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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why worry about origins?

With the anniversary of Darwin's publication of Origin of Species . . . the topic of evolution is again being pushed to the forefront of public thought. It deserves to be asked why this topic should be of concern to evangelical readers. After all, people have been finding salvation in Christ for two millenia without needing to have a perfect understanding of the process of origins. Why should readers put time and effort into trying to disentangle this issue? Bethany Sollereder, "God and Evolution: A Review of Four Contemporary Books," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 61:40-48, March, 2009. Quote is from p. 40.

Why, indeed? Sollreder might equally have said that we don't need a perfect understanding of quantum mechanics, or eschatology, the Trinity, or a lot of other things, to make it to heaven, and it's a good thing that we don't. In fact, we finite humans probably don't have a "perfect understanding" of anything.

But we are created in God's image. Things that that seems to include are the ability to think, and some curiosity. (As well as some other properties, probably more important than these two. We can form relationships, communicate verbally, and make moral choices, among other likely attributes of being in God's image.) So reasoning, curious creatures are probably going to try to figure out how things got started. A long time ago, some scientists used to say, when they were learning how things worked, that they were "thinking God's thoughts after Him." Maybe they were. Maybe scientists of our day sometimes are, too.

Not only do we try to find out things because we are in God's image, but we are supposed to be stewards of God's creation. To be a good steward is to be an informed steward. Study of how things came to be as they are should help us to understand better how to take care of the living things that are still in existence.

As you can see from the reference above, Sollereder's review goes on for nine pages. Clearly, the editor of Perspectives, and, presumably, Sollereder, thought there was some importance in describing four books on reconciling scientific data about origins, God's revelation in nature, with God's revelation through the Bible. I agree. Suffice it to say that Sollereder believes that Kenneth R. Miller's Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, and Denis Lamoureaux's Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution, are valuable books, for persons who read them carefully.

Can I prove that reading one of these books is as important as, say, reading a book about how to raise a Christian family? No. But, for some Christians, Christian stewardship of God's creation, and learning as much as possible about God's activity in the natural world, seems to be part of their calling. If that is true, they need to follow that call, which may include learning, and receiving training, in areas such as origins.

Thanks for reading.

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