Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics
Origins of Life, Part 2
01/2011Posted by on
So, how do we resolve the conflict between the theory of evolution and the Genesis record of the creation of the earth. A better question might be, is there a conflict? I take us back to the quote of the Catholic clergyman,
As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and infinitely marvellous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed. Mr. Darwin’s theory need not then to be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill. Perhaps your friend has got a surer clue to guide him than I have, who have never studied the question, and I do not [see] that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings’ is inconsistent with divine design — It is accidental to us, not to God.
Christian Smith argues in his book that the relationship of science to religion was deliberately set as a conflict. But that is an exaggeration used by scientists, educators and even church leaders to increase each groups cultural power. The truth is that many scientists see no incompatibilities between faith in God and their work in biology or chemistry.
According to Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, two studies were conducted in 1916 and 1997 which show that many scientists believe in God though they also may believe in evolutionary principles. In the 1916 study 40 percent of scientists polled say that they believe in a God who actively communicates with humanity. Forty percent said that they did not believe this and 20 percent were unsure. In 1997, Larson and Witham repeated this survey asking the very same questions of scientists. They reported in Nature, that they found that the numbers had not changed significantly since the first survey.
Enter today the evolutionist polemicist, Richard Dawkins, and others of his philosophical bent. Mr. Dawkins and others believe that the origins explanation can only center on particle physics, string theory or laws that govern the elements of the material world and can’t conceive of a scientist who does not believe much as he does.
His notions and theories are rejected however by many in the scientific community. Rather, they go about their business ignoring his polemics. Thomas Nagel has said of Mr. Dawkins’ project:
The reductionist project usually tries to reclaim some of the originally excluded aspects of the world, by analyzing them in physical–that is, behavioral or neurophysiological–terms; but it denies reality that what cannot be so reduced. I believe the project is doomed–that conscious experience, thought, value, and so forth are not illusions, even though they cannot be identified with physical facts.
Many scientists believe Dawkins is wrong. Science cannot explain everything. This also explains why scientific thought can be compatible with religious belief.
So, where should we be as Christians or honest seekers regarding the apparent conflict between the secular explanations of origins and what the Bible communicates about the intervention of a God into human history?
As I stated at the beginning of part 1, some aspect of the theory of evolution have been developed to the degree that they are acceptable to someone who believes in God. Certainly I believe that God has guided the entire process and yet left space for mutations and other changes within animals and plants.
Here is summary quote on the congurience between evolution’s theory and a creationist view:
If “evolution” is…elevated to the status of a world-view of the way things are, then there is direct conflict with biblical faith. But if “evolution” remains at the level of scientific biological hypothesis, it would seem that there is little reason for conflict between the implications of Christ belief in the Creator and the scientific explorations of the way which–at the level of biology–God has gone about his creating processes. (David Atkinson, The Message of Genesis 1-11, IVP)
So evolution provides explanation of how biological processes work but do not exclude the possibility or the probability that there was divine intervention to supervise beginnings and continuing processes.
Sometimes Christians come off as if we have all the answers to life’s deepest questions and never waver in our beliefs or understanding. That simply is not the case and I hope is not implied here.
There is a great statement in the New Testament that points how the struggle that we Christians go through at times. Matthew 28:17, “When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.” That’s right, believers saw the risen Jesus but from that statement we can only conclude that they could not bring themselves to firmly believe that Jesus the Son of Man, had risen from the grave. That is, in spite of the face that he was before them and that they could even touch him, yet they doubted what they were seeing was actually happening.
I will be the first to admit that I do not have all of my convictions firmly formulated. I was to believe in Him and His resurrection, but as a military officer said to Jesus when He was here, “help me in my unbelief.” I certainly am in the process of growing in my faith and convictions.