Understanding Evangelical Opposition to Evolution
In this brief video, Professor Schloss addresses what he sees as the two primary reasons that evangelical Christians oppose evolutionary theory. He notes that the ideas of evolution are threatening on a number of levels for evangelicals, but focuses on two in particular that seem to be the most common.
The first issue is that of the interpretation of the historicity of biblical narratives, that is the age of the earth. Schloss comments that this is a significant concern, particularly among Christians in the United States—even though it is a debate that actually predates evolutionary theory. Still, however, some Christians feel that the very truths delivered by the Bible hinge on its historicity and are therefore threatened if we accept the view of an old earth.
The other concern runs deeper actually, says Schloss, and this is the scientific inference that there is no room for a designer or a superintendant power in the world of creation. While earlier views of evolution have suggested that evolution lacks direction and is purposeless, Schloss says that on purely secular grounds, this is changing. He says that evolutionary biology now demonstrates that there are thematic trends: trends toward complexity, greater cooperativity, and a series of major evolutionary transitions. The theory itself, he says, is just changing. Evolutionary theory, as he sees it, is increasingly hospitable to the notion of a creator.
For evangelicals, the biblical God is a God of history who has purposes for it and also who enters history through the act of creation. Recent developments in scientific thought indicate that that the acceptance of evolutionary theory can in fact be concordant with the belief in a God that intended evolution to be the mode of his creation.
If you want to learn more about the emergence of themes in evolution consider reading Simon Conway Morris’s book, Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Jeff Schloss is the Distinguished Professor of Biology and director of the Center for Faith, Ethics, and the Life Sciences at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Schloss’ interests include evolutionary understandings of religion, morality and altruism. He has served on the editorial and advisory boards of numerous science-and-religion journals and organizations, and he writes and speaks widely on topics related to science-and-religion.