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 Holy spirit will bring him to accept the Bible as God’s Word, and the person can continue to research his questions about faith and science. 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?” It may be that your person already believes that God made the universe, but wants to talk about the details. You need to find out exactly what your friend’s questions are in order to carry on the conversation.

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. The Bible says “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.” (Hebrews 11:3.)

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 differentiated into the variety of life forms found throughout the earth.  Darwin’s view is called “evolution by natural selection,” and this approach today is called “Darwinian evolution.” It presumes that the appearance of the various life forms happened without the involvement of an external supernatural figure. It asks one to believe that the variety of creatures and the wonders of their intricate details could have come into existence without external direction.

EVENTUAL ANSWER.  Individual Christians have various ways, described below, to deal with seeing that evolution and the explanation in the first chapter of the Bible are different. I do not judge the authenticity of someone’s faith in Jesus based on how they have come to terms with this difference. I tell people that “I find this question very intriguing, because I respect science and look at is as God’s gift to us, and join with Newton in seeing the record in the rocks as God’s “book of nature.” I believe that one day it will come clear how the difference between account of creation in the Bible and the data found by scientists can be resolved. 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. 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?” If the person says yes, you then can introduce the message of salvation.

Return to list of specific problems

BACKGROUND FOR CONVERSING FURTHER ABOUT CREATION AND EVOLUTION

Here are other views that you need to know about in order to have a discussion about creation.

Theistic evolution is the stance that evolution happened, but God was somehow behind it all.  A representative of that view is Francis Collins, with his book The Language of God and his organization the biologos foundation (website biologos.org). In this video Collins says his Christian faith is not incompatible with evolution, says Intelligent Design is not necessary, and that God provided a human. soul when humans emerged. 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

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.

Creation Science. These 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 “macroevolution” (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 the website for Reasons to Believe, founded by Hugh Ross, who advocates progressive creation, meaning that God created each animal at the right time as others died out. See also their FACT OR FICTION insights into common objections. Here is a critique of progressive creationism. 

More details on these approaches are in this Wikipedia article on Creation and Evolution

Background Information about churches:

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.

Protestant Churches. Some protestant churches have never denied Darwinism, but here are two denominations that do officially deny Darwinism:
1) The Seventh Day Adventists teach the Biblical account of God creating everything about 6000 years ago in six 24/7 days Source.

2) The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) says the Genesis account is  true and factual, and that creation was done in six days. Source.

The LCMS in 2015 published a report on faith and science to prepare 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

The following quotes from this report are from pages 122 and 123:

Still, there are areas of uncertainty. God has not revealed everything to us in His Word (Eccl. 3:11; 1 Cor. 13:9–12; John 21:25). Furthermore, we have seen that there are passages the exact meaning of which is a matter of ongoing scholarly debate. It is particularly unwise to attempt to “prove” or “disprove” the veracity of Scripture by importing modern, scientific meanings—which are foreign to the text—into the interpretation of Scripture passages. This amounts to a rejection of sola scriptura: assumptions outside the Bible are used magisterially to support or reject its content.

A wiser course is to admit that in some cases we do not know the best interpretation of a passage. In other cases, the sense of a passage may be clear, but there is no clear way of integrating a claim of Scripture with the claims of modern science. In such situations, we must simply do our best to offer an interpretation of the passage or an explanation of the tension between a scriptural claim and the claims of science, acknowledging that such interpretations and explanations are tentative, yet always showing the extent to which they are grounded in the text itself, which is reliable. Page 122-123

It is far more honest and faithful to both the goals and purposes of Scripture and science to accept that we must sometimes live with unresolved tensions, knowing that ultimately our confidence and hope lie not in our perfect knowledge but in Christ. Such areas of tension and temporary uncertainty are no threat to one who knows “the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge” and so is “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). Page 123

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