Thursday, October 22, 2009

Evolution and Evangelical Theology

Steve Martin, over at An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution, has a post about the acceptance of evolution by evangelican theologians. In it, he mentions a survey that was done for the BioLogos Foundation by Bruce Waltke in which acceptance of evolutionary and intelligent design explanations were polled. According to the survey, which is quite long, 264 evangelical professors rang in and answered the questions. Among the more surprising findings:
Fifth Barrier: Evolution is bad science because of YEC theory
Only 19% of the participants accept the scientific evidence such as those presented by ICR to defend a straight-forward reading of Genesis. This is especially surprising since some evangelical schools, such as Liberty University, require their faculty to adhere to YEC.
I, also, would have thought that this number would be higher, given the overwhelming prevalence of the YEC position in evangelical churches, school curricula and the evangelical public.
Seventh Barrier: ID refutes evolution
Those who contend for the theory of creation by the process of evolution must address the 37% that find intelligent design refutes evolution at the least on the molecular [sic—the word "level" is omitted here]. This position presumably garnered the support of a relatively larger ratio of the respondents than the arguments of ICR and RTB for several reasons: 1.) ID presents more credible scientific arguments, 2) is a better apologetic against naturalistic evolution; and 3) comports better with the Biblical data as a whole, such as belief in a Creator, the fixed speciation and the uniqueness of humankind.
On the other hand, that means that 63% have issues with the argument of Intelligent Design as made by I.D. purveyors. The author concludes thus:
First, this survey and the survey by Badger and Tenneson (see Appendix II) shatter the caricature of evangelicalism in the media and the populace as demanding the theory of YEC.
Correlatively, the fact that 46% can accept the theory of creation by evolution confirms my suspicion that on the issue of evolution one cannot speak of a typical evangelical theologian.
Third, the organizations seeking to refute evolution and/or to narrow the gap between creation and evolution must address one another with respect and openness to be optimally effective. The gap between BioLogos and ID, I suggest, can best be narrowed by open dialogue, not by entrenched confrontation.
It is easy for those of us that accept evolution to paint the entire evangelical community as being monolithic in this regard. It seems evident that the new atheists see it as such. This is refreshing and hopeful. Just as I said yesterday that, as an evolutionist, Richard Dawkins does not speak for me, I can also say today that, as a Christian, Henry Morris does not speak for me, either!

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