My wife and I have decided to home-school our two daughters after careful consideration and much prayer. It hasn’t been easy but it has been ultimately satisfying for both them and us. We can say with confidence that they are getting a much better education from us (primarily my brilliant wife) than they would have ever gotten from the public school system. In the process, we have gotten the kids involved in a co-op at our local church so that they could socialize with other kids their own age and enjoy a Christian atmosphere of fellowship and learning. Inevitably along the way, my wife has been witness to some conversations where evolution (i.e. the “E” word) was talked about in a negative light. I’ve also directly witnessed Christians recoil at the utter mention of the word ‘evolution’. The mere utterance of ‘evolution’ is considered a sin in some Christian circles; but should it?
Just like William Lane Craig, as seen in the video above, I also have a ‘layman’s interest’ in the discussion of evolution. I personally find other topics much more interesting. However, it’s important to know whether evolution could genuinely refute the creation scriptures found in Genesis. Also, like Craig, I believe that the creation narrative is largely constructed of figurative language, which would not strongly preclude the possibility of an evolutionary model being true. Another great point that Craig makes is that since we can reasonably interpret the scriptures that reliably conclude that the creation narrative was written in a figurative genre, we can be open to go wherever the scientific evidence leads us!
Is the Bible a Science Book?
Evangelist Billy Graham once said,
“I don’t think that there’s any conflict at all between science today and the Scriptures. I think that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we’ve tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren’t meant to say, I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. … whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.” (p. 72-74)
Graham, like Craig, acknowledges that the Bible isn’t speaking in a literal scientific way during the creation account. With Graham being one of the most influential and respected evangelists over the last century and Craig being one of the most influential and respected Christian philosophers during my lifetime sharing a similar, if not identical, position on the matter of creation, the theological allowance of evolution should not upset the church in the way that it characteristically has.
As Graham brilliantly communicated, “the Bible is not a book of science. It is a book of Redemption.” No evangelical Christian would ever reject the creation story but the acceptance of the story doesn’t necessary mean that a literal interpretation of the story must be accepted. While some Christians maintain that the creation account must be interpreted literally, they are doing so at the risk of making the scriptures say “things they weren’t meant to say.” While I once held a literal interpretation of the creation account, I no longer hold that position because I’ve concluded that the scriptures do not require a literal interpretation.
Being Free to Follow Science
I personally don’t subscribe to Darwinian evolution from common decent through natural selection because I feel the mechanism is disturbingly inadequate. The extrapolations that are made by secular evolutionists to scientifically reconcile how a single celled organism can gradually evolve into the vast breadth of organisms presently on the planet defies the scientific evidence. Regardless of how extrapolated the theory may be, for atheists, evolution is the only game in town! That is why many evolutionist unbelievers defend the farcical claims of Darwinian evolution with so much fervor that it drowns out the voices of reasonable dissension (which are rapidly growing). We will continue to see unbelievers defend the evolutionary approach because it is their one and only resort, even though its explanatory power and scope is growing narrower as new evidence is gathered.
Those within the Intelligent Design (ID) movement have been monumental, albeit controversial, in presenting evidence illustrating that nature has the signature of a designer. ID has provided compelling critiques of the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism that were thought to be entirely adequate by the rank and file evolutionist at any modern day university. Unlike the atheists, Christians are free to let the scientific evidence lead them to truth. Our inspired scriptures do not contradict the findings of science. If the findings of science and Christianity were incompatible, the validity of the Christian faith system would be in question! However, we find that Christianity gives us the perfect framework for reliably seeing all aspects of the world, given we’re genuinely willing to honestly approach the special and natural revelations that God has specifically given to us.
William Lane Craig brilliantly and wittily describes how he views evolutionary theory during a debate with Christopher Hitchens,
What if Evolution is a Fact?
If we truly believe that Christianity is true, we shouldn’t be reluctant to accept truths about nature. If evolution happens to be true, so what! If the prospect of evolution being true upsets you, truly ask yourself ‘why?’ If God decided to make humanity through an evolutionary process, would that really change your relationship with God? As Graham said, “whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.” We are still a special creation of God despite the process that God used to introduce Adam and Eve. If God choose to evolutionarily guide our species to a certain point of biological advancement before introducing a historical Adam and Eve with a rational soul, why would anyone be dissatisfied with this notion? Either way, God molded us in a way that is magnificent and his creatorship is not diminished in both instances.
If evolution turned out to be a fact, all it would mean is that our traditional interpretation of Genesis that Adam and Eve were special creations (in the sense that Adam and Eve were not a result of an evolutionary process) was incorrect. Our goal should be to be open enough to follow the facts where they lead rather than cling to the comfy theological security blankets that we’ve become accustomed to.
I know some Christians will disagree with me on this post. Some may even consider me a heretic. That’s completely fine. I’ve lost a job as a freelance writer at a Christian magazine because of my position on evolution. I was accused of not believing in inerrancy because they felt that my position, the position I highlighted in this article with regards to being theologically open to the possibility of evolution, was in contradiction with the scriptures being the inerrant Word of God. These are the types of actions that are more focused on dividing the Kingdom rather than uniting it. Christians who accuse other Christians of ‘not believing in inerrancy’ because they’re threatened by this position or unfamiliar with it are in desperate need of spiritual growth in their own personal walk with the Lord. The ironic thing about the evolution topic is that I’m not an evolutionist. I find the evolutionary model of creation to be grossly lacking the scientific evidence necessary to substantiate the claim that evolutionists are trying to support, which is that all organisms have a common descendant, and that we’ve all evolved from a single celled organism through a gradual process of evolution through natural selection. While I’m not persuaded by the scientific evidence enough to subscribe to evolutionary theory, I’m not opposed to the model from a theological point of view which allows me to critically assess evolution on the basis of its own scientific merits rather than ideologically oppose (such as some Christians) or accept it (such as a majority of atheists) for reasons that are completely irrelevant to the validity of the empirical science itself.