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Darwin was a natural science graduate of Cambridge University and a geologist. He was also a Christian.

Public’s Views on Human Evolution

Darwin did not intend to challenge religious beliefs with his book but many religious believers responded to it with fury. These reasons included:. These scientific theories were first put forward in the 19th century, when Christianity was an important influence on people's lives and the way they thought. Many people saw them as a direct attack on their faith. Charles Darwin faced criticism from people who could not accept what they saw as his 'anti-religious' ideas.

The Genesis creation story is at least 2, years old and was written when people lived completely different lives in an undeveloped environment. Answers to very difficult questions, such as how human life began, usually involved God because God was seen as the source and explanation for everything. The study of science was then largely unknown. Challenged by one of those patients, who asked "What do you believe, doctor?

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I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as "What is the meaning of life? I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments, and was astounded to discover, initially in the writings of the Oxford scholar C. Lewis and subsequently from many other sources, that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds. My earlier atheist's assertion that "I know there is no God" emerged as the least defensible.

As the British writer G.


Chesterton famously remarked, "Atheism is the most daring of all dogmas, for it is the assertion of a universal negative. But reason alone cannot prove the existence of God. Faith is reason plus revelation, and the revelation part requires one to think with the spirit as well as with the mind. You have to hear the music, not just read the notes on the page.

Ultimately, a leap of faith is required. For me, that leap came in my 27th year, after a search to learn more about God's character led me to the person of Jesus Christ. Here was a person with remarkably strong historical evidence of his life, who made astounding statements about loving your neighbor, and whose claims about being God's son seemed to demand a decision about whether he was deluded or the real thing. After resisting for nearly two years, I found it impossible to go on living in such a state of uncertainty, and I became a follower of Jesus. So, some have asked, doesn't your brain explode?

Can you both pursue an understanding of how life works using the tools of genetics and molecular biology, and worship a creator God? Aren't evolution and faith in God incompatible?

Creativity for Creationists

Can a scientist believe in miracles like the resurrection? Actually, I find no conflict here, and neither apparently do the 40 percent of working scientists who claim to be believers. Yes, evolution by descent from a common ancestor is clearly true. If there was any lingering doubt about the evidence from the fossil record, the study of DNA provides the strongest possible proof of our relatedness to all other living things.

But why couldn't this be God's plan for creation? True, this is incompatible with an ultra-literal interpretation of Genesis, but long before Darwin, there were many thoughtful interpreters like St.

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Augustine, who found it impossible to be exactly sure what the meaning of that amazing creation story was supposed to be. So attaching oneself to such literal interpretations in the face of compelling scientific evidence pointing to the ancient age of Earth and the relatedness of living things by evolution seems neither wise nor necessary for the believer. I have found there is a wonderful harmony in the complementary truths of science and faith.

The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome.

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God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory. By investigating God's majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship.

Scriptural Considerations

What is your take on this commentary? Augustine ultimately concluded that no human being really was going to be able to interpret the meaning of the creation story. Certainly Augustine would have argued that the current ultra-literal interpretations that lead to young earth creationism are not required by the text, and would have warned that such a rigid interpretation, regardless of what other evidence comes to the scene, could potentially be quite dangerous to the faith, in that it would make believers out to be narrow-minded and potentially subject to ridicule.

We have to recognize that our understanding of nature is something that grows decade by decade, century by century. To focus on a particular area of nature where our understanding remains incomplete and say, well, God must have done something miraculous in that spot, is actually, I think, to make God much too small. If God had a plan for creating a universe that was capable of resulting in creatures with intelligence, free will, the knowledge of right and wrong and the hunger to find God Almighty, I think it would be unfortunate for us to imagine that we can precisely figure out, with our tiny amount of information right now, exactly how God did it.

Despite the evidence presented and accepted by the vast majority of the scientific community that evolution through natural selection is the mechanism by which life developed on earth, an August poll by the Pew Research Center found that only about a quarter of the American public actually accepts evolution through natural selection. Why have scientists not been able to convince the vast majority of the American people on this particular issue? One is that, by its very nature, evolution is counterintuitive. The idea that a process over hundreds of millions of years could give rise to something as complicated as the vertebrate eye, for example, is not something that seems natural, normal or believable to one who has not worked through the details.

That is because our minds are very poor at contemplating something that happened so slowly over such a long period of time.

Before you continue...

And so, the alternative arguments for supernatural design appeal to a lot of people. And so, many people have never really seen the evidence to support evolution. And the third problem, of course, is that in some faith traditions, evolution seems to be a threat to the idea that God did it.

But certainly, some conservative Christian churches have had trouble embracing that conclusion, as it does seem to contradict a number of their views about how humanity came to be. Thus, people who have natural skepticism about the overall process, who have not had a decent science education to teach them why evolution actually makes sense and who have heard in Sunday school or from the pulpit that this theory is actually a threat to their faith, have a very hard time accepting, even after years, that evolution is true.

How can scientists — especially scientists who are religious believers, like yourself — do a better job of reaching out to these people and convincing them that these findings are not a threat to their faith? They have heard many times since they first came to church as a child that the creationist view is part and parcel of belief in God. And in fact, there will be strong resistance to even looking closely at that information because of the fear of what it might lead to.

I also think that those of us who are interested in seeking harmony here have to make it clear that the current crowd of seemingly angry atheists, who are using science as part of their argument that faith is irrelevant, do not speak for us. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens do not necessarily represent the consensus of science; 40 percent of scientists are believers in a personal God.

A lot more are rather uncomfortable about the topic but certainly would not align themselves with a strong atheistic perspective. To the extent that it can be made clear that the assault on faith, which has been pretty shrill in the last couple of years, is coming from a fringe — a minority — and is not representative of what most scientists believe, that would help defuse the incendiary rhetoric and perhaps allow a real conversation about creation.

Have they come up with anything in your view that supports those arguments? And the awareness of those flaws might be reassuring to believers who are somehow afraid that these guys may actually have a point.

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The first of those is the idea that anyone could use science at all as a conversation-stopper, as an argument-ender in terms of the question of God. Science is limited in that its tools are only appropriate for the exploration of nature.

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