For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Monday, August 22, 2016

...because of evolution

Many times the reason that people will say that they are atheists is because "of evolution". Science, they argue, is reasonable. Because science has "proven" the theory of evolution, God does not exist.
How should one respond?

Three Preliminary Thoughts

Before we consider some possible responses, it is important to keep several things in mind.
First, science is a noble and good profession. Science is not opposed to Biblical Christianity. In fact, it is a part of our calling to have dominion over the earth. The research and discovery of how things work in the physical world is part of what Christians should be engaged in. Scientists sometimes resist the answer of "God" because it seems to short-circuit their efforts to determine how or why something works. "The sky is blue because God made it that way" may be true enough, but the scientist wants to discover why it is blue, what makes it blue, and what can be learned about its "blueness." 

Second, it is important to remember that the "theory of evolution" is a cosmological theory that seeks to explain the phenomena presented to us. It is not "science" in the sense that it can be replicated in laboratory. It may be a widely accepted theory, but it cannot be proven by science in the same way that scientists can prove that water boils at 100. So don't be intimidated. Atheistic evolution is more of an ideology than it is "scientific."

Third, remember the opening sentence of the Bible. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Those words are important. We want to help our friend see that a Creator better explains the world around us than whatever theory he currently holds. At this stage, you are not trying to prove the Bible to be true or whether the creation of the world happened exactly like Genesis 1. You are attempting to open him up to the possibility that a Creator God exists.

Three Possible Directions

The theory of evolution seeks to explain how the world as we know it came into existence. There are a number of ways that you can begin to talk about creation in a way that calls into question whether atheistic evolution best explains what we know about the world. These are three of the ways I approach the conversation.

The Problem of the Beginning

Evolution is a naturalistic theory. It assumes that there is no God and that what exists is matter that has combined in various way over eons of time.
But where did the matter come from? Think about it:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for it coming into being.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore the universe has a cause for its coming into being.
Many variations of the Big Bang Theory of origins postulate that the universe came into existence. Therefore, there had to be a cause for it coming into being.

Or consider this idea: The universe at this moment is the result of the previous moment. And that moment is the result of its previous moment and so on to...infinity. Will you ever reach the end of that series of "previous moments"? No. And if each moment is dependent on its previous moment, then where is the first moment in the series? It doesn't exist. You see, for the present moment to exist, there had to have been an original first moment. The past simply does not exist into infinity. It has to have a beginning. And that beginning means that there was a cause outside of the universe. An infinite being. God.
Atheistic evolutionary theory does not explain the world as we know it. There must be something else that explains how the universe came into existence.

The Problem of How and Why

The scientific study of the Mona Lisa would yield many fascinating insights.
The adherence of the various paints to the wood could be analysed. The wood itself could be looked at to determine, place of origin and shrinkage. The makeup of the pigments could
be researched with their elements carefully catalogued. The layers of paints could be dissected. All of this would be good and interesting. In the case of necessary restoration it would be incredibly valuable knowledge.

But none of this would really answer the question of how the object came into existence. Nor would it explain why it exists. The existence of the Mona Lisa can only be explained by the existence of a painter. 

In the same way, the universe around us can be studied. We can delve into the depths of cellular structure and analyse the amazing informational code found in DNA. We can gaze into the stars and count a multitude of galaxies. But none of this answers the questions "how" and "why". The existence of the incredible universe demands a creator, a painter if you will, to explain the how and the why of its order and beauty.

The Problem of Moral Values

In a naturalistic system, all that exists is matter that has combined in a variety of ways. Somehow some of this matter began to "live" and interact with its environment. Random mutations developed and some mutations thrived while others were less efficient and died off. The process of natural selection determined that the best adaptations survived. This has led to a wide variety of plant and animal life.

The problem is that, when all is said and done, all that exists is matter in a variety of forms. There is no rational explanation for the value of life. If all that exists is matter, what makes your friend more valuable than a rock? Why is punching your friend in the face wrong, but kicking a rock down the street is acceptable? Remember, all that exists is matter!

Some would argue that punching a person is "wrong" because social customs exist which help the human race survive. They are an evolutionary adaptation. But this doesn't explain why we intuitively consider living beings as more valuable than inert matter.
In fact, it would easily be argued that if the evolutionary process depends on the adaptation and the survival of those most fit, then murder and war are simply means of eliminating the weaker among us and speeding the evolutionary process! This we know intuitively is wrong thinking. But atheistic evolution cannot explain why.

True moral values must come from a being outside of the system. The existence of these moral absolutes are evidence that there is a something (a Creator) outside of the naturalistic system.

A Final Thought

When I am talking to someone who claims to be an atheist because of evolution, my goal is not to convince them that evolution itself is wrong. Instead, my purpose is to try to open their mind to the possibility that a Creator is a better explanation for the world around us. I want them to consider that perhaps the evidence around them points to theism rather than atheism. For the atheist, that is where the journey begins. As they begin the journey toward God, my prayer is that they will discover God Himself. And when they do, they will suddenly realise that that the creation is a declaration of his glory and that He is seen most clearly in the person of Jesus.

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