Ongoing conversations — dinosaur eggs, and why I’m a Christian

I’m sort of caught between the young-Earth creationists on one side and the militant Dawkinsites on the other. I love them both: the YECs are my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and Jesus loves the atheists, so I do too.

There are a couple of interesting conversations going on on some of my older posts:

  • A conversation about dinosaur eggs under Dinosaur footprints part 3.  Did stressed dinosaurs lay those eggs while swimming around in the flood?
  • A conversation about “How can you be a Christian and a scientist at the same time?” under Darwin’s birthday #2. I am having a dialog with some lengthy comments with an atheist who calls himself  Human Ape. He uses language like “Christians are uneducated morons” on his own blog, but has been mostly respectful in his comments on my blog.

Please feel free to join in.

Grace and Peace

Darwin’s birthday #2

What drives more scientists away from Christianity, evolution, or young-Earth creationism? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that both have significant roles.

Some forms of evolutionary philosophy drive scientists (and others) away from Christianity. The New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, claim that evolution makes it intellectually feasible to be an atheist. To them, science can explain everything and there is no need for a God.

Young-Earth creationism (YEC), as taught by the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis, drives scientists away from Christianity. To most scientists, YEC fails in a number of ways. It fails biologically, astronomically, and geologically. The YEC-ers have convinced themselves, much of the Christian public, and much of society, that there is only one way to read Genesis, and that the truthfulness of Christianity stands or falls on this one interpretation. Scientists reject YEC, so they reject Christianity. This could happen to our youth raised on YEC as well.

I see both extremes as needless and unfortunate. I am convinced of the truth of Christianity, and don’t think the Bible has all that much to say one way or the other about evolution (except perhaps of humans).

To scientists who are reading this:

  • Don’t reject Christianity because of young-Earth creationism. There are plenty of alternatives out there to YEC within the Christian community, even within the Evangelical Christian community. At one time there was even quite a bit of diversity on these issues within the “fundamentalist” Christian community, but most of the dissent has been squashed.
  • One alternative within the Evangelical community is presented by Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe. Ross accepts an old Earth and old universe (he is an astronomer), but isn’t too keen on some aspects of evolution. He is a proponent of the day-age understanding of Genesis, and makes a good case for drawing parallels between the days of Genesis 1 and the history of Earth.
  • Another alternative within the Evangelical Christian community is theistic evolution. A good presentation of this is in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, edited by Keith Miller, who is in the Geology department at Kansas State University.
  • You can be a Christian and a scientist. You don’t have to abandon thinking; in fact, you may find your intellectual life fulfilled in ways you never imagined possible.

To Christians who are reading this:

  • I believe in a real creation by a real God, and a real Adam, a real fall into sin, real consequences for that sin, and in Jesus Christ as the only solution for that sin. Belief in an old Earth hasn’t changed any of that.
  • I’m not making a commitment to any one understanding of Genesis. Prominent old-Earth  interpretations include the day-age, analogical day, and framework interpretations. I see the literal six-day interpretation as also valid Biblically. Being that there are competing interpretations of Genesis within the conservative Evangelical community, I will go for ones that are not ruled out by the external evidence for an old Earth.
  • The truthfulness of the Bible does not stand or fall on the age of the Earth or biological evolution. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, for example, intentionally leaves out any statement on the age of the Earth.
  • Be willing to allow for some tension. We don’t fully understand the Bible. We don’t fully understand nature.
  • Be careful what you teach your children and the youth at your church. Don’t give them bad apologetics, and most of what is produced by ICR and AiG I place in this category. It is not all bad, but much of it is. And there are other creationist groups that are far worse. The risk is that our youth will some day have a crisis of faith, not because of what the Bible says, or because of evolution, but because much of what comes out of the YEC movement simply doesn’t conform to reality.

Grace and Peace

Darwin’s Birthday

Darwin
Charles Darwin age 51, from Wikipedia: Darwin

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809; two hundred years ago today.

Darwin’s theory of evolution, obviously, has been an extremely divisive topic. Has Darwinism made the world safe for atheism, as the “New Atheists” would claim? Is Darwinian evolution really EVILution; a doctrine of the devil? Or are evolution and Christianity perfectly compatible?

There has been an interesting discussion this week at The Internet Monk (Michael Spencer’s excellent blog) about the Roman Catholic approach to evolution as contrasted with the typical Evangelical approach. More specifically, he wanted to hear from people who have converted from Evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism because they found the RC way of thinking about evolution to be more palatable.

In a discussion on this blog earlier this week, a geologist made a comment along the same lines:

I think the Catholic Church makes it easier for its followers— accept human evolution, but consider Adam to represent the moment in which H. sapiens was infused with a soul.

Is he right?

I would take the Roman Catholic approach over young-Earth creationism, but are there better alternatives, such as Hugh Ross’s progressive day-age creationism?

It isn’t, of course, just a question of pragmatism. It is a question of truth. Which approach is most true to both Scripture and science?

Grace and Peace

Darwin, evolution, and God

charles_darwin_aged_51This may be new to some of you, but Charles Darwin did not reject God because of evolution, but because of other factors, such as anger over the death of his 10-year old daughter. Darwin was more of an agnostic than an atheist, and he certainly was no anti-God crusader like Richard Dawkins is today.

Dinesh D’Souza writes about this at ChristianityToday.com: The Evolution of Darwin.

The story is told in Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s authoritative biography, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. When Darwin’s daughter Annie died at age 10, Darwin came to hate the God he blamed for this. This was in 1851, eight years before Darwin released Origin of Species.

Around the time of Annie’s death, Darwin also wrote that if Christianity were true, then it would follow that his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and many of his closest family friends would be in hell. Darwin found this utterly unacceptable, given that these men were wise and kind and generous. Darwin’s rejection of God was less an act of unbelief than a rebellion against the kind of God posited by Christianity. A God who would allow a young girl to die and good people to go to hell was not anyone whom Darwin wanted to worship.

When Darwin published his work on evolution, the American biologist Asa Gray wrote Darwin to say that his book had shown God’s ingenious way of ensuring the unity and diversity of life. From Gray’s point of view, Darwin had deepened man’s understanding of divine teleology. Darwin praised Gray for seeing a point that no one else had noticed. In later editions of his books, Darwin went out of his way to cite the English writer Charles Kingsley, who described evolution as compatible with religious belief. To the end of his life, Darwin insisted that one could be “an ardent theist and an evolutionist.”

D’Souza (author of What’s So Great About Christianity) concludes with:

This history is important because we can embrace Darwin’s account of evolution without embracing his metaphysical naturalism and unbelief. Dawkins and others like him are in a way confusing the two faces of Charles Darwin. They are under the illusion that to be an evolutionist is essentially to be an atheist. Darwin, to his credit, rejected the equation of these two stances as illogical, even if he didn’t always maintain, within his own life, a clear distinction between his science and his animus toward God.

Charles Darwin was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 1809. The 200-year anniversary of their births is coming up next month.

Grace and Peace