".... variations do have physical causes,they just don't have pre-ordained purposes. For instances, a drought might increase the rate of variation in a species, he thought, without necessarily invoking any particular variations that improves a creature's tolerance for drought. Or the drought might yield one variation that improves drought-tolerance plus five others that are useless or harmful. If so natural selection would tend to preserve and multiply that one. Selection is directional. Variation, offering raw material to the selection process, is not directional. But if variations are undirected, and if natural selection calibrates only the fitness of each creature to survive and reproduce, then is it possible to believe that God created humans in his image and likeness endowing us with a spiritual dimension not shared by the best adapted orchid or barnacle. Arguably not. There's a genuine contradiction here that can't easily be brushed away, but let's be clear. This is not evolution vs God. The existence of God, any sort of God, personal or abstract, imminent or distant, is not what Darwin's evolutionary theory challenges. What it challenges is the supposed Godliness of man, the conviction that we above all other life forms are spiritually elevated, divinely favored, possessed of an immaterial and immortal essence such that we have special prospects for eternity, special status in the expectations of God, special rights and responsibilities on earth.That's where Darwin runs afoul of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and probably most other religions on the planet."
Most Christians subscribe to the idea that humans are a spiritually superior life form, endowed, as Quammen puts it, with an "immaterial and immortal essence," or soul, and with a special future in eternity. Many Christians also discard, without much consideration, Darwin's theory of evolution. I believe that Darwin's theory of evolution is probably correct. The evolution theory seems solid and durable. It's been challenged continuously, and still endures. It also explains much that Genesis does not address or even try to explain.
I don't believe the creation took place in six twenty-four hour days sometime in the range of six to ten thousand years ago. Humans are the ones who like instant results. We have instant oatmeal, instant rice, and instant-on television sets. We want instant relief from any kind of discomfort. So it's perhaps understandable that we would also want an instant creation. However the desire for instant gratification is a human, not a divine, characteristic. Why would God be in a rush? Why would God, who most Christians believe has always existed and never changes, suddenly be unable to go on for even another week without a "creation?" It doesn't make sense. It's not the way God works.
As Miller points out in his book, which is subtitled, "A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution," if those who reject evolution for a relatively recent "instant" creation are correct, then the dinosaur bones accurately dated to millions of years ago, and representing creatures who no longer exist, were just placed in the earth by God to deceive people. That means God is a trickster or a deceiver who tries to fool people. I don't buy that.
The Biblical evidence for evolution is strong. Strongest of all is perhaps the knowledge that the theory of evolution is similar to the way God works as recorded in the Bible. Let me explain. Christians believe that our God is a personal God who has tried repeatedly over thousands of years to develop a relationship with humans. His early efforts included selecting a special people or nation. Later he used prophets to try to accomplish the same goal of developing a relationship with humans. In the New Testament he sent his son to demonstrate a new way of living and relating to God and other humans. We know from Philippians 2:12 ("...work out your salvation with fear and trembling..."), and 2 Corinthians 2:15 (...among those who are being saved..."), that salvation is a process. We know from Matthew 18:22 ("...seventy times seven...") that forgiveness is also a process. We witness in our own physical lives a process of growth extending from birth to death, and observe the same process at varying rates in all of life on this earth. Many of us can attest to a similar on-going process in our spiritual lives. We know that the relationships we have with other humans from our most intimate companions to casual acquaintances also go through a process of growth, or sometimes a process in the opposite direction, that is a growing apart. So why wouldn't creation also be a process.... as contrasted to something that God tried once thousands of years ago and then gave up on, as if it was a bad idea, which is really what the creationists and "intelligent designers" are saying, isn't it?
So what do we do with the idea expressed in the quote from Quammen's book. Quammen points out that the status of God is not threatened by Darwin's theory of evolution, only the status of humans. Is it possible that it's not our religious beliefs getting in the way of accepting Darwin's theory of evolution, but only our egos? Do we believe that we're simply too good to be genetically related to other species? The biological relationship is undeniable. Most, if not all, other animal species are "alive" in ways very similar to humans, ie beating hearts, moving limbs, etc. There are similarities in the DNA of humans and many other species. Moving backwards into prehistoric times we observe that the fossil records seem to indicate a merging of species.
6. This reason steps a little further from the focus of this article, but it concerns me that so much emphasis is placed by Christians on embracing one particular interpretation of an Old Testament (OT) story. That which identifies a person as a Christian centers around beliefs about the nature of God, the coming of Jesus, and his Crucifixion and resurrection, not on any interpretation of an OT story. There are no Christians in the Old Testament. The OT predates the origins of Christianity so it's not possible for Christians to legitimately use a particular interpretation of an OT story as an identifying characteristic of Christianity. Yet many Christians believe that one has to reject the theory of evolution in order to be a Christian. Those who do that are adding stipulations to Biblical teaching that don't exist and do not belong there.
Here's another quote from Miller: "As more than one scientist has said, the truly remarkable thing about the world is that it actually does make sense. The parts fit, the molecules interact, the darn thing works. To people of faith, what evolution says is that nature is complete. God fashioned a material world in which truly free, truly independent beings could evolve. He got it right the first time" (Page 268).
"In obvious ways the various objections to evolution take a narrow view of the capabilities of life - but they take an even narrower view of the capabilities of the Creator. They hobble his genius by demanding that the material of His creation ought not to be capable of generating complexity. They demean the breadth of His vision by ridiculing the notion that the materials of His world could not have evolved into beings with intelligence and self-awareness. And they compel Him to descent from heaven onto the factory floor by conscripting His labor into the design of each organism that graces the surface of our living planet" (Page 268).
Later on page 268 Miller asks the important question; if the Creator uses physics and chemistry to run the mechanisms of life on this earth, why couldn't He have used the same processes to create life also? Is that beyond the ability of an all knowing and all powerful God? The kind of reasoning that finds God absent in the theory of evolution is the same kind of atheistic reasoning that does not recognize God at work in a world in which wars rage, children starve, and humans wreak havoc on each other. God has given us the gifts of knowledge and faith. It takes both for us to be truly appreciative of the greatness of our Creator. As Miller writes on Page 267: "Understanding evolution and its description of the processes that gave rise to the modern world is an important part of knowing and appreciating God... True knowledge comes only from a combination of faith and reason."