Friday, April 29, 2011

Evolution and the Truth Project

Evangelicals know that Christianity is suffering from a crisis of truth. There are fewer and fewer doctrines that don't have major dissenters. There are more and more churches and opinion leaders that are questioning long standing Christian teachings. It makes many people conclude that Christians don't really have a solid grasp on truth. Practically it means they cannot put Christianity at the center of their life. They become functional atheists because religious truth is just not solid enough to order you life around.

What is needed is authority. People sense that. But theologically there is no person or group that has the authority to speak for God. Everyone has authority so nobody does. The way evangelicals fill this vacuum is by doing a lot of table pounding. They use strong presentations and hope people forget they don't have a theological foundation for making the declarations they are making.

This is where we are at with Focus on the Family and the Truth Project. They are using there strong reputation to present certain basic doctrines. Essentially they are trying to solve the crisis of truth by defining dogma as best they can. They would not accept that characterization but you can't solve a crisis of truth with a wishy-washy presentation. You need to convince people that this much is solid. This is not just one more human opinion but it is something from God.

There is a lot to like in the presentation. Evangelicals are very good at presenting the gospel in a convincing way. When they get it right you just want to stand up and cheer. But they don't always get it right. This is why infallibility and authority go together. When Christians speak with authority they need to get God right or they do serious damage to the cause of Christ. It is not a small matter to put your words in God's mouth. It is hard to avoid. That is why God gives priests, bishops, and popes a special grace because it is not that easy to avoid mixing your opinion in with God's word and ending up being a false prophet.

The truth project makes it's most major error when it talks about evolution. By doing that they jump into the area of science. You really don't want to go there. Scientific theories should be accepted or rejected based on how well they predict experimental results. That is all. Saying a scientific theory should be rejected because it does not fit a particular world and life view means every religious view might require it's own science. That is silly. The physical world is what it is. Theories about it can be tested. If they can't then they are not scientific theories. Intelligent design is like that. Saying the world is designed by God tells us nothing about what we will find when we examine our next fossil.

What needs to be pointed out is the possibility that the human body might have come from animals does not contradict the notion that the human person is made in the image of God. That both identities can be true. One is a scientific question that religion really has nothing to say about how it should be answered. The other is a religious question that science cannot hope to address because it does not involve a physical reality. That avoids pitting science against religion. It avoids suggesting some grand conspiracy among scientists to falsify results because they don't like Christianity.

When you go that direction you end up being the one who can be both faithful and reasonable. You don't desperately try and deny the science. You simply point out where scientists have over-interpreted their data. Evolution does not prove there is no God or that we are here by accident. It explains some things well but leaves much unanswered. Certainly the question of the ultimate cause of  and the ultimate reason for our existence is not answered.

If you condemn a widely accepted scientific theory as heresy then you had better be right. I don't think they are right. So what happens to the credibility of the truth project? This is the problem when you divorce infallibility from authority. You end up with a distorted view of Christianity. A view that should be rejected because it is falsifiable. It justifies people picking and choosing which elements of Christianity they are going to accept. So have you dealt with the crisis of truth? Not really.

The only way to make Christian truth claims credible is to have one faith and to define that faith in a way that is not falsifiable. So we can have a rock solid foundation to base our lives on. Did God give us that? He did. It is based on papacy. The rock of Peter that Jesus promised to build His church on. We don't think we need that grace. We certainly don't want to face the errors we have come to embrace by following our favorite teacher. Evolution is one area where the popes have been more liberal and accepted new ideas. In most areas they have been more conservative. Something to offend everyone. But it is the only way out of the crisis of truth.

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