As a physician, a scientist trained in the empirical evidence based healing arts, and as a Christian I have felt a burden for some time to address the perpetual conflict between certain Christians and the empiric scientific knowledge about the universe and the world. To start off in addressing this conflict I want to prepare the reader for what is ahead and that begins with a discussion of the nature of logic and reason.
Logic and reason are in some ways an innate understanding about the reality of our world, some might label it common sense. The discipline of mathematics is a significant part of logic and reason. God created the world and the universe ordered along the lines of mathematics, logic, and reason; and as a blessing from God, he gave mankind the ability to discern aspects of the world and universe using logic and reason. That is ultimately the fundamental basis of what science is and where science comes from.
Unfortunately human beings have the propensity to compartmentalize their use and adherence to logic and reason. For example there are computer software engineers, who are obviously very intelligent and have a firm grasp of logic and reason to be able to do what they do, who in the realm of politics subscribe to political ideologies that forsake logic and reason altogether in favor of an emotional based subjectivism. In other words we as human beings have the uncanny ability to have a firm grasp of logic and reason, use it in certain areas of our lives, and yet completely abandon and ignore logic and reason in other parts of our lives.
There is another propensity of human nature that I have discovered over the years which I must bring up. When confronted with a true logic and reason based position that conflicts with their world view, people have one of two reactions. One, they simply get angry and reject the new position on a purely emotional basis, or two, they accept and incorporate the new position on the basis of logic and reason oftentimes resulting in an epiphany type moment which can be a very positive experience. I will caution the reader to take what follows at face value and try to read it through to the end without succumbing to the temptation to reject it in an emotional response of anger somewhere in the middle of the reading. As human beings, once we are seeing red no amount of critical thinking or logic and reason can find its way in. This commentary is written in a very straightforward manner to the point of being blunt. When the matter being discussed is as critical as this one, there is no use in potentially obscuring the point being made by dancing around the various sensitivities that are in play here. At this point I should mention that I believe the Bible to be God's authoritative word, that Jesus Christ was who he said he was, and that what he said was true.
Much of this conflict centers around the literal interpretation of Genesis 1 as a historical account of a 6 day creation of the world and universe while the empirical knowledge gathered from multiple scientific disciplines such as cosmology, physics, environmental and molecular biology, geology, and nuclear physics has failed to substantiate this 6 day creation account (or a 6000 year old earth but more on that later).
To really understand this conflict one must first understand the basic process of science, what science is, and how we have gotten to the point where we are in the history of human knowledge scientifically. In true science the sole passion is for finding out the material truth of our world and universe in reality, regardless of what that truth reveals itself to be in reality. Basic scientific process starts with forming a hypothesis, a hypothetical idea of how something is in material reality. The second step is to run an experiment on that hypothesis. The final step is to objectively evaluate the results obtained by that experiment (do the results confirm or reject the original hypothesis). A real scientist always goes with the results. He or she may run the experiment many times and from multiple different angles to confirm the results, but the results ultimately take precedence over the hypothesis because the results are ultimately some small piece of material reality (some small piece of God's creation) revealing itself as it actually is. It is this commitment to objectivity that makes a scientist a scientist and that gives science the significant amount credibility that it has known for the past few hundred years.
As a crude and simple example of scientific process; say I were to have a hypothesis that wood doesn't burn. I could then experimentally test that hypothesis by building multiple campfires and setting them on fire to get results that tell me that wood does burn. At this point I go with the results because the results are ultimately objective truth and reality presenting themselves....wood does indeed burn. It doesn't matter how emotionally attached I am to my hypothesis (that wood doesn't burn) I am. My passion as a scientist is ultimately for the objective truth of material reality. If I were to continue to go around telling people (and believing) that wood doesn't burn out of emotional attachment and loyalty to my original hypothesis, it would be dishonest and I would lose all credibility.
Science knows all that it knows on the basis of empirical evidence obtained through this objective fundamental scientific process. Science knows what it knows but it doesn't know anything else. Science knows nothing on faith, it only knows on the basis of fact and empirical evidence, thus science can tell us nothing on matters of faith.
As a metaphor on how empiric scientific knowledge has increased during human history (particularly during the last few hundred years) imagine that you're in a vast dark cavern. A successful scientific experiment which gleams some small amount of information about material reality is like someone lighting a small candle. Now the candle doesn't shine very bright so the rest of the cavern remains in the dark (you can't even see the edges of the cavern) but the candle does illuminate that one small area and within it you know, through empirical evidence, the small portion of material reality that's illuminated. At the edges of the lighted zone you just barely see glimpses and shadows of other areas of material reality but you can't really make it out. But it gives you enough of a sense that you can form another new hypothesis about that area. You go through the scientific process of experimentation and observation, get results, and suddenly another small candle is lit, expanding just a little bit the small area that is illuminated a little more. As you repeat this process it begins to snowball and you get more and more candles being lit, at a faster and faster pace, illuminating more and more area with empiric scientific knowledge.
At this point in the early 21st century the area that's been illuminated with empiric knowledge has grown quite large. It's how we've discovered that some bacteria can harm humans and thus clean water and sewage treatment facilities improve human health, that electricity can flow through copper wire and be used for light, that penicillin kills bacteria but not people and thus can be used to cure certain diseases. We still can't see the edges of the cavern and there will still always be the edges of the illuminated area, the scientific frontier, where scientists are actively working to illuminate the next candle and debating each other in legitimate scientific debate on what the shadows at the edges really are. But there's also much area in the center of the illuminated zone; core scientific disciplines that are so well illuminated from every conceivable angle that they are not in any amount of dispute at this point. Disciplines and knowledge such as Newtonian physics, the fundamentals of cosmology with the patterns of matter grouped in solar systems and galaxies, the periodic table of the elements, geology, the fundamentals of molecular genetics, and yes, evolution and natural selection.
I mention evolution and natural selection because they are at the very core of this conflict. When Darwin first proposed the idea of natural selection around 150 years ago it was indeed just a hypothesis. It was at the edge of the shadows, just barely illuminated. At the time there was no substantiation from other scientific disciplines. About the only thing close to scientific substantiation at the time was that by the time Darwin proposed natural selection mankind had already been participating in selective breeding for a number of centuries on dogs and livestock, rapidly accelerating what was already happening on a natural level. There was no modern geology, no fossil record, no dinosaurs. There was no molecular and cellular genetics to substantiate how natural selection occurs on a molecular and cellular level. There was no knowledge of nuclear physics and radioactive isotopes and there was no Hubble Telescope displaying galaxies millions of light years away to show that there had indeed been enough time for something like natural selection to occur. But now..... there is.
Creation "scientists" like to carve out evolution and natural selection from the whole body work of scientific knowledge and throw it out, but that is now effectively impossible. Natural selection and evolution are so thoroughly intertwined and substantiated by other scientific disciplines (and those disciplines intertwined with still other scientific disciplines) that it is now impossible to carve out natural selection from the rest of scientific knowledge and throw it out without throwing out the entirety of all human scientific knowledge itself. Not only does natural selection go but all of cosmology goes, all of molecular and cellular biology goes, all of modern medicine goes, all of nuclear physics goes. All of these scientific disciplines contradict the idea of a 6 day creation and a 6000 year old earth and universe. You have to start making some pretty amazing assumptions along with that. No longer do light bulbs light up because we know anything about electricity, they just do. The scientists in the Manhattan project just happened across the atom bomb by sheer dumb luck and their knowledge of nuclear physics had nothing to do with it.
Unfortunately most creationists carry the opinion that science (particularly the disciplines of science that they most conflict with) has an agenda to prove that there is no God. In reality, true science neither has an agenda to prove the existence of God nor to disprove the existence of God. True science has no agenda in any political or religious direction with the only goal being an objective passion for finding out the material truth of reality, wherever that might lead. In areas where political agendas and loyalties to hypothesis over results have taken precedence, science devolves to chaos and all credibility is lost. This is largely why the realm of climate science is such a mess and the reputation of climate science is in tatters (in that case it's more of an issue of pushing a hypothesis as though it were results in the face of daunting experimental and observational challenges that currently preclude obtaining actual empirical results). However, that is a much more recent phenomenon, disturbingly reflecting an overall cultural shift in the west from logic, reason, and the empirical to unfettered emotional based subjectivism (but that is a another topic altogether).
Another unfortunate side effect of the creationists' rejection of objective empirical based reality is that it has handed the atheists the illusion that science has disproven the existence of God. This is utterly false. While it is correct that science has not found any evidence of God, it has not found any evidence that proves there is not a God either. As such, atheism is just as much a faith based position as Christianity but many atheists are wholly unaware of this characteristic, largely because of this completely unnecessary conflict between creationists and science.
The combatants in this conflict have lined themselves up along only two options: that you believe in a literal 6 day creation and 6000 year old earth (rejecting massive amounts of empirical evidence to do so) and thus are Christian OR that you acknowledge the scientific evidence as it has empirically unfolded and thus are automatically atheist. There is a very important third option that is being ignored here and this option, surprisingly to many, is not new at all and was proposed by one of the greatest theologians in the history of the Christian Church.
Saint Augustine is widely regarded as the greatest Christian theologian of his time. Around the turn of the 4th century AD, Augustine took an in depth look at the very biblical scripture at the center of this conflict, the Genesis passages about creation at the beginning of the Bible. He wrote that the creation account at the beginning of Genesis appeared to be allegorical in nature rather than a literal historical depiction of events. With this interpretation of the biblical scripture in Genesis, the core of this conflict between empirical science and the creationists melts away. It should be noted that when Saint Augustine drew this conclusion there was no modern scientific knowledge and evidence to push him in this direction. He thus made this deduction based solely on the form, flow, and the writing of the early Genesis scripture itself. I likewise, irregardless of the supporting scientific evidence, agree that based simply upon prose and writing style that this scripture appears to be allegorical in context.
Could it really be that straightforward? Could a faulty interpretation of a few pages at the beginning of the Bible be the cause of all this trouble and misunderstanding? I'm afraid so, and it's not the first time that this has happened. Many people know that in 1616 Galileo was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and put under house arrest for the last 26 years of his life for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun instead of that the sun and all the planets revolve around the earth (which was the scriptural interpretation of the day). Many do not realize that Galileo was a devote Christian as well as a scientist. Some of the bible verses that were interpreted by the church to mean that the sun and everything else revolved around the earth were as follows:
1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalms 93:1 and 96:10 each if which contain the line:
"The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved"
Psalm 104:5 "He set the earth on its foundations, it can never be moved."
Ecclesiastes 1:5 "And the sun rises and sets, and returns to its place."
Yet today does anyone consider it heresy to state, and know scientifically, that the earth revolves around the sun? Does it call into question anyone's faith in God or in Jesus? No! Yet now so many are repeating the very same interpretive mistake with the scripture of early Genesis. Such a shame that we continue to remake the same mistakes of the past.
Another way this foolishness has presented itself in the past (and this one is still part of the present day conflict) has to do with the scriptural interpretation that gives us a 6000 year old earth. Recall Harold Camping, the preacher in California who, based on his interpretations of Biblical scripture, predicted that the rapture would happen on May 11, 2011; and, when that failed to occur, revised his prediction that it would happen five months later in October? I remember on the second date in October, when it failed to happen again, I was at a Bible study with some friends of mine. My friends, some of whom were ardent creationists at the time, were commenting on how foolish it was for Mr. Camping to have surreptitiously added things to the Bible that were plainly not there. I couldn't help thinking at the time that this was the very same thing that was being done with the interpretation of scripture that pronounces a 6000 year old earth. In each case very spurious interpretations of Biblical scripture, that were never meant to be used in that way, were done to put forth solid dates....one for the date of creation of the earth and the other for the date of the rapture.
There is no scripture in the Bible that gives any indication of the age of the earth, 6000 years or otherwise. Most attempts to put such a date or age into the Bible involve the calculation/addition of the genealogy of biblical characters. This an even more specious action than merely the misinterpretation of early Genesis scriptures because it involves such a mixing, matching, and ulterior use of many unrelated scriptures (in ways which one would be hard pressed to say were ever intended) that one could effectively make the Bible say anything that he wanted it to, as can be evidenced by Mr. Camping's example. Indeed, none other than the Apostle Paul himself specifically warns us against this very thing in 1 Timothy 1:3-4
"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work--which is by faith."
That states it so clearly that there's really not much more that needs to be said on that.
It's interesting that all of these misinterpretations of Biblical scripture are very egocentric and man centered. The universe revolves around the earth (and thus revolves around man). The creation of the earth and universe had to have be done on time scales appropriate to, and recognizable by, man. Likewise, the age of the earth and universe has to be on a time correlating with the existence of man and man's history. Why would we limit God to 6000 years, particularly when the overwhelming evidence points otherwise?
Facing a mountain of empiric scientific evidence that completely refuted their belief in a 6 day creation and a 6000 year old earth, a number of decades back some of the creationists began to refashion themselves as creation "scientists" and later as intelligent design "scientists". The problem is that being a scientist means adhering to the fundamental process of hypothesis---> experimentation---> results, with the acknowledgement being for the objective results regardless of what they are or whether they confirm or reject your hypothesis. Once you've become so attached to your hypothesis that you reject any and all experimental scientific results in favor of maintaining adherence to your hypothesis then you're no longer a scientist, regardless of how many or what type of degrees you have behind your name. That is the problem with creation "science" in a nutshell. Once you look at every creation "science" claim objectively, instead of through the lens of "this MUST be true in order for God to be true", it falls apart.
Take for instance the main and original example put forth by intelligent design "scientists", that being the bacterial motile flagellum (the tail like thing that some bacteria have and whip around to produce motion). The idea being that the bacterial motile flagellum is such a complex natural machine of 20+ different parts that there's no way for it to come about by mutation or natural selection. Why they picked the motile flagellum, I don't know. They could have picked the eyeball, or the dog brain, or the kidney, or any of a million complex biological structures and made the same statement. Notice, however, it's just a statement. It's just a hypothesis but this hypothesis was aggressively pushed as though it were scientific results and empiric evidence to the untrained masses who didn't have the scientific background to know any better. Put another way, actions of this sort are flat out dishonest and these actions have been standard fare from the creation and intelligent design "scientists" It's not really science at all (hence the quotation marks placed around creation "science"). It's just hypothetical statements dressed up and portrayed as science to the public masses who don't have the background to be able to discern the difference.
Zeroing in on the bacteria motile flagellum as their flagship example ended up becoming an absolute debacle for the Intelligent Design "scientists". Within two decades the marching on of scientific research and ever expanding amount of empirical evidence was already starting to obliterate Intelligent Design's self-chosen main example. An ion channel in a related species of bacteria was found to be identical to several components of the motor portion of the motile flagellum. The filament portion of the motile flagellum was found to be identical to the sex pili in another related species. In other words, Intelligent Design's basic assumption in its flagship example that 20+ mutations had to happen simultaneously for the motile flagellum to appear naturally in nature (thus making it so extremely unlikely as to be statistically impossible that it formed naturally) was being shown to be false. The mutations and the various parts were coming into place one at a time, hence the discovery of isolated parts of the motile flagellum performing different roles in other related species of bacteria.
With the conspicuous abandonment of any and all logic, reason, and ultimately, reality, as well as the frankly dishonest actions by the creation "scientists", there is a desperation that undergirds all of this and there is a tragic and plain reason for this desperation. When the people tied their faith to a literal interpretation of the creation account in early Genesis they tied their faith to a fallacy. When this fallacy began to crumble, under the overwhelming and ever increasing empirical evidence from scientific advancement, a crisis of faith ensued. Unable to separate the two (their faith in Jesus and their belief in a 6 day creation/6000 year old earth) they faced a devastating choice, abandon their faith and become atheists or forsake reality (and logic and reason) to hold onto their faith. From 1700 years ago, Saint Augustine, in his musings against the literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story, recognized the danger of this very trap and warned us about it.
"we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture."
All the absurd statements, all the denial of logic and reality, all the flat out dishonesty on the part of the creation "scientists" all stems from a desperate reaction to having fallen into the very trap in this very arena that Augustine presciently realized so long ago.
I was once asked by a creationist friend of mine during a friendly debate if I thought it was possible that God could have created the world and universe 6000 years ago in 6 days but put within it all the signs that point otherwise... radioactive isotopes that reveal the earth to be billions of years old, light that looks like it's from galaxies millions and billions of light years away, dinosaur fossils that date back to millions of years ago, geologic trapping of reversals in the earth's magnetic field occurring every 450 thousand years on average, ice cores that give the environmental history of tens of thousands of years, etc., and all of it substantively agreeing with each other on a broad basis. I replied that God is omnipotent and thus has the power to do whatever he chooses. What make this an impossibility, however, is that this would make God into such a cosmic trickster, and the resulting human devastation that would come from it would make God into a character of such malevolence, that God would be far worse than any evil ever seen in the worst man on earth. This is in complete contradiction to the nature of God as revealed to us by Jesus the Christ. God is perfectly good and perfectly light. He loves us and wants good not bad for us, thus the above scenario cannot possibly be so.
There is a great trickster who is full of evil however, and we know who that is. It's been said that the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was to convince mankind that he did not exist, and that may be so. But if so, the second greatest trick he ever pulled was to convince mankind that we had a choice to make. We could either accept the creator but reject the creation or we could accept the creation but reject the creator. We could not accept both. This is the ultimate effect of this conflict between creationism and science.
The atheists and the creationists are just 2 sides of the same coin. Both are caught in the devil's lie, they have just made the opposite choice from the other in response to being caught up in that lie. The atheists chose to accept the creation but reject the creator and the creationists chose to accept the creator but reject the creation.
Both reactions come from the very same place...a weak and fragile faith. The Bible tells us that we will know God through faith. What precisely does that mean? It means that there will be no proof. God's wisdom is far greater than man's wisdom. I do not know why God demands the discipline of faith, but he does and I must trust that he knows what he's doing. Faith is like love, it requires discipline to maintain and, through the discipline of maintaining faith and love, each seems to turn into the other. Perhaps that is the answer to why God requires faith, to ultimately draw us closer in love; but in any case the fact that God requires that you know him by faith means, by definition, that there will be no proof. Why then should we expect there to be proof and be surprised when there isn't any.
A faith that demands proof is a very weak faith. Indeed, it is not faith at all. Both atheists and creationists seem to be operating from the same position of having very little faith, just differing in their reactions to that weak faith. The creationists demand proof to substantiate their faith and when proof fails to be forthcoming decided to construct proof out of thin air (rejecting all reason, logic, and reality in order to do so). The atheists demand proof and when proof fails to be forthcoming decided to just abandon faith in God altogether. Interesting that the atheists and the creationists seem to truly hate each other. The more I look at this tragic situation, the more I'm convinced that the devil's hand is at play in it.
One of the things that gives creationists great trouble with evolution and natural selection is the apparent randomness of it, the lack of any purposeful intent to it. Interestingly the atheists seize upon this same perception as providing proof of atheism. It is not. The problem with this perception of randomness comes from our perspective as human beings. As an analogy: what if I were to take a 50 gallon barrel filled with thousands marbles to the top of a 5 story building, turn it upside down, and drop all the marbles to the ground below. But, before I did so, I were to ask you to tell me where each and every marble was going to end up. Your answer to me would be that it's impossible. With all the millions and perhaps billions of random interactions, there's no way to accurately predict where any one marble is going to end up, let alone all of them. What if you're God however and you're omniscient. You know every microscopic dimple on every marble, every blade of grass and bump on the ground, every wind current no matter how small. In that case you would know where every marble was going to end up. Thus that which looks totally random and disorganized to us humans may very well be planned and organized by God. To my mind this may very well be how evolution and natural selection works as well.
To the creationists I ask: what does it really matter anyway? Is God any less God if he created the universe 13.8 billion years ago with a much longer creation time versus 6000 years ago with a 6 day creation? Is the blessing, wisdom, and grace of Jesus any less so either way? If God created animals and plants and ultimately humans through the process of natural selection, and we are merely learning more about it through the gifts of reason and logic that God gifted us with, is it any less God's doing? Is it any less God's creation? No.
I honestly have zero stake in either a 6000 year old earth and universe with a 6 day creation or a 13.8 billion year old universe with a much longer creation. It's just that with all the massive amount of empirical scientific data supporting a 13.8 billion year old universe, acknowledging it is akin to sitting in front of a wooden coffee table and merely acknowledging that the table is, indeed, made of wood. While acknowledging the 6000 year old universe is akin to sitting in front of that same wooden coffee table and abjectly denying that it's made of wood (and worse still, intimately tying that abject and obvious denial of reality to faith in Jesus Christ).
The tragedy of this conflict is that our scientific knowledge of the universe is starting to speak to God's greatness and we're missing the opportunity to see it and use it. Stop for a second and imagine just how breathtakingly long 13.8 billion years really is, what an overwhelmingly great expanse of distance 10 billion light years really is. Though it be but a dim shadow of the creator, the enormous vastness of the universe in both time and space speaks to the even greater majesty of God himself. The entire history of humanity is just a millisecond in time comparatively. Human beings are but infinitesimal specks in both space and time, and yet God loves us anyway.
Indeed, there will be no proof of God forthcoming from science, but logic and reason are starting to lean very heavily in support of the idea of a creator in light of what real science is revealing (and we're missing that too). Science can look back to the big bang, but it can look no further. In a single moment, coming from a single point much smaller than an atom, originating from nothing..... everything that you see, all the energy, all the matter in the universe exploded into existence. Almost as if it were spoken into existence. Science can measure when the big bang happened, what happened during it, and what's been the aftermath. But it cannot explain the big bang itself: where it came from, and why.
There are four forces in the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Physicists have calculated that if any of the forces were minutely different in relation to each other than they are, then matter (and thus all the stars, all the planets, and life itself) would not be able to exist. Of all the various combinations of the forces, the odds that they would be just right for matter, and thus life, to exist are less than a trillion to one. In other words it would be more likely for you to win the powerball every day for 5 years than for this situation to randomly occur. It's such a statistical improbability that it effectively is an impossibility that this was random chance, leaving the only other possibility of a purposeful creation. Note that these things don't constitute proof of God's existence, but logic and reason at this point are heavily leaning towards the idea of a creator versus the idea of atheism.
Yet instead of using the knowledge, reason, and logic gained to us by science (and ultimately gifted to us by God in his creation) to gain people for Christ, we instead reject it in a foolish attempt to shore up our weak faith by concocting proof that is not there and will not be forthcoming. In so doing we end up driving people away from Christ.
By effectively going the route the creationists are going, we are effectively allowing them to tell non-believers "come, learn about the Grace, truth, wisdom and blessing of Jesus the Christ; BUT FIRST, you must look at that wooden coffee table and say AND believe that it's not wood". It's analogous to telling an engineer at Ford in the 1990's who designs internal combustion automobiles (something that he knows extensively by learned reason and experience) that in order to believe in Jesus he must first believe that the cars he knows inside and out don't move by internal combustion. It becomes an artificial insurmountable hurdle, placed there all in the name of propping up a weak faith with fabricated proof. Saint Augustine, in his musings against the literal interpretation Genesis creation story as a historical account, saw this coming down the pipe from 1600 years ago as well.
"Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?"
This is precisely what has now happened. One hundred and fifty years ago the western world consisting of Europe and the United States was overwhelmingly, almost exclusively, Christian in both identification and in practice. Compare that to the western world today. The vast majority in Europe have abandoned the Christian faith and the United States, while a few decades behind Europe in this regard, is following suite. This, right here, in this foolish, artificial, totally unnecessary conflict with science and reality (that does not actually exist in the scriptures) is where the split occurred. At this point it is safe to say that hundreds of millions of people have been driven from Christ by this foolish conflict, perpetrated by some within the faith. If you are one that believes that what Jesus said is true and that the only way to salvation is through him (and I happen to be one who does believe so) then the massive amount of human carnage and devastation from this situation results in ramifications that reverberate throughout all eternity on the scale of many, many orders of magnitude greater than that which even Hitler did. This is, indeed, no small matter.
Yes there have been other splits with the seculars in the western world that have come along since then but this one is the granddaddy, the original, as far as the western world is concerned. In every other split with secularism the church holds the high ground. It has logic, reason, science, human psychology, and common sense on its side; along with the scriptural teachings and the wisdom of the ages. As an example, the Christian church and secularism have split in the realm of men and women and the relations thereof. Men and women are different from each other. They are made for each other. In areas where men are weak, women are strong and in areas where women are weak, men are strong. Our strengths and weakness complement each other. Where people get into trouble is when men and women exploit their strengths over the other for selfish gain. Where there is blessing and happiness in couples is when men and women use their strengths to the others benefit and care. This is not only biblical, science substantiates this. Logic substantiates this. Reason substantiates this. Common sense substantiates this. This is how it is with all the various splits between secularism and the Christian church.... save one.
Indeed, in EVERY other split, with secularism and atheism, Christianity holds the high ground of reason, logic, and reality..... except for this one of creationism versus science. I say that loosely because creationism is not Christianity and we must allow creationism to hold sway and speak for Christianity no more. The creation "scientists" who are peddling their misinformation are lying. Lying to themselves no doubt, but lying to others as well. They're lying when they present themselves as scientists when by the qualities of their actions they abandon the most fundamental of scientific process. They're lying when they aggressively promote hypotheses and conjecture as though it's empirically gained scientific results. They're lying without ever looking into the underlying situation that forced them to concoct that campaign of lies to begin with, that being a very weak faith. But, instead of recognizing this and strengthening their faith, they seek to continue on in their weakness of faith by propping it up with contrived proof... proof that we know will not and should not be forthcoming because of the word of God himself, the requirement to come to him by faith. And by their actions, by intimately tying such obvious nonsense and falsehood to the grace, wisdom, and blessings of Jesus the Christ they drive off millions. The devastation occurring in this area is to such a massive scale that it is no mere academic matter. So long as we allow the creation "scientists" to speak for the Christian church, unchallenged from within, this devastation will continue and worsen.
Reason, logic, and reality do not go against God's teaching and why would they? They are all part of God's creation. Yet instead of using logic, reason, and empirically gained knowledge about the creation through science to bring people to God we have allowed logic, reason, and empirically gained knowledge to be divorced from the word of God in the minds of the people. Nature in all its grandeur, as it actually is, speaks to the greatness of God..... it does not defy it or contradict it. That we as Christians have allowed a deception that says otherwise to go along unchallenged for so long is indeed shameful.
There are, no doubt, some in the faith who unfortunately have bought in so completely to the devil's lie, that have so intimately associated their faith in Jesus with a belief in a 6 day creation and 6000 year old earth, that they cannot possible separate the two. They cannot throw out the bad without throwing out the good as well. To those I say; it would be far better not to be caught up in this devil's lie at all, but if you are absolutely unable to extract yourself from it, then stay where you are. If you must reject the creation to accept the creator, then do so, but do so in your own hearts and minds. Knowing that it is through faith and faith alone that you will know God and thus it's a foolish endeavor to either seek proof or, even worse, fabricate proof in its absence..... knowing that even in the earliest days renowned Christian theologians were considering the creation story at the beginning of Genesis to be allegorical...... knowing that divorcing the word of God from the reality of God's creation, as discovered by science, effectively walls off millions from that faith in Jesus which you find so special and sacred..... maintain your position quietly and push creationism no more so that you will not inadvertently push so many away from Jesus and into the fire. For it is not a literal interpretation of the beginning of Genesis that is sacred, it is not the belief in a 6000 year old earth and 6 day creation that is sacred, it is the faith and trust in Jesus that is sacred. Otherwise, if you can extract yourself from the devil's lie and indeed accept both the creator and the creation, then so much the better.
To the atheist I say this; you, like the creationist, are caught up in the exact same devil's lie. But you have made a far more devastating decision in response to it by choosing to reject the creator. You have been convinced by this lie that logic, reason, and even empiric scientific evidence is on your side. As revealed by this commentary, they are not. Your position of atheism is just as much a position of faith as a Christian's belief in God and Jesus is. Know that logic and reason, that is applied to the scientific knowledge as it has grown, are starting to lean very heavily in the direction that God does exist. Know also, however, that you will not find proof if that is what you are seeking. For it is by faith and faith alone that you will know him, so says God himself in the revelation of himself in Jesus the Christ. If the devil's lie, and with it the idea that you've had proof that supports your atheism, has kept you from taking a serious look a Jesus the person, I would ask you to reconsider and look now.
As outlined by CS Lewis in his great work Mere Christianity, Jesus, by claiming to be God, gives us only three options.... that he's lying, that he's a lunatic, or that he is indeed the Lord. However improbable you might consider the last option to be, you must evaluate Jesus by his life, his words, and his actions. If he's lying then that would make Jesus into a character of extreme selfishness and narcissism. Yet his actions and words during his life show him to be the complete opposite, effectively ruling out option 1. If he was a lunatic, that would have displayed itself in a very short period of time. In my experience as a physician, those who are crazy (particularly those crazy enough to believe themselves to be God) reveal themselves as plainly crazy within a matter of just a few seconds or minutes. Additionally, Jesus would not have grasped and spoken such a tremendous amount of transcendent wisdom had he been a lunatic. These observations effectively rule out option 2. That leaves option 3 (however improbable that you considered that option to be at the beginning) as the only viable option remaining. That being the case, Jesus is something that is worth looking into further.
In the last decade I've heard several preachers say from the pulpit that this issue of creationism versus science doesn't matter as it relates to faith in Jesus. To be honest that is a very refreshing change compared to the occasional times in years prior that I'd heard literal creationism promoted from the pulpit without any regard to the issues discussed in this paper. Still, I say it does matter very much. Perhaps many preachers are worried about offending some in their congregation. However, the tremendous damage being done by continuing to allow God's word to be divorced from God's creation and reality must be confronted. Given the hundreds of millions of people that this is affecting and the ramifications for them going forward, confronting this may well be one of the biggest issues of our time. I hope and pray that with God's guidance we the Christian church will find the discernment to recognize and the courage to confront this tragic situation. May the grace and blessings of our Lord Jesus the Christ be with you always.