Beyond evolution and Christianity

I have really appreciated this space and many of the posters here and of course Joshua’s effort to engage.

I think that origins conflicts are not the only science challenges of the targeted groups. I honestly do not see a way to harmonize science with plain reading proponents and those leaning/committed towards those hermeneutics.

Any thoughts of progressing and addressing the other conflicts while not maintaining peace with those ways of reading the bible and living out the Christian faith?

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I think a negation may have snuck into your sentence;
NOT maintaining peace is the easy part. :slight_smile:

Most Christians don’t have any problems between their faith and science. I think they recognise that each has its own purpose. Those other folks are having increasing difficulties with the fact that science works well within its own realm, and it works really well.

We are witnessing a sort of perfect storm for the plain readers, as science and politics drive them to double down on their beliefs. It can’t last. Arguments against reality do not end well. We need to be prepared to “catch” those falling away from those beliefs, and treat them gently until they can find a new set of beliefs to guide them.

It CAN get worse before that happens, and it might. We didn’t get into our current mess overnight, and setting things right will take generations.


Possibly. But when you say that origins conflicts are “not the only science challenges of the targeted groups,” what do you think those other science challenges are? Are you thinking about things like anthropogenic global warming, which are often rejected by the same people who reject evolution but which don’t have specific Biblical-interpretation-driven conflict underlying them?

My first priority is the statements (or claims) within Scripture that have significant scientific evidence against them or total lack of evidence for them (like the flood).

Ancillary positions such as those on climate change and vaccines are also problematic.

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The Flood is quite literally arguing against the laws of physics. I think that sort of argument must eventually burn itself out in futility.

Problematic, and harmful. Belief in a global flood is essentially harmless. Denying the need for vaccines and the effects of climate change is killing people. Appeals to compassion have no effect, which seems like a very un-Christian attitude. I am aware of groups of Christians who feel the same way.


I just don’t run into those, much. The flood comes up, of course, because there’s considerable overlap between people who accept a global flood and people who are creationists. But it seems to come up more as a field of argument within creationism than as a point of contention in its own right. I think that there are a lot of strange things which the Bible attests to which people don’t regard as the linchpin of their faith, and consequently just don’t attach a lot of importance to. Who cares if Balaam’s ass spoke, so long as there was someone to light a match afterwards? I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone really get wound up arguing about it.

The difficulty, of course, for a lot of things is that localized miraculous one-offs do not so much conflict with science as they simply find no confirmation in science – but that’s true for lots of non-miraculous occurrences, too, because much in history cannot be tested and can only be recovered from written accounts. And so while the believer in Biblical inerrancy may believe as strongly in the tale of Balaam’s ass as in the first chapters of Genesis, the former isn’t testable.

So much of the anti-science nonsense seems to hinge upon the combination of the “plain reading” habit and a really strict sense of inerrancy in which the governing maxim is “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.” That fragility is a huge problem. I think that if we could help people deal with the fragility, so that they didn’t feel that demonstration of the falsity of a single clause in some Biblical passage meant that the whole edifice of faith collapses at once, they might have a healthier attitude toward facing the evidence squarely.


Not entirely on-topic, but a good essay to share.


I taught science at a Christian college for 7 years. The YEC,'s I worked with were scared - evangelical churches are hemorrhaging members, especially in the under 25 demographic. So many evangelicals have adopted a “circle the wagons” approach. They are doubling down on their plain reading of scripture because they think that admitting maybe Genesis 1 contains some figurative language is the first step down a very slippery slope to apostasy. I lost count of how many times I heard “science changes, God doesn’t” and “I have a hard time trusting science because it’s always changing.” Change is scary and nobody likes to admit that they were wrong, but I don’t see a way forward unless YECs are open to reconsidering some of their positions.


Why is its important that YEC’s change their position?

The YEC argument is difficult but it is still open to debate. I do not have a problem with genesis 1 through 11 being a story but we are far from proving it is not what actually happened especially if we consider that a day described in genesis 1 is more then 24 hours.

I think distrust in science occurs when teachers and scientists are not open to two sides of a debate and argue from authority. I am starting to see this change and I think this will go a long way in improving the image of science across the spectrum of a diverse population.

Ah, but it isn’t. All the empirical data from just about any science show it to be false. To suppose otherwise is epistemological nihilism: facts are just opinions, and anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.

I find the flat-earth test to be valuable. If you substitute “the earth is flat” for whatever fringe claim you wish to favor, does it make the “debate” silly? Why? Can it be that the data do indeed matter?

In the current case, should we seriously entertain flat-earthism as a live hypothesis to be debated?


But scientists don’t have to prove it is not what actually happened. No more than scientists have to prove that the earth does not rest on a turtle’s back. It is incumbent on YEC’s to provide evidence to support their theory.

The scientists I know argue from data. I have yet to see convincing data for YEC. But I have heard a lot of YEC’s talk about Biblical authority. Seems like they are the ones arguing from authority.


If anything, flat-earthism is more deserving of serious consideration than YEC:

6 posts were split to a new topic: Beyond the OP topic

The consilience of evidence does not support the claim that life is young. Scientific authority derive from an understanding of all the relevant data, not from misinterpreting or cherry-picking a particular OTOH, Biblical authority derives from a single source, and there are many different interpretations, most of which are compatible with “old life”.


Well, @stlyankeefan actually IS a teacher, but I’m not sure I see much of a leadership problem. Nor have I ever seen her make an argument from authority. She’s stressed here multiple times the fact that she tries, when handling student questions about these things, to focus on the data: what can we show, and what can’t we?

No. That’s just you making a false statement because you have been sloppy about accepting claims from bad sources.


Such positions do not have a Biblical basis. Many conservative Christians are fine with vaccines and climate change. Perhaps many are not due to general distrust in science and authority outside the church, which is unfortunate and why we need to work to increase science literacy

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The hypothetical conversation I have always heard in my head:

Scientist: Why don’t you trust us?
YEC: You are always changing your mind.
Scientist: What would cause you to trust us more?
YEC: If you changed your mind about evolution.

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I had Mormon missionaries at the house a while back telling me that science changes and god doesn’t, when I told them that it turned out, based on the genetic evidence, that the Cherokee weren’t actually Jewish. I guess they’re still hoping to find a stash of old Cherokee yarmulkes in an archaeological dig one of these days. The example they gave of scientists changing their minds was that scientists once believed the earth was flat. I tried to explain to them that that belief was more associated with religion than science, but that, like the earth, fell flat.

Then why did God change his mind a while ago and decide that black people were fit for the priesthood?


It is rather telling that they prefer to cling to demonstrably wrong ideas instead of throwing them out.