January 19, 2006
My thanks to Charles Trotter for his letter; it seems to me that there is still some need for clarification of my position.
The first and most important thing is that one must distinguish between theories of evolution, which are scientific constructs, and evolutionism, which is a religious position. A mere postulation as to the physical mechanisms through which God created everything is no threat to Christian faith. The way it is used by people with an anti-Christian agenda, however, is; and so it's the latter issue that I believe should take up most of my time. What's more, to my way of thinking, the latter issue is of great importance in making the argument for ID – and if people generally come to understand that, ID wins.
The second point is that I'm not sure Mr. Trotter is clear on one thing: I do not believe in evolution, in any of its theoretical forms. The fact that I see no theological objections to it doesn't mean I accept it, because the evidence isn't there. What's more, I think it's pretty safe at this point to say that the evidence never will be there.
Thus, third, part of what I mean in referring to the way in which people use the idea of evolution is this: the scientific establishment advocates the teaching of evolution as if the evidence actually supported it because this is necessary in order to advance the agenda behind it – and the reason they're so worked up about the Intelligent Design movement is that ID aims, like Toto, to draw our attention to the curtain behind which they're hiding.
Fourth, as one who is well aware of the developing challenge to Einstein's assumption that the speed of light is a constant, I stand by my original statement that there aren't any compelling countervailing views on the age of the universe at this point. That may indeed change, and if it does, I'll be interested to see it.
Fifth, however, whether it changes or not, this doesn't alter the critical importance right now of untethering popular theology from six-day young-earth creationism. That's a tie which is not necessary from Scripture if one can get away from a modernist, scientistic reading of Genesis – no, evolutionary theory does not require, as a logical necessity, doing away with Adam and the Fall – but which has been a primary instrument in locking Christian perspectives out of the teaching of science. We need to drag this conflict onto neutral ground, and that requires two things: one, making the argument loudly and clearly that the pro-evolutionary side is just as religious as we are; and two, making it clear that we have, not as much respect for the evidence as they do, but more, because we aren't the ones pre-judging the conclusion.
Sixth, from a biblical and theological point of view, we don't need to – and if we can get people to really understand that, then the teaching of evolutionary theory will cease to be a weapon against Christian faith. It only has been because so much of the church has allowed it to be; that's the effect of staking oneself to a six-day young-earth understanding of Genesis. If we set that aside as a requirement, then the only threat to Christian faith becomes the insistence of so many modern scientists on purposelessness – and that, as we can point out, is not scientific at all, but rather a religious presupposition, merely a competing faith to be addressed accordingly. The real problem to which Mr. Trotter points isn't the teaching of a neo-Darwinian model of the origin of species, but the anti-Christian bias which fills so much of academia. (That's why I believe in good Christian liberal-arts schools--like my alma mater, Hope College.)
The bottom line is that right now, the way many conservative Christians respond to the teaching of evolution plays right into the hands of atheistic evolutionists. The ID movement aims to change that, which is why I support it, and why I take the attacks of Christians like Dr. Tenke very seriously indeed; this is not a matter of faith, but it is very definitely a matter of the health of the church. Mr. Trotter and I are completely agreed on the importance of this discussion in that regard; I just don't believe his apparent approach to be what the church needs at this time.For Christ and his church,
(The Rev.) Rob Harrison
Pastor, Trinity Church in the Pines
Grand Lake, Colorado
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