Betting on a bigger God

Jesus and Divine Evolution is a look at what creationism and the denial of evolution is doing to churches, especially in the U.S. It is a report from a three day conference of Christian evangelical pastors, artists, youth leaders, authors, musicians, and publishers.

It is the latter matter — evolution — that interests me most. Officially, the evangelical church in America preaches against evolution, particularly teaching evolution in their schools. Their orthodoxy is a young earth, and no evolution of species.

Of course, the evidence for an ancient planet, a far still older universe, and a long life-span over billion of years is so plain to see in many ways that it becomes harder each year for any thinking person to maintain otherwise. And despite stereotypes, the typical urban evangelical is a thinking person.

What has happened is similar to what has happened in the use of birth control among Catholics: the belief of lay members has diverged from what is preached from the pulpit. When I speak to evangelicals one to one to ask their views in private, I have discovered that on average they do not really believe in creationism, even though their church officially does. This is truer the younger the person is. The gulf shows up in polls as well. In a survey among the conferences goers at Q, the majority responded (anonymously) that they embraced a belief in a theistic evolution.

What this says to me is that in another generation or two this issue of evolution will become an non-issue to American evangelicals.

the denial of the reality of evolution by evangelical churches is hugely detrimental to themselves and to the rest of American society.

There is a comparison and contrast between creationism and anthropogenic global climate warming. Both are heavily burdened by belief. Both try to construct rationalizations supported by evidence and logic for their views. Both suffer when their views are subject to scrutiny and their methods examined. Both respond by attacks on the persons who dare to challenge their views.

Personally and collectively we are defined by our understanding of where we come from. If we believe in a fearful angry-father God, our society will angry and fearful. If we believe in directionless randomness as God, then our society will be directionless. I therefore seek the largest God of possibilities and growth. The God of evolution may not be the optimal God, but it/he is much greater than the dollmaker God of creationism. I’m betting on the bigger God.

It is interesting that Mark Roberts cited Psalm 56, where David seems to be suffering from what are called trolls in today’s social media.

O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.

They are always twisting what I say;
they spend their days plotting to harm me.
6 They come together to spy on me—
watching my every step, eager to kill me.
7 Don’t let them get away with their wickedness;
in your anger, O God, bring them down.

Of course, those whose belief in creationism or human caused catastrophic global warming probably think the same thing when asked to explain how their belief fits what can be seen in front of their eye’s about God’s actual works. That is why we all need to pay attention to whether we are actually suffering slander or getting our words twisted or suffering an attack on us rather than our ideas. That is the caution in Luke 6:41.

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