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Evolution and the 10 Commandments

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

If evolution is true, then the bible’s 10 commandments can be safely ignored.

For Jews, Christians, and other bible-believers, evolution may be the single largest hill on which to die seeking to conquer falsehood in pursuit of eternal truth. But, it seems that many bible-believers trade eternal truth for temporal comfort as they lounge about on evolution’s hillside. Many even seem compelled to guard the hill as the true history of their own human origins.

How did we get here? Why would any bible-believer buy into–and even defend–the idea that they are the product of a purely natural (i.e., Godless) process of undirected, purposeless, natural selection?

Bible-believers who believe their human origins begin with matter self-organizing by accident should hope that they chose their origin story correctly.

Because the God of the bible is not amused.

Take the famous 10 commandments, to which virtually every bible-believer would at least give an affirming nod. Can you recall the third commandment? You will certainly recall it in its King James version which has become idiomatic in English:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

And do you know what virtually everyone takes from this commandment? Yes, you do. It means “don’t cuss.”

But think about it. Do you really think that God would use 10% of these initial, powerful, thunder and lightening-delivered commandments to say don’t cuss?

We are not Hebrew scholars, but we do listen to Hebrew scholars that we trust.

One of them is Tim Mackie of The Bible Project. We find his take on the bible as a whole to be interesting, informative, and helpful in life. We believe you will find his take on the third commandment quite interesting.

In one of The Bible Project’s latest podcast episodes, Tim and his co-host Jon Collins dig deep into the words of the third commandment, and offer a more meaningful explanation (bold emphasis added):

Yahweh has already created an image of himself: humans. He’s preserving both the sanctity of his own worship and the responsibility of humans to bear his image. When humans make idols and worship them, they’re not only investing in a created thing the reverence and glory that should only belong to Yahweh, but robbing themselves of their own dignity as God’s image bearers. In a similar way, the third command, which prohibits “carrying God’s name in vain,” is about more than simply invoking Yahweh’s name in a profane manner. It has to do with the God-given responsibility of humans to carry God’s name and bear his image in a way that accurately represents his character. To carry Yahweh’s name is all-encompassing for a person’s life.

Thus, in a rough better translation, the third commandment can be stated as “You shall not represent, i.e., carry the name, of the Lord your God in vain, i.e., towards a futile purpose.”

If bible-believers believe evolution is their creator, are they representing God’s name well? Are they living a life in vain, that is, toward a futile purpose?

If the bible’s account of human origins is true history, then the bible states that God (Yahweh) created humans as an image of himself. That truth claim alone is a lie if evolution is true. Evolution as an explanation for human origins is the exact opposite of biblical creation. The two stories are opposites in the sense that one story tells of mind creating matter, while the other story tells of matter creating mind. They cannot both be true.

But more important to the heart of God is not simply which story a bible-believer maintains as true. As image bearers, human beings–all human beings–were created to carry God’s name and bear his image on earth in a way that represents his character.

To reject as true the account of creation in Genesis (and the rest of the bible), and to hold as true an account of creation in which God is absent, is a direct violation of the third commandment. It simply misrepresents God’s character as being the creator God.

Does anyone care? Do you care?

If evolution is the true account of human origins, then we can all safely ignore all the 10 commandments, including the third.

But what if evolution is not the true explanation? What if we really were created by God in his image?

The rest of the third commandment cannot be ignored:

… because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.

Think about it.


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