This is part two of an article on the creation debate. Part one lays the groundwork for the thrust of this post.
Knowing the real issues of the debate between theistic evolution and creationism helps me to make a choice. Where do I stand on this issue? I stand on the side that rejects theistic evolution’s attempt to reconcile the claims of science with the Word of God. You might ask, what more is there to say then?
Just because we know what we don’t believe, doesn’t mean we can sit back and put this to rest. This debate is going to continue raging, and we need to meet it, rather than flee from it.
My belief in a 6-day creation is not iron-clad from a physical proof perspective either, and I need to remember that.
I think what unsettles me most about this debate is the “who cares?” attitude bible-believing Christians take to the whole discussion, and conversely, acquiescence by other Christians in the name of “keeping Christianity relevant”. For those of us who aren’t scientists or theologians, this may be the question we’re really asking. Does my faith become irrelevant if I reject modern science’s claims, or, by accepting a form of evolution that includes God, does it become more relevant?
Christians who are used to being a minority voice might proudly declare “I don’t care if we’re relevant.” Although I accept faith to be something that can’t ultimately be proven to satisfy science, I wholeheartedly believe that my faith is rational and logical. We are rational creatures, and our God is rational. Therefore I think the gospel is always relevant. Relevant does not mean popular, it means “fitting”. Our faith is always appropriate to the matter at hand (especially when it is counter-culture). By not bending in the winds of public opinion, it speaks truth that is unchanging and exists outside of our sinful selves. The more truth becomes relative, the more relevant the gospel becomes.
Where the gospel becomes irrelevant to the world outside the church is when we fumble it and fail to know it and live it. I believe that how we handle the creation debate very much affects the perception of the relevance of our faith. In this context, we become marginalized when we get lazy, or scared. Let me explain.
Accepting faith “like a child” is prized in the Bible, but so is wisdom and understanding. We are encouraged not to remain on milk like infants, but on solid food (1 Cor 3:2, Heb. 5:12). We have to be honest about the real reasons we accept something in faith. Is it because we have searched it out vigorously and came up to the edges of our abilities to understand? Even if we realize something may not be revealed to us in this life, does that give us permission to stop studying it? Simple faith can be held up to cover complacency in which we absolve ourselves of using our minds and seeking the truth. It can make us lazy, and when we’re lazy about our beliefs, we become poor witnesses, and even worse, our faith becomes hollow. Do we believe in 6-day creation because we’ve never given it much more thought, or because we’ve read the Bible, studied it deeply and have come to a stronger understanding of it?
I’ve heard many Christians gasp in horror at the idea of theistic evolution and then answer the questions science is trying to answer with, “ultimately, it doesn’t matter because the gospel is about Jesus”. That’s not an answer, that’s avoidance, and the reason we avoid it is not just because we’re lazy. It’s also because we’re scared. If we probe it too deeply, we worry that we might be showing a lack of faith. If we ask questions about things we always considered fact, we’re afraid we’re doubting God and at risk of reasoning our way out of our beliefs.
Fear is keeping many of us away from this topic. We cling to what we’ve always believed in the name of steadfast faith, but really, we don’t want to have this discussion and avoid it all costs. The truth is we don’t know all the answers and we worry that THAT will make us irrelevant. We don’t like to be ostracized, or ridiculed or made to look like a fool when really we are trying to cling to the truth.
We have a responsibility to know this topic. And we can’t know it, if we avoid it. We also don’t advance the discussion by only pointing out why it fails, and then considering the case closed. I am all in favour of beginning here. We should test everything by the scriptures and theistic evolution comes up short. But is that the end? What do we do with all the questions that are unanswered? I disagree with the conclusions science draws from it’s findings, but the findings themselves are real. We have to engage this topic and to do that, we must leave room for discussion and learning instead of turning away from it and telling others to do the same.
There is much we don’t know, and we have to be careful about putting things into the Bible that aren’t there. How long a day was seems obvious, but the Bible does NOT say it was 24 hrs, nor does it say it was a thousand years. The fact is we don’t know. We may never know, but that doesn’t give us license to bury our head in the sand to drown out the discoveries found in His creation.
I believe in a 6-day creation and will teach my kids the same. But I am open to the idea, that it may not be exactly as it sounds, that God has left room in His story for His purposes. He may lead us to answers, he may not. But patience and trust need not be mutually exclusive from a curious mind. We can leave room for this discussion, while clinging to a literal reading of the Bible and the whole gospel story.
Resolved on where I stand, I pledge to continue learning and I encourage others to do the same. Let’s be firm about where we stand, but honest about what we know and don’t know. Though the polls might show a decrease in those who uphold 6-day creation, the relevancy of the gospel will not be determined by the stance we take. Instead, the gospel will be declared irrelevant when we’re too lazy or afraid to have the discussion.