I can see evidence of this in my own family. Faith is abundant on my father’s side of the family but not so much on my mother’s side.
I’ve noticed, while reading the Old Testament, that God had a way of genetically selecting faithful men for the tribe of Israel. He started by choosing Noah and his family, the only people He deemed worthy to save in a world full of wicked people. God weeded out the bad seeds with a flood, and let the good ones propagate. Then He chose Noah’s son Shem, over his brothers, to be the head of the Semitic people.
Shem Ham and Japheth by James Tissot 1904.
Later on, God chose Shem’s descendant Abraham to be the father of Israel (through Isaac, but not through his half-brother Ishmael). Isaac’s son Jacob fathers the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, but Jacob’s twin brother Esau (truly the eldest) gets sidelined because he didn’t value his birthright. He therefore didn’t get to contribute to the gene pool of Israel the way his fraternal twin did. Interesting, huh?
So if we apply genetics to theology (which is probably a bad idea–but that isn’t going to stop me from doing it), maybe genes are the way that God predestines us to be Christians. Maybe He knew that some of us would be more likely to turn to Him than others because of heritage and He explained that to the apostles through the concept of predestination. Or maybe I’m off my nut.
I came across the Biologos Foundation while researching the compatibility of faith and science. These people are on my wavelength. They are, in their own words, “a community of evangelical Christians committed to exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith, guided by the truth that “all things hold together in Christ.” [Colossians 1:17].” Yay. Also, they like birds. Did you see the one in their logo?
Here are a few more things they believe in:
What We Believe
We believe that God typically sustains the world using faithful, consistent processes that humans describe as “natural laws.” Yet we also affirm that God works outside of natural law in supernatural events, including the miracles described in Scripture. In both natural and supernatural ways, God continues to be directly involved in creation and in human history.
We believe that the methods of science are an important and reliable means to investigate and describe the world God has made. In this, we stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom Christian faith and science are mutually hospitable.
We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to sustain the existence and functioning of the natural world, and the cosmos continues to declare the glory of God.
We believe that the diversity and interrelation of all life on earth are best explained by the God-ordained process of evolution with common descent. Thus, evolution is not in opposition to God, but a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes. Therefore, we reject ideologies that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God.
We believe that God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth, but also as spiritual beings. God established a unique relationship with humanity by endowing us with his image and calling us to an elevated position within the created order.
“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” —Albert Einstein
I love it because A) it’s funny, and B) it perfectly elucidates my view on why Christianity and evolution can and should be compatible. The Nat Geo story details how many scientists believe in God and how they understand that God could have driven evolution in His process of creating us.
Here’s another quote from the story:
“Scientists may be just as likely to believe in God as other people, according to surveys. Some of history’s greatest scientific minds, including Albert Einstein, were convinced there is intelligent life behind the universe. Today many scientists say there is no conflict between their faith and their work.”
FRANCISCO AYALA Image: Courtesy the University of California, Irvine
I came across this story on the Scientific American website about a geneticist who was also ordained as a priest. He wants to reconcile the theory of evolution with Christianity because, as a biology teacher, he sees too many Christian kids losing their faith over this issue. The story notes:
“Often students in Ayala’s introductory biology class tell him that they will answer test questions as he wishes, but in truth they reject evolution because of their Christian beliefs. Then, a couple of years later, when they have learned more science, they decide to abandon their religion. The two, students seem to think, are incompatible.”
I think it’s time we reconciled the two belief systems. It’s possible if we understand all the gaps in evolution and see them as God’s guiding hand. It’s possible if we can get past the religious fervor of ardent evolutionists who push their agenda in order to prove their atheism. Evolution neither proves nor disproves God. But our existence on this planet could not have happened without many “coincidences.” I see those coincidences as miracles that led to our creation through evolutionary tools. If Andy Griffith were around, he’d make science and religion shake hands and be friends.