I’ve been open to the idea of evolution as a scientific paradigm for some time. For some reason, the idea that humanity may have, in some distant past evolved from monkeys doesn’t bother me much.
Actually, scratch that, we didn’t “evolve from monkeys.” My wife, a zoology major, informs me that monkeys and humans are actually two divergent branches from a shared ancestor.
We actually descended from lemurs. Got that? OK.
Anyway, it doesn’t bug me much. I imagine God has His ways of doing things, and who am I to say that he couldn’t have created humanity through evolution, just the way the scientists say? Maybe the story of Adam and Eve represents a spiritual turning point for the species. One moment these two legged creatures are running around as something less than human and then WHAMMO! Enlightenment! Now you get to be sons and daughters of God! Maybe it’s like that scene in 2001 Space Odyssey, except without the sinister black rock…. Or maybe not. Who knows?
But at any rate, the cock-sure arrogance of the “young earth creationists” always got on my nerves. Who died and made you God’s spokesman anyway? And those guided river tours in the Grand Canyon that try to explain to people how the Grand Canyon actually provides solid evidence for Noah’s Flood struck me as more comical than anything else.
But let’s not kid ourselves. This is a sticky subject for Christianity to tackle. The view I’ve outlined so far is probably too dismissive of the real challenge that evolution and science present to the faithful.
For one thing, evolution doesn’t just damage the picture we get from Genesis of one day, no people, the next day, two people and we’re off to the races. Evolution also damages the entire Christian concept of the Fall of Man.
I do find the geological and fossil evidence compelling for predation on Earth before human life. However, I consider it a core teaching of Genesis that the fate of creation is bound up in the fate of Man – “cursed is the ground because of you.” My instinct, when looking at a spider sucking the life out of a helpless butterfly, is to see this as part of the groaning of creation, waiting to be set free from its bondage to decay into the liberation of the rule of the sons of God. So, the presence of this decay and groaning historically prior to the presence of man on the Earth is theologically troubling.
Well gee, that’s awkward. I mean, I saw the temple endowment video. One moment you’ve got these happy fluffy creatures sitting in the flower beds and then Adam and Eve make some bad choices, and then we’re off to the lone and dreary world where we see a scruffy-looking fox chomping on some hapless rodent. But the fossil record makes it fairly clear that life and death we happening for quite a while…. Was Eden just sort of God’s nature preserve while meanwhile, next door, rampaging tyrannosaurs were biting the heads off brontosaurus babies?
And if we admit to a world that always had death, doesn’t that change what The Fall means? I actually feel kind of stupid for not noticing the problem before. Indeed, what do we do with this whole concept of The Fall in light of the geological record?
It’s not so easy to get rid of this one. I mean, whoever Adam’s biological dad was is not a doctrinally central issue for our religion. But the idea of the Fall is, shall we say, a bit more important?
I don’t know. I haven’t heard this angle discussed much on the bloggernacle so far, so I haven’t had much time to think about it. Maybe I’ll have a few ideas later, but for now, thoughts anyone?