This is part of a series of posts on the debate within Christianity about how life diversified on earth (i.e. evolution, creationism, ID, or something else). See other posts in the series here.
I’ve been reading a whole lot of material on this debate for this series of posts. I’ve been reading from all sides of the debate. As such, I’m often presented with completely conflicting views of interpretation of the same data or conflicting views about overall methodological approaches.
Thus, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how it is the Christian should interact with this whole debate. It dawned on me as I was eating dinner today (and reading through a creationist magazine–I like to multitask) that most of the driving force behind this whole debate may simply be with the methodology. There seem to be two major groups within the Christian community who are arguing on this issue. One group asserts that Christians absolutely must keep up with science, and that this means jumping on board with the entire methodological approach inherent in contemporary science. The other group asserts that Christians should indeed keep up with science, but should do so while acknowledging that God is going to be intricately connected at all stages.
This is perhaps the absolute center of the entire debate. What presuppositions do Christians have when entering the “life dialogue” (as I’ve called it)? I tied this almost immediately with Paul K. Moser’s idea in The Elusive God that philosophy should be done differently by Christians, who assume God exists, and therefore focus philosophy around God. Should not science also be done differently by Christians?
What I mean to say is that basic to the Christianity is the idea that God not only created the universe and all things visible and invisible, but He also loves and interacts with that same creation. For Christians interacting with science, I think this must mean that Christians should enter any kind of scientific inquiry acknowledging that there are points not just historically (as in the case of Jesus or any number of Biblical events) but also biologically, astronomically, etc. (see Psalm 19:1-6 for reasons to think this). This doesn’t support a “God of the Gaps” proposition, in which God is thrown in anywhere that science can’t describe, but it does support a God who interacts with the universe.
The problem is that mainstream science does not share such propositions. Unfortunately, despite Christian origins of science (see here), science today seems to take naturalism as absolutely true. Thus, it is simply not a fair field of play for Christians. I see this happening often in theistic evolution. It seems to me that many some Christians seem to think that we can never assert that God did something (other than the things recorded in the Bible) in physical history. But I don’t see any reason why Christians should be encouraged to embrace wholly the naturalistic presuppositions of contemporary science. Christians, I think, should instead try to use their own paradigms to interpret scientific data. If God is seen as creator and sustainer of the universe, what does that mean for biology, astronomy, physics, or other fields of scientific inquiry? I don’t think Christians should have to operate under a naturalistic worldview in order to explore science.
Christians should make use of science. I would never argue otherwise. My point is that Christians shouldn’t be Christians in one realm (outside of science), but atheists in another realm (within science).
So what does this mean for the “life dialogue”? I tend to think that any view of the diversity of life that attempts to completely cut God out of the equation is ultimately deistic or atheistic, not theistic/Christian. Questions for Christians in this debate could be “What does this mean to our relationship with God?” or “What was God doing during this time span?” If the answer to either question is “nothing”, then it really doesn’t mean that much to the Christian. I believe that all truth will have relevance to our relationship with God. God is never inactive. He doesn’t passively sit back and “let it happen.” This can be seen in Scripture (see Psalm 104 for a particularly wonderful account of God’s interaction with the world).
Thus, as I continue in this “Life Dialogue”, I’ll be analyzing positions based on these presuppositional questions as well: What do these accounts of the diversity of life teach us about God and what do they mean to us?
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