This BioLogos Forum encapsulates the issues I have tried to deal with during my time as a writer for InternetMonk. That time has drawn to a close as this will be my last post. Forum poster, Sam B, writes:
Hey all. Recently I have been dealing with some doubts about God’s existence. I am a firm believer in science (evolution, age of the universe and cosmology), but I am struggling more with this knowledge. We know that these things evolved, we know all of these planets exist, and we know the facts of the universe. It seems like we know how all of us got here and how our world exists without God’s help.
For instance: There are growing theories about our universe and how it arose from “nothing”. It is possible to have a universe without a prime mover, or that something can come from nothing. How can I justify my belief in God when my very existence is a product of natural phenomena?
Sam B is just the type of Christian I have tried to target in my Science and Faith posts. They are aware of the science with respect to evolution, either writ large as cosmic evolution, or more personally as human evolution. How can such knowledge, which is only growing more conclusive, be reconciled with Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, and Genesis 2:7 ” Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
As the answering posters point out, the problem is with God as just another entity lurking around the universe, which sets up the false dichotomy of “God’s actions” versus “natural processes”. But no such dichotomy exists because no such God exists. Of course, it is difficult to discern the minds of the early scripture authors; were they sophisticated enough to understand that Yahweh was more than just one God among other nations Gods- just more powerful? Or, as is I think likely, such sophistication grew over the course of the Old Testament’s compilation, culminating in the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In any event, if God is the “ground of all being” and “being itself,” then it is silly to contrast a natural process with God’s actions as they, by definition, are the same thing. Christians, in particular evangelicals, are fine to proceed with that proposition from the spinning of universe to weather patterns to embryology, to even the germ theory of disease. Where the wheels come off is the evolution of human beings. The religious traditionalists still object to the idea that diversity in life, including human beings, arose through natural processes without a need for supernatural intervention.
So how has the cause of reconciling science and faith fared? On the plus side has been formation of BioLogos itself through Francis Collin’s efforts. The organization continues to grow as evinced here. However, despite their best efforts, as this article shows, strong opposition to BioLogos’ “theistic evolution” remains among conservative evangelicals.
Then there is the fact, that after four years of the Trump presidency, his calling the Covid-19 pandemic a hoax, saying ‘science doesn’t know‘ what’s causing wildfires, and numerous other anti-science statements , still at least 80% of evangelicals turned out to vote for him in the 2020 election .
In the short run, I’m not optimistic about a greater understanding of science among evangelicals. But in the long run, I share Michael Spencer’s hopeful note at the end of his essay on the coming evangelical collapse:
“Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, “Christianity loves a crumbling empire…
We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.
We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.”
I have certainly enjoyed sharing my thoughts and receiving the responses from the Imonk community of readers and commentators. I wish you all the best. I don’t what’s ahead, blog-wise, for me. Like Mike Bell, I’m going to take some time off for reflection and prayer. Then, we’ll just have to see…