The evolution-creationism debate is over, according to theologian and blogger Tony Jones. He posted yesterday about his frustration regarding a recent conference at Fuller Seminary that he attended titled “Talk of God. Talk of Science.”
Here’s an excerpt (emphases his).
What I found most interesting about the talks that I heard was that they all dealt with one particular issue in the science and religion world: evolution and creation. That was the case study around which the talks that I heard revolved (I probably heard 2/3’s of the plenary talks at the conference).
I sat on a panel on Friday evening, and, when asked about my experience of science in the church, observed what I’d seen that day. And then I said, “No one under 40 gives a crap about creationism. Only Baby Boomers care about that.”
He went on to admit he was being somewhat hyperbolic:
There are recalcitrant GenXers and Millennials who take their kids to the Creation Museum and subject them to Answers in Genesis curriculum. But, please. Those are the dark and musty corners of conservatism that will never change. As Jesus said, “The anti-science refuseniks will always be with you.”
Later, he stated his concern that “the Christians who were presenting at the conference are fighting a battle that’s already been won.”
If only, brother. Unfortunately, I have to disagree.
Should the debate be over? Without question. Any legitimate scientific concerns about the theory were put to rest decades ago (and no, showing me a list of scientists’ names will not convince me that this is not true), and I completely agree with Jones that there are far more pressing issues that the church should be concerning itself with, both within the scientific realm and elsewhere.
Are there signs that things are moving in that direction? You bet your tail-less behind. But is it over? Absolutely not. There are still way too many churches where theistic evolutionists feel, at best, part of a quiet minority, and at worst, marginalized and unwelcome.
And if you want to look at the statistics, the most recent Gallup poll shows that more than two-thirds of regular church-goers are young-earth creationists (they said they believe “God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years). Even those who attend less frequently were split 55-41, with the majority rejecting evolution. And, as I’ve pointed out on this blog before, yes, in 2012 — the year of the iPhone 5 — nearly half of all Americans hold creationist views (46 percent, according to the same poll).
These data don’t indicate to me that there’s a happy agreement on the issue. But numbers are boring, aren’t they? Let me speak from personal experience.
In college, I wrote 160 pages on the harmony between Christianity and evolution for my senior thesis. I went to the University of Maine, a public school. My then-fiancée, who went to a private Christian college, was counseled by many of her twenty-something classmates to break off our engagement because I “believe in evolution.” Also, after three years of leadership on various Christian groups at my school, I was basically forced out of all of them because one issue of a religious magazine I edited did a big spread on Christianity and evolution that came down more in favor of mainstream science than the Hovind theory.
When I started this website, the backlash from some friends and family so disturbed my wife (same lady as the one mentioned above, by the way) that we decided I shouldn’t repost articles on my personal Facebook page anymore. One of my best friends, also an in-law, told me he was praying for me and chided me to “keep reading God’s word!” Our young-adult pastor sought me out for a private counseling session (for the record, he listened very well. We came to an understanding, and I give him a lot of credit for that). Then again, at a women’s retreat hosted by our church that my wife attended, she was singled out by a mutual friend who presumed we were having severe marital difficulties because of the implications of my supposedly heretical beliefs.
And just if anyone’s keeping score, only one of any of these people I’ve mentioned is over 40.
Now, to be fair, I know I don’t do myself any favors with the fact that most of GOE’s posts aren’t exactly an olive branch to those who disagree with the site’s basic premise. But still, it doesn’t support Jones’ assertion that the topic is a non-issue. If I started a website that promoted the compatibility between Christianity and geocentrism and gently poked fun at flat-earthers, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had my inbox flooded with concerned inquiries and hate mail.
So is the debate over? Well, if it is, it’s certainly the loudest settled debate I’ve ever heard of.
Update: Tony Jones responded to this article in the comments below. Here’s what he had to say:
“Tyler, I appreciate what you’re saying. But those who cling to creationism are choosing to live in a medieval world. At some point, arguing with them is a waste of time, because they are voluntarily recalcitrant. So you keep fighting the good fight on this issue, but I’m interested in more pressing matters.”
Can’t say I blame him. Good man, and thanks for reading!