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Theistic Evolution: The Ignored Alternative

Christians should consider two reasons for investigating Theistic Evolution. First, inherent to the Christian faith is a bias toward good science. The Christian faith seeks understanding, said St. Anselm; and the seeds of science were sown and fertilized in the garden of Christian intellectual history. The pursuit of science has for centuries been a noble Christian vocation.

With this in mind, it is a grave disappointment to hear religious voices trumpeting that Christians today need to be anti-Darwinian, perhaps even anti-science. Unfortunately, young people of deep faith are entering our universities and detouring around the sciences. They avoid science, fearing that it will contaminate if not destroy their faith. Who told them that? How tragic? What a violation of Christian stewardship? Our best young minds should be invested in physics, biology, genetics, and medical research. Our most talented youth should be training themselves in sophisticated disciplines so they will be prepared to make this world a better place. We need to be stewards of science. It is a shame that our religious leaders have frightened young people into believing their faith requires opposition to Darwinism and even opposition to the world of nature studied by science.

The second reason for investigating Theistic Evolution is to engage in the hard mental work of trying to piece together the fragments of understanding our world into a coherent picture. St. Thomas Aquinas once described “theology” as the attempt to explain all things in reality in relation to God. This is a pretty good definition, we think. One implication is this: the Darwinian model of evolution--along with its updated version, the neo-Darwinian synthesis, which combines genetic variation with natural selection - is part of the very world we need to understand in relation to God. Somehow, God has used the long history of evolution to accomplish divine purposes, one of which is to place the human race in its present position of responsibility in and to nature.

We need to face reality with honesty. The denial of evolution by the creationists and the denial of naturalistic explanations by ID leave us with a loss of intellectual integrity. They leave us with inferior science. The Darwinian model has proven itself for more than a century to generate progressive research in both the history of biology and in developing medical therapies.

Darwinism provides a fertile theory that leads to new knowledge. Neither creationism nor ID give us fertile theories for further research. This is crucial. We absolutely require a background of Darwinian evolutionary biology if contemporary virologists are to understand Avian Flu, for example. Unless virologists understand random variation through genetic mutation and how the principle of natural selection works, they cannot predict what might happen. And they cannot head off or prevent a global pandemic. No one would want to put a creationist or ID scientist in charge of world health in the face of such a threat. Christians, along with everyone else who relies upon modern medicine, should demand only the best science. The Darwinian model provides the best science.

Email link | Printer-friendly | Feedback | Contributed by: Martinez Hewlett and Ted Peters

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