THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACCEPTING AND EMBRACING IDEAS
As discussed in the last post, at a minimum, the world view of a religious person, Christian or non-Christian, seems to be at odds with what Charles Darwin and the Big Bang Theory are saying. This is because the religious believe that God, or a god-like agent, pre-existed the world, then directed the emergence of the world. The Big Bang Theory seems to suggest that the world emerged out of nothing at a particular moment in time, and Darwin seems to suggest that the world emerged without purpose.
Since Darwin's theory was first elucidated about 150 years ago, religious people, both Christian and non-Christian, have sought ways to reconcile the different ideas. You'll recall in an earlier blog post, I pointed out two theories – directed evolution and planned evolution – that reconcile Darwin, the Big Bang and Christianity. A number of Christian groups, including the Roman Catholic Church and various mainline Protestant denominations, have reconciled the ideas.
Reconciliation, however, is not the same thing as a wholehearted embrace: atheists have wholeheartedly embraced Darwin and the Big Bang. Is there a difference? I think there is, and let me describe it by analogy. Recall when you were a child that at least one of your parents, most likely your mother, told you to eat your vegetables because they're good for you. You probably didn't care for them, but you knew you needed to eat them. For me, it was Brussels Sprouts. Today, I'm a man in late middle age (though I imagine that my adult children would say that I've definitely reached senior citizenship!), and my tastes in food are considerably broader than when I was a child … but I still HATE Brussels Sprouts! Conversely, I absolutely love carrots and watermelon, two other fruits and vegetables. You likely have your own version of Brussels Sprouts, carrots, and watermelon.
Darwin and the Big Bang to the atheist are like my carrots and watermelon – the atheist absolutely loves these theories, whether he or she knows anything about them. Conversely, for the average Christian who has reconciled these theories with the Bible, it's still somewhat like my Brussels Sprouts: my "good reason" for eating them was to avoid the wrath of my mother. But in my own mind, no one, not even my wonderful wife, even to this day, has given me a really good reason I should love them.
But imagine a different scenario – a variation of the carrots and watermelon one I described above. Imagine that Christians wanted to embrace Charles Darwin and the Big Bang Theory just as much, if not more than, atheists? What would be the benefit of that? Well, let me suggest a bunch of benefits:
#1: Younger Christians might stop leaving the church as much as they do now, if only because one of the reasons for leaving has been mooted;
#2: Rather than spending time arguing about "origins", Christians could use the that "bandwidth" to offer constructive comments about other matters of science, particularly scientific matters with an ethical dimension. Hint: there are LOTS of them!
#3: Christians could regain the respect of non-Christians on matters of science. The latter probably still won't adopt Christianity, but at least some important attitudes could change.
There could be real benefits to this, but it could only happen if Christians could be, in their own minds, given reasons to want to embrace Darwin and the Big Bang.
You'll recall how I said that entrepreneurs often reframe old problems by asking new questions? Well, that's precisely what I'm doing here. Most everyone has some sort of entrenched position on this issue, and no one is budging. In a case like that, the only way to make any real progress is to re-frame the problem. Thus, for me, the starting point for addressing the BIG ISSUE – the relationship of Christians to science and technology – actually starts with coming up with a solution to the Darwin/Big Bang issue … and the only way to make real progress on that is to re-frame the entire problem by asking the following question: what would have to happen for Christians to want to "bear hug" embrace Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection , as well as Georges LeMaitre's Big Bang Theory?
The answer is actually pretty straightforward: the two theories would have to show something that somehow reinforced something else that Christians already believed. After all, that's really the reason atheists embrace the theory – because the two theories, when taken together, appear to reinforce the idea that the world just emerged out of nothing and evolved without purpose - key parts of the world view of the typical atheist.
So the real question becomes: is there a way to think about Darwin and the Big Bang Theory that provide evidence that reinforces what the Christian Bible has been saying all along, that reinforces fundamental Christian doctrines? If the answer is yes, then Christians ought to want to "bear hug" embrace Darwin and the Big Bang Theory, not because an atheist said to, but because the Christian Bible, and therefore God, says to do so.
Your initial reaction may be, preposterous! I invite you to continue along with me, for I am going to take you on a journey to a place you probably thought was preposterous, but which I firmly believe is real.