A while back I made quick reference at this blog to an essay published by Scientific American written by Michael Shermer: Darwin on the Right. It’s an older essay (published September 18, 2006), but I think the points he made then still need to addressed by thinking people who refuse to just give up. The overall tone of the essay, brief as it is, is just that: Christians ought to just give up the fight because, according to Darwinists, there is such a preponderance of evidence for Darwinian evolution that it seems silly for anyone to argue against it. Shermer writes:
According to a 2005 Pew Research Center poll, 70 percent of evangelical Christians believe that living beings have always existed in their present form, compared with 32 percent of Protestants and 31 percent of Catholics. Politically, 60 percent of Republicans are creationists, whereas only 11 percent accept evolution, compared with 29 percent of Democrats who are creationists and 44 percent who accept evolution. A 2005 Harris Poll found that 63 percent of liberals but only 37 percent of conservatives believe that humans and apes have a common ancestry. What these figures confirm for us is that there are religious and political reasons for rejecting evolution. Can one be a conservative Christian and a Darwinian? Yes. Here’s how.
Now, I realize these figures are severely outdated, and that Shermer’s essay is over a year old, but I doubt the figures have changed much. Shermer’s approach is kind of a ‘Awe, com’on you silly Christians (and Conservatives!) get with the program!’ He also seems to think that believing in evolution (or at least making it compatible with biblical Christianity) is a rather simple thing to do: “Just follow these six easy steps and, Presto! as if by magic the synthesis will be complete.” But is it really as easy as Shermer would suggest? I think not. I’d like to take his points one at a time which means that these posts may run a little longer and may, in fact, be broken up as I address each of his six points.
First, Shermer writes that ‘Evolution fits well with good theology.’ He writes:
Christians believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God. What difference does it make when God created the universe–10,000 years ago or 10,000,000,000 years ago? The glory of the creation commands reverence regardless of how many zeroes in the date. And what difference does it make how God created life–spoken word or natural forces? The grandeur of life’s complexity elicits awe regardless of what creative processes were employed. Christians (indeed, all faiths) should embrace modern science for what it has done to reveal the magnificence of the divine in a depth and detail unmatched by ancient texts.
Well, in fact it does matter a great deal–theologically speaking, and for a few reasons at least. First, because, as I have stated elsewhere, the premise of Darwinian evolution is that it does not require any god to be involved. (I sometimes think Richard Dawkins carries more dislike for theistic evolutionists than he does for Creationists.) The whole idea then that Christians should accept a system of belief that does not require God, even the God of Scripture, is absurd. Second, because the Scripture says that God Created the world by his Spoken Word! The Scripture does not say that God used ‘natural forces’ (whatever that means). Genesis 1 is ample testimony that God spoke the world and the universe into existence. Colossians 1 is further evidence. But there is also Hebrews 11:3: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (And, please, spare me the drivel about creationism being only a matter of faith because evolution is no less a matter of faith!)
Third, ‘modern science’ is not rejected! This is the straw-man that Darwinists continue to lob out at Christians. Christians do not reject science; we reject materialistic Darwinian evolution and those ideas and beliefs that reject the Word of God as true.
Fourth, it (evolution) is not good or even bad theology or even compatible with good theology because Darwinian evolution is not any sort of theology. We do not interpret the Word of God through the world, but the world through the Word of God (Cottrell, The Faith Once for all, 27). Theology starts with the Word of God and works itself outwards. This is why I continue to point out that when it comes to this issue it is not a matter of ‘science versus religion’ (because the ‘religious’ do not reject ‘science’ per se) as much as it is Christ versus the world (or, at least Scripture versus Darwin). Only one can be right, and there cannot be a synthesis of the two I don’t care how many ‘christians who happen to be scientists’ say there can be or how many others say there should be. Fact is, theologically speaking, the Scripture makes this assertion: “In the Beginning God…” It speaks of nothing or no one before this statement. In other words, the Bible begins at this point for a reason (which I contend has to do with Redemption, see Revelation 4-5). Why does the Bible begin at this point? Why, if in fact we evolved via Darwinian mechanisms, would the Scripture open with such a direct challenge? The Bible could have begun anywhere it wanted (although logically speaking it had to begin at the beginning), so why did it begin with Genesis 1:1? Why would the Bible, if its own testimony is that it is the word of God, and if God knew that Darwin would ‘figure it all out,’ set itself up to be complete debunked and overthrown? Tell me, Mr Evolutionist, why would God challenge you from the very first verse? (It is, after all, God versus the World!) Why not begin with these words, “In the beginning God set up the forces of nature so that through natural selection and common ancestry and survival of the fittest and genetic mutations caused by the environment evolution would lead to the existence of man”? But the Bible doesn’t. It opens with a direct challenge to any other ‘origin of life’ theory. It pits God against every other philosophy and theory and hypothesis. The Bible starts out saying: Here’s where it all begins; here’s the challenge. Our origins are in God, from God, and for God. And if the Bible isn’t true from the first verse, I don’t think it can be true at any point. And isn’t that quite the goal of people like Mr. Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and others? Isn’t the goal of the Enemy to cast doubt on the Scripture?
Why did it take so many thousands of years to figure out what Darwin figured out if it was, in fact, so obvious? Why, one might almost be persuaded that Charles Darwin was the smartest man to ever walk the planet! Yet, Jesus Christ fully accepted that in the beginning God created (he was there, after all!) My contention is that if the Bible is not true at this most basic level, at this beginning point, then how on earth can I trust anything else the Bible has to say? If God is not the Creator, how can he be the Redeemer? If God did not make the first ‘heavens and earth’ how on earth can I believe his promise to make a ‘new heavens and new earth’? Darwinism does not ‘fit well with good theology’ because Darwinism rejects theology and insists that we are quite apart from Divine intervention or Divine guidance or Divine Existence.
Fifth, Shermer asks ‘what difference does it make…?’ Now, he is specifically dealing in this question with the number of zeroes we add to the date of creation. Well, two points on this. First, I don’t know how many zeroes to add. I don’t know how long the earth has been around although I can make some logical assumptions. Sin caused this earth to be under a curse (accounted for in Genesis 3). Genesis 1 says the earth and the universe was made in 6 days. (I don’t buy the ‘days are a thousand years’ argument for dating the earth either. I don’t think those who make this argument take into account what sin has done to this planet and the universe that ‘groans’ and ‘longs for the sons of God to be revealed.’) But what difference does it make? “It does make a difference what you believe, because what you believe determines how you behave” (Thomas Beasley as quoted by Cottrell, Faith Once for All, 36) If I believe that the Bible is not telling me the truth about God, about Creation, about Redemption, then I will live like that. I will likely care nothing for God. I may not commit murder or rape, but I will likely live without regard to what God has said about Creation, Redemption, God, Jesus Christ, Sin, and the like. In other words, I will live without regard for God, I will reject him, I will ignore him, I will blaspheme, ridicule, and mock him. I can personally think of nothing more offensive than to disregard God, and ignore or ridicule the work He accomplished through Jesus Christ at the cross. If God did not create, then just exactly how am I accountable to God? But if God did create, then I am wholly accountable to Him. (I have demonstrated amply the consequences of Darwinism on our social constructs elsewhere in this blog.)
Sixth, and finally, Shermer says that we “should embrace modern science for what it has done to reveal the magnificence of the divine in a depth and detail unmatched by ancient texts.” In other words, we should accept science as Scripture and reject the Bible as Scripture! We should, in other words, reject God and worship Darwin! We should pay out tithes to The Museum of Natural History, study the prophets Dawkins, Gould, Darwin, and Crick and cast out Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, and David. What Shermer doesn’t understand (besides his colossal ignorance of ‘divine’ which has no meaning outside of the Scripture he rejects) is that Christians do not reject science, but neither will we worship it. It is helpful, useful, and at times it does in fact reveal wonderful truths about the world we live in and the grandeur and wonder of the God who made this world. The Christian and the Church, however, are guided and governed by the Word of God, the Bible, the Scripture, the Oracles of God, the Holy Writ, the Scrolls, the Torah, the Gospel, and the Faith Once delivered (these are synonyms for those of you who have embraced science in Shermer’s manner.) Science may well have revealed God to a wonderful degree, but science cannot compare to the Creation itself, and neither come close to the Scripture because neither reveals to us our problem: Sin; and the solution: Jesus Christ.
The very creation stands as testimony to the handiwork of God and His Glory (See Psalm 19, Genesis 1, 2, Romans 1, Job 38-41.) But if not for these ‘ancient texts’ how would we know of the God Shermer says we learn of, and who is magnified, through science? If not for the Scriptures Shermer says we should reject, it is likely there wouldn’t even be a Darwinian challenge! No, Christians should reject such statements as Shermer’s out of hand. We do not learn our theology through a microscope or in a test tube or, for that matter, by staring at a tree. We learn theology from ‘ancient texts’ (read: The Bible) that are the Word of God–regardless of what the unbelieving community says about us for doing so. Christians accept the Scripture and it is only because there is a sore lacking of theology being taught from pulpits in churches that people make such suggestions and Christians fall for it. That is, many will accept Shermer’s words as wise, bridge building words because they don’t really understand what is at stake in the matter (I will address more of this as we go along), because they don’t really understand theology. It is because Christians do not understand theology that people like Michael Shermer can say things like ‘evolution is good theology.’
My suggestion is simple: Christians should reject what Shermer says, but not ignore it. Christians need to read the Scripture and be deeply involved in it’s propagation. Christians must not compromise the standard of theology for the sake of a synthetic capitulation to people who don’t understand the depth of the meaning of Scripture. Maybe Shermer was joking and simply mocking Christians. But if he was serious, and I think he was, we should reject his thoughts for the reasons I suggest above and for the reasons that will follow in future installments. There is a lot at stake in this ongoing debate between Scripture and Darwin but I am confident in Christ that the Scripture will carry the day and will at last, forever, Triumph.
“All men are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord Stands forever.” (1 Peter 1:24, niv)
In the next installment I will address Shermer’s assertion that ‘Creationism is bad Theology.’ Thanks for stopping by.