"Christians Will Only Accept Evolution As Long As It’s Not A Threat To Their Christianity"

25 Aug
There's something troubling to me about this statement, though I can't quite put my finger on it.
I admire the ends (getting more people to accept mainstream science) but there's something that seems a bit… I don't know… -“immoral”? – about the means. I have a habit of looking at things from a more methodological (or maybe even “mathematical”) approach: So what happens if we substitute “evolution” for some other sociological impasse? Like “homosexuality” or “women having the right to vote” or “abolition of slavery” or whatever. Does the statement still hold? Was it true that the abolition of slavery only succeeded among Christians because its abolition wasn't a threat to their Christianity?
I've read a couple of news articles over the past couple of months that seem to point towards this conclusion. Like Living the Good Lie: Should therapists help God-fearing gay people stay in the closet? That article basically describes the journey that one therapist took where he concluded that therapists in general should counsel their patients to hide their homosexuality if it conflicts too much with the life of faith that they live. Is this wrong? I don't know. It may not be the totality of the problem, but does the issue with homosexual marriage have something to do with it threatening one's Christianity?
This article also seems to shed light on the idea that the acceptance of homosexuality is only a threat to conservative churches and not liberal ones. Again, liberal Christians are sort of wishy-washy and trying to get a full graps of their beliefs is like trying to get a full grasp of a wet noodle; they have no solid Christianity so they can accomodate any number of beliefs into their paradigm. But conservative churches are more structured and rigid. A more well defined belief system might not be able to assimilate a new belief without doing serious damage to its internal structure.
James McGrath does fine work showing Christians that the Theory of Evolution (ToE) not only is the correct interpretation of our biological inheritance, but that it also doesn't negatively impact Christianity. The same thing applies to the BioLogos website. There is also a somewhat recent article in the Huffington Post: Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution. This deals with the same subject but from a different angle: namely that it's a threat to one's Christianity if they don't accept the ToE.
I guess my problem is where do you draw the line? You have to stop somewhere if your primary goal is to remain a Christian because there are simply so many facts out there that are inherently uncomfortable for or incompatible with Christianity. In C. S. Lewis' “The Screwtape Letters” one of the demons intimates that getting a Christian to unbiasedly look into the historicity of their religion will lead them away from the faith (this is the method a demon is supposed to use on the more intellectual Christians). Is unbiased inquiry demonic? Maybe it is; an unbiased look into the historicity of Christianity and the historical Jesus is one of the reasons why Luke of Common Sense Atheism lost his faith (also my reason too).
There are other examples as well. A while back “Quixie” posted his experience with lay Christians getting a bit of mainstream biblical scholarship in one of their services. He posts that a lot of these Christians were uncomfortable with the scholarship that their pastor presented to them. Was it a threat to their Christianity? I assume that the members of this church are still Christians. Whether they accepted the findings of mainstream Christian scholarship after that incident is something I cannot answer. Maybe they promptly forgot about it as soon as they left church that day.
As far as I'm concerned, I think the ToE is a threat to Christianity. The implications of the ToE are fundamentally incompatible with the implications of Christianity. If you accept the ToE, then invariably you're faced with the Darwinian Problem of Evil. There's no way a “god of love” would create a world where for one living thing to live, another living thing has to die; and most of the time die painfully. And this monstrous scenario has been repeated countless times for millions to billions of years before humans came around. 3 million years ago, some cute fluffy bunny got mauled to death by a pack of jackals: There was no other audience that had the intellect to appreciate or denounce the situation other than god – the situation's creator in a theistic evolutionary framework. A god in that situation cannot be called anything other than a monster.
Another implication of the ToE: Humans are not special, nor are we specially created. If we are the image of a god, then so are chimps to a 2% lesser degree. This would mean that Jesus had 98% chimp DNA; did Jesus' sacrifice also remove 98% of the sin of chimps?  Furthermore, Christianity implicates that human beings are the most important beings in the universe; second only to the creator of the universe himself. This idea might make sense when the “entire universe” was just the Roman empire, but we've since then realized that the world and the universe are much larger than the world the first Christians envisioned. The ToE makes the god of Christianity too small and insignificant in comparison to the history of life on Earth.
Overall, I think every single implication of the ToE is antithetical to the implications of the Christian worldview.
I think I now know what troubles me with the statement in the title of this post. In syllogistic format, it seems to follow this logic:
P1: Christianity is true
P2: XYZ idea/phenomenon/scientific fact does not conflict with Christianity if looked at from a certain angle
C: Therefore, XYZ idea/phenomenon/scientific fact is true
They have to start with the premise that Christianity is true first and then go from there. This is the same exact methodology that Creationists follow:
P1: Christianity is true
P2: XYZ idea/phenomenon/scientific fact conflicts with Christianity if looked at from a certain angle
C: Therefore, XYZ idea/phenomenon/scientific fact is false
But instead of the Creationists looking to exclude certain facts because they conflict with Christianity, the more liberal Christians look for facts that they can include as long as it doesn't conflict with Christianity. In essense, both types of Christians are doing the same exact thing. They start from the premise that Christianity is true. But instead of excluding uncomfortable facts, they are including uncomfortable facts.
Who knows though. Maybe that is a good thing. The more facts that one accepts, the less likely they are to hold on to beliefs just because they feel good even though these beliefs are contrary to all known facts. But this is a bit like giving someone a fish instead of teaching them how to fish. These Christians (the liberal ones or the Creationists) still don't know how to think so that they can have a higher chance of arriving at correct beliefs. So I think the better thing to do would be to start teaching these Christians how to make their beliefs pay rent (haha this is like the third or fourth time I've linked to that post), and try to get them to view all of their biases critically. When one does that, then the question of the ToE's validity will answer itself without having to kowtow to sacred cows.

Posted by on August 25, 2011 in apologetics, economics/sociology, Evolution


3 responses to “"Christians Will Only Accept Evolution As Long As It’s Not A Threat To Their Christianity"

  1. beowulf2k8

    August 30, 2011 at 3:07 am

    “As far as I'm concerned, I think the ToE is a threat to Christianity.” “Overall, I think every single implication of the ToE is antithetical to the implications of the Christian worldview.”

    Most Christians think so now, and that's the only thing that makes ToE a threat to them. If they realized it wasn't a threat, then it would not longer be a threat.

    Let me explain. Basically, Christianity says the Bible is inerrant, always right. So, because the Bible says God made the world in six days, no evolution, therefore it is so. Right? With me so far.

    Ok. Well, the Bible also says “baptism also now saves us” (1 Peter 3:21) and yet Christians have a handy way of explaining it away without charging the Bible with error and without repenting and accepting this inspired utterance from God. Same thing with passages like “know ye not that no fornicator will inherit the kingdom of God” — they have no problem explaining that away and moving on with their doctrine of justification by faith alone culled from other Pauline passages, like Romans 4:6.

    So, in the end, they will simply find a way to explain away the 6-day creation story in the same way that they explain away the statements that make baptism or morality essentially for salvation. In fact, many liberal Christian denominations have already done this, and produced a form of what they call Theistic Evolution, whereby God creates the first single-celled organism and then lets evolution do its thang. Christianity is the ultimate in adaptability. It is the fittest, and it will survive. Its already evolved into how many different species? How many denominations are there?

  2. beowulf2k8

    August 30, 2011 at 3:09 am

    “But instead of excluding uncomfortable facts, they are including uncomfortable facts.”

    Evolution taking place before your eyes. A mutation in the DNA of Christianity.

  3. J. Quinton

    August 30, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Agreed for the most part, but at some point after so many mutations speciation has to occur. Or maybe it already did occur and has occurred multiple times; I doubt any Christians alive today would recognize the Christianity (or Christianities) that existed around 100 CE.

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