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On whether Christians believe in evolution

Summary

Alister McGrath considers the big picture of the Bible, Christian tradition, and evolution.

Summary

Alister McGrath considers the big picture of the Bible, Christian tradition, and evolution.

Transcript

I think some Christians are fearful about the whole idea of accepting some form of evolution because they feel that the whole biblical narrative or worldview might unravel before their eyes if they do this. I’m going to make it absolutely clear this simply isn’t the case.

One of the most interesting Christian writers is Augustine of Hippo, and in the year 401 – that’s more than 1,500 years before Darwin – he was saying, look, the obvious way of reading Genesis is that God initiates the world in an instant and then it begins to develop, to evolve, according to the way God wants it to. So in effect, what we see now is not the original created order but a development of that. It in effect is something that changes over time. And that’s a theme we find in Scripture itself – it talks about the earth bringing things forth. Now you can see immediately that opens up various ways of understanding things that are immensely conducive to the theory of evolution.

What I would say to everyone listening to this is that, look, there could be a tension between Christianity and evolution, but there doesn’t have to be. The Christian tradition is very open to this, the biblical narrative itself is open to this. It does not involve the pulling out of a rug from under something, it’s simply the reassessment of one element in the big picture which many earlier Christian writers saw in a very different way in any case.