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Friday, July 10, 2009

An Evangelical Statement on Evolution

Steve Martin, of An Evangelical Dialog on Evolution, is in the process of beginning work on what he is calling "An Evangelical Statement on Evolution." He has made a good start, but is asking for assistance. This is an attempt to offer such assistance.

I won't repeat Martin's work, which I applaud, here. I do want to make some suggestions.

Martin is attempting to demonstrate that there are evangelical Christians who believe that God used natural selection in bringing about the present diversity of living things. It seems to me that one thing a Statement of the type he is working on should do is to define evolution, and, in doing so, indicate part of the common ground that Christians who reject evolution, or say that they do, have with the Christians indicated in the first sentence in this paragraph. I am assuming that orthodox Christian belief, as set forth, for example, in the Nicene or Apostle's Creed, is common ground, and that probably doesn't need to be set forth. But some other things should be:

1) When Martin says that he is an "Evolutionary Creationist," I suppose that he means that he believes that God made the universe the way it is so that natural selection was the process which led to most or all of the various kinds of living things. In other words, an Evolutionary Creationist does not believe that humans, or all of the other organisms, are here solely due to blind, purposeless chance. Evolutionary Creationists agree with other types of Creationists that, at some level, God designed the universe so that natural selection was possible, and that part of His design was the eventual existence of human beings.

Evolution is a process whereby natural selection, over time, has caused new forms of living things to come about. Evolution did not bring about the existence of the universe itself, or of the various entities studied by astronomers. Evolution is not responsible for the appearance of life for the first time.

2) Textbooks, teachers, and scientists who claim that science has proved that God does not exist, or does not have any creative power, should be resisted. Such statements are beyond the scope of science.

3) The Bible teaches not only that God created things, but that He sustains them now. (Colossians 1:15-20)

4) Humans are special organisms. They were created in God's image, with responsibility for other organisms. Although other organisms, or even non-living things, may also have some part of God's image, Genesis mentions this only about humans, indicating that humans have significantly more of God's image than any other organism. God the Son came to earth in human form, which also indicates that humans are special.

This world, as it is now, is temporary. Nonetheless, as humans, and especially as Christians, we have responsibility to maintain God's creation, including non-human organisms and ecological communities and ecosystems, as well as we can.

There are some other Biblical principles that Evolutionary Creationists should set forth, but that other Creationists may not agree on, without some persuasion.

1) The Bible teaches that scientific evidence is part of God's revelation. Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 tell us this.

2) It is not possible to scientifically prove God's creative power. Although scientific data are part of the reason for believing in that power, acceptance of its reality comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:3.)

Martin sets forth objectives. The second such is to "Provide Encouragement for those Struggling with the Perceived Conflict between Science and Faith." One group of those that Martin doesn't mention, but should, is parents who believe that public school science classes are detrimental to their faith, and, therefore, do not place their children in the public schools, but home school them, or place them in Christian schools. This is bad for the health and well-being of the public schools, because it keeps thousands of concerned parents from supporting them, and because it keeps thousands of children who might be an example to non-Christian schoolmates from having the opportunity to provide such an example. Not only that, but such parents help to propagate the belief that there is a conflict between science and faith among a significant portion of the evangelical leadership for the next generation.

Thanks for reading. Read Steve Martin's blog.


FancyHorse said...

There are pros and cons concerning Christian parents sending their children to secular, public schools. You have stated the pros very convincingly. I went to public school myself, and my children did.

It seems that times have changed since then, though, and I can sympathize with Christian parents who don't want their children influenced by worldly teachers and classmates.

Martin LaBar said...

I agree. There may sometimes be good reasons to home school, or to send children to a private school.