Creation, Evolution… and My Brother.

I don’t know the particulars of how intelligent life came to be or on what precise timeline it developed, but as a Christian I’m left with the two sources of story that God has left at our disposal: the Bible and the universe (creation) itself. When these dual threads of revelation are allowed equal access to the question of origins, I believe they paint a beautiful picture of an infinitely creative, intelligent and yes, patient, creator. After all, if the universe is indeed created by God (as all Christians affirm), how could it point to anything or anyone except God if it is properly understood? Using the universe and its apparent laws and processes to argue against the existence of God is like using words and letters to argue that there is no such thing as ideas or written communication. It does not add up. The bottom line is that there’s no reason why Christians should feel threatened by legitimate science in the least. Indeed, it is only when a particular strain of philosophy or religiously held atheism sneaks in the door and tries to enslave science, that so-called “science” and Christian faith are at odds. Christians should reject atheism, not science, because they are simply not the same.

I have yet to encounter anything that would preclude evolution as a viable option for God to use in his efforts at bringing life from the dust of this planet (or the rest of the universe). Many of my fellow Christian believers do not agree with this, and somewhat tellingly, neither do their atheist counterparts. I find it interesting that these two groups on opposite ends of the spectrum find themselves coming to the same conclusions about the Bible, both arguing that it must absolutely be taken literally, but I suggest that they both miss the mark and subsequently attack and defend the wrong things.

I have written a lot about these issues in various places, but I admit that I have not done a good job of keeping them in the same places (or blogs), or making them easily navigable or searchable. Maybe I can work towards that in the future. For now, however, I would like to reference a “conversation” (perhaps more like a yelling match) that recently unfolded with my brother on my public Facebook “wall.” While I think I am perhaps only marginally qualified (at best) to psychoanalyze my brother, it must suffice to say that while we both grew up in the same house with the same parents and went to the same church, he and I have come to very different conclusions about those shared experiences, not least of which is our respective faith positions on God. My brother has faith that no gods exist, and by necessity this includes the particular God of Christianity. He also has faith that the Bible is completely unreliable but that atheism is nothing more than pure and unbiased reason following the only evidence that counts (physical matter) to its logical conclusion. Such are the faith positions of many Western atheists these days.

I have tried to explore my brother’s faith commitments with him on numerous occasions, particular care being given to the potential harmony between Christian faith and the sciences. As it turns out, like many other atheists, he is far more interested in launching attacks than he is in actually listening to or wrestling with ideas that challenge his own beliefs. I have little doubt that he would levy the same complaint against me, but the evidence would not support such a charge. I remain open to any criticisms of my faith in Jesus Christ, but I demand reciprocity. If you are going to attack my beliefs, you had better be prepared to listen to my reply, and you had better be ready to consider the criticisms I might offer of your own faith commitments. Unlike Fox News, this is the only way I know how to be fair and balanced.

A little more than a year ago, my brother generously offered to send me a copy of Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. I told him that I would read it cover to cover as long as he would make the same promise to read a book (cover to cover) that I would gladly send him. He refused. Since he has now “de-friended” me on Facebook as a result of our brief exchange and made it clear that he really has no interest in listening to what I might say, I am left to express myself to the blogosphere rather than the person with whom I would like to engage most. Maybe someday he will be able to see that his caricature of Christianity doesn’t correspond with reality, but perhaps I have been naive in thinking that I might be the one to help free him from this illusion.

But on with the show.

In our recent Facebook stare-down, I suggested once again that evolution and creation are not antithetical. What follows is his response to me in a challenge against my harmonizing the biblical creation account with evolution:

“Here are some verses which conflict with the Darwinian notion that evolution is a random process: 1 Samuel 16:7-12; Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 24:31, 25:34; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:4-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9. 

Here are some verses which conflict with the concept that evolution is a continuing process: Genesis 2:1-3; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Hebrews 4:3-11. 

 Here are some verses which conflict with the notion that man is descended from other species: Genesis 2:7; Psalm 33:6,9; Psalm 148:5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 11:3. 

And that’s just off the top of my google. Quit hedging your bets and pick a side, Corbin. Don’t you know that if you bet on red, and black, and double zero you always lose.”

To be fair, there was other witty banter in our Facebook thread before my brother stomped away, and I must admit that I did not use my most conciliatory tone in response to his vinegar and vitriol. But beyond our interpersonal dysfunctions, I think that the Bible verses he tried to quote are often (ab)used in such conversations, and I would like to explore just one or two of them (for now) to demonstrate that they might not always mean what atheists or Christian Fundamentalists might otherwise have us believe.

But before I get to that, I would also like to offer a different perspective on my brother’s roulette analogy. I admit that my knowledge of gambling is not as seasoned as his, so am I wrong in thinking that if one bets on red, black, & double zero, then she or he is also always guaranteed to “win,” or at least break even? If so, the analogy’s wheels fall off, but even if they didn’t, the only way for it to work would be if I said that God created the universe, and simultaneously that he did NOT create the universe, and that’s not what I am saying at all. We must consider the possibility that God created the universe we find ourselves in using his own tools of evolution, geological, and astronomical events etc. Why wouldn’t he/she?

What follows in the first comment below is my initial counter-perspective on just the first two texts (1 Samuel 16:7-12Psalm 139:16my brother tried to enlist in support of his belief that evolution and the Bible are at odds. He will probably never be able to hear what I am saying, but that doesn’t mean that others cannot find it helpful, or at the very least, mildly interesting. I hope you do.

Thanks for reading,    -CL

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About C_Lambeth

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science and from George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) with a Master's of Divinity. In addition to knowing Christ and helping others know him, I am passionate about peace, the environment, Christian feminism, justice for all (not just the wealthy) and being a lifelong learner. Please feel free to comment on any of the posts here or to suggest new posts altogether. Thank you for reading me! -CL
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18 Responses to Creation, Evolution… and My Brother.

  1. C_Lambeth says:

    First off, I have to ask if my brother even read 1 Samuel 16:7-12? I don’t see anything in these particular verses that support his opinion, but it seems (by his own admission) that he merely did a Google search to find and (ab)use various verses as “proof texts” to make his point. Again I’d like to offer that fundamentalist Christians and atheists often engage in the same unhelpful tactics. In fact, based on nothing more than his words above, I doubt anyone could tell which group my brother identifies with.

    Ignoring the irrelevancy of 1Sam 16:7-12 for a moment, let’s look at just one of the verses he supplied that he believes undercuts the idea of creation via evolution in general, and “randomness” in particular. He cited Psalm 139:16, which reads as follows from the NRSV:

    Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

    I can see where my brother gets the idea, but there are a few things we should make note of, the first of which is that this verse is written from a specific individual (David) to God in adulation and awe. As tempting as it might be for Christians to insert themselves into this text, the Hebrew itself does not indicate that this prose was intended to be a description of all people everywhere in their own mother’s womb. Even IF one person’s particular genetic formation was random, it simply does not follow that King David’s was.

    Secondly, this indicates the logical fallacy and faith claim that my brother’s argument rests upon, namely, that since some (or even most) evolutionary processes appear to be random, they must all be. This oversteps the evidence and merely assumes that God cannot be intentional in the womb, either in general or particular. What evidence, peer reviewed or otherwise, can we provide in reference to King David’s situation? If it is faith (on either side), let’s call it what it is.

    Lastly, and from a more global perspective, we must consider the implications of an entire universe created by God. If God did in fact set the cosmos in motion as Christians affirm, then by extension this would include things like chromosome combinations and development of creatures within their mothers’ wombs. In that sense, it is not at all inaccurate to say that God knit each of us together in our respective wombs. Undoubtedly the atheist playbook dictates that birth-defects and stillborn infants etc. challenge the notion of God’s handiwork in the womb, but this fails to consider the dastardly effects of sin on creation. While God’s will and his original creation was perfect, clearly he has allowed for it to be corrupted and doesn’t intervene at each and every point to force his will to be done. All of creation (human and otherwise) is in desperate need of restoration, and that can come only through Christ Jesus. Thankfully, this promise of restoration is exactly what God promises through his literal and resurrected son, Jesus of Nazareth, and this is regardless of the particulars concerning humanity’s creation.

    The key question for my brother or anyone else who wants to put atheism and Christianity in a death-match is: “If I answer all your objections, would you consider placing faith in Christ as savior instead of your other theories about him, the Bible and evolution?” If the answer is “no,” then I’m not sure why we even bother to discuss the issues in the first place.

    As anyone can see, it takes much more writing to dispel false notions about evolution and creation than it does to launch attacks. I hope my brother will read this someday, but in the meantime, I ask anyone to consider the possibility that maybe they have too easily adopted a muddled stance on creation via evolution. We must let (ALL) the evidence lead, and when we do, I suggest that creation via evolution rises as a distinct and amazing possibility.

    Sincerely,
    -CL

  2. MM says:

    These quotes (in red) from the Bible, as your brother sees them–
    –he seems to be pro-Bible. If I hadn’t read that you named him as an atheist, I would say he is in favor of the book. Is he saying he thinks you are in favor of both Evolution AND the Bible? He’s asking you to choose between the 2, isn’t he? I have to agree that, after reading what God is saying in these verses, one cannot have it both ways.

    Really, he seems to be saying that the idea of “evolution” (ever-changing) and how God sees his creation conflict.
    What about his hypothesis is wrong?
    Are you being objective???

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Yes, my brother is criticizing the idea of theistic evolution, or the idea that God used evolution as part of his creative process. And yes, theistic evolution is an idea that I am open to. And yes, my brother (like other atheists) wants to (indeed must) force the ideas to be antithetical rather than complimentary.

      You say that “after reading what [the Bible] says in these verses, one cannot have it both ways.” But I have to ask which verse in particular you are referring to, for I have already shown that the first two sections of the text that my brother tried to use as proof-texts do not make his case in the least. If you don’t mind, please do not just say “the rest of them.” Pick one reference that he used, and we’ll discuss that. Then maybe we can move on to the next.

      You also asked, “What about his hypothesis is wrong?” A fair question, and the answer is that his hypothesis incorrectly assumes that science and Christian “revelation” are at odds, and this is simply not the case. Again I ask that we consider two forms of “revelation.” One kind is found in the explicit biblical text, and the other is from the more general text of creation itself. Both were created by God and both tell us some very interesting and important things about him. Rightly understood, it simply makes no sense for God to contradict himself in these two forms of revelation. Therefore, if God IS the author of both, then all apparent incongruities are due to either our misperception (of either thread of revelation) or inherent limitations of human knowledge and perceptive abilities.

      Undoubtedly this is a faith position, so as to your last question concerning my objectivity, my answer is, “No, of course I am not being objective.” I AM biased towards faith in Christ, but the debate between atheists and Christians is never an issue of faith vs. no faith, but rather faith IN Jesus Christ vs. faith in some other philosophy, religion or non-Christian ideas ABOUT Jesus. Contrary to what atheists would have us believe, they are no more free from bias or faith than a Christian is. They just happen to have faith and biases in other ideas.

      For example, my faith is that God is indeed the author of both the material universe AND the biblical text (or at least the latter’s co-author). Given this presupposition, it allows for a far more flexible/ less rigid approach to these dual threads of revelation. Stated another way, these two arms of revelation allow Christians to hold ways for legitimate science to be reconciled (even harmonized) with the content of the various genres found within the Bible.

      Conversely, my brother has faith that there is no Christian God, but that even if there were, this “God” is not the author of the material universe, and therefore that universe can be used as evidence against the Christian God, and especially the biblical revelation. So which one of us is full of faith and biases? The answer is: “Both of us.”

      I am willing to admit my faith and biases. Is my brother in particular? Are atheists in general? I can’t speak either way for my brother on this issue, but my experience has been that most atheists go to great lengths to persuade others that they have no faith. They are deceiving themselves.

      -CL

  3. MM says:

    okay. I will address different parts a little later today/tonight.
    My immediate response, though, is that we need to remember that the “idea” of evolution is a definition created, if you will, by man, not God. For those who are willing to think that evolution could be a way God created the world, they should remember that it is only “an idea thought up by man” (one of the scientific explanations), and not what God has written in His Word.

    For someone like you, a Christian minister, to say that a constantly “changing” idea of creation (evolution) is the same as the “unchanging word of God” is confusing (for an atheist?) at the least.

    When I suggested that you might consider being more objective, I meant that “if you weren’t talking to this particular man (with whom you’ve had “baggage,”) could you read his words in a more positive light?” Truly, to me, in reading only the parts printed in red in your thesis, it sounds as if this man is someone who just wants to know how you can justify the conflicting ideas. The Scripture he presents seems to prove his point. Hmm?

    As per your request, I WILL give you the specific Scriptures to discuss later. My witness to others focuses on the PROOF I have seen in my life that God is truly who he says he is because of the miracles that have happened in my life. (I explain that I know these are from God because they are the direct result of my belief that Christ is TRULY the son of God and the way to a perfect eternity in Heaven and because I live in a way that tries to live as Jesus lived.)

    With my family members, the greatest challenge is getting them to go beyond their egos. They can’t seem to let go of the idea that what they achieve is because of the gift of a being greater than they.

    I appreciate you and the challenge to grow.
    MM

    • C_Lambeth says:

      MM,
      The term “evolution” is used as a definition created by humans that describe a process created by God. As humans have always done, they name what God creates. Think of Adam naming the animals in the Garden of Eden if you will. The fact that humans name entities and processes they observe in nature in no way undermines the validity of what they observe, even when those things and processes are not found within the Bible. I don’t think either one of us believes that the Bible was ever intended to be a comprehensive guide to the universe and everything. The Bible is true, and all truth is God’s truth, but all truth is not limited to what we find in the Bible.

      I apologize if I have been “confusing,” but I think it might be helpful for you to offer a more nuanced understanding what you have written regarding evolution: “a constantly “changing” idea of creation.” It seems that you are under the impression that the universe and its creatures are completely static and unchanging, but this is simply not the case. All the evidence we have suggests that living creatures as well as inanimate features of astronomy, geology, geography etc. undergo significant, and even drastic changes over long periods of time. Evolution is not an exercise in creative writing, but rather the result of detailed observations of the biosphere we inhabit. BUT, and perhaps this is the key to the question you raised, the “idea” behind these things is very static. Creation itself may change, but the principles driving those changes are static. This is not unlike our creator. God’s personality (principle) does not change in the least, but how he acts, reacts and moves forward in his relationship with humanity is anything but static.

      But back to my brother. You have it exactly right. He does not quote the Bible because he believes it, but rather because he believes he has found a reason to reject it, or as you so diplomatically phrased it, he wants to know if I can justify what appears to be conflicting ideas. The problem is that he never really sticks around long enough to wrestle with my answers. So it seems that he doesn’t really want to know, but to attack. Especially since he usually just changes the subject when he meets resistance.

      I appreciate your witnessing to the fact of God’s presence in your life. This is indeed a valid way to “know” something. It is “proof” for you, but it is doubtful that anyone else not already convinced of Christ like you are will find this type of proof fairly strained. Those who have the Spirit understand things from the Spirit, but for those who reject the Spirit, he and his things are foolishness to them.

      As you have said, human ego can and does get in the way. God cannot indwell a space that is already filled with other rubbish that we cling to. The first step in becoming a Jesus follower is realizing that we don’t have it all together or all figured out. Our ego has to die (or at least get in the back seat).

      -CL

      • MM says:

        We are saying the same things. Justifying ourselves is just going in circles.

        Thanks for your time. I envy your quickness to respond as well as your ability to put down your words in print. It not only takes me four times as long to write the best I can, physically as well as grammatically, but it also takes me that long to type it out. 🙂

        What I seem best to do is put down all the ways He has proven himself to me and to the reader (as well as helping young people know Him in a an enjoyable way!). I believe that what I have to say about how He has “brought me through” life will convince somebody that God and his promises are real. A stranger, progeny, a friend, a daughter-in-law, a son? Who knows, but God? I’ll just keep doing the best I can and let Him do the rest!

        There is one thing that I have to encourage you to reconsider.
        You said, “…for those who reject the Spirit, he and his things are foolishness to them.” I know that the H.S. has, through my witnessing, sparked something within my family members. That kind of knowledge as well as hope keeps me going until He takes me home. My Dad once asked, “You don’t really think we will someday just float up into the sky, do you?” My reply–“Daddy, God can do anything!” That seemed to be enough for him.

        I agree with you; take a vacation from trying to convince your brother of “the belief that is within you.” Pray, instead, that God will send someone, anyone who can convince him of the truth. It doesn’t really matter how he gets there, as long as he gets there!

        • C_Lambeth says:

          I don’t see that we are saying the same things at all. Maybe I am wrong and you can see that there is nothing unbiblical about evolution at all. If that’s what you mean then I apologize. But either way, I’m not trying to “justify” myself. I am trying to help you and my brother see that a scientific hypothesis grounded in observing God’s creation can be very helpful in our understanding of God. This is exciting stuff, and it’s not going in circles at all. It seems like you just want to dismiss what I am saying, but I hope that is not the case.

          Thanks for sharing about your father. My comment about “foolishness” is grounded in the biblical text (1Cor. 2:14), which is to say that (try as I might) to help my brother understand, his ability to do so is not ultimately up to me. I can only point him in the right direction. The softening of his heart is an issue between him and God/ the Holy Spirit.

  4. MM says:

    Ok, I’ll focus on just 2 verses for now. Emphases are mine.

    Matthew 24:31 (NIV)
    31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

    Matthew 25:34 (NIV)
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

    Your brother is saying that these 2 Scriptures are showing that GOD DECIDED FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME and has not changed his plans (concerning the world). His plans were thought out, planned from the beginning and, therefore, are not random like evolution (and YOU) asserts. I believe I am reading these thoughts of your brother’s in an objective way.

    So… I implore you to pretend that he is “an old school Christian” (or perhaps even read it as if you are a professor critiquing a statement written by a student) and re-read what he is saying, I think you might see that his comment sounds like he is defending God’s word when put up against the idea of evolution. He is asking a fair question as a man who is seeking answers from a brother who says he represents the word of God. He thinks you are saying two conflicting ideas. I realize that you have had many other conversations with him–probably heated ones. I suggest that you might find yourself too often being on the defensive. Perhaps even unfairly?? So I urge you to be careful about your possible prejudice against those who have not achieved the same level of education as you.

    Remember, “intellect alone” cannot save a person.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Thanks for your feedback on my brother. I freely admit that trying to get to his heart through his head is an unlikely prospect, but he is too emotionally…
      restricted for me to help him navigate the sublayers of his situation. If an intellectual path is the only one available, I will take it.

      Nevertheless, you’re going to have to trust me on this: My brother is not defending the Bible. He is not “seeking” in any sense of the word. He is not trying to figure out the Bible. He already knows everything (or at least thinks he does) and just likes to argue and poke fun at how dumb he believes Christians are. I appreciate your trying to hypothesize about what he meant by quoting some of these verses, but you have to understand that he did not read any of them. He merely did a Google search for verses that “disprove” evolution and listed the first 10-15 that he found. That he quoted 1 Samuel 16:7-12 clearly indicates that he didn’t even bother to educate himself on the argument he was trying to make.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Now, let’s talk about what you think Matthew 24:31 and 25:34 has to say about evolution.

      1) Matt. 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

      2) Matt. 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

      This is what you said about them:
      [They] are showing that GOD DECIDED FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME and has not changed his plans (concerning the world.) His plans were thought out, planned from the beginning and, therefore, are not random like evolution (and YOU) asserts.

      It seems you are reading WAY more into these verses than they actually say. First of all, you seem to have adopted a definition of “elect” from a man named John Calvin who lived 1500 years after Jesus’ resurrection. Later in life, Calvin also killed Christians who didn’t agree with him. Not exactly a model citizen.

      Secondly, these verses say nothing about God not changing his plans. In fact, there are parts of Scripture that plainly tell us that God changes his mind and allows for various options that are not set in stone. See Exodus 32:14, 2Kings 20:1-6, 1Samuel 23:12 and Jeremiah 26:3 for a few examples of God’s allowing for change and alternate future possibilities (rather than certainties).

      Thirdly, these Matthew verses point to the specific topic of salvation, not the creation of various life forms in general. They cannot and should not be used to assert that everything everywhere is meticulously planned by God but not the result of human will or random events.

      Finally, it seems that you believe God always gets his way, and that his plans are never thwarted. Am I understanding you correctly on that? And if I am, what is it in the Bible that led you to this conclusion?

      Regarding “the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” was it the kingdom that was prepared since the creation of the world or was it the specific people (who would inhabit the kingdom) that were created at the creation of the world? Everything about this suggests that it was the kingdom, not the people. This also raises the issue of “election.” Could it be that God’s “elect” are those who freely choose to participate in God’s plans even if that group itself is dynamic, and not set in stone? Could it be that God has statically declared long ago that he would save whosoever accepted him, but WHO is included in that group is very dynamic. It’s like a bus going to Albuquerque. That bus is going there no matter what, but who decides to ride it is at least partially up to whosoever accepts the open invitation.

      I’d like to write more, but I have to stop for now.
      -CL

      • MM says:

        Hmm. I never studied John Calvin.

        Don’t be on the defensive. It takes me a long time to write “just what I want to say.” It may have seemed that I put off answering you, but actually, I spent a morning and an afternoon tying to put down my thoughts about this. Even you said that you could write a lot more. You and I agree on the basics, I hope. Salvation, I mean.

        VERY SIMPLY put “evolution suggests that a single cell began to develop until a water creature was formed, then it crawled up out of water. In time it became man.” You are saying that’s a possibility. Well, a lot of things might be called a possibility (God and His son could have written a list of concepts and rolled dice to choose various ways he would create (after all, we HAVE SEEN man roll dice, so why not God?) But just because man can think up possibilities, it doesn’t men THAT THEY ARE the ways God created the world/us.

        I do not accept this. On that I insist to agree that we disagree. THAT is not what the Bible said about creation. If man wants to think of ways that he COULD have done it, that’s okay. But to say that their “guesses” are definitely what happened, they are way off. It’s kind of like trying to figure out times Jesus MIGHT come back and then announcing that that is WHEN he is returning.

        I can see, too, that your anger towards your brother’s attitude is getting in the way of your love for him. It’s okay to be angry; it’s just how you handle it that can be a problem. Can I suggest that it may be time that you forgive him for not believing that his brother is right? Or for his jeopardizing his eternity?
        MM

        • C_Lambeth says:

          Counter your assertion, I am not angry with my brother at all. However, if and when he dishes it out, I refuse to be a door mat. If he wants to be arrogant and ignorant, I will confront him on it. I’m not going to hem and haw. He seems to perceive gentleness as weakness and a target. Of course he doesn’t appreciate it when I confront him or stand up to his invalid criticisms either, but he is frustrated by it and (at least so far) it makes him want to try harder to tear me down. If I just deferred and demurred, it would only confirm his belief that Christianity is a fraud for the dumb and gullible. As it stands, his desire to destroy Christianity and my faith has totally failed. This is more valid than you or he may realize, so I hope that helps you understand why I fight fire with fire with him.

        • MM says:

          About you “standing up to your brother”…if you think showing him that you “refuse to be a door mat” is what Jesus wants you to focus on with your brother, then by all means continue in that mode.

          You mentioned the words “gentle” and “target” and his “desire to destroy Christianity and [your] faith.” Using today’s vernacular, I believe the Bible shows Jesus IS (most of the time) gentle and a target.” Do you remember when Jesus gently drew in the sand while He was being challenged? You might note that He answered without showing anger. (Yes, I know that Jesus did show anger occasionally, like in the temple.)

          –You ended with, “I hope that helps you understand why I fight fire with fire with my brother.“

          –You said, ”…I confront him or stand up to his invalid criticisms, but he is frustrated by it…”

          Think hard on this: is frustrating him the goal you want? What a stupid question; of course that’s not your goal. But, I ask you that question in order to shock you into seeing how satan MAY BE USING your PRIDE to defeat your true, love-filled purpose.

          You also said, “If I just deferred and demurred, it would only confirm his belief that Christianity is a fraud for the dumb and gullible.”

          As a man in your own right, I totally agree that you must stand up for yourself and show him that you are NOT weak. I’ve considered that he might, and most likely does, see his other Christian friends and family in the same way. I once read in a book by a psychiatrist that once the other person with whom you are “talking” makes you angry, that person is gaining control. Interesting?

          I still prefer the calm and gentle way (though I often lose THAT argument with myself). Your brother’s “destruction of Christianity and your faith” are not what is at stake. But his eternity IS.

          Do you believe, as a follower of Jesus, we are supposed to “be as much like him” as we can? As a Christian, the most important job we have is to represent our Lord in the best way our consciences will allow. If “fighting fire with fire” is the most important objective here, then I congratulate you. You’re doing a great job!

        • C_Lambeth says:

          MM,
          I appreciate your tone and insight. To answer your question about my purposes: No, my primary goal is not to frustrate my brother, but rather to frustrate his arguments. I think this distinction is important, but in reality it is probably meaningless, for it has proven to be impossible to frustrate his arguments without frustrating the man himself. If anything, this indicates how deeply he has invested his life in his faith commitments about Christianity and the Bible etc.

          In a similar vein, I have to consider that perhaps it is not the words themselves that annoy my brother so much as it is who they come from. He and I have tried to discuss other topics as well (like environmentalism and politics etc), but he invariably becomes incensed when I disagree with him on just about anything. I assume (perhaps incorrectly?) that he has conversations with other people wherein he is able to politely disagree with them. If that is the case, I am forced to consider that my older brother is just ill-prepared to accept criticism from his younger brother (one whom he considers to be his subordinate). There seems to be little I can do about this unless I roll over and agree with everything he has to say. That wouldn’t be healthy for anyone, however.

          So for my part to play, I am therefore caught between being passionate about my convictions and being passive & subdued in the face of my brother’s ill-conceived opinions about that which matters most. When all the chips are down, I am more committed to Jesus Christ than any other person or relationship, and yes, that includes my own brother. It’s not ideal, and I would prefer that my brother and I be unified in our faith in Christ, but clearly I cannot force my brother to do anything against his will. So on this front, I deeply appreciate how Jesus defines family in the New Testament:

          Mark 3:33-35 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (NRSV). See also Matthew 12:48-50.

          Finally, Yes, Jesus often advocates for a “turn the other cheek” approach to conflict, but he also never relents in his passion and teaching about his Father and the Kingdom of Heaven. When I read the New Testament, I see Jesus having almost infinite patience and tenderness for those people who are asking legitimate questions (and open to legitimate answers), or those who are open to change. However, I also see Jesus expressing righteous anger and poignant criticisms for those so-called authorities (religious and otherwise) who pretend that they have it all figured out and have nothing to learn or who ask “questions” only so that they might indoctrinate the unsuspecting and weak minded.

          The problem of course is that I am not Jesus, and I don’t have the same ability or discipline to act and speak as he did. In that sense, I must acknowledge that I do not always help the conflicted conversations with my brother. Jesus would do a far better job than I could ever do. Nevertheless, I cannot help speaking about what I have seen and heard (even if I do so with faltering lips and fallen human limitations).

          -CL

  5. C_Lambeth says:

    As for evolution, you seem to be getting hung up on this idea that it is some creative human invention totally removed from the real world, but this is not the case. You also keep returning to the idea of a literal 6-day creation, but even in the Bible itself, there is no reason to believe that we “know” this (6-“day”) event is a fact. The Bible was never intended to function as a science, history, philosophy or astronomy text. The creation narrative/poetry was not designed to offer a play by play unfolding of creation, but a big-picture story where God set things in motion. Once we understand that, we can see that it allows space for evolution rather easily. A careful reading of the text reveals that it says “The LAND” produced various life forms, and “the SEA” produced various creatures. This is consistent with evolution. Also, we know that the “creation” narrative cannot be taken too literally because the star we cal “Sol” (the sun) wasn’t created until “day” #4, yet without the sun, there is no way that the solar system we live in would have existed in the first place. This brings greater understanding to the creation passages, not less. Of course Christians can ignore everything or anything about science they want to, but there is simply no reason to do this (biblical or otherwise) except for the fact that fundamentalist/ literalist Christians have told them to do so. THIS is grounded in faulty human perceptions, not the Bible. Theistic evolution merely wants to follow the evidence (scientific and biblical) wherever it leads. Not only does evolution NOT pose a threat to Christianity or the Bible, but it allows for a more intellectually fulfilling appreciation of God’s design (creation). We need not see it as an “either/or” option, but a “both/and.”

    -CL

    • MM says:

      Corbin, you say: “As for evolution, you keep getting hung up on this idea that it is some creative human invention totally removed from the real world, but this is not the case. You also keep returning to the idea of a literal 6-day creation, but even in the Bible itself, there is no reason to believe that we “know” this (6-“day”) event is a fact.”

      Well, I have to correct you in your saying that I am saying “EVOLUTION is totally removed from the real world.”  No, no, I am TRYING to say that it is a POSSIBILITY–and I am saying that the definition of which is what MAN has written, come up with, defined or whatever words one might use) but GOD does NOT Say ANYWHERE IN HIS WORD that man or any other creature began as a cell in a “pond” 🙂 and changed and changed until it crawled up out of it and in time became man.  

      I am saying, COULD GOD have used that method??  Of course!!  God can do ANYTHING.  He just doesn’t spell it out that way in His word!  Could that have been the way God created the world??  You bet; it IS A POSSIBILITY.   BUT it is not written that way in the BIBLE!

      The Bible is the only thing that I ascribe to as being God’s explanation for how and why we are here.  (The single sentence definition that the Christian Church uses for itself as an institution, “somewhat tongue-in-cheek,” is, “God said it (in the Bible,) we believe it and that settles it!”  Now, don’t go off the deep end on THAT one.  The Christian Church values the intelligent person (who can hypothesize, dream up, think about…)  But when it comes to “what God says,” the Christian Church looks to the Bible.

      I don’t remember mentioning the “6 day” idea.
      Does the “6 days of creation idea” literally refer to a 24 hour day for each of the 6 days???  I personally think that ascribing humanity’s 24 hour day idea to “what God is saying” is rather stupid.  BUT that’s my analysis. (Don’t tell some of my Christian buddies I said that. Or maybe God means He did it in 6 seconds, 6 thousand years, or 6 million years, or…  I don’t care!!  He just gave a “time idea” about the FACT THAT HE DID IT!!  Woo-hoo!  The Bible says he created the world, man, woman; etc. The Bible says He did it, I believe it, and that settles it! He does not want you or me to waste time arguing about what “6 days” really means.

  6. Hey Corbin, if I may add a layer to your argument, could it be that we have narrowed the possibilities of God and the metaphysical? I agree that both special and general revelation are equally authoritative, and agree the earth must be very old indeed. But, the idea that evolution is a process of *only* random mutations and changes is narrow. Might some changes be an intentional tampering from God? (And if they were tampered with, might each of our five senses be lacking in the ability to see how it was tampered with?) Could it be possible (and I truly believe this is the case) that we are limited to only five sense, but that there are (many?) other sensory platforms that, if we had them we might be able to verifiably detect God’s direct intervention on pivotal changes at the micro-level and in DNA? In other words, God is behind all the changes that led to the formation of man’s physical body, we simply do not have the “equipment” (the proper senses) to detect his supernatural involvement. (This also opens up the possibility that miracles are “supernatural” in that we are unable to observe how they are done in accordance with laws of physics, but this is all speculation of course. That is we use the word “supernatural” to classify events that we cannot explain with our five senses. But if we had other senses …).

    This seems to make sense to me since most mutations result in handicaps and diseases, and are not what we would call “advances.” And it would also be consistent with the idea that God “completed” or finished creating man at a given point – namely to say that he is no longer in the process of making physical adjustments that would change our bodies over more time.

    Also, concerning the atheistic idea of random changes and survival of the fittest, if we were to accept this we would be affirming that some races are more advanced and superior to others, and this lends itself to justified persecution, if for no other reason than to continue along with nature’s consistent track of weeding out the weak. This idea leads to logical conclusions that cannot be upheld in a Christian worldview, because it undermines the intrinsic value all people have as image bearers of God, given to them through the hereditary of Adam.

    I believe the encyclical “Humani Generis” offers some clarity on this point in whole, but specifically where it states, “for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” despite how the human body was formed from pre-existent matter, (Para. 36) And, further: “the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents,” (Para. 37). In other words, despite how our material bodies came to be, our worldview must maintain that all humanity descended from one couple in order to preserve the doctrine of brotherhood that no one race is superior (intellectually, morally or physically) to the other.

    I am curious to hear your thoughts on this Corbin, as you have proven to be very thoughtful and sagacious in your reasoning. Since this is sort of buried in your blog, I do not mind if you elevate this discussion near the top.

  7. Pingback: Is God Male? | Exploring Faith

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