Anti-Evolutionism as Stumbling Block

Anti-Evolutionism as Stumbling Block February 8, 2016

This came to my attention via the Facebook page Science Meets Faith, and I thought it worth sharing here.

“I am a Christian and recognize that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. It is a discovery, much like Copernicus’ theory of heliocentricity, Newton’s theory of gravity and Einstein’s theories of relativity, and definitely not a wild, unsubstantiated guess, desperately propped up by scientists trying to find some godless answer to the questions they have.

Those aforementioned theories accurately describe the laws of nature under their purview, have stood the test of time, and have also, at various times, been decried by the Church as counter to the teaching of the Bible, yet now, it rightly recognizes them as being true, and the passages of the Bible which refer to things like a solid sky, a geocentric universe, and infinite water outside it, are either figurative, allegorical, or merely reflecting the pre-scientific view of the authors of the passages in question.

If you were not already a believer, and someone today told you that, in order to accept Christ, you had to reject the notion of a heliocentric system or a sky which is but a thin shell of air surrounding our world, you would think that there was no good reason to take them seriously.

This is precisely what Christians who claim that evolution is incompatible with belief in Christ are doing today. By claiming that faith and falsehood are inextricably linked, we do nothing but harm to the Church, and will face the judgment of those who “cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

If you believe, counter to virtually all life scientists, that the evidence does not support evolution by common descent, that is your prerogative, but please, for the sake of the name of Christ, do not tie that belief to faith in Him.

If you’d genuinely like to know why I accept evolutionary theory as the best explanation for the available evidence as well as why I believe that not only is it fully compatible with belief in Jesus Christ, but that the young earth/anti-evolution stance is not a very good interpretation of scripture, I’d be more than glad to engage you in private discussion.”

Lars Cade, CRM Administrator at Corporate Chaplains of America

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  • Pseudonym

    It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.

    With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about [the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation.

    – St Augustine, The Literal Interpretation of Genesis

    • David Evans

      Good thinking in general, but:
      “it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies”
      Why? That knowledge is certainly not deducible from the Scriptures, and it cannot be gained from observation without instruments and mathematical concepts that the authors didn’t have, so it must not be necessary for salvation. Why assume that God would give it to them?

      • Pseudonym

        My point isn’t that Augustine was right. My point is that Augustine knew that Genesis wasn’t what today we would call a “science book” and had some choice words to say to anyone who thought it was.

        If that didn’t convince you…

        For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.

        — St Origen, quoted in De Principiis IV

        For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception; and therefore what Gregory declares falsely and in vain respecting statues and pictures is truly applicable to the history of the creation, namely, that it is the book of the unlearned.

        — John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis

        Every major Christian theologian who lived prior to the 20th century, with the possible exception of Basil the Great (and I stress that it’s a possible exception), who saw fit to write on the topic, thought that Genesis 1 was at least partly non-scientific. Where a hyper-literal reading of Genesis appeared to contradict perception or rational enquiry, the hyper-literal reading of Genesis 1 was wrong.

        Anti-evolutionism is obviously a modern phenomenon; by definition it must post-date evolution. Anti-evolutionists have always been in the minority. What most people don’t realise is that in general, those who prefer a reading of the Bible which contradicts the scientific account have always been in the minority, and have almost never had champions among the Christian writers of history.

  • ashleyhr

    I’m confused as to why there are TWO threads for comments – not only ‘Disqus’ but ‘The World Table’ (where my own comments have ended up as I could not see the Disqus button earlier).