Last December I was at a Christmas party with some members of a new church I have been attending. The discussion turned to evolution (for whatever reason), and one gentleman commented “I can’t believe I had been lied to for so long. They tell you in school that evolution is true and you just accept it. I didn’t know the truth until I became a Christian.” (or something to that degree) Everyone heartily agreed with this gentleman. Being the new guy, I smiled and nodded and kept my mouth shut, but in the back of my mind I wanted to ask “Why would it matter?”
Evolution is a prime example of fundamentalism gone wrong. For those of you familiar with the Scopes Monkey Trial and William Bryan Jennings, the issues of creationism and evolution were brought to a head in a very public trial. While creationism won the day, Clarance Darrow proved that there is something fundamentally wrong with anti-intellectualism. So why does it still exist?
Galileo Galilee once said “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” Amen! Yet here we are, four hundred years later and the church is still being drug like a sack of potatoes by the discoveries of science into a new era. Rather than coming along side science, the Church resists it, as if science were a kryptonite against belief in God. During Galileo’s age, it was the centrality of the sun; today it is the evolution of man. Why is it so difficult for Christians to incorporate the findings of science, such as with the theory of evolution (which I believe to be a valid scientific theory), with faith?
And why do I ask this question? Because I believe that God is a personal God and seeks to be in a relationship with us, but when people ask me about God, the issue of evolution always creeps in and the alienation begins. It’s like we are asking people to check their brains at the door and accept evolution as a global conspiracy against the church in order to come to faith in God, and the fallout of that alienation is huge. The communication gaps widen and debates turn into shouting matches, the judgmentalism grows, and the Church is viewed by secular society as intellectually inferior, thus not worth examining. As a result, the Church becomes the red-headed stepchild of Western society and continues its decline. A theology that does not incorporate science with faith will continue to alienate the people that choose to use their God-given abilities of reason, and that must change!
So allow me to offer an apology on behalf of the Christian church for our anti-intellectualism. The Bible is not a science book, yet there are plenty within my faith community that mistakenly use it as such. I believe that Genesis should be read with spiritual eyes, not literally, for Genesis demonstrates our alienation from God and how we all need divine help to make it through the day.