Saturday, January 09, 2010

Uko Zylstra on Christianity and Evolution

Dr. Zylstra is the Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Calvin College, the eternal hotbed of progressive Christian thought, from which the writings of Davis Young, Howard van Till, Clarence Menninga and Terry Gray emanated in the 1970s and 1980s to shape the lives of theistic evolutionists everywhere. He has an editorial in Michigan Live on what it means to believe in God and yet also accept the evidence for evolution. He writes:
Often, as Christians and as scientists, we simply fall to our knees in gratitude for what God has revealed in nature and in his word, and in humility because of all we do not know. Yet as Christian scientists, we affirm the essential truth, revealed in the Scriptures and perceived through the eyes of faith, that God is the creator and sustainer of all things.

And we know that the created world is a form of God’s revelation to humankind.

For a biologist, this means the fossil record is a revelation that God has brought about a pattern of change throughout the history of God’s creation of living beings. Certainly, one basic feature God reveals in the fossil record is the world God created is a dynamic one with change (evolution) as a fundamental feature. This pattern of change is one of the basic meanings of evolution.
If I read my John Polkinghorne right, this is similar to his concept of a self-sustaining, evolving creation. This kind of thinking is in sharp contrast to that of people like creationist Todd Wood, who argues that a true walk with Jesus Christ renders the evidence of the natural world irrelevant. To my way of thinking (along with Polkinghorne, Kenneth Miller, Francis Collins and a whole host of other TEs) the evidence is almost as important as the walk with Christ because, as Miller put it, it reflects the mind of God. We can hardly walk with Christ and ignore his creation.

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