Can God and evolution coexist? This debate that has been simmering for years, both publicly and privately, in religious and non-religious circles. Most media coverage would suggest that the answer is a vehement “NO” from both sides. Christians claim that evolution is impossible and that Genesis is a literal description of the beginning of the Universe. Atheists or agnostics claim that there is no scientific proof for God, and therefore he cannot exist (and obviously could not have created anything).
At the center of the debate is the public education system. Should public schools teach both creation/intelligent design and evolution as viable (but competing) “theories” that explain the development of life on earth? Or should they be forced to choose one over the other?
I grew up attending Christian schools, from pre-school through college, and in most of my science classes, creation was the only viewpoint I was taught. I remember being asked to write a paper in an 8th grade science class “proving” that evolution was false using only the Bible as a reference. Even then, that seemed a bit preposterous. I believe that my compelling argument boiled down to “God created the heavens and the earth, so therefore evolution cannot be true.”
In college, however, I had a biology professor who taught that evolution was good science. A Christian professor who believed that evolution was good science? This was far from the experiences I’d had in science classes. This professor had no problem reconciling his Chrisitian faith and scientific belief that evolution is true.
Then, last week, I read an article about a prominent scientist who went public with his Christian faith and his acceptance of evolution. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that he has to say, but I found myself agreeing with the sentiments of this paragraph:
Giberson has rejected fundamentalism, but remains a believer as well as a scientist. He has staked out a middle ground when it comes to the battle between Christians and Darwinists,stating that they can be reconciled with one another. He is sympathetic toward the motivations of creationists and scientists alike, though he is fed up with much of intelligent design as well as hard-core atheists.
Perhaps the thing that I appreciate most, both from this scientist and from my biology professor, is the notion that there isn’t a hard and fast line separating God and evolution. They both seem to suggest that there is room for science in our Christian faith—that one doesn’t necessarily preclue the other. I hope that someday, media coverage of this debate might more accurately reflect that.
But what do you think? Is it possible to reconcile faith in God with an acceptance of evolution? Have you had any experiences with teachers or professors who have inspired or challenged your thinking about the origins and development of life?