Can A Christian Believe in Evolution?

I’ve encountered many, many Christians who readily state “I don’t believe in evolution.” In my opinion, this is one of the most ill-informed and unhelpful things a Christian can say, especially to one who disagrees. More importantly, without sufficient context, it is a blatantly false statement. Let’s try to think through this clearly.

It depends on what you mean by evolution. If you define evolution simply as “change over time,” then evolution is not only common sense and easily proven, it is actually Biblical. Languages evolve, societies evolve, cities evolve, you get the idea. Evolution, in that context, is not in dispute, and should be accepted by all Christians.

Alternatively, if you define evolution as “the ability of a species to adapt to its environment,” this is also so certain that it nearly approaches common sense. Again, let me be clear — the ability of a species to adapt to its environment through inherited genetic traits, including natural selection — is not in dispute, and should not be opposed by clear-thinking Christians. This is commonly called “microevolution.”

Finally, if you define evolution as the “molecules to man” hypothesis, where every living thing on Earth shares a common ancestor and that life began as some pre-historic, single-celled organism which has since developed into the complexity and diversity of life we see today, this is where the Christian (and the non-Christian, by the way) can reasonably depart. It’s important to note, however, that the dispute over this issue it not solely religious. There is a significant debate within the scientific community as well about whether or not this “macroevolutionary” Darwinian model is true. In the wonderful words (paraphrased) of Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason, “The question isn’t whether a dog and a wolf share a common ancestor, I believe they probably do — it’s whether a whale and an avodado do.” For that is precisely with the macroevolutionary model teaches. At this point, clear-thinking Christians and non-Christians alike can reasonably dissent.

I hope you can see, when investigated a bit more closely, the refrain “I don’t believe in evolution,” when stated by Christians, is not only misleading, but rarely accurate. Similarly, affirming a belief in evolution to a certain degree does not mandate that we abandon the Biblical model (which I’ll discuss in a separate blog). There is nothing in the Bible that is inconsistent with natural selection or microevolution…and a clear-thinking Christian can readily affirm a belief in both the Bible and in evolution (properly characterized) without sacrificing their intellectual integrity or their Biblical foundation.

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Welcome to The Clear-Thinking Christian!

I’ve been a practicing Christian for 30 years, and I’ve been teaching Christian theology, apologetics, and counter-cult ministry for 23 of those 30 years.  In that time, I’ve developed a growing concern that relatively few Christians think carefully about what they believe and why they believe it, and even fewer are prepared to present a basic description of what they believe or a basic defense of why they believe it.  For a 60-year-old deacon, this is perhaps a weakness — but for a graduating high school senior headed to a secular university, this is potentially devastating.  Regardless, every Christian would be well-served (and obedient) by being able to describe what they believe, articulate basically why they believe it, and — most importantly — constantly think clearly about their beliefs.

This blog is my feeble, humble attempt to help.  I’ll present a number of thoughts, studies, book reviews, cultural commentary, and other concepts — feel free to chime in, challenge me, voice your support, or ask a question.  Thanks!