About a year or so ago, I attended a “Science and Faith” symposium at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. All of the panel members, representing five or six different religious faiths, were quite clear that they supported all of the tenets of evolutionary biology. When a question was asked (by a member of the largely atheistic audience) how they could support the notion of Imago Dei when “science” has shown that human beings are merely another species in an unbroken line of primate evolution, the Protestant minister on the panel answered that “created in the image of God” should probably not be restricted to human beings but reinterpreted to mean all living creatures.
I scanned the other panelists (including a Catholic priest, and a prominent member of ASA) for any sign of the shock that I felt at hearing this, and saw none. It was a revelatory moment. Many of us here have wondered aloud (meaning in print) exactly what kind of theology theistic evolution holds when it comes to the manner by which (or even if) God works in the world. I sometimes worry (as I did that evening) that there tends to be a sense of retreat, among some TEs, from basic Christian beliefs in the face of an advancing “Science”. The problem is that in most cases it isn’t science that’s advancing, but scientism that is being advanced.
There is no scientific basis for the concept that human beings are merely another species in the evolution of primates. The scientific evidence to the contrary is so vast, and so obvious that it’s impossible to relate. The best I could is say that a similar panel session of highly educated academic Orangutans or even Chimps has not, to my knowledge, ever considered the issue.
On another occasion I was astonished to hear a very prominent biologist claim that DNA is not really an informational molecule, in an attempt to discredit ID. I am not fond of ID myself, but DNA is an informational molecule, and saying it isn’t for the sake of ideological correctness is just wrong.
My point is simple. Yes, let us indeed struggle to interpret Biblical text and Christian theology in the context of scientific knowledge, but in doing so, I plead that we be certain we are speaking of real science, and not the claptrap we are fed from self-appointed, largely militant atheist preachers of fake science, such as evolutionary psychology.
The good news is that if we are careful and rigorous, we will find that our task is not as difficult as some would have us believe. Because God did in fact create the world, and does in fact continue to guide the evolutionary and creative process, as He continues to guide each of us, so the evidence of His work is there to be discovered. I suggest boldness rather than retreat. Science is not to be feared but revered: it is the method God has given us to uncover His mysterious world. And let’s never forget that the knowledge we have gained of this world, by His grace, includes not only the laws of motion, mechanics, and physiology, but the impenetrable mysteries of quantum mechanics, the observer effect, Godel’s theorem, fractals, the uncertainty principle and photosynthesis, to name a few. Real science is totally consonant with God’s impenetrable glory and majesty. Real science points us to the Creator, and not away from Him. Real science is a boon and an aid to real theology, and we must not make the mistake of rejecting the reality of God’s words and works for the sake of trying to accommodate any science that isn’t real.
I will close with a Jewish folk tale. A poor old couple, who had no food and no money arrived home on the Sabbath to find a table magically spread with golden plates piled with food and silver goblets of wine. The woman told her husband to touch nothing. “This is the work of Satan”, she said. They went to consult the Rabbi, who told them. “It may be the work of Satan, or it may be a miracle from God”.
“But how can we tell, Rabbi?”
“Taste the wine, and try some of the food. If it’s real, and its good, then it’s a miracle of God, for all things that are real in this world are from God, while Satan makes only falsehoods.” Amen.