Sunday, February 01, 2009

Something more about the theory of evolution

Following my series of posts, January 21-28, about the Haarsmas' book Origins and Gordon Glover's Beyond the Firmament, I have been thinking I should probably say a bit directly about my views on origins, now, as a result of my reading.

Someone wrote she was "disturbed that [I] seem to be leaning more towards evolutionary thinking" based on my post yesterday where I said that "I don't sense [the letter I sent to Arthur Miller] is as relevant today as it was [a month ago]" since "my . . . perspectives on . . . the potential 'awfulness' of evolution have obviously changed."

I suggested that, before she becomes too agitated about my apparent shift, she should read my posts from the 21st through the 28th themselves.

Frankly, at this time I think the primary shifts that have occurred in my own thinking have to do, first, with my view of Old Testament cosmology (I am strongly inclined to believe that Glover and the Haarsmas are correct: the Bible's primary cosmological viewpoint is the same as that held by the Jews' neighbors in the Ancient Near East), and, second, the Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory, and, as such, ought not to produce any heartburn in the hearts or minds of Christians.

Beyond that, I think I am able to "embrace" the theory about the same way I seem to "embrace" most scientific theories: with admiration for those who are pursuing the scientific evidence both for and against its current formulation, and with large dollops of ignorance, wonderment and questions all at the same time.

I think I have some (probably pretty good) understanding of the theory. I can "see" the evidence and can understand why the theory "makes sense." But I also "hear" and "see" what many (apparently qualified and respected) scientists have to say about problems with the theory as it currently stands.


So I "embrace it lightly."

As far as I'm aware, it's the best scientific theory for us to consider at this time.

I'm unqualified, really, to attack it on scientific grounds.

I am unwilling to attack it on theological grounds (for reasons pretty well expressed in my series of posts from the last couple of weeks).

If some qualified scientists come up with some minor--or radical--revisions to the current formulation, I'll be happy to consider those as well. The scientific arguments will have to proceed without me, because I'm simply too uneducated in the matter to "take a position" either for or against.

But if the current theory continues to hold sway against the proposed revisions, that's fine with me. And if the current theory is revolutionized by the proposed revisions: that's fine with me as well.

I don't really care.

Maybe that's the biggest change.

The debates don't worry me anymore--no more than do the debates (whatever debates they may be!) between meteorologists concerning weather forecasting, or between materials scientists concerning the development of nano-technology and super-conductors, or between medical researchers concerning cholesterol and Alzheimer's Disease.

I want the researchers to "play fair" with the evidence.

I want them to report accurately whatever they find.

I would dearly love for them to speak up if and when the news media (or anyone else) twists their findings or hypes them beyond what the evidence would properly permit.

But as long as they are doing their jobs within the legitimate "rules of science," I am perfectly happy with the situation.

I believe that is a very different position from where I was three weeks ago.


Oh. One more change.

I need to present the reasons for this shift sometime in the future, but I will say, at this point, that I see no scientific reason to embrace young-earth creationism at this time. I am open to hearing scientific evidence for a young earth, but at this time I don't see any compelling evidence for holding such a view. I do see heavy scientific evidence pointing to an old earth.

For what it's worth.

That's where I am at this time.
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