If one is a young-earth creationist it is easy to imagine from the title, without knowing much else, that the beliefs which come out of that worldview might not marry well with Darwin’s brand of evolutionary science with his theories on the origin of species and traits – marrying the two would result in a paradox being born, leading to an assumption that the world and the human existence therein is a violently spinning phenomenon.
The world as seen through the lens of a ‘violently spinning phenomenon’ is one of the hallmarks of Darwinism which has ironically become a kind of religion in and of itself – a dogmatic orthodoxy that teaches creation and the entire human existence is a mechanistic mass of cells and parts that live and breathe without a purpose other than to multiply and survive. According to Darwinism, it’s the survival of the fittest through intelligent selection! That view of the world might satisfy the bare bones of existence but it does not satisfy meatier questions of the origin, meaning, morality and sanctity of human life above and beyond humans being a mass of moving cells and parts – with Darwinian science God and the divine-human purpose die. In Bergman’s own words, “Darwin murdered God by demolishing the main basis of belief in God, at least in the minds of the orthodox science establishment” (Bergman, 18, 2011). Since Darwin, the Church has been full speed ahead to correct the toxic logic it has created in many a mind, that particular logic being: If people can be led to believe God is dead then they will also believe Jesus is dead, and if Jesus is dead so are his teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and therefore the rest of the New Testament.
To put it another way, if people side with Darwinian science they agree that God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and His teachings are all dead. And if they are all dead how are people to want to 1) know God and 2) be good stewards of the earth and of one another before the final judgment? If humans are no better than domestic animals, then it is so unreasonable for a particular group to treat another group of people however they want to treat them – class them, kill them, brainwash and tag them like lab rats or guinea pigs. If we are all but animals of evolution then there are no consequences for racist, xenophobic, and chauvinist cruel behaviour, that some might argue are linked to an unchecked sense of undue animalistic supremacy… and that is where something like young-earth-creationism comes in handy! It causes the tension between one’s faith in Jesus Christ and the reality of science to be relieved.
For example, an individual who interprets the Bible literally is convinced that God created the world in a literal six-day time period by the power of His Word – for lack of a better word we ‘label’ that person a young-earth creationist just like those of us here at Quick Study. And we believe that reading macro-evolution (apes to humans) over millions of years into the Genesis account of creation undermines the integrity of God’s Word. After all, Genesis is not poetry or a metaphor for things that cannot otherwise be explained (which many evolutionary Christians might tend to do). That is because the Bible clearly states exactly what God did at the time of creation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, NKJV) and seven times God spoke creation into existence through the power of His Word over the course of six days, setting apart humans from the rest of creation by creating them in His image, giving them a special blessing and seeing that they were good (read Genesis 1:1-31, Acts 17: 24-27), and it is through Jesus Christ that they can live and breathe and have their divine purpose and/being (Acts 17:28). It is no mystery then that young-earth creationists feel at home with creation scientists such as Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis or creation science journalists such as my husband Ryan Hembree, co-host of daily television show Quick Study because faith and science do not clash.
To take the example further, people such as Ken Ham and Ryan Hembree would know that Darwin’s theories on natural selection have long been scrutinized and appraised by scientists of different creeds and walks of life. Ultimately, most of those assessments would agree that Darwinism falls short on the subject of macro-evolution. Bergman puts it this way, “Natural selection may help to explain the survival of the fittest but cannot explain the arrival of the fittest” (Bergman, 259, 2011). And so the paradox is, despite Darwin claiming he murdered God his unanswered questions regarding the arrival of the fittest creates a lot of room for there to be the possibility of a Divine Creator, a Higher Intelligence, a First-Cause (which Darwin is also rumoured to have believed in at the time of writing his theories). Due to that sort of paradox many of us Christians, and perhaps some agnostics and people of other religions, naturally resonate more with other scientists such as research biologist Nathaniel T. Jeanson, PhD (educated at Harvard University) who does not deny his belief in a Divine Creator on a whim or a fly, yet who gives credit where credit is due towards other scientists who do not share his spiritual thoughts. With young-earth-creationism one does not have to hold Jesus Christ in one hand and science behind their back. Religion and science are held together in a non-paradoxical harmony.
But what are we to do when we meet people who belong to the Christian and science community whose beliefs and theories are full of paradoxes? I’ve been thinking about this through some of my reading of Nathaniel Jeanson in his book Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species. Upon reflection I have concluded that when we are confronted with paradoxes we have a choice: 1) We can judge the intellectual and emotional-moral ineptitudes of he/she who created the paradox and leave it there for prejudice and possible racism to take hold or 2) We can learn from the example of people like Australian monk and scientist, Gregor Mendel, who sought to resolve paradoxes by using the framework from which the paradoxes were created. In the book mentioned above, Jeanson elaborates in great detail that it was Mendel who was responsible for resolving issues of the Family Tree through the discovery of unit factors such as inferring the behaviour of single traits, identifying dominant and recessive traits and the segregation of genetic information in human individuals based on his original work through cross-breeding plants, beginning six years after Darwin’s well known publication On the Origin of Species. From that small bit of information, it cannot be easily denied that Mendel didn’t open up a world of opportunity and understanding beyond Darwin’s original framework. One might naturally assume Mendel could have even explained why certain unit factors behave the way they do… However, there would have to be someone else to pick up Mendel’s unfinished and brilliant work, questions, and perhaps some of his paradoxes. American scientist Walter Sutton would be one such person who would carry Mendel’s mantle to new heights through the discovery of behaviour in somatic cells through the process of meiosis (Jeanson, 17-21, 2017)… In other words, we don’t have to marry a paradox but we can still build bridges and make corrections to a better and more well-rounded understanding of the Universe, and of one another, by working through and learning from one another’s unanswered questions and personal paradoxes.
To conclude, you or I may not have the mind of a Gregor Mendel or Nathaniel Jeanson but like the two of them we still come up against the paradox of people believing in the Bible and Darwin’s science in the same breath. Maybe in our own lives, we can help iron out the paradox by pointing to evidence of a divine intelligence within creation by asking questions like, How does one explain a pre-programmed group of cells that appeared out of nothing and began to divide, mutate, and multiply into intelligent and emotionally intuitive humans? Do you think there are miracles present within science and if so, how might you relate that to the creation account of Genesis? If you believe in an evolutionary history, do you think it is possible there has to be a requirement of miracles present in order for life to keep evolving? (Jeanson, 282, 2017). You or I don’t have to have all the answers to those questions, and we don’t have to point out all of the gaps we see in another’s logic straight from the get-go. But perhaps let’s consider those sorts of questions a starting point to ignite a productive and good conversation with one another… To further reiterate, a paradox can be an interesting starting point to build rewarding relationships and new ways of understanding, and we believe that sort of thing is important based on who the Bible says we are to God and how we are to treat one another – digression into animalistic human categorization and racist philosophies has a soft mute with that kind of philosophy!
“There is no Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NKJV).
Jasmin Hall-Hembree | January 15, 2018
Bergman, Jerry (2011). The Dark Side of Darwin: A Critical Analysis of an Icon of Science (pgs. 18, 259). Green Forest, AZ: Master Books.
Jeanson, T. Nathaniel (2017). Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species (pgs. 17-21, 282). Green Forest, AR: Master Books.