Come, Let Us Reason Together: A Forum about Central Issues of Faith & Skepticism
Cedar Creek Baptist Church (Louisville, KY)
Wednesday, March 2 – Evolution and Creation
NOTE: These are teaching notes used for a 15-minute presentation followed by a 40-minute Q&A session with the youth at Cedar Creek Baptist Church, in Louisville, KY. Today is the first of five weekly sessions we will have. I will seek to post each of the five sessions.
I. The Importance of Addressing Evolution
Tonight we are talking about the relationship between evolution and Christianity – a controversial topic, but one which needs to be addressed. Why is this an essential topic to address?
A. Evolution is a major cause of unbelief
First, evolution is perhaps the major intellectual cause of unbelief in North America today. That is, for people who either renounce or reject Christian theism, evolution is the most commonly cited reason. Specifically, students will often claim, “I was presented with the evidence for evolution, and saw that evolution is incompatible with Christianity. The evidence for evolution seems overwhelming; thus, I have to reject Christianity, as it seems based on faith rather than fact.”
A major purpose of Christian apologetics is providing struggling or doubting Christians with reasons to continue to believe – what I call closing the back door of the church. We must face the reality that there are probably hundreds of thousands of Christian students who are slowly being persuaded that evolution makes Christianity impossible.
B. Evolution is a major contemporary worldview
Second, as Christians, we need to understand the times that we live in, and the mindset of people in our world. Evolution is a, perhaps the, dominant cultural worldview in North America today. In order to understand how folks are thinking, we need to grasp the variations and implications of evolution.
II. The Importance of Defining and Understanding Evolution
Understanding evolution is easier said than done, partly because evolution is often undefined, poorly defined, or just defined differently by different people. Let’s take a look at the three major ways that people can and have defined (and understood) evolution.
A. Micro-Evolution (Adaptation)
In its simplest and least controversial definition, evolution is simply adaptation – the ability of a species to adapt to a changing environment in order to survive and thrive. Thus, for example, in famous studies of Galapagos finches, the average size and shape of beaks was observed to change in accordance with unusually dry or unusually wet climate cycles and the resultant change in food sources and abundance. Alternatively, we can see the increase in average human height and weight over the past two hundred years in response to improved medical care and availability of food.
This month's National Geographic (March 2011) contained a fascinating story about breeding foxes to become 'man's best friend.' Russian scientists have been experimenting with foxes for the past sixty years, selectively breeding them to derive friendly, human-trusting breeds. The fascinating results have seen both behavioral and physiological changes in downstream generations. First, as friendly foxes are cross-bred with one another, their offspring become increasingly trusting of people, increasingly friendly, and increasingly 'dog-like' in their behaviors. Second, as downstream generations continue to be cross-bred, there are striking physiological changes as well. Friendlier foxes develop the up-curling tails common in domesticated dogs, rather than the straight (down-sloping) tails known in wild foxes (and wolves). Friendly foxes also developed floppier ears, rather than the perky ears of wild foxes. Lastly, domesticated foxes exhibited a greater variety in the coloring and pattern of their coat - a sign, perhaps, of not needing to blend in with their natural surroundings. The Russian fox experiments demonstrate fairly considerable variation within a species (the red fox) over several generations of selective breeding. From my perspective, this is a great example of micro-evolution, or adaptation, as governed by an intelligent agent (in this case, predominantly Russian scientists).
This brand of evolution is called “micro-evolution,” although it should more naturally be designated simple adaptation. There is no question whatsoever that this type of evolutionary theory is perfectly compatible with orthodox Christianity.
B. Macro-Evolution (Darwinism)
The second common way of understanding and defining evolution is classical Darwinism, or ‘macro-evolution’. This begins with the observations and thesis in the first (adaptational) definition of evolution, but builds upon it. Darwinism, as classically expressed in Charles Darwin’s 1859 blockbuster The Origin of Species, extrapolates from variations within species, and posits variation between species. The adaptations that we see, for example in finch beaks, continue and compound over time, and eventually result in speciation – or alteration from one species into a new, distinct, species. Thus, for example, the Galapagos finches, whose beaks change in response to changes in the food supply, would speciate into a new variation of bird entirely if the changes in food supply became permanent.
The mechanism through which speciation occurs is random mutation and natural selection. Random mutation simply identifies random genetic mutations which result in offspring with slight differences from the parent. Natural selection indicates the reason that some random mutations are preserved in future generations while others are not. Simply put, Darwin’s theory was that some mutations were beneficial for the survival and success of an organism, and for that reason were preserved through reproduction. The offspring of the positive mutant also contain the mutation, and thus are better adapted to survive and thrive; they then pass along the mutated gene to their offspring, etc.
Over time, these gradual, cumulative changes accrue in offspring, and eventually result in a specimen which is distinct from the distant ancestor. Thus, for example, if we observed, say, 100 generations of Galapagos finches evolving within an altered (but stable) environment, the finches in that hundredth generation may well be so different from the first generation that they would be an entirely new species of finch.
Extrapolated over millions (or billions) of years, the accumulation of gradual changes within species are responsible for what we observe as the tree of life. Darwin traced the incredible variety and proliferation of biological life on earth back to a common ancestor, the original life-form on earth. Now, it is essential to note that Darwin’s common ancestor was a robust organism with the five senses which we are accustomed to enjoying. Most contemporary evolutionists insist that our common ancestor was not this robust organism posited by Darwin, but rather was a single-celled organism, with no sensory experience at all. In that sense, they are not Darwinists, but rather neo-Darwinists – Darwinists with a difference.
At any rate, this definition and understanding of evolution begins with the common ancestor, and argues that all life (including human beings) have descended from that common ancestor through a combination of random mutation and natural selection.
Is this understanding of evolution compatible with Christianity? This is a hotly-debated issue, and I don’t pretend to have the final answer. There are a number of Christian thinkers who are known as “theistic evolutionists,” or “evolutionary creationists,” or any other number of terms that indicate that they embrace both biblical Christianity and macro-evolutionary theory. Theistic evolution, generally speaking, accepts the precepts of Darwin’s theory of evolution, and seeks to accommodate it within a theistic (i.e. Christian) worldview. Hence, they may say something like: “Evolution is the mechanism by which God went about a part of His Creative work.” For a theistic evolutionist such as Dennis Lamoureux (a professor at my alma mater, the University of Alberta), the general truth of evolutionary theory does not undermines or challenge his faith in the God of the Bible – rather, it enhances it. Dr. Lamoureux speaks of how evolution helps him to understand more of the mind and the workings of God Almighty.
While theistic evolutionists understand Christianity and evolution to be compatible, the general tenor of evangelical conversation insists that there is absolutely no way to reconcile evolutionary theory with Christianity, and that theistic evolutionists are basically betraying their Lord and Savior (or, in a popular and effective phrase, ‘giving away the store’).
Speaking personally, I think this is correct, but not for the reasons one might think.
First, I think someone can be a self-professing 'Christian evolutionist' or 'evolutionary creationists' or 'theistic evolutionist' (or whatever other label they might choose) and be an authentic believing Christian. There are theistic evolutionists who, in my estimation, hold a sincere, evangelical faith themselves – Richard Swinburne, Alister McGrath, Dennis Lamoureux. I may not agree with them on everything, but I am willing to accept them as brothers in Christ, and unwilling to brand them heretics or condemned unbelievers on account of their evolutionary views. I believe that evolution can potentially be reconciled with a biblical worldview. That is, I do not think it is necessarily a contradiction in terms for someone to be called a “Christian evolutionist”.
Second, if it has not already become clear, I will make it abundantly clear now - I think that macro-evolution is an unsatisfactory and potentially unscientific theory. That is, I think it is probably false. In that sense, a Christian evolutionist is believing something untrue. Furthermore, I think there are some serious theological difficulties in trying to accommodate biblical Christianity with mainstream macro-evolution - particularly in the realms of the origins of humanity, the nature of Adam and Eve, and the doctrine of original sin. Nonetheless, I think it important to stress that very few, if any, Christians hold a completely consistent set of entirely true beliefs. Most, and perhaps all, of us embrace at least some beliefs which are probably false. For example, I think hockey is the best sport in the world. Most Louisvilleans passionately disagree - whether their favorite is baseball, football, or basketball, it most certainly is not hockey. That's a trivial example, but others that are more significant could be cited. Was the Gospel of John written by the Apostle John, or by someone else, or perhaps by his own disciples? I believe it was written by John, with chapter 21 appended by his immediate circle of disciples right after his own death. I may well be wrong about that, but I do not believe that it affects my salvation or standing before God. My point is simply that Christians can be wrong about some things, even relatively important things, and still be authentically Christian. That may be true of theistic evolutionists as well.
Third, I insist that theistic evolution requires a major revision of the first plank of Darwinism – random mutation – as the driving process to evolutionary change. Theistic evolutionists generally speak of the process of natural selection being guided by the purpose and direction of an omniscient God. At this point, I think theistic evolutionists cease to be evolutionists at all, since Darwinism holds to an undirected, random process of mutation. Theistic evolutionists argue that natural selection is the key mechanism of Darwinism, and random mutation is an additional philosophical thesis piled on top. But mainstream evolutionists do not accept this argument. The bottom line, it seems to me, is that theistic evolutionists are not truly Darwinists at all. They do not embrace evolutionary theory as promoted by Darwin and as understood by scientists today. They instead promote a Christian variation of evolution, which still has theological problems, but is not accepted by mainstream evolutionary scientists as being evolution at all.
That is why, in the end, I argue that theistic evolutionists cannot be both evolutionists and Christians - they have redefined evolution to fit their theistic worldview, and have thereby ceased being evolutionists.
Nonetheless, I think it is also important to affirm that professing Christians can also profess belief in macro-evolution. Again, I think they are wrong, I am just arguing that they should not be cast out of the family of faith on account of their macro-evolutionary beliefs. Macro-evolution, with a necessary adjustment of the mechanism of random mutation, is potentially compatible with Christianity.
Let me give you two examples to hopefully illustrate what I am getting at here.
First, imagine being a sincere, Bible-believing Christian in Galileo’s days. You’ve been hearing that there’s this new guy who is proposing that the earth is not the center of the universe, but that rather the earth revolves around the sun. This is major news, because for centuries the dominant worldview has been geocentric. Now this crazy Italian is proposing a heliocentric model of the solar system. I am hopeful that, if I happened to be alive during Galileo’s days, I would have had the wisdom and discernment to see that heliocentrism did not contradict biblical Christianity. I probably would not have leapt up and defended Galileo’s model, proclaiming that it “must be true because it isn’t contradictory to our faith”; however, I hope that I would not have branded him a heretic for proposing a system which contravened general scientific thought at the time. And, of course, as things turned out, Galileo’s model turns out to be right, and everyone now realizes that it is not in the least bit threatening to the Christian faith.
Second, imagine, just for the sake of argument, that there does exist intelligent life somewhere on a distant planet in the far corner of the universe. If you’re like me, this requires you to suspend disbelief, but go with it. Does the existence of life elsewhere in the universe contradict biblical Christianity? I don’t think there’s any way that we can conclude that it does. It would certainly require us to refine some of the ways that we think about the universe, but there is nothing in the tenets of our faith which dogmatically require us to believe that there cannot be life out there somewhere.
With both of these issues – heliocentrism and extraterrestrial life – the main question is not whether they contradict biblical Christianity, but rather whether or not they are true. With heliocentrism, we understand that it is a true theory which does not contradict our faith. With extraterrestrial life, I understand (and I hope you do too) that it is a false theory which nonetheless, if true, would not contradict our faith.
This is the mindset with which I would argue we need to approach the issue of evolutionary theory. I propose that it is not inherently contradictory to our Christian faith. But the more important question then becomes: is it true? If it is true, then we better do the hard work and reconcile it to our worldview; if not, then we should reject it as being false. However, before we launch into a critical examination of Darwinism, let’s look at the third understanding or definition of Darwinism current in society today.
C. Evolution as a Worldview
This understanding of evolution includes both of the above definitions – adaptation and descent from a common ancestor, but goes further yet, and develops evolutionary theory into an all-encompassing worldview.
First, worldview evolution includes a professed explanation for the origin of life on earth. Remember, classical Darwinism begins with life (robust life at that) and argues common descent from that point. Worldview evolution seeks also to explain how life came to be. The argument, put simply, is that life evolved through the same random processes combined with natural selection that later resulted in the proliferation of life on earth. The early earth, it is held, contained some kind of prebiotic soup (the contents of which are hotly debated); out of that interacting prebiotic soup, plus the external application of energy (through lightning, etc.), enzymes formed, combined into proteins, and eventually, given enough time, resulted in the formation of the first simple life form – a single-celled organism that we’ll call Adam. Adam managed to reproduce himself, and from this earliest simple life-form, again given sufficient time, all of life evolved.
Second, worldview evolution includes an explanation of the universe itself. That is, the grand narrative of evolution explains how the universe came to be, and why it is structured the way that it is. Most often, worldview evolution invokes the majesty of multiverse theory as the explanatory mechanism for the universe.
Third, worldview evolution includes an explanation of sociality – that is, human ethics and religion. According to the grand evolutionary story, human morality and spirituality have evolved over time. Ethics and religion are, or at least were at one time, facets of existence which facilitated human survival and flourishing. The worldview version of evolution seeks to provide a natural (and naturalistic) explanation for human morality and spirituality.
Is this version of evolution compatible with Christianity? While it is clear that the first definition of evolution (micro-evolution or adaptation) is perfectly compatible with Christianity; and the second definition of evolution (macro-evolution or classical Darwinism, descent from a common ancestor) is potentially compatible with Christianity; this third definition of evolution is quite clearly not compatible with Christianity. The main Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection has already sought to remove the concept of design or teleology from an explanation of biological life. The further worldview understanding that evolution is sufficient to explain the origin of life itself and the existence and nature of human morality and religion, has entirely removed the possibility of the divine from the scope of reality. God is not required (or permitted?) as the originator of biological life. God is not required (or permitted?) as the explanation for the existence and fine-tuning of the universe. God is not required (or permitted?) as the explanation for the unquenchable religious spirit of humanity. God is not required (or permitted?) as the explanation for the undeniability of ethical absolutes. God has been irrevocably removed from the picture of life, the universe, and everything.
When evolution becomes an all-encompassing worldview in this way, theism has been explicitly rejected and rendered impossible. Evolution is no longer a part of the story – evolution is the whole story.
D. Which Version of Evolution is Predominant?
In terms of what is presented and evidentially defended in academia and society, the second version of evolution is predominant. When college students come face-to-face with evolutionary theory, it is the idea of common descent that first confronts them. However, underneath the presented understanding of evolution usually lies a worldview which has been affected and eventually enveloped by naturalistic evolution – the third definition of evolution. The scientific evidence, so far as it goes, supports only the second picture of evolution. The extrapolation to the third definition requires philosophical assumptions and the imposition of a naturalistic worldview.
What this discussion has hopefully uncovered is the necessity of identifying exactly what someone means when they say, “I can’t believe in Christianity – I believe in evolution.” What kind of evolution do they believe in? On what basis do they believe in the evolution that they have embraced? [Incidentally, I think this is also true when someone around us says, “I am a Christian.” We ought to ask, “Well, what kind of a Christian are you? Biblical? Cultural? Revolutionary? Orthodox? And on what basis do you embrace Christianity? “] Furthermore, why do they believe that their version of evolution rules Christianity out? We should not simply assume that we know what someone means when they say they accept evolution as the explanation for life. Ask them. Find out exactly what they mean. Then you can address them in terms of what they actually believe, rather than on the basis of what you presume they believe (based on your own understanding of cultural evolution).
III. The Importance of Critiquing Evolution
Now that we have some understanding of what exactly evolution is in its different manifestations, let’s proceed to evaluate evolutionary theory. By far the majority of contemporary scientists (and even many contemporary Christians) accept the basic tenets of evolutionary theory in its second manifestation. But there is a substantial, and growing, vocal minority of natural scientists who think that there are too many problems with evolutionary theory, and that it is at best unproven and at worst a disproven theory. In 1985, Australian biologist Michael Denton published Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, a book which opened the scientific floodgates of dissension towards Darwinism. The chorus of scientists has grown over the past two decades. There are many who doubt the premises and propositions of Darwinian evolution. I want to look at four scientific difficulties with evolutionary theory (one of which addresses only the third manifestation of evolution, the other three of which apply to both the second and third). Through this brief examination, I want to demonstrate that there are good reasons to question the truth of evolutionary theory, particularly when it seeks to become an all-encompassing worldview.
A. The Origin of Life on Earth
Evolution as a worldview argues that evolution is a sufficient explanation not only for the proliferation of life, but also for the origin of biological life on earth. From the 1950s through the 1980s, ‘origin of life’ research was very much in vogue. The struggle, scientifically speaking, is that we have no reason to suspect that life could arise from non-life – other than the naturalistic presupposition that it had to. For decades, experimenters sought to create life in a test tube, or at least produce the building blocks of life from purely natural chemical reactions. But origin of life research has been a spectacular failure, and there are no prospects of them doing any better in the foreseeable future. Stanley Miller’s celebrated 1952 experiments managed to produce a series of amino acids from a reconstructed facsimile of the ancient earth’s atmosphere. Amino acids are one of the fundamental building blocks of proteins, which in turn are one of the fundamental building blocks for life. Thus, Miller’s success in ending up with amino acids was heralded as the first in a projected long line of success stories in which origin-of-life experimenters would manage (eventually) to create life in a test tube. However, Miller’s experiments (and subsequent ones) are useless in providing a model for the origin of life.
First, Miller’s amino acids are useless to form life – amino acids need to be of a particular type, need to react with one another in a chain, in a very specific manner and sequence. Yet in laboratory experiments, all we get are scrambled, random sequences. There’s no natural force capable of selecting the right amino acids and lining them up in the right order. As a result, the proteinlike chains that appear in the test tube are useless for life.
Second, the experiments do no mimic environmental conditions on early earth – scientists choose only certain chemicals, in their pure form, to put in the test tube. On early earth, other chemicals would have been around as well, they would not have been in their pure form, and other chemical reactions would have interfered.
Third, amino acids are delicate, and would likely be broken down into their constituent elements in nature; in the test tube, the scientist plucks them out to protect them. Indeed, when Miller (and other origin-of-life researchers) did not intervene, amino acids broke down just about as quickly as they were ‘created’.
Fourth, when scientists seek to proceed from amino acids to proteins, they use fresh, pure amino acids, choosing the right ones. They have never gone from simple chemicals to amino acids to proteins in one experiment, even using rigged environmental conditions. Thus, even the most successful origin-of-life experiments tell us next to nothing about what could have happened under natural conditions. They tell us only what happens when a brilliant scientist manipulates the conditions, ‘coaxing’ the materials down the chemical pathways necessary to produce the building blocks of life.
The experiments prove that life can be created only by an intelligent agent directing, controlling, and manipulating the process. And even then, our human intelligent intervention can only go so far. We cannot derive life from non-life.
B. The Intractable Problem of Speciation
Darwin’s theory of descent by random mutation and natural selection from a common ancestor is an exercise in logical extrapolation. From observed variation within species (adaptation), Darwin (and many others) inferred that the process of adaptation, when extended over a long period of time, would result in speciation – the evolution of an entirely new species. Gradual, incremental changes would accumulate, and eventually new species would result.
Basically, what I call the ‘intractable problem’ of speciation is that this aspect of evolutionary theory is simply a hypothesis which has never been confirmed, or observed in progress. Despite over a century of intense scientific experimentation, suggested examples of speciation are almost non-existent in the scientific literature. Those instances of speciation which have been observed involve viruses, and still result in, what to our mind anyway, would be minor changes – more along the lines of adaptation rather than cataclysmic evolutionary change. From my perspective, I am not even sure that they are legitimate examples of speciation – but rather evidence of alteration within species. Despite their best efforts, scientists have not been able to produce or observe trans-speciation. Fruit flies, with a ridiculously short reproductive span, have been experimented on ad nauseum, and extraordinary offspring have been produced. But whether the resultant fruit flies have two wings, four wings, six wings, no wings, or a hundred wings; they remain fruit flies. Ditto for scientific interference in the reproduction of dogs, cattle, flowers, etc. Despite scientists’ best efforts, specimens do not evolve into new species. You don’t get cats from dogs. In other words, evolution (transcending current species boundaries) remains a hypothesized theory which has never been seen to happen. It appears, from my perspective, as if Genesis 1 gets it right – God created the living things ‘according to their kinds’. There is incredible diversity of kinds, and remarkable adaptation and variation within those kinds; but animals do not evolve from one kind into another.
Another way of putting this is that speciation – the heart of Darwinian evolution – is (a) unobserved; (b) unverified in scientific experimentation; and (c) unfalsifiable. I suggest that this is the textbook definition of an unscientific theory. In other words, Darwinian evolution is not science, but rather philosophy or worldview.
C. The Fossil Record
When Darwin published his theory, he expected that the new field of palaeontology (the study of fossils) would eventually bear out his theory. He predicted that there ought to be countless numbers of intermediate species in the fossil record – records of living organisms which represented the transition between, for example, reptiles and birds. This theory has not been borne out by the fossil evidence, however. While there have been a few highly-publicized examples of proposed transitional species, some of these examples have later been exposed as fraudulent or over-blown. There are a few remaining possibly legitimate examples of transitional species (although as a non-evolutionary theist I would interpret that data differently); but there is certainly nothing like the plethora of transitional fossils that Darwin insisted would have to be there to support his theory. In other words, the fossil record serves to disconfrm evolutionary theory.
Even more troubling is the Cambrian explosion in the fossil record. The Cambrian explosion refers to the geologically sudden appearance of complex animal life that marks the beginning of a rich and dense fossil record. Prior to the Cambrian age, there are no fossil records of the complex vertebrates; suddenly in the Cambrian strata, there they are: fully formed, stable, and relatively unchanging from that point onward. Moreover, each phylum is self-bounded – not apparently related to any earlier type of fossil species. Rather than a tree of life (Darwin’s picture) that traces back to a common ancestor, you have instead the picture of a sudden sprouting of a whole field of various wildflowers with no precursors. In other words, what we see in the fossil record is not a gradual evolution and diversification of life forms, but rather a sudden appearance of fully-formed species and families of species.
So in two distinct but powerful ways, the fossil record, which was supposed to be the primary evidential support for the theory of evolution, instead challenges Darwinism.
D. Irreducible Complexity
Darwin also admitted, when he proposed his theory, that any irreducibly complex organ or system would provide a devastating blow to evolution. Darwin did not believe that any such organ or system existed, but many contemporary biologists do. Irreducible complexity can be defined as “a single system that is composed of several interacting parts, where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to cease functioning.” (Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, 93) A mousetrap is the famous example. Behe argues that there are large numbers of irreducibly complex biological systems within our bodies, ranging from the eye, the blood-clotting mechanism, to the bacterial flagellum, and so on. These systems defy evolutionary explanation, as they require the entire fully-formed structure to appear simultaneously to be of any benefit to the organism. A partial flagellum is not only useless, it is positively counter-productive, and would serve to make the organism less suited for survival.
E. Human Sociality – Ethics and Religion
I will be spending significant time and space discussing both of these facets of human existence in later posts, so I will only mention them briefly here. Evolution as an overarching worldview (or metanarrative, if you like fancier words) claims to explain morality and religion as well as biological diversity. To put it simply and bluntly, evolution is highly inadequate to do the job that is required of it. Evolution fails to explain the unquenchably religious spirit of humanity, and similarly fails to explain the undeniable existence of a transcendent, objective standard of morality of which we are all aware (and which, simultaneously, we all fail to live up to). Discussion of these issues will have to wait.
The end of the matter, however, is simply this. Evolutionary theory, in its simplest form of adaptation, or variation within species, is uncontroversial, perfectly compatible with Christian theism, and absolutely correct as a scientific theory.
Evolutionary theory as an overarching worldview, seeking to explain the origin and structure of the universe, the origin of life on earth, the existence and nature of human morality and religion, is unquestionably in conflict with Christian theism. It is also patently false and unworkable as an explanation of life.
The second manifestation of evolutionary theory – macro-evolution or classical Darwinism – holds that all living things have evolved from a common ancestor through a gradual process of random mutation and natural selection. This theory is potentially compatible with Christian theism, if the random mutation is altered to be understood as a divinely-guided mutation which appears random to the human observer. However, in the end it really doesn’t matter whether the theory is compatible with Christianity or not. From my perspective, at least, this form of evolutionary theory fails as well. The inability of scientists to observe or recreate speciation, the contrary evidence from the fossil record, and the obstacle posed by irreducible complexity all conspire to render evolutionary theory as questionable at best.
From an apologetic standpoint, the implications are immense. Evolution has a strong hold upon contemporary society – many students abandon their faith because of the perceived strength and unassailability of Darwinism. If only students could be shown the contrary evidence, which demonstrates significant problems within evolutionary theory, perhaps we could close that back door of the church. This is a matter of giving struggling Christians “reasons not to disbelieve,” or, if you prefer, “reasons to continue believing.” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Evolution doesn’t explain everything. Christianity does.