A Christian Conservative Goes to College, part 4 (“The man does not even believe in evolution.”)

Stephen J. Drain's picture

“I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and [it can explain] the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”[1]

It was in English 102, near the end of my second semester, that the following conversation occurred. It was a class where we did a lot of talking… and most of it had nothing to do with English (except, of course, most of us were speaking it to some degree or another). The old professor—I’ll call her Mrs. Sabbatical—never really taught us anything. I think the class was, for her, a means of entertainment; it was her main social life. She would sit up front, not move from her desk, not write a thing on the board, and she would tell us all about her day. She would tell us about getting her husband “Poppy” from the old folk’s home and taking him to “Hooters” which seemed to make him happy. This is what occurred in each class. And, as far as I know, she is still “teaching” at the school. After all, at the end of the semester the students get the anonymous rate the teacher forms: “Would you take another class with this professor?” Oh yes they would. And they also recommend her to all their friends: “Do you have to take English? Make sure you get Mrs. Sabbatical. You won’t have to do anything in that class and you’ll get an A.” Anyway, one day Mrs. Sabbatical brought in the movie Oedipus Rex and put it on for the class to watch. The sleeping and the conversations thus commenced. And this is where our story begins.

A conversation ensured between the pretty woman behind me and a studious girl next to me. (By the way, the two are not always mutually exclusive, so do not read too deeply into my comment.) I was half watching Oedipus 1957 and half listening to the girls talking. At some point the Miss Pretty[2] said that she hoped the next president (after GWB) would not be a Republican. “Everyone is sick of Bush,” she said. She went on with the usual ad-hominem attacks of GWB saying he was an idiot and a moron. As if to prove her point she then said, “The man does not even believe in evolution.”

Cue Steve Drain’s undivided attention and cue his full entrance into the conversation: “I don’t believe in evolution, either,” I said. (The opening of this can of worms reminds me of a scene in the homage-to-high-school movie, The Breakfast Club, when Brian, the brainiac student, waxing eloquent about classes and grades said, “Have you seen some of the dopes that take Shop [Class]?”

I take Shop” replied Bender, the criminal student. And it was on…)

So I said to her, “You know there’s a reason it’s called a theory.”[3]

Hello,” she said, with the most sincere sarcasm. “There’s not any doubt. It’s not like the jury is out on this one. The Scopes Trial was a long time ago.”

So I asked her about fossil records, about transitional species, about how entropy worked, etc. Certainly I am not an expert in science, but I know there are questions and holes in the theory of evolution. I could have gotten into the idea that science is based upon improvable assumptions or presuppositions, things like materialism and uniformitarianism. In other words, like all systems, it is a faith-based system at its very foundation. We Christians admit that we have faith. The scientists avoid talking about their faith. They tell us their faith is fact, until it is proven otherwise; yet they say that Christian faith is blind faith.

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21, NASB).

“Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what wisdom do they really have?” (Jeremiah 8:9).

Still, my argument with this woman consisted mostly in asking questions. I consider this a good approach since it is less antagonistic and more conversational; it allows the other person to do a lot of the talking, while allowing me to, perhaps, let reasonable doubt arise in the other’s mind.

I asked her whether or not she adhered to a belief in materialism. She wasn’t sure what I was talking about. She might have thought that I was asking whether she was “materialistic,” a person that was in to stuff, but when I explained it as materialism the philosophy she then said that was, in fact, what she believed. “People are just another species of animal,” she said. (Sounds like she’d taken Biology.)

Miss Studious (the girl beside me) jumped into the conversation for a second: “Our pinky fingers used to be longer than they are now.” (So they’d both taken Biology.)

“Yeah,” said Miss Pretty, “and humans are taller than we used to be. We have a coccyx bone where our tails used to be. And what is our appendix for?”

She believed that all that exists is the material world, physical matter.

I should have asked her—“Are thoughts physical matter?” I once annoyed my agnostic-evolutionist friend, Nate, by asking him this same question. As he was making his pro-evolution argument talking about methodological naturalism, about the scientific method and how “it works,” etc., I said to him, “Do me a favor and don’t talk for a few seconds. Think about what you’re going to say next.”

“OK,” he said and paused. (Nice of him.)

A moment later I asked, “Did you do it?” 

“Yeah.”

“You were thinking?”

“Yeah.”

“Did that thought exist?”

“What?”

“Did your thought exist? Was it a real thing?”

“What’s the question?”

“You had a thought. But it was not physical, correct? Could you taste, touch, see, smell, or hear your thought? Did I just prove to you that something outside of the physical exists, something that cannot be proven by methodological naturalism or by experimentation,[4] or the five senses; yet you know it exists? Do you think that it’s very possible that God has provided us at every moment of our lives, proof that the supernatural exists? That we, us, ourselves, our very thoughts are, very possibly, supernatural, or outside of nature, outside of the physical? They cannot be measured. They cannot be duplicated in a lab by experimentation. Yet you know by intuition that they exist…”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“I don’t know. Sounds like this might simply underscore what Paul wrote in Romans chapter one….”

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:18-22).

 

 

 

Note: I realize there are Christian believers who believe evolution and the Genesis account can fit together. I have made no definite statement about that here. I have simply brought forth some questions that exist about the theory of evolution. And while Christians who are scientists may use methodological naturalism, there, obviously, can be no Christians who actually believe in naturalism or materialism as a philosophy, since Christianity and materialism are mutually exclusive.

 


[1]
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, © renewed 1976, published by HarperCollins, page 140.

[2] Not her actual name… ;-)

[3] Yeah, I know, I know. Scientific theory is much, much more than a theory (as the scientists and professors and textbooks will tell us). “It’s the truth as far as we know it until it is improved upon or proven wrong by further scientific evidence.” In other words, “We say it’s true until we say something else is true. Of course, whether it’s true or not always depends on us…” It’s the high priesthood of Science. (Cue Gregorian Chants.)

[4] Provable to Science, if I am not mistaken, means that it can be duplicated by experimentation… Thus, again if I am not mistaken, even historic events like the Battle of the Bulge, for example, cannot be measured by Science. Did it exist? Did it happen? Without a doubt. But Science, here, can tell us nothing. Thus Science fails to account for reality as a whole. In his essay Is Theology Poetry, quoted at the opening of this blog, C.S. Lewis said that Theology can allow Science in, but Science, on the other hand, cannot fit in Christianity. In fact, he believes scientific cosmology cannot even allow Science itself in…. but you will have to read it for yourself to understand why he says this. Enjoy!

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