Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Yet another blog on evolution. Why?

This blog is written from the perspective of a practising Christadelphian who not only accepts the overwhelming evidence for large-scale evolutionary change and common descent, but does not regard it as posing any problems for mainstream Christadephian theology. The reason for this is fairly simple. As classically formulated, the Reformed and Catholic versions of Original Sin imply universal human descent from Adam in order to inherit a post-fall change in human nature. As Chapter VI of the Westminster Confession of Faith notes:
  1. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. (Gen. 3:13, 2 Cor. 11:3) This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory. (Rom. 11:32)
  2. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, (Gen. 3:6–8, Eccl. 7:29, Rom. 3:23) and so became dead in sin, (Gen.2:17, Eph. 2:1) and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body. (Tit. 1:15, Jer. 17:9, Rom. 3:10–18)
  3. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; (Gen. 1:27–28, Gen. 2:16–17, Acts 17:26, Rom. 5:12, 15–19, 1 Cor. 15:21–22, 45, 49) and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. (Ps. 51:5, Gen. 5:3, Job 14:4, Job 15:14)
The doctrine hinges on monogenism, and if this was true, we would expect to see a sharp genetic bottleneck in the human genome. We do not. As the evangelical Christian and geneticist Dennis Venema points out:
Taken individually and collectively, population genomics studies strongly suggest that our lineage has not experienced an extreme population bottleneck in the last nine million years or more (and thus not in any hominid, nor even an australopithecine species), and that any bottlenecks our lineage did experience were a reduction only to a population of several thousand breeding individuals. As such, the hypothesis that humans are genetically derived from a single ancestral pair in the recent past has no support from a genomics perspective, and, indeed, is counter to a large body of evidence. [1]
Christadelphians however have argued as early as 1869 that human nature did not change after Adam's transgression. As the founding editor of The Christadelphian Robert Roberts noted:
Adam, before transgression, though a living soul (or natural body—1 Cor. 15:44–5), was not necessarily destined to die, as obedience would have ended in life immortal. After transgression, his relation to destiny was changed. Death (by sentence,) was constituted the inevitable upshot of his career. He was, therefore, in a new condition as regarded the future, though not in a new condition as regarded the actual state of his nature. In actual nature, he was a corruptible groundling before sentence, and a corruptible groundling after sentence; but there was this difference: before sentence, ultimate immortality was possible; after sentence, death was a certainty. This change in the destiny lying before him, was the result of sin.  (Emphasis mine) [2]

If human nature did not change after Adam's sin, then there was no change to inherit, and our theological position therefore fundamentally is invariant of any evolutionary origin of the human race. There are, needless to say, more issues to consider when trying to understand theology in the light of evolution. If this were not the case, then this would suffice as a reconciliation of Christianity and evolution!

This blog also serves as a more accessible location for the notes on my Facebook page Evolutionary Creationism: A Christadelphian Perspective. While Facebook may be where most people are at the moment, it is hardly the best place for information-dense subjects such as this. In addition, there will be scope to expand the scope of the - dare I say franchise? - to cover more apologetics-related material.

While I am realistic enough to expect that a niche subject such as this is hardly going to attract an avalanche of interest, there are some ground rules:
  • No profanity, spamming or blog touting in the comments
  • Comments are moderated
  • Any comment which is simply a link to AiG, CMI, ICR or any other special creationist site will be deleted on site. Make your arguments from the mainstream literature. Repeated attempts to post such material will be met with the ban hammer. Creation evangelism is arguably one of the worst ways to preach the gospel, and I have zero tolerance for their material.

1. Venema D "Genesis and the Genome: Genomics Evidence for Human-Ape Common Ancestry and Ancestral Hominid Population Sizes" Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (2010) 62:166-178
2. Roberts R "Apparent Contradictions Reconciled" The Christadelphian (1869) 6:243-244