Speculating on possible motivations for rejecting evolution

I have begun to feel that one of the main reasons that many Evangelicals reject evolution is the potential impact on Theology.

Now this has been discussed ad nauseum but I think there is a potentially simpler explanation that cements the opposition:

Evolution threatens social and religious power structures

What I mean by this is that even with evolution being true, it does not necessarily follow that Scripture is errant or that people do not need a Savior or that God is not at least in some way a Creator of sorts. There are many different ways to read into this.

The main opposition results from how this would change power dynamics:

  • gender roles

1 Tim 2:12-15 basically gets deconstructed; complementarianism falters

  • political-cultural-science interfaces

Global warming, environmentalism, psychology and other sciences can be distrusted or dismissed thus allow for cultural, religious, and political practices to continue

How can these churches then continue to be hotbeds of mainstream conservative ideology if supporting verses get challenged?

It comes down to power and culture.


Well, you know, there are a lot of possible motivations out there. And you could be right, at least for some evolution-deniers. I suspect, however, that for most people it’s a good deal less intellectualized than that. It is the pained yowl of ignorant and superstitious people, and, as MC Hammer said, “you can’t deconstruct this.”


Don’t forget race…


Yes, I think that has a lot to do with organized opposition.

And then there’s always the “I ain’t descended from no monkey” reaction.


My response: you can’t be serious.

Also, giving one area of science the power to deconstruct biblical texts, change gender roles, and modify cultural, religious, political and other practices while patting a Christian on the head and saying, “there you see, it’s fine to believe in a Savior and Creator, but btw your worldview I have caricatured in my head is totally messed up” does not seem to me to be exactly helpful to change people’s minds about “evolution.”

Maybe instead you could talk to people and ask them questions about what they believe and why and listen.


This is always the case.

Always good advice. :slight_smile:

There are a lot of caricatures being thrown around, and some people are heavily invested is keeping that as the status quo. You can’t blame all your problems on the others guys once you discover they are actually quite nice people.


I don’t think evangelicals out right reject evolution. Even YEC accept speciation.

Wrong. It’s all about standing personally before a God who probably will take great offense to the inaccurate (really, it is more like a lie) portrayal of his creation. The one who embraces evolution risks literally everything when it comes to life in the hereafter. If God doesn’t like and you did like it, all I can say is Good Luck.

Some of them do. Some of them don’t. Do you accept speciation?

How does God regard those who presume to judge on his behalf?

The deity you are trying to describe does not accurately reflect the one I read about in the Bible.


I totally agree that it also about one’s relationship with God. I am also am delighted to have you formally say that this issue is salvation dependent.

You are right Valerie.

I was being extremely uncharitable.

I grew up in the Church of Christ and I know many exceptional people who Love the Lord, the Word, and others in addition to being predominantly YEC.

It is not all reduced to power and culture.

However, the overlap between white evangelicals, Trump, and YEC is fairly significant and reflect the influence of power and culture.

The massive evidence of harm done by certain hermeneutics also makes it hard to stay calm or even neutral.

I work in a conservative Christian community. Whether its treatment of queer, non-white, atheists, and any other, there is a strong element of power projection and not for the good.


The Genealogical Adam & Eve approach can help address these issues.


I feel like this is played up more by the media than actually exists. The “evangelical” card is played in order to shame the conservative right that they actually belong to the immoral party. It’s always “I’m better than the other guy” on the news. On both sides. It’s the opposite of Christian humility.

I’m not going to disagree that there is sin in the Christian community through unloving attitudes or idolizing political power.

At the same time, saying rejecting evolution is holding up all kinds of power structures is giving science an awful lot of power it shouldn’t have no matter whether it’s true or not.


This is a huge reason for many. In the case of my belief and that of my own community, we tended to go from conclusion to evidence instead of vice versa. An “our interpretation of Christianity is true so evolution must be false” kind of thing, which resulted in a pretty skewed way of looking at the evidence.

After I came out as an evolutionist (gasp!), one of the guys I grew up with told me he couldn’t accept a theistically compatible evolutionary theory because he wasn’t convinced by the way original sin was reconciled. Theology first.

Another line I’ve heard is (paraphrased), “I study and learn science to defend what I believe (YEC),” which is, again, theology first, and also about as naked an admission of open cognitive bias as I’ve heard.

AiG, CMI, ICR, they all have in their statements of belief a line explaining a clear theology-first approach. And so it goes. How far can their views be extrapolated to the rest of the evolution-rejecting evangelical population, I don’t know. Not everyone has the same reasons for rejecting evolution, and if there’s one thing I dislike, it’s putting large groups of people in a box, especially when it comes to motivations.

I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure there are those who feel that way, but no one I know would ever say this. Maybe it’s sort of like a side effect or something like that.


Some people don’t like being questioned, particularly about whether they’ve examined any evidence for themselves.

Yup. It’s a complete rejection of science itself, too, not merely cognitive bias.


Wouldn’t something that “actually exists” be known through evidence, and not what you feel?

Immoral by the standards of the teachings of Jesus Christ, absolutely.

Does the right or left follow this more closely, Valerie?

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, "I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”


Oh I am shivering in fear that maybe God is offended that I studied evolutionary science and found it to be a fascinating subject with new and exciting new discoveries about the how life and human evolved over the past 4 million years.


The path from studying dicynodonts to burning in hell is surprisingly short. As are dicynodonts.


I would agree with these statements. I had disagreed with how far @djkriese took them because I don’t think it helps someone who affirms evolution to say that the science of evolution affects life socially and philosophically and I thought his characterization of those implications was way off. I’m trying to help him out. If it’s merely “science,” it shouldn’t have that power. It actually affirms the YEC position to say otherwise IMO. This is the biggest reason why I reject it, even if the data are interpreted so that the evidence is very strong in a particular direction. It DOES have implications theologically, philosophically, morally, and spiritually. And all of the implications in those areas to me are not compatible logical in those areas. So I reject the interpretation of one area of science to preserve what makes sense of everything else. Perhaps that’s my own cognitive bias - but I do it because interpretations in science change all the time.

Many like to use the analogy to heliocentrism, but it never had those kinds of implications even if it shook up some literal interpretations of biblical texts. What I was trying to say that the more scientists insist creationists are rejecting because of x.y.z, IMO they are actually proving a creatoinist’s position.

Thanks for proving my point.