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The Intersection of Science and Faith

Science and faith have long been viewed as opposing forces, with many believing that one cannot exist alongside the other. However, in recent years, there has been a growing movement towards finding common ground between the two. In this discussion, we will explore some of the key issues surrounding science and faith, and consider how they might be reconciled.

Does science come shrink-wrapped in atheism? 

The most common fear about Darwin’s idea is that it will not just explain but explain away the minds and purposes and meanings that we all hold dear. People fear that once this universal acid has passed through the monuments we cherish, they will cease to exist, dissolved in an unrecognizable and unlovable puddle of scientistic destruction. Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, p. 63

Charles Darwin did not use his theory to promote atheism and never claimed that evolution implied the existence or nonexistence of God. If I were to suggest a motto for the new atheists, it would be sola scientia – by science alone. Most people cannot, and choose not to, live by science alone. There are numerous important questions, as we have seen, that science cannot answer. Many anti-evolutionists mistakenly believe that science, by its very nature, is anathema to religion. Individuals who are comfortable in their dual role as scientists and people of faith, however, belie this view. For example, Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis (1898-1963) began his academic career as an atheist. After his conversion, he became a prominent apologist for the Christian faith. Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages, p. 192

Biologists do not derive any special benefits from their espousing of evolution, and they do not set out to undermine anyone’s faith in a supreme being. There simply seeking to understand how the universe operates. Science is highly competitive, and because it’s theories are by definition open to challenge, science is also self-correcting.

Does the theory of evolution leave God out of creation? 

In the nineteenth century, Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) compared the evolutionary process to the development of an embryo. Evolutionary creationist Denis Lamoureux expands on this idea, comparing the evolution of living organisms to fetal development in the womb. Lamoureux says: "This first generation of evangelical evolutionists often compared the process of evolution to the mechanisms of embryology that fashion individuals in their mother’s womb. These evolutionists argued that in both cases, humans were created by natural laws that were ordained and sustained by God." Lamoureux argues that as fetal development unfolds, new information appears which existed only as a potentiality in the fertilized egg. This process, he says, is teleological, or, in Christian terminology, ordained by God. God’s creation of individual human beings, and of all living organisms through the process of evolution, is planned for a purpose. This point of view finds scriptural support in Psalm 139:13, which describes a miraculous knitting process in the womb, resulting in a body that is “Fearfully and wonderfully made.” 

When the evolutionary process is compared to embryological development in this way, the Creator need not directly intervene once the process begins, but oversees the process. Evolutionary creation proposes that God does not micromanage his creation, and that evolution adheres to an overarching plan with occasional divine intervention in the evolutionary process. Each natural event, on its own, may seem random, but the overall pattern advances God’s purpose. According to biologist Kenneth Miller, evolution is best conceptualized as a continuing creation in which God’s will is expressed in and through every living thing. Alvin Plantinga speaks of front-loading, where God creates the conditions that issue in the right mutations arising at the right time. This divine activity has been called orthogenesis, defined as “… an innate tendency to evolve in a unilinear fashion due to an internal or external driving force.”

The driving force behind evolution is God himself. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge. God continually “… upholds all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3 NASB). Without God’s continuing supervision, but not necessarily His direct intervention, Christians believe the universe would immediately return to its original chaotic state. The word ‘providence’ is derived from the Latin, providere, “to see ahead.” God’s providential concern, according to the scriptures, is for all of his creatures, past, present and future. (see Matthew 6:28-30). God is providentially active in all natural processes. All of creation declares His glory. So, for Christians, if something happens “naturally,” God is still in charge.

In the eighteenth century, Alexander Pope (1688-1744) said, “All are parts of one stupendous whole, whose body nature is, and God the soul.” As far as science is concerned, any divine guidance in the creative process would be so subtle and subdued as to go completely unnoticed. The Genesis creation accounts describe God as a purposeful Designer imposing order on chaos. In the scriptures generally, God is the Potter, the Architect. Unlike the direct and occasional intervention advocated by intelligent design, evolutionary creationists argue that God conceptualized creation and evolution made it happen. Evolutionary creation is best understood as “divinely planned evolution.” In the seventeenth century, Thomas Burnet (1635-1715) used a clock analogy, declaring that a superior clockmaker has a clock that works on its own rather than one that needs intervention every hour. 

God guides the evolutionary process and has an important relationship with creation, but, most of the time, creation unfolds on its own. This has been characterized as a theistically-guided evolution which pictures God as a nurturing but not overbearing parent. Even though advocates of evolutionary creation understand God’s role in evolution as typically a “hands-off” process, the possibility of direct action by God, through miracles, remains a distinct possibility. In other words, evolutionary creation leaves open the possibility that God can, on occasion, stage an invasion.

Francis Collins, Language of God. (p. 53).

How can random processes produce complex organisms? 

Ours is a universe where the conditions that make life possible are built into the fabric of existence. The anthropic principle proposes an answer to the question of why the fundamental physical constants of the universe are just right for life to exist on earth, and not just for life, but for conscious life as well. Whether life exists anywhere else in the universe, of course, is an open question. If life as we know it is to exist, even if it should only exist on earth, a long list of physical constants must have specific values with the precision of many decimal places. The physical constants central to the anthropic principle include the mass of elementary particles, the gravitational constant, and the speed of light. The existence of the vast universe as it is today rests on a knife-edge of improbability. In 1974, astronomer Brandon Carter formulated the anthropic principle which states that these coincidences are inherent in the universe’s structure and that chance has nothing to do with it. Evolving Certainties (p. 148). 

Contrary to claims made by anti-evolutionists, natural selection is a contingent, not a random or chance process. For Darwin, “chance” meant “contingency.” Contingent processes are dependent on certain other factors for their existence. Therefore, the exact path evolution takes cannot be predicted at the outset. Contingency is pervasive in evolution, including mutations and genetic recombinations. In evolution, contingency is expressed in the form of mutation, as well as the shuffling of the genetic deck of cards that takes place through sexual reproduction. Evolution is a tinkering process. It is opportunistic, working with the genetic material it has at hand. Evolution works with structures that already exist and seldom finds perfect solutions. It improvises and re-purposes. It finds new uses for old parts.

Evolving Certainties (p. 60). 

Do science and faith conflict? 

The so-called warfare model can be traced back to two books written in the late nineteenth century. The first was written by John W. Draper (1811-1882), titled History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science, published in 1874. Draper’s book went through fifty printings in fifty years. The second was written by Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), founder of Cornell University. White’s book was titled A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, published in 1896. Evolving Certainties (p. 9).


Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) expressed strong anti-scientific sentiments, many of which are still heard today: “We are invited, brethren, most earnestly to go away from the old-fashioned belief of our forefathers because of the supposed discoveries of science. What is science? The method by which man tries to conceal his ignorance… Forsooth, you and I are to take our Bibles and shape and mould our belief according to the ever-shifting teachings of so-called scientific men. What folly is this?”

Evolving Certainties, (p. 128).

A significant number of Christian groups cannot bear the consequences of Darwin’s world. The warfare model is, in a sense, the frame on the portrait of Young-Earth Creationism. A prominent theme in young-earth literature, consoling in its simplicity, is that of a massive scientific conspiracy directed primarily against Biblical authority, an understandable concern for those with a high view of scripture, including its inspiration and inerrancy. In addition, many evangelicals associate science with a liberal worldview which seeks to overthrow traditional morality. According to young-earth creationist orthodoxy, creation is the work of an unchanging God, expressed in the context of His unchanging Word, interpreted in the context of an unchanging hermeneutic. Science, on the other hand, the argument goes, is an expression of man’s ever-changing, and often contradictory, opinion. 

For young earth creationists, compromise is not an option. The New Atheists, a small subset of radical scientists out to discredit and eventually destroy religion, by their actions and by their words, present creationists with a valuable gift – an easily-identifiable enemy. The driving force behind Young-Earth Creationism is fear, not fact. In a culture war such as this, facts are secondary. Truth has value when it serves a purpose, not necessarily for its own sake. This conflict is essentially a battle of two fundamentalisms – the religious dogmatist and the scientific idolater. In many ways, what we have here is two monologues. Scientific truths, however, are not decided by majority vote, but by rigorously-gathered data and solid evidence.


Quoting Colossians 2:8, (NIV) “Do not let your minds be captured by hollow and elusive speculations,” creationists warn their constituency about the dangers of accepting evolution. Young-earth creationists, however, do not speak for all Christians, or even all evangelical Christians. An unknown writer once said that anti-evolutionists exhibit the same “blinkered tenacity” characteristic of all fundamentalist thinking, be it religious, scientific, or political. In the young-earth subculture, everything is safe and comfortable. Everything is approved by others. Others are more than willing to do your thinking for you. Evolving Certainties (p. 129). 

Evolutionary creation (otherwise known as theistic evolution) rejects the warfare model, arguing that Biblical teachings about creation and scientific theories of evolution should complement and enrich, not contradict, each other. Like C.S. Lewis and Francis Collins, Alister McGrath is also a former atheist. And like Collins, McGrath is also a scientist. McGrath is now a respected theologian. In a book-length response to New Atheist Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, McGrath says that the God that Dawkins doesn’t believe in is a God he doesn’t believe in either! (p. 75). 


Young-earth creationist literature betrays a clear and abiding contempt for mainstream science. For many years, creationists have burned bridges to the scientific world. Anti-evolutionism is much more a theological than it is a scientific critique of evolutionary theory. Given the high priority assigned to their beliefs as opposed to scientific evidence, it seems that no amount of evidence would be sufficient to change their minds. Like Elijah in the Old Testament, an individual who believed that he was the only one left serving the Lord, (1 Kings 19:10) today’s young-earth proponents believe they are the only ones left defending biblical authority. 

The New Atheists mistakenly assume that scientific concordism, the proposition that the Bible is error-free in both doctrine and science, is in fact the majority Christian position. Both anti-evolutionists and new atheists share the belief that there is a deep and abiding conflict and distrust between science and religion. What we are seeing, according to paleontologist Niles Eldredge, is “… no simple clash between science and religion but rather between two religions.” The dogmatizing theologian, says Bernard Ramm, has a blood brother in the dogmatic materialist. Individuals at both extremes of this debate often employ inflammatory rhetoric and a selective manipulation of the facts. Neither group holds a monopoly on tactlessness and paranoia. Joan Roughgarden, in her book Evolution & Christian Faith (2006) says, “A great many scientists… are active Christians and proud of being both a Christian and a scientist at the same time.” (p. 81). 

Young-earth creationists respond negatively to science because they believe they are being attacked by it. In some cases that is true, but the majority of those attacks come from the new atheists, a small but vocal minority in the scientific community, and a group that does not represent scientists as a whole. The creationist rejection of science is based on a faulty interpretation of scriptures’ creation accounts, compounded by a faulty understanding of the limitations of science. Christians are in the business of pursuing truth and, as such, ought to be able to handle all expressions of it, even if it makes them uncomfortable. Science can assist Christians in determining God’s actual method of creation. Properly understood, science is an encouragement, not a hindrance, to faith. 

When Christians consider the cosmos through the lens of faith, they see “... amazing evidence of God’s power, love of beauty, patience, and ultimate desire for life.” At the end of the day, the Christian faith is greatly enriched by a close relationship with the natural sciences. Scientist John T. Houghton: “It is very important to me that the two strands of my life, as a scientist and as a Christian, are brought together side-by-side and, so far as it is possible, intertwined.” Should conflicts arise, our understanding of one or the other, or both, is faulty. Astronomer Jennifer Wiseman: "Contrary to the 'science vs. religion' motif routinely promoted in popular media, I have found that most scientists I work with are humble, curious, and whether they are religious believers or not, quite respectful and interested in the beliefs of their friends and colleagues.

Evolving Certainties (pp. 10-11). 

In his Christian Dogmatics, Lutheran systematic theologian Francis Pieper (1852-1931) denigrates science and criticizes scientists, calling them “nitwits” and “wiseacres." A true polemicist, Pieper claims that science seeks to destroy faith and make it impossible for individuals to trust the scriptures. He argues that science wants to sit in judgment on scripture. Science, therefore, is not under any circumstances to be granted equal authority to scripture. Pieper loves old-style bare knuckle polemics. But polemics only serves to alienate. It brings meaningful conversation to a halt. Polemics sets up a defensive posture psychologists call reactance which occurs when a person feels that their choices are being taken away. Reactance increases resistance to persuasion. 

Young-earth creationists have a very high regard for scriptural authority. That concern is praiseworthy and needs to be recognized and respected. To a large degree, Young-Earth Creationism is motivated by fear. They fear atheism. They fear liberalism -- in theology and in the media. They fear the higher critical method of biblical interpretation. And should they accept evolutionary science, they fear serious conflict and loss of connection with friends, and family, with church members and pastors too. Thus, for many of these individuals, delving into these matters is not worth the trouble.

Evolving Certainties (p. 225).

In 1874, Charles Hodge (1797-1878) linked Darwinism with atheism. Anti-evolutionists have been doing the same ever since. Evolutionary creation obviously challenges this assertion. Young-earth creationists adopt a typical fundamentalist all-or-nothing attitude, arguing that if Darwin is correct, God’s purposeful action in the natural world is removed. Because evolutionary creation is a middle-of-the-road position, it attracts criticism from new atheists on the one side and from young-earth and intelligent design creationists on the other. Young-earth advocates quote 1 Kings 18:21 which says, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” (NIV)


As far as they are concerned, evolutionary creation is heresy pure and simple, a complete capitulation to an ungodly philosophy. Evolutionary creation, they believe, is theologically lethal because it denies the authority of the Holy Scriptures. In conservative Christian circles, when traitors originate from within the group, they are considered worse than external enemies and are described using terms such as apostate, heretic, and heterodox.

Evolving Certainties (p. 108). 

Many secular individuals associate all Christians with Young-Earth Creationism. And many scientists are put off by the constant barrage of criticism they receive from anti-evolutionists. Science denial can have serious negative consequences. Some issues, such as global warming and environmental degradation, demand immediate action. Science denial, especially among elected officials, typically leads to delay and obstruction. In scripture’s creation accounts, humanity is given authority by God Himself to care for his creation. Science denial is a denial of God’s call to exercise non-destructive stewardship over his creation. Evolving Certainties (p. 5). 

Scientific methodology, properly understood, is friendly to faith. According to Stephen Jay Gould, it “... leaves religion’s cosmic comfort intact.” Bully for Brontosaurus, (p. 17). The methodological limits of science allow Christians in science to go about their business without taking anything away from their faith. God’s involvement in creation, whatever that involvement may be, need not be diminished in any way under standard scientific methodology.

Haarsma, L. (2003). Does Science Exclude God? In Perspectives on an Evolving Creation (pp. 72-94)

Does the Bible predict scientific discoveries? 

If biblical authority (and inerrancy) rests, even partially, on pre-scientific statements about nature, then either the scriptures are sprinkled with scientific inaccuracies (a point of view worthy of further study by evangelicals) and have therefore lost their authority (which is not the case), or Christians have misunderstood the true nature of the scriptures. Failure to adequately account for the ancient science in the scriptures, I contend, is a failure to acknowledge scriptures’ humanity. Many evangelicals are unaware that these are not new issues for Christians. This very issue was being discussed as early as the seventeenth century. The Rev. Thomas Burnett (1635-1715) said, “... ‘tis a dangerous thing to engage the authority of scripture in disputes about the natural world.”

Evolving Certainties (p. 271). 

In mainstream young-earth subculture, science is kept on a short leash. On the basis of his evangelical understanding of Biblical inerrancy, young earth stalwart Henry Morris (1918-2006) claimed that he was forced to the conclusion that the earth is young, regardless of what geologists had to say. Should a contradiction arise between science and his interpretation of the creation narratives, Morris was convinced that the problem must lie with science. The anti-evolutionist’s preoccupation with this issue makes adoption of the theory of evolution less likely. Morris fails to differentiate scripture’s scientific from its theological content. Theologian J.I. Packer says, “Scripture was given to reveal God, not to address scientific issues in scientific terms.”

Evolving Certainties (p. 169). 

Scientific concordism, expecting to find modern science in the Bible, has been described as a category mistake. An example of a category mistake would be reading Shakespeare looking for gardening tips. There is no contradiction between the scriptural creation accounts and modern evolutionary theory if the creation accounts were never intended to convey modern scientific information in the first place. Proposing a modern scientific explanation for everything in the Bible is not actually defending biblical authority. It is defending an inaccurate hermeneutic. In his Commentary on Genesis, Augustine warned Christians that claiming knowledge where one is in fact ignorant is damaging to the faith. Augustine was concerned that “reckless and incompetent interpreters of scripture would be taken to task by intelligent unbelievers.”

Evolving Certainties (p. 185).


Scientific concordism sets up anti-evolutionary views for criticism in the face of growing scientific evidence pointing to evolution as God’s method of creation over time. Those who value the Bible, as evangelicals certainly do, need not make it “speak science” in order to uphold its truth claims or its credibility. Some individuals are proud to be defenders of the faith (defensor fidei) while others pride themselves on being defenders of the truth (defensor veritas). I am an advocate for both. Scientific concordism claims that all of the Bible’s statements are accurate “… whether they pertain to history, science, morals, or fishing and farming.” (p. 185). Writing in the 1950’s, Baptist theologian Bernard Ramm claimed that there are no scientific errors in the Bible because God kept the authors from making them.


Hugh Ross, founder of the old-earth advocacy group Reasons to Believe, says, “The facts of nature and scripture will always agree,” and “The Bible consistently affirmed, and even predicted, scientific advances." (p. 185). According to Henry Morris, without scientific concordism the Bible would be just another human book. Since young-earth creationists believe that the Bible is accurate in matters of science, this, in and of itself, is strong support, in their opinion, for its inspiration by the Holy Spirit and for its inerrancy. If scientific concordism is incorrect, however, young-earth creationists know that they would have to revise many of their most cherished doctrines. 

Evolving Certainties (p. 128). 

Does the book of God's word contradict the book of God's works? 

British scholar Francis Bacon said that one cannot know too much about the Book of God’s Works (the natural realm) or the Book of God’s Words (Holy Scripture). He argued that these two books, properly understood, should not contradict one another.     

Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God, p. 11

Gary Fugle says, “We cannot argue that God created one reliable source of information in the Bible and created a second, conflicting, unreliable source in nature.”     

Fugle, Laying Down Arms, p. 225

An educated person needs to be familiar with both books. Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), medieval Jewish philosopher and astronomer, prominent in twelfth-century Islamic science, said that the scriptures are true but if they disagree with the results of scientific study, it’s time to review the interpretation of those same scriptures.

Lawrence Krauss, Religion vs. Science. In H. Attridge (Ed.), The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue? Location 1932



Is a literal translation the best way to go? 

Many evangelical Christians, whether they mean to or not, give others the impression that their interpretation of scripture is inerrant. Their interpretation is a given. It is not negotiable. It is the way things are. A few years ago, an individual wanted to talk to me after two very busy worship services on Easter Sunday. He immediately pressed me for my views about the theory of evolution. I quickly realized that this individual was a committed young-earth creationist and was very forceful about his views. I am convinced that, once he got an inkling that I was open to the theory of evolution, he was confused. Pastors in our denomination were supposed to toe the party line. We sat down in my office to chat. I lent him a copy of Francis Collins’ The Language of God.


He returned it to me a few weeks later with sticky notes affixed to many of the pages. His comments, which were voluminous, made it quite obvious that he was not open to dialogue. He was right. And I was wrong. End of discussion. Well-known evangelical spokesman James Dobson correctly observed that a discussion of the theory of evolution is essentially a matter of scripture interpretation. It is my contention that a “plain” or “literal” reading of the Bible is, in and of itself, already a particular interpretive method. Just reading the words off the page as they appear is not the default way to read the Bible so as to preserve its authority. Those words are not just there; they have a context in an ancient culture. They have to be interpreted accurately. Evolving Certainties (p. 189).  

It is helpful to distinguish between a literal translation and one that is literalistic. A literalistic interpretation of the Bible simply reads the words as they appear on the page without giving sufficient credence to context and genre. Donald A. Carson has been quoted saying that “Text without context is pretext.” (p. 180). Advising interpreters to “just read the words,” is not a helpful basis for accurately interpreting biblical texts. As much as possible interpreters must view the text from the author’s perspective; specifically, through the author’s value system, beliefs and conventions. The interpreter’s personal preferences, at the end of the day, only get in the way. Readers with vested interests of all sorts apply their modern understanding of the text to extract from it any number of inaccurate claims.


No interpreter, no matter how skilled, can claim complete objectivity. Each interpreter reads the scriptures through their particular “lens,” often unconsciously incorporating their theological world-view, their educational background, gender, ethnicity, and political views into their interpretation. Interpreters must be aware of these assumptions and allow them to be identified and tested. Tim Reddish says, “Authentic engagement with the biblical text occurs when we allow the text to challenge and change our starting assumptions. This is one way the Spirit can work.” (p. 181; John 16:13). St. Augustine was first in a long line of theologians who argued that faith would benefit by recognizing the findings of science.

Evolving Certainties (p. 181). 

Old Testament scholar John Walton says that anti-evolutionists, mindful of the apostle Paul’s advice about rightly handling the Word (2 Timothy 2:15), “... pride themselves on reading the Bible text literally and flash this as a badge of honor as they critique other views." Duane Gish, creationist ambassador for many years, said the reason why he embraced strict creationism was because of his desire to read the Bible as “straightforwardly” as possible.

Evolving Certainties (p. 127). 

Does evolution corrode a Bible believer's faith? 

Historical accounts are reconstructions that are filtered through the intellectual categories of their authors. Histories are not only retrospective (to look back), but they are also retrojective  (to cast back). Historians extrapolate their intellectual categories backward into the past in order to explain earlier events. Common ancient motifs like de novo creation and the lost idyllic age were the best historical paradigms of the day, that the authors of Genesis 1–11 under divine inspiration use these. Embedded in the history of a society are its values, beliefs, and worldview. Every historical account is historically conditioned. Therefore, it is vital to identify the beliefs and assumptions of historians, the historical data available to them, and the time period during which their account was written.


A forcing of 21st-century standards of recording history into accounts of the past. Eisegetical tendency. Believers must respect the ancient history in Genesis 1–11 in a way similar to when dealing with the ancient science found throughout Scripture. Genesis 1–11 is the word of God written in the words of ancient human historians. Therefore, it is vital to identify the beliefs and assumptions of historians, the historical data available to them, and the time period during which their account was written.

Denis Lamoureux, Evolutionary Creation, (pp. 243-245.)

Is all truth God's truth? 

"Truth cannot be opposed to truth. All truth comes from God." 
Michael Ruse, Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? (p. 51).

"Jesus is Lord of the world, so all truth is his truth, let's go and explore it with reverence and delight…"     

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture, (p. 185).

Ambrose of Milan said: "All truth, no matter by whom it is uttered, comes from the Holy Spirit.”  

Peters and Hewlett, From Creation to New Creation, (p. 121).

Church father Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) declared that all truth is God’s truth.
Peters and Hewlett, (p. 181).

As Christians, we are focused on respectful discussion of first, the Truth of Nature, while being equally concerned with the Nature of Truth.    Clark Pennock, Tower of Babel, (p. 38). 

God did not stop revealing truth 2000 years ago.

Michael Dowd , Thank God for Evolution, (p. 87).

Consider the difference between a photograph and a portrait. A photograph is pixel by pixel correct regarding the image. A portrait, on the other hand, is an artist's impression. The subject is the same, and that's important to remember, but the way of actually expressing it is different. And I think that helps us understand the different ways people view the Bible.


Some see the Bible (and expect it to be) photograph quality, everything's perfect right down to the last pixel. Others see it as stories and impressions and ideas and thoughts which reveal the intended object or subject, but not in an exact way. Isn’t this the difference between liberal and conservative? The liberal describes the Scriptures as a portrait of truth. The conservative, on the other hand, describes the Scriptures as a photograph of the truth.

The way some creationists discuss science reminds me of a baseball umpire who says, “I calls ‘em as I see ‘em. And if you don’t like it, you’re out of here!” If he says it’s a strike, even when it’s not really a strike, it still is anyway. Same with a young earth creationist theologian, if they declare that evolution is not true, then according to their proprietary standards, it is not true. More than that, it cannot be true, regardless of what the evidence may say.

Many Christians, it seems, aren’t really interested in the truth. They know the answers before they start. And they force nature into the straitjacket of their preconceptions. What they are saying is definitely not science. It’s opinion, pseudoscience. Courageously follow truth wherever it leads. Because, with truth comes freedom.     

Can a Christian in good conscience accept evolutionary theory? 

Years before, T.H. Huxley had coined a motto: now he meant to live by it: “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion.” With the generosity of true greatness, he gave up his own opinions in the face of new truth and took my conclusions.
A quote from Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley — Vol. 1

I don’t think I have ever read a modern creationist tract that doesn’t feature the tale of “Nebraska man” in a feint from our remarkable record of genuine human fossils, and an attempted KO of evolution with the one-two punch of Piltdown and Hesperopithecus. The story of Hesperopithecus was certainly embarrassing to Osborne and Gregory in a personal sense, but the sequence of discovery, announcement, testing, and refutation – all done with admirable dispatch, clarity, and honesty – show science working at its very best.


Science is a method for testing claims about the natural world, not an immutable compendium of absolute truths. The fundamentalists, by “knowing” the answers before they start, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science – or of any honest intellectual inquiry. The actual story of Hesperopithecus could teach creationists a great deal about science as properly practiced if they chose to listen, rather to than to scan the surface for cheap shots in the service of debate pursued for immediate advantage, rather than interest in truth.    

Stephen Jay Gould, Bully for Brontosaurus, (p. 437).

Some Christians are of the opinion that should a believer begin an intense study of science and the theory of evolution, (typically described as “entering a rabbit hole,” or something similar), there is a good chance they will become disoriented and may even lose their faith. This, of course, is the slippery slope argument. The idea that the study of science could actually strengthen faith is alien to this kind of thinking. To those ready to embark on this adventure, I would suggest following the example of Ariadne in Greek mythology. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of red thread which he unrolled as he made his way into the abyss to enable him to his way out. A strong connection to faith is required should one decide to investigate these complicated, controversial, and, at the end of the day, critically important issues.   

What keeps people of faith from reconciling with evolutionary science? 

Any biologist who could disprove the theory of evolution would instantly become famous, possibly a Nobel laureate, and probably very wealthy. The fact that biology has been so spectacularly successful in describing and explaining the structure, processes, and the diversity of the living world points to the validity of its theories.    

Berra, Myth of Creationism, (p. 140).

The opposite irenicism of “no offense, please, we’re politically correct” adopts the fully avoidant tactic of never generating conflict by never talking to each other, or speaking in such muted and meaningless euphemisms the no content or definition can ever emerge. Splendid isolation. Issues… cannot ever be brought to a fair conclusion if we don’t talk to each other. Intellectuals can only regard such voluntary suppression of discussion as a guarantee that tough but resolvable issues will continue to fester and haunt us…     

Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages, (p. 220).

We scientists, in fact, have failed notoriously in our responsibility to foster and maintain the interest in approbation of the general public. We have constructed an arcane jargon that makes us look like a hedgehog’s impenetrable ball of sharp prickles, thus driving interested, but untutored, people away. And we have fostered the impression of science as a closed priesthood, penetrable only by rigorous study in certain fields – advanced mathematics as a prerequisite    
Stephen Jay Gould, The Hedgehog, (p. 139).

I am deeply invested in presenting the gospel in an intellectually credible fashion to nonbelievers in our culture. For this reason, I think it is incredibly significant that, from Galileo’s inquisition to the Scopes trial to the present evolution debates, whenever the church has assumed a rigid opposition to the consensus of the scientific community, it has eventually harmed the credibility of the church in the eyes of the broader culture.     

Boyd, G. (2016). Pastoral Reflections: In M. Barrett, & A. Caneday (Eds.) loc. 491.

What keeps people from reconciling with science is often not the scientific facts or data, but the social pressure and criticism that will come their way from their social circle, their family, their church, their pastor. This non-scientific but critical factor is often overlooked. in the church, the whole system is built to eliminate or stifle or suppress truth when it comes to science at least. ironic in that religions really are seeking truth and that’s what they think is most important but that is also what they are least likely to achieve especially when it comes to science.

Members of the conservative churches live in a socio-centric morality where protection of the group comes first and takes priority over individual concerns. How much influence does our tribe have on our decisions? In a religious context -- the culture almost always wins out over the individual mind --the culture has control over it. Independent thinking is suppressed and discouraged. Consider the following series of quotes from sociologist Jonathan Haidt:

"We should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play. It’s important to have intellectual and ideological diversity within any group or institution whose goal is to find truth."

"You can’t study the mind while ignoring culture, as psychologists usually do, because minds function only once they’ve been filled out by a particular culture."

"The ethic of community is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, members of larger entities such as families, teams, armies, companies, tribes, and nations. These larger entities are more than the sum of the people who compose them; they are real, they matter, and they must be protected."

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind. (pp. 177, 190, 191).

Can a Darwinian be a Christian? Absolutely! Is it always easy for a Darwinian to be a Christian? No, but whoever said that the worthwhile things in life are easy? Is the Darwinian obligated to be a Christian? No, but try to be understanding of those who are. Is the Christian obligated to be our Darwinian? No, but realize how much you’re going to forswear if you do not make the effort, and ask yourself seriously (if you reject all forms of evolutionism) whether you’re using your God-given talents to the full. 

If you are a fundamentalist Christian, then the Darwinian reading of Genesis is going to give you major problems – insoluble problems, I suspect. The notion of original sin, and its origins in the light of Darwinian evolutionary theory, is an issue on which the final word has not yet been spoken. Bound up with this is the whole question of the human soul, its nature, its beginnings, and similar questions. 

I am speaking now not negatively, but with a sense of incompleteness – and also with a sense of anticipation and excitement. 218 Contrary to what many think, there is (as there always has been) a strain of the purest Darwinism which encourages precisely the belief that we humans are special, that in some ways (dear to the Christian) we have succeeded in ways that others have not, and that our appearance was not just inexplicable chance.


There is the question of design, the related question of pain and suffering. If Dawkins is correct, pain and suffering are the necessary cost of getting design (and humans) at all, in any sense.Then there is the matter of morality. I see remarkable parallels between the Darwinian human and the Christian human. On both accounts, there is an internal battle. And finally, there is the matter of freedom and the will.    

Michael Ruse, Can a Darwinian, (pp. 217-218).

Individuals who are comfortable in their dual role as scientists and people of faith, however, belie this view. For example, Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis (1898-1963) began his academic career as an atheist. After his conversion, he became a prominent apologist for the Christian faith. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because, by it, I see everything else.” Lewis belonged to a group at Oxford with the motto: “Follow the argument where it leads.”   
Evolving Certainties, (p. 82).


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