Is Evolution in the Bible?

A few days ago we amused ourselves by pointing out numerous passages in scripture indicating that The Earth Is Flat. There were no passages suggesting any other shape.

But is that also true regarding special creation? Is there anything in scripture that could be considered compatible with the evolutionary view that all life on earth is related? Actually, there is — or so it seems to us. Your Curmudgeon is no theologian and we don’t pretend otherwise, so we’ll just give you the scripture and let you make up your own mind.

This comes from Ecclesiastes — King James version, of course — not far after the delightful part (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8) that begins:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

And ends:

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We won’t disappoint you. Here’s the song by the Byrds.

Okay, fine. But what about evolution? If you read a bit beyond that well-known section, specifically Ecclesiastes 3: 18-22, you will find this, to which we’ve added a bit of bold font for emphasis:

I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

What does it mean? We’re not certain, but it could mean simply this: Eat, drink, and by merry, for we are like the animals — we are animals. When we die we all go to the same place, and no one knows what happens afterwards.

So let the creationists cling to Genesis. We like Ecclesiastes. As the Good Book says, there’s “a time to keep, and a time to cast away.”

Update: See Is Evolution in the Bible? (Part 2).

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Is Evolution in the Bible?

  1. longshadow

    We won’t disappoint you. Here’s the song by the Byrds.

    Trivia question: what is the source of the signature jangly rhythm guitar in that song?

  2. Don’t forget the first chapter of the Gospel of John. The original Greek informs us that nothing came into being without the Word. That sounds like theistic evolution.

  3. One could also mention the description of creation in Genesis 1, for example “Let the earth bring forth the living creature …” which could be saying that natural processes were involved, perhaps something like spontaneous generation.

    But I would rather say that the concept of evolution, and the concept of species, their variations or their origins, would be anachronisms in Biblical times. The Bible cannot have anything to say for or against evolution because the authors and the audience wouldn’t have the words to express it or understand it.

  4. Greg,
    Absolutely. Though I think the Ecclesiastes author (and whatever Rabbi decided to include his book in the Canon) deserves credit for taking note–and, in a way, some comfort from the evidence of death, waste, etc that has always been observable to people from the beginning.

    I think this should be pointed out more. 🙂

  5. @Longshadow – it’s a Rickenbacker 12 string electric. Possibly given to Roger McGuinn by Francis Hall, who gave one to George Harrison in ’64, but I don’t know that.

    I heard McGuinn play in concert a couple of years ago, and toward the end he played Eight Miles High on his Rickenbacker – an absolutely stunning 7-8 minute solo arrangement, played by a virtuoso.

  6. Trivia question: what is the source of the signature jangly rhythm guitar in that song?

    I assume that it wasn’t Clarence White (maybe my favorite guitarist ever).