Christianity and Science – Introduction
When it comes to Christianity and Science, perhaps nothing has troubled believers more in the last century than the question of the origin of life.1 Because many biologists (both Christian and non-Christian) treat evolution as a scientific fact, Christians have struggled to reconcile their faith in the Bible with the “facts” of science.
For example, the Bible states that God created our first parents (Adam and Eve) fully formed, yet evolutionary science claims that all living things evolved from a single speck of life. In addition, evolutionary theory posits a very old universe, somewhere between 13 and 15 billion years old. On the other hand, a straight-forward reading of Genesis 1 seems to indicate that the original creation event took place much more recently. We acknowledge that within the Christian community the age of the universe is a controversial subject, yet for the purposes of this chapter, we will focus our attention on defending the “fact” of creation, not necessarily its timing.2
Because the positions of creation and evolution are poles apart, it seems that reconciliation is impossible. However, some Christians have proposed a middle ground, seeking to combine elements of both sides of the debate. This middle ground is called theistic evolution.
Christianity and Science – Theistic Evolution
The belief that God created the first speck of life on earth and then directed its evolution to generate man is called theistic evolution. To hold this position, Christians must take substantial liberties in interpreting the Bible. They also face most of the same weaknesses as proponents of atheistic evolution. In truth, there is no difference between theistic and atheistic evolution, except that theistic evolutionists argue that God used evolution to generate the diversity of life throughout Earth’s history.
Theistic evolutionists interpret the Bible in accordance with their view of evolution. For example, Jesus Christ declares in Mark 10:6, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’” Theistic evolutionists interpret this verse and others like it (Luke 11:50; Acts 3:21) to support the evolutionary position that the term creation simply means God created the first spark of life and then continually directed His creation through the vehicle of evolution from that first spark to human beings.
Thus, some Christians believe that the Bible can support evolutionary theory as an explanation for origins. This may be a tenable position when discussing only verses concerned strictly with the question of origins. However, when we examine the entire message of the Bible, the theory of theistic evolution severely undermines the Christian understanding of God’s place and our place in His universe.
While it is true that God is all powerful—so that He could have used evolution to generate all species—we contend that He did not employ such an inefficient (and often totally ineffective) mechanism. If God designed the world to operate according to specific natural laws requiring minimal interference, why would He use an evolutionary mechanism that would require Him to constantly meddle with the development of life? Further, such a mechanism seems an especially cruel method for creating humans, since it involves a “survival of the fittest” or “destruction of the weak and unfit” mentality. As Jacques Monod notes, natural selection is the “blindest and most cruel way of evolving new species.”3
Christianity and Science – From Adam to Christ
More important when viewing Christianity and science, if evolution is true, then we must view the story of the Garden of Eden and original sin as nothing more than allegory. This viewpoint, however, severely undermines the significance of Christ’s sinless life and sacrificial death on the cross because the Bible presents Jesus as analogous to Adam. The condemnation and corruption brought on by Adam’s sin are the counterparts of the justification and sanctification made possible for us by Christ’s righteousness and death (Romans 5:12–19). If Adam were not a historical individual, and if his fall into sin were not literally true, then the biblical doctrines of sin and redemption collapse. This conclusion is unacceptable to Christians.
Thus, the proper Christian worldview requires a belief in the Creator as He is literally portrayed in Genesis. A thoughtful reading of Genesis 1 depicts a very literal-sounding creation story, although we often hear the caveat “you can’t take Genesis literally.” Genesis 1 mentions sun, moon, and stars along with birds in the air and fish in the sea—these physical objects and living creatures are literal. The mention of day, month, and year seem literal in the context of Genesis 1. Adam and Eve are depicted as literal people whose descendants continue through the history of the biblical narrative up to the birth of Jesus. If Adam and Eve were mythical, it would be difficult to determine where myth ends and history begins in the genealogy of the human race.
Because evolution appears to be unassailably scientific, Christians who continue to believe in creationism seemed to be taking a radical, almost backward stance. Understandably, many Christians turn to theistic evolution as the only means of reconciling science with their Christian faith. However, more recent scientific discoveries have undermined the foundations of evolutionary theory and provided a rich soil for the development of a robust theory of creation. For example, Jonathan Wells has examined the ten most popular “proofs” for the theory of evolution (peppered moths, Darwin’s Finches, fossil record, Haeckel’s embryos, ape to human, etc.) and found that each one lacks scientific rigor.4 With so much new and compelling information coming to light, Christians who wish to integrate science and their Christian faith would do well to abandon evolution as a rational explanation for the origin of species and explore instead the creation model.
Christianity and Science – Conclusion
After reviewing the Christianity and Science articles to the right, we see that the teleological argument provides the best critique of evolutionary theory and the strongest support for creationism. It is clear that God-as-Designer provides a much better explanation for the design evidenced by life than does a theory that requires transitional forms guided by natural selection.
The fossil record and the teleological nature of numerous living organisms both testify to the impossibility of gradual change. Yet gradual change is absolutely critical to traditional evolutionary theory. Darwin himself admits, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”5
This is precisely what creationists have claimed for years—that Darwin’s evolutionary theory is bankrupt. Reason requires that biologists abandon evolution and embrace creation as a more rational explanation.
The belief that God created all things, including men and women, in His own image requires faith. But evolutionary theory requires more faith because evolution runs contrary to science (e.g., spontaneous generation) and history (e.g., the fossil record). Still, many evolutionists hold desperately to their theory, simply because it is the only explanation of origins that begins with nature, not God. Scientists who believe that everything can be explained in natural terms cannot tolerate the concept of a supernatural Being. In fact, one scientist said, “Science must be provisionally atheistic or cease to be itself.”6 For Christian biologists, however, the world is comprehensible only in light of God’s existence. As a piece of art suggests an artist, the orderly universe and every living thing suggest a Designer.