God, Darwin, and Philosophers
Monkeys, not withstanding…
I just watched the 1960 film Inherit the Wind, directed by Stanley Kramer based on a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee. The story is the fictionalization of the 1925 “Scopes monkey trial” that pitted Darwin’s Theory of Evolution against The Bible.
The final scene is the big payoff for James Strickling. In that one scene near the end, Spencer Tracy, playing the attorney who defended the teacher jailed for teaching evolution to his students, picks up Darwin’s book in one hand and the Bible in the other. He holds them out as though to weigh them, then slaps both books together and slips them into his briefcase.
“The point the authors were trying to make is that science and faith do not have to be mutually exclusive for those who value both,” says Strickling, author of the book Man and His Planet.
As far as reads go, it’s actually better than most in this category. The refreshing part is that Strickling spends more time with his pure philosophical view than with point-on-point biblical references.
“I don’t believe that scientists should try to use science to invalidate faith for those who believe, and neither should believers use faith to cancel out science. If you study both closely enough, you’ll discover like I did that there are elements of both that actually support the other,” he says. “Both Darwinists and Creationists treat their points of view as dogma, which is not to be conjoined with any other belief system.”
Strickling’s challenge is relevant to a logical and rational discussion where emotion often fills all the open spaces. Darwinists and Creationists need to lower their guards just long enough to see that Darwinism and evolution are not one and the same, nor is everything that Creationists say biblical (e.g., Young Earth).
Unfortunately, Strickling can’t resist the temptation of rolling out his biblical “proof” for his point of view, most of which is laced with unnecessary apologetics and tiresome contradictions. Nevertheless, I applaud his effort on the main thrust of his argument that one must view science and faith with an open mind. When you do, as I have, you find that the Bible appears to compliment many aspects scientific theory.
For instance, I have found that description of God’s creation of the universe and the generally accepted theory of “big bang” appear to describe the same event. “Let there be light,” and BOOM, out pops every last grain of matter in the entire universe from a singularity: infinitely small, infinitely dense, and infinitely hot. Kinda brings out the geek in me when I hear physicists describe what came before – the alpha vacua – the original emptiness of space – and how the one great singularity suddenly upacked all of the matter of the known universe in a matter of SECONDS. How weird that science so perfectly fits God’s description of the first “day” of creation. Makes me wonder if there are other ways that science verifies Biblical truth. What of Adam? What of Eve? But there I go with my own quasi-science, quasi-theological theory.
I most certainly agree with Strickling that there is no more need to demonize science than there is to impugn God (or the faith) for things that seem irrational to scientists (or Atheists posing as scientists). Preoccupied by what the sciences say about the natural world, many Christians miss what God says about His world. Do we need more “objective interpretation” to comprehend matters of our faith? I believe that we Christians should be wary of our urge to deconstruct everything in the secular world. If you need more than what has been given to you by Christ (Matthew 13:11), I suggest a reading of On Looking Into the Abyss by G Himmelfarb.
My faith stands on its own merit. Jesus doesn’t need my validation so that grace stands apart from an imaginative philosopher armed with new revelations. More important, God has reason enough for all things. Darwin can take care of himself.