Is Evolution in the Bible? (Part 2)

A couple of months ago we wrote Is Evolution in the Bible? — to which today’s post is a supplement. Back then we pointed out a portion of Ecclesiastes that appears to support the theory of evolution — at least it’s quite inconsistent with special creation.

This is noteworthy because, although the creationists’ doctrine of special creation is arguably contradicted in scripture, there is nothing in scripture to contradict the teaching that the earth is flat, stationary, and rests on pillars while the sun, moon, and stars revolve around it. See The Earth Is Flat, and also The Earth Does Not Move.

Today we have another scripture passage that can be considered to support the theory of evolution — even more than what we found in Ecclesiastes. We learned about this from an article at the National Review‘s website: Charles Darwin and the Parable of the Sower.

The author is Michael Potemra, and he’s talking about the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). He says, with bold font added by us:

… I found myself meditating on this sower, who represents God — and yet doesn’t seem to be very careful in what he is doing. “Some seed fell by the way side . . . some fell upon stony places . . . some fell among thorns. . . .” … And then it occurred to me: Perhaps the Jesus who initially preached this parable was aware, as the rest of mankind became some 18 centuries later, of the process of evolution — in which what appear to us to be various dead ends and randomnesses are quite common?

That’s an interesting thought. For your contemplation, here’s a small part of that parable, from Matthew 13: 3-9, King James version, of course:

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

That could be used to introduce a lecture about natural selection. The parable goes on at length, including an explanation which Potemra says may or may not have been added later, but we express no opinion about that. You can read the article in the National Review for his view of things.

What is your Curmudgeon’s opinion? It would be presumptuous to offer our own interpretation of scripture. You may be certain, however, that we’re not citing scripture as if it were scientific evidence — because it isn’t. So what’s our point?

Our purpose here is demonstrating to those who do regard scripture as the ultimate science text that they have a serious problem — their authority is an uncertain guide in such matters. Scripture is entirely harmonious regarding scientific absurdities like flat earth and geocentricism; but it seems riddled with irreconcilable passages regarding creationism.

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

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5 responses to “Is Evolution in the Bible? (Part 2)

  1. I believe Mr. Potemra read something into this parable that wasn’t intended. It would be nice to use it as evidence of the mention of evolution in the bible, but the case is weak. The most accepted (and common-sense) explanation is that the seed represents the teachings or gospel of Jesus. He was telling his disciples that in some people the seed will grow, and others it will not, depending on their openness to accept it (or not, for the various reasons mentioned).

    Of course, parables are what you make of them, and no one can say Potemra’s explanation is any less true than any others. And if they did, he could merely answer were you there?

  2. Ed says:

    I believe Mr. Potemra read something into this parable that wasn’t intended.

    It’s certainly not the typical understanding of it. Nevertheless, the parable does describe what happens in nature. Most seeds don’t sprout. A few flourish, some more than others. Make of it what you will.

  3. That’s true, about what happens in nature. That’s what makes the parable so strong – it sets a difficult-to-explain idea in context of something that everyone observes and can identify with.

    On the subject of evolution in the bible, I believe the story of behemoth (and maybe some of the other mythical creatures) probably has it’s roots in the discovery of large fossil bones, and stories invented to explain them. It would be natural to work those stories into the biblical context. If biblical people were aware of the history of past life, it would have influenced their creation myths.

  4. I agree, Potemra doesn’t get the parable. Some are obscure but not this one.

    As far as fossil bones go, the Bible was complied at a time when the Jewish elite was concentrated in the city of Babylon, where they had access to all sorts of cutting edge Bronze Age science. So I do think the Bible is pretty scinetificially accruate given the understadning at the time.

  5. Tangentially related…while there might not be direct mention of evolution in the bible, there are several NT passages that tell the reader not to interpret biblical lessons strictly literally. 2 Cor 3:6 is particularly apt: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (KJV)

    Credit: I became aware of this passage via the TalkOrigins Archive (which has a couple of other biblical links to ‘don’t take this book literally’ messages)