Some readers who visit my blog regularly will not be surprised with my statement that evolution is not incompatible with creation, but others might be confused because I consistently maintain that rejecting evolution in favor of the Genesis creation accounts is one of the six most damaging baggage issues among believers today.
Perhaps in my former posts I have neglected to distinguish clearly between the misguided and harmful young-earth creationism and the belief of those who accept evolution along with God as the creator.
Another blogger recently noted a tendency, among both believers and unbelievers, to claim that God and science are in opposition to one another.
I agree with the blogger. And it made me consider the possibility that I might have contributed to this impression. While there are atheists who are aggressive in rejecting the existence of God, and there are creationists who are aggressive in rejecting the science of evolution, it seems to me that for very many, perhaps most, of us there is no conflict between God and science.
From the very beginning of the idea of evolution there were believers who accepted that evolution was the method God used to create the various species—and mankind as well. They experienced no conflict between science and God; they were called theistic evolutionists.
Today, these believers are still represented by many strong voices, but those voices are often drowned out by boisterous voices from both the atheistic evolutionist and young-earth creationist extremes. Perhaps no one has more stature among evolutionary creationists than Dr. Francis Collins, who was Director of the Human Genome Project.
In 2006, Collins wrote a book demonstrating that there is no conflict between science and biblical faith. Subsequently, Collins and others established the BioLogos Foundation website focused on science and faith. Though they believe in evolution, the BioLogos ‘About’ page shows that the group is actually somewhat theologically conservative:
- We embrace the historical Christian faith, upholding the authority and inspiration of the Bible.
- We affirm evolutionary creation, recognizing God as Creator of all life over billions of years.
- We seek truth, ever learning as we study the natural world and the Bible.
- We strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views.
- We aim for excellence in all areas, from science to education to business practices.
Evolution and Young-earth Creationism are not Compatible
While for many of us there is no conflict between science and God, there IS conflict between doctrinaire advocates on both sides. On the ‘God’ side, the problem is not those who believe that God created the Universe but those young-earth creationists who teach that he did so according to a literal understanding of the Genesis creation stories.
On the ‘science’ side, the problem is not those who believe in a scientific explanation for the Universe, but those who think that a scientific explanation eliminates God.
As a mind in the middle, I accept neither the premise that Genesis disproves evolution nor that science disproves that God is involved in the process. However, to what extent God is involved in creation and evolution is of little interest to me; I am happy to accept the innate ambiguity of the issue and have no desire to speculate on the details.
The Difficulty of Young-earth Explanations of Scientific Discoveries
Of the combative groups on either side, the doctrinaire atheists don’t bother me much; I find them unconvincing in their claim that they have eliminated the need for God; but they are militant atheists—what does one expect them to say? They don’t threatened me any more than many others with whom I disagree.
The group I have the most difficulty with is young-earth creationists who lead believers astray and who create additional harm by making Christians a mockery by denying compelling evidence of evolution and claiming that humanity did not emerge from lower life forms. This creates real damage among believers.
Part of the damage is caused by insistence that the ‘God-inspired’ Genesis stories describe details of creation, so that when followers realize that science conflicts with their understanding of the Genesis stories—the entire Bible is called into question. This often creates a faith crisis where no such crisis is necessary.
To defend against scientific discoveries that conflict with their understanding of the Genesis stories, young-earth creationists offer alternative explanations of the discoveries that are no more than speculations and that really don’t account for the facts.
We will talk more about these inadequate speculative attempts next time.
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Have a great day! ~Tim