Is the evolution vs. creation debate a significant issue among grad students? Yes. No.
By the time someone has arrived in graduate school he/she has generally come to a conclusion regarding what to believe about evolution. Those studying biology at that level usually decide that evolution is the way God formed the world into being. Whatever struggle they might have had on the issue of creation or evolution has generally been resolved. Thus, no, it is not really an issue.
Those outside of the sciences may or may not have come to a conclusion on how much evolution was (or wasn’t) involved with the formation of the world. The lack of conclusion is in itself an indication that for him/her the debate is not really a big issue (balancing and finishing grad school and living out one’s faith being much bigger issues).
However, it does, yes, become an issue when other scientists hear Christians arguing (with mediocre science) that the world had to be created less than 10,000 years ago. Christianity is then mocked and potentially rejected. How does a Christian scientist respond well to how Christians present themselves and/or are perceived?
And yes, it also becomes an issue when one is told that Christianity and evolution are completely incompatible: choose between either Christianity or evolution. Or one is told it is a sin to believe that evolution happened. (Likewise, it is problematic to treat as incompetent (idiots) those who have difficulties believing God formed the world via evolution).
Several examples of these last two – a struggle of a Christian within science – can be seen here: Christian women in stem are a vulnerable minority
4 thoughts on “Science and Faith: Is evolution vs. creation a big deal?”
Wow, according to this short article, those of us who are non-Biology folks are quite ignorant when it comes to our doubts “that evolution is the way God formed the world into being.” While I fully agree that Christians who claim (using [psudo]scientific evidence) that we can prove without a doubt that the world is 10,000 years old or less is problematic, it is also a problem for Christians to claim that we can prove without a doubt that God used evolution to form creation into being. The honest answer is somewhere in between. Science has not “proved” evolution nor has Science disproved evolution.
Evolutionary explanations are quite helpful but incomplete. Those of us who believe that God reveals himself in general and special revelation need to come to a conclusion that no theory answers all of our questions and we must approach the issue with some measure of mystery and faith. Based on our understanding of the evidence in Science and in Scripture, we arrive at our conclusion because X even while we recognize that it leaves some unanswered questions because y.
I recommend everyone who reads this blog to read Gerald Rau’s Excellent treatment of the issue in his book “Mapping the Origins Debate” (IVP 2013). It is an evenhanded treatment of all sides stating the strengths of each position and the weaknesses in each position.
In the end we have to make our choice based on incomplete evidence – from a human viewpoint (both in General and Special revelation). But our view of evolution matters a great deal because it shapes our worldview about God, about revelation, and about the universe.
Thanks, Todd, for your comment. I appreciate the book recommendation – I will put it on my list of books to read in the fall when I start trying better to understand more of the issues involved with this. I also appreciate your agreement with me that no theory is so obvious that any of us Christians can be smug about our beliefs. I do, however, take a little bit of issue with your fist comment, though, and its somewhat dismissive tone – I didn’t say that no one outside of biology had thought well about these issues: I just said that many of the graduate students I’ve met recently don’t seem to be all that concerned about the debate or answers (irrelevant of how well thought out they were on it). It seems to be more of a concern for undergraduate students in beginning biology classes and an older generation for whom the debate has been very different.
I do hope at some point to address a concern you raised – about how evolution (and evidence related to that) has way too often been used and taught in a way that dismisses and ridicules Christianity. I think this is something that undergraduates and the older generation are more likely to have experienced.
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