I went to a lecture tonight on the creation / evolution debate at a church here in Calgary. The church was of the new variety with candles and round tables and carefully placed spotlights and projectors and LCD displays. The modern cathedral I guess.
The speaker was probably one of the most educated individuals I have met. He has three post doctorates in dentistry, Old Testament hermeneutics and evolutionary biology… (I think I have that right)
His essential argument, as I understand it, is that evolution is an indisputable fact; that it is right for Christianity to accommodate scientific theory and that to not do so is to set up an unnecessary stumbling block in the way of genuine seekers. Rather than interpret Genesis as historical literature, it should be interpreted as poetic literature. His main defence of this position is the pre-scientific three tier view of the universe that comes out in the writings of the Hebrew prophets.
I thought I would take this chance to think out loud while the ideas are still fresh and maybe things will become clearer as I write.
1. The classification of Genesis as poetic literature is fairly subjective. There is no doubt that the structure of the days of creation are arranged in a very structured way so that the environments are first created and then they are filled. So God created the world in a very structured way. But let’s say that Genesis is a poetic description of the creation of our world.
2. If Genesis 1-3 is an allegory of creation then probably one of the main ideas I would take from it is that death is a foreign intruder into what was an otherwise perfect world.
3. This does not correspond well with evolutionary theory.
4. Death is the vital mechanism necessary for evolutionary theory to operate.
5. Evolution requires that populations coexisted in the past in the same way they do now. One population is held in check by the predatory or competitive pressures of another species or by organisms within the same species.
6. Two observations:
7. This world is incredibly beautiful and complex.
8. Nature can be extremely cruel and at times even perverse.
9.. All of nature is adapted for either defence or attack.
10. Nature red in tooth and claw.
11. These realities make it virtually impossible for us to imagine a world without death.
12. Any account of origins that states that the world was created perfect and w/o death must give a reason for death’s intrusion.
13. Genesis attributes death to sin.
14. It is interesting that every aspect of the curse of man and Satan involves a change in nature.
15. Women’s pain in childbirth required some kind of anatomical change.
16. Once useful plants became pests.
17. The serpent would slither.
18. Together these imply a much greater change so that the world we experience today is so different from the original world that we cannot begin to imagine what it was like or explain its dynamics based on our current understanding of biology.
19. Is it possible that the changes induced in the created world as a part of the curse were some form of adaptation? Species were given by God the ability to adapt and change in response to their environment as a matter of survival in a fallen world.
20. Adaptation, then becomes another astounding aspect to the design of life. God made life self replicating, self healing and able to adapt.
21. These characteristics all trace their roots to the genetic code and the truly marvellous way that individual characteristics are coded for by multiple genes.
22. Creation currently groans and is waiting to be redeemed. If it was never perfect and has slowly evolved to its current condition, then it has been groaning for 10-15 billion years. That is a long wait.
23. If massive adaptation is an aspect of the design of life, does it then follow that we should also believe in the descent with modification of all life from molecules?
24. Micro evolution lacks the explanatory power to explain the formation of the first cell.
25. To say that Christians use the ‘God in the gaps’ theory to explain everything that science has not is false.
26. The gaps in macro evolutionary theory are more like oceans. To argue that these ‘gaps’ must have a natural scientific explanation because this is the only kind of explanation that is acceptable is nothing more than methodological naturalism. It is a philosophical belief and is not necessary for good science.
27. All knowledge should lead us to understand how little we know and lead us to the conclusion that we are little children.
28. Knowledge can lead to idolatry.
29. It is possible for a great number of extremely intelligent and well educated people to be very badly mistaken. Much of our current economic crisis was created by very smart people with a thorough understanding of economic theory.
30. Truth is not found in the consensus or in doctorates.
31. The further science deviates from the present, the more arbitrary and uncertain it becomes. G.K Chesterton says it well,
32. An inventor can advance step by step in the construction of an airplane even if he is only experimenting with sticks and scraps of metal in his own backyard. But he cannot watch the Missing Link evolving in his own backyard. If he has made a mistake in his calculations, the airplane will correct it by crashing to the ground. But if he has made a mistake about the arboreal habitat of his ancestor, he cannot see his arboreal ancestor falling off the tree. He cannot keep a caveman like a cat in the backyard and watch him to see whether he does really practice cannibalism or carry off his mate on the principles of marriage by capture. He cannot keep a tribe of primitive men like a pack of hounds and notice how far they are influenced by the herd instinct… Thus while most science moves in a sort of curve, being constantly corrected by new evidence, this science flies off into space in a straight line uncorrected by anything. ‘The Eternal Man’
33. Was the Spirit of Christ evident in words that were spoken?
33. …Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3