… Darrel Falk and Rachel Held Evans plus a little patience?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to answer the question: How did you come to believe in evolution? In a sense, the question is worded poorly, because we don’t talk about “belief” in gravity or in thermodynamics or the like. We either know it’s true or we don’t based upon our awareness of the evidence. We may not need to see the evidence ourselves and instead take others’ words for it. Either way though, we trust that the evidence is worthy and thus assent mentally to the intellectual position.
I enjoyed reading through the comments even though the sample size was relatively small (feel free to continue to chime in on the original post). My reason for posting the question stemmed from a previous post that I wrote in which I chronicled the back and forth between Albert Mohler and the folks at BioLogos regarding the usual (and unfortunate)… evolution vs. creationism. Writing this post made me wonder whether the war of words between these two camps (which is how “discussion” via blogs or in the media tends to work in all areas of life) was really worthwhile. In the end will it cause more Evangelicals to acknowledge the evidence of evolution? Or will it cause the two groups to become even more entrenched in their ever widening and separate positions? While showing others that seeing evolution as the mechanism of God’s Creation of the world is important to me, it is more important that the Church be united, no matter how jaded a look at the current state or history of the Church makes me. That’s why books like Darrel Falk’s Coming to Peace With Science resonate so much with me. Education coupled with grace is an outstanding thing.
So how did people answer the question? What enabled them to see evolution as truth? For most, it was a fairly long journey that involved reading books or speaking with others that they considered to be more knowledgeable in the area. For some, it did include reading blog posts (although the comments were never mentioned!) with the caveat that this would maybe be represented more in the future, since blogs are relatively new. And for one lucky soul, it was the result of K-12 Catholic education.
My story is similar to that of the majority, but interestingly enough I didn’t come from a YEC or fundamentalist home. Evolution either wasn’t really taught to me during my public school education (if so, a travesty) or I ignored it and simply memorized the facts and regurgitated them back for the tests, never taking the time to truly think about what I was being taught (if so, shame on me). I didn’t move towards acceptance or appreciation of evolution until later in my research career than frankly I’d like to admit. The move occurred due to three things. First, I read lots and lots of books. Second, I left the Southern Baptist Church, which is an interesting story but belongs in another post. Third, I met and worked with Evangelical Christians who were adamant supporters of evolution and saw that “their Christianity” was no less than mine. This last sentence may seem preposterous but for those currently in or with a personal history within a fundamentalist church, you likely understand exactly where I’m coming from.
Getting back to the point of this post: the key to evolutionary evangelism is… what? I would infer from my story and the comments shared by others that it’s books plus time within an environment that encourages real conversation and patience. This doesn’t sound like blogs (although let’s give them time), comment sections, and media spats to me.
Specifically, books like the aforementioned Coming to Peace with Science, The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton, and Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans (which I reviewed here), although the market is becoming saturated by others that are also good. These books have been informative and encouraging to me, but there is still a need for so much more. Moving from a YEC to evolutionary creation does more than change the science, it also changes theology and Biblical interpretation. And so far (if I may generalize), within Evangelical circles, the “theistic” of “theistic evolution” has been ignored, superficially addressed, or radically altered so that it doesn’t really resemble Evangelicalism anymore. This doesn’t mean evolution is any less valid but it’s something that needs to be acknowledged and remedied.
Does this mean that the ongoing Albert Mohler vs. BioLogos spat is useless and a waste of time? Yes, I think it does. The war of words is doing nothing but causing more fighting and thus division within Evangelicalism. I am obviously biased as I side with BioLogos and I realize that they must respond to Mohler. But this isn’t helping… and I’d be shocked if Mohler was all that upset by it.