I’ve been an actor in the following scene a hundred times. I’m in a dorm lounge or college classroom, or I’m serving on a panel or in a public debate, and someone asks about the relationship between science and faith.
Great question! I love talking about this topic. So I’m off to the races on the compatibility of science and faith.
But then, a related question comes up: Do you as a Christian believe in creationism? And do you actually deny evolution as taught by science?
Darn. I was having such a good time . . .
Secular science has an easy answer to all this: Of course evolution is true. No one in the academy doubts it. Evolution is an indisputable fact. It’s an orthodox doctrine against which no argument is made (or allowed).
Many traditional Christians, however, think otherwise. They think the Bible presents us with a “young earth” which was created by God not billions of years in the past, but six to ten thousand years ago. Evolution is a false doctrine because it’s based on anti-biblical, naturalistic assumptions and contradicts the word of God.
The apparent old age of the earth can be explained by a world-wide catastrophic flood as recorded in Genesis 7-8, so say Young Earth Creationists (YECs).
Of course, this assessment is dismissed by secular science, but it’s also disputed by many Christians who work in the relevant sciences such as biology, paleontology, archeology, physics, astronomy, etc.
These Christians think the world is immensely old, and that God broke into the timeline at some late date, perhaps 30,000 years ago, to create the first human beings. And they accept that God could have used evolution to accomplish his purposes.
YEC Christians recoil at these ideas. One of their main arguments is hermeneutical – that is, it’s about the rules for interpreting the Bible. They say that we cannot allow the findings of science to determine or even influence our understanding of Scripture. They ask pointed questions such as, Who do we believe – Scripture or science? God or man?
Thus, one of the critical questions in the whole debate is this: Is it legitimate to allow the findings of science to influence our reading of Scripture?
It seems to me this question is more complex than first appears.
I’ll offer a response in my next post.