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Honest to God on the Issues #002: Evolution and Creationism November 16, 2012

Posted by Daniel Benjamin Smith (dsmith77) in Honest to God on the Issues.
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There are fundamental questions capable of changing the direction of the entire human race.

  • Where did we come from?
  • How did the universe come to exist?
  • Is there a God?

By and large, there are only two real alternatives – Creation or Evolution – though some individuals would discount either one or the other. Furthermore, the Creation-Evolution controversy is well known but it’s also incredibly complex in ways that most people are not familiar.

First, let’s talk about Evolution which is actually an umbrella term. It can refer to any of several different and specific scientific processes acting at different zoom levels of our world. It’s a common tactic for a proponent of evolution to provide an example from one area, say the mutation of a virus into a new strain at the micro level, and then claim that proves evolution is the explanation for what happens in a different area, like Man evolved from an ape-like ancestor at the Macro level. Dr. Rana of Reasons to Believe likens it to the Shell Game.

It takes someone trained in the sciences to understand such details and to provide a way to refute the truth-claims of evolution (that Man evolved from an ape-like ancestor) without mucking up the science. Which brings me to a particular bible passage, Romans 1:18-23:

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” – Romans 1:18-23 (NKJV)

This amazing passage states that the universe (the heavens) reveals God’s handiwork. What the bible says about God creating the universe cannot be separated from scientific facts. God is both Lord and Creator. Thus the Evolution – Creation debate is in fact a “false” debate. Modern Christianity has stepped right into a trap that C. S. Lewis warned us about long ago:

“[The Devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” – C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

Young-Earth Creationism is the other error because it denies that the physical world, which God created, is the way that science says it is. Scientists merely observe the physical world and make interpretations and inferences about how it works. The scientific process itself is very pragmatic: whatever works is kept and built upon to create a fuller and more complete model.

Now, I am not proposing that the evolutionary explanation for the origin of humanity and the universe is correct. Far from it in fact. As a Christian, evolution is the obvious error in Lewis’ comparison. But Romans 1:18-23 merges belief in God with an accurate understanding of the world God made. The bible states that humans are fallen and sinful. How much more then must our own interpretations, both of scripture and of science, be treated with suspicion?

I cannot help you make the choice to accept this conclusion but I can point you to the organization which helped me. I spent years working through trying to find an integrated approach to science and scripture and I found it in Reasons to Believe. Do not believe all the lies you might have heard about them. They are honest, professional, and trustworthy. More to the point, they’re also logical and consistent. They’re scientists and Christians so they understand the particulars of this debate in ways that the rest of us cannot. I’ve looked at the alternatives and found them illogical and God is a God of logic, of sense, of consistency.

So I urge you, my brothers and sisters, to look to Reasons to Believe. Contact them. Subscribe to their podcasts. Read their books. According to I Thessalonians 5:21, test what they say and hold on to the good. I have followed them for 15 years and they have never faltered or failed to offer an explanation for all of the challenges posed by so great a debate.

Your science apologetics will soar through the roof when based on real science. Another tool in the Master’s toolkit to minister, counsel, and encourage.

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Comments»

1. RevolutionaryMind - November 16, 2012

I have to say, I greatly appreciate your take on things. I also believe that Christianity and science are not mutually exclusive, and I have come to believe that the new-earth-evolution debate is just people squabbling over things that they really don’t understand. I also appreciate your use of the term “ape-like ancestor” as opposed to “monkeys.” It shows an understanding of what Darwinian evolution is, on your part. Great post. I really enjoyed it. I may have to steal your quote from Lewis (:

2. RevolutionaryMind - November 16, 2012

Reblogged this on Me, My Thoughts, My Life. and commented:
Excellent blog on evolution and creationism, if you’d like an overview of some thoughts on those things. I personally really liked reading it.

3. RevolutionaryMind - November 16, 2012

I actually have a question now that I have started thinking (and reading on the RTB site). Do you believe that evolution was part of God’s creation process?

4. Daniel Benjamin Smith (dsmith77) - November 18, 2012

Re: RevolutonaryMind

Thank you and thank you. It’s not always squabbling, it’s both sides trying to make strawmen out of their arguments. Whether a well-versed evolutionist cherry-picking-apart the young-earth position since it isn’t based on real science or a fundamentalist without any science training using the umbrella term for everything, both end up talking past each other because neither is familiar with the details of the position of the other.

Regarding your question, there is only one area of concern regarding evolution that directly contradicts the bible and that is evolution’s explanation for the origin of humanity. (The origin of the universe is another area of concern but it’s not part of biological evolution which is usually what is being referred to.)

In short, evolution states that life evolved from non-life, that somehow chemicals on the early Earth spontaneously came together and the result was the first living organism. This organism then used the other evolutionary processes to evolve and diverge into every species of life on the planet. No I do not believe this form of evolution was part of God’s process. Scripture paints a clear picture of God caring for the life he created. The verb in Genesis 1:2 translated ‘hovering’ suggests the image of a hen brooding over a nest. It’s a protective, motherly image that is in stark contrast to the idea that evolution merely happened. The operative word here is probably ‘directed’ as in God directed the chemicals to come together. Evolution as essentially a random process could never, ever be described using that term.

That said, this is the only aspect of evolution that Christians should have an issue with. The rest of the theory is sound and does a good job of explaining a myriad of things we see in nature. It has become my belief that evolution has no creative power as there is no evidence to the contrary (remember the Shell Game.) but the evolutionary processes that work on existing living things do work and we have evidence that they do.

BTW, one great insight regarding this debate that I discovered while listening to RTB is that evolution describes happenings at the group level. Using strict evolutionary terminology, you can only state that communities evolve. Individuals never evolve per se. In contrast, Christianity has always placed its emphasis on the individual over society. So in a sense, this debate is an attempt to compare apples to oranges, group dynamics to individual decisions, and that will never ever come to an end. Only when they are seen as complementary to one another (that’s complementary as in ‘completing a whole’, not complimentary as in ‘thank you very much’) can we move past the debate.


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