I admit it: I have faith in evolution

Yep, that's exactly what it's like.

I’m simply blown away by the arrogance of the evolutionists, and probably because they accuse the other side of arrogance that they themselves show in full force. Both sides are FAITH based when it comes to the origin of things, yet they argue about science…

God of Evolution commenter

For years, scientists and science writers have fought against the idea that science is “faith-based.” This is not to say that the scientific process doesn’t rely on certain assumptions. It does.

But the charge goes quite a bit further than that, claiming that science — and consequently, the theory of evolution — is entirely “faith-based,” or at the very least, just as faith-based as the belief that the universe poofed into existence a few thousand years ago, exactly according to the synopsis set forth in Genesis 1.

Through this blog, I’ve met some of the people who propagate such an idea. They’re the same folks who describe evolution as a “religion” and call scientists like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers “high priests.” Despite anyone’s efforts to educate them into oblivion, these views seem to have only intensified over the years — surely based in no small part on Ray Comfort’s mind-numbingly bad movie “Evolution vs. God” (in which Comfort accuses biology students of having “blind faith” in their textbooks and professors).

To my knowledge, the response by those on the side of science and reason has always been to deny such faith-baiting accusations, and to explain what differentiates scientific assumptions from the tenets that animate and embody religious faith. But I’ve never been one for toeing the party line. So, without further ado, I give up, and I admit it: I have faith in evolution.

Specifically, I have faith that the vast evidence for common descent — in many different, independent lines of inquiry — is there because common descent occurred, and not because God put it there to deliberately mislead us. Similarly, I have faith that the many different radiometric dating tests that we can do consistently dates fossils and rocks as billions of years old because they are billions of years old, and not because God just wanted us to think that.

I also have faith that the steady progression of life forms we find in the fossil record going back billions of years is there because there was a steady progression of life forms over the ages, and not because, well, that’s just the way it is, so stop thinking about it so much (or because a catastrophic flood somehow neatly sorted all life largely according to the sequences predicted by the theory of evolution).

I have faith that, when astronomers observe objects in space that are millions of lightyears away, they are seeing these objects as they existed millions of years ago, rather than seeing beautiful illusions that God conjured up because he couldn’t figure out how to make pretty things in space without lying to us.

I have faith that, when Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace first presented the theory of evolution by natural selection, their goal was to explain evidence that — even 150 years ago — was quite overwhelming and persuasive — not to attempt to disprove God with a theory that — if true … does not disprove God, any more than modern meteorology does. In the same way, I have faith that when scientists today continue to explore and validate the theory of evolution, they do so because testing hypotheses and predictions is part of their job, and not because they are part of a massive conspiracy to undermine faith in God with a theory that — again — doesn’t even actually do that. And I have faith that, when scientists present yet further evidence — both observed and experimental — confirming the theory of evolution, they do so because finding and sharing scientific evidence is part of their duties as scientists, and not because they are big, fat liars with their pants on fire.

I have faith that when scientists, scientific academies, educators, politicians, activists and citizens of all stripes oppose the teaching of anti-evolutionary ideas in science class, they do so because they believe science curricula should teach only that which is scientifically testable and falsifiable, and not because they hate God and want to make your children into little atheist foot soldiers.

I have faith that when “intelligent design” proponents fail to receive the academic recognition they believe they deserve, it is because they have failed to demonstrate that their position is scientifically tenable and fits the criteria of scientific inquiry — in short, because they have done bad science, and not because all of academia has connived to “expel” them.

So yes, I have “faith” in all these things. Now, is my “faith” in these matters every bit as reasonable and justifiable as those who have “faith” that they are the victims of a vast, worldwide conspiracy, one whose sole goal — despite the fact that it has involved many devout Christians over the years — is to ruthlessly usurp and destroy faith in God at every turn?

Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Tyler Francke

  • Leslie Donovan

    Thank you. Just simply, thank you.

  • PurpleAardvaark

    Faith is a tricky term. When I say that I have faith in something (or someone), it means that I can rely on it because there is evidence that it is reliable. I have faith in the scientific method to explain events. I do not accept this because I have faith in it, I have faith in it because it is a reliable way to explain things that I experience in my life.

    When I plant tomato seeds, I rely on the provider to have sold me viable seed that will germinate and grow into plants that will produce tomatoes. In the event that one of those seeds produces jalapeño peppers it reduces my faith in the provider’s reliability; it does not make me think that tomatoes and jalapeño peppers are interchangeable. In the same vein, I once saved seeds from a turban squash and planted them the next Spring. Most of them produced turban squash plants but one of them produced a much different fruit – a pumpkin. Because I know that squashes and pumpkins are different varieties of the same species, I thought it was interesting and wondered if the turban squash was a hybrid that had back-crossed or if there had been some pumpkins near enough for some pollen to have been transported from the pumpkin to the squash.

    Similarly, I do not “believe” in evolution but I accept it as the best available explanation for the evidence.

    • John Elder

      Thank you! Faith is not, as a coaster I got in a pack from Hobby Lobby says, “Believing in something when common sense tells you not to.”, nor is it believing in something with no proof. Faith is trusting your prior, evidence-based decision when you have irrational doubts.
      I sometimes say that you have faith that your spouse isn’t cheating on you when you’re out of town if your spouse has always been faithful before and there’s no evidence that they would cheat on you. If your spouse is a serial adulterer, then trusting them not to cheat isn’t faith, it’s foolishness.

      • Interestingly, though, I think the Bible does, at times, define faith as “believing in something when common sense tells you not to.” Surely, common sense was not urging Peter onward when Jesus told him to step out of the boat and walk across the water toward him. The Bible even contains a story of exactly what you describe in your analogy, when the prophet Hosea was asked to marry and remain faithfully wed to a prostitute, despite her unfaithfulness.

        But even though the Bible does describe an important part of faith as trusting in God’s goodness and love even when it doesn’t make sense to us, I would agree that “faith” — even biblically — does not mean hanging on to a belief about some nonessential religious doctrine in the face of clear, obvious and irrefutable evidence. That’s not faith; that’s just being thick-headed.

        This is all why it can get so messy when createvangelists try and splice the biblical definition of faith and the cultural one together in calling science and evolution a “religion.” And this is also why it can be so difficult for even Christians like myself to talk to fundamentalists about this topic; they honestly believe that they are somehow being faithful to God by stopping up their ears and closing their eyes.

        • Hannah

          In the example, with Peter, it depends what you mean by “common sense”. Couldn’t you also argue that Peter’s “common sense” would have urged him to continue walking towards Jesus, because he knew Jesus was all powerful, and that he didn’t lie? Can there be any “sense” that doesn’t fit with Bible? I’d say that there can’t be, at least in the way I mean “sense”. The thing is that when we become a “new creation” our “common sense” changes. Even if I don’t understand God’s love or goodness for a short while, it still makes more “sense” to say God is good then not.

          • Hey Hannah, you make some good points, but I definitely think there is a distinction to be made. Sure, it makes intellectual sense to trust God in everything, and yet, doubt sometimes creeps in. The disciples are perfect examples. They doubted Christ at just about every turn, even though they had seen what he could do with their own eyes. They doubted he could feed the 5,000, then the 4,000; they doubted his mission about dying on the cross and abandoned him when it happened; and they doubted he would rise again, as he promised; etc. What do you think?

          • Hannah

            Thanks for answering!
            I think that it is important to realize that the disciples didn’t have the Holy Spirit in the way we do. In John 16:7 Jesus says:
            But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away.
            Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will
            send him to you.

            Just one more thing, too. I think that it’s important to differentiate between two separate issues. One is how we trust God and how we know God. The other is how we express that. The first one is definitely the most important. I think it might also be a little different for each person. We all should trust God with ALL our hearts and minds, but I think we have different journeys getting closer and closer to that. The second issue is interesting, but of secondary importance. Even though the world “faith” was probably popularized by Christianity, I’m not sure “faith”, in the way some people mean, is even appropriate for the trust I feel for God.
            Again, thank you for answering.

          • OK, Hannah, I see where you’re coming from. Good points. Thanks for following up!

  • Warren Collier

    Prepare to get quote mined. I can see it now: “Evolutionists finally come clean! ‘I have faith in evolution’ says Tyler Franke!”

    • What?? I can’t imagine that a young-earth creationist would ever take a quote written from a certain position, rip it out of context and try and claim that it says the opposite of what it actually says! 🙂

  • Will

    Darwin and Wallace weren’t the first to write about evolution. They were, however, the first to write entire books and papers on it in great detail.

    Anyway, your “faith” in all the things you mentioned is far more reasonable than that of a Young Earth Creationist with that bizarre conspiracy theory. This article is great!

    • They weren’t the first to conjecture about evolution, but they were the first to theorize on the idea of “natural selection,” right? That was the distinction I was going for.

      Glad you liked the article!

  • Larry Bunce

    The word ‘faith’ in this context is like the word ‘theory.’ David Hume in the 18th century pointed out that no one can ever be a total skeptic, because a skeptic has to believe in skepticism. We start wading deeply (don’t forget your hip boots) into the field of epistemology here. The fossil record shows that life on earth has changed over time– that is the ‘fact’ of evolution. Darwin’s theory of natural selection provides the best explanation so far of how life evolved, but science is always open to a better explanation. YEC’s refuse to admit that life evolved in the first place, so they don’t feel obligated to offer an alternate explanation. Admitting even that micro-evolution takes place undermines a literal interpretation of Genesis, since Genesis states clearly that God found each thing He created ‘good.’ For this reason, the concept of extinction was considered heresy in the 18th century.
    YEC’s seem to accept extinction and micro-evolution these days, so maybe they are making progress.

    • Well, they’re either making progress, or they’re becoming more clever about how to run an effective campaign on laypeople, children and the general public. :-/