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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Christians may not be nearly as divided on origins as we usually hear that they are

Christianity Today has published a report on a poll, which asked some in-depth questions about the beliefs of Christians on origins. (Not just, for example, "do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve?" But "How strongly do you believe this?" "How important is this belief?")

The results indicate that Christians aren't nearly as polarized as we seem to be. I hope that's true.

The title "Rethinking the Origins Debate," might lead a reader to think that it's about the recent Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate. The article doesn't mention that debate.

Thanks for reading. See the report.

2 comments:

atibertytosay said...

Martin,

I have a question. Why is the origin of humans, beyond human form important?

This has always been a question in my mind.

And, in your opinion, aren't the majority of "study of life and origins" research usually headed by a non biblical agnostic or atheist?

Martin LaBar said...

Many scientists are agnostic or atheistic. I'm not well enough versed in paleontology to know the beliefs of the leading paleontologists, or even who they are. But that shouldn't matter much, I guess. Most scientists, with any sort of belief, are searching for truth, most of the time, or at least I hope so. For example, some of the important early astronomers were Muslim. That doesn't mean that the things they discovered were false. Einstein certainly wasn't a Christian, but clearly he proposed some ideas that changed our view of natural things profoundly, and he seems to have been mostly right. (Newton and Galileo, and many other great scientists, unlike Einstein, were believers.)

Why is the origin of humans important? It's not the most important question, probably not even in the top 5. The matter of forgiveness for sin, and our view of Christ, are two much more important issues. But you asked. My answer is that there are a few reasons, some important to some people, others to others:
1) Most people want to know where they come from -- ask almost any adoptee.
2) This isn't a reason, but an observation. Most people who reject "evolution" say that human origins is the most critical question in that area of belief.
3) Taken literally, the Bible seems to say that the first humans were specially created from the substance of the earth by a miracle, and didn't descend from any other living things. If you believe that, but are told, by high school biology texts, or other sources, that we must have a common ancestor with chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, and have descended from such an ancestor, that seems to be an attack on Scripture, and, for someone who takes the Bible seriously, any attacks on its veracity can't be taken lightly.
4) One aspect of 2) is that Christ came in human form. (In fact, some theologians believe that He is still in human form, no longer only a spirit being.)
5) If you believe that scientific study leads to a better understanding of truth, and the evidence favors the common ancestry idea, you will probably reject challenges to that idea, as an attack on science, which is your profession, or at least a discipline that you believe is important. And you may go so far as to think that such challenges are an attack on the truth itself. (I personally believe that the Bible tells us that the study of nature is one of the ways God reveals Himself to us. (See my post, "How does God reveal Himself to humans?" which must have hit upon something lots of people want to think about, since, so far, it has been clicked on, if not read, over 2,000 times.)

Thanks for your comment.