Creation or evolution: what Christians can agree on

A somewhat recent article in Christianity Today highlighted some of the things that Christians can agree on in terms of how the world came into being, irrelevant of their position on whether God formed the world more through creation or evolution. Todd Wilson provides “ten theses on creation and evolution that we believe (most) evangelicals can (mostly) affirm.” The following are a few of those theses:

  • the doctrine of creation “addresses some of the fundamentals of our faith—the reason for and nature of the world God has made, as well as the reason for and nature of the creatures God has made, not least those creatures made in God’s image.”
  • “Whatever Scripture teaches is to be believed as God’s instruction, without denying that the human authors of Scripture communicated using the cultural conventions of their time.”
  • Genesis 1-2 is “historical in nature, rich in literary artistry, and theological in purpose.”
  • “There is no final conflict between the Bible rightly understood and the facts of science rightly understood. God’s “two books,” Scripture and nature, ultimately agree. Therefore Christians should approach the claims of contemporary science with both interest and discernment, confident that all truth is God’s truth.

Last of all, Wilson argues that “The Christian faith is compatible with different scientific theories of origins, from young-earth creationism to evolutionary creationism, but it is incompatible with any view that rejects God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Christians can (and do) differ on their assessment of the merits of various scientific theories of origins,” even moving to the point where more Christians are now okay with saying that God used evolution to form the world as noted by another recent Christianity Today article.

Because there are so many differing views on origins, Wilson argues that Christians should be humble about how they approach their own understanding of the formation of the world (and how they dialogue with others about it). As a pastor, I wish this last point was something all Christians would be willing to acknowledge, especially as I think too many people have been hurt by not doing so.

Evolution and Flourishing

A recent tweet by Tim Keller illustrates how a lot of people see evolution as being about the strong overcoming the weak. Keller asks:

Andy Walsh, however, argues that this is a misunderstanding of evolution. Instead, as Walsh puts it:

Evolutionary biology is not a last-organism-standing proposition. Look at the vast diversity among living species. There’s not a single, most fit species on its way to domination at the expense of all others. A wide assortment of resources means there are numerous niches that can be occupied fruitfully. Thus I don’t see where evolutionary biology necessarily mandates cutthroat behavior; to the contrary, it strikes me as a call to maximize flourishing.

Most of the scientists I know who understand evolution as being the means by which God formed the world see science (and evolution) as helping them to be more in awe of God and how God works. Thinking about evolution as leading to a maximization of flourishing seems to me one of the ways in which we can be filled with wonder about how creation and God work.