In the wild fire that is the Creationism vs. Evolution debate I find that so much is assumed, and so much is missed–often at the expense of Scripture, of science, and faith.
The way the issue is polarized on both sides just seems to make everyone talk past one another, and thus anyone who doesn’t exist on the polar ends of the “debate” seem to be left out or misunderstood altogether.
I’m neither a scientist nor a biblical scholar, but I am a thinking Christian layperson with an interest in being honest and having a view of the world and of faith that neither requires me to abandon my Christianity nor my plain reason.
First of all I see those who insist either:
A) We must conform our natural science to the words of Scripture, anything observed in the natural world must be bound to what we read in the Bible. Or
B) We, having observed what we have observed scientifically, must abandon the superstitions of ancient religious writings penned by ignorant ancients.
Neither of these work for me, both make assumptions that I hardly think are justified. In the first case I see neither honesty in regards to Scripture nor honesty in regards to science, rather both are cast away entirely in favor of a preconceived idea; in the second I see a similar dishonesty in assuming that the ancient authors of Scripture were somehow more interested in being scientific according to western, post-Baconian standards than in their faith and God about whom they write about.
What I mean is that the Scriptures are not scientific, they were never intended to be scientific, and to treat them as though they were–whether positively or negatively–is an injustice to them. And science is science and there is nothing to fear about the natural mechanics of the universe–and if Scripture makes no dogmatic claims about science then allow science to be science, and Scripture to be Scripture.
To this end I also see a third, equally, dishonest route which ones seeks to take, that is to try and reconcile Scripture and science such as to make the two same the same thing–once again this does no justice to Scripture. Thus those who take what they know of science and attempt to read it back into the Creation Narrative of Genesis chapter one are doing nothing good, they are desperately trying to make Scripture credible in such a way that it must be credible in a totally modern way–an act of futile eisegesis.
Here my crypto-Lutheranism is seeping through, because the paradox of accepting what Genesis 1 says and of evolution doesn’t escape me, but neither does it bother me. I simply see no reason to choose one over the other, I see no reason to try an force Scripture to be scientific or science to be scriptural. The paradox is fine, and I can live with it, and no injury is done to my faith nor to my reason.
Luther warned against trying to rationalize Scripture, he argued that if two passages of Scripture say different things one must accept both as true, even if that leaves one believing in a paradox (indeed Lutheranism–and Christianity at large–embraces many paradoxes of faith). Luther also warned against trying to rationalize Scripture so as to force an interpretation that artificially made one passage or another trump the other or say something it wasn’t really saying.
I want to apply that same principle here. Allow Scripture to be Scripture, allow Scripture to say what it has to say, accept what it says in good faith, but not at the expense of having to reject plain reason in regard science and the natural world nor allowing ourselves to change what Scripture says in order to conform to what science informs us of the world.
Thus the Scriptures say that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and that He purposefully and organizationally fashioned all things through His Divine Command, calling into existence all things, and that He created humankind in His own image, and breathing into man’s nostrils making him a living being–and that there was a fall from paradise, a fall from grace, and so on and so forth–and this is all true; it is likewise true what science informs us about the world around us, that through time life has evolved, over the course of millions of years, and we have the fossil record to prove it.
Why I must choose one over the other makes no sense to me, why must I be dishonest to either my faith or my plain reason? And to force either into something they are not, well that would be the most dishonest of all.
I understand how absurd this position must seem to many, and I’m aware of its seeming absurdity, but I’m convinced it’s the least absurd out of all the alternatives, and it’s the most honest.
Let Scripture be Scripture.
Let science be science.
“And may God be found true, and every man a liar.”