While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook…Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.First of all, a common criticism from Darwinists of all flavors—from the true believers: ardent atheists, to the spongy “theistic evolutionists” (ironically seen as heretics by the faithful on both sides of the evolution debate)—is that Christians who accept the biblical account of the origin of mankind are making the mistake of reading the Bible (especially Genesis) “literally.”
As apologist Greg Koukl puts it, the question “Do you take the Bible literally?” is ambiguous, confusing, and awkward to answer. The best way to answer such a question is that we (“literalists”) take the Bible literally when it is meant to be taken literally. In other words, as Koukl puts it, we read the Bible in its “ordinary sense.” (“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.”)
A good analogy that Koukl provides is the reading of a modern day sports page. When a sportswriter says that one team “crushed,” “destroyed,” or “annihilated” its opponent, no one speculates or frets about literal meanings. When we read that the Georgia Bulldogs “steam-rolled” the Florida Gators, there is no investigation into whether state highway equipment went missing during what used to be known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Though certainly a more difficult read than a sports page, we are to approach reading the Bible in the same way.
Additionally, when it comes to believing miraculous events recorded in the Bible, whether the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus, or the miracle of a literal six-day creation, the inconsistency applied by “evolutionary creationists” is fascinating and troubling. After all, why believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Has science proven how we can raise the dead?
After His resurrection, why did Jesus chastise the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? Was it because they failed biology 101? “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” In other words, why did you not believe what was written?! If one will doubt the creation account, why believe the prophets? Why believe any of the accounts of supernatural events in Scripture?
What’s more, if Genesis is a “metaphor,” then all the rest of Scripture is in question. There is much evidence throughout all of Scripture to support the fact that Genesis is literal history. Many other books directly refer to Genesis and its characters in a way that shows they were regarded as nothing but historical people and events. Consider how often the New Testament refers to Genesis and its characters. Dozens of times Adam, Eve, the Serpent (Satan), Cain, Abel, Noah, the Flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lot, and so on, are directly (and indirectly) referenced. They are spoken of as real historical characters, not mythological beings.
In Romans chapter 5 Paul refers directly to Adam and compares him to Christ as “a pattern of the one to come.” First Corinthians 15:22 states, “For as in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive.” This refers to all of humanity being under the same curse of death that was placed on Adam, because we all are his descendants. Second Corinthians 11:2 says, “…just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning…” thus making a direct reference to Eve, Satan, and The Fall.
Secondly, all truth—whether deemed “scientific” or “religious”—exists to reveal God. (“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and his divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”) Anything or anyone that purports to have information that denies God, or His Word, is a lie.
Thirdly, the Clergy Letter Project heretics got at least something right: there is no conflict between the Bible and “modern science” (or ancient science, or future science). The word “science” is derived from the Latin word “scientia,” meaning “knowledge.” It is frequently overlooked that every side of the creation/evolution debate derives their knowledge from certain governing presuppositions.
In other words, whether a person is a creationist or an evolutionist, or some combination of the two, eventually he or she must eventually rely on certain un-provable assumptions. As the late philosopher, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, put it, “At the most fundamental level of everyone’s thinking and beliefs there are primary convictions about reality, man, the world, knowledge, truth, behavior, and such things. Convictions about which all other experience is organized, interpreted, and applied.”
Thus neither side in the evolution debate can use exclusively the methods of science to verify their primary convictions. The scientific method of observing, measuring, testing, and repeating does not work when it comes to revealing exactly how life began. In spite of what some devoted evolutionists would have us believe, no one has ever observed or been able to experimentally repeat evolution that shows one kind of creature changing into another. We certainly have never seen life created in a Petri dish.
Of course, neither have we observed someone creating matter or speaking life into existence. However, what the creation account has that the Darwinian account lacks is a written record of events. Now, many are quick to discount the biblical record of events as fiction, but this is typically because the accounts of events recorded in Scripture directly contradict the primary convictions of Darwinian evolution (D.E.).
An atheist who completely denies God and the Bible and holds molecules to man evolution up as absolute truth has a more logically defensible position than the Christian who wants to mix evolution and Scripture. D.E. teaches that all life—plant, animal, human—billions of years ago sprang from the same single-celled source, strictly as a product of nature and natural processes (billions of years of death and struggle). Thus, as a liberal writer at Salon put it,
“Darwin…explained the evolution of life in a way that doesn’t require the hand of God.” (His piece is gleefully entitled “God is on the Ropes,” and writes about the “brilliant new science”—isn’t it always—that expands on Darwin’s work and will finally liberate us from any idea that God was involved in creating life.)
Many, including those who call themselves Christians and/or conservatives, would like to ignore this tenet of D.E. Even the rabid atheist and Darwinist Richard Dawkins understands the fallacy here. When asked recently what was the particular point at which he was able to conclude that God doesn’t exist, Dawkins replied that “by far” the most significant event for him was “understanding evolution.” He went on to say that he thought the evangelical Christians have it “sort-of” right when they see (Darwinian) evolution as “the enemy,” adding that there “really is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity.” The “sophisticated theologians” who are “quite happy to live with evolution” are, as Dawkins puts it, “deluded.” How sad that it takes an atheist to point out the truth in this debate!
And if your church is so “deluded,” leave now and don’t go back.
Copyright 2017, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of The Miracle and Magnificence of America