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Creation and Evolution: Are These Really Incompatible?

Creation and Evolution: Are These Really Incompatible?. Dr. Robert C. Kurka, Professor of Theology and Church in Culture Lincoln Christian University.

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Creation and Evolution: Are These Really Incompatible?

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  1. Creation and Evolution: Are These Really Incompatible? Dr. Robert C. Kurka, Professor of Theology and Church in Culture Lincoln Christian University

  2. “This class will engage the debate that has pitted belief in in the Bible against contemporary science, especially in the area of evolution. This class will propose that the conflict may not be as real as many on both sides assume, and these two sources may actually complement one another. The instructor will also suggest that the true points of incompatibility are more philosophic than data-based.”

  3. Course Outline • Day 1: 1. Alleged Conflict between the Bible and Science 2. Brief History of Science 3. Non-Scientific ( but very human) Source of Darwin’s Agnosticism 4. Real Conflict Identified: Clash of Worldviews • Day 2: 1. Legitimate Christian (Creation) Options 2. Three Key Issues that Must Navigate the Debate 3. A Call for Dialogue…not Demonizing

  4. We all are aware of a Supposed Conflict: Faith vs. Science • “ Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” –Richard Dawkins (1992)

  5. …but this conflict goes two ways • “I am glad the Bible is not a textbook of science like those used in public schools as it would change all the time—The Bible’s infallible.” Ken Hamm, The Lie: Evolution [1987]

  6. Christian Berkeley law professor, Phillip Johnson, clearly draws these alleged lines between evolutionary science and biblical belief… • “[Evolution] doesn’t mean God-guided, graduated creation. It means unguided, purposeless change. The Darwinian theory doesn’t just say that God created slowly. It says that naturalistic evolution is the creator, and God had nothing to do with it.” --Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds [1997]

  7. Choose science or choose creation (Bible): Are these the only options? • If so, the Evangelical Church will continue to lose Millennials… • [#5 reason for leaving the Church]: “ The Church is anti-intellectual; rejecting the claims of science and modernity.” --The Rise of the Nones(2014)

  8. A century ago, B. B. Warfield (the “father” of the modern doctrine of biblical inerrancy) proposed that science and the Bible were not at odds… • “[I] raise no question as to the compatibility of the Darwinian form of the hypothesis of evolution with Christianity.” -- “Charles Darwin’s Religious Life: A Sketch in Spiritual Biography” [1932]

  9. …and this positive relationship was furthered by Evangelical apologist, Bernard Ramm, in the first half of the 20th century • “What is the real issue in evolution?.. Evolution is contrary to Christianity only when it can be shown to be antichristian…If it [evolution] is a secondary law of biology, and not the metaphysics of creation, but viewed as a part of the divine creation, an element in providence, then evolution is as harmless as, say, the relativity theory.” --The Christian View of Science and Scripture [1954]

  10. …and by Evangelical scientist, Francis Collins, in the 21st century… • “Theistic evolution is the belief that God created life using natural processes, working within the natural order, in harmony with its laws…Contrary to widespread misunderstanding and confident assertions by the various anti-evolutionists, evolution is a scientific theory that makes no direct statements about God…And neither Ruse [agnostic] nor Harrell [evangelical pastor] finds any reason to believe that evolution is incompatible with Christianity. In fact, both wrote books arguing for this compatibility.” --The Language of Science and Faith (with Karl Giberson)[2011]

  11. Creation and Evolution have long enjoyed a more positive relationship among Roman Catholics… • “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand to do everything—but this not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality, and so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.” --Pope Francis, “Address to the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences” [2014]

  12. This proposed harmony between science and orthodox Christian belief should not be all that surprising because it is largely following the historical narrative of science and Christianity… • Witness of History + “…[the medieval] monk was an intellectual ancestor of the scientist” –Lynn White, “The Significance of Medieval Christianity” + One can see the beginnings of modern sciences in the supposed “Dark Ages.” During this period of time, Europeans developed the horse collar, horse shoe, and the cannon to fire explosive power. Baylor scholar, Rodney Stark, has noted: “Christianity did not plunge Europe into an era of ignorance and backwardness. Rather, so much technical progress took place during this era that by no later than the thirteenth century, European technology surpassed anything to be found elsewhere in the world”—For the Glory of God

  13. The late Seton Hall historian of science, Stanley Jaki, has summarized the history of science in the following manner: “A ‘scientific’ stance that stimulates insensitivity to these [scientific] facts is a parody of science, worth of being called plain anti-science. All the more so because among those facts belong also some facts of scientific history, facts so very different from the facts of nature. A close look at the ‘un-scientific’ facts of the history of science…must have in its focus the fact of Christ if that fact is indeed the most significant fact of history.” - --The Savior of Science * In other words, Christianity (alone) had the ability to generate “trans-sensible” THEORY

  14. Historical Witnesses: A “Who’s Who” of early scientists reveal that the vast majority of these geniuses were persons of faith, many of whom were professional clergy…

  15. Including… • Johannes Kepler [1571-1630] —discovered the elliptical movement of planets; established heliocentric theory • Galileo [1564-1642] —first to use the telescope to study the skies; saw lunar mountains and discovered Venus • William Harvey [1578-1657] –discovered the circulation of blood • Robert Boyle [1627-1691] –Boyle’s Law (volume of gas varies inversely with its pressure • Isaac Newton [1642-1727] – discovered the law of gravity • Joseph Priestly [1733-1804] –discovered oxygen • John Dalton [1766-1844] –discovered atomic theory; diagnosed color blindness

  16. George Ohm [1787-1854] – formulated “Ohm’s Law” (intensity of an electric current equals the magnetic force driving it, divided by the resistance of the conductor) • Michael Faraday [1791-1867] –discovered electromagnetic induction • Louis Pasteur [1822-1895] –founded microbiology’ discovered bacteria and nullified spontaneous generation • Gregor Mendel [1822-1884] –laid foundation for modern genetics

  17. This is but a partial list… • Some were Catholic, others were Protestant • Some were strongly orthodox, others less so (cf. Newton’s mildly heretical views of the Trinity) • However, each of these persons claimed Christianity and saw their science as a legitimate extension of their faith * cf. Stark, The Gory of God

  18. Commentators on History:

  19. * A. N. Whitehead: “My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology.” * Albert Einstein: “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” * Ernst Mach: “Every unbiased mind must admit that the age in which the chief development of the science of mechanics took place was an age of predominantly theological cast.”

  20. Theological/Philosophical Elements that made this history possible:

  21. From its inception, historic Christian orthodoxy has rooted itself in… • Ontological reality of a Triune, Creator God and cosmos. There is an objective status to reality (affirmed in the Bible’s opening words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth”). This establishes that there is an eternal, independent, and infinite Creator who is distinguishable from the finite universe—which owes its existence and continued operation solely to him • This God created a cosmos that reflects his innate “goodness” in its order, diversity, coherence, and perceptible rationality. Contrary to pagan religions, this world is “our home”—now and eternally (Rev. 21: 1-4). The universe is not a capricious and unpredictable playground for animistic deities that precludes scientific investigation • Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God the one who “holds all things together” (Col. 1:17) • God’s crowning creation, humankind, is given the unique capabilities—and command—to correctly understand and meaningfully affect the world (cf. Gen. 1:28). However, unlike God who knows all things, our knowledge is limited and constantly in need of correction and/or replacement

  22. These basic, “science-forming” Christian convictions are seen in subsequent ecumenical CREEDS…

  23. … and given this historic harmony, Darwin’s theory of evolution was not all that problematic for many high-level, Bible-believing scientists. In fact, they became some of his most ardent defenders… • “ When Darwin’s Origin of the Species appeared toward the end of the same year (1859), [Harvard botanist, Asa] Gray set himself to the task of making sure that Darwin would get a fair hearing in the New World. He certainly had misgivings about elements in the book, but the doctrine of Scripture was not one.” -- D. Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders [1987]

  24. …but a generation of atheistic “Neo-Darwinians” reset the rules of the game • Pre-cursors: 17-18th century Enlightenment thinkers: Voltaire, Rousseau, and to a degree, professing Christian, John Locke who understood the world to be a closed, clock-work machine (capable of operating on its own)

  25. … and rewrote the historical narrative of the “inseparable” relation • “If, then, modern science in general has acted powerfully to dissolve away the theories and dogmas of the older theological interpretation, it has also been active in a reconstruction and recrystallization of truth…” • --Andrew Dickson White, The Warfare of Science and Theology (co-founder of Cornell University)

  26. The Relationship of Christianity and Science: WAR ( a common view) • The warfare of Columbus [with religion] the world knows well: how the Bishop of Cueta worsted him in Portugal; how sundry wise men of Spain confronted him with the usual quotations from Psalms, from St. Paul, and from St. Augustine, who, even after he was triumphant, and after his voyage had greatly strengthened the theory of the earth’s sphericity…the theological barriers to this geographical truth yielded but slowly. Plain as it had become to scholars, they hesitated to declare it to the world at large…But in 1519 science gains a crushing victory. Magellan makes his famous voyage. He proves the earth is round, for his expedition circumnavigates it…Yet even this does not end the war. Many conscientious [religious] men oppose the doctrine for two hundred years longer --Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology (1896), 108-9

  27. More observations on White’s work… • White also greatly exaggerated the stories of Church vs. Copernicus and Galileo conveniently ignoring the contentious context of the Protestant Reformation—and Galileo’s theological arrogance • Historian of Science, J. B. Russell, has noted that White admitted that a key motivation for his “revisionist” history was retribution…against Christians who opposed his plans for Cornell University (the first and only Ivy League college to be founded on non-religious convictions) --Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians [2006]

  28. …..but let us allow Galileo to speak for himself • “I think that in discussing natural problems we should not begin from the authority of scriptural passages, but from sensory experiences and necessary demonstrations; for Holy Scripture and nature proceed alike from the divine Word, the former as the dictate of the Holy Spirit and the latter as the faithful execution of God’s commands…Scriptural statements are not bound by rules as strict as natural events, and God is not less excellently revealed in these events than in the sacred propositions of the Bible.” --Galileo, Discoveries and Opinions (1636)

  29. …and Evangelical Christians largely took the bait • 1860’s: Scientist Thomas Huxley [1825-1895] (nicknamed “Darwin’s Bulldog”) couples evolution to militant ATHEISM…and wins stunning debates against Christian clergy (e.g., Samuel Wilberforce and William Gladstone *Wilberforce asked Huxley if he was descended from an ape, was it through his grandfather or grandmother. Huxley famously replied that he would not be ashamed to be descended from an ape rather than through a man who used his many gifts to obscure the truth.

  30. Atheist Hubert Spencer’s application of Darwinian evolution to all spheres of reality—a comprehensive worldview—and coins the expression “survival of the fittest”

  31. Scopes Trial, Dayton, TN [1925]: Largely a “media event” organized to demonstrate the pre-modern ignorance of Christian fundamentalism versus the intellectual truth of Modernistic Science. Three-time US presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan defended the manner and timetable of creation rather than confront the “real target,” Spencer-like MATERIALISM

  32. Scientific Creationism [1960’s]: John Whitcomb and Henry Morris publish The Genesis Flood—an attempt to establish that a recent special creation and a flood geology as the only orthodox reading of Genesis. This later became identified as “Creation Science” by the Creation Research Society and was promoted as a viable, scientific alternative to evolution that had its rightful place in the schoolhouse

  33. Edwards v. Aguillard--Supreme Court case challenging a Louisiana law that mandated compulsory teaching of “creation science” alongside Darwinian evolution [1987]. The court declared the law unconstitutional because creation science was an attempt to advance a particular religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment

  34. A somewhat uncritical embrace of “Intelligent Design” (ID) as thenecessary biblical and scientifically-credible antidote against evolution [1990’s--]. While ID has a fair number of educated supporters (mostly from the philosophic world), it is viewed by many in the scientific community as simply a new version of “Paley’s Watchmaker” and/or a “God of the Gaps” explanation

  35. Science vs. Religion: A Distinctly American Phenomenon? • In a recent (2017) survey conducted by Newman University and YouGov, researchers found that in Great Britain and Canada, a majority of religious persons had no little difficulty in incorporating evolutionary science into their belief frameworks (64% in UK; 50% in Canada). This appears to contradict what has often been assumed to be “the biblical” position among American evangelicals; i.e., young (or old) earth creationism. (Even US religious attitudes are changing about this as the Pew Research Group’s findings reveal that 73% of “Christians” under 30 now accept some form of evolution).– Sarah Lane Richie,“4 Things Americans Can Learn about Faith and Evolution from Great Britain and Canada” [9/27/17]. • UK scholars have noted for a number of years, that American Christians seem to have a distrust between science and the Bible generally not found in the British context. The well-respected, conservative New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright has observed: “…when in the United Kingdom scientist-theologians like Alister McGrath and John Polkinghorne so clearly model ways of thinking in which the two worlds are wisely and richly integrated, many of us non-scientists are quite happy to continue that line of thought and see no need to trumpet our allegiances or to explain our conversions to new ways of thinking. These are not major cultural issues for us.”– “A British Reflection on the Evolutionary Controversy in America,” in How I Changed My Mind about Evolution, 136 [2017]

  36. …but are we misidentifying the real foe? Is the battle between the Bible and evolution or rather a biblical worldview versus a Naturalistic one?

  37. A closing observation… • “While Naturalism has been a dominant WORLDVIEW of Western science for the past 100+ years, it should be recognized that its “a-theological tenets” are essentially inimical to scientific inquiry. The current demise of interest and competence in science in the present-day West may actually be due more to atheism rather than religious suppression. --Robert Kurka, “Science: Christianity’s Long Lost Child” [2010]

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