Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?

Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? November 9, 2019


Molecular-biological thingey
An essentially irrelevant image from the field of molecular biology, chosen pretty much at random — it seemed an appropriate thing to do! — to illustrate this blog entry.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain)


A few notes from Karl W. Giberson, Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (New York: HarperOne, 2008):


First, Professor Giberson quotes a book by Michael Ruse, a philosopher who is emphatically not a religious believer but who answers Yes to the title of his own book, Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?


If you are a Darwinian or a Christian or both, remember that we are mere humans and not God.  We are middle-range primates with the adaptations to get down out of the trees, and to live on the plains in social groups.  We do not have powers which will necessarily allow us to peer into the ultimate mysteries.  If nothing else, these reflections should give us a little modesty about what we can and cannot know, and a little humility before the unknown.  (quoted on p. 16)


Dr. Giberson himself arrived as a freshman in college with Protestant fundamentalist and creationist views:


Loud confident voices, including the echo of my own college worldview, assure us that evolution is a false theory being used by Satan to destroy faith in God; equally loud voices counter that evolution is a true theory that is destroying faith in God.  Quiet but less confident voices point out the absurdity of both of these claims.  (17)


For the record, I think it fairly obvious that, for many, the doctrine of evolution has destroyed faith in God.  And it’s not hard to imagine Satan using it to do precisely that:


Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett describes evolution as a “universal acid.”  With undisguised glee he outlines how evolution, which he calls “Darwin’s dangerous idea,” eats through and dissolves the foundations of religion.  The theory of evolution, which he thinks is the greatest idea anyone ever had, destroys the belief that God created everything, including humans.  “Darwin’s idea,” he writes with approval, “eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized worldview.”

Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost my confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science.  (9-10)


Dr. Giberson (who would go on to earn a doctorate in physics) soon abandoned his young-earth creationism, though he remains a devoutly Evangelical Christian:


We don’t know anywhere near enough about evolution to infer from it that God is not the creator.  And we don’t know anywhere near enough about God to dismiss the idea that evolution might be a part of God’s creative processes.  If we can embrace a bit of humility and avoid the temptation to enlarge either evolution or biblical literalism into an entire worldview, we can dismiss this controversy as the irrelevant shouting match that it is.  (18)


Professor Giberson taught at Eastern Nazarene College, but he was eventually forced to leave that school precisely because of his stance on evolution.



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