Archive for February, 2013

The Intellectually Rigorous Christian And Evolution

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

I’m occasionally asked how I feel about evolution, which to me is a little bit like asking how I feel about a 365-day-long orbit of the Earth around the sun, or none-orange carrots, or the astonishingly enhanced olfactory power of canines.

Remarkable, I say.  All true, all wonderful, all speaking of the greatness of God, and all things I don’t really understand.  I believe in them because science has peered into God’s creation, studied it, and revealed a truth I wouldn’t likely have stumbled upon myself.  That truth speaks both of the provenance of God — it has its origin in the Almighty — as well as the providence of God.  Any difficulty in my understanding does no damage to its innate truth, nor to the glory of God.  The I AM is not dependent on my apprehension of the Divine Nature any more than the color of carrots is dependent on my understanding the biology of color mutation.  They are true, and what we can know of the created world is true because of the True Being who created it.

I suspect that what people really want to know is if, as a Christian, I accept the Darwinian (pre-Mendellian genetic understanding) or neo-Darwinian (post-Mendel) explanation of the biological origin and continuity of species.  My Christian brothers and sisters are eager to sniff out evidence that I’ve apostasized by abandoning a Biblical six-day/era creation account to explain life’s origins.  Non-religious people seem ready to pounce on any evidence that my Sunday worship includes ditties like this — not an actual example but, sadly, not too far from “praise choruses” I’ve heard:

“I know I ain’t a monkey
To say so’s really funky
God says I came from Adam
So throw evolution right back at ‘em!”

Predictably, I manage to confuse or disappoint both parties by saying that I believe that God spoke and creation — every glion, every molecule of carbon, every eventual palm frond — sparked into existence and is forever upheld and superintended by Jesus Christ, the Logos of the Creator, and that science confirms thus far that Christ has chosen to do so via the mechanism of what we call evolution. 

My disbelief in a literal six-day creation begun 6,000 years ago does no dishonor to my Savior, nor to the Word of God that reveals Him.  It would, however, fly in the face of scientific fact.  That would make me guilty, then, of dishonoring God by refusing to love God with my entire mind, so afraid am I of revealed truth in the natural world.  What an weak God I would be worshiping, I would think, if I could only believe the simple things I understand while cowering in the face of scientific truth that is no less Divine.

My disbelief that “the cosmos is all there is and ever will be,” as Carl Sagan put it, does no dishonor to science nor the Creator who superintends it.  Sagan, as a scientist, is entitled to whatever metaphysical, philosophical beliefs he felt comfortable embracing — even if his science lead him away from belief in anything other than the material.  His philosophical materialism is not a necessary consequence of scientific rigor, no matter how he and Richard Dawkins, et al, would have us believe.  Rather, it’s a belief system that disallows for a Creator-God, buttressed but not made necessary by his profound knowledge of physics and cosmology.

I believe the scientific evidence indicates order and intelligence in the universe — but the nature of that “order and intelligence” is not an appropriate question for science.  Likewise, I revere the Bible as the message of God to all of creation — but the creation accounts in Genesis speak to matters of faith, not science.  They announce the Who and the Why behind the natural world, which, in turn, provides scientists with an unending array of questions of What and How and When.  My inability to always grasp apparent differences in the two natures of truth reveals only one thing:  Myself as the weak link.  Mercifully, cosmology and creation are two areas where the strength of the system is infinitely stronger than its weakest link — my puny understanding of it all.

The article below says it well and provides a wonderful, Truth-honoring perspective on the origins debate.  I recommend it, whether you’re defensively clinging to six literal days of creation 6,000 years ago or confident in your certainty that random mutation sufficiently explains Mozart and Cesar Chavez:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/roberthunt/2013/02/science-and-religion-an-interfaith-encounter/