Like many of the “wars” being fought out there, I generally look at both sides with disdain on the Creation vs. Evolution debate. Like many issues, both sides are arguing against a straw man. The Creationist thinks that evolutionists designed this theory specifically so they can try to disprove God. While Evolutionists think that Christians live in a lala world completely inconsistent with reality.
I’m wholly sympathetic to the “science” side of the argument, even when they talk about evolution and millions of years, simply because when you start with the position that nothing is proved without evidence (skepticism) and then presuppose naturalism, it’s entirely rational to arrive at the conclusions that scientists deduce. It’s also not entirely unreasonable for them to judge people who do not presuppose naturalism to be superstitious. Naturalism simply says that nothing is knowable that cannot be detected by the 5 senses. This would seem to then imply that there is nothing supernatural, since only natural things can be detected by the 5 senses. This is a bit like an ear trying to assert that there is no such thing as light because it cannot hear it, but I digress. Even still, I don’t consider it irrational for scientists to believe what they believe.
I’m also sympathetic to the “creationist” side of this debate. The most vocal of this group may in fact fit the straw man or stereotype, a la Answers in Genesis, but like the Westboro Baptist Church on the issue of homosexuality, Answers in Genesis does not represent the whole of Christianity, and I would content they don’t even represent the majority. Most Christians on this issue are concerned with reconciling what they believe to be true in the Bible with what science tells them.
Much has been said about the relationship between faith and reason. Many times faith and reason seem to be opposed. What is the Christian to do when faced with a claim that seems to have irrefutably evident reason behind it but contradicts the teachings of Scripture? If we believe that the Bible alone (when properly interpreted) is our infallible authority, what are we to do when met with claims such as Evolution?
As I’ve thought of this I’ve never really found an answer I’m comfortable giving. Though I hold both faith and reason to be important, the problem remains of what to do when they conflict. I recently remembered a book we discussed in my ethics class at Cedarville. It was by H. Richard Niebuhr called Christ and Culture. The book discussed five approaches to the relationship between Christ and Culture from a historical and ethical perspective. The details of the book are huge wash in my brain, but I remembered them enough to look up what the five views were. As I did so, I thought it might be beneficial to extrapolate these five categories into five views of the relationship between Faith and Reason.
“A great silent collapse, an enormous unspoken disappointment, has in our time fallen on our Northern civilization. All previous ages have sweated and been crucified in an attempt to realize what is really the right life, what was really the good man. A definite part of the modern world has come beyond question to the conclusion that there is no answer to these questions, that the most that we can do is to set up a few notice-boards at places of obvious danger, to warn men, for instance, against drinking themselves to death…” – G.K. Chesterton, Heretics.
No wonder we have so many public service announcements on TV and so many Nanny State laws!!!
I finally figured this out the other day. You may or may not be aware of this thing called the Emergent Church. It’s a movement within Evangelical Christianity, and your opinion of it may vary depending on what you know and what your background is. Some of the main proponents of Emergentism are Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and N.T. Wright. You may also have heard of the book The Truth War by John MacArthur in which he blasts the whole movement as an attack on the doctrinal foundation of the church. I don’t know where you stand on this, but here’s my take on what the Emergent church is.