Losing a Spring (Thoughts on Evolution)

If you’re at all familiar with Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, you’ll know that one of the metaphors he uses for our understanding and faith is a trampoline (as compared to a brick wall). He says that some people’s faith is formed like a brick wall, where each brick is a specific belief within one’s faith. However, he says the problem with this kind of faith is that, when a few bricks are lost, the wall comes crumbling down. This can be compared to a person who is a Christian and perhaps discovers that some doctrine within his or her faith is proven, beyond doubt, to be wrong. Let’s say, for example, that Mary wasn’t actually a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, and that he was actually conceived the way everyone else was. For many people, this would cause the collapse of their faith in the Truth of Christianity.

Bell argues that we need a different way of looking at faith. The trampoline metaphor – though it does have its flaws – may provide something useful. He says that if our faith is viewed more like a trampoline, where each spring is a doctrine, this changes things. If you lose a spring on a trampoline, for example, you hardly lose anything at all. Not only that, but you can still keep jumping. If your faith works like this, you become less likely to be shaken in your faith if something like the above situation happens. I’m not saying (and neither is Bell) that the virgin birth isn’t real. Actually, I believe in it. I’m just saying that if it was somehow proven not to have happened, I wouldn’t give up on Christianity, because I believe in its Truth as a whole.

One of those “doctrines” I’ve been thinking about lately is the concept of creationism versus evolution. I understand that Genesis records God creating the heavens and the earth, all the animals, people, and so forth. However, it is striking that the creation account is extremely similar to other ancient cultures’ creation myths. While it is not a replica, it is certainly similar. This begs the question of whether or not we should see the Genesis creation account as a literal retelling of events or as a way of understanding Israel’s origins.

I am by no means an expert on this. However, I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately online. If you’re interested and have time, check out some of these blog posts by other writers. They have some interesting things to say:

Tad Delay

Kurt Willems

Peter Enns

It should be noted that most biblical scholars and theologians in academia have already gotten past this question. Evolution isn’t just a “theory,” as many of us were taught in Sunday school and youth group. It’s so widely accepted as to be considered fact. If Evangelicalism at large is unable to accept something like this, it will continue to lose its viability in the present world.

I also want you to know I’m not saying that I think evolution and whatever other things we know about the origin of the universe or world happened on its own. I believe in a creator God that does things we don’t understand. Evolution, for me, is completely compatible with a truly biblical Christianity.


Kat says:

Another reading to add to your list..

“Searching for Truth in the Truth Project: Science – What is true?”

An interesting vantage point as a theistic evolutionist takes on a program that has been widely propagated in recent years. The comments hold even more food for thought as Christians and other scientists react. I remember seeing this series and then going to biology class and being severely conflicted. I agree with your statement that evolution is compatible with Biblical Christianity, but like Peter Enns says, it’s not simple an add-on. We must re-evaluate a lot of deep seated assumptions and beliefs.

Great link Kat! I agree with you that a belief in theistic evolution (really, any form at all) requires us to rethink some of our assumptions and beliefs – specifically about original sin and atonement. It’s an interesting journey we all find ourselves in.

Leave a Reply