Saturday, June 16, 2012

Torn Between What?

One of the paramount goals of our blog is to promote the relationship of science and the Christian faith. Our view is that science is a powerful apologetic tool. A leading organization for upholding the partnership of science and faith is Reasons to Believe whose president is Hugh Ross. It is an old universe progressive creationist organization which proposes that God created different life forms at incremental stages. Our blog takes a similar position that various life forms appear suddenly at intervals, according to the clear record of earth fossil history. The appearance of modern man has been sudden and recent, in conformity with the record, and in agreement with scripture.

There are diverse organizations touting the compatibility of scientific discoveries and scripture. The discoveries of science should convey vibrant harmony with the creative power of God. But there is wide disagreement on one important and fundamental area: the view of origins of life. One very popular organization founded by Dr. Francis Collins in 2007, BioLogos, currently has a large array of well known scholars on board writing blogs and scholarly papers. Most of these well known writers energetically promote their view of theistic evolution. Their views of the evolutionary origins of life are removed from the traditional view of the origin of life in sudden scriptural creation acts. Theistic evolutionists believe God somehow used the gradual process of evolution to create the entire variety of life on earth, including man. The process does not differ from naturalistic evolution except in one respect: God was watching over the process.

In an introductory page the BioLogos website makes several statements in an effort to introduce new readers to their popular website. It claims, “BioLogos is committed to the authority of the Bible as the inspired word of God, and believes it is compatible with new discoveries.” Then, “BioLogos sees evolution as the means by which God created life, in contrast to Atheistic Evolutionism, Intelligent Design, and Creationism.” And finally, “Christian young people shouldn’t have to feel torn between their faith and their biology courses.”

The BioLogos leadership claims the Bible is the inspired word of God, and implies those biblical words of God signal new beliefs for us. Second, the theory articulated by Charles Darwin and modified for our modern times is God’s chosen means by which life is created, they claim, not by Intelligent Design, and not by an act of creation. We may suppose the process of theistic evolution is distinct from atheistic evolution, supervised as it is by God as they claim.  Finally, we need not feel conflicted by any differences between evolutionary beliefs promoted by our biology courses and traditional beliefs in supernatural creation events described in the Bible by the direct intervention of God.

Naturalistic evolution (called atheistic evolution in the BioLogos literature), and theistic evolution, are both part of a conceptual framework which unifies the theory under a broad umbrella of creative concepts. This network of concepts gives popular substance to the theory and supplies evolution with a strong appeal for the human intellect. Perhaps the strong intellectual appeal far exceeds the scientific value, even though we are carefully groomed to think that as Christians we should think scientifically and “get on board” with the way bio-scientists think. How appealing does this counsel appear to those Christians who have been badgered from within our secular education system to accept the scientific consensus that evolution is a scientific theory? According to the community of bio-scientists who have succeeded in secularizing the science profession since 1870, yes, we now deal with the theory of evolution as science, by definition.

The well-meaning scholars at BioLogos promote only one side of the science of origins. This post cannot deal adequately with the weaknesses of evolutionary theory or the strengths of creationism. Neither can it deal with the purported scientific claims of evolutionist scientists which affirm evolutionary theory with new supporting hypotheses on a regular basis, or critique research on meaningful creation models still in their initial stages of development. We leave such investigations to the creative and energetic investigations of our thoughtful readers.

Instead of jumping on the evolutionary bandwagon, our goal is to honestly face weaknesses in evolutionary theory. By the same token, we encourage seekers to thoughtfully reappraise traditional creationist beliefs with the goal of discovering weaknesses and strengths of research findings using traditional scientific methods. A few more secular scientists are questioning the popular belief that supernatural phenomena are inherently beyond the scope of scientific investigation.

There is much at stake, not the least of which is, “What is the truth about origins?” There are many unanswered questions which need to be dealt with in great humility. Above all, we close with one of the three classic laws of thought which govern all rational discourse. It is called the Law of Noncontradiction. It states that if two religious claims have opposite truth value, exactly one must be true and the other must be false. Both evolution and creationism cannot both be true at the same time. We must be humble as we approach these conflicting claims.