One of the struggles within modern Christianity is that to be academically respected, to get the accolades of academia and the intelligentsia, one needs to pay at least some regards to scientific questions. Now it takes two too tango, and the problem with Christianity and science is that they often step on each other’s toes. Can evolution fit into Scripture? Can science offer decisive answers on text critical matters? What can science say and what can’t it say?
We live in a society, which to say the least, highly values scientific input on very important questions including questions of origins (evolution), questions of gender, and questions of faith and life. To state an extreme, Carl Sagan states in “the Demon-Haunted World”: “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” It is common to place God’s Word under the microscope of science, it is a lot more rare to put science under the microscope of God’s Word. Maybe it is because much of science is observable. Yes, the data is observable, but the assumptions are not.
But most people are more balanced than Carl Sagan. Still, science is important. Jordan B. Peterson, a man whose work I am highly appreciative of, and the defender of a traditional understanding of gender, holds to evolutionary theory over against Scriptural truth. Even closer to the heart of Christianity, many Christians and even members of Reformed Churches have sought to intertwine the narratives of Christianity and evolution. For example, the Reformed Academics present their work here. I encourage you to read their work, and not to only think about the phenomenological/observable points they are trying to make, but more importantly consider the philosophical moorings of these points, and then the Scriptural and doctrinal implications of those philosophical moorings.
So science plays a major role. But I find it interesting that Jordan B. Peterson, a man who holds to evolutionary theory, also recognizes the importance of bringing psychology and literature back into universities. Once there becomes a balance in the disciplines, I would argue that he might find that evolutionary theory is less appealing than he once thought it was. But again, assumptions must be challenged.
Scientific inquiry is supposed to focus on the data, but often it has turned to challenge the Scriptures. If not directly, then indirectly. This does not mean that scientific inquiry is incompatible with Scripture. No, on the other hand, it can work excellently within a Scriptural framework. Scripture outlines the origins of the world, the origins of sin, and the need for a Savior. Scripture is not simply a theological treatise, but it is a history of God’s revelation in time. Science operates within this as a fascination with the details, an eye for the data, a love for a world spoken into existence by the Word of God. A good scientist is a king: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” (Prov. 25:2)
If you reject the authority of Scripture, then all you get is the reason of the enlightenment. Or you get the science of our day and age. But when you begin to analyze the epistemological (meaning the basis of knowledge) foundations of science and reason, without the revelation of God in Scripture, you will find that evolution rests on a shaky foundation. And God’s Word must be accepted as an authority in this enterprise.
I have found attempts to combine the narratives of Genesis with evolution interesting. But I believe that many of them at best are based on doubt. Jesus shows grace to those who doubt, but sometimes we just have to chalk up this doubt to unbelief.
Of course, you could also call my challenges to evolutionary theory ‘doubt’. Which could also be called unbelief in science. First of all, I don’t have much to lose by not believing in evolutionary theory (except for academic accolades, which isn’t much compared to the joy of knowing Christ). Second, I simply don’t see how it coheres within itself or how it corresponds to reality. On the other hand, the more I read evolutionists and creationists, I realize more and more that 6-day creation coheres within itself and corresponds to reality. I also realize that it is impossible to intertwine the Scriptures with evolution without hedging on crucial doctrines and losing the historical nature of the Old Testament in murky hermeneutics (the art of interpreting Scripture) and even murkier exegesis (the art of discerning the meaning of the text).
God is gracious when people come to Jesus struggling with unbelief and have a deep and hearty desire to know the truth, even if they are wresting with academic and scientific questions that have left them stumped. I am not without questions when it comes to how science and Scripture can work together, but I know I must turn to Christ even when I struggle to make sense of everything. I also know that because everything coheres in Christ, I don’t have to fear studying some of the tougher questions that surround science and faith, and I don’t always have to walk away with all the answers. But I am more than willing to be called unacademic because I won’t bow before the modern idol of science. God’s Word is a much more reliable authority than the shaky philosophical foundations that underlie evolutionary theory.