Thursday, March 26, 2009

Evolution and Evangelism

Evolution is a secondary issue

1. Evolution and naturalism are not the same thing
Belief in evolution as a process is very different from the all encompassing worldview of naturalism.

2. Understanding a process does not remove God
The sovereignty of God means that we can explain in great detail how something happens and still believe that it is from God's hand. We can explain how the water cycle works and still say that God sends the rain on both the righteous and the wicked. It is a false dichotomy to say 'either God did it or it happened by an explainable process'.

3. It is legitimate to reconsider our understanding of scripture in the light of scientific discoveries
The word of God and objective reality will never be in disagreement. However we deal with our understanding of scripture and our understanding of reality. When those two disagree it is right to revaluate both. Their study should be conducted in dialogue.

4. It is possible to believe the Bible and evolution
We should accept that it is possible to read Genesis in a way that does allow the possibility of evolution as the way God created. There are godly men and women who submit to God's word, believe it whole heartedly and believe in evolution.

Implications for evangelism

1. Someone does not need to stop believing in evolution to become a Christian

2. Trying to argue against evolution can be a big hindrance
Belief in evolution is so ingrained for so many people that to speak out against it, no matter how good our arguments, will often cause people to write us off.

3. Naturalism is worth arguing against
This is a battle that is worth fighting and needs fighting. Good arguments can be used from science (creation out of nothing and by design), from philosophy (the internal incoherence of naturalism) and from experience (the impossibility of living consistently with naturalism).

4. What we really want to focus on is the gospel of Jesus Christ

5. Good apologetics helps us get there
Apologetics will answer the objections, challenge the wrong ideas and give reasons to believe the gospel. The goal of apologetics is to confront people with the Lordship of Jesus Christ and ask whether they will bow the knee before him.


Stanton said...

Hey Matt, good to see you return to blogging.

One issue for me is the degree of "randomness" that seems to be required for the mechanism of evolution - and is sometimes assumed in the methodology. How can God be sovereign (especially in the Calvinistic sense) and yet work through a process which is almost random by definition?

Do we need to ditch the idea of randomness altogether - and thus come up with a theory which is very different to popular evolutionism; or do we need to suggest that something may be random on one level but not on another?

Have you heard Alvin Platinga's arguments for how evolution and naturalism are actually contradictory? Well worth checking out.

Matt Doig said...

Hi Stanton,

I think the answer might be that something may appear random and yet still be under God's sovereign control and used by God. e.g. "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." Proverbs 16:33. Likewise weather appears very random and chaotic but its ruled by God.

I wonder if sometimes our objections to evolution are basically on a fairly intuitive level. We're just not too keen on the idea, especially if its always been presented to us with naturalistic overtones.

None of this means I think evolution necessarily is the way God created, just that its possible.

WIth regards Alvin Platinga's argument, I've heard it and sometimes used it. I assume you mean the argument that goes "If my mind tells me my mind is the mind of an ape, how can I be sure my mind is the mind of an ape? If my brain has evolved in a completely directionless way there is no reason I can trust it and therefore no reason I can trust my belief that it has evolved in a completely directionless way." I think its a powerful argument and shows that naturalism is completely internally incoherent. It cuts its own throat as C.S. Lewis said.