As most of you know, I am not an naturalist evolutionist. I am not a Christian evolutionist either. My beliefs concerning the first chapters of Genesis are pretty traditional. When I teach through Genesis, I don’t have a Bible in one hand and a science book in the other. Neither do I feel the need to qualify everything I say with alternative prevailing scientific opinions. Genesis is a theological history, not a scientific book.
However, when the prevailing view of science seems to conflict with my interpretation, I take it very seriously, believing my interpretation might be off. I have a very high view of natural theology and appreciate what God has and is telling us through creation. But I don’t always have a high view of the prevailing view of science.
Issues concerning science and the faith are among the most polarizing issues there are. I would venture to say that today, as of 12:29am CST, Oct 28, 2010, they are the most polarizing. More so than all the Calvinist/Arminian stuff. More so than the Cessationist/Continuationist divide. Dare I say, even more so than politics?
Normally, people can be placed into one of five camps:
1. Young Earth Creationist: God directly created man and all that exists in six literal days no less than 10,000 years ago (give or take a few).
2. Old Earth Creationist: God directly created man sometime in the not too distant past, but the earth is very old.
3. Intelligent Design: If evolution happened, there are markers which evidence that God had to have guided the process through direct intervention.
4. Theistic Evolution: God set everything up so that natural selection would take care of everything without his intervention.
5. Naturalistic Evolution: There is no God. Evolution alone explains the existence of man.
The problem that I have with this issue is not so much my criticism of positions that I don’t hold, but the dogmatism that adherents of each position is characterized by. Rarely do I find a balanced, respectful, humble adherent in these areas. The closest I find is in the Intelligent Design and Old Earth Creation proponents. They are much easier to listen to. Almost always, every other position finds itself in the company of those who use heavy handed tactics to demean and discredit their “opposition.”
Answers in Genesis position seems pretty clear: If you don’t accept a young earth, you have compromised the faith and biblical truth.
Biologos’ position (from what I continue to read is getting pretty clear as well): If you don’t accept evolution, you are no better than flat-earthers.
Each side illegitimizes the opposition (often due to nothing more than frustration) by attacking the legitimacy of the position by unfair associations. At this point, they become radical (almost cult-like) and lose the audience (who is already skeptical to begin with).
Radical positions don’t start out this way. I think they start with pure motives and a clear head. However, when strong opposition comes our way, we can be backed into a corner of self-defense. Eventually we are forced to defend ourselves. In this defense, we can often give the impression, to ourselves and to others, that we are more sure of our stance than we actually are. Often, when we are backed into this corner, the cement settles and the corner is where we stay. Once that happens, what started out as a good thing becomes very counter-productive. We cease to be educators and critical thinkers and begin to teach from a catechism.
All the options save naturalistic evolution claim to be fighting for God’s truth. All have serious contentions with atheism. The theistic evolutionists at Biologos give the impression that they are the only valid defenders against atheism in an age of scientific progress. The creationists at Answers in Genesis give the impression that they are the only defenders of the Scripture in an age of compromise. They both end up fighting each other more than the more evident antagonists to the faith.
I take a position that the earth is young and that evolution did not happen. I could give you the reasons why, but I don’t really care enough to do so. Please don’t misunderstand. It is not that I don’t care enough about you, but that I don’t care enough about the subject. Yes, I am facinated by it. I find it important and interesting. But in the end, when I say “I take a postion that the earth is young etc.” don’t think it is black and white in my mind. I am not sure. If God were to send a prophet and supernatually inform me during breakfast tomorrow that he did indeed use evolution and that the earth was six billion years old, I would pause for about two seconds and then say, “Awesome. Can you pass me the syrup?” I don’t really have that big of a dog in this hunt. Frankly, I don’t think you should either.
It is simply not that big a deal.
“But, but, but, we are fighting the New Atheists. Dawkins and Hitchings and the like are all using evolution to prove that God does not exist. We have to stand strong against evolution.”
We don’t know as much as we like to think we know about this. The issues are simply not accessible. The Bible is not that clear on it (only two chapters devoted to the creation of all things?). Does your faith really hinge on how one interprets the first chapters of Genesis? Really?
“But, but, but, we are fighting the New Atheists. Dawkins and Hitchings and the like are all using evolution to prove that God does not exist. We have to show them that we are as scientifically astute as they are by accepting evolution and showing how it does not conflict with the Bible.”
While science can tell us a lot, the uniformatarianism that must be assumed for ancient times causes me to exit off the road at the first sign of civilization. If you want to continue with the assumptions, I will not stop you. But don’t expect everyone to follow you. Naturalistic evolutionists don’t know as much as you think. And don’t demean those who don’t agree with you, assigning them a place with flat-earthers. Those associations are paralell in concept only.
In my defense of Christianity, I will just stick to the resurrection of Christ and the fact that something cannot come from nothing. The fact that something cannot come from nothing gets me to God. The resurrection of Christ gets me to the Christian God. A simple two step process that does not require a PhD to get there.
The evidence for the historicity of the resurrection is accessible and, in my opinion, impossible to rationally dismiss. I have never met an atheist who believes in the resurrection of Christ. This is the central issue of Christianity. Convince them that Christ rose from the grave and their atheism will necessarily disappear. I promise.
And even if evolution happened, this does not account for the elephant that has always been in the room: where did it all come from? I have never met a naturalistic evolutionist who believed in personal transcendent First Cause for everything. This is the issue of God’s existence, not how he did it.
In short, I am more concerned with the polemics that are escalating then the “knowledge” that is gained. I get tired of so much dogmatism from all sides. I get tired of the central issues being put in time out while we work out these secondary issues. I get tired of people getting pushed into corners with clinched fists by their own breed while the true antagonist enjoys the show. I get tired of the heavy handed polemics which assign anyone who does not agree with them to the realm of dark age buffoons or anathematized heretics.
Kids, go to your room until you regain focus, tact, and grace. Is there an app for that?
That is where I stand on this whole creation/evolution circus.