Posts Tagged ‘United Methodist Book of Discipline’

Another thought on my previous post about evolution

November 21, 2012

I appreciate that there are Christians who reject evolution because it contradicts their understanding of scripture, especially Genesis 1 and 2. Alongside my denomination and most of the universal Church, I don’t share that understanding, as I said in my earlier post. We must agree to disagree. I don’t believe science, the Bible, or Christian theology are incompatible. Indeed, they are allies, or they should be. Science gets into trouble is when it goes beyond its boundaries and tries to speak metaphysically—about that part of reality to which science has no access.

And of course we Christians get into trouble, I believe, when we do the same in reverse.

I fully support our United Methodist position on the topic of science and faith (from the Book of Discipline, ¶ 160 § F). I’m underlining the sentence that I believe is especially relevant here:

We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.

While I don’t agree with them, I’m sympathetic with Christians who reject evolution on biblical grounds. Nevertheless, I don’t think that Christians should reject evolution on the same grounds that many atheistic evolutionists reject believing in God. In other words, either evolution explains how we got here, in a naturalistic sort of way, or God explains how we got here, in  a supernatural sort of way. The two explanations are mutually exclusive: it’s either God or science but not both.

If we Christians accept that premise, then we have more to worry about than just evolution. If we’re sick, go to a hospital, receive treatment, and get well, are we any less healed by God because doctors and medicine and medical technology intervened in our healing? I don’t think so. I believe it’s God at work through this intervention—and isn’t it amazing that God gives us bodies capable of being healed in this way?

When God answers our prayers, after all, that “answer” isn’t usually like the parting of the Red Sea: it’s usually through otherwise natural, fully explainable circumstances. Whether it’s by evolution or some less controversial means, God usually works in a mundane, natural sort of way. But we Christians still believe it’s God at work.