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Ask An Evangelical: What do you think of evolution?

What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Pastor Rob Bryceson, of The Gathering House Church, and Elizabeth Backstrom, a member of The Gathering House, co-author this column. Submit your question here.

By Rob Bryceson

What do Evangelicals think of evolution?

evangelicalThe standard answer is Evangelicals can go either way on evolution with those supporting it claiming it’s just the mechanism God used to create the world as we know it. This might surprise some readers who assume all Evangelicals are literally six day young earth creationists. I have actually taught a class on Genesis 1-2  with a section of it being “six different views of the creation account in Genesis 1 you can hold and still be a Christian.”

I have three friends, each with PH.Ds in physics and they all hold differing views on this topic. I met them all in church. No Evangelicals I know, or have read, support atheistic evolution, the premise that nothing but random chance selected the mutations and dictated the developmental process.

The non-evolutionists have a lot of good scientific evidence that questions the soundness of the evolutionary hypothesis and it’s worth reading just to blow your mind a bit. Try reading anything by Alister McGrath, the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. I found “Bones of Contention” by Martin Lubenow is a great read that simply examines the fossil records of early human evolution. It’s a fantastic insight into the world of how fossils get categorized and separates actual data and evidence from theory and speculation. There are many more books of this genre to choose from.

Ken Ham of the Creation Research Institute has probably received the most press in recent years with his debates with Bill Nye the Science Guy, but I think that’s unfortunate.  He is not the best voice and tends to be sarcastic, belittling and dismissive. He is also a dogmatic literal six day, young earth creationist. His partner Henry M. Morris does a better job of articulating the position.

In general it’s not a deal breaker for Evangelicals. What is a deal breaker is denying that God is the creator, regardless of what mechanisms he used to create. I found a bigger argument inside Evangelicalism would be young earth vs. old earth.

I have consulted a friend who is a PH.D scientist in physics. He worked at both NASA and the Pentagon. He is currently one of the world’s foremost experts on solar power having just invented Liquid Solar Power which uses Nano technology. We met while both attending an Evangelical Presbyterian church.  I thought a better answer should come from him. Here is Dr. Douglas Linman’s response:

Ok, so let’s establish that evolution and creation are two very different things.

  • Creation states that millions of species just happened all at once and we don’t exactly know how or why
  • Evolution is defined as change over time, caused by natural selection to live and to die.
  • A known third concept has been that everything really came together accidentally by gravity, as evidenced in planetary theory where the five most common elements in the universe are: Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen. Strangely this is exactly what makes up 99 percent of the human biological make-up!  Looking beyond earth, that answer is further found in the cosmos: where exactly Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen reign! So there is intellectual reasoning there.

As far as models for how human life began from a naturalistic point of view, I would point you to “the Replicator” model proposed by evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, in his classic book, “The Selfish Gene” just as a side issue to understand that we mostly likely DID NOT evolve from any other species at all, but have been the exact species we are now from the beginning, like bees, grasshoppers, plants, and other animals.

It is stated that God made us in “his image and likeness” plus all the other animals and vegetation, but more accurately “God made “earthlings” in his image and likeness, since our anatomical design can not openly exist as a life form anywhere else, so far! That astounding comprehension should drive one to really think, who architected us? I have spent years in and out of all sort of books and research and I remain amazed at the level of detail in abilities, systems and inner working processes existing within us, to allow us to be humans! Our inner schematic remains far different than a simple evolution anomaly.  In terms of any relationship to Darwinism, all scientists and biologists including Steven Hawkins have rebuked and debunked this very bad theory. We never “evolved” from monkeys, it was a simple convenience to support a 1859 paper, not anything remotely proved at all, nor ever! It’s always publicly better to simply state something for people to grasp, than ever to embark on a complex explanation, but truer, answer. So Darwin fooled the people, because there were no means yet available to prove any theories, but in our 21st century there are highly advanced means now and as such, Darwinism is dead.

In the “selfish Gene” the question is asked; did genes follow rather than lead and whether processes such as gene assimilation might lead instead? The microscopy shows that genetic assimilation doesn’t really change anything, because since the gene ends up locking in the change within molecular structures and carrying it forward, it all comes back to the gene anyway. ‘The gene-centric model is all about the gene being the unit in the hierarchy of life that is selected. That remains the gene is creation!” Others have long been arguing for the primacy of an individual gene that creates a trait that either survives or doesn’t. Environmentally, at equilibrium with our surrounding we will remain unaltered and survive and procreate. Significantly alter the environment and eventually genes will be altered to adapt.

We understand why many biologists stick to the gene-centric model. It makes it easier to explain creation but NOT evolution. Many, many years of people working in gene expression understand all of this. But when they get asked about evolution, they go straight to Mendel as that focused guide. Because people understand it more easily.  It’s easy to see why: even though life is a zillion bits of biology repeatedly rearranging themselves in a webwork of constantly modulated feedback loops, the selfish-gene model offers a step-by-step account as neat as a three-step flow chart. Gene, trait, phenotype, done! In other words, the gene-centric model survives because “implicity” it is a hugely advantageous trait for an idea to possess. People will select a simple idea over a complex idea almost every time. This holds especially true in a hostile environment, like, say, a skeptical crowd.

We were created in his image as the Bible says. So with that being said… evolution would be considered as part of the adaptation process that was required to make such a change, due to the environmental changes that GOD originated from. So if he/she came from anywhere else other than earth, then by creating us in his image on this planet would obviously not give us the correct environment for our genes to make the same evolutionary advancement that his/her genes had made to create the all powerful being creationists believe him/her to be. Even a difference in gravity, air pressure, and oxygen would have a direct effect on how evolution would occur here on earth vs God’s planet. But God didn’t materialize out of nothingness into the being we all fear. That would academically be IMPOSSIBLE! Plus if God were to have a profession, giving how he created the heavens and the earth and created all of the complex organisms and every little cell in all living things, it would clearly be the ultimate life architect, but strangely earth centric!  We as God’s children, can not openly thrive in any other place or realm, other than Earth!  I think God made us educationally adaptable Gods’ within ourselves to further expand and foster in any direction we can possibly evolve, and adapt, to sustain our planned existence.


Doug Linman

About Rob Bryceson

Rob Bryceson is the Pastor of The Gathering House Covenant Church and café in the Garland District, formerly First Covenant Church on 2nd and Division. The church site is actually a neighborhood coffee shop six days a week. It serves as a job training institute for people coming out of addiction, poverty, or prison. Bryceson has served as the chairman of the Spokane Homeless coalition for two terms. He holds a Master’s of Divinity from Western Seminary and a Graduate Certificate from Multnomah School of the Bible. His undergrad is in History with English and Government minors from Eastern Washington University. He likes performing classic rock on his guitar. He has four grown daughters who inspire and amaze him and a son who makes him laugh and fills him with joy. Bryceson's wife, Tonia, runs the coffee shop as the director of Street Wise and he will tell you that she is the most amazing person he knows!

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One comment

  1. Hey Rob, great response, I appreciate your thoughts and the tap out to the scientist on the nitty gritty. Unfortunately many evangelicals do make this issue a matter of fellowship. I had a family leave our church immediately after I answered as you have written. She wanted a Yes or No answer as if it was in the creeds.

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