**Here is the text of a talk I recently gave at another one of the ACTS64 gatherings. I answered the question “God…did you use evolution to create the world?” I certainly didn’t cover all that could be said in this short talk, but maybe you’ll find some of this info helpful even in its brevity. Sorry about the lack of posts (for all the devoted readers…). I’ve been working hard to prep for my comprehensive exams. Hopefully I’ll get to posting some stuff I’ve been saving up by mid-November and December.

In order for me to really deal with the question for tonight with much depth, I would need a significantly longer time than we usually have at ACTS64. So, for tonight, my intent is, as usual, to simply challenge our “taken-for-granted” types of thinking. Primarily, I want to challenge a thought that seems all too common – that is, that Christianity and evolution are in some way compatible, as in theistic evolutionism (the basic idea that God created the world using evolution). But I also want to challenge lesser common ideas that are becoming more popular like Creation science, and others like Intelligent Design (yes, I know you might be surprised that I’m saying this, but keep listening). Keep in mind, however, that I am a creationist in the strict sense – that is, I believe what the Bible says: that God created the heavens and the earth, all things visible and invisible. I just have serious reservations of how we, as a culture, tend so willingly to use science, even to rely in it, to make our case for how we think God played a role in the creation of the world.

So, ultimately, I will deal with a couple of basic theological and philosophical problems of trying to marry science and religion.

What I’m about to say might shake your thinking. If you haven’t caught on to what I’m up to as a theologian/philosopher yet, that’s what I’m trying to do most of the time. I think the Word of God tends to force us into that kind of situation – one that shakes up our thinking. Here’s how Martin Luther said it in his commentary on Romans: “When however, the Word of God truly comes, it comes as the enemy of our thinking and desires. It does not allow our thinking to stand, even in those matters which are most sacred, but it destroys and eradicates and scatters everything.”

With that in mind, what kinds of theological and philosophical problems are there with theistic evolution, creation science and Intelligent Design?

For one, there is the assumption that Christianity and science are essentially talking about the same thing in the exact same manner, and thus, if and when Christianity needs to borrow from science, for whatever reason, it’s just perfectly fine to do so. Therefore, since evolution has become the dominant story of science for the last 150 or so years, Christians have either stood ardently against or, as evolution has come to have seemingly more and more explanatory power, Christians have found themselves almost forced to find a way to integrate evolutionism in some form into our Christian thinking. So, for example, you might hear arguments about microevolution and macroevolution, which state that Christians can easily accept into their worldview microevolution because it’s clearly visible empirically (the usual example is with a story about moths, but Darwin’s study of canaries in the Galapagos Islands is also a key example of microevolution). However, Christians cannot accept macroevolution (the idea that all creatures evolved by a process of accidental mutations and natural selection – one of those primary ideas being that humans evolved from primates) because the idea is still theoretical. That is, there is no empirical evidence, at least not in terms of a complete set of links in the chain from the first primates to humans as they are today. There is certainly hope in the scientific field that we will eventually find these links, but for now, the idea is just accepted theoretically. Why Christians can’t accept this macroevolution is because it stands in opposition to Genesis, which states that God simply created man special among other creatures and at a specific moment in time. In some Christian circles however, there is almost an openness to a time when, if the chain of links for the first primates to modern-day humans is completed, Christians would just have to change their story, even if it’s contrary to Scripture – that’s how much we take science for granted without realizing just how badly we’re unwittingly undermining our Christian beliefs.

And that’s exactly what is so problematic with this whole line of thinking: it’s the easy willingness of Christians to simply accept the assumptions of science. It does not matter whether we’re talking microevolution or macro, the problem is that we’re taking science for granted altogether as if it always gives us the truth about reality. And to follow that up, we then feel as if we need to augment our Christian talk about reality with scientific talk. Yet deep under the FACTS of the evolution which we are so willing to accept are the theologically deceptive and philosophically empty assumptions of atheistic science : 1. Science does not believe in a supernatural reality (so what about the idea of “all things visible and invisible” from the Creed – and by invisible, the Creed was definitely not talking about quantum particles?) 2. Science does not believe in the existence of God (so what about our confession that God created all things) 3. Science does not believe there is a purpose to life (so that means YOU are nothing but a cosmic accident, you’re expendable, you don’t matter) and 4. Science does not believe there is meaning outside of the meanings we arbitrarily impose on life and events (which means whatever you do in life is never an investment in the good and will never have lasting value – nothing you have done, are doing, or will do is meaningful in anyway). So, the big question is, why are we so easily willing to marry atheistic science with Christian faith?

And my answer is, maybe we shouldn’t be so willing. Maybe we should be significantly more cautious. Maybe our willingness in many corners of Christianity is the deceptive work of the devil himself in his attempt to weaken our theology and our faith from the inside out – from places that seem safe and simple, but that are ultimately a slippery slope out of the kingdom. Maybe.

This is my problem with theistic evolution, creation science and Intelligent Design. Each of them is an attempt on many levels to marry the apples of religion and the oranges of science and it just can’t be done. Under the surface, things are much more complex and problematic than they seem. I hope in what I’ve just said, this is becoming clear to you. Theistic evolution is the most blatant example of this – and the most closely related to our question for tonight. Creation science simply attempts to use science (often times with the fully atheistic presuppositions mentioned above) to prove that the story of Creation happened as written in the Scriptures. But an additional problem comes into play here – the same kind of problem I mentioned in my discussion about the Bible last month: the story of Creation should not be treated as something which needs to be proved in the court of science – if the Bible is authoritative, we don’t need scientific proof to authorize it. Every time we feel as if this kind of proof is necessary, the Bible becomes relativized to a higher authority and the whole process becomes self-defeating. Intelligent Design, while falling guilty to some of the same problems of Creation science, also has another short fall. It doesn’t actually argue for anything specifically Christian – it can be used for any sort of monotheistic worldview, from Deism to Islam to Christianity and everything in between. That’s a problem because the Christian revelation is specific about Who created and how it happened.

Now, some of you might be asking, isn’t there a way to do science with Christian assumptions? Yes, I think there is. But, the question we’re dealing with tonight wasn’t about doing science with Christian assumptions. By asking if God created the world with evolution, we’re inherently invoking non-Christian science. It would be an entirely different conversation if we were to talk about science with Christian assumptions. So, we’ll have to save that for a different time.

So, you might be feeling like I haven’t left you with much by taking as much of science away as I have. Or you might be feeling better, because you’ve finally got a little bit of confirmation for some of the intuitions you’ve already been sensing about these issues. Either way, let me encourage you, even if you don’t have all the questions answered as of now, keep the faith. What the story of Jesus gives us that the atheistic presuppositions of science don’t is a story about purpose for our lives – you were created for a reason; a story about creation as opposed to accident – you were made, specifically at this time with intention by a Creator, and with a purpose. And because of Jesus, you’re not damned to hell nor are you destined for pure annihilation as evolution says – instead, you’re destined for a lifelong journey in community with the people of God and a place in God’s heavenly mansion in the New Heaven’s and New Earth. The story of Scripture promises so much more than evolution.

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