Christian Faith and Evolution
I agree whole-heartedly with this article on the Huffington Post entitled Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution. His thesis is essentially this:
In theory, if not always in practice, past Christian theologians valued science out of the belief that God created the world scientists study. Augustine castigated those who made the Bible teach bad science, John Calvin argued that Genesis reflects a commoner’s view of the physical world, and the Belgic confession likened scripture and nature to two books written by the same author.
Therefore the orthodox Christian position is to embrace the teachings of science as another form of revelation from God, alongside the Bible. This isn’t a contradiction of the Bible – it’s a supplement. It’s only fairly recently, and really this one debate is only in the United States in any significant way, that Christians have started to see science as the enemy. Yeah, there have been a couple other anecdotes throughout history but in grand scheme they’re minority occurrences. Even in the Bible itself, Paul in the letter to the Romans proclaims nature along with conscience as ways that God reveals herself to everybody. It’s an interesting double-standard to me that some will use that text to condemn even those who haven’t heard of Jesus or God because they should still know from nature, and then also discredit all of the evidence of nature when it comes to evolution.
I have done very little evolutionary science – a few lectures throughout my undergrad to make sure we understood the general idea but we didn’t really need to know the details. But I do feel like I’ve looked at enough to say that there is no debate, and I’ve made friends who are both Christians and scientists say the same thing. It is established, and has been for a long time. Some American Christians still point to a couple of scholars that think the earth is only 6,000 years old – and as a side note, did Harold Camping teach us nothing about thinking we can pull exact dates out of the Bible’s narrative? But even in the U.S. it is a very small minority position that God is just testing our faith by making it look like evolution and that the earth is much much older, but really we must trust this certain other literal interpretation of a very poetic text. Obviously God is just tricking us right?
This anti-evolution Christian belief comes from a belief in the sufficiency of Scripture not only for spiritual truths but also for every kind of truth. This is even beyond the idea of biblical inerrancy. Not only does the Bible say absolutely everything correctly that it does say, but it says everything on every topic – history and science. Don’t bother looking anywhere else. And it is blatantly obvious what it means. Even though different people think it is blatantly obviously saying different things.
Why does this bother me? It limits God. God is only able to speak in the past, to something like 70 different people over 1000 years or so. Other than that, God does not reveal himself at all to us. That’s not the God I believe in. I believe in a God who is living and active today, and has been living and activity since the dawn of creation. Not the dawn of the writing of the Bible – that’s far too small to fit my picture of God – but the dawn of creation. I believe that God spoke in the Bible, and that God spoke in creation, in nature still today, in the lives of those who listen in the past present and future, and in many other ways. And I believe that God is the Truth and speaks the truth, not lies to trick us and test us.