Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Evolution and Our Theology, Part 2

One of the most frustrating things for evolutionists who talk extensively with YEC advocates is the seeming refusal of YEC-ers to accept any evidence provided to "prove" that evolution is "true". How can they ignore so much evidence from diverse sources and fields of study? Why do they create pseudo-scientific explanations to explain away the data?

Usually, the conclusion is reached that YEC believers are anti-science.

I would say that might be true, but not in the way that it comes across.

The true root of this conflict has nothing to do with science, in and of itself. Instead the dispute arises from a mindset that knowledge has no neutrality.

Oh you mean they believe that the results are biased!

Yes and no. They believe the scientific results for evolution are biased, not because they think scientists simply are wishing evolution to be true and therefore massaging the data, though there is an undercurrent of that in YEC arguments. They believe the results are biased based on their theological beliefs about humanity and its ability to "know" things.

In a cosmology filled with angels and demons there is no middle ground.

Theistic evolutionists who are fighting to win over YEC believers are doomed to fail, not because of a lack of evidence, but because of the tenets of fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity. In a worldview that views humans as desperately wicked and blind to truth without an intervention from God, there is no motivation to trust what scientists say, especially scientists who don't believe in any sort of God, or any form of Christianity.

It simply isn't possible, with this mindset, to think that any person could objectively discover the truth about the universe, creation, and humanity without special revelation from God.

Certain Scriptures don't really help us out here, either.

2 Corinthians 11:14
14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

1 Corinthians 1:20-21
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:25-27
25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 18
Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; 20and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."

There are certainly times when evil might appear good. There are times when a wise choice looks foolish on the surface. It is true that knowledge does not necessarily lead to good choices.

These Scriptures are not "untrue" in what they communicate, but they certainly help feed the YEC conviction that believing something that makes no sense is further proof that they are on the right track. Any argument about a scientific theory which would remake the foundations of this version of Christianity will fall on deaf ears, because those ears have been conditioned to hear,"Just because smart people say it's true doesn't mean it is."

Those smart people might have been taken in by what appears to be an "angel of light" but is really just a harbinger of evil and destruction.

There is no way to overcome this view of humanity without completely reformulating opinions on whether man is a neutral being, and whether knowledge can be objectively obtained.

That may seem like a trivial thing, but it isn't. It permeates layer upon layer of thousands of years of theology.

Theology is like a giant game of Jenga; some pieces can be removed with little consequence to the overall structure, other pieces cause inescapable collapses of the entire tower when they are even slightly shifted.

This is what YEC advocates sense and what fuels their protection of their particular tower.

They see the wobbliness and are desperately holding their breath waiting for the tower to stop swaying and be still once more.


James Pate said...

Hi Terri,

You've probably read a set of YEC's who gave you the impression that you state in this post, and I've read people like that too. But I also know a YEC who subscribes to Young Earth Creationist publications, and the people who write in them have science degrees---and they're not all from the mail or unaccredited institutions. The impression I get from them is that they'd like nothing better than to have a scientific dialogue with evolutionists, but they're shut out of the scientific discussion because the evolutionists don't take their beliefs seriously and thus don't give them a hearing.

I'm not tipping my hat to any particular perspective here, since there's lots that I don't know. I tend to go with the majority of scientists because, well, I'm not a scientist so I tend to trust those who are (though my YEC friend reminds me that the scientific consensus has been wrong before).

MInTheGap said...

I have to agree with James, to some degree. I think that you incorrectly summarize the YEC argument in your first couple of paragraphs.

YECs that I read dispute that there is evidence that proves Evolutionism as face. They state that there is evidence that fits into two different worldviews-- that it is the worldview that is used to translate observable facts in one or two different ways.

Take, for instance, the recent finds in Africa. One worldview picks them up and says "It's the missing link-- one of our ancestors." The other picks it up and says "isn't this an interesting ape."

In science, evidence is used to prove an hypothesis. So far, there hasn't been anything that has disproven the YEC hypothesis, and the Evolutionists do not believe there's been anything to disprove theirs either.

There are facts, seen through differing worldviews. And that is the whole point of the theological discussion. Because theology, to some extent, is a worldview-- its guiding principles.

Would you agree?

terri said...


I'm not trying to caricature all YEC people. I feel like I generally understand the pushback they have to evolution...and I do think that accepting evolution does have some theological consequences.....unlike some others who think we can accept evolution with tweaking any of our beliefs/doctirnes.

So...I'm not trying to make it seem like YEC=anti-science, uneducated people. My point is actually the opposite....YEC believers aren't anti-science....they are against trusting human objectivity in the realm of science.


One can't disprove YEC because YEC is mostly a belief system. It's like trying to disprove the existence of Hindu gods. How exactly does one do that? You can argue against the likelihood of their existence with scientific arguments....but that doesn't mean they don't exist...or at least that's how it would seem to a HIndi believer.

There are facts, seen through differing worldviews. And that is the whole point of the theological discussion. Because theology, to some extent, is a worldview-- its guiding principles.

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Which is sort of my point.

The question is our theology formed? What is the basis of our theology? An easy out is to simply say "The Bible"....but that oversimplifies things. Thousands of years of theology are not just built on the Bible....but on trying to reconcile some of those theological ideas with the world we see around us. It's how we get something like the doctrine of the trinity even though its not clearly laid out in Scripture.

The Trinity is an attempt to explain confusing concepts about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit...but all of the explanations of the trinity are based in an attempt to logically harmonize things....through observation...through trying to think things through.

The theology is formed by people. No one has claimed a divine vision, or special revelation from God revealing it.

THis is what we have to be aware of when we start making statements about the world which have their basis largely in theological beliefs and not in observable data.

terri said...


This special by NOVA,
Judgment Day -- Intelligent Design on Trial
, is part of what really got me thinking about the whole..."there is no evidence for evolution thing"....especially when they get to the depiction of the court proceedings.

It's 2 hours long....and it might make some creationists uncomfortable...though they do let the creationists in Dover explain their position.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Terri has linked to my series, and I think I give YEC's their due in what they present, and what it means. I still have at least one concluding post to go.

But I can't say that even the best of the YEC's science has impressed me. What they mostly do is poke some holes in how some evolutionary theories could be wrong. I fully agree with them that evolutionists tend to overinterpret evidence and call it settled. But on the other side of the ledger, the YEC's simply have not delivered any positive evidence. I once deeply wanted them to be correct, sought out the best among them, and was very forgiving of their weaknesses. They just haven't put winning cards on the table.

MInTheGap said...

I think that the main problem here is that the discussion comes from a perspective that "this is 'science' or 'truth' and the other is just a beleif." A lot of the reason that YECs take alot of time to show alternate interpretations of evidence is because Evolutionism has spent a lot of time saying "this is the only way to interpret this evidence."

Part of YEC is saying, "we both have evidence, we just have different ways of interpreting it." I have yet to see one bit of Evolutionism that has "proven" that it is "the way that God did it" or that it is truth-- exclusively, but they are given the benefit of the doubt.

So, that's why the language is different. YECs say "this is how God could have done it" and Evolutionists say "this is the way that it was done." Both have the same evidence, the same facts, just differing ways they view it as they try to prove their belief.

Since we cannot see the past, we are limited to either testing things here and making extrapolations based on what we can test now, or relying on documentary evidence from time past from a Book we consider accurately relating what God did.

Saying that ancient people didn't know as much is inferring something on them that we don't know to be true, and assuming one worldview to be true.

Does this make sense? Can you help me be clearer if I'm not stating it accurately?

I'm not trying to be combative, just trying to see if I can explain clearly what the differences are.

terri said...


When you talk about "a book accurately relaying what God did"....I would ask what you mean by that.

Do we know accurately "what God did"? Even if you believe in 6 literal days....Genesis 1 is cramming the formation of the entire universe and world into a few sentences.

The only detail one could claim to know was that it was in 6 days. How and from what God made things is entirely left to our imagination.

Isn't it interesting that God says "let the land produce?" Why the distinction? Doesn't it seem like the land does produce things on its own? Grass, weeds, trees, one has to do anything for those things to reproduce and spread out through the land/water.

I often feel like YEC wants people to think that God is knitting together every molecule in existence. Trees are that way because God declared them to be that way. The platypus is that way because God likes od combinations.

Genesis 1 seems to put God in a very hands-off position. He just tells the land to do it and it does.

God believes in delegation it seems.

Is evolution really that different in scope?

MInTheGap said...

What I mean by "accurately relaying what God did" I mean that the order and time period of what happened in time past are accurately reflected in what is written.

For example, one problem with inserting years into the Genesis story is having plants without the Sun or Moon.

I'm not sure that I understand the problem of "cramming the formation of the entire universe and world into a few sentences." If things literally happened in 6, 24 hour days, what more would you expect? The Book is about God's relationship with man. I'm not sure that God is beholden to us to explain how or why He does anything.

I'm not sure I understand your question about "let the land produce". The Bible's clear that God set out the laws of the universe, and that it is by His sustaining presence that the cycle of it consist.

I don't think that YEC'ers (at least I know that I don't) believe that every thing was made (necessarily) by divine decree. Sin changed a lot of thing and combinations happen.

But here's the gray area between Evolution and Evolutionism. Evolution or natural selection does give a good explanation for the variety we see. It explains a lot and is observable.

Evolutionism says that this speciation not only exist, but given enough time one species can beget another-- something that's never been observed.

To me, it takes a lot more faith to say "well, we see it today, so given enough years it must have happened" than to trust what could be eyewitness accounts, but at least is the Book that states with authority what happened at the beginning.

Genesis is a foundation to a lot of things for the Bible-- what you believe about God's sovereignty, the origins of sin, the promise of a Savior, why there is death, is there hope. Virtually every Christian doctrine is in there.

Once you start picking and choosing "what really happened" based on something that's not a fact (here I speak of the belief about the Big Bang or whatever current origins belief, not in natural selection) I believe you're on shaky ground.