The standard fundamentalist view of Origins is that the universe was created by god in 6-24 hour days some 6000 to 10000 years ago exactly as depicted in the Biblical creation story. The standard explanation is that life is so complicated and shows so much design that it practically proves the existence of god. In addition, evolution is so chock full of holes that creationism is a much better explanation of our origins. Creationism and more recently, the Intelligent Design movement, tells this story to their devoted followers and, to the non-scientifically trained person, it all sounds reasonable especially if a few “scientific facts” can be thrown in for good measure.

The actual fact of the matter is the Universe is some 14 billion years old (Universe 101) and earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old (The Age of the Earth). While we may never know exactly how life started on this planet, there are several theories and we are surprisingly close to creating primitive reproducing life under conditions similar to the early earth. (The Protocell Project, Researchers Build Model Protocell Capable of Copying DNA, Abiogenesis, Abiogenesis FAQ) Once a replicating life form came into existence, the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection explains the rest. In all actuality, the Theory of Evolution is the best attested fact of all biology. It is confirmed by multiple lines of evidence including: geology, fossil evidence, DNA analysis, anatomy and developmental biology, paleography, plate tectonics, and even direct experimentation. To deny the Theory of Evolution is to close your eyes to an almost overwhelming amount of evidence.

“A denial of evolution – however motivated – is a denial of evidence, a retreat from reason into ignorance” Dr Tim D White (Paleontologist, University of California at Berkeley)

This is not to stay there aren’t controversies within the field and it isn’t to say that their aren’t disagreements as to the processes and methods – that, my friends, is science. Science isn’t theology. It is subjected to evidence and will change when new evidence forces a change. Even so, it is doubtful the the Theory of Evolution will be overturned although, almost certainly, the details of the process will undergo scientific change.

I don’t have the time or space to detail the evidence for the Theory of Evolution but I suggest you break out of the Christian mentality of reading “approved” books and read some real science on the subject. I can highly recommend:

Even a conservative, Republican appointed judge was able to see through the smoke-screen of the Intelligent Design movement in his Dover Trial ruling that you can read here: http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf (It is highly readable for a court document and it should be read by anyone interested in the subject.)

Does the Theory of Evolution make impossible the belief in god or destroy the Christian faith? The answer, for many, is no. The Catholic church, probably learning a bit from it’s previous run-ins with science, sees no conflict between evolution and faith. Dr. Ken Miller (a witness for the plaintiffs at the Dover Trial) and Dr. Francis Collins (appointee to head up NIH and previous head of the Human Genome Project) are both good examples of ardent defenders of evolution yet sincere Christians. Francis Collins is even an outspoken defender and apologist for Christianity. So one can easily claim to be a believer in both Christianity and Evolutionary Biology, but is such a joining rational from a theological or scientific view? I think not. I believe that those who would like to see a compatibility between evolution and Christianity fail to actually grasp the theological issues at stake. The big issues as I see are:

If there was no real Adam and Eve and no real Fall, then how did sin enter the world? This sin is supposedly grievous enough that it required a Savior/Redeemer.

If there was no event which caused a Fall, what is the point of a Savior/Redeemer? What was he to Redeem us from?

These are not trivial issues as they form the basis for conservative, evangelical theology and even Catholic theology. Mess with either and I think you have destroyed the foundation of the Christian faith, if by Christian faith you mean an Evangelical understanding of sin and salvation.

Let me explain.

The classical Christian understanding of sin is that Adam and Eve were created and put into the Garden of Eden, a paradise on earth, as a test of their obedience and love for god. They were told that they can eat of any fruit of any tree except the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Both Adam and Eve failed this test (Eve was tempted by the serpent and Adam was tempted by Eve). As a result, god cursed them and the world and threw them out of the Garden of Eden. With this curse sin entered the world. Adam was our “Federal” head in that he represented all mankind (how nice). In Adam, somehow, we have all sinned. Hence the concept of original sin was developed by theologians in all of it’s various flavors. Somehow, to appease god, sin required a sacrifice – a blood sacrifice. (As if a deity is so petty that he requires death to satisfy his wrath or sense of justice.) The details of this sacrificial system are are found in the pages of the Old Testament. The problem was, that the blood of sheep and goats, can’t really take away the sins of man as Hebrews 10:4 clearly states. What was needed was the ultimate sacrifice – a god man. This was Jesus Christ’s role. To be a blood sacrifice for our sins and thus purchase our redemption from sin. Now that man is covered by the blood of Christ, god can be approached and our sins forgiven. However, that “forgiveness” is not automatic. You must believe in Christ in order to be saved and avail yourself of god’s forgiveness and the eternal life in paradise that Christ’s redemption purchased.

Obviously with some 38-39,000 Christian denominations running around, the details differ. Some don’t believe in original sin, thinking that man is born neutral and makes a conscience decision to sin after which he falls under it’s curse. Some don’t believe in the “Federal” headship of Adam. Some believe that Christ died for ALL and so ALL will be saved. But, in general, there is some agreement among Evangelicals about sin, corruption and the need for the blood sacrifice of the god-man Jesus Christ.

So, if man evolved (and he did) and if there was no real Adam and Eve (there wasn’t) and no real Fall from a state of innocence and grace, what was the purpose of the brutal sacrifice of Jesus Christ? The theological problems are immense:

  • How did sin entered the world? Or did it?
  • When was man – a man? In other words, when did he get his soul? Was it an individual pair? A tribe? A community? Was it as a certain point in our evolution or our genetic code?
  • What was the purpose of Christ? If there was no Fall, what was he to redeem us from? Why a blood sacrifice? Was he just an example of selflessness?

What of the Biblical verses that speak of atonement, redemption, Christ’s sacrifice? Do we just ignore them? For example:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom 5:12)

The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification (Rom 5:16)

For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (Rom 5: 19)

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (I Cor 15:21-22)

…you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.(1 Pt 1:18-19)

Throw out this understanding of sin and salvation, even with it’s many permutations, and you have to re-interpret the Christian message or at least change is drastically from the standard Evangelical understanding. If you do this, are you then just making a Christ in your own image? You might call yourself Christian, but what does that then mean? Do you just become someone who is enamored with the person of Christ and some of the things he stood for? I know this is done by many people and the more theologically liberal denominations but I’ve never understood the attraction of this watered down Christ figure.

I maintain that without a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall, much of the mission and purpose of Christ as detailed in the New Testament, no longer makes sense. Of course, it can all be re-interpreted and modified and refined, but then that brings up other questions about the reliability of god, how he communicates with man and whether we really can believe anything that is written about him. If much of it is parable and allegory, then why the Christian message? Why this version of Christianity and not, for example Buddhism?

In this sense, I believe that a belief in evolution kills an evangelical understanding of Christianity. For me, the entire story of salvation no longer makes sense and throws doubt as to the existence or knowability of the god depicted in the Bible.

I’m not sure that anyone who did not come from a church that stressed the importance of the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy realizes the impact this doctrine has on many believers. About 63% of Americans believe the Bible is literally true with that number jumping to 77% among Republicans and 89% among those who classify themselves as evangelicals (World Net Daily). Even if these numbers seem inflated, there is little doubt that a whole lot of people that think the Bible is some kind of magical book that has no “relevant” errors in it. “Relevant” in that Inerrancy can be qualified in several ways. Two qualifications are very common. The first tries to get around the thorny issue of obvious errors in the Bible. The claim is made that Inerrancy only pertains to the original autographs of the Bible. It’s a clever ploy that can’t be tested since no original manuscripts of the Bible have ever been found. The other main way that Inerrancy is qualified is by stating that the Bible is Inerrant in all that pertains to faith and practice. Again, this is an attempt to get around the obvious errors in the Bible, while leaving up in the air what verses actually pertain to faith and practice. (If you doubt there are errors or as evangelicals like to day “difficulties” in the Bible take a look at Gleason Archers Handbook of Biblical Difficulties. It is written from an evangelical standpoint and attempts to explain the “difficulties” away.)

Why is this doctrine so important to the vast majority of evangelicals? Simply put, it gives the believer assurance and a black and white world. It assures the believer that the ideas and commands in the Bible aren’t man’s opinion but are the very words of god. After all, if Christians are to take their commands from scripture, they better know that those commands are truly from god and not something made up by men. For many, if there is even one error in the Bible, then how would they know there isn’t another and then another? How would they know that the errors didn’t encroach on the realm of faith and practice? After all, if there are errors in facts that can be checked, what makes someone think there are no errors in “spiritual” areas that, by definition, can’t be checked?

I used to believe and defend the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy. I believed that if scripture is the inspired word of god, it should be held to the highest standards of scholarship and investigation and it should pass those tests flawlessly. We shouldn’t have to make excuses. Instead I’ve found that the Bible is usually subjected to the least demanding of standards:

  • Don’t question since every problem has a solution, even if you can’t see it.
  • It just seems like a difficultly but really isn’t in god’s mind (free will vs. sovereignty comes to mind here).
  • History is wrong. The Bible will be proven correct. There is no historic evidence for the Exodus or the plagues of Egypt, but not to worry, the Bible is true and archeology will eventually find the proof.
  • Science is arrogant (as if religion isn’t). The Bible is true when it comes to our origins. Evolution is a myth. The evidence will eventually show it.
  • Don’t confuse errors made by scribes in copying manuscripts with “real” errors. You can’texpect perfection from man.
  • That isn’t a contradiction, you just aren’t understanding it correctly.

We aren’t talking about just a few errors here and their. In the New Testament alone, with some 5700 Greek manuscripts or parts of manuscripts found, as well as numerous ancient translations and quotes from church fathers, there are more discrepancies than there are words in the New Testament. Granted, most of these are minor spelling, word order or word missing errors, but others are not. As one scholar put it:

“If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of scripture, what would be the point if we don’t have the very words of scripture? .. It’s a bit hard to know what the words of the Bible mean if we don’t even know what the words are! This became a problem for my view of inspiration; for I came to realize that it would have been no more difficult for God to preserve the words of scripture than it would have been for him to inspire them in the first place. If he wanted his people to have his words, surely he would have given them to them… The fact that we don’t have the words surely must show, I reasoned, that he did not preserve them for us. And if he didn’t perform that miracle, there seemed to be no reason to think that he performed the earlier miracle of inspiring those words” (Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman)

I have to agree with Dr. Ehrman here. If every biblical manuscript we ever came across was identical to all other biblical manuscripts, wouldn’t that, in and of itself, point to a powerful god who valued and preserved his word for all mankind? Alas, we don’t have anything close to this.

If god wasn’t faithful in preserving the Bible from the smallest of errors how can we trust scripture when it in comes to the big things? Things like heaven and hell, life and death, belief and non-belief, and the ultimate question for some – What must I do to be saved? While the doctrine of Inerrancy may be a small thing to some people, and you certainly can be a Christian and believe in god without it, for me it was a huge deal. A deal breaker so to speak. If I can’t trust what is in the Bible, why should I believe in it or the god of which it speaks? Frankly, I can no longer do either.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that the god of the Bible not only condones but commands Genocide in both the Old and New Testaments. The Genocide Convention 1948 defines Genocide as:

Article II

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In addition, the following acts are punishable as Genocide:

Article III

The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d ) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide.

The Biblical god clearly has no problem with not only commanding Genocide for his followers but also actively partaking in the process:
  1. When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. (Deut 7:1,2)

  2. Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations nearby. Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,(Deut 20:15-17)

  3. He captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king. Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. (Jos 10:39-40)

  4. Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt.Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. (1 Sam 15:2-3)

  5. You can’t get much worst than the supposed world-wide flood recorded in Gen 6-8. All done by and for god.

  6. Then there is also the Exodus out of Eqypt (Exodus 11 & 12), where god hardens Pharoh’s heart so he could kill all the 1st born in the nation. Pharoh had no choice in the matter. God acted in such a way that the final plague was a given, not an option that could be avoided.
Now some of you may be thinking that this was the wrathful god of the Old Testament, surely Jesus is kind and loving and would never stand for Genocide of any type. However, even a cursory glance at the Book of Revelations will show you that unless you are of a particular religious belief that will give a jealous, petty and insecure god the love he demands (as if you can demand love from anyone), you are basically going to be exterminated, for “his glory”. That sounds like genocide to me, not to mention the whole concept of hell where most of mankind will burn for all eternity for the high crime of unbelief or wrong belief.

There is no way around Biblical Genocide unless you decide not to take the bible literally, but then you have a whole lot of other problems you have to deal with. However, what I find even more disturbing than a god who thinks genocide is a good idea, is the length that man will go to to defend this tyrant. If you remove the word god and replace it with the name of any human being responsible for the genocides of the past, any normal person would be appalled and any court of justice would find the defense, the defense of a madman.

Read what William Lane Craig, a well know Christian apologist, has to say on the subject:

I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements. According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are. For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses…If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.

I’ve already dealt with the subject of a King being above his law. How can anyone say we get our morality from a god who is “not subject to the same moral obligations” as man! Especially one who has no qualms about taking “innocent” life! He continues:

What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him.

So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them.

Wow. Sorry, I do have a problem with that!

Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

It’s a moral obligation to “put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” when god commands it! Are you mad? Hasn’t god or religion been used to justify many genocides of the past? Just do a quick Google search on “religious based justification for genocide” and see what happens. Even if this was a good justification, how would you know it was god speaking to you?

On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command….By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice…

Yeah, I’m sure that ever single person, including children, infants and animals were horribly wicked! But then god can do anything he wants even killing the innocent. Oh wait, Craig is going to talk about the innocent children:

But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part…Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

What! The “death of these children was actually there salvation“? If Craig really believed this deep down, the absolute best thing anyone could do would be to kill every infant before they can reject their “loving” savior, Jesus Christ. After all, an assured place in heaven for all eternity is much better than to potentially burn in hell for all eternity! I can’t believe this excuse was actually put in writing. It’s amazing what length people will go to to justify an immoral god. (see Reasonable Faith- Subject: Slaughter of the Canaanites for the complete article)

I”m sorry, but no rational person, in this day and age, would approve of Israel destroying every Arab, anymore than they would approve of Islam righteously destroying all the infidels in the world and any tyrant who justified his campaign of Genocide as a mission from god would be seen as mad. I am speaking as a human here, but I can’t worship or belief in such an evil deity.