I recently stumbled across this interaction on a popular Christian website called “Ask a Bible Teacher,” and it made me very sad:
Q. How does one reconcile the arguments of creationism vs. evolution? I hold fast to the belief that God created man, but, with overwhelming proof of the concept of evolving, is there any proof outside faith that at some point God made man as he is today and in doing so broke from the predecessor “cave man” etc. Is there a blending of the two concepts that is acceptable to the Christian faith?
A. Sorry, there is no blending of creationism and evolution that’s acceptable to Bible-believing Christians. And where is the “overwhelming proof of the concept of evolving” that you speak of? Many leading scientists, both believers and non-believers, have denounced the theory of evolution as being unproven by observation. True, there have been noticeable “improvements” in various species over time. But never has one species “evolved” into another.
If you don’t believe that God created you the way He said He did, how can you believe that He’ll save you the way He said He will? *
This made me sad because it demonstrates how people in our evangelical churches can remain so out of touch with current knowledge in the realm of science. It made me sad to think that, as much as our modern lives benefit from centuries of fascinating scientific research, we can so easily see science as our enemy. It made me sad that we in our churches fail to equip our kids to interact with the knowledge available to them in schools, in books and and on line.
The questioner seems to be trying honestly to harmonize discoveries of science with his/her belief in the Bible, and the answer of Jack Kelley, the self-described “Bible Teacher,” is essentially that it can’t be done. He says, “There is no blending of creationism and evolution that’s acceptable to Bible-believing Christians,” even though many sincere and creative people have successfully done this ever since the time of Charles Darwin.
Kelley denies that there is “overwhelming proof of the concept of evolving” and that the evidence for evolution is weak. Well, let’s just review some of the major arguments that seem to be persuasive to virtually all scientists and educated people who have thought about it:
(1) Fossil record – If you look at the layers of the earth (in the Grand Canyon, for instance), you’ll find fossils of life forms at lower levels that don’t exist any more, while modern life forms are missing at those levels. The lower you go, the simpler the life forms are.
(2) Homology – If you compare body structures of various animals, you’ll find the same pattern of bones, muscles, organs, arms (or wings) and legs, all operating in much the same way. Whales and snakes have “vestigial” hind leg bones, even though they don’t use them. The thousands of species of insects all have three body sections and six legs.
(3) Adaptation – Darwin studied the various finch sub-species in the Galapagos Islands, and he noted how their beaks were adapted to the specific food available in their habitat. Many other adaptations have been studied since his time. An example from your life: the flu shot you received this year was different from last year’s because last year’s virus strains adapted to resist last year’s shot.
(4) Artificial selection – Evolution seems to work through “natural selection,” by which a particular individual plant or animal might survive because of some small advantage it has over another. “Artificial selection” is the same process, but it’s manipulated by humans. By artificially selecting one individual to breed over another, humans have controlled evolution to produce the various breeds of dogs, pigeons, livestock and improved yields of crops.
(5) Genetics – DNA is a common genetic code in every living cell, and it is used by every living creature, plants and animals. Humans share 96% common genes with chimpanzees, 90% with cats, 80% with cows, 75% with mice and even 25% with roundworms. This points to a common source of all life on earth.
It’s irresponsible for Mr. Kelley to dismiss such strong evidence because of his narrow view of how the Bible should be interpreted. Rather, he should be thankful for the insight science gives him on how God did his work of creation.
The most offensive part of Kelley’s answer is his final line: “If you don’t believe that God created you the way He said He did, how can you believe that He’ll save you the way He said He will?” Kelley is basically challenging the questioner, “If you don’t accept my way of interpreting the Biblical creation account, you should doubt your salvation.” This is the kind of spiritual intimidation that was used against Copernicus, Keppler and Galileo in the 15th and 16th centuries when they made the case that the earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa. An influential church leader preached a famous sermon against Galileo in which he actually asserted that mathematics and science were contrary to the words of the bible and, therefore, heretical. Such church leaders made it clear that these scientists’ souls were in danger because of their beliefs about the solar system. Some Christian “teachers” in 2015 seem to want to take us back to those days.
When I went off to Rutgers University as a biology major in 1954, someone shared with me this statement attributed to 16th century astronomer Johannes Keppler: “Science is thinking God’s thoughts after him.” I’ve had that attitude ever since, and it’s been exciting to see God’s truth from both sides.
— Pastor George Van Alstine