Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Christianity and Evolution

Over the years, as a Christian, I've struggled with what it means to be a faithful Christian while also believing that the scientific endeavors as expressed by the disciplines of biology and cosmology are largely accurate in their assessment of the physical reality. Cosmology looks at the "macro" picture and sees an exceedingly ancient (13.7byo) universe, vast and beautiful, born of a big bang that has given rise to everything we now see. Biology, to a large (!) extent, has looked at the "micro" picture, and given us amazing insights to the origin of species through genetics and the somewhat larger (4.3byo) discipline of geology. The more I read, the more I am convinced of the Truth of evolutionary biology and cosmology. Yeah, I used a capital T when I spelled truth. I believe it's that true. Are there areas left that haven't been understood, even investigated? Absolutely! Is it possible that further discoveries may change how we understand our origins as a species? Of course. Is it in any way likely that these forthcoming discoveries will show us to be ontologically distinct (genetically speaking) from all of the creatures that have existed on earth from the beginning of single celled life? Not in the least. Does that have any impact on my faith as a Christian? Not in the least.

Are there tensions in my having accepted this position? Of course there are. The big issue of the historicity of Adam and Eve come up. The issue of when natural death came about also poses problems. But to acknowledge that the view of Theistic Evolution (the "official term" that I espouse) has tensions with the biblical text is not to close the door on its strength as an option. Each view, whether, theistic evolution, or Intelligent Design, or Young Earth Creationism, or Materialist (atheistic) Evolutionism, have their own tensions. Every opponent can point to the weak points in a view and say that this therefore "proves" that their view is false.

This tendency in the current environment gives too much voice to the culture warrior impulse that seems to be the zeitgeist de jour, whether theistic or atheistic. None of us actually engages the strengths of our antagonists arguments. We each look to their weakest point and take advantage of that in order to score easy points; hoping against hope that no one is noticing that we're acting like a magician using sleight of hand in order to distract attention away from the very issues that cause us most concern.

As usual, I'm concerned that we should give each other the benefit of the doubt. We should each allow that we might not have the corner on the truth. We should listen. I mean really listen, to each other. Even if we disagree. Especially if we disagree.

Who knows, we might actually learn something!

1 comment:

Kenny Johnson said...

While I'm not ready to jump on the evolution train (in fact, I still think it has some severe flaws), I do wish the evangelicalism and conservative theology would make more room for evolution. I think it leads some, who accept evolution as true to question their faith (because they were told by their church leaders that evolution is incompatible with Christianity).

I'd certainly welcome the change in tone.