The importance of clear thinkingIt’s ok to disbelieve theistic evolution2, or any old-earth or young-earth position, but you need to be able to give a reasonable answer as to why. The reason I’m so concerned is that nonbelievers will judge us based on the quality of our reasoning – even when they’re not so picky about their own!
If you give a nonbeliever a poor reason for not believing in something, you reinforce various unfortunate notions about Christians and thinking including:
- Christians can’t/don’t think.
- Christianity requires blind faith.
- Christians don’t care to know what the other side really believes.
These stereotypes harm Christians in academia, hinder bringing people to Christ, and make it more difficult to take Christianity into the public square. On top of that, if Christians look dumb, it makes Christ look dumb. We cannot permit that.
Strobel and theistic evolutionWhen asked about theistic evolution, Lee Strobel described macro-evolution as a random, undirected, and purposeless process. Therefore, he thinks that theistic evolution is implicitly contradictory because it does not leave room for a creator. I would argue that this is true of Darwinian evolution, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to theistic evolution.
Macro-evolution may be summed up as “descent with modification.” The idea is that a change will occur in a creature’s genetic code. It will get passed on to its progeny. If this change makes the progeny superior to their competitors, those with the change will be more likely to reproduce than those without it – thus preserving the change. Such changes slowly accumulate over time until a creature is born that is fundamentally different than its ancestors – a new species.
The above may be an undirected process (aka Darwinism), or it may be divinely (or otherwise) directed. If one believes that there are stages in a naturalistic system that require intelligent guidance or supernatural assistance (e.g., abiogenesis, the origin of information, chirality, certain special physical features, or consciousness), the system could be described as theistic evolution. (Incidentally, adherents can believe that most species were created by the somewhat automatic evolutionary system and still believe that humans are a special creation.) To put it bluntly, theistic evolution is defined as macro-evolution that required divine assistance.
Again, I have no problem with Strobel not believing in theistic evolution. But by mischaracterizing that position to the BAM audience he made it more likely that those Christians will later mischaracterize it to others who will recognize that they don’t understand the position; this will make them, and by extension Christ, look bad.
We owe it to our Lord and to our unbelieving neighbors to think carefully about everything we believe and everything we do not believe. Anything less is not loving our God with all our minds.
(1) For the record, I respect Lee Strobel's work and have many of his books. His connection to apologetics is part of what causes my concern.
(2) I'm certainly not convinced.
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