January 17, 2006
It's evident from Charles L. Trotter's response to my letter that he has drastically misinterpreted my position, so I would like to clarify a few points. For the sake of simplifying matters, here's the sentence to which he objects: "Personally, I don't give a hang one way or the other whether the neo-Darwinian evolutionary construct is true or false – it doesn't affect my theology at all, so I don't have a dog in that hunt; I'll go wherever the evidence leads." Now, I said that and I stand by it, but I don't mean by it what he thinks I mean.
First, to lay out one key presupposition on my part: when the Psalms tell us, "The heavens are telling the glory of God," that's a pretty strong indicator that we are to regard them as reliable witnesses. Thus, we need to take the physical evidence seriously. That doesn't mean regarding the current state of our knowledge, or of scientific interpretation, as gospel truth – our knowledge is always partial and contingent – but theologically, I don't think we have freedom to simply dismiss the physical evidence as to, for instance, the age of the universe, and there aren't any compelling countervailing theories at this point. We need to respect that.
Second, I don't think this says anything whatsoever against the truth – and I mean that in the most concrete sense possible – of Scripture; nor, should the evolutionary hypothesis prove an accurate physical description of the origin of species, do I think that that would contradict Scripture. Indeed, given the literally inconceivable odds against undirected natural processes producing even one healthy, functioning creature, let alone our entire ecosphere, I would say that such would be a truly miraculous occurrence. The key here is that Genesis is not a scientific text which describes creation in scientific terms; God spoke, and it was, and what that process would have looked like to scientific measuring devices is simply beyond the purview of the text. As such, I agree with the Catholic church's long-established position: viewed purely as a scientific description, theories of evolution do not challenge or contradict Christian theology. It's the religious doctrine of evolutionism which I challenge.
Thus, third, my faith in God as Creator of all and my belief in the total veracity and trustworthiness of the Genesis account – when understood on its own terms, rather than being interpreted in modernist terms as if it were a scientific text – is unshaken, and indeed quite disconnected from the declarations of science. The battle over evolution, to my way of thinking, really doesn't challenge the Christian faith at all, regardless of what pompous academic blowhards like Dr. Richard Dawkins think.
Instead, the reason why I object to the scientific orthodoxy regarding evolution is twofold: one, it's in service of a religious agenda, namely, the commitment to atheism on the part of the keepers of the scientific keys (as Dr. Richard Lewontin, among others, has admitted); and two, it is held not on the evidence, not because of the evidence, but in spite of the evidence, because (to quote Dr. Lewontin) "we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." It's the fact that the scientific establishment refuses to consider the possibility that the evidence contradicts their cherished assumption (that we can explain the universe without God, to oversimplify) that concerns me; especially since, having raised this a priori assumption to the level of unassailable dogma, people like Dr. Dawkins use the conclusions they draw from that assumption to "prove" that there is no God and the universe has no purpose. It's the worst kind of circular "reasoning," and the worst kind of arrogance, and they get away with it because they have the degrees, control the system, and are telling most media types what they want to hear.
As such, I think Mr. Trotter read my letter through a grid of concerns and assumptions which I simply don't share, because I don't believe that Genesis requires the creation of the world in six twenty-four hour days, nor do I believe that Genesis requires the rejection of neo-Darwinian evolutionary speculation (though I think the evidence, fairly interpreted, does). Thus his conclusion that I rely "on human 'evidence' and not on the clear Word of God" is simply false. I do, however, thank him for his concern.For Christ and his church,
(The Rev.) Rob Harrison
Pastor, Trinity Church in the Pines
Grand Lake, Colorado
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