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Christian faith, reason and science

January 2010 letter (rejected by 'The Christadelphian')

This letter, co-signed by a number of members with scientific qualifications, was rejected by the principal magazine of the Christadelphian church.  In subsequent correspondence, the editor referred to advice he had received from other qualified members: he refused to divulge their names.

Brother Michael

 When discussing evolution and creation it is essential to remember that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psa.19), and that God holds all men morally accountable to him because of the self evident witness of his creation (Rom.1). Furthermore God expects Christian thinkers to humbly consider his heavens and all of his creation before presuming to define the limits of God's character and behaviour (Job.38-40).

 This means that if evolution is true, then evolution also (a) declares the glory of God, (b) is a witness of his invisible attributes and eternal power, and (c) reveals a wealth of information about God's modus operandi, along with all the other wonderful and creative forces we are able to discover with science.

 Our community would do well to think positively about the Creation in this way. For many years even scientifically informed Christadelphians held out against evolution in hope that something new would turn up that would better explain the data in favour of a literal view of special creation. New evidence did come in the form of the genetic code and the study of the genome, and the findings decided the issue of common descent as surely as DNA evidence settles a paternity dispute. While the implications of these and other discoveries will take some time to sink in and be properly synthesised with our beliefs, the writing is on the wall for all to see. We were wrong. If we do not face the facts, our children will; the rising tide of genetic technology will see to that. Consequently, all who seek the truth should be free to cautiously accept the facts of science in faith, believing that all elements of God's Creation are witness to his ways and power. 

 In view of these developments, our community needs open hearted honesty to diligently enquire how we resolve these matters. We must humbly seek the truth in faith that God's ways are higher than we can imagine; we do not need renewed exhortations to hold fast to untenable ideas. We will certainly need to apply more critical thinking to our application of Scripture. After all, if the self-evident witness of the Creation revealed enough of God’s invisible attributes and power (Rom.1:20) to leave the Roman world without excuse, how can we defend placing Scripture at odds with the natural world today? Insisting that God’s Word is opposed to the demonstrable facts of God’s Works is a recipe for unbelief; it places obstacles in the path of the young and the interested, and hands the mantle of truth and reason over to the atheist by making the Bible look false. Likewise we must avoid discrediting faithful individuals whose knowledge, experience and training has equipped them to separate the facts of Scripture and science from the chaff of the so-called “Creationist” movement. Finally we must vigorously dismiss the mistaken belief that evolution disposes of God. Failure to meet these needs will leave us ill equipped to respond to the atheistic challenges of today and the future. 

 Meanwhile, in view of our historic opposition to evolution (because of its unfortunate adoption by atheists as a cause for disbelief), we must of course generously and patiently allow our community time to come to terms with the discoveries of science. But in the long term God's truth is at stake, God's glory is at stake, and our appreciation for God's character is at stake. Arguably the survival of our community is also at stake. 

 The heavens declare the glory of God. Do we believe this?

 Let’s not shy away from the witness of God’s Creation.

 your brother in Christ Jesus,

 Jonathan Pogson

  

PS. The following brothers and sisters expressed their wish to co-sign in support.

[7 others and] David Brown

 

 Investigate everything you believe - if it is the truth it cannot be injured thereby; if error, the sooner it is correct the better. Never be afraid of results to which you may be driven by your investigations, as this will inevitably bias your mind and disqualify you to arrive at ultimate truth.  John Thomas

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