Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Evolution?

Image for: What is evolution?



The word evolution can be used in many ways, but in biology, it means descent with modification. In other words, small modifications occur at the genetic level (i.e. in DNA) when a new generation descends from an ancestral population of individuals within a given species. Over time the modifications fundamentally alter the characteristics of the whole population. When the population accumulates a substantial number of changes and conditions are right, a new species may appear.

Universal Common Descent

A cardinal principle of evolutionary theory is that all living things—including humans—are related to one another through common descent from the earliest form of life, which first appeared on earth about 3.85 billion years ago. How the first simple organisms arose is still a scientific mystery, but we know that they carried hereditary information and were capable of self-replication. Over eons, successive generations led to the marvelous diversity of living things that exist today. Common descent is supported by multiple independent lines of evidence, most notably the fossil record and the comparison of many species’ genomes.

Mechanisms of Evolution

When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, descent with modification was not a particularly new or controversial idea. Darwin’s intellectual leap was to propose the mechanism by which evolution occurred. That mechanism, called natural selection, is a description of what happens when variations occur in a population where resources are limited. When more individuals are born than the environment can support, those with advantageous variations are more likely to survive than those without them. This differential reproduction leads to overall changes in the traits of a population over time.

Natural selection is called “natural” not because it occurs apart from God’s activity (after all, many believe natural laws and processes are a reflection of God’s activity), but because it is the usual pattern one observes in nature, in contrast to the “artificial” selection practiced for centuries by farmers and animal breeders.

Other mechanisms of evolution besides natural selection include sexual selection and genetic drift. Sexual selection occurs when individuals of one sex are attracted to mates which manifest certain traits (the peacock’s tail arose this way, for example). Genetic drift is the random (i.e. unpredictable) fluctuations that naturally occur in a population’s gene pool when the population is small. The best adapted individuals do not always survive to reproduce, while poorly adapted individuals don’t always die before passing on their genes. Over time, in small populations, genetic drift can lead to noticeable change.

More recently, it has been proposed that a group of organisms could sometimes benefit from its members behaving in ways that would otherwise be detrimental to an individual organism. This so-called group selection takes into account the survival needs of an entire community of a given species.

Genetic Mutations as the Source of Variation

Darwin recognized from his years of study that when any organism reproduces, new variants sometimes arise. Although he didn’t know it at the time, these differences were a consequence of mutations. Mutations are changes in DNA that occur due to errors in DNA replication or exposures to radiation or certain chemicals. The vast majority of mutations are neutral or harmful and are not preserved, but occasionally beneficial mutations occur that are preferentially passed down through the generations.


A number of common misconceptions have led to confusion or suspicion about evolution over the years. One common argument is that despite hundreds of years of observation, there has been no experimental proof of one species evolving from another, such as a cat turning into a dog. The truth is, such a drastic transition is not predicted by the theory of evolution. In some cases, scientists have observed speciation, but it is true that we have not observed major changes in form. The reason, is that we simply haven’t been watching long enough.1 Evolution of new forms—what some people call “macroevolution”—takes a very, very long time.

Next, the claim that humans share common ancesry with other species should not be misunderstood to mean that humans have evolved from any other presently existing species. Humans do share close common ancestry with other living primates, but rather than being direct descendants, we are more like cousins. Other primates have been changing as well over the past 5-6 million years since humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor.

A third misconception is that evolution is a random, purposeless process. It is true that individual mutations are random, in the sense that they are unpredictable, but natural selection is decidedly non-random. Whether there is any purpose behind the evolutionary process is not a scientific question, and the answer depends greatly on one’s worldview. For believers in the God of the Bible who created and sustains the whole universe, evolution is simply the means by which he accomplishes his praiseworthy purposes of bringing forth life.



Further Reading

Web sites



  • Alexander, Denis. Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? Oxford: Monarch Books, 2008.
  • Collins, Francis S. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. New York: Free Press, 2006.
  • Darwin, C. R. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray, 1859.
  • Falk, Darrel R. Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
  • Giberson, Karl. Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution. New York: HarperOne, 2008.
  • Miller, Kenneth. Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. New York: Cliff Street Books, 1999.
  • Weiner, Jonathan The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution In Our Time. New York: Knopf, 1994.