Series: Evolution Basics (50 entries)
Written by BioLogos Fellow of Biology Dennis Venema, this series of posts is intended as a basic introduction to the science of evolution for non-specialists.
In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains.
The new Gallup survey shows in broad strokes the challenge we face. But more nuanced surveys find that only 8% of Americans are convinced creationists whose beliefs are dear to them, and only 4% are convinced atheistic evolutionists whose beliefs are dear to them. The vast majority of Americans are not sure of their position and are open to a conversation.
This series discusses the importance of unity among Christ’s believers. Ross Hastings, an expert in the areas of both chemistry and pastoral theology, is eager to see the church seek out unity rather than divisions in this science/faith interface. Unpacking Ephesians 4:1-6, he explains that unity in Christ through the Holy Spirit is the primary concern of both Jesus as seen in John 17 and Paul in Ephesians 4, making this matter pressing. He urges all believers to be in agreement that God indeed created, yet to be in dialogue over how that creative process occurred.
Christian theology asserts that humans are spiritual creatures, a unity of body and spirit or “soul,” integrated, not reducible downwards to mere matter or upwards to mere spirit.
... I would exhort these, my fellow conservative evangelical shepherds and thinkers, to set aside all reticence and fear, emerge from anonymity, and storm the forum of discourse, engaging this most pressing matter with vigor, equanimity, and humility. In doing so, know upfront that there will be few handrails to guide; you will not be building upon an extensive precedence of published conservative thought.
I look my students dead straight in the eye and tell them that no matter what, debate within the intellectual sphere cannot and should not take away or diminish the importance of the personal nature of their faith. The intellect, to use a scientific phrase, while necessary for the faith, is not sufficient
The BioLogos Forum is pleased to present this infographic about the current anthropological understanding of human evolution, which takes into account research into both physiological and cultural developments among our ancient ancestors.
This BioLogos videocast addresses the age of recently discovered hominid fossils and how scientists are able to obtain those dates.
Our desire to engage in gracious dialogue with fellow believers who reject biological evolution has been receiving increased attention in both the Christian and secular press. More importantly, we are being joined in this reconciling project by our brothers and sisters in Christ who have often been defined primarily as our “opponents”.
In recent decades, scientists have discovered more about the beginnings of humanity. The fossil record shows a gradual transition over 5 million years ago from chimpanzee-size creatures to hominids with larger brains who walked on two legs. Later hominids used fire and stone tools and had brains as large as modern humans. Fossils of homo sapiens in east Africa date back nearly 200,000 years. Humans developed hearths for fire, stone points for spears and arrows, and cave paintings by 30,000 years ago. By 10,000 years ago, humans had spread throughout the globe. Genetic studies support the same picture. Humans share more DNA with chimpanzees than with any other animal, suggesting that humans and chimps share a relatively recent common ancestor. Also, the same defective genes appear in both humans and chimps, at the same locations in the genome—an observation difficult to explain except by common ancestry. Genetics also tells us that the human population today descended from more than two people. Evolution happens not to individuals but to populations, and the amount of genetic diversity in the gene pool today suggests that the human population was never smaller than several thousand individuals. Yet all humans, of all races, are descended from this group. Humanity is one family.
This series by Scot McKnight relates a lecture given at the 2012 BioLogos workshop for Evangelical theologians, scientists, authors and pastors. He explains that evolution is taught in public schools, and therefore must be addressed by Evangelical pastors in the churches as well. This will educate a whole generation of upcoming scientists on the issues of science and faith. Overall, he encourages scientists and pastors to collaborate on the issue as they rethink the long held interpretations of Genesis 1-3.
Original sin often refers simply to the current state of humanity, in that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Evolution does not raise questions about our current state of sinfulness. It does, however, raise questions about how and when the first sin occurred, and how this fallen state was transmitted to all people. The sciences of evolution and archaeology can provide some insight into these questions but are not equipped to answer them. These questions are theological, and over the centuries the church has considered many possible answers. Some of these options are consistent with the scientific evidence currently available.
Because evolution is a challenging subject, many Christians are tempted to simply ignore or reject it. Yet considering evolutionary creation has important benefits for Christians both in our relationship with the Creator, and with our relationships with other people—believers and non-Christians alike. First, Christians should study evolution because (like all the natural sciences) it is the study of God’s creation. Creation itself is a complementary revelation to what is communicated in the Scriptures, and through it God shows how and when he brought about life, to his honor and glory. Studying the creation is also an invitation into a deeper understanding of the attributes and character of Father, Son and Spirit. Second, considering evolutionary creation aids the Church in its gospel mission, supporting young Christians in their faith, helping answer critics, and equipping us to engage effectively in the wider culture. An anti-evolution attitude can harm Christian young people by presenting them with a false choice between pursuing science OR holding to faith. Similarly, a hostile attitude towards evolution can hinder evangelism when seekers hear that they must reject science to follow Christ. On the other hand, studying evolution as a God-ordained process helps Christians refute arguments that science encourages an atheistic worldview. Furthermore, as the church engages front-page issues raised by the rapid growth in science, medicine, and technology, a Christ-centered voice in such areas as bioethics will be stronger if based on a thorough understanding of the natural sciences, including evolution.
(Updated on September 9, 2012)
In this video, Pääbo covers a lot of ground, noting several lines of genetic evidence for the evolution of modern humans from earlier hominids in Africa, as well as for the interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals.
This blog series by Dennis Venema undertakes the task of clarifying numerous aspects of evolution that often become misconstrued by Christians. He first discusses the idea of speciation in a population over time, later applying it to the speciation process that occurred among hominids (human ancestors) which led to modern humans. He continues to support this idea by exploring so called “Mitochondrial Eve,”“Y Chromosome Adam” and other compositional clues of the human genome.
A five-year project headed by the Barna Group explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture.
If the tape was rewound and evolution started over from scratch, Conway Morris says, the evolutionary details would be different, but the end result would be similar: a species characterized by intelligence and complex civilization.
All science can say is that there was never a time when only two people existed on the earth: it is silent on whether or not God began a special relationship with a historical couple at some point in the past. This subtle but extremely important point was missed entirely in the NPR story.