Myth or Monkey?

In 1859 Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” and posited his view that all species evolve from common ancestors. This book contained scientific theory that was aimed at the scientific community. At the time the Church of England was very involved with this community so the reactions to it started immediately and have reverberated through the Church in general ever sense. Other scientists have extrapolated from these concepts and contributed various aspects of modern Evolutionary Theories. These concepts range from genome mapping to cosmological models. Christianity has refuted these theories from almost the onset and as evidence for their veracity mounts, Christians seem to argue all the more. I really need to ask why?

I am by no means an expert in Evolutionary Science and will never be. I do however know how scientific theory works. Scientific facts are really facts as of today and will cease to be facts if enough evidence arises to disprove them. Scientific constants can change and are represented with standard error rates from the mean. Scientists disagree regularly with each other on their findings and conclusions. None of this disproves or even causes question in the scientific process or Evolutionary Theory, quite frankly it supports it through a commitment to the validity of the evidentiary process. Science in a very general view is an attempt to draw conclusions from factual data for the purpose of understanding how our universe operates. What I am unclear on is why this ever was or should be a problem for the church? I understand the history, but I think we have kind of missed the point.

Christians use the Bible to refute scientific findings. I am a firm believer in the value of and authority of the biblical text in my and the church’s life. It however is not now nor has it ever been a scientific or even a historical document. That was never its purpose. The purpose was and is to communicate how God has worked through his people and how that inspires us to be in relationship with him. To try and use it as a counterpoint to scientific discovery falls flat quickly.

There are huge differences between the who, the how, and the why. We are not at all in jeopardy philosophically or theologically to say that evidence in the current scientific model supports a very old earth beginning with a collision of atomic matter expanding with heat and cooling to allow the creation of subatomic particles (my apologies if I misstated that). This theory is a good one and worth review but not concrete and does not conflict with the text. The Bible clearly shows God spoke the world into being.  It does not claim how or when and to require a Houdini-esque magic show causing things to create in a 24 hour window adds far more to the story than it states.  Human evolution is similar. I think there are several solid questions that make the idea of monkeys turning into men untenable.  But realistically countering it with an image of God blowing air into dirt doesn’t seem feasible. Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that God created man. The imagery mentioned however is not meant to explain it on a scientific level.

The Discovery Institute proposed a concept called Intelligent Design that attempts to blend the two sides on the basis that the complexity of features (their word, not mine) of the universe indicate an intelligent cause but even that offers far more structure than needed. It seems more and more like we are trying to place a square peg in a round hole. Science and Faith are separate. My Faith expects me to live a life that glorifies my God, not have to have the definitive answer to every question. He doesn’t need us to defend him by taking his word and forcing it into places that it does not belong. I am reasonably certain that if my oldest ancestor was Adam or Cheeta, or for that matter the world first looked like a garden or primordial stew, God is still God and man can either accept that or choose to try and beat it which never really turns out like we want. The Bible is a book of hope, faith, and love. If we spend effort and energy trying to prove science wrong using the Bible, the only thing we will prove is that we don’t really know what is says.

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  1. #1 by agnophilo on August 13, 2013 - 12:46 am

    The argument creationists give is that if death and sin did not enter into the world with the fall of eve in the garden then there is no reason for christ to die on the cross. In other words if one part of our theology is wrong another part is wrong, and we don’t accept that that could possibly true so all of observable reality is a lie.

  2. #2 by yirahyahweh on August 13, 2013 - 5:28 am

    Thank you for the input. I think you have hit on the crux of the problem. Our theology is questioned by the evidence of science and our answer is that science is wrong. I think we risk cheapening our own faith by doing so. Paul’s theological link between the garden and the cross is clearly intended to communicate the need for the death of Christ but I am less certain he was trying to communicate the need for an Adam, Eve, and Eden story. His point is just as strong if that part of the story is figurative. I think the need to have it literal takes some of the faith away.

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