Did Darwin Kill God


I'm a huge admirer of Charles Darwin.

His theory of evolution is one of

the greatest contributions to science

perception of life on earth forever.

I believe religious alternatives

like creationism

and intelligent design are nonsense.

You may think that that would make

me an atheist, but I am a Christian.

I believe in God.

As a philosopher and theologian, I write

and lecture on Darwinism and Religion,

and I am disturbed how the debate

has been hijacked by extremists.

On one side stands Richard Dawkins,

crusader against the belief in God.

Not only is it unscientific,

it doesn't do justice

to the grandeur of the universe.

Dawkins is the flag bearer of a strand

of Darwinism called ultra-Darwinism,

which believes the theory

of evolution implies atheism.

There's no role

to play by a creative God,

an intelligent God,

a benign God of any sort.

And facing them

are the fundamentalist believers

who tell us evolution is wrong.

The Bible tells us...

the age of the earth. The universe

is only about 6000 years.

I believe that Christ was God incarnate

and that he was resurrected from the dead.

But I also believe creationists

are wrong to read Genesis literally.

The war has gone on long enough,

so I'm on a journey

to the heart of this conflict

to show that it is possible to believe

in both Darwin's theory and God.

I'll be discovering what traditional Christianity

really thought about the creation of life,

unravelling the true impact of

Darwin's theory in Victorian Britain,

and seeing whether modern Darwinism

does indeed destroy my Christian faith.

In November 1859, one upstanding

Victorian would publish a theory

that would challenge everything

we understood about the world.

He was Charles Darwin.

Science was about to launch its most

deadly weapon in its war against religion.

The arrival of Darwin's theory

of evolution is seen by many

as the death of divine creation,

and the birth of modern atheism.

Darwin's theory has been called

a universal acid.

It has eaten away through every traditional

understanding of the world, including belief in God.

It contradicted the Biblical view

that God created the world -

and plants and animals -

in just six days, 6000 years ago.

If this account was central to

Christianity, then it was in grave danger.

But to think this is to misunderstand

the very essence of my faith.

I've come to Israel,

the land of the Bible,

to uncover what the founders of Christianity

thought about the creation of life.

There is an assumption

that for thousands of years,

people thought that it was a factual account

of the actual creation of life on earth.

But to assume this is to make a huge

mistake about the meaning of the Bible.

And to see why,

we need to look closely

at what it actually tells us.

"Genesis, chapter one.

"In the beginning, God created

the heavens and the earth.

"God created the light and darkness

and the first day was formed. "

Genesis 1 continues to tell us

what God created on each day.

On the third day, the land produces vegetation

- trees and plants are made.

And on the sixth day, God makes all

the creatures, including humans -

who are made in his image.

But something confusing happens

when we get to chapter two.

We are told a different story.

We are told that Adam was made

before any plants appeared.

In chapter one,

man and woman are made together

after all the plants and animals.

In chapter two, they are made separately,

and Adam is made before any plant appears.

The two accounts

contradict each other.

I'm in Jerusalem

to see what early biblical scholars

made of this.

What I find will be a surprise

to many - even some Christians.

Ah, this is the man I'm looking for,

Philo of Alexandria,

a first-century Jewish philosopher.

Philo noticed that in the Bible there were

several passages which contradicted each other.

Rather than this being a problem, Philo saw

this as a clue to how the Bible should be read.

For Philo, there were

always two meanings - a literal one,

which told us what happened, and an allegorical

one, which communicated a deeper meaning.

For him, sometimes the allegorical

was more important than the literal.

If in scripture

we came across a contradiction,

that told us not to take it at face

value, to look for a deeper meaning.

That is what Philo did with

the first two chapters of Genesis.

For him, chapter one was an attempt to

make sense of the creation of the world.

It was about the meaning

of existence itself.

The message was

that creation was a gift -

God had created something

from nothing.

Chapter two had a different message.

It focused

on what it meant to be human.

The story of Adam and Eve eating fruit from

the Tree of Knowledge, of good and evil,

and being banished from the Garden of Eden

was describing the fallibility of human nature.

For Philo, the two accounts were

myths in the true sense of the term,

stories that reveal deeper truths

about these fundamental aspects of life.

'I've come to the Ecole Biblique

to meet Father Gregory Tatum,

'to see if these views were typical

of early Christians. '

The Church approaches

the Bible in recognising that

truth takes many forms -

by its nature, it's complex.

So it's not traditional to interpret

Genesis literally? It is not.

The Fathers of the Church would not

have asked, "Is the Bible true or false?"

That would not have occurred to them.

They'd have asked, "What is the truth that God wants

to communicate to us in this text or that text?"

So we need myth on occasion

to communicate complex truths?

Mythological speech

is often the only kind

we can use to talk

about important things in life.

So this approach to truth,

this approach to scriptures

is not a modern anomaly,

or invention, it's what the church

has always been about?

That's the position of the Church.

Reading Genesis as myth and metaphor

is not a modern trend.

This has always been the

mainstream view, this is orthodoxy.

And we see it clearly in one of the most influential

thinkers in all of Christian history, Saint Augustine.

Writing in the fifth century,

Saint Augustine wrote a text

helpfully entitled

The Literal Meaning Of Genesis.

For Augustine, the authors of Genesis were

trying to communicate unfathomable events.

How do you communicate the beginning

of existence or time itself?

This meant we had to use

different modes of communication.

Augustine even warns Christians

against treating Genesis,

or the Bible, as science or literal,

saying they'd be ridiculed

for talking nonsense.

If we take the Bible only literally,

we will have an impoverished

account, not a richer one,

and there will be no room

for theological reflection.

Saint Augustine has another and almost prescient

point to make about the creation of life.

He wrote that God is not temporal,

and it is only for us, being a part

of the process, that time exists.

He says that life involves a process of

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Conor Cunningham

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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