If evolution is true, then God intended his creatures to have life cycles. Can this really be reconciled with the Bible?
I have a lot of questions, too. The evidence for evolution convinced me it was true. It did not, however, give me any answers for how to reconcile evolution with the Bible. I had to slog through that issue, mostly on my own.
I did an immense amount of study on the subject of evolution. I had some through discussions with those who believe in evolution first, and I challenged them with every argument I could find from my anti-evolution friends.
Once I felt like I'd gotten answers, and been referred to articles to verify those answers, I went to the library and got 8 books. Four were against evolution, four defended it.
I read those and continued my discussions, though one of the most disappointing things I found is that it is just about impossible to get an anti-evolutionist to have a real discussion.
It's one of the things that convinced me that they know they're wrong and that the leading anti-evolution campaigners are dishonest as a part of their personality. Somewhere inside them, they never learned to care what's true. They care more about what they wish were true.
Anyway, all that study allowed me to see that the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming and that the opponents are so unreasonable and dishonest, I just needed to admit it was true.
Then I had to start asking questions and finding answers as to how that admission affects my belief in the Bible, in Jesus, and in God.
My faith in God through King Jesus is unshakable. Evolution is a completely different subject, and finding out that the Word of God created us through an amazing, complex, barely understood 13-billion-year process only made me be more in awe of him.
The Bible, however. How do we reconcile that?
Some questions were easy to answer because I'd already been a student of the early Christians for several years. I knew their figurative approach to the Hebrew Scriptures, and I knew that they loved to take lessons from what they saw in God's creation.
However, you asked, "Did God intend for creatures to have a life cycle?"
I've never thought about that directly before. If evolution is true, as I am convinced it is, then apparently he did.
How do I reconcile that with what I see in the Scriptures?
Well, just for me, here's how I see it. I don't consider myself appointed to be the infallible answerer of such questions. I'm just a guy, called by God to help his people learn, doing his best to fulfill that calling with painful honesty.
Moses wrote about some things that happened centuries or millennia or even millions of years before he was alive. I believe those are inspired by God, but I do not believe they are historically accurate, nor even meant to be.
Moses supplied stories handed down in his culture. I believe God worked through Moses as he wrote them, and I believe he breathed his life into those writings, and it is a gift to the church that we can extract that life by reading his words spiritually.
Why would he do that? Why would Moses write stories that he had no way of knowing were accurate?
With a little thought, that question is easy to answer. It is only difficult to answer if we remain in our shoes, thinking like twenty-first century Christians.
Let's put ourselves in his shoes.
Moses grew up in a culture that preserved its memories with stories. Those stories go through the flood, which pervades the memory of many cultures, all the way back to creation.
Now Moses is writing a book of the Law. In scholarly circles, it was known as a "Suzerain Covenant."
"Suzerain" simply means a ruler. A Suzerain Covenant is a covenant between the suzerain and his people. Typically, it had three parts:
In the case of Moses and Israel, the suzerain was God himself! What had he done for the people? He had created them and the universe they lived in! He had rescued their race from the flood, at least according to what had been handed down to their people. He had also rescued them from slavery in Egypt.
Moses wrote about all of that, from the creation to the time when the sons of Israel, their tribal fathers, came to Egypt. Then he wrote of their deliverance from Egypt.
He followed this with the laws that Israel's divine Suzerain was giving to them (Ex. 20 - Lev.). Then he tells the story of their journey to the brink of the promised land (Numbers). Finally, Deuteronomy recaps what God has done for the people, the laws given, and finishes with the blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience (chs. 27-28).
I don't think Genesis one is literal history.
I think the Garden of Eden story is so obviously a parable that it stuns me that people treat it like it was meant to be literal history. The man's name was Man. That's what Adam means in Hebrew. The woman's name was Life. There was a talking snake. There's a fruit that bestows knowledge equivalent to the gods, and the Lord God talks about Man becoming like "us."
More importantly, there's a tree that can give Man eternal life if he ate it, even if God didn't want him to have eternal life.
I'm sorry, but everything in it shouts purposely fictional allegory to me.
So, yes, I think God intended for creatures to have a life cycle.
The survival of the fittest, the adaptation, the suffering leading to growth, and the death leading to new life are excellent pictures of our Christian life. How do we grow? We grow by trials and adaptation. Suffering leads to growth, and we die to ourselves so that others may life. The physical life cycle is a beautiful picture of our spiritual life as Christians.
Are you also asking "Could there be death before Adam?"
More on reconciling evolution and the Bible.