Monday, May 5, 2008

An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution

Thanks to James McGrath, I found a very interesting blog by Steve Martin, an evangelical believer who has struggled with the issue of evolution, and has devoted a blog with the hopes of starting a dialogue about his conclusions. Here is Steve's introduction to his blog:

Dialogue rarely describes the relationship between evangelicals and evolutionary science. Perhaps debate, condemnation, or mocking, but rarely dialogue. And the lack of dialogue and propensity to condemn and mock goes both ways. Evangelicals condemn evolutionary science as atheistic; evolutionists mock evangelicals as being little better than medieval religious nutcases. Prominent evangelicals will debate evolution, but as in most debates, there is little real listening. It’s all about scoring points and winning the argument.

So it can be a bewildering experience for thoughtful evangelicals trying to determine the credibility of the theory of evolution. On the one hand, the scientific community, almost unanimously, considers it to be an undeniable fact. The evidence is deemed as compelling as other obvious scientific facts like gravity and heliocentricism. On the other hand, Young Earth Creationist (YEC) organizations (largely Evangelical in outlook) boldly claim that there is absolutely no evidence to support evolution, or that the evidence is either fabricated or grossly misinterpreted. Even more disconcerting is the fact that the shrillest voices on both sides of the debate agree that evolution has huge religious implications. “Evolution is true, and its clear implication is that there is no God”, says one atheistic evolutionist. “The acceptance of evolution means denying the Word of God” counters YEC.

. .

I have come to some broad conclusions. The first is that biological evolution, including common descent of humans from pre-existing animals, is the framework that best matches current scientific evidence for describing how life developed on earth. Second, and more importantly, I believe that the idea of God creating through evolution is compatible with the Christian faith, an Evangelical expression of this faith, a faith that does not compromise the divine inspiration and authority of the scriptures, and is in fact theologically more satisfying than creation without evolution.

For many Evangelicals these are heady, if not heretical, conclusions. I disagree. Neither do I believe my Evangelical card should be confiscated because of them. (Although frankly, at times, I feel like voluntarily turning it in. That’s a different story). I am certainly not alone. There is a growing chorus of evangelicals who accept the science of evolution, and feel that this in no way compromises their biblical faith, nor is it the first step on the slippery slope to liberalism. Although YEC and Intelligent Design (ID) proponents tend to drown these voices out, it is likely that this discussion will become more prominent in the near future; and more heated. It’s still unclear whether mainstream evangelicalism will ever accept the possibility that TE proponents can even legitimately use the label Evangelical.

And that brings us to the reason for this blog – a dialogue. The current relationship between evolution and evangelicalism can best be characterized as warfare. I believe that ending this warfare will be good for science, and much more importantly, good for the gospel. Our Christian commission is to tell the good news of Christ’s resurrection, his present and coming kingdom, his new creation. The evangel in evangelicalism should remind us of this everyday. And I strongly believe that our misguided war on science in general and evolution in particular is hurting the gospel; it is preventing many from hearing and responding to the good news. And it is causing some who have heard and believed to now doubt whether it is good news at all. Dialogue is the first step towards a ceasefire.

As many of you know, I have been writing an essay on evolution and its implications for my faith. This is now on hold. I believe that this blog is a more appropriate communication vehicle than an essay. There are two reasons for this. 1) Since I am still in mid-journey, a blog allows me to share thoughts, ideas, and conclusions even if those ideas and conclusions are not fully formed. There is also no requirement to connect all the ideas into a coherent story. 2) A blog invites comments, criticism, corrections, and conversation. Not only will this enhance my own understanding, but also it will make the spiritual and intellectual journey much more satisfying.

I welcome you to join the conversation.


Read it all here. It looks like an interesting blog.

2 comments:

author@ptgbook.org said...

One of possible ways to reconcile a literal reading of the Bible with the fossil evidence has to with verses 1 and 2 of the first chapter of Genesis.

Verse 1 says that God created the earth. Verse 2 says that after God created the earth, it was in a condition of darkness and covered with water.

So before we even get to verse 3 which starts the account of the six days of creation which occurred about 6,000 years ago, the earth already existed. Genesis does not say how long the earth existed prior to the six days. But there is Bible evidence that the earth was not originally created in a desolate condition, covered in water and in darkness.

There seems to have been a prior age which could have lasted millions of years when the earth had life on it, and that life could explain the fossil record.

Gary said...

author,

How do you know that verses 1 & 2 aren't just part of the first day of creation that continues in verse 3 and ends in verse 5?