Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in an oddly named newspaper — the Algona Upper Des Moines of Algona, Iowa (population 5,560). What we found isn’t really a letter. It looks like the latest installment of a local feature called Ask the Pastor. We’ll treat it as a letter-to-the-editor.
This thing is titled How do Christians account for evolution? We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Although we usually omit the writer’s name and city, this time we’ll mention that the author is described as “Rev. Jason Peterson, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Burt and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Whittemore.” Those are two Iowa towns. Burt’s population is 533, and Whittemore’s population is 504
The rev is writing in response to this question: “How do Christians resolve the idea of evolution with the Bible’s account of creation in Genesis? Is it possible to reconcile these two ideas or much [sic] one choose between them?” If the rev is attempting to reconcile those two ideas, this could be fun. Okay, here we go:
Soon after Charles Darwin published his ideas of natural selection, Christians began to contemplate how it should be received in light of the Genesis creation account and to formulate responses to this new theory. Some Christians ardently objected to the contradiction, preferring the Genesis account, refusing to even study or evaluate evolutionary theory in light of its disagreement with Scripture’s record. Others simply accepted the evolutionary proposition as fact, disregarding the Biblical account as myth or symbolism in the process.
Later, some arose who attempted to reconcile the two in a concept called Theistic Evolution. This attempt accepts the premise of species, even man, occurring by means of evolution, but gives God the credit for orchestrating the process.
Those three positions are quite common today. But the rev has given the matter a great deal of thought, and he doesn’t like any of them. He says:
All of the responses mentioned so far have their difficulties, though: For Christians to simply disregard scientific research is problematic, because it gives the appearance of anti-intellectualism and drives Christians to mere belief. For Christians to uncritically adopt a scientific position that forces them to disregard Scripture is also problematic, because it leaves no reason to affirm anything in Scripture as true.
Aside from the fact that your Curmudgeon hates the word “problematic,” that’s a pathetic description of the options. We agree with the rev about the anti-intellectual rejection of science which some denominations demand, but how can he contrast that with a position that requires one to “uncritically adopt a scientific position.” Hey Rev: That’s why we have schools, so people can learn things and then make educated decisions.
But wait — what about theistic evolution? The rev doesn’t like that either, and he tells us why:
Theistic Evolution likewise has inconsistencies which make it an unsatisfying option for the Christian. The foundational problem with theistic evolution is that it abandons a single human couple as the parents of all humanity — and therefore undermines the foundational concepts of salvation and sin in Christianity.
He’s right — theistic evolution is still evolution, and therefore there’s no Adam & Eve. The rev sees that as a huge problem — maybe even problematic! Then he says:
If God guided the process of evolution so as to produce humanity rather than creating man as a distinct act, then one must discern exactly which generation marked the transition from a former species (lacking an immortal, spiritual, existence; not accountable to God for actions) to humanity (having an immortal soul and accountable to God for actions).
An astute observation! That’s the key to understanding all forms of evolution, theistic or otherwise. The rev is a deep thinker. So what’s his solution? It’s coming soon, but we should take the time to note how the rev arrives at his solution. He doesn’t tell us that he consulted any science text, nor did he contact a university to consult with anyone on the faculty. Then how does he resolve this problem?
It appears to us that the rev digs deep into his own spiritual nature for the answer. Maybe that’s the best way to decide such things. Sometimes these small town preachers have a lot of wisdom. We know you’re impatient to learn of the rev’s insight, so let’s read on:
A reasonable path in dealing with evolution as a Christian seems to be to affirm Darwin’s observable and repeatable explanations of change within species (called micro-evolution) while denying his unobservable, unrepeatable proposal of evolution across species (called macro-evolution).
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s the micro-macro mambo. We recently discussed that here: Creationist Wisdom #352: Micro-Macro. The rev continues:
Modern research is indicating numerous instances where evolution does not adequately explain many natural phenomena, and while science cannot tell us who is responsible, it is becoming more and more evident that nature shows evidence of design.
Aaaargh!! Here’s how he finishes:
It is ultimately unwise and inappropriate for Christians to pose an adversarial relationship between science and faith, because it does justice to neither. It is also not necessary for Christians to attempt to compromise between the two. Instead, Christians affirm well-researched science and its conclusions, while questioning agenda-driven or poorly considered theories.
We were hoping for some comforting, small-town, home-spun wisdom. Instead we got something that could have been written by Ken Ham. Maybe it was. Nice try, rev.
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