Dismissing Evolution (Magical Thinking, Part 2)

When I was younger I dismissed evolution because (I thought) it describes a world that isn’t magical. A world governed only by its own repetitive cause and effect that seemed lifeless, cold, and machine-like.

Many contemporary Christians ascribe the workings of evolution to God, in an attempt to recover at least some of the magic. All of the physics, all of the replication, RNA, DNA, coding and recoding, is in their quasi-magical view, somehow contained within God, powered by God, or in some vague sense “allowed” by God.

I have always been unsatisfied with that approach, because if the Bible tells us everything we need to know about who we are (as it claims to do), then why would we need to understand evolution? According to the Bible, all we need is trust, faith, and reliance on God. The narrative (even for those Christians who regard Genesis as non-literal) is that God made us, but then we became sinful, and Jesus died to redeem us. Now our job is to rely on Jesus while we fulfill our calling to be his witnesses.

Take the Fruit

Take the Fruit

Evolution calls that framework into question, because if there is no Adam and no fall, there is no such thing as original sin. There is just nature and our adaptation to it. Our behavior is sometimes good, sometimes evil, and we have the ability to be one or the other. If Jesus saves, from what does he save? If Genesis is only metaphor, then so is the garden of Eden and paradise.

If we decide on the factuality of evolution, then we have to admit we are leaving the Bible behind. The Bible knows nothing of the scientific view of cause and effect, nothing of the origin of species, nothing of Darwin’s meticulous recording of animal life around the world that led to the discovery.

There is magic in evolution; it is the imaginative learning that comes from observation of the world. It is an imaginative perspective based on research and evidence, rather than on religious declarations. But the Bible’s imagination is a superstitious kind of magic. It begins in the imagination of stories, but ends in a rather un-imaginative dogma about Jesus. Let’s be honest about that.

Related Post: Magical Thinking, Part 1

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