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Can a Christian Believe in "Evolution"?

Many Christians tend to dismiss the idea of significant biological change over time (also known as evolution). Yet interestingly, significant biological change does occur, and sometimes very rapidly.

Consider the two dog skulls below. The smallest belongs to a Chihuahua, and the largest to a Great Dane. Both dogs belong in the same species yet notice the variation in their skulls.


The most obvious difference is in the size of the skulls. The Chihuahua’s head is tiny in comparison to that of the Great Dane (I love the photo of the Chihuahua’s skull nestled into the underside of the Great Dane’s jugal bone). Other major differences are readily apparent. The muzzle in the Great Dane is far longer, while in the Chihuahua it's barely noticeable. Perhaps one of the most important contrasts is found in the cranial bones. Notice the external sagittal crest of the Great Dane compared to that of the Chihuahua. The crest is completely absent in the Chihuahua (which actually has a hole in its head!).

These changes become even more dramatic when we consider the rate at which most dog breeds diversified—over a period of about 300 – 1000 years. It is true, this isn’t natural selection, it is breeding, but when we conceive of such dramatic change in such a short period of time, the possibilities are intriguing.

Scientists have taken account of the astonishing rate of dog evolution. Secular researchers Drake and Klingenburg (2010) concluded that shape variation for the skulls of domestic dogs and Carnivora (all cats, bears, and, hyenas) is comparable! Yet Carnivora, as a group, supposedly evolved over a period of 42 million years!

Christians should be excited about this kind of rapid change within organisms! Many creationists now believe that most of the mammal families we have with us today “evolved” from very different looking ancestors that disembarked the ark just a few thousands of years ago.

When creationists denigrate “evolution,” they are maligning the amazing genetic diversity that God Himself ordained from the very beginning. And no, I’m not condoning that man evolved from apes. That kind of accusation is often a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived attack on the Bible. The Bible says nothing about “evolution” in its simplest form, “change over time.” It does provide criteria that limit evolutionary change (e.g., ape to man), but it is most definitely not “anti-evolution.”

So, let’s embrace evolution, being careful to keep within the bounds of Scripture, but not so careful that we deny observational science.

Drake, A.G, and Klingenburg, C.P, 2010, Large-Scale Diversification of Skull Shape in Domestic Dogs: Disparity and Modularity, vol. 175, no. 3, The American Naturalist.

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