Question 254:

Can Christians believe in human evolution?

 From what I understand God made the first humans, Adam and Eve, from clay, but there is a lot of evidence that really supports human evolution like fossil records and this chromosomes thing I added as a link to at the end of this email. I understand that the Bible is from God which means it should be perfectly accurate and can't have any wrong information. So having said that I should be able to conclude that either:

1. The verse saying Adam and Eve were made from clay is an analogy of some sort and is not to be taken literally. Or...

2. God put evidence here to confuse people who are trying to seek the truth. 

I've heard many atheist mention they don't believe in religion because of all the evidence supporting evolution, and after learning all about evolution myself I can't see why the would believe in religion. I might have the Adam and Eve story confused with the Quran's version or something, but if I don't, what kind of argument can I use when debating an atheist about this very important issue.



The Bible being the "Word of God", doesn't mean for Christians that it has been "dictated" by God, but inspired by him and written during centuries, by some people, with human words, for people living in other cultures, starting more or less 3000 years ago. It needs therefore to be interpreted if we want to understand its current meaning. Moreover, it is not a "scientific book". There are different "literary genres" as we say, that is: a text may be poetry, law, science, history, philosophy and many other things. The purpose of the Bible is not to explain how the world works, but where it comes from and where it goes. It doesn't explain "how heavens are going" but "how to go to heavens". It doesn't answer the question "how" but tries to answer the question "why". The story of Adam and Eve is not a historical text, but a story speaking about God's relationship with human beings. Adam, in Hebrew means "human being" and Eve, the "living one". And clay in Hebrew is "adama"… So, you see, the author plays with words to remind us who we are fundamentally: people who owe everything to a God who loves us and takes care of us…

Except of Fundamentalists of one kind or another, who want to read the Bible as if it were a scientific text (what almost half of American Christians do unfortunately!), Christianity accepts evolution and sees it perfectly compatible with its own image of God, a God who is Love and does not want to control everything but supports a free creation that becomes slowly what it is and is called to come back to its creator, freely.  (Written by Jean-Marc Balhan SJ)

Please, read on this website our answers to questions 196 and 197.

YOUCAT, the “Youth catechism of the Catholic church” defines both terms, ‘evolution’ and ‘creationism’: “Evolution” (Latin  evolution = unfolding, development): the growth of the final form of organisms over millions of years. Viewed from a Christian perspective, evolution takes place as God’s continuous creation in natural proceses.” “Creationism (from Latin cratio = making, producing): the idea that God himself by his direct action created the world all at once.” (p. 37, re qustion No. 42) YOUCAT question and answer 42 read:  „42: Can someone accept the theory of evolution and still believe in the Creator? Answer: Yes. Although it is a different kind of knowledge, faith is open to the findings and hypotheses of the sciences.  [Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche [=KKK], nos. 282-289].   2282-289]. Theology has no scientific competence, and natural science has no theological competence. Natural science cannot dogmatically rule out the possibility that there are purposeful processes in creation; conversely, faith cannot define specifically how these processes take place in the course of nature’s development. A Christian can accept the theory of evolution as a helpful explanatory model, provided he does not fall into the heresy of evolutionism, which views man as the random product of biological processes. Evolution presupposes the existence of something that can develop. The theory says nothing about where that “something” came from. Furthermore, questions about the being, essence, dignity, mission, meaning, and wherefore of the world and man cannot be answered in biological terms. Just as “evolutionism” oversteps a boundary on the one side, so does creationism on the other. Creationists naively take biblical data literally (for example, to calculate the earth’s age, they cite the six days of work in Genesis 1).   

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