Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thoughts on Evolution Part 1: Literal Genesis

As someone who spends a lot of time examining biological problems and has a PhD in chemistry, many people tend to be surprised when I profess unbelief in evolution. This position is not one that I have held for very long, and in fact for most of my life I was an ardent evolutionist and atheist. Even after becoming a Christian, I still believed that there was room in the Genesis account for the long ages required for evolution to work, and that God could work through evolutionary processes if he so wished.

However, the first seeds of doubt were actually planted during the latter part of my undergraduate and my masters when I spent a good portion of my days staring at the structure of a protein. Which protein is not important for our discussion (those who are curious can look up acetylcholinesterase), but what is important is that this protein catalyzes a reaction that requires the precise arrangement of amino acids in the protein with the chemicals undergoing the reaction. Only three amino acids are actually responsible for carrying out the reaction, but they are part of a long chain of 500 amino acids that fold around them and position them perfectly to carry out the reaction.

This type of precise arrangement is found in many different biological systems, even at the relatively simple level of viruses and bacteria, both of which are much more complicated than many give them credit for. As I encountered this and other examples of apparent design, I began to question my long held position of atheism. However, even after I accepted Christ as my Lord and savior, I still believed that it was possible that God had only started life, that the creation account in Genesis was not to be taken literally, and therefore something akin to directed evolution occurred under the direction of God.

What I didn't realize was that this view actually forced me to conclude that parts of scripture are not to be interpreted in context. All of the alternative methods of interpreting Genesis cause one to interpret it as something other than literal history. However, Jesus and all the OT and NT writers treat Genesis as literal history. If there were not a literal "first Adam" by whose fall sin entered the world, then what need is there for a "last Adam" to redeem us from sin?

A literal reading also precludes a process such as evolution via natural selection being responsible for life due to the requirement of death. How could God declare that creation was "very good" if it was the result of millions of years of death? Especially when death did not enter the world until the first sin of Adam and Eve? If one does not treat the creation account as literal, at what point does Genesis then become literal history, as it must for redemption to make any sense. And who is the arbiter in making that decision? Can any other parts of the Bible that we don't particularly like also be turned into nonsense? Essentially one must pit man over and against God's word.

At this point, many reading this are likely thinking, what about all of the various scientific evidences for an old earth and for evolution? We will examine these in the next two parts.

1 comment:

anne@fastzone said...

I like the way you think.