Why Christian Doctrine and Evolution Conflict

As scientific research continues to grow and technology gets more advanced, the more Christianity is validated. This is found in the extreme complexity and fine tuning of life in the universe. With this being the case, is it possible that someday the theory of evolution and Christianity will merge together because of overwhelming scientific research? No, it won’t.

I want to start by making a clarification. There are two kinds of evolution: micro- and macro-. In micro-evolution, slight adjustments are made to a species that enhance its ability to survive in a given environment. These are also called adaptations. Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is when changes in a species lead it entirely change species. Micro-evolution occurs for certain, this is easily observable in nature. Examples of micro-evolution include, bacteria becoming resistant to a drug and Darwin’s Finches. There is poor evidence (none) for macro-evolution in nature, for more on this check out my podcast with Sean McDowell; however, in this blog, that’s not where I want to focus. I want to focus on why the theory can be harmful to the doctrine of people following God if they chose to believe it.

Reality is the word theory has become thrown around. Both evolution and gravity are theories; however, there is clearly not as much evidence to support the first as there is gravity. Also, if (macro-)evolution was true, why do so many people doubt evolutionary theory unlike gravity. There is clearly difference in the significance of the term theory among the scientific community. Just food for thought.

Could God have used Evolution?

People have proposed the thought, “Why must they be separate? Couldn’t God have made all creatures through that process?” Why yes, he very possibly could have. He’s God; he can do it however he wants. Although, I’ll tell you why I have strong reason to believe that he didn’t.

The fossil record shows that the population of animals on the earth looks more like an inverted pyramid: starting at the top there is a high population, and it decreases as you move down the pyramid. However, other people propose that there was one single organism and then all other organisms came from that. This is not what the fossil record shows. With the evidence that there were many more species and then it got smaller, it supports God creating all the animals on the earth like it’s said in Genesis.

This is another reason I think that God didn’t use evolution. Evolution steals glory right away from God; it diminishes the creativity of God. It doesn’t make sense as to why Christ would use a scientific process to create life, when he could further display his glory by individually crafting each unique animal. This appears to be counter intuitive of how Christ does things throughout the course of the Bible. God is not random, and he does nothing blind; however, evolution is blind. On top of that, unlike the rest of creation, mankind was created in the image of God and we have souls: we are different from all other creatures in this regard.

If we were to hold true to the theory, we would be considered no different than all other animals on the planet. There would be nothing unique about us, nothing worth saving. This directly conflicts with basic doctrine from the Bible.

Do Denominations Invalidate Christianity?

I could wish that no definitions had ever been felt to be necessary; and, still more, that none had been allowed to make divisions between churches.

~ C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

From Caleb,

First, I want to clear something up. It has too long been an issue among Christians about which denomination you follow. Too many people think they go to “the best” denomination church, and sorry to be blunt, but I am sick and tired of it. Whether you attend a church that is Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Nazarene, Catholic, or any other, you’re not anymore of a Christian than the next guy that goes to a different denomination church.

What is important is what you think about who Jesus is and the things that he did. There is no one “right” or “better” denomination. We are THE CHURCH; we are all followers of Christ. Reality is, no matter which kind of church you attend, there are people who go every single Sunday that could be dying and going to hell.

There are people who go to Lutheran churches that aren’t actually saved.
There are people who go to Presbyterian churches that aren’t actually saved.
There are people who go to Nazarene churches that aren’t actually saved. There are people who go to Baptist churches that aren’t actually saved.
There are people who go to Catholic churches that aren’t actually saved.

Attending a specific denomination of church doesn’t save you, following Christ wholeheartedly and trusting in his sacrifice does. When these divides go up based on “denomination,” the Church as a whole is being weakened. From the outside looking in, this conflict within God’s people makes us look foolish to non-believers.

Parents and older believers, listen up! We must stop indirectly creating this mindset in the minds of young believers through how we speak about other churches. Making stereotypical jokes, speaking bad of another church, or simply vocalizing assumptions we have about a particular church based on their denomination further encourages this mindset among other believers. It must be stopped for the sake of uniting the church in the future.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the answer is no: Christianity cannot be invalidated simply because there are many different denominations. The truth is The Church is all of the people that love Christ and believe that they have received salvation by grace through faith and because of that, repent and turn from their sins. Furthermore, the Early Church differences in many denominations are what I would like to call “Nonessential pieces of Doctrine”, these are things that even though they are slightly doctrinally different, they are not a deterrent to the truth of the Church. Ultimately they have no bearing when it comes to trusting in salvation from Jesus by grace and through faith.

Why Materialism Must be False

If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

– C.S. Lewis

From Ben,

One of the issues with an evolutionary perspective is the idea of materialism. First off, let’s define materialism in these terms. Materialism is the idea that everything can be traced back to physical matter; there is no spiritual aspect to things or even a mind apart from a physical brain. Everything can be explained as a chemical interaction. But how can this be logical?

How can anything be logical if all thoughts are chemical reactions occurring in our brains.

The largest issue with this point of view that often comes to my mind is the conscience found in every person- the moral compass inside of us all that separates right from wrong and produces feelings of guilt. How are human beings born with an idea of what is good and what is bad? Materialism says that it is all matter; there is no true good or bad because everything is simply chemicals reacting to create a response. Does materialism explain this idea of a conscience in humans? I believe it does not.

Another Major Issue

Another major issue with the idea that all things are only physical is the idea of truth itself. If every thought is simply chemicals interacting, then how can we trust anything that we say, or others say? The materialist point of view says that you have no control over what you say, think, and do. Because it is all simply a physical interaction within your brain that does not involve immaterial feelings or knowledge. Once again, how can we believe in ourselves and those around us to make “good” choices when they actually have no control over their thoughts or actions?

How do beliefs and values play a role in a materialistic evolutionary perspective on the world? They simply don’t make any sense. The thought that unguided evolution would produce beings that hold believes, pursue truth, and have values does not directly align with evolution, nor materialism. Evolution simply cares about behaviors, not beliefs. Materialists have no substantial argument as to how the ability of humans to think and hold personal views on things developed from only physical matter.

This leads us to the incredible complexity of the world and all processes that occur within. As science has progressed and academia has been able to study life on a much more microscopic level, the simple theories of evolution have begun to fall apart. The chances that a random occurrence would cause such complex and incredibly-designed life forms is just not plausible or rational. In this case, there had to be something (or someone) immaterial, that is supernatural, that created and designed such processes. This view completely clashes with the views of a materialist who would believe that random events caused unguided evolution, which produced human beings.

Practical Application:

When talking to someone who you know as an evolutionist, bring up the idea of materialism. Ask them if they truly believe that every thought they have and every belief they hold is simply a chemical reaction occurring in their brain. Bring up the fact that if materialism were true, how could we know anything to be trustworthy or moral. Also, ask your friend about their conscience and if they feel guilt when they do wrong, then ask them to explain how this developed simply through matter. Always be polite and respectful, showing the love of Jesus in every response and interaction.

If you want to educate yourself further on the idea of materialism, I highly suggest researching and reading articles on Thomas Nagel. Nagel is an atheist, but is not afraid to say controversial things on reason and evolution itself.

Miracles: How do we know Jesus Performed Them?

The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticated and children

~ Richard Dawkins

From Caleb,

Miracles are what make the Gospels not only extraordinary but also cause for rejection by many people. If the Gospels didn’t contain miracles, people have no problem accepting Jesus as a crazy Jewish rabbi with wacked-out teachings. Historians and archaeologists support/validate that Jesus of Nazareth was a real man that walked the earth.

Josephus, who was 1st century Jewish Historian, was one of many historians to validate the life of Jesus. Many times in his writings he mentions Jesus. While there is record of a man named Jesus, people may suggest the fact that it could have simply bee another man that went by the same name; however, this possibility it ruled out when we see how these historians specified the characteristics of Jesus and those who followed him. In these historical documents, most writers consistently talk about Jesus as “The King of the Jews”, or they mention how he gained a great crowd of Jewish followers.

From these sources and evidence within, it can be understood that these historians were writing about the same Jesus from the New Testament in the Bible. Although, despite having these external pieces of evidence, many people will deny the entirety of the Gospels because of the accounts of Jesus performing miracles.

How Do We Defend It

How might you defend the fact that Jesus performed miracles? Often, People won’t deny the fact that he lived, but people will deny the things he did while he lived on earth. Josephus wrote not only about the life of Jesus but also the things that he did. Some speculate that Josephus had his writing edited and changed by a Christian writer after his death, which makes them unreliable; however, his writings have been sifted through by scholars and this is how they have determined the original copy of his writings were reliable. In his original Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 3, Josephus wrote this about Jesus:

“a wise man. He was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following among many Jews and among many of Greek origin.”

These startling deeds are deeds far beyond what would seem in the natural realm of possibility; this greatly supports the claims of Jesus’s miraculous actions in the New Testament.

Some question the reliability of Josephus’s writings. But another piece of evidence is from the Talmud. It is a collection of Jewish teachings, which briefly documents the nature of Jesus’s actions. The Talmud describes Jesus as a sorcerer who used the magic arts he learned in Egypt. All of these are great pieces of evidence for Jesus performing miracles.

Practical Application

How do you use this knowledge to share the Gospel with people? If someone directly objects, it is easy to simply answer the question with evidence. Although, when in a conversation about things that are doubtful, it is easy to transition and start talking about this topic. You could talk about how incredible it is that the miracles of Jesus seem so far fetched, yet there are even people that back it up. Then behold! The conversation has just begun!

What is Truth?

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. 

-Winston Churchill

From Ben,

Have you ever been asked about truth?

Juan: So you believe in God right?

Lucas: I do.

Juan: But how do you know that is true? How do you know anything is true?

Lucas: Well how do you know something is true? We know certain things that are always true. Like the sun will rise. Whether or not you want it to happen, it still does. The same is with truth. Truth doesn’t care what you think, it is true no matter what. Just like God and who He is.

Today, many people may tell you that truth is in the eye of the beholder, but is that so? The reality is that truth is not up for debate. The truth is true and always will be.

In order to explain this idea practically, I’m going to use an illustration that a good mentor of mine shared with me.

Here’s a picture of a fruit:

If I were to ask you what this is, you would tell me it’s an orange. But why? How do you know? Well, it’s an orange; this is something we know to be true. What if you opened it up, would you expect to find a potato? No, that would be crazy, we know we will find an orange; it’s a truth of nature.

So what if you really didn’t want it to be an orange? Let’s say that you want it to be a banana. Would it change? Absolutely not. The truth is something that we don’t have control over; we can’t change the truth no matter how hard we try. What if you woke up one day and really didn’t want the sun to rise, would that change it? Absolutely not. Gravity doesn’t just work some of the time, it works all the time. That’s God. Here’s the kicker. God will deliver, even when you don’t think He can or you don’t want Him to; even if you don’t believe He can. Ignoring this truth doesn’t make it any less true. 

Here’s the kicker. God will deliver, even when you don’t think He can or you don’t want Him to; even if you don’t believe He can. Ignoring this truth doesn’t make it any less true. 

The truth is always true. We know we can’t change the truth, like gravity or photosynthesis, things that always happen, whether or not we want them to. The same is with God, He is true, even if we don’t want Him to be. He is the ultimate source of truth. If you don’t believe the truth, does that change it? No. The truth is still the truth, even if you don’t support it. 

As you defend and grow in your walk with Christ, don’t forget that truth doesn’t change. When our human minds can’t comprehend something that is always true and constant, remember that God holds it all. The truth is that God is always there and He always will be, despite whether you think its true or not.