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Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Incarnation within an Evolutionary Process

The incarnation is an audacious claim. That God would become a man was considered either blasphemous or ludicrous in the 1st century. Not much has changed in that regard although it probably leans more to ludicrous than blasphemous today.

At Christmas time Christians talk a lot about “God coming as a baby” and accepting the vulnerability of an infant. But as Martin Labar points out, Christ did not come as a baby, he came as an embryo. At one point, the Creator of the universe (or the multiverse if it exists) limited himself to a single cell. How can we possibly talk about a single cell even being self-aware let alone omniscient? How does the unlimited author of life limit himself to a single building block of life? Given that Christians still have difficulty articulating this mystery after 2000 years, I’m not even going to make an attempt here.

So if we can accept that God at one point became part of the process of embryo development, one that began with a single cell, why do we have so much difficulty in accepting that God could also become part of the process of evolutionary development, one that traces its ancestry through primates, reptiles, fish, and yes, even single celled organisms. Gordon has a humorous little post that addresses just his point. In Evolution and Incarnation he states:

It should be known, and so it is my duty to tell you, that there are scientists who believe every person alive today can be traced back to a single-celled organism. And that all of us are actually the result of nature acting on this cell over time. And this first cell is believed to have gone through an explosive multi-cellular stage before taking on fish-like characteristics. Some have said that as time passed, the fish-like characteristics gave way to reptile-like characteristics. And after more time had passed, the reptile-like characteristics gave way to mammal-like characteristics. And these same folks also believe that we once had tails, and that we had smaller brains, and that we were naked and lacked the ability to effectively communicate. And to make things worse, this purely naturalistic view of humanity seems to leave no room for God to work wonderful creation miracles, or for Him to personally fashion mankind by His own hands. This so called, “scientific” view - even though science itself can’t fully explain it - simply asserts that we were fashioned by the impersonal laws of nature acting on the biological material of lower species. In short, we are a product of nature.
But Gordon is not referring to evolution; he is referring to the nine-month creation process we all experienced prior to our official birthday. The Psalmist describes this same process from a different perspective:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

(Psalm 139: 13-16)

Merry Christmas.

End of Year Note:

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers, particularly those that have provided feedback through comments and emails. It has been an enjoyable and stimulating experience, and I appreciate the dialogue.

I will be taking a few weeks break from blogging. A “Subscribe via email” link has been added to the right column on the blog. This will allow you to receive any new posts by email the day they are published. This also means that I can see your email address, (and so does feedburner.com which is now owned by Google) so if this concerns you, don’t subscribe. Personally, I prefer an RSS or newsreader - I now use Google Reader to follow blogs that interest me.

3 comments:

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you!

(It's LaBar, by the way)

For RSS feeds, I'm a Bloglines man, myself.

Steve Martin said...

Oops. Sorry Martin. You would think that a guy from Canada could figure out his Le's and his La's. Fixed.

paul m martin said...

I agree - I've never understood the "conflict" between evolution and religion. Tiellhard de Chardin - I've botched the spelling except the last name - did a whole evolutionary theology.

Hmm... I just noticed the name thing going on here...

"Steve Martin?" The comic?? Martins all around? My name really is Paul Martin...

Sadly, I was never Prime Minsister of Canada.