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Should we not sing ‘So Will I (100 Billion X)’ because it mentions evolution?

So Will I (100 Billion X) is one of the stand-out songs from the ‘Wonder’ album by Hillsong United. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite songs from Hillsong. It’s beautifully written, and it includes this line:

And as You speak, a hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said

I’ve seen a few questions posed around the internet (mostly in Facebook worship leader groups) about whether or not we should sing this song in our churches because it mentions evolution. Here’s my take…

First, a little background…

I’m a worship leader, and I’ve been involved in full time ministry for the past 10 years or so, but my educational background is in science. I double-majored in Chemistry and Biology in undergrad (I went to Tabor College, a Christian college), and I worked for years in research before moving into ministry. Furthermore my wife has a Ph. D. In microbiology and her work is in HIV research at the University of North Carolina. In a completely unrelated note, we’re Tarheel fans at my house, but deep down we root for the Oklahoma Sooners :).

So given my educational and professional background in both sciences and ministry, I probably look at these things a bit differently than many people, but science and faith do not need to be opposed to one another. In fact, I believe they support each other.

‘Evolution’ is a dirty word in evangelical circles, but it shouldn’t be…

‘Evolution’ is a buzzword that has been completely misrepresented by (and unnecessarily demonized by) the evangelical community. Simply, it means that a species changes over time in response to their environment. It has been proven over and over again through both scientific observation and experimentation.

The most well known experiment that proved evolution is real is Charles Darwin’s work on the Galapagos Islands involving finches. Darwin documented that the average size of the beaks of the finches changed over time in response to a change in the type of vegetation available on the islands. There was a drought, and the food became much harder to get to, so those finches will longer beaks lived (they could get to the food) while those with shorter beaks did not (they couldn’t get to the food). Over multiple generations, the average size of the beaks of the finches changed – evolved – to be longer.

Another note here is that a single organism cannot ‘evolve’ – it happens over generations, not in a single lifetime of one organism. Also – man evolving from apes is a theory based on evolution, not what ‘evolution’ itself means.

So what about the song lyric?

As a person who loves science (and has an educational background in it), I really resonated with this song, and that line in particular. I’m of the opinion that science and faith actually support one another, especially when those both in science and faith communities allow themselves to think about our physical and spiritual worlds with more of an open mind.

To me this line beautifully illustrates how the laws of nature are both set into motion by and in obedience to an all powerful God.

If we choose not to sing this song because it mentions something that we feel might be controversial – the word evolution – I fear we begin to go down a slippery slope. Christians are not called to bury our heads in the dirt and ignore things that challenge our faith.

I believe we should absolutely sing this song if it is one that you think your congregation will latch on to. If people do bring up the lyric involving evolution, it presents a unique opportunity to start a conversation about faith and science.

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One Response to Should we not sing ‘So Will I (100 Billion X)’ because it mentions evolution?

  1. Eric Sep 13, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    This song is absolutely, positively beautiful. I first came across Amanda Cook/Bethel’s version, and fell in love with it. That said, (to use a “Christianese” word), I had a check in my spirit on this very lyric immediately. It’s not that I have a problem with the word evolution used in the right context. I believe in micro-evolution, but not macro (although you don’t use these words and make the distinction); but I have read through these lyrics a hundred billion times, and I don’t get the feeling the writes were referring to micro.

    Here’s why, the entire song is well thought out. Just listen to those lyrics, they are stunning. Let’s give them credit, they wouldn’t accidentally put any word into this masterpiece; especially as they have publicly said they worked on it for over a year. As far as the the lyrics in question go, I have even listened to the authors (Ben & Joel) of the song tiptoe around it by saying that the universe is still expanding (I don’t have a disagreement with that scientific observation). But chorus 1 talks about galaxies, and then there is a turnaround as we shift into the creation of animals, birds, and beasts, etc. I would like to put into paragraph form the lyrics: “God of Your promise, You don’t speak in vain, no syllable empty or void. For once You have spoken all nature and science follow the sound of Your voice. And as You speak a hundred billion creatures catch Your breath, evolving in pursuit of what You said.”

    Believe me when I say, I have given this song much thought and prayer, and if I am going to be honest with myself, this in my opinion, is referring to “Theistic Evolution.” Brian doesn’t really go into depth on what He thinks the authors intended by the lyric, and perhaps it is dangerous to assume things about what they meant. But in my opinion, it seems quiet clear. I am not saying you aren’t a Christian if you believe in theory; I am simple trying to be honest, which is hard, because I love this song. But let’s not justify the lyrics into something that they are not. (No accusations intended).

    I personally think that these lyrics are speaking of theistic evolution, yet I believe in a young-earth creation – six literally 24-hour days. And it is for this reason, I struggle with this line. For anyone else having trouble with these lyrics, here is my personal take. I think it is sometimes weird to replace lyrics (ex. “Sloppy wet kiss/unforeseen kiss”), because it is almost like compromising (some are singing this as “All moving in pursuit…” . Truth is, the song is either right to sing in church or it is not. Now I get it, as an infallible human, I am sure I have preached mistakes from behind the pulpit, but to change lyrics that authors intentionally chose feels a bit like a buffet. And the Bible isn’t a buffet; you can’t pick and choose only the parts you like, and skip over the rest. Now maybe I am putting too much pressure on lyricists to have perfectly and divinely inspired works, but my point is this: there are plenty other great songs out there – plenty. If this song hangs you up, or someone in your congregation, than maybe, just maybe, you should find something else, and utilize this as personal worship. I for one, will continue to listen to it because it is the most beautiful depiction of nature worshiping the Father that I have ever heard.

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