The title is provocative but is deliberately asked to draw attention to the centrality of Christ and him crucified in the debates around creation and evolution. In much of the debate, the signal is sent that the Christian faith hangs or falls over evolution. It is argued that from perspective of the crucifixion, this is giving far too much theological significance to evolution. The book's first purpose is to encourage Christians to so ground their faith in Christ that evolutionary biology poses no threat. The book's second purpose is to assess the evidence for evolution.
Is Jesus an evolutionist? This might seem a wildly anachronistic question - rather like asking whether Confucius was a hippy or whether Socrates was into rock music. Jesus was a carpenter who lived 2000 years ago. What possible connection could he have with evolutionary theory? There are really two questions that could be asked of him and they need to be separated because their answers are quite distinct. One question is, 'Was Jesus an evolutionist?' The other is, 'Is Jesus an evolutionist?' For reasons that will become evident I think the first question is much more significant. It is addressed in part I. It is written for Christians who are perturbed by evolution, but who do not necessarily want to be greatly informed about biology. It argues that there are more than sufficient resources within the Christian faith to cope with evolution. The question 'Is Jesus an evolutionist?' is addressed in part II. It is written to inform Christians of the evidence relevant to evolution.
First, we need to begin with whom this Jesus is that these questions could even be asked of him. It makes no sense at all to ask these of someone such as Alexander the Great. Is Jesus greater? Who is he? There is another very important reason to begin with Jesus. The subject of creation and evolution lead many, first of all, to become engrossed in the problem of resolving theology and science. There is certainly place for this, and I do discuss it in later chapters, but there are also great dangers. It is all too easy to substitute knowing about God and his works for knowing God himself. Starting with Jesus fosters a spiritually healthy focus on the person of God. Allow me to begin with how Jesus came to be important to me.
My first love was not Jesus Christ, but biology. I inherited my fascination with living things from my parents. During a soccer match my Dad once just stood there while an opponent dribbled past him and scored a goal. When his teammates demanded an explanation, he replied that he had been watching some ants! Whenever I brought something from the garden to show my Mom she would say, "That's nice." As I result, I never learnt that one was supposed to be scared of spiders.
Our children have inherited this condition from me. Our eldest daughter, Rachel, fearlessly picks up the large rain spiders that keep wandering into our home to return them to the garden. My wife, Janice, is the nicest person I know, but she has this quirk of not liking creepy-crawlies in our home. Our son, Nathan, is molly about dinosaurs. He could read the word 'Triceratops' before he could read the word 'they'! Our youngest daughter, Sharon, is as inquisitive as the rest. When she was four years old, she asked Janice, "Mommy, did God build this house?" Even at this young age, she was trying to figure out how God fits into this world. Notice her natural curiosity for understanding the world and God’s relationship to it. For some, however, this curiosity can turn to dread. This happened to me. With the help of God I got over evolution. Perhaps my story will be an encouragement to you.