Do we miss the point of an evolution debate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
While I was watching on Facebook an atheist and a Christian debating evolution, I started pondering what was being argued. Both came from a position where this was a dealbreaker. If you disprove evolution, lo and behold, there’s God! If you prove evolution, lo and behold, God is out of a job!
Looking at that, one question comes to mind.
For us, is that all God is? Is He just a fill-in-the-gap and if a naturalistic process comes along, then God is done? That’s not really a worthwhile way to see God.
For the atheist, isn’t it the same then? God is just a placeholder until we have something else that can take His place. Again, not worthwhile.
Both sides also treat the material world as a given to some extent. An atheist can say it’s a brute fact and the Christian seems to go along with it. The Christian can say “Yeah, we agree on the Big Bang Theory (Unless they are YEC), but after that, it’s all God.”
I don’t doubt that’s an imperfect representation, but there are similarities.
However, not only is matter treated as a given, it looks like both sides also treat existence itself as a given. The atheist says “The natural world is here and you have to prove a supernatural world.” (I am using terms that they use. For reasons why I don’t use the term “supernatural”, see here.) The Christian seems to too often buy into that and thinks he has to accept the material world as is.
The problem is this isn’t God being argued. This is the demiurge.
If you’re not familiar with that, it comes from Plato where the demiurge is a being invoked in a dialogue of Plato’s called Timaeus. This is a being that does not create matter so much as he just takes it and shapes it and makes what needs to be done. Implicitly if Christians accept this, we are arguing for a lesser god.
From the perspective of Aquinas, we need to go and ask about existence itself. The material world is not a given. It needs to be explained. Existence is not a given. It needs to be explained. If you can take the concept of God and remove it from your theology and still have something that exists, you did not have a true concept of God.
This is not to say you shouldn’t argue for or against evolution. That being said, if you want to argue against, let evolution fall scientifically. If it is bad science, that will happen. The main point is to know what kind of God you are arguing about.
If you are not arguing for the demiurge God, then your opponent has to give an account for everything to change your mind. Everything. He has to explain the universe, morality, numbers, ideas, and even the very fact of existence itself.
That’s quite a tall order.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)