I’ve written about evolution before but I wanted to narrow the scope of my discussion to how this debate is happening within Christianity. I explained in my first post on evolution that I am not, nor will I (probably) ever be a scientist or an expert in this field. Thus, what I try to do when I make posts about evolution, Intelligent Design, or Creationism, is bring things up on a layman’s level or bring up issues that I think pertain to the philosophical side of the debate. This is the introductory post for my series. View here for links to all the posts in this series.
Christians are right in the middle of this debate. Polls continue to show that the majority of Americans don’t believe in evolution. Many people seem to think that belief in evolution would somehow undermine God or belief in God. This, I think, is why evolution has become such a hotly debated topic within Christian circles.
Christians, it seems, have (at least) three choices when it comes to evolution:
1) Theistic Evolution- the belief that (neo-)Darwinian evolution is true, but God exists and kind of started the process of somehow (perhaps by creating life, and then letting things happen).
2) Intelligent Design- the belief that (neo-)Darwinian evolution is almost true, but it needs some help. Some things cannot be explained by random mutations and natural selection. Instead, an intelligent designer (read: God) directed and guided this process, stepping in here and there to insure that it continued in a manner the designer wanted.
3) Creationism- the belief that (neo-)Darwinian evolution is false and God created the world and all the “kinds.” Usually this includes a belief in micro-evolution–that the “kinds” mentioned in Genesis can vary, that viruses, and the like do evolve, etc.
Each of these groups can be broken into almost countless sub-categories. I will note just one for now:
Creationism can be broken down into:
1) The name “Old Earth Creationism” generally applies to people who believe the universe is as old as the scientific community holds, but that evolution has serious problems and that God specifically intervened either by creating life at various stages (often referred to as “progressivism”) or by fine-tuning life throughout the process.
2) Young Earth Creationism- God created the world in 6 literal 24 hour periods, resting on the 7th day. Evolution is false (except for micro-evolution) and the world appears ancient because of catastrophic events in our past (such as the Flood).
What exactly is at stake? If you ask me that question, I would have to answer “not much.” I feel strongly as though every side of this debate is greatly over-exaggerating the implications of the debate within Christianity. The Young Earth Creationists often argue that those who go against their view reject the authority of Scripture. This is unfair to those advancing the other positions, who are often looking to the Bible first for their view, while fitting what they view as scientific authority into that framework. On the other hand, theistic evolutionists often accuse those in the Intelligent Design or Creationist camp of ignoring scientific discoveries and evidence. Thus is also unfair, as it simply refuses to acknowledge the great amount of empirical research that is going in in the other areas.
I say that “not much” is at stake because I don’t think that any of these views ultimately excludes saving faith, which is the belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit. None of these views is damaging to such belief, so these views are all compatible with Christian belief. The extent to which they are compatible may be a different matter, and that is something that I intend to include in my analysis in future posts.
So where do I fall in these categories? Honestly, that answer will vary depending on what day you ask me. It’s an issue that I still need to do a lot of investigation into before I settle on one view.
Thus, this post, and ones that will follow, will reflect my investigations into this often explosive issue. I will be writing on things I read from each camp and trying to present them and evaluate them in as neutral a fashion as possible. Will I be unbiased? Obviously not. One can see from my “About” page what my presuppositions are. If a view I read goes against my view in the inerrancy of Scripture, then inerrancy will trump the view. I readily acknowledge my bias in this regard (which is more than a great many people do), so that you, the reader, can know that and take it into account.
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