Edited By Leslyn Kim
I plan to close out the previous three part blog series with some brief thoughts. As I stated from the beginning, I’m not really interested in making a case for any one of the three theories (Theistic Evolution, Progressive Creationism, Creationism) even though I have personal preferences. Instead, I want to make the case that all three are not only “right”, but acceptable to believe for any Christian – from rigid fundamentalist to free-spirited science fanatics that happen to be Christians. Before that however, I would like to share real statistical evidence of what’s happened to the church’s image as it’s evolved into more rigid positions on creation.
A Barna study done exclusively on the Millennial generation (A.K.A. – Generation Y: born 1980′s to 2000′s) has received much attention in the press recently (Christian and secular) for several different reasons. One reason being the indifference of Millennials toward organized religion and their well documented exit from American churches. For that reason, many in their generation have been labeled by mainstream media as “Nones” . The term Nones, is a relatively new title given to a growing number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation. While the nones, are not relegated to one generational demographic it is worth noting that approximately one-third of nones are Millennials.
The Barna study, which appears in a new book titled You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church explores why young adults are leaving the church at such a rapid rate. While many of the points revealed in the Barna study are interconnected, one stands out as a more relevant sticking point regarding the relationship between Christianity and science . Young people believe churches are anti-science. And why do they say this?
a) The most common gripe is that “Christians are too confident they know the answers” (35%)
b) Christians are not in-sync with the scientific world (29%)
c) Christians are anti-science (25%)
d) Turned off by the creation vs. evolution debate
The study also revealed that many science-minded individuals struggle to work in their scientific careers while staying faithful to their beliefs.
While the problem of science vs. religion is not necessarily the primary cause behind why many in the younger generation refuse to attend churches, it is a problem.
On that note, I think it’s fitting to quote the writer from another blog that I found incredibly insightful on this very topic . In that article the author makes the following argument:
“For many, there is a fear that their faith will be eroded, and that if science is given one inch, that it will take a mile and lead one down a path that destroys faith. If you feel that way, here is a question for you. Do you have faith that God is bigger than any of the questions or challenges you face? If you believe that, then you have nothing to fear from scientific engagement.
For those in the church who fear what science uncovers whether in regards to human biology, how the earth came into existence, or anything else, please understand a few things (and science here is a very, very broad term encompassing a plethora of sciences):
- Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. Science examines, uncovers, and hypothesizes about the “how” questions of life, but they cannot answer, nor do they seek to answer the “why” questions of life.
- The Bible is a unique book, but it is not a science book or a history book by modern standards. It is an ancient text that was not meant to be read through modern categories/understanding. It reveals truth in many ways, but not always or exclusively in a literal, face-value sense.
- Advances in physics, astronomy, and other sciences are actually uncovering mystery. Science is showing us that there are things in the universe that we cannot explain or understand. Science is actually showing us in some ways that there are some things greater than we can comprehend, allowing space for God.”
I’ll close by answering the two questions that I posed at the end of each blog in this three part series, of course with my own opinions (disclaimer) – LOL.
1) “How can you claim that the bible is inerrant and infallible yet question the creation account?”
2) “And, how does the particular approach that one embraces affect his/her relationship with Jesus”
More important than the question posed above, or more than any other question that could be posed surrounding the creation account is the central belief that Jesus is the son of God and was raised on the third day (Romans 10:9-10). That he was God in the form of a man (Philippians 2:5-8), and died on the cross for our iniquities (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
The most important theme behind the Genesis creation account is not the “how” behind the process by which the world was created, but the “Who”. Okay, okay, I borrowed that from a kiddie video that discusses creation, but I thought it was amazingly simple, but profound. If all of the stories in the bible are really only designed to point us back to God and his Son, then that’s where our greatest focus should remain. When we turn our eyes, our time, or focus toward trying to solve something far too lofty, we can inadvertently turn our focus away from God and his Son. In other words, if God is truly pleased by us “getting it right”, then the greater focus must always remain on him. Therefore, if you believe with all of your heart, mind and soul that the Bible should only be interpreted through a literal lens and that sharpens your focus on Christ, then that’s great. On the contrary, if Progressive Creationism, and Theistic Evolution deepen your faith and cause you to wonder in awe at God, his creation, the genius behind science which he has created, then that’s great too.
I don’t find the logic above to be relativistic or compromising the least bit either, which would probably stoke the fire of a literal fundamentalist.
The truth is, everyone who believes in the bible believes that God is responsible for the creation of all things. Yet, no one can claim with absolute certainty that they know every intricate detail of how God executed his plan. If they did, then it would only cheapen their need for a savior, who’s sovereign plan (including the why’s and how’s of creation) is greater and more vast than any of our feeble minds can comprehend. That and so many other things equally lofty are reserved for God (Psalm 131:1).
Perhaps one of the keys to attracting young Christians back to the church is approaching difficult topics like – how the world was created with a similar humility and openness.