The Evolution of Faith

Dr. Collins, a geneticist who strongly believes in Christ, lectured on “God and the Genome” earlier this week. As a geneticist, he strongly believes in evolution. Watching the Christians on campus respond to his presentation has been fascinating.

A few thoughts:

1) I really wish Christians on all sides of this debate would realize that others are doing the best that they can with the knowledge that they have. As they update their knowledge, they update their views. For the most part, people on all sides really do love God and truth. In Philippians 1:18 Paul makes the point that he even gives thanks for false teachers: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” In like manner, learn to rejoice in those who differ from you on this issue.

2) On the Bible side of things, I wish more Christians knew just how many different options there are for interpreting Genesis 1 — google for “Framework Interpretation”, “Gap Theory”, “Day-Age View”, and “Theistic Evolution” to get started. In the end you’ll likely conclude that some of the options are fairly implausible, but they are all worth considering. For the record, I’m fond of the Framework Interpretation. The idea that Genesis 1 might not be a chronology of creation isn’t some sort of knee-jerk reaction to Darwinian ideas. Way back in the 4th century Augustine was looking at the text and saying, “Something complex is going on here.” For a good summary of Augustine’s perspective, read The Contemporary Relevance of Augustine.

3) On the science side of things, I wish more Christians were open to the idea that scientists have good reasons for the things that they say. There is no vast anti-Bible conspiracy. Scientists are looking at reams of data and trying to synthesize it reasonably. That doesn’t imply that every single claim science makes is proven true in the long run, but it does mean that we should take scientists very seriously when they tell us there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is billions of years old and when we discover that there has been consensus within the scientific community about this for a while now. If you’d like to do a little more digging on the science side, these three websites are pretty good places to start: SciBel

is a fun little website with engaging articles, the Faraday Institute

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has some short but stimulating papers on essential topics, and the American Scientific Affiliation has a huge collection of articles from a variety of perspectives.

I’ll wind this down by quoting from an email I sent to my students last night.

1) There are two sources of data for Christians — the Word and the world.
2) Facts from the two realms don’t contradict one another, but the interpretations we use to arrange those facts often do.
3) We’ve almost always got more interpretative options than we realize (this is true of both sources of data).

And while I’m talking about science and faith, I’d like to recommend an article about Galileo’s dispute with the church. The full story is something you’ve likely not heard before: The Myth of Galileo download diamond dogs dvd .

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