Long and heated are the debates between creationists and evolutionists. “Did something or nothing create the universe?” “Where did life come from?” “Why are there so many types of life on earth?”
For many, the line between faith and science is a tightrope. You precariously walk between the two, hoping not to fall one way or the other and be condemned for making a choice. Many have also spent considerable time working on the concept of “theistic evolution”, trying hard to marry the two and eliminate hostilities. But are these ideas compatible? First we need to understand what we are talking about.
When this type of question comes up, why is being addressed is what is called Natural Science. This encompasses fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Fields of study that deal with understanding the physical world.
Evolution can be defined a number of ways. This particular question focuses on theories of biological evolution. These purpose that life arose from non-life, that it evolves through a series of mutations based on natural selection, and that all forms of life have a common ancestor.
Scripture, in this case, refers to the Christian Bible. Christians claim that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that everything it contains is truth.
So, now let’s break down these ideas into three comparisons: science vs. evolution, science vs. scripture, and scripture vs. evolution.
Are science and evolution the same thing?
- Evolution is a theory within biology, a sub-section of science.
- By equating evolution and science, the deck is actually unfairly stacked.
- If someone disagrees with a specific aspect of science, such as evolution, it is unfair to then assume that they are against all science.
- Since evolutionary theory resides within a branch of science, it must conform to scientific understandings and agree with it.
Does science work with scripture?
- The concept of science developed out of a Christian understanding of the world. Without this foundation, science would not be as developed as it is today and likely would not exist at all.
- Christianity is one of the very few religions that hold that God is a logical, orderly being. Based on this understanding, theologians reasoned that a logical being would create a logical world, and that we, as creatures made in the image of God, are capable of discovering that order and understanding both creation and our creator better.
- We have gain an immense treasure of knowledge from science that the scriptures don’t cover. Where they do intersect, there have not been any scientific discoveries that have disproved what the scriptures teach.
- Any apparent contradictions through history have been due to dogmatic interpretation of scripture. When scripture is properly understood, it agrees with science.
- The heliocentric model is a perfect example of this: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, among many others, were persecuted by the church for their ideas simply because it conflicted with the church’s interpretation of a few passages. Eventually, the church realized that those passages could be interpreted in a way, not changing their meaning, that agreed with the scientific theories.
- Since science was derived from the adherence to scripture, there is no inherent incompatibility between them.
Does evolution work with scripture?
- Current evolutionary theory states that life came from non-life, that it has evolved through chance and random mutation over millions of years to produce the wide variety of life that we see. If that is true, then there is no need for a creator, there is no specific creation, and there is no special purpose or uniqueness of human beings.
- If current evolutionary theory is correct, the creation account in Genesis is false and we consequently could not be certain of the veracity of any other portion of scripture.
- “Theistic evolution” purports that God initiated the evolutionary process. For that to work, God would have had to leave everything up to chance and not interfered with his creation, which is not what the scriptures teach. Chance and design are inherently contradictory.
- Current evolutionary theory reduces the scriptures to mere fairy-tales. There is no possible reconciliation between them.
There is no inherent problem between scripture and science. The second came into being from adherence to the first. A multitude of scientific breakthroughs and fundamental knowledge that we take for granted today was discovered or invented by devout Christians. From multiple examples in the past, we can see that only dogmatic interpretations of scripture create the apparent issues that come up between science and scripture.
On the other hand, modern evolutionary theory has been developing for generations as a refutation to the biblical creation account. It is specifically designed to eliminate the need for a creator and thus, cannot be reconciled to scripture.