How not to disprove evolution

There is a certain strand of Christianity, particularly in America, who think the solution to the “science v religion” debate is to write letters to the editor trying to engage with the science they are questioning.

Please, brethren, if that is you, at least try to get the science right. We Christians get angry at the way atheists caricaturise Christianity and misunderstand religion. We’d like them to try to understand that we can believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and not see a need to throw rocks at homosexuals or disobedient children. Please extend those in the scientific community the same courtesy – and don’t write letters like this:

Via Geekologie.

The Dawkins Delusion

I went along to see Richard Dawkins in Brisbane tonight. The results were unsurprising. I agreed with most of what he had to say – everything except his starting assumptions and conclusions.

He started by telling us all that our lives are incredibly improbable. That we should never take them for granted, that we should never take our existence for granted, and that we should marvel at our very unlikelihood. Then, he suggested, as his latest book indicates – evolution is the greatest and only show on earth.

Our improbable beginnings began with an improbable meeting of improbable matter that expanded improbably in a way that created stars and then life and then us. Somehow it makes more sense to believe a void created complexity than to believe a God did. But we can’t believe that a void created a God (especially the God of the Bible) who would eventually create a world… Once you start speculating about origins all the options seem possible to me.

It is, of course, improbable that anything like a God could possibly have been involved in the process – because for Dawkins as soon as you can describe the process the notion of an author is redundant. He ridiculed the God of the gaps (which is ridicule worthy) and a bunch of other strawmen. Then he closed with a question and answer session.

He was funny, engaging and most concilliatory. He just isn’t really engaging with any Christian belief that includes the ability to synchronise Christian belief with scientific truths, and he doesn’t seem to think that the Christian lay person is capable of anything but a strict, fundamentalist interpretation of particular passages. He did, in question time, suggest that the enlightened “bishops and archbishops” of the Christian world believe that God may have had some role to play in the start of everything but has then stepped back. Curiously missing the point of the incarnation.

He had a swing at anyone who believes anything on the basis of faith, authority, or feeling (there was one other factor – I forget) – and suggested that evidence is where it’s at. Which is fine. But he doesn’t really have anything to say to those of us who are believers because we think the evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus is compelling. Like a modern day Don Quixote he spends most of his time tilting at windmills to the cheers of an equally delusional crowd. Until he starts actually engaging with the facts his efforts to discredit his opponents are risible.

I think in the process of answering questions from the floor (particularly one about whether our close relationship to the ape world had any moral implications) he may have suggested it was morally ok to breed with the entities that link us biologically to the apes – the only problem is that they’re extinct.

In question time a couple of people asked about the evolutionary future of humanity – I still want to know how feasible my shirt is – will we one day turn into shape shifting alien robots? Or self healing immortal mutants with retractable claws? I sure hope so.

Thoughts and resources regarding Christianity and Science

The question of origins is one of those elephants in the Christian room – it causes fights. I’ve started treating it as a taboo topic – it only ever causes division. But it’s a question that is increasingly an important one to have thought through when it comes to apologetics and evangelism.

Sometimes Christians can be a bit like the guy in this XKCD cartoon when it comes to widely held and established scientific belief.

Scientific questions can be hard – but ultimately our faith is not predicated on rejecting the scientific method and human knowledge of the world – but on accepting the resurrection of Jesus and God’s revelation of his grand plan to tackle the problem of sin and death in a new creation.

The issue of science can be polarising. I shared this article in Google Reader the other day (also – please note – I don’t always endorse the content of articles I share, I simply share articles when I find them interesting) and prompted an interesting discussion with some Christian siblings on google buzz.

Here are some interesting articles I have been reading and pondering on the issue in recent times. Including a few from BioLogos – an organisation set up by Francis Collins to highlight the compatibility of Christian faith and faith in scientific discoveries (I’ll post the blurb about the organisation after the links).

You may have noticed that most of these resources support a non “young earth” position – I am sympathetic to those who want to put a high value on scripture, and I think we should recognise the science is a fallible human construct. If you’re going to read any of those articles read Keller’s it is by far the most useful.

But I think we also need to consider that the author of Genesis did not intend his work (and depending on your view of scripture – neither did God) to be read as science but as theology. The question then is what does this teach us about God and his redemptive plan first and foremost.

And I want to stress that I don’t think your personal views on Genesis are salvific – and it is possible to lose your faith in a young earth without losing your faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross – if we make this issue the yardstick of orthodoxy or fellowship we run the risk of being gravely wrong when we get to heaven and find out the truth.

About BioLogos
On one end of the spectrum, “new atheists” argue that science removes the need for God. On the other end, religious fundamentalists argue that the Bible requires us to reject many of the conclusions of modern science. Many people — including scientists and believers in God — do not find these extreme options attractive.

BioLogos represents the harmony of science and faith. It addresses the central themes of science and religion and emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe and life.