I’m Convinced that the Evolutionary Paradigm of Human Origins is True. Now What?
If one becomes convinced that evolution is real – it happened – what then is one to do with the Bible? With traditional Christian beliefs and doctrines? With personal faith in Jesus that affirms his bodily resurrection from the dead?
If you are someone who finds the scientific evidence for evolution compelling, but wonders how an evolutionary perspective can accord with Christian faith (or, more specifically, with a faithful and intelligent reading of the Bible and a commitment to robust theological orthodoxy), there are some really great resources available out there.
At a recent talk on faith and science, I was asked a question about how one is to understand the Genesis account of Adam (Gen 1-3) in light of recent genomic evidence (e.g., population genetics), which is telling us that humans did not descend from a single, original pair and that the early human population consisted of something in the area of 10,000 people.
This data is threatening to some interpretations of Genesis, but not to all of them (even amongst conservative evangelical theologians and biblical scholars, there are many who don’t see a problem with this because they believe that Genesis was not written to address the kinds of questions raised by modern science). There are many scholars who hold to traditional Christian belief and the authority of Scripture who also find the evidence for evolution compelling.
Many people just have not been exposed to good resources by reputable scholars who are also devout Christians. So, I thought I’d post some resources here. This is just a quick and brief sample of the resources available, but if you read some of these, the footnotes and hyperlinks will open up even more resources to you.
This list not intended for those who are wrestling with the evidence for/against evolution (for Christians who want a good, balanced and fair resource to start with, I recommend Gerald Rau’s book Mapping the Origins Debate published by InterVarsity Press). On the other hand, I still recommend this reading if you are in the midst of searching and thinking through the issue, because our assumptions and pre-commitments about how Genesis ought to be read can impact (even bias) our approach to the scientific evidence (there are always philosophical, theological, and hermeneutical factors that frame and determine the way we move from observation of data to inference about the significance of the data).
This brief list is (mostly) for those who have already become convinced by the scientific evidence for evolution and who want to know how one then reads the Bible (esp. Genesis) and thinks theologically about the challenges evolution raises for certain traditional doctrines (e.g., universal sinfulness of humanity/original sin, the image of God, the nature of Salvation, miracles and divine providence, randomness and meaning/purpose, and so forth).
BioLogos website: probably the best place to start – lots of good blog series, resources, videos, and a great Q&A section.
The American Scientific Affiliation: an organization of Christians working in the sciences (usually in higher education). Their journal, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, posts its back-issues online and there is a search feature to search for articles according to the topic you are interested in. Click here to read an article I wrote for the journal about reflecting theologically (making theological sense of) evolution. And here is a gem of an essay on Genesis 1 written by Rikk Watts, of Regent College, for the ASA website (published in book format elsewhere).
Some Books I’ve Found Helpful
Here are some books which I have found helpful on Genesis, Adam & Eve, Biblical Interpretation, etc. that are relevant to the topic (there are lots, this is just a sample):
- Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
- Charles, J. Daryl, ed. Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. Peabody: Hendrikson, 2013. For my summary and review of this book, click here.
- Enns, Peter. The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2012.
- Franklin, Patrick S. Being Human, Being Church: The Significance of Theological Anthropology for Ecclesiology. Bletchley, Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2016. [In this book, in three chapters, I unpack three lenses through which I understand what it means to be human theologically (relational, rational, eschatological). Chapter 5 explores the biblical and theological resources for understanding human beings as eschatological (end/future-oriented) beings whom God created not only with a beginning (creation) but also a destiny (consummation/perfection) in mind. Consummation and perfection were not “plan B” which God put in place only after the “fall” in Genesis 3. Rather, God always intended an unfolding, developing creation (and for humans to be a part of this and even play an active role in it).]
- Greenwood, Kyle. Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible between the Ancient World and Modern Science. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015.
- Lamoureux, Denis. Evolutionary Creation A Christian Approach to Evolution. Havertown: The Lutterworth Press, 2014.
- Longman, Tremper. How to Read Genesis. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005.
- Rad, Gerhard von. Genesis: A Commentary. London: SCM, 1991.
- Venema, Dennis R., and Scot McKnight. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture After Genetic Science. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2017.
- Walton, John. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009.
- Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1-15. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.
- Westermann, Claus. Genesis 1-11: A Continental Commentary. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994.