Science and Faith; Creation and Evolution
The purpose of this top section is to help you show your friend why the existence of this controversy need not prevent the person from accepting God and Jesus. The bottom section gives you background to talk more in detail about this issue.
Since “the power is in the Gospel,” the person ultimately will be drawn to God when the Holy Spirit shows him the reality of his need and the value of having a savior. Then, after the person comes to Christ, and is safe for eternity in God’s arms, the person can continue to research the topic. Meanwhile, here are ways to keep the conversation going with someone who raises science as an issue:
You need to find out exactly what aspect of this topic has caused your friend to raise this objection. You could ask “why would science keep you from believing in God,” or “In what way does the creation/evolution controversy stand in the way of you accepting God’s love?”
The person’s answer shows the direction the discussion needs to go. Some examples:
NO GOD. If the person says that science proves there is no God, you can remind your friend that science deals only with the natural, not the super-natural. You then bring up the points on the page “existence of God.”
BIBLE UNTRUE. If the person says that evolution proves that the Bible is untrue, you can say that various people look at the 6-day creation story in many different ways, and it has not stopped them from accepting the truth of the Bible. You can then bring up the points on the page “truth of the Bible.”
FAITH NOT FACT. If the person says we should base our lives on fact, not faith, you can say that both science and religion include faith and fact. Every human endeavor has a certain amount of faith in it. For science, that includes the presuppositions and the assumptions. Moreover, real science does not claim to have a final answer. Rather, a scientist sums up the data we know to date into a reasonable scenario, called a “theory.” These conclusions are always subject to revision when more data comes in. The theories of science are never firm enough to be the basis for life questions like “what about death? What about guilt? What about purpose?” These however are the questions that Jesus provides answers for. More on development of science (start at paragraph 7)
DETERMINE THE ISSUE. People often use the word “evolution” to cover a wide range of issues, each of which needs to be approached differently. You need to find out which of these three issues your friend is interested in talking about:
1) Where did the universe come from? The theory of evolution does not deal with this question. It deals with changes in things that are already living. There are two options: the universe is eternal, or the universe has a beginning. When a scientist proposed in 1927 that the expansion could be traced back to a single point in time, many scientists rejected the idea at first because it sounded too much like the Bible’s account of creation. See web source. But now most scientists have accepted this “big bang theory,” and so both the Bible and science agree that the universe had a beginning and that it is not eternal. Some scientists speculate that there was another universe before this one started; that means there must have been another one before that. Eventually, you come to the same option: either some universe always existed, or there had to be a first one. Both these positions are based on faith.
2) Where did life come from? The theory of evolution does not deal with this question, because it only deals with how life changed after life already existed. A few decades ago, it was commonly taught that scientists could create life by assembling the presumed contents of the early seas and jolting them with electricity. This experiment did not work, and today scientists do not claim to know how life started. See details on web. Some speculate that it was brought to earth by aliens, or by meteors. Either life arose by chance, or through the will of a creator. Both these positions are based on faith.
3) Why are there so many different kinds of plants and animals? This is the question Darwin did deal with in his book The Origin of Species. He discovered that similar creatures in different regions had slight variations. He assumed that they must have been together at one time, and that after separating form one another, each group underwent change. He generalized from this that there must have once been a single life form, and it gradually, by chance, differentiated into the variety of life forms discovered throughout the earth. Darwin’s theory is called “evolution by natural selection,” and this approach today is called “Darwinian evolution.” No evidence has yet been found that proves that one kind of creature turns into another kind of creature. It takes a lot of faith to believe that the variety of creatures and the wonders of their intricate details could have come into existence by chance.
EVENTUAL ANSWER. I have used the following approach, and gotten a good response: “I agree that evolution and the explanation in the first chapter of the Bible are different. I find this question very intriguing, because I like science a lot. I believe that one day it will come clear how the account of creation in the Bible and the data found by scientists are not in conflict. In the meantime, I know that I need God, because I am someone who has done wrong, and I am grateful that God offers to forgive me and accept me. When I get to heaven, I am eager to ask God how He meant us to reconcile the Bible account with the findings of science. I hope you too can be with me in eternal life and ask this of God. May I tell you how we can be sure we’ll be with God after we die?”
BACKGROUND FOR CONVERSING FURTHER ABOUT CREATION AND EVOLUTION
Different individuals and groups within the universal church have different viewpoints.
Eastern orthodox Church. One of its publications writes, “While humans may have evolved physically under the direction and guidance and plan of the Creator, their souls could not have evolved any more than the powers of reasoning, speaking, or the ability to act creatively could have simply evolved. In such a scenario the Creator intervened by breathing His Spirit into man and giving him life, as stated in Genesis.” See source. Also see their Statement of 1982
Roman Catholic Church. It has never denied Darwinian evolution, but does insist that God would have created the human soul. source.
This stance that evolution happened, but God was somehow behind it all. is sometimes called “theistic evolution.” A representative of that view is Francis Collins, with his book The Language of God and his organization the biologos foundation (website biologos.org).
Intelligent design. In 1996 a scientist named Behe published the book Darwin’s Black Box. Through research, he demonstrated that many systems in plants and animals are very complicated, with many different parts that would have had to all evolved at exactly the same time in order for the new creature to have any benefit or even to survive. If only one part evolved at one time, there is no reason the creature would have done better than before it changed, and so it would not have replaced the previous type of creature. He said It takes a great deal of faith to say that ten or more parts of a system could all change at the same time, just by chance. In 2007 Behe published a book called The edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism.”He describes his research as he analyzed many generations of change , and discovered that all changes that took place harmed or removed information from the cell. Behe does not deny that evolution happened, but says that some of the changes are so complicated that it is reasonable to believe that someone had designed it on purpose.
A book that critiques Theistic Evolution from the standpoint of Intelligent Design is Theistic Evolution A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique Edited by J. P. Moreland. Wheaton: Crossways.org, 2017. See excerpt
Protestant Churches. Some protestant churches have never denied Darwinism. Here are some denominations that officially deny Darwinism:
1) The Lutheran Church Missouri synod says the Genesis account is true and factual..Source. and that creation was done in six days. Source.
2) The Seventh Day Adventists teach the Biblical account of God creating everything about 6000 years ago in six 24/7 days Source.
Creation Science. There are individuals and groups that use science to deny Darwinism.
1) They cast doubt on some methods and conclusions of scientists.
2) They emphasize scientific discoveries that support creationism.
3) They say that God has created all the “kinds” of plants and animals
4) they accept “microevolution”(changes within kinds), but they deny “macroevolutioin” (changes from one kind to another.)
Creation science groups are of two types:
1) new earth creationists say the earth and its creatures have been created within the past ten thousand years. They make use of Noah’s flood as the source of many geological features. See these websites: Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research Creation dot com. .
2) old earth creationists allow for millions of years of earth history. Some groups show how the sequence of events follow the sequence of days in Genesis chapter one, but that each “day” might have been millions of years in duration. See website for Reasons to Believe, and also see their FACT OR FICTION insights into common objections.
More details on these approaches are in this Wikipedia article on Creation and Evolution
More Background Information.
The LCMS¹ has published a report on faith and science. It prepares Christians for meaningful dialog with “scientism.” For a one-page review, see http://blogs.lcms.org/2015/ctcr-science-theology. The entire book is available free as a pdf file. Click on “In Christ all things Hold together” at this site: http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=465
Footnotes: 1) LCMS is the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. This report was published by Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis Missouri, in 2015.