Christian scholars largely agree on one thing. If a Biblical interpretation is not in accord with known facts, then that interpretation is wrong.
The Biblical Basis of Western Science by Father Stanley L. Jaki provides a Christian view of the relation between science and Christianity. Because so many of us are so ignorant of the Bible and history, we often do not appreciate differences between the worldview of Christians and non-Christians. Jaki does a good job of trying to bridge this gap in our understanding.
Of course, since Jaki is a Catholic priest he also promotes Catholicism, his preferred flavor of Christianity and a Catholic view of the Theory of Evolution (see Catholics and Evolution). What I find a bit surprising is Jaki’s enthusiasm for the Theory of Evolution.
It matters not that Darwin’s mechanism of evolution is incomplete. It may indeed be grievously faulty. It is always useful to learn about the latest fault lines in Darwinian theory, because its materialist champions love to present it as something scientifically faultless. But this leaves intact Darwin’s basic insight. Only those who are inclined to resist either facts or sane philosophy or both resist Darwin. Yet nothing supports evolution so strongly as sane philosophy and especially that biblical precept that everything God made is good and that he arranged everything according to measure, number, and weight. That Darwin failed to see this is largely irrelevant. Without any doubt he proposed his mechanism of evolution as a rebuttal to belief in God, who at that time, and certainly in Darwin’s broader ambiance, was equated with the God of innumerable special creations.
Jaki risks going from one extreme to the other. It is just as silly to use religion to affirm an unproven theory as it is to use religion to deny a proven scientific theory.
If it happened, then the process of evolution took millions of years, and we only have observational data from one point in that time. To acquire multiple data points, we depend upon fossil data. Is that data good enough to prove the theory? Some, like Jaki, say yes, but the interpretation of fossil data rests upon conjecture. Is this conjecture reasonable? Yes. Is the Theory of Evolution in accord with the known facts? It appears that it is, but we have never actually “evolved” anything.
Does believing the Theory of Evolution have any utility? Some say it does (here and here). Nevertheless, when we cannot actually evolve anything, how does either agreeing with the theory or disagreeing with the Theory of Evolution change anything? What practical reason do we have not to withhold judgment? When it gains us nothing (serves no clear purpose), what is the point of claiming the theory is a fact?
Evolutionary theory is the framework tying together all of biology. It explains similarities and differences between organisms, fossils, biogeography, drug resistance, extreme features such as the peacock’s tail, relative virulence of parasites, and much more besides. Without the theory of evolution, it would still be possible to know much about biology, but not to understand it.
This explanatory framework is useful in a practical sense. First, a unified theory is easier to learn, because the facts connect together rather than being so many isolated bits of trivia. Second, having a theory makes it possible to see gaps in the theory, suggesting productive areas for new research. (from here)
We understand biology? No. Nonetheless, our belief (or faith?) in the Theory of Evolution improves our understanding of biology by providing a plausible model that shows the relationship between different living things.
Let consider an analogy. Should we believe in the theory that a God who loves us exists? We have no quantitative evidence that proves such a God is real. We cannot execute a reproducible experiment that proves any God exists. We just have the wonder of the universe, a need that only God can fill, the Bible, and practical applications.
- The belief in a God who loves us provides a unified theory. A Creator God explains our origins and provides a purpose for our existence.
- A loving God makes it possible for us to have a moral system based on love. That has profound consequences on our behavior. In fact, that change in and of itself sustains the faith of many.
We understand God? No. Nonetheless, a loving God is consistent with what we do know. By providing a plausible model for the intelligent design of the universe, our faith in God improves our understanding of our own purpose. Because of this faith, we know God created us to love Him and each other.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (Today’s New International Version)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Think about that. The theory “evolved” into a fact. How did that happen?
When we put government in charge of our schools, then school standards become just another political football. Is that really a good thing?