5Feb

Creationism vs. Evolution

debate

Last night I watched the highly anticipated debate between evolutionist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham. Full disclosure: I’m a creationist. But I hope what I have to say here makes sense for both sides of this argument. I believed both raised great points towards one another. Here is really what it all comes down to.

We just don’t know.

 

Therefore both creationists and evolutionists put their faith in their view of the past. Ken Ham was lightly making this point last night. We simply cannot observe the past, only the effects of the past. And no one can say with certainty how past events happened. Both creationists and evolutionist have their scientific explanations based upon the same evidence. Both have leading experts and passionate defenders.

So can’t we all (creationist and evolutionist) just admit that it takes faith to be on either side? Creationist are unapologetic about this. They say their faith comes from the Bible. Evolutionist just won’t acquiesce.

The major issue with this debate has nothing to do with actual origins, but the role origins play in our search for the meaning of life.

Creationist: If we are made by an intelligent designer, then we aren’t an accident. If life comes from a creator (God), then life has a reason it exists. Therefore there are moral absolutes, governed by the intelligent creator. Those moral absolutes are plainly written in the Bible. Therefore there are absolute answers to issues of marriage and natural reproduction, rights of life (elderly not to be euthanized, babies not to be aborted), and moral guidance of community (such as not stealing, murdering, etc).

Evolutionist: Life happened by chance; all accidental. Since it is all accidental, then there are no moral absolutes. We (mankind) have created morals to simply govern. Therefore, morals could be whatever the governors (those governing) decide. Marriage can be decided by the governors. Rights to life can be decided by the governors. You can see this in our nations government where we (the people) are pressed to govern these, making marriage and rights to life political issues to be voted on and lobbied for.

The answer we’re all looking for: What’s the meaning of life? As a creationist, I put my faith in the Bible and Jesus Christ. I wasn’t there for the origins, and I’ll never state as fact issues that the Bible doesn’t state as fact. But I believe the stories are true. And I believe God can do anything. I take that all on faith.

Evolutionist must admit that they too shape their view from faith. It’s faith in the assumptions of naturalism. I don’t mean that in an insulting way, but you cannot deny that (as creationist have assumptions found in the Scriptures) an evolutionist worldview is based on assumptions as well. That’s why it’s called the theory of evolution, not the fact of evolution.

So here’s to an equal and peaceful search of the meaning of life. (Hint: Answer here).

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About Dave Herring

Songwriter, ragamuffin, and Revelation expositor. Husband to Amanda and worship leader at The Point. Vintage 1983. Charlottesville, VA
  • http://www.rockingjamboree.com/ Russ Rogers

    I have trouble with moral absolutism or claims that Christians have a lock on what those moral absolutes are. Because I’m a Christian, and I disagree with other Christians, eventually some moral absolutist will claim that I’m not a Christian at all, or I am some sort of “false Christian.” Blech.

    Why are there different punishments in the Bible for the death of a fetus versus the death of a person? Is the Bible teaching us that there is an absolute moral difference between a realized person and a potential person, a fetus? Can we live our lives with a religious understanding that there is a moral difference?

    Should the State be allowed to keep a woman’s zombified corpse “alive,” against the wishes of her husband, if she’s pregnant? What if she’s not pregnant? Does a husband have the responsibility to see that his wife’s end of life wishes are respected, or should the State, Church (or, heaven forbid, the Church/State) be the governor, the absolute authority of what are objective, moral absolutes? Does removing a respirator from a brain dead person constitute “euthanasia” or “murder”? What if it’s just a feeding tube?

    There are times when we can make no good choice, but must bravely sin. Life is too complex for absolutism. And there is only ONE Absolute Authority. And anyone who claims that they absolutely know His Will is either The Christ, or a megalomaniac who thinks he’s The Christ. Odds are, it’s a megalomaniac.

    I have trouble with people thinking that Creationism and Evolutionism are both just “theories” and so are equally valid or mutually exclusive. I’m a Christian and I firmly believe in Evolution. Some Christians will say that makes me a “False Christian.” Blech. But I don’t think it makes God seem any less mighty to envision that he has a hand in billions of years in every millisecond of an ongoing evolution; versus just a six day blast of divine creativity, followed by a few thousand years of benevolent guidance. The Creation Story in Genesis is beautiful, poetic, and filled with valuable moral insight, but it’s not a science textbook. And it does a disservice to both Science and Religion to treat them as equals or opposites.

    I don’t think it diminishes God’s power to understand that the Earth, it’s inhabitants and even the cosmos itself are still evolving! We don’t sit astride the pinnacle of God’s Creation. We are a sparkle, just a moment, in an expanding, possibly endless creation. We aren’t the climax of the Divine Symphony, we are just an important phrase. When you understand how vast the universe is, and how nearly incomprehensibly long it took to get here (to get us here), the wonder of an All Powerful Creator wanting a personal relationship with each of us is all the more staggering and beautiful. It also makes our duty as stewards of this corner of creation all the more important. We must understand that when a species is driven into extinction, that is millions (even billions) of years of God’s handiwork lost, not just an afterthought of the Divine Creator from a single day. God did not entrust us with His Creation so that we could rape it for our leisure and pleasure, but we were given a powerful duty to be fruitful with the garden with thoughtful, mindful, even prayerful stewardship.

    • http://daveherring.me/ Dave Herring

      Thanks for commenting Russ. I definitely don’t have all (or even a quarter) of the answers to the questions you raised. I’ll do my best to illuminate my personal views, and invite you to clarify a few things.

      My heart is for the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that no man can definitively say (based on creation evidences) if God created the earth in 6 literal days or over billions upon billions of years. Whether He did or didn’t is really irrelevant to the argument, because I propose that because I (as a Creationist) cannot definitively state ‘proof,’ and you (as an evolutionist) cannot definitively state ‘proof.’ We are on equal footing. For every evidence we can present, there are leading experts to find from several prospectives to explain them. This is exactly what Ken Ham was stating in the debate. It’s hard for anyone to admit this, but it’s just the truth.

      As for moral absolutes, I do believe we can have them. They’re deeper than just cultural or communal rules. They’re in our DNA. Cultures around the world for centuries have someone found very similar rules to govern them, especially regarding theft and murder. In the animal kingdom, there are no such rules of morality to govern them.

      These absolutes are there, and they’ve been there since the beginning. I’m unfamiliar with the verse you reference regarding killing a fetus or adult in the Bible. Please reference that for me. As for the times when there are no good choices available, I empathize with these. For instance, you mentioned the recent situation with the woman in Texas. Such a tragedy. In those cases, I personally believe that we have to let individuals and families collectively make those decisions.

      What I don’t want to see happening is the euthanization of elderly, sick, or disabled people because of inconvenience. But if we’re all just collections of meat from accidental origins, what importance is a life that isn’t ‘fit for survival?’

      Do you see where I’m coming from?

      Regarding your faith, I would never call you a false Christian or anything like that. Your salvation is between you the Jesus Christ. I have nothing to do with it. What I would challenge you on is the authority of Scripture. Personally, if I didn’t take the Bible at face value I’d have a hard time being a committed Christian. I’d probably be ok coming to church occasionally, maybe giving some money, and I’d be fine confessing that I’m a Christian. But true Christianity is modeled after Christ. It’s self-sacrificing. It’s modeled after the community of the church of Acts. It’s life-encompassing.

      If the Bible has any flaws, then it’s not God’s inherent Word. If it’s not God’s inherent Word and I can pick and chose what I want to believe is applicable or ‘true for me’ out of it, I can certainly craft a very skewed theology from what is actually taught.

      In faith I take the Bible at face-value, and I’m ok with that. That ‘satisfies’ me, because I don’t need to look any further for my answers. And others should be ok with me being ok with that.

      Does that make any sense?

      • http://www.rockingjamboree.com/ Russ Rogers

        We are not on equal footing where Science is concerned. If you don’t care about carbon dating rocks, or watching how radiation can deform fruit flies, or seeing how selective breeding can create champion show dogs, go ahead, be content with Creationism. If you want to plug your ears and hum, “But God made it all like this in just six days,” that’s fine. But Evolutionary Theory can and does explain how drug resistant bacteria and viruses can develop. It’s more than about cosmology (the origin of things and species), evolutionary theory has a direct relation to how we live our day to day lives, and the simple choices we can make, for instance, to not abuse antibiotic drugs!

        It’s SCIENCE! And Science isn’t about believing the right things. It’s not a result. It’s a method. It’s about advancing a hypothesis that can be substantiated or disproven by experimentation or observation. It’s not about accepting ideas based on faith in the credentials of other scientists. It’s about taking what we know and refining that and expanding that over and over again with thought, conjecture, theory, experimentation and observation. Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat ad nauseum.

        Does Science give us perfect knowledge? Can it ever? No. Now we see through a glass dimly. But science does clean and polish the glass a bit! It puts telescopes and microscopes and radiographs and large hadron colliders up against the glass, so maybe we might see just a little bit more than we could before!

        “If the Bible has ANY flaws”? So every translation of the Bible is equally perfect in your eyes, David? None is better than another? None are flawed? All Bibles are God’s Perfect Word revealed? How can that be true when differing translations disagree with each other? How do we know which translation is perfectly revealed? Or are we still ultimately forced to pick and chose for ourselves, by how the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts?

        What about all the Biblical passages that talk about how we are to treat our slaves, and from what nations we are allowed to take our slaves, and how our slaves can be passed down to our descendants? Are you saying that Slavery is morally acceptable, Dave? Or have our moral absolutes evolved a bit from the times of Biblical authorship? I’m willing to go out on a limb here and broadly state that “Slavery is a SIN”! It’s evil and it’s wrong, no matter what the Bible says! Why? Because I come back to the commandment that would have me love others the way I would want to be loved. And I would NOT love to be a slave!

        Personally, I see the passages of the Bible that instruct me on the proper method of taking and owning slaves as fundamentally and inherently flawed. I see some of the passages of the Bible that seem to denigrate women, as being less worthy of than men, as flawed, and in serious need of being read with a lot of historical context in mind. There are many passages of the Bible that need serious historical context, and it would be dangerous to just take them at face value. And I would hate to think that our morality was absolutely trapped in amber by the Nicene Council, nearly 1700 years ago, because of what they chose to include or not within the Bible. (By the way, how many women were part of the Nicene Council? I honestly don’t know, but I have a guess.)

        I would hope that the moral compass of Christians has evolved a bit over the last few centuries. I would hope that Christians could learn some moral truths from the abolition of Slavery and the victories of suffragettes and other Civil Rights Leaders to gain equal recognition both under the law and morally between each other.

        • Joe

          Sorry Russ, but carbon dating is extremely unreliable, and none of the examples you gave demonstrate Darwinian evolution. Bacteria developing a resistance to antibiotics is not even remotely close to the evolution that is from molecules to man. That is micro evolution and that happens all the time. They are still bacteria when they develop that resistance. No macro evolution happens. And they are two very different things

          • http://www.rockingjamboree.com/ Russ Rogers

            I wouldn’t want to set a watch by a carbon dated rock. But carbon dating certainly suggests a universe older than a few thousand years. The fossil record suggests that. The geologic records suggests that. The distance of stars and the speed of light suggests that. I don’t see the benefit of closing my eyes to a tapestry of evidence of a much older Universe, just because some Biblical Theologian interested in an ultra-literal interpretation of the Bible has determined that the Earth can’t be more than a few thousand years old. The Bible is a great book. But it was NEVER intended to be used as a Science Textbook. It does a disservice to both the Bible and to Science Textbooks if we try to do that.

            Now, some will argue that the Lord is infinitely powerful, so there’s no reason why God could not create the Universe fully formed. And so things like geological strata, a fossil record or the distance of stars are just illusions. That’s just humanity trying to comprehend the enormity of God’s Power and break it down into more comprehensible chunks. God can create a tree with 500 rings, giving us the impression that the tree is 500 years old, when the tree might have only been created (fully formed) by God last week!

            That’s an interesting argument. But then, why not just say that God created everything last Tuesday. And that all our memories, photographs or records of a time before that are just the illusion of a deeper past, created by the Universe coming into existence, fully formed, last Tuesday. I know, it’s a silly argument. Why would God want to do that?

            Why would God want to create a Universe with a perfect book that says the the universe is only a few thousand years old, alongside a cascading plethora of evidence that suggests that is simply not true? The Universe has a much deeper and richer history, on that can’t be told in or explained away with just a few thousand years of existence. Is the fossil record and the seeming distance of stars just some sort of massive “test of faith” by God? I just don’t think God works that way!

            For me, it’s easier to understand that the Creation Story in the Bible is poetic, beautiful and contains moral truths not found in Science Textbooks. But it’s NOT a work of Science or literal History. And efforts to discount any bit of science that seems to disagree with literalist Biblical theology feels to me like people putting on blinders to the true grandeur of God’s Creations!

            People are no less amazing, and our relationship with God is no less profound, if God took BILLIONS of years to evolve us to this point. I think that an “Adam” that takes BILLIONS of years of care to “bake” is an even more incomprehensibly amazing reflection of God’s Love than just imagining that God would create us, fully formed, as adults in the blink of an eye.

            I believe in a God that took BILLIONS of years of intention and love to bring the first people into the world. I don’t believe the first people were “born” fully adult. I don’t believe that women were an afterthought by God.

            There are portions of the Bible that I choose to see as poetic, moral truths, instead of literal History and Scientific Fact. I think there are some passages of the Bible, especially if taken out of historical context, that are just plain wrong, If that makes me a heretic, so be it.

        • Glenn McGinnis

          The Bible is perfect in its original writings as it was
          “God breathed” and given to the writers by direct guidance. All of our translations may have minor differences. but as professional bible scholars have studies some of the oldest manuscrips the veraitions are very, very minor. Like a period in this one and a comma in that one and it changes the meaning nada! Also the bible mentions many things that people were dealing with in that day and time withut every condoning them Slavery, the position of women, Pural marrage, etc. it was then a fact of the cutural life of the time. We have much of the same things today that we must deal with, but it does not mean that we all agree of condone them.

          • http://www.rockingjamboree.com/ Russ Rogers

            So I’m supposed to believe that when the BIble talks about Slavery, Plural Marriage and/or the Position of Women, those are just cultural artifacts of the time (and not a reflection of the perfect Word of God), but the Biblical passages supposedly condemning Homosexuality are still perfectly valid, and I don’t have to put those passages through the “lens” of historical context? Why?

            Why can I choose to ignore the passages in Leviticus that call shellfish and cloth of mixed threads abominations, but I shouldn’t ignore the passages that say sleeping with a man is an abomination?

        • http://daveherring.me/ Dave Herring

          I don’t want to drone on the same arguments over and over. Again, I think the issue really comes down to the authority of Scripture. I can take it at face value. I can believe wholeheartedly that God can do anything, even create the world in 6 literal days without the need of a ‘big bang’ (should he chose) and do literally anything He wants. I believe that because I believe God is BIG and has no limitations. I think it’s extremely arrogant to pretend I know better than God. If I’m ignorant because of this, then I’m ok with that label. At the end of the day, I have a great family, great calling, great life…all because I have a great God. At the end of my life, I’ll be able to say that same sentence.

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