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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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18 Responses 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.

    • Brian Oct 20, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

      Thanks Eric. To be honest, I’m not all the familiar with ‘Theistic Evolution’ – I had to do a bit of research into it. I’m not convinced I am a believer, but I do think that the creation story as it is written in the Bible leaves a lot of room for interpretation. For example – take the 6 literal days of creation… According to the Bible, the mechanisms by which we measure a day were not even created until almost half-way through the creation story. So when the story says “morning and evening”, which standard of measurement were used to determine what ‘morning’ or ‘evening’ was before the establishment of the Earth, Sun, and the Earth’s revolving on it’s axis? Would it have been our 24-hour understanding of a day, or something else?

      I honestly believe there’s no way to know – we never will. But through scientific study we can understand some things about the origin of our universe, and I believe that as we gain more understanding, it will only shine more light on how awesome our God is.

      • Selly Nov 14, 2017 at 3:11 am #

        Hi if you’re interested, why not try to compare the Hebrew word for day used in Genesis and the word day used in other books of the bible (where it clearly refers to a 24h period). English translation is not 100% perfect, it’s important to refer back to the original text/word to understand the context better. Cheers.

      • Rich Nov 29, 2017 at 9:48 am #

        The mechanisms that we use to mark a 24 period of time is not the sun and/or moon. A single rotation of the earth marks a 24 hour day. The mechanism for the marking of time was created on Day 1.

  2. Jorma Oct 1, 2017 at 3:27 am #

    “So will I” and the start of the creation

    There seems to be a hidden part in the God of Creation. The Bible doesn’t answer for all of our curious questions – but what do we need to know for our salvation? The Bible is focused on that. Moreover, our knowledge, songs, knowing the Bible, knowing the God a always imperfect. We are not in the place called heaven jet.

    The song “So will I” is a great song. Everything works in it. The theme brings together different things from worshiping with stars to following Jesus. The lyric is very surprising and mostly very touching. I’m not sure, am I doing right for the song by criticizing it with my Biblical comments. I really bless creativity. It’s a part of being an image of God. Hopefully we can enjoy more of good songs.

    Still I disagree some points of the song ‘So will I’. The first verse says: “God of Creation there at the start, before the beginning of time, with no point of reference You spoke to the dark, and fleshed out the wonder of light”. The song seems place the start of the creation in the beginning of the six days creation. I believe it starts instantly from the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. What difference does it make?

    The first chapter of the Genesis seems to tell about two different creations. The first story is just one sentence long, just one verse, but it starts the whole Bible and it’s so-called ‘Creatio Prima’, the primary creation. What happens after that happens in it. The six days creation is so-called ‘Creatio Secunda’ , the secondary creation.

    The ‘Creatio Prima’ starts to create out of nothingness, the ‘Creatio Secunda’ out of a flood of waters and – generally out of existing matter. If we don’t observe that it happens in the universe and the solar system that already exist, we are stressing it too much. It’s just not all.

    The song says: “With no point of reference You spoke to the dark and fleshed out the wonder of light”. I don’t think that the ‘wonder of light’ streams out without any natural source of light. I believe that God started to move away obstacles which prevents the sun to shine on the earth, like fog, clouds or dust.

    For me the ‘wonder of light’ means that God started to bring order after a disaster and started to set the earth on the right place in the solar system and the universe. It started time on the way we use to count it and it started the new creation in order to make the earth as a paradise for a man, which the God of Creation made out of dust.

  3. Josh Oct 26, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    I think there’s an important aspect of this article that is missing. Namely, a thorough definition of terms. I say that not as a critic, but seeking your opinion as a fellow brother.

    “Evolve” would insinuate that you are moving from a more simple form to a more complex form. The example of Darwin’s research on finches didn’t prove evolution, it proved adaptation, correct? Adaptation would be a very different thing than evolution. Science has observed adaptation in nature for quite some time. We’ve yet to observe “evolving” species as defined here… But this is why I ask… What is your definition of “evolve” as it relates to this field of science.

  4. Jake Senkow Oct 26, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    Even the most staunch Young-Earth Creation scientists (like the ones at Institute for Creation Research) acknowledge and affirm evolution within “kinds.” Like one species of dog adapting to become another species of dog. But dogs have always been dogs, bacteria have always been bacteria, and birds have always been birds. What ought be be rejected is “molecules to man” evolution. The more we unpack how DNA works the more we find that speciation is not the result of random mutation but rather a designed ability called epigenetics which enables creatures to turn on and off DNA expressions based on environmental factors such as food availability, temperature, light, etc. The ability of creatures to change physiologically to adapt to their environment showcases the genius of God’s genetic program – but is EVOLUTION.

  5. Willy Tee Nov 2, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    The difference between spiritual evolution as opposed to physical, biological evolution will be apparent if you take these lyrics as intended.

    • Eric O'Blenis Nov 11, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

      Yes. Once again we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions. The song does not mention the word evolution. When we speak, our words evolve in to some kind of response. The song is meant to praise The God of creation and inspire in me a desire to imitate Him.

  6. Preston Boerner Nov 5, 2017 at 1:27 am #

    What about the Scriptures…? What about the fourth commandment written by God’s own finger on tables of stone – twice…? “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day… (Exodus 20:11a) “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb 11:3).
    When we have questions we must look to the Scriptures for answers. If our interpretation of the data conflicts with the Scriptures we need to believe the Scriptures and reanalyze our interpretation of the data.

    Leaders of every sort are set in the church by God (1Corinthinans 12:28) …”For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive: but speaking the truth in love, we grow up into him in all things, which is the head, ever Christ”… (Ephesians 4:12-15)

    “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2Timothy 2:13-17).

    Jesus, the word of creation, came a light into the world, God’s word became flesh…full of grace and truth (John 1:1-14). Even He did not speak on his own, but spoke what the Father commanded him to say and to speak (John 12:44-50). “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

    The task of every leader in the church is to convey the word of God for the perfecting of the saints in love. Our task is not to accommodate contemporary views of God, but to point men to his revealed Truth. We can look for truth about God in nature (Psalm 19:1-4a) but we must always view what we find through the lens of the Scriptures. We must beware to lead into Truth as God has revealed it lest we help lead God’s heritage into error and obfuscate God’s Truth.

  7. Jonathan Nov 5, 2017 at 7:44 am #

    THANKS THANKS THANKS for this video Brian. I could not agree more with you note “As believers we can not just bury our heads in the sand when something challenges our faith/beliefs”.
    God is the God of Science, Christians (as I have studied it) have little to no reason not to believe our all mighty Creator spoke into being the forces that govern Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math and all the offshoots thereof. Thats a pretty powerful Creator in my opinion ( we will not discuss my collegiate grade in Chemistry). There are 100 Billion X reasons, and many more, beautifully aligned with revelation in Holy Scripture & in Nature (both God given) for us to explore as we seek His Majesty so we may glory Him on earth and in Heaven.

    It is so encouraging to fellowship with Christians who have a strong science background (because mine is lacking, science foundations). There is a fair amount of noise, untruths, & deception out there with the likes of Hawkins, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, DeGrasse. Christians in the PostModernist setting needs a strong foundation of philosophy, hermeneutics & apologetical truths to not get bulldozed by the science community. I believe Dr. Hugh Ross states less than 10% of scientists are Christian and in fact many are Atheist, and that is the lens thru which much scientific information comes to us. We need Christian scientists to help the lay person (me) keep our heads on straight.
    Thank you once again. In His grip!

  8. Dominador R Esmenda Jr Nov 5, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    The only thing that I could say as a worshipper is that, this song is just saying who am I not to worship the Lord if creation itself worships Him. Who am I not to worship the Lord if He poured out His heart for me by means of creation and salvation.

    When I was in highschool, my religion teacher kept on saying that religion is crippled if there is no science and science is blind without religion.

    Since I don’t have religion, I only have relationship with Him, science is the natural manifestation of the supernatural things written down in the word.

    That’s what we call signs, and wonders and miracles but to those who don’t believe in God they call it as science.

  9. RubberChickenGirl Nov 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    I was singing away in church and sang this the first sunday without reading all the copious amount of lyrics. The next sunday I sang it again but the Spirit prompted me to open my eyes and read the lyrics. As I was feeling that the song was subversive in nature, I was liking it. Subversion against lies and evil is exhilarating. Then I read the line about evolution and I stopped singing in my tracks and tried to digest what I just read and sang and I mouthed out loud, “I don’t like that. That is not okay.” I called my pastor that week and told her I would never sing that song. For several weeks I left the auditorium every time it was sung. They have since stopped singing the evolution creation anthem. People need to get on one side or the other. Evolutionists do not buy any aspect of creationism and would reject your fence riding position. Creationists would reject any aspect of evolution. You should not conflate the two to try to appease to diametrically opposed view points.
    I am passionate to vindicate my God who reveals Himself plainly as a creator often and much throughout scripure. “And evening and morning….” are 24 hour periods. God trumps all the bs about “we don’t know how long a day is”.

    • Brian Nov 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      Hello – thanks for your comment. I would humbly challenge you on your stance on this one, though. For example, in the account of creation, the mechanisms we use to determine what ‘evening and morning’ are were not even created until about half-way through the creation story. Day 1: Light. Day 2: Separation of water and sky. Day 3: Stars – and the Bible specifically says that they were created so we could tell time. But this was day 3. So the question I would ask is what measurement of time was used for day 1 and 2? Could it have been 24 hours? Sure – it could. But God had not yet even created the concept of ‘hours’. I believe we often try to put things into a black and white box, when the Bible clearly teaches us that God is far beyond our understanding. They are gray. I also believe that all science points to God the creator. Even the theory of the big bang – it describes energy (light) coming from nothing. That sounds like Day 1 to me.

      • David Nov 14, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

        First of all, I would like to say thank you for what you do! Your ministry has helped me become a better worship leader. I went with your suggestion of the Martin 000x1ae and am very happy with it! But to address this topic, I respectfully disagree with the idea that the first two days (or any of the other days) could have been longer periods of time. You point out that the means by which we measure “evening and morning” was not created until about half way through the creation. And yet, the Bible still says that there was evening and morning! God of course had His plan for creation from eternity and knew how long He would take to create the universe. I can only imagine that He would be consistent with the length of time that each day would take. He could have created the entire universe instantaneously if He has wanted to, but, as He makes clear in Exodus 20, He was laying the foundation for our week. The universal principle of a seven day week (six days for work, one day for rest) has no basis in a natural or astronomical cycle like the day, month, and year do. The week was set up when God deliberately took that much time to create the world.

        Also, let’s not forget that Day and Night were created on Day 1. Genesis 1:4-5 says, “And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (ESV) Remember, this is the first use of the “evening-morning” phrase in the passage. This is also the first use of “day” in the passage. Thus, these will define how the phrase and word are used in the rest of the passage, especially because they are used in a consistent, repetitive way. This word for “day” is the much-debated Hebrew word “yom.” While yom can mean a period of time longer than a light-and-dark day sometimes in Scripture, the context (“evening,” “morning,” “first,” “second,” etc.) makes it clear that this is a 24-hour day. In the same way, if I were to say, “In my father’s day, it took ten days to drive across the state during the day,” you would know what I meant by each different use of the word “day” based on the context. As verse 5 states, God Himself defines this concept of “day” as one light-darkness cycle. So I would contend that these verses aren’t really vague at all when it comes to time.

        The implication of all this is that there is not time for macro-evolution (different from micro-evolution/adaptation) in the creation account. Plus, Genesis 1:31 makes it clear that God is finished creating (by using the past-tense “had made”). Macro-evolution (and the lyric in this song, for that matter) would require an ongoing creation because the process of macro-evolution is supposedly still occurring, and the writers of the song (as they state in the New Song Cafe on worshiptogether.com) like the idea that creation is still catching up with what God said (thus the use of the controversial word). In addition, the repeated phrase “according to their kinds” in the passage in reference to the plants and animals multiplying counters the macro-evolutionary idea of one kind of animal turning into another. Sometimes people have a hard time accepting this because they believe that science has proven evolution and millions of years. I believe it’s important that the Bible be our authority and the basis of our thinking in every area as Christians, not science. Science is not 100% accurate 100% of the time. For 2,000 years it was scientific law that life could come from non-life (rotting meat could produce maggots, for example). It wasn’t until Louie Pasteur and others experimentally demonstrated that this was false that this law was overthrown. Science textbooks are rewritten, the Bible is not. God made science, God’s word will not conflict with true, accurate science.

        Honestly, UNITED is my favorite band and I love your ministry. I’m praying for you and Worship Tutorals that God would continue to use you. If you would like more info on this topic I highly recommend answersingenesis.org. Also, there are a couple of new high-quality documentaries on the subject: Is Genesis History? (which went number 1 in the box office on its release night earlier this year) and Genesis: Paradise Lost (which premiered on November 13, 2017 but has an encore showing around the country on the 16th). Sorry this was so long! I’m pretty enthusiastic about this topic! God bless!

  10. Mon Nov 20, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    There s a part on the song which says with no point of reference.. I could be reading too much into it but God always has a point of reference well he is the point of reference.. he is all knowing all seeing God and knew exaclty what he was doing…Still love the song though just dont understand that one liner

    • Brian Dec 8, 2017 at 10:43 pm #

      Hi Mon – I interpret that to mean God created things out of nothing, which according to our laws of physics, should be impossible. Meaning God is not bound to our natural laws of physics.

  11. jay Nov 23, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    why the fuss…simply change the word ‘evolving’ to transforming….sounds way better for me

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