The Fundamental Mistake of Theistic Evolutionists<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson
One of the most common charges the Christian evolutionists bring against the young earth creationists is that in disregarding the theory of evolution, young earth creationists are disregarding science itself. Christian evolutionists often argue that in holding onto a literal reading of the Genesis record of the history of creation, Christians are in danger of making the same mistake that they made with Galileo back in the 17th century. They claim that a literal reading of the creation account in Genesis does not correspond to the widely held "scientific" views of today; just like the 17th century Church's reading of biblical passages which describe the movement of the sun did not correspond to the scientific observations of Galileo. Thus, Christian evolutionists fear that once again, the church is in danger of looking like fools to the more enlightened "scientific" community. As a result of their fear of looking irrelevant to the "scientific" community, theistic evolutionists abandon the creation record of God's word in favor of the more widely held theory of evolution.
Unfortunately, theistic evolutionists have gotten their history of Galileo all wrong. The problem with the Church during the time of Galileo was not that they were using the Bible to help them interpret the scientific evidence of the day, but rather, the Church had allowed the dominant philosophies and science of the day to influence their reading of scripture. Prior to Galileo, the dominant scientific viewpoint regarding the universe was that the earth was the center of everything; and thus, the sun, planets, and stars all revolved around the earth. This theory was first developed by pagan philosophers like Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Ptolemy (AD 2nd century); and later was adopted as the most plausible scientific explanation throughout academia and the Church. Thus, the Church had allowed their reading and interpretation of scripture to be influenced by the false theories of pagan philosophers, which had been adopted by the scientists of the day.
The real point of the Galileo story is not that science made the Church look foolish, but rather, the Church looked foolish because they had given up a correct reading of scripture for the sake of accommodating the dominant pagan theories of the day. The Galileo story is actually an indictment against Christian evolutionists. Christian evolutionists have abandoned the literal history of God's creation account in Genesis for the sake of accommodating the popular, man-made theories of today. In doing this, they are the ones who risk making the Church look foolish; for abandoning the biblical record of creation will never get one closer to true science. God's word is not incompatible with true science; and true science will never discredit God's word, because God's word is an accurate and trustworthy record of God's work in the world.
The fundamental mistake that is being made by Christian evolutionists all over the world is this: they are equating science with the theory of evolution. They have bought into a false definition that says "science equals evolution." Thus, if someone legitimately questions the validity of the theory of evolution, theistic evolutionists assume that they are attacking science. This is 180 degrees from the truth. Young earth creationists are thoroughly committed to science and its method of observation and experimentation, along with its self-correcting abilities of verification and falsification based on the observable and repeatable evidence. Young earth creationists have no problem with science.
However, by equating science with the theory of evolution, Christian evolutionists have set up a false dichotomy between science and a literal reading of the biblical record of creation. Thus, anytime a young earth creationist raises a scientific argument that is based on a literal reading of the biblical record of creation, theistic evolutionists discount it right away as being unscientific. Christian evolutionists have redefined "science" so that any framework of interpretation that is not consistent with the theory of evolution is "unscientific". Therefore, they are able to make the claim that since young earth creationists are not evolutionists, they are not true scientists.
I have observed this redefinition of the word "science" by Christian evolutionists on numerous occasions. In one recent debate that I participated in, a theistic evolutionist made statements such as: "Young earth creationists come from Christian homes where scientific insights are systematically denied"; and "you have the worldview of science and the worldview of young earth creationists"; additionally "if you accept the Bible only you deny the insights from the natural world of science." These statements, and others like them, are completely false. They are false because in each of these statements the Christian evolutionist has made the mistake of equating science with the theory of evolution.
Christian evolutionists need to rethink this false dichotomy that they have bought into. Young earth creationists are not anti-science; far from it. In fact, history shows that all of the founders of the modern scientific disciplines and the discoverers of the most important scientific insights were committed biblical creationists, people like: Kepler, Bacon, Boyle, Galileo, Hooke, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Newton, Pasteur, Mendel, and Linnaeus, to name but a few. Each of these scientists recognized the fact that the world had been created by an intelligent Creator; and because of this, we are able to observe and experiment to gain logical and rational answers about our world and how it works. Thus, the real issue is not between science and a literal reading of the biblical creation account; rather, the correct issue is between a theory of interpretation called "evolution" and the biblical account of creation.
There are a number of important facts that theistic evolutionists need to grasp in order to free themselves from their bondage to this false definition of "science equals evolution". The first thing Christian evolutionists need to understand is that true science does not equal evolution. This is often a hard realization for someone who has been trained their entire life to view science only through the interpretive paradigm of Darwinian evolution. However, unless the Christian evolutionist can distinguish the interpretive framework of evolution from the true discipline of observation and experimentation, which is actual science, they will never have a proper understanding of the relationship between the created world and the inspired record of God's word.
The second concept that Christian evolutionists need to come to terms with is that both evolutionists and creationists are looking at the same scientific evidence and data. The question is not the evidence, but how you interpret the evidence. So, the real issue is this: does the scientific evidence best fit an interpretive model of evolution or an interpretive model based on the biblical account of creation? Unless theistic evolutionists can distinguish between the observable evidence and their interpretive framework for making sense of the evidence (the theory of evolution), they will never free themselves from their false definition of "science equals evolution". Furthermore, if theistic evolutionists fail to make this distinction, they will always be forced into a position of abandoning the true record and testimony of God's word regarding creation and the early earth; for God's word simply does not allow for the theory of evolution.
The third realization that Christian evolutionists need to embrace in order to free themselves from the false definition of "science equals evolution" is this: Young earth creationists have no problem with the scientific realities of natural selection, survival of the fittest, adaptation, mutation, or microevolution (horizontal change within species). These are all established facts of science that are observed everyday around the world. Young earth creationists only take issue with the idea of macroevolution (one species evolving into another species). This concept, unlike the others, is not an established fact of science and has never been observed anywhere or at any time. Once again, young earth creationists have no problem with true science. True scientific observations, like the ones mentioned above, are in no way incompatible with the biblical record of God's creation. In fact, they fit into the biblical record of creation, the effects of the fall, and the results of the global flood of Noah perfectly.
Christian evolutionists need to recognize that the issue is not between science and a literal reading of the Genesis record of creation. Rather, the issue is over how you interpret the scientific evidence. Once they make this recognition, then we can properly discuss the scientific evidence as seen through the lenses of the two models of origins and determine which model best fits the scientific facts: the theory of evolution or young earth creationism? As I shared earlier, we all have the same scientific facts. The question is: how are you going to interpret the scientific facts and which interpretive model do they more logically fit? Once Christian evolutionists recognize this issue, then we can honestly dialogue about cosmology, geology, paleontology, biology, chemistry, etc.
We all agree that God created the universe and our world, but the question is how? If we are ever going to answer this question correctly, we need to get back to the practice of true science, let's not limit the discussion to only one framework of interpretation, and let's allow for the possibility that the Genesis record of creation could be literally true. This is the only way that we will ever be able to engage in an honest pursuit of the truth; the truth revealed in the natural world and the truth revealed in scripture.
Christian evolutionists should be overjoyed to learn that they no longer have to be held in bondage to the false definition of "science equals evolution". For a Christian especially, science is a wonderful pursuit. The more we observe and learn about the natural world, the closer we come to understanding who our Creator is and how he works. Furthermore, Christian scientists need not be ashamed of the biblical record of creation. The biblical record of creation is not at odds with science; it may be at odds with an interpretive model of the scientific evidence, but it is not at odds with true science itself. The Bible is God's inspired record of his work in the world; part of that record is his revelation regarding his creative activity. The beautiful thing is that since God is both the Author of scripture and the Creator of the natural world, both of these arenas are an accurate reflection of the other; both the testimony of scripture and the witness of the observable scientific evidence declare this to be true. Christians need not fear science. Neither should we abandon the biblical record of creation. God's word is consistent and true. God's creation is consistent and true. And Christians can enthusiastically embrace both of these wonderful revelations of God's truth.
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