Archive for May 25th, 2005

I kind of dropped the ball on that evolution discussion last week due to other demands on my time, but I did want to add kind of a summary of my take.

The various philosophical-theological responses to my basic "issue" (isn’t it funny how that word has turned into a synonym for "problem"?) are certainly reasonable and reassuring insofar as they provide a rational account of the orthodox position. The problem with them is precisely that they are philosophical and theological. In scripture we have a very plain straightforward narrative (setting aside speculation about the details of Eden and the various logical conundrums one can wander into about that). The standard evolutionary account is also a fairly straightforward account, at least superficially.

If we concede that evolution gets the basic physical facts right–billions of years of development of a natural world no less violent than the one we know, a direct line of descent from single-cell creatures to human beings–we have an obvious conflict with Genesis which we have to explain, and it tends to come across as explaining away, and not 100% convincing

It’s difficult, for instance, to fit the Garden into the evolutionary picture. It has to become a sort of state of mind on the part of the first couple. Similarly, it’s difficult to fit the very existence of a specific first couple into that picture: we can only see a species of ape of which one male and female are suddenly imbued with rational souls. (It’s my understanding that the evolution of the soul is not an orthodox view, and at any rate it doesn’t make a lot of sense.)

Sure, we can say that Genesis is a poetic and symbolic description, not meant to be taken literally. But it seems to be taken literally elsewhere in Scripture. At least superficially this tactic opens the door to reducing other important scriptural events to symbols, and down that road lies full-blown Modernism, which to me is in essence the reduction of the truths of religion to psychological and literary significance.

Again, like I said in the original piece, I can live with all this, although not happily. It just makes communicating the basic world-view of the faith to someone else–for instance, one’s children–way more difficult than it would have been pre-Darwin.

Maclin Horton

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