Monday, June 21, 2010

Evolution is Good for You

Or is it?

Starting point for a conversation...

I was recently reading a friend's Facebook page, and someone made the comment that they had found the theory of evolution not to be detrimental to their faith, but affirming.

I am on a similar journey, where I find the notion of theistic evolution, or if you will, Creation through time, Creation as a process, to be more helpful to my faith as a Christian than not. And the converse is true: I find Creationism as argued in the public fora to be distinctly unhelpful.

Where do my blogosphere friends stand on this one?

Inquiring minds want to know...



elizabeth said...

I pretty much leave that topic alone and keep in mind that this theroy came with a rise of science in the 17th century that was quickly eroding any sense of tradition and authority of the (Roman etc) church.

However, you would be intrested to know that Fr. Thomas Hopko has a podcast series on Darwin which is at this date at 12 podcasts... see

V and E said...

Thank you for your contribution, Elizabeth!

And I will certainly check out Fr. Thos. Hopko's podcasts.


V and E said...

Or maybe not. There are between 11 and 12 hours of listening there, and I don't have the time.

Can you give me a nutshell version?


s-p said...

I take an agnostic view. No one was there and everyone is speculating based on metaphysical assumptions, including "science". For me, the bottom line is, no matter if man evolved or was created in a split second, it was when "he" was prepared by God to be ready, that was when God breathed His Spirit into him and he became "man" as opposed to what he was prior, whether dust (ultimately true) or some evolutionary form leading up to that state. I see no conflict with "faith" in either scenario. If one does not have the agenda of "sola scriptura" which demands absolute inerrancy of the Bible for it to stand, then any arguments one way or the other become moot. I can believe in a mythological telling of creation with "unscientifically verifiable stages" and be perfectly confident that the resurrection narratives are true.

Apophatically Speaking said...

I am with Elizabeth and SP on this.

To capture it up in a nutshell, faith and science are most often incorrectly put at odds one against another. This assumes that faith and science deal with the same subject. They do not. They don't need to be reconciled because they are not in conflict.

Only when Christians are confused are they led down the path of conflating faith and science. Many a scientist (and would-be scientist) armed with non/pseudo-scientific agendas are all too eager to add fuel to that fire.

One's metaphysical pronouncements do not gain veracity by donning a lab coat. Science does not equal philosophy and becomes non-science when it ventures into metaphysics.

Try to sell that book.

Apophatically Speaking said...

My apologies for the poor grammar. Hopefully it makes sense.

Hey, at least I don't wear a lab coat. :D

V and E said...

Thank you, s-p and AP, for your contributions. For the most part I found myself nodding in agreement. Except that I am not perfectly agnostic: I don't find myself as willing to believe in a literal 6-day Creation as I am in a diachronic evolutionary Creation.

I have been frustrated by the attempts of friends, family, and former coreligionists [apologies for the alliteration] to a) prove the veracity of the 6-day Genesis account and subsequent Flood, and b) disprove evolutionary theory. Their labours call to mind the contortions of mating snakes or the myth of Sisyphus.

I have been frustrated by the use of 6-day creation as a modern shibboleth to know the authentic Christian from the mere poseur. Is evolution really that dangerous, that scary?

But of course it is. (You make this point, Apo) Because while Darwinism came out of that period that questioned the accreted wisdom of the church, it was that selfsame "wisdom" of the church that put complete reliance upon Scripture. Darwinism (evolution) threatens the foundation upon which Protestants stand.

In the Orthodox Church there is room - thank Heaven! - for the apathetic, the ignorant, the agnostic, the Creationist, and the evolutionist.

I could go for a literal Creation - the Church would let me - but in evolution as the tool of God I have found peace from the logical leaps of the Creationist, and I have some intellectual meat into which I can sink my teeth. That counts for a lot. My belief demands a God (dare I say this?) who is not completely arbitrary in His actions.

God created a pretty logical world, with quirks. I would expect no less from a theory that explained how He went about creating it.

For now,

V and E said...

AP/Apo, whichever abbreviation you best prefer, I don't mind what you wear, be it a layman's jeans, a lab coat, or cleric's robes. All's good!

It is just when the guy in the lab coat thinks he wears a dog collar that we start to have problems, and vice versa. ;)

Two different planes...


Here is an interesting thought:

As Orthodox, we believe in the 8th Day of Creation. It started at the Resurrection, and continues to this day and hour. In short, God's creative work is a continuing work and has not ended, nor will it end until this world passes away.

If the 8th day is such a long day, and the work of Creation so very incomplete in its completion, this gives us a glimpse of the kind of workmanship God goes in for. We see the same kind of non-instantaneous workmanship in conversion, in salvation ... God working through people, through time ... usually whole lifetimes.

I feel like the forgoing has the same taste, the same feel, as the workmanship of a God who decides to create the world through evolution. (Literal 6-day Creation being created by a ritz and glam God.)


Anonymous said...

My 2 cents. I remember the Creation/Evolution wars of my youth in the Protestant Evangelical tradition.

I agree with s-p's position although I would qualify that to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture is not necessarily the equivalent of Sola Scriptura. In fact, while not in that exact terminology, we Catholics believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. We, however, make a distinction between the literal reading of Scripture and the "literalist" reading of Scripture. The literal reading is what the author intended to convey. That may not be immediately obvious to us in 2010 and we have to take into account many things, including the genre of the writing, and the idiom of the day in the language of the day.

The classic example is if I were to write that it "rained cats and dogs" today, and someone were to pick that up 2000 years from now they might research the idiom and find that my literal intent was to say that it rained very hard. However, the "literalist" would claim that cats and dogs were actually falling from the sky.

In any case, I think that we have to recognize that science has shown us (we may debate their precision) that many kinds of life existed on this planet long before the record of Adam and Eve. Moreover, most of those life-forms are long dead.

If you want to call the development of the planet evolution, I have no objection, just as long as you don't try to sell me the notion that something can come from nothing spontaneously and that higher life forms (more complexity) can come from lower, more simple forms, purely by accident. If you run the numbers, the billions of years allotted for this by the modern day Darwinists are miniscule. It is actually a statistical improbability approaching an impossibility.

I like to put it this way. God created the world/universe. How he did it I don't know, but science shows us that it wasn't 6 24-hour periods. Could God have done it that way if he wanted? Absolutely. But I don't think he did.

Apophatically Speaking said...

V and E,

As to your last thought I can see this has merit, however I think a convincing case could be made for a 6 day creation just as well. But whatever case is made, whether for a 6 day creation or for evolution, it is ultimately moot, as S-P pointed out earlier. It is moot for it concerns the "how" question. The question of the "how" is dwarfed by the "why".

But I will take it one step further. It is not just dwarfed, it is irrelevant. For it is important to note that even the "how" becomes increasingly ill equipped and non-science as it moves towards the "ex nihilo" - where we enter into the realm of metaphysics. This is where the difference between "something" and "nothing" can no longer be discerned. This is another way of saying that the "how" does not and can not address ultimate questions. So, in the grand scheme of things the "how" ultimately matters not.

Re-reading your original post I find it very curious your friend would find evolution faith affirming. It would appear your friend is stuck in the all too familiar paradigm, which goes something like, "science answers all and all must answer to science" ("or else it can't be true - for truth is determined by scientific method, so we shall use science to affirm truth" - I could go on for it manifests itself in various ways). As if God's existence can (or needs to) be scientifically demonstrated....our modern, heterodox minds have gone a long way and have a though time letting go...

Apophatically Speaking said...


Inerrancy as used by Protestants means that the original manuscripts of Scripture do not affirm anything contrary to fact (and are therefore said to be infallible). This is apart from the literal/literalist issue.

The Sola Scriptura teaching speaks to the question of authority, which Protestants place solely and ultimately in the Scriptures (being the inerrant and infallible Word of God).

In light of the above I think S-P's comment makes more sense. Inerrant Scripture cannot affirm anything contrary to fact, and only an appeal to Scripture can be made, hence the conflict with science.

Hope that helps.

Apophatically Speaking said...

Speaking of lab coats and what not, this is worthwhile.