I don’t know the particulars of how intelligent life came to be or on what precise timeline it developed, but as a Christian I’m left with the two sources of story that God has left at our disposal: the Bible and the universe (creation) itself. When these dual threads of revelation are allowed equal access to the question of origins, I believe they paint a beautiful picture of an infinitely creative, intelligent and yes, patient, creator. After all, if the universe is indeed created by God (as all Christians affirm), how could it point to anything or anyone except God if it is properly understood? Using the universe and its apparent laws and processes to argue against the existence of God is like using words and letters to argue that there is no such thing as ideas or written communication. It does not add up. The bottom line is that there’s no reason why Christians should feel threatened by legitimate science in the least. Indeed, it is only when a particular strain of philosophy or religiously held atheism sneaks in the door and tries to enslave science, that so-called “science” and Christian faith are at odds. Christians should reject atheism, not science, because they are simply not the same.
I have yet to encounter anything that would preclude evolution as a viable option for God to use in his efforts at bringing life from the dust of this planet (or the rest of the universe). Many of my fellow Christian believers do not agree with this, and somewhat tellingly, neither do their atheist counterparts. I find it interesting that these two groups on opposite ends of the spectrum find themselves coming to the same conclusions about the Bible, both arguing that it must absolutely be taken literally, but I suggest that they both miss the mark and subsequently attack and defend the wrong things.
I have written a lot about these issues in various places, but I admit that I have not done a good job of keeping them in the same places (or blogs), or making them easily navigable or searchable. Maybe I can work towards that in the future. For now, however, I would like to reference a “conversation” (perhaps more like a yelling match) that recently unfolded with my brother on my public Facebook “wall.” While I think I am perhaps only marginally qualified (at best) to psychoanalyze my brother, it must suffice to say that while we both grew up in the same house with the same parents and went to the same church, he and I have come to very different conclusions about those shared experiences, not least of which is our respective faith positions on God. My brother has faith that no gods exist, and by necessity this includes the particular God of Christianity. He also has faith that the Bible is completely unreliable but that atheism is nothing more than pure and unbiased reason following the only evidence that counts (physical matter) to its logical conclusion. Such are the faith positions of many Western atheists these days.
I have tried to explore my brother’s faith commitments with him on numerous occasions, particular care being given to the potential harmony between Christian faith and the sciences. As it turns out, like many other atheists, he is far more interested in launching attacks than he is in actually listening to or wrestling with ideas that challenge his own beliefs. I have little doubt that he would levy the same complaint against me, but the evidence would not support such a charge. I remain open to any criticisms of my faith in Jesus Christ, but I demand reciprocity. If you are going to attack my beliefs, you had better be prepared to listen to my reply, and you had better be ready to consider the criticisms I might offer of your own faith commitments. Unlike Fox News, this is the only way I know how to be fair and balanced.
A little more than a year ago, my brother generously offered to send me a copy of Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. I told him that I would read it cover to cover as long as he would make the same promise to read a book (cover to cover) that I would gladly send him. He refused. Since he has now “de-friended” me on Facebook as a result of our brief exchange and made it clear that he really has no interest in listening to what I might say, I am left to express myself to the blogosphere rather than the person with whom I would like to engage most. Maybe someday he will be able to see that his caricature of Christianity doesn’t correspond with reality, but perhaps I have been naive in thinking that I might be the one to help free him from this illusion.
But on with the show.
In our recent Facebook stare-down, I suggested once again that evolution and creation are not antithetical. What follows is his response to me in a challenge against my harmonizing the biblical creation account with evolution:
“Here are some verses which conflict with the Darwinian notion that evolution is a random process: 1 Samuel 16:7-12; Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 24:31, 25:34; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:4-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9.
Here are some verses which conflict with the concept that evolution is a continuing process: Genesis 2:1-3; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Hebrews 4:3-11.
Here are some verses which conflict with the notion that man is descended from other species: Genesis 2:7; Psalm 33:6,9; Psalm 148:5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 11:3.
And that’s just off the top of my google. Quit hedging your bets and pick a side, Corbin. Don’t you know that if you bet on red, and black, and double zero you always lose.”
To be fair, there was other witty banter in our Facebook thread before my brother stomped away, and I must admit that I did not use my most conciliatory tone in response to his vinegar and vitriol. But beyond our interpersonal dysfunctions, I think that the Bible verses he tried to quote are often (ab)used in such conversations, and I would like to explore just one or two of them (for now) to demonstrate that they might not always mean what atheists or Christian Fundamentalists might otherwise have us believe.
But before I get to that, I would also like to offer a different perspective on my brother’s roulette analogy. I admit that my knowledge of gambling and is not as seasoned as his, so am I wrong in thinking that if one bets on red, black & double zero, she or he is also always guaranteed to “win,” or at least break even? If so, the analogy’s wheels fall off, but even if they didn’t, the only way for it to work would be if I said that God created the universe, and simultaneously that he did NOT create the universe, and that’s not what I am saying at all. We must consider the possibility that God created the universe we find ourselves in using his own tools of evolution, geological and astronomical events etc. Why wouldn’t he?
What follows in the first comment below is my initial counter-perspective on just the first two texts (1 Samuel 16:7-12; Psalm 139:16) my brother tried to enlist in support of his belief that evolution and the Bible are at odds. He will probably never be able to hear what I am saying, but that doesn’t mean that others cannot find it helpful, or at the very least, mildly interesting. I hope you do.
Thanks for reading, -CL