If macroevolution was true, would that destroy Christianity? Let’s discuss it today on Deeper Waters.
On the Facebook page supporting Mike Licona, there has been discussion about the work of Peter Enns. I do not know enough about that at this moment to comment on that. However, in discussing all of that, the question has been raised about the role of science in interpreting Scripture and what it would mean if macroevolution was true.
Please note in all of this that I am not stating whether macroevolution is in fact true or false. Frankly, I am not a scientist and do not know enough about the scientific study to make a proper assessment of the data. What I simply wish to ask is if it would be a defeater for Christian theism if it was found to be true. Note what it would take is to prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead.
I think much of the problem is that we moderns read Genesis in a way the ancients would not have. We are so scientific that we read it as if it was a scientific account. This is a mistake old-earth and young-earth creationists both make. The question we should be asking is why did God include it and why would the ancients care?
To begin with, is God telling us something just to satisfy our intellectual curiosity? No. The Bible is a book meant to tell us about Jesus and not to tell us superfluous truths. In all of this, the creation account is meant only secondarily to tell us something about creation but primarily to tell us about God.
For the people, knowing the time it took to create would not help them in their debates with pagans. Then what? Could it be that the accounts were written more to show the purpose of creation? If so, then God is using something like storytelling in a unique way to us, but something ancients would have understood.
But what if I am wrong and in fact the Bible is wrong? Well my being wrong would not be the first time, but a lot of Christians would have a problem with the Bible being wrong. I do not think that it is, but as a believer in Inerrancy, I would have to certainly rethink some matters, but I would not throw out the baby with the bathwater. More on this in a bit.
What if someone presumes evolution and comes to the Genesis text and interprets it in that light? The reality is we all do something similar. We come to the text that speaks about the four corners of the Earth in Revelation, but due to knowing the world is not flat, and knowing that the ancients knew that, we know it means something else. We know of texts that seem to teach that the Earth cannot be moved, but due to our knowledge of heliocentrism, we know that that understanding would be false.
If we want to know if evolution is true, then the place to go is a science lab. Let us suppose you say “We have Scripture and Scripture teaches it is not.” Fair enough. Then you should want to open the doors to the science lab and be able to say “Do your best research and in the end you will find that it does not hold up.” If you take a stance of not wanting to examine the evidence, then I would question how much faith you really have that the Scripture is true.
If on the other hand, you are evangelical and believe macroevolution is true, you should also be willing to say “Bring forth your toughest objections!” After all, if your belief is true, it will stand up to scrutiny. If you do not want to open yourself up, then the same question applies though to your science instead.
Now we return to this. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that macroevolution is true. Furthermore, let us suppose for the sake of argument that Scripture is incompatible with this, thus demonstrating that Scripture has an error. Again, I do not think this. I am merely taking the worst-case scenario.
Even here, Christianity is safe.
Why? One mistake does not prove it all false. For instance, Scripture teaches that Jesus existed. Are we going to deny what all scholars of the NT and ancient history would affirm just because the Bible would not be inerrant? Well then you ask, “How do we know what’s true in it?”
Let me ask you. How do you know what’s true on the internet? How do you know what’s true on TV? How do you know what’s true in that book you’re reading? If the answer is “Well I examine the evidence and I go where it leads,” then congratulations on answering your own question. We’d study the Bible the same way we do Tacitus, Josephus, or anything else.
Thus, we can believe that the Pauline epistles do contain a strong case based on the 1 Cor. 15 creed that Jesus rose from the dead alongside the information we have in Galatians. Because Genesis would be wrong, it does not follow that Paul has to be wrong. We also need to realize that people were arguing for the resurrection before any epistles or gospels were written.
In conclusion, this leaves Christianity in a powerful position. We can take what is assumed to be a defeater for our faith and show it is not. We could even for the sake of argument grant contradictions in the Bible and still demonstrate that Jesus rose from the dead. After all, we do believe for a great miracle, God left great evidence. Indeed He did, even if it was through fallible men who made mistakes.