How to Build a Monkey

mnkybikeA long standing frustration of mine is the creation-evolution debate. It typically involves otherwise intelligent people in a discussion which degrades in a disastrous descent from reason to ridicule. Somewhere along the way, the parties lose respect for each other and start invoking insults and invective, and possibly throwing feces. Notably, this is what our evolutionary ancestor the ape does. There is no reason for this inanity, because there is no disagreement between the scientific theory of evolution and the Christian idea of an omnipotent God who created all that exists.

 

The difficulty begins when Christians decide that, in addition to knowing their God made all, they also know exactly how and when he did this. This is a dangerous statement, because none of them were actually there to watch. None of us, atheist or otherwise, can conclusively prove anything even exists any further than in our minds- a philosophical idea known as solipsism. Top flight physicists and engineers are unable to measure anything exactly because of Heisenberg uncertainty, and our best physical theories are always being incrementally adjusted to better reflect reality. Thus, a dogmatic claim that we know precisely how something in the distance past occurred is foolish. The Genesis narrative in the Bible was not written in an exact or modern scientific voice and does not give dates, numbers, or specific details in any way that would be useful to build a scientific theory on. Still, people insist on claiming that anything less than young earth creation is heresy and must deny God’s existence.

 

Exacerbating this are many scientists and others who think that evolution exhibits the nonexistence of God. This is the misapplication of science. By his very definition, God operates in a realm infinitely larger than that delineated by factual observation and hypothesis testing. Science can never prove or disprove the existence of God because it isn’t able to study him fully- it can only study the trail of his existence. Logic is great, but even it assumes nothing is greater, and therefore can’t deal with entities outside its realm.

 

However, the scientific theory of evolution is often taken as proof that God doesn’t exist. Evolution, like other science, is built excluding the concept of God because it is a scientific theory, so to use it to disprove God’s existence is ridiculous. This, and its corresponding accident (creation as proof of God’s existence) on the religious side, are a misuse of terms. Neither creation nor evolution are another name for the existence of God, yet the debate often goes into this territory. Creation necessarily postulates God’s existence, but this is a philosophical question. There are many things science doesn’t understand, and mystery is a necessary part of human existence, but answering scientific questions with “God did it” short-circuits the scientific method. The viability of either creation or evolution should be agnostic of deity, and determined solely by evidence.

 

There is no theological reason against God using evolution to create his beautiful earth, its life, and ultimately man. It’s conceivable that after evolution had run its course successfully, God breathed the breath of life into man and there, out of the dust, stood man, surrounded by a flourishing earth.There is certainly room in the Genesis narrative for it. Evolution’s overthrow of entropy in no way diminishes the power of God- it is at least as impressive as other creation narratives[1]. Evolution does not do away with the act of creation ex nihilo, but moves it back to the Big Bang to be puzzled over, where the question of God again arises. If the evidence shows that evolution is the most probable mechanism behind our existence, then we are wise to accept it, until it is usurped by a more advanced idea. There is no major Christian objection against this, nor is there a religious objection against the idea of a young earth created instantaneously.

 

Neither of these ideas are the core of what the Bible teaches. They are tangent to its central message of a broken earth saved by a Christ who came down and wrestled with our dark Oyarsa so that we had the option of being free. Stubborn statements about how God built the earth distract from the important things that Christians need to be doing. Evolution versus Creation is not a salvation issue. Nowhere does it say that one must believe in Christ’s death and a young earth to be saved. If it is necessary for us to know the details of how the universe was made, God will show them, but probably sometime after he has begun with issues like sin, repentance, and changing the heart. Acrid debate about the issue of creation versus evolution creates rifts in the church, tarnishes God’s good name, and separates Christians from a culture that desperately needs the love of Jesus. All Christians need to know is that God created the earth. He left how he did this for us to discover. The point to remember is this: He created.



[1] For more on this and as an excellent starting point for further research, see http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/evolutionary_creation.pdf

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