The Unexpected Perspective
The Implications of Darwin and the Big Bang for Christians ... and Everyone Else

Perspectives

Accommodation theory is the idea that God, in all of His greatness, is extremely difficult for humans to comprehend. If He is to be understood and worshipped, then His creation needs to be described in a way that is understandable to ordinary people.

ACCOMMODATION THEORY

An obvious question to ask is, if Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is correct, why isn't it in the Bible?  Surely, God wouldn't deceive believers by saying the world was created one way and then doing it in a different way!   

I think Christians can rest assured that God wasn't being deceptive.  The way He could have created the world using the method described by Darwin, but describe it in the Bible in the way it is, is because of what is called "Accommodation Theory."

Accommodation theory is the idea that God, in all of His greatness, is extremely difficult for humans to comprehend.  If He is to be understood and worshipped, then His creation needs to be described in a way that is understandable to ordinary people.  Let me now show you why this makes sense, both from the perspective of the Reformed Church as well as the Roman Catholic Church.  Let's start with the Reformed Church.

The Reformation was based upon three great doctrinal concepts: 1) sola fides (salvation by faith alone); 2) scriptura sola (the supremacy of the Bible); and 3) the priesthood of all believers.  The Reformers believed that people were saved by faith alone, not by performing any type of "works".  Further, the source of all authority was the Bible itself.  Up until that time, the Roman Catholic Church maintained that Church traditions had equal authority with what the Bible said.  Finally, the Reformers believed that all believers comprised a priesthood, meaning that individuals could have a direct relationship with God.  It wasn't necessary to have that relationship "mediated" by a priest.

One of the logical conclusions of this was the need to have the Bible translated into common languages so ordinary people could either read the Bible directly, or if they were illiterate, to have someone read it to them, but solely for the purpose of letting the individual person draw his or her own conclusions.  No trained priest was necessary.  Needless to say, the Roman Catholic Church wasn't amused.

Assume for a moment that the Reformers were right, and that God did intend for ordinary people to be able to interact directly with the Bible and draw their own conclusions.  This is a bedrock concept in the Reformed Church.  Well if that's the case, the Bible certainly cannot be a scientific textbook.  Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection could never have been described therein.  It would have been akin to taking a textbook on surgery, written in Chinese, then translating it into English, or whatever is the native language of the reader.  Even when translated, the text would have made no sense to the reader.  But if the Bible couldn't be comprehended by the ordinary reader, God's purpose would not have been met.  As such, if God intended for ordinary people to read the Bible and understand His message, it could never have been designed to opine on matters of science.

Now let's consider the same issue, but from a Roman Catholic perspective.  Let's assume that ordinary people were never intended by God to read the Bible and understand its mystery – that God always did intend for trained priests to serve as "intercesors", interpreting the message in ways that ordinary people could understand.  Being firmly in the Reformed tradition, I don't personally subscribe to the idea, but let's assume for a minute that I am wrong.  Well, if God intended for the Bible to serve as a science textbook, his trained interpreters – the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church – got the message wrong for 1500 years!  After all, the trained experts were the ones who read about the Battle of Aijalon in Joshua 10 and were convinced that both the Sun stood still that day AND the Sun revolves around the Earth.  They were so convinced of it that they put Galileo under house arrest of 9 years because he begged to differ.

My conclusion, therefore, is that accommodation theory makes good sense.  Not only that, but Christian theologians, even as far back as Augustine, said we shouldn't treat the Bible as a scientific textbook.  John Calvin said the same.  Dennis Lamoroux, a Biblical scholars, noted that:


The structure and origin of the universe presented in the
Bible do not align with the scientific facts. Yet this fact
does not weaken our belief that Scripture is the Word
of God. It only indicates that the Holy Spirit graciously
descended to the level of the inspired authors and used
the science of their day as an incidental vessel to reveal
inerrant messages of faith.


So if accommodation theory is a good explanation of why Darwin and the Big Bang theory aren't described in the Bible, what then can we say about what IS in the Bible?  We can rest assured, what is described is an "accommodated version" that, while it is true, is a simplified to our level of understanding.  We'll discuss that in our next post.

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While I'm absolutely convinced that Christians can trust the Bible, I am much less convinced that Christians, even well meaning ones, always understand what it is saying. This is particularly true when it comes to matters of science. Moreover, it's true because of a funny thing that happened almost two thousand years ago.

CAN WE BELIEVE THE BIBLE?

Before going much further, an extremely important question needs to be answered: where does the Bible fit in this discussion? If I don't provide the right answer, many Christians may stop reading another paragraph, irrespective of what they think about this subject.

I don't have a problem with that, and I agree that the matter needs to be settled.  Without a doubt, I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  Period.  End of case.  Christians can rely upon without the least hesitation.

While I'm absolutely convinced that Christians can trust the Bible, I am much less convinced that Christians, even well meaning ones, always understand what it is saying.  This is particularly true when it comes to matters of science.  My point is also relevant because of a funny thing that happened almost two thousand years ago.

For those of you who are also very committed Christians, if I asked you, can you trust what the Bible says, you'd answer strongly in the affirmative.  At the same time, if I asked you, does the Earth, the planet on which we all reside, rotate around the Sun, you'd also agree.  The funny thing is, for nearly 1500 years, Christians were absolutely convinced that the Bible said the Sun rotated around our Earth!

The idea that the Sun rotates around the Earth actually predates the Bible.  A Greek scholar/mathematician named Claudius Ptolemy developed the theory in Alexandria, Egypt about 150 AD. Church scholars looked at the Bible and were convinced that the Bible said the same thing. Huh?

In fact, not one but numerous Bible verses were cited in support of this idea.  In particular, the Battle of Gibeon, recounted in the 10th chapter of the Book of Joshua was cited as evidence.  The city of Gibeon entered into a treaty with the Israelites. Alarmed at this, a coalition of five Amorite kings formed to oppose the Gibeonites.  The Gibeonites pleaded for aid from Joshua and the Israelites.  Joshua marched his army from all night from Gilgal, then surprised the Amorite coalition in the morning.  The Amorites were defeated, then fled, with the Israelite army in pursuit.  While escaping, the Amorites were victimized by a hailstorm.  More died from the hailstones than from the battle.  

Joshua felt he needed a little more time, so he pleaded with God to stop the Sun, making it possible to prolong the battle so the Amorites could be finished off.  Translations of the Bible suggest that God "stopped" the Sun, thus giving Joshua and the Israelites more time to finish off the Amorites.  As recounted in verse 14, "there has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man.  Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel."

The conclusion was that God had in fact stopped the Sun in its tracks, thus prolonging the day.  This and other verses were cited as evidence that Ptolemy was right – the Earth was the center of the universe, and the Sun and planets revolved around the Earth.

The belief persisted until Galileo Galilei demonstrated in the early 17th century that the Earth and the other planets definitely revolved around the Sun.  The Roman Catholic Church wasn't amused.  In fact, Galileo spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest because he would not recant his theory of heliocentrism – that the Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun.

So what REALLY happened on the day of the Battle of Aijalon recounted in Joshua 10?  Two possibilities: 1) the language was figurative, and the Sun didn't literally stop that day (for a realistic explanation of what really happened that day, look at http://www.accuracyingenesis.com/joshua.html for a thorough, Biblically AND scientifically based explanation); or 2) God somehow really did stop the Sun that day.  But even if the latter occurred – and that is a VERY BIG IF - it doesn't lead to the conclusion that we live in a world where the Earth is the center of the Universe and the Sun rotates around the Earth. 

It's been demonstrated conclusively that Galileo was right. So I like to ask my fellow Christians, when it was determined that Galileo was right, how much of the Bible was re-written?  I, of course, get puzzled looks when I ask that, but it's a serious question, for if the Bible is the revealed Word of God, and Christians for 1500 years said the Bible indicated the Earth was the center of the Universe, but it turned out not to be the case, who or what was wrong?  The obvious answer is, the Bible wasn't wrong, it's just that Christians for 1500 years didn't seem to understand what it was saying, at least with respect to this matter of science.

What conclusions can one draw from this?  The most basic conclusion is that while the Bible is clearly the inspired Word of God, it isn't, and never has been, a science text book.     In the next post, we'll explore this idea further by introducing a concept called accommodation theory. 
 

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The Big Bang Theory seems to suggest that the world emerged out of nothing at a particular moment in time about 13.8 billion years ago, and Darwin seems to suggest that the world emerged without purpose.

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. 
 

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You'll recall in an earlier post I noted that while atheist scientists have absolutely no problem embracing Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, only about half of the US population accepts it, and only about a quarter of evangelical Christians do.

WORLD VIEWS CONT'D

You'll recall in an earlier post I noted that while atheist scientists have absolutely no problem embracing Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, only about half of the US population accepts it, and only about a quarter of evangelical Christians do.  These same scientists are astounded at these numbers, but it has been suggested that the only ones who should be surprised are the atheists themselves.  Why is that so?

The answer relates to "world views", more particularly, the difference in the world view of atheists as compared to Christians. It really should be no surprise that an atheist would love Charles Darwin and the Big Bang Theory, even if the atheist knows absolutely nothing about science.  This is because Darwin and the Big Bang actually provide a "creation story for atheists."  

Imagine it's 1700 and you're a freethinking skeptic, a "closet" atheist.  You probably wouldn't have announced that publicly, but let's say the word got out, at least to some of your close friends.  One of the things they would have said to you is, how do you explain the world?  Where did it come from?  What possible explanation is there other than that God, or some god-like force, created it?   Of course, in 1700 the skeptic wouldn't have had a very good answer.  Most likely, he or she would have automatically been skeptical of the skepticism.  Moreover, everyone else likely would have ridiculed the skeptic, if for no other reason than that he or she didn't have any good explanation for where the world came from, except via a creator God.

So imagine, then, what "gifts" Charles Darwin, the author of the theory of evolution by natural selection, and Father Georges LeMaitre, the Belgian priest who formulated the Big Bang Theory, have brought to your garden variety atheist?  Suddenly, the atheist has a plausible scientific explanation for how the world began and how life emerged!  Of course the atheist will embrace these ideas, even if he or she knows absolutely nothing about science.  The atheist doesn't need to know any science, merely that someone has developed a plausible explanation for how the world might have emerged without resort to god-like power.

After all, at the core of the atheist's world view is the idea that there is no God, and there never has been a God.  What we see is all the result of natural processes unrelated to a god-like agent.

What does the average religious think about this?  Well, the starting point is the religious person's worldview.  Irrespective of the details, that person's world view likely includes the following key elements:

  • God pre-existed the world
  • God created the world
  • The world does have a purpose, one created by God.

Notice how I said "religious person".  This religious person might be Christian, or he might be an adherent of any number of other religions, but the key element is that the person believes there is a transcendent God.  The person might be Christian, but for this purpose, it really doesn't matter.  At a minimum, the person will be skeptical of Darwin and the Big Bang Theory.  Now the person may decide he or she can reconcile religious beliefs with this scientific explanation, but it will require some work.  

Now let's take this a step further and add in a few additional details, especially those found in the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis.  A practicing Christian already believes that he or she can rely upon the testimony of the Bible, including Genesis. Genesis, however, seems to imply several additional key things:

  • God directed the creation of the universe over a seven day period
  • The first humans were created within the seven day window.

So now the Christian must reconcile not only the idea of a pre-existent God who directed the creation of the universe, he must deal with a clearly laid out scheme of creation that supposedly lasted seven days.  Thus, the average religious person, much less the average Christian, must do a fair amount of "reconciling", something the atheist doesn't have to do.  

If you've ever taken a psychology course, or merely read some popular psychology articles, you're probably familiar with a concept called "cognitive dissonance."  That's a fancy term for the idea that it's extremely difficult to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time.  When confronted with two seemingly contradictory ideas, the average person decides that one idea may be okay, but the other idea definitely must be discarded.  Everybody does this.  Therefore, confronted with the "cognitive dissonance" of alternative #1, the world sprang forth out of nothing and life seemingly evolved to what we have today, and alternative #2, God pre-existed the world and directed its creation to what we have today – is there any surprise about what different people embrace?

  • The atheist embraces Darwin and the Big Bang
  • The religious person is at least skeptical of Darwin and the Big Bang narratives.

Thus, it should be not the least bit surprising that atheists love Darwin and the Big Bang Theory, and the religiously inclined, Christian or otherwise, are at least skeptical.

So from the outset, before one gives the first thought to science, it's likely that atheists will be highly receptive to Darwin and the Big Bang, but Christians and other religious people will have to overcome skepticism … and it actually doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the actual science, but lots to do with world view.  In our next post, let's explore this further.
 

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It's really essential to living.  In this and the next several posts, let's explore what it means to have a world view, then consider how it might apply to views about Charles Darwin.

WORLD VIEWS

As I said in a recent post, many atheist scientists are astounded that many Christians don't accept what appears to be very strong evidence for what Charles Darwin was saying.  Yet the only ones who should be surprised are the scientists themselves. That's because they haven't taken into consideration a difference in "world views".  So just what is a "world view"?  It's something we all have.  It's really essential to living.  In this and the next several posts, let's explore what it means to have a world view, then consider how it might apply to views about Charles Darwin.

A world view is simply a theory of the world.  For each of us, it is a "mental model" of reality, and a framework of ideas and attitudes we have about the world.  While our world views are individual, they're not as refined as our finger prints, meaning we don't really have completely unique world views.  Actually, people can be broadly categorized.

What are the factors that affect our world views?  Included are:

  • Inherited characteristics
  • Background experiences
  • Life situations
  • Values
  • Attitudes.

So each of us has certain unique things about our world views, but we can be generally divided into certain groupings.  A world view helps us to organize our thinking.

While the blog is largely focused on science and religion, let me offer an example from the political sphere.  Thomas Sowell is a prolific author and distinguished professor of political science at Stanford University.  A number of years ago he wrote a very interesting book called A Conflict of Visions.  His goal was to try to understand why certain people always seem to line up on one side, and others on the other side, of widely varying political issues.  One would have thought that there would have been much more variety.  Sowell concluded that in politics there are two broad visions, or world views – what he calls the "unconstrained view" and the "constrained view".
Those who adhere to the "unconstrained view" tend to think that humans are essentially good.  Further, they believe that human nature is changeable.  In fact, with enough effort, supporters believe that humanity is perfectible.  Those who adhere to an "unconstrained view" tend to distrust decentralized institutions.  Conversely, there are those who have a "constrained vision".

These people tend to subscribe to the following ideas:

  • Human nature is unchanging
  • Man is self interested
  • There are no ideal solutions, merely tradeoffs
  • People can't put aside their self interest in the long run.

Take a moment and ask yourself, which view is closer to your own way of thinking?
Armed with an unconstrained view, one would more likely to have the following political views:

  • With coordinated effort, just about any social problem can be tackled
  • Centralized, governmental solutions are more likely to be successful than decentralized ones
  • Educated elites have a better understanding of how to problems than do others.

In contrast, those with a constrained view are more likely to have the following political views:

  • Social problems are better solved by letting individuals pursue their own individual interests
  • There are no ideal solutions, only tradeoffs
  • Centralized government is less effective than smaller, decentralized government.

Can you guess which view is more in line with the Democratic Party and which with the Republican Party; or which viewpoint would tend to foster bigger government rather than small governement?  Pretty easy!

Can world views change?  Yes, though they tend not to do so, except over long periods of time.

As I mentioned, Sowell found that people would tend to line up on one side or another.  Let me suggest three broadly different political policy questions: 1) climate change; 2) gun control; and 3) regulation of workplace safety.  These are three dramatically different political issues, yet one would expect liberal Democrats to line up on one side and conservative Republicans on the opposite.  The reason actually doesn't have anything to do with the merits of the specific issues, rather it has to do with Sowell's broad "visions".  A liberal Democrat is more likely to line up as follows:

  • In support of collective governmental intervention to address climate change
  • In support of the same to control guns, with the objective of reducing violence
  • In support of the same, the thought being that governmental regulation will help increase workplace safety.

In each case, the real belief is that collective, centralized action will help to solve the problem.  Conversely, conservative Republicans will likely line up on the opposite of all three issues.  The conservative will very likely have a "constrained" world view, meaning he or she doesn't think that big, collective efforts work.  Instead, the conservative thinks that decentralized action is more likely to be effective.  

This, I believe, helps explain why Republicans are more likely to be skeptical about climate change.  It isn't that they deny what scientists have determined, it's more that they reject the idea that the solution to the problem is more governmental regulation and intrusion into everyone's life.  In their minds, the case hasn't been made that collective action is going to solve the problem.  So Democrats shouldn't necessarily conclude that Republicans are just "stupid" or "intransigent" about climate science, it's that it points to something deeper.

So let's now go back and focus not on how world views may affect politics, rather let's think about how world views might affect the intersection between science and religion.  In our next post, we'll talk more about Christian versus atheist world views, particularly as they might relate to science.
 

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One of the other things I'm very passionate about is the eradication of polio. By getting this book, you can make an important difference in the lives of as many as twenty children and their families.

You may not realize it, but by buying my book, The Unexpected Perspective, you're helping a worldwide coalition complete the eradication of a terrible disease – polio.  The monumental task of ridding the world of this terrible disease is nearly complete, and when the job is finished it will be only the second major disease ever eradicated, the first being smallpox in 1979.

            Only 30 years ago, polio was truly a worldwide scourge.  Every year, there were about 350,000 new cases of polio reported, and polio was endemic in 125 countries around the world.  The leadership of Rotary, an organization of which I'm proud to be a part, was the first to envision the possibility and potential of a polio-free world.  For the past 30 years, a coalition that includes Rotary, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and UNICEF has been fighting this terrible disease.  More recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has joined the effort.   To learn more about this partnership, go to http://polioeradication.org/who-we-are/partners/.  Today, polio remains endemic in only 3 countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria - and fewer than 30 cases have been reported worldwide in 2016 through mid-October.  While the eradication task is nearly complete, nothing short of complete eradication will keep this dreaded disease from re-emerging on a worldwide scale.

            How does a purchase of my book help this effort?  For each book sold, I'm personally contributing $ 4.00 US to the Rotary Foundation.  Each dollar that I contribute is being generously matched on a 2:1 basis by the Gates Foundation, meaning that a single book purchase will turn into a $ 12.00 contribution.  That's more than the cost of the electronic version of the book, and nearly the cost of a softcover version.  It costs sixty cents to immunize a child against polio, so each book sale means that 20 children can be immunized against the ravages of polio.

            The Global Polio Eradication Initiative hopes to record the last case of polio sometime before the end of 2017.   The World Health Organization will certify the world to be polio free once three years time elapses without a single case of polio reported worldwide.

            Once polio has been eliminated, there will be two tremendous benefits.  First, no child or adult will ever suffer the ravages of polio again.  Second, eradication will produce a "polio dividend."  Right now, the world spends more than a billion US dollars every year on fighting and preventing polio.  Once the disease is eliminated, that money can be redirected towards other diseases.  This won't be a single year phenomenon, it will re-occur every year in the future.

            Polio has been a scourge for mankind for thousands of years.  Thanks to the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, as well as the governments of every country in the world, we truly are on the verge of polio eradication.

            If you would like to learn more about this incredible initiative, please visit http://www.polioeradication.org.

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Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species, his famous book on the theory of evolution by natural selection, in 1859, so we've been arguing about the theory now for more than 150 years.  Unless you're part of a relatively small group of people, you probably don't pay much attention to the debate.

THE SEVEN VIEWPOINTS

Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species, his famous book on the theory of evolution by natural selection, in 1859, so we've been arguing about the theory now for more than 150 years.  Unless you're part of a relatively small group of people, you probably don't pay much attention to the debate.  From a distance, it looks as though there are two broad groups: one group that believes in evolution and doesn't believe in Christianity, and a group of Christians who don't believe in Darwin's theory.  

It's actually a lot more complicated.  In fact, there are actually seven different broad viewpoints.  Six of these have been identified by Gerald Rau, a former professor at Wheaton College in Illinois.  To Rau's list of six I will add a seventh.  I'm bringing this up in order to give you an idea of the diversity of opinion on the subject. You'll see why I'm doing this.

 

Viewpoint #1: Naturalism

The first school of though is what is called naturalism.  Naturalists strongly accept Darwin's theory.  In particular, they believe that the world, and the emergence of all life, can be explained without the need to invoke God.  It happened because of a completely natural process.  Usually, naturalists are either atheists or, at best, agnostics.

 

Viewpoint #2: Deism

Deists believe that God created the world, but after the creation, God pretty much took a holiday.  Deists tend to think of God as the great watchmaker – He created the world, but has chosen to sit back and watch the creation operate on its own, without influence or interference by God. 

 

Viewpoint #3: Planned Evolution

Supporters of planned evolution believe that both the Bible and Charles Darwin are right.  The world was created by God, but He used the evolutionary processes described by Darwin.

 

Viewpoint #4: Directed Evolution

Directed evolution is pretty much the same viewpoint as planned evolution, but there is an important difference.  Those who support planned evolution tend to believe that Adam and Eve weren't really people whereas those who support directed evolution tend to believe that Adam and Eve were real life people.

 

Viewpoint #5: Old Earth Creationism

Creationism is the idea that the description in the early part of Genesis is largely correct.  Those who support the "old earth" variety believe that God definitely created the world, but that his timetable was a little longer than one might infer from the Book of Genesis.  The big question concerns the length of a "day".  For an old earth creationist, the length of a "day" might be hundreds of millions of years.  As such, an old earth creationist can reconcile what the Bible is saying with the evidence of geology, that the world is millions, or billions of years old.

 

Viewpoint #6: Young Earth Creationism

For a young earth creationist, a "day is a day", meaning that God literally created the world in six days or so, and the world itself is probably not much more than six or seven thousand years old.  Young earth creationists reject both Darwin and modern geology.

 

Viewpoint #7: Intelligent Design

The seventh viewpoint is Intelligent Design (ID for short).  This is the concept that the world was designed by God.  It's an idea that traces back at least to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages, but it's modern day variant has become much more famous. Briefly, ID is an attempt to apply a modern day scientific critique to Darwin's theory.  It is an attempt by serious, and well trained, scientists to raise objections to Darwin's theory.  We'll discuss it more in a later posting.  

Many Christians love ID but most scientists hate it.  While ID theorists raise a number of concerns about the robustness of Darwin's theory, there are two key objections: 1) ID isn't a competitor theory to Darwin, merely a series of disparate objections; and 2) most scientists think it is "junk science," so even if ID were a coherent alternative theory to Darwin, it would likely still be rejected by most scientists.

Some Christians probably have the impression that non-Christian scientists line up behind Charles Darwin and Christian scientists both support ID and reject Darwin.  The case is nowhere near that simple.  Probably the majority, if not the vast majority, of Christian scientists reject ID – because they believe it doesn't qualify as good science.  Conversely, not all supporters of ID are Christians: some support ID because they really believe Darwin didn't create a rigorous theory.

So what's the takeaway?  First, that there are so many different viewponts.  Second, that there isn't any consistent "Christian" viewpoint.  About the only truly consistent viewpoint is that of atheist scientists, who pretty nearly universally believe in a "naturalist" view of Darwin.  More importantly, these atheist scientists tend to be almost universally shocked that Christians haven't embraced the science the way they have.  But as others have pointed out, the only ones who really should be shocked are the atheist scientists themselves.  In our next few postings, I'll explain why nobody should be shocked about what Christians believe … and don't believe.
 

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In my last blog post I described my inspiration for writing the book, beginning with my observation that the 150 year failure of Christians to come up with a generally agreed upon understanding of how Darwin and other modern scientific ideas square with the Bible has led to many problems.  Many Christians, particularly the young, have left the church because of this.  Further, Christians are increasingly viewed as anti-science and out of touch.  Worst of all, Christians are also increasingly perceived as stupid.  I believe Christians need to do something about this.  I'm not at all suggesting we change our views in order to win a popularity contest, but I think we need to come up with better answers than we have, otherwise another 100 years could quickly pass and our Christian descendants would face even more scorn and less respect.

            Pretty much everyone has their heels dug in on the issue, locked into their respective views.  Likely, the only way to get some type of change on this is for someone to propose a new way of thinking.  Something like that happened about 500 years ago – it was called the Reformation – and it turned into far more than just a battle of ideas.  I think there's a solution to this that falls far short of what Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the other great Reformers had to do, and shouldn't create the bloody consequences of the 16th century.  In short, my idea is to adopt some "entrepreneurial thinking."

            When I say "entrepreneurial thinking", I'm referring to the process that many entrepreneurs go through to create new business opportunities.  While I'm not thinking of this issue as a "business opportunity", I seriously think we could apply some of the concepts in order to come up with a good solution.

            The first thing to note is something already pretty well known: most great business ideas come from outsiders, meaning from people who aren't already insiders in a particular business or industry.  For example, the great personal computer revolution of the past 30 years was started by people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  Gates and Jobs were both outsiders.  The benefit was that they weren't wedded to the views of the big companies in information technology at the time, companies such as IBM and Digital Equipment.  Ken Olson, the head of Digital Equipment at the time, famously asked the question, "why would anyone want to have a computer on his desk?"  Unless you live near Route 128 in Boston, or are more than 60 years old, you've likely never heard of  Ken Olson and his company, Digital Equipment, once a titan in the mini-computer industry.

            The same is true about music.  The recorded music industry has been completely upended in recent years by the Ipod, ITunes, and similar technology.    Similarly, while the idea for digital photography first emerged at photography titan Kodak, the leadership of the company was too invested in the status quo to see the need to rethink things.

            What has that to do with Charles Darwin, the Big Bang Theory, and Christianity?   Simply this: I think many prominent scientists and theologians are too "invested" in their respective current "views" about Darwin and Christianity.  They're too wedded to familiar assumptions, so any really new thinking on the subject will likely have to come from outside. 

            Why not from an accountant?  Sounds preposterous, but is it any more preposterous than a couple of college dropouts without much, if any, formal education in computer science upending the computer industry, or that Kodak could have been toppled as a photography titan?  While I'm a committed Christian, I'm neither a scientist nor a theologian, so I'm not "invested" in 150 years of thinking about Darwin.  Instead, I can come along and do what entrepreneurs tend to do well: ask unconventional questions.  Just as entrepreneurs can come in from outside an existing industry and develop new solutions to old problems by asking unconventional questions, so I believe that I, or someone like me, can come in and ask some unconventional questions about Darwin, the Big Bang, and Christianity. 

            I said I'm an accountant.  By profession I am a CPA, though I haven't practiced as a CPA for many years.  Instead, I'm an entrepreneur, as well as an inventor.  As the people who work with me regularly know, I love to ask unconventional questions.  Asking unconventional questions has been the basis for starting and building businesses, as well as inventing things.  It was also the starting point for my investigation into this whole question.  The end product, of course, was the book I've written.   

            While the book addresses a whole series of unconventional questions, it really begins with two.  It's been noted than non-Christian scientists are absolutely astounded that even given all of the evidence that what Darwin postulated is true, only about half of the general American public believes it.  But it's also been said that the only people who really should be surprised about that are the scientists themselves; and the reason is the argument that in the minds of those Darwin skeptics, even given all of the science, they've never been given a good reason they should want to believe Darwin.  Thus, the first unconventional question is, "what would have to happen for Christians to want to believe in Darwin and the Big Bang Theory?"    The second unconventional question follows from that.  It is, "might there be reasons Christians would want to believe in Darwin and the Big Bang Theory and, if so, what would be those reasons?"

            So far as I know, no one has been asking those questions.  In my mind, they're the starting point for taking an "entrepreneurial look" at this entire issue, the place to launch a rethink of the matter.  Ken Olson of Digital Equipment couldn't conceive that anyone would want a computer on his desk, much less in his shirt pocket or on his wrist, and the failure to at least pose the question limited his thinking … and cost his shareholders a very fine company.  Have the people involved with the "Darwin versus Christianity" debate been thinking too much like Ken Olson?  I'm afraid they have.

 

 

 

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Carl Treleaven is an entrepreneur, author, strong supporter of various non-profits, and committed Christian. He is CEO of Westlake Ventures, Inc., a company with diversified investments in printing and software.

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