Just a Theory?

I wrote a book review some time ago of Improbable Planet by Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe. I received a comment as to whether my positive review assumed the worldview on the age of the earth and, by extension, the Big Bang and evolutionary theory. This provides, to my mind, a very interesting question which Christians should consider: Are the Big Bang and evolution worldviews? Can Christians hold these views?

One writer has called the Big Bang, “the humanist worldview based on the evolutionary theory.” Another called it “materialistic.” Noted atheist Richard Dawkins makes evolution the main part of his “central argument” for atheism in The God Delusion. Many seem to believe that the Big Bang and evolution are worldviews.

First we must define our terms, a worldview is a conceptual framework through which one views reality. Everyone has a worldview, a lens through which they view the world and take decisions. The Big Bang has several variations. But, in general, the Big Bang holds that the universe came into being from the initial release of all matter, energy, space, and time from nothing a finite time ago. Evolution has at least four definitions, but the operative definition for our purposes is “change over time which moves beyond the level of species, the progress of which can account for the history of life on Earth.” This can also be called Universal Common Descent or Macroevolution.

Christians have been told to avoid these theories. I have heard it spoken from pulpits that “we don’t teach the Big Bang in our church.” Christian speakers and website tell us to avoid compromise with secular theories with the “atheistic assumptions” and “unbiblical worldviews.” The effect of giving in to the theories of the Big Bang and evolution will a loss of effectiveness in our churches and institutions and an exodus of youth leaving the faith.

A worldview seeks to answer big questions. One of those big questions, as both Ravi Zacharias and Kenneth Samples point out is the question of Origins. In the larger sense the question is: Where did the universe come from? The question can be stated in the personal sense: Where did I come from? The answer to the question is origin through a supernatural creator or natural processes.

The Big Bang and Universal Common Descent are scientific theories. They are, in fact, instrumentalities in the service of a worldview. Both theories are tools to answer the larger question of Origins. Neither theory answers the question of whether God created the universe and life. They merely describe the process. When one takes a conclusion, using these processes to decide the question of Origins by saying, for example, that because evolution is true, then God does not exist, the process is being used illegitimately. The one who takes such a conclusion, as Richard Dawkins does in his “central argument,” has ventured outside of the world of science and into philosophy.

It is possible for Christians to accept the Big Bang and evolutionary theories as God’s instruments of creation. Christians can conclude that God used the Big Bang to create the universe. That is the position to which I hold. It is equally possible to assert that God used Universal Common Descent as His mechanism to create life on this planet. Neither theory should be dismissed based on which “philosophy” it serves. Both should be subjected to rigorous scientific testing. We should “test all things, and hold on to what is good (I Thess. 5:21, HCSB). This applies to scientific theories as well as worldviews.

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