly, by people who had no greater desire than to steal the faith of young children and possibly torture puppies. Clearly neither of these are true (those responsible for public education DID love to torture puppies, but they weren't Satanists.)

I would also remind you that a few hundred years ago the vast majority of people believed that blacks were inferior and enslaving them was not only fine, but actually doing them a favor. One hundred years ago women were believed to be the weaker sex, and denied things like the privilege to vote. Also keep in mind that the Christian bible clearly supports both of these conclusions ("And the man is the head of the woman, even as Christ is the head of the church". THAT'S divine authority there. Keep that in mind, boys, if your woman does not follow you as slavishly as Christians are supposed to follow Christ himself, she's a sinner.)

Finally, if the bible has errors . . . then how can you believe it? I mean, if ANYTHING in the bible is going to be erroneous, it's all that crazy talk about god and Jesus rising from the dead and all that. Honestly, from Judges to II Chronicles I'm inclined to trust the biblical account, save the god parts. That's just historical record. Biased historical record, but historical record. But Genesis and the four gospels after the crucifixion bit? If anything in the bible is in error, that stuff is.

Of course, if that stuff is in error than Christianity is just wrong. So you see the problem with believing the bible can have errors.

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10-01-2009, 01:58 AM
Post: #10
RE: Is Evolution really compatible with Christianity?
Is Christianity compatible with the Theory of Evolution? ... But how can the existence of a soul be reconciled with evolution? I'm not really sure.This actually makes Christianity and science entirely compatible! ... The Theory of Evolution is actually a very simple and rather obvious observation that ...... All science really knows for sure is that by about 63 million years ago,......

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