Evolution, the Bible, and the 3.5 Million Dollar Violin

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Jeff G. Jeff is a 24-year-old student studying biblical theology at North Park University in Chicago. He hopes to go on to grad school and get a Ph.D. in the field of biblical theology, if that is where God wants him. 

__________

It was 7th grade biology class, and we began to learn the theory of evolution. The evidence seemed absolutely clear to me—evolution was an undeniable fact. I picked up my bible and compared what I read to what I learned in my biology class. The accounts seemed clearly contradictory. It didn’t take much time for me to conclude that all of Christianity was a sham. I will come back to this in a bit, but first, do me a favor and let me tell you another story…

In January of 2007, world-renowned violin virtuoso Joshua Bell took his 3.5 million dollar violin to the Washington D.C. metro station to play some songs as a street musician.  Dressing modestly in a baseball cap, jeans, and a long-sleeved t-shirt, Bell left his violin case open for tips as he played 6 classical songs, one of which has been called the most difficult song on any instrument—J.S. Bach’s Chaconne. Of this song, the great composer Johannes Brahms said, “if I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.”

With violin virtuoso Joshua Bell’s level of talent, playing this sort of music, you might expect that Bell would draw a rather large crowd. So what happened? After 43 minutes and 1097 passersby there was no crowd, and only seven people stopped during the entire performance, at least for a minute. However, as the Washington Post notes, “Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

The experiment was to see if people would recognize genius if it came in a form they were not expecting, or if their prejudgments (in this case, against street musicians) would blind them to the modest looking man playing some of the most difficult music in the world on one of the most expensive instruments in the world. The results were clear, people’s prejudice did blind them to see the genius right in front of them.

Now, what if God were to do a similar thing? Hide all of His pomp and majesty, put on an average person’s clothes, and express His character non-verbally as David says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV) Would many people just walk by? It certainly seems that the Joshua Bell experiment shows at least that much is possible.

On a similar thought, is it possible that God could have a purpose for doing such a thing? Well Joshua Bell did. If there was a sign outside of the metro station saying, “Joshua Bell, world Class Violinist plays world-class music on a 3.5 million dollar violin” you can bet that there would be hundreds of people packed in the small area of the metro station that Bell was playing in. Likewise, if God were to write on every molecule “made by God… also don’t forget to read the Gospel of John and believe in Jesus” you can bet that there would be only a few uneducated non-Christians.

However, what did Bell gain by keeping his identity hidden? He got people who would appreciate his music for what it was, and not for his pomp and circumstance. It was only the beauty of the music itself that drew people, and people with other, lesser motivations were filtered out.

It now seems like a good time to come back my story about myself in seventh grade. So, might this answer the question I had in the 7th grade, “why would God make a bible that appears clearly to contradict what science says?” I am quite sure it does. God creating a bible with such apparent contradictions with science could be just like Joshua Bell putting on the clothes of an average person, looking to see who will stop for the music’s sake, and not out of other motives. If God were to make his beautiful nature known, might we still walk by it because it came without all of the pomp it might come with?

I think that is what I did after my 7th grade biology class. I now recognize that God right now is making his character known while in average clothing. God does so by the beauty in the sky, as the Psalmist says, “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” and in the beauty of Jesus, who, going father than Joshua Bell, was not just dressed up in average clothes, but was stripped naked and nailed to a cross.

Is it possible that like the 1090 people who walked by Joshua Bell, you would walk by? Or would you be like the little child, who, absent of the false preconceptions of their parents, stops to listen? I walked by, and I am glad that by the grace of God I can now take a seat and enjoy His beauty. I hope everyone reading this will notice the humble man in jeans and a baseball cap, playing the most difficult song (which is now also my favorite song—J.S. Bach’s Chaconne) on a 3.5 million dollar violin. On a less serious note, I was recently thinking about trying my hand at playing classical music as a street musician, and I think this story is a great way to keep me from losing my confidence if it doesn’t work out…

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12 Responses to “Evolution, the Bible, and the 3.5 Million Dollar Violin”

  1. Beautiful analogy, though I predict a few trolls will miss the point – this is not an argument for the existence of God, but rather a more accurate description of the Christian God. Christianity believes in a God so majestic His creation would reflect the intricacy of the Creator. And yet the world must also reflect the simplicity of the relationship between Creator and creation.

  2. Simple and sublime. Thankyou.

  3. nice blog jeff g. ive been thinking alot about the “being childlike” verses in the bible lately, this fit right in….very nice piece and to the point, i wish i could write like that 🙂 God bless…jon

  4. I like that a lot. It captures the essence of general revelation.

  5. Good post overall, but the evolution bits are unnecessary nonsequitors. The fact is that the universe and life on earth are amazing regardless of how they came to be the way they are. The important thing is that regardless of how they got that way, God still created them without a stamp that says “Made by God.”

    • The thing about evolution, though, is that it doesn’t follow with the creation account. Evolution suggests death was part of the process, while Genesis 1-2 never mentions the event of death ever. Evolution basically is the godless events of how the universe came about without any sense of worth or wonderment. Evolution says, “It just is.” The God of creation, though, pours beauty into His efforts, giving each action purpose. This goes beyond simply encouraging a scientific understanding, but realizing that every molecule was made with a specific message to us, “I am God, and I love you. I made this to share with you.” Suddenly, it’s more than just a beautiful piece of music, but music that effects just how powerful and wonderful and loving the music composer is. Evolution just moseys along without purpose, intent, or care. It’s worthless. And worthlessness was never part of God’s plan in anything.

      • Though no mention of death doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And as for worth and wonderment, some have suggested that it is more to God’s glory if he would have created the world through evolution than if not, as it would take just about an omniscient mind to order things so precisely the right mutations would arise on the microscopic level of DNA.

  6. Thanks for the nice comments, they were very encouraging to read. To respond to Austin, while I agree that God could certainly create life using the process of evolution, my trouble in 7th grade with the biblical story and its apparent contradictions with evolutionary theory. While it is possible that there are no actual contradictions between them, it still seems to me that they at first appear to be in disagreement.

    • It’s true, the Bible doesn’t SAY that death didn’t occur or that evolution wasn’t the process with which God created everything. At the same time, Scriptures doesn’t say that He DID use evolution, either. So what we’re left with is the necessity of using the available clues and evidence to come to a logical conclusion (it seems to me we both would agree that God operates from a logical method, too).

      Here’s what we know about death from the get-go in Scripture.
      1. It was not something God wanted, ergo His warning to Adam (and Eve) to not eat of the particular Tree.
      2. Death is a consequence and/or sentencing from judgment as a result of unrepentant sin.
      3. Sacrificial death is first imposed upon animals as a sign of grace and mercy from God to spare us from our own death.

      Before these three main points, we have no evidence or any suggestion whatsoever that death was ever part of God’s creative processes. In fact, everything God did during the six days was building towards the foundation for physical life.

      I would agree, that if evolution was God’s creative vehicle, it would absolutely take an omniscient mind to manipulate His creation to what we have today. But it takes no less a creative and omniscient mind to set the world in place as it is without evolution being part of the deal. The former suggestion almost assumes that God cannot be as all-powerful if evolution were not the reality of the matter, which is an illogical argument, for God could just have easily used any (humanly) unconceived vehicle other than evolution or the traditional creation views.

      Additionally, we know that Genesis 1 specifically says that God created each animal according to its own kind. This leans very heavily towards the notion that each animal we have today (not to be confused with species variants, ie: DOGS: Husky, Boxer, Labrador, Hound, etc) did not come from pre-existing animals. So while evolution may have been God’s creative vehicle in theory given the supposed “lack” of information on the matter, the possibility breaks down in light of other portions of Scripture.

  7. I am not interested in a debate on theistic evolution, so I’ll just make one more reply on the topic. First, just because the bible doesn’t give us positive reason to think God used evolution to create mankind, that is no reason to think that he did not. As for your negative evidence, I’ll respond to your three points here:

    1. It is not clear that Adam was a literal human being as “Adam” is the Hebrew word for “Man.” Also, when the bible says that death is the result of sin, it is not clear that it is not speaking of spiritual death. (and spiritual death is something that Jesus and the apostles talked about a lot… i.e., 1 Tim. 5:6, 1 Jn. 3:14, Mat. 8:22)
    2. As I pointed out in 1., this could refer to the common biblical concept of spiritual death.
    3. It never says in the bible that only death was first imposed upon animals after Adam’s sin.

    To your point about omniscience and evolution: I wasn’t arguing that God must create through evolution to be all powerful, I was just giving reasons why it is not conclusive for you to argue that evolution does not befit the glory or majesty of God.

    To your point about how Genesis 1 says God created each animal after its kind, I don’t find that incompatible, because “create,” doesn’t specify whether that creation was spontaneous or done through the process of evolution. If you say that everything must have been created in seven literal days, and so this couldn’t have happened through a long period of time, I would point out that the Hebrew word for “day” (yom) is also the Hebrew word for “era,” and it is undeniably used in the latter sense immediately after the creation account in Genesis 1, in Gen. 2:4, “in the day [yom] when God created the heavens and the earth,” and this is not special pleading due to modern science as St. Augustine in the 4th century believed they were not literal days either.

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