Re: Social problems and evolution

Charles Cairns (
Sat, 7 Mar 1998 12:33:49 -0500

Hi Glenn,

You and I wrote re image of God and sin:

>>An analogy might offer one possible interpretation: Children are not
>>accountable for childish behavior; however, adults are. I view human
>>evolution in the same way, and think of God as a watchful but distant
>>parent, waiting for man to mature to a point where he can be responsible
>>his behavior and God can formally introduce himself...

>Then let me ask you why God didn't simply inspire an account which clearly
>outlined this as you just did? Are you more verbally fluent than God? Is
>God unable to know what happened? This is my problem with your suggestion.
>God is GOD and should know what happened and SHOULD have the power to
>communicate a true story to us mere mortals.

Surely, Glenn, this question could be asked of any but the most literal
interpretations of Genesis. If this is a weakness with my own
interpretation, is it not also one with yours?

But to answer your question, why didn't God simply just tell us,
well---okay, here goes---the bible, IMHO, is a book by men, for men, about
God. Real flesh-and-blood men met him and recorded their experiences, first
orally, I believe, and then in print. The question "why God didn't simply
inspire an account which clearly outlined this" misses the point. The
question should be, "why didn't the writers of the bible clearly outline
this?" The answer is they didn't know any more about origins than they did
about vacuum cleaners or can openers. They did the best they could with the
understanding they had.

A reasonable response to this is, if the bible wasn't inspired, why bother
reading it in the first place?

Inspiration is not lost; the different traditions that contributed to the
bible began somewhere and with someone; I see no difficulty with those
"someones" being inspired. Indeed, the similarities of parallel passages in
the Pentateuch would indicate that the events they recorded were so
immensely important that two or three or more communities independently
passed them on for hundreds of years before they were assembled and redacted
into an anthology or sorts--the OT.

>>We have a number of customs that share some kinship with this idea...

>Coming of age ceremonies are human not divine. So why didn't God, with all
>His power simply say, Adam and Eve were the first pair who were mature
>enough to become accountable? Surely God is not tongue tied.

No, coming of age ceremonies are not divine, but neither were those who
wrote the bible. I believe that we think a great deal more like God than we
think we do, and that those wonderful little things that all cultures share
in common -- like celebrating the coming of age -- are a reflection of the
divine nature. CS Lewis developed an argument for the existence of God in a
series of BBC radio talks later compiled into "The Case for Christianity"
(it's also included in "Mere Christianity") in which he cites cultural
universals as evidence for a common source for man's moral nature. I'm
expanding his argument a little to include other cultural phenomena beyond
concepts of right and wrong, but the principle is the same.

None of this invalidates your work at reconciliation, Glenn, it simply
couches it in different terms. Though I don't believe there was a real Adam
and a real Garden of Eden, I do believe that somewhere along the line of
human evolution, God said "they're ready," and introduced himself. Was that
man or woman a stillborn progenitor of our race? Very possible. However,
that first contact was, I believe, so far removed from the writer's
experience that what we find in Genesis is more likely a fanciful record
based on what men at the time thought was probably the most reasonable