During my first trip to Puerto Rico to teach in a college, I spent considerable time one afternoon talking to a student who was particularly interested in why people believe in evolution. She simply couldn’t fathom why anyone would believe such a fantastically impossible “fairy tale”. I’ve thought a lot about it since then and would like to share some of my current conclusions.
So far, I can come up with at least five reasons why people believe it, or say they believe it. The reason that these are important is so that we can better understand the mind and heart of folks who are caught up in it, and some possible approaches to use when communicating with them. We know people in each of these categories, and perhaps you do, too….
Reason 1: Ignorance. They know nothing other than what they’ve been taught in school. Most non-Christian people (and many weak Christians) would fall into this category. For most of these, there really hasn’t been a choice. They know nothing of creation, nor have they ever heard a challenge to evolution. A few years ago when we were speaking in Portugal, we met a brilliant high school student –a senior –who had never even heard the word “creation” before. She thought it was some brand new idea! Similarly, Dr. Behe, the author of “Darwin’s Black Box”, while he knew something of what creation meant and implied, had never heard a challenge to evolution. It wasn’t until he read Michael Denton’s book, “Evolution, A Theory in Crisis” that he first came to realize that evolution probably wasn’t true. He expressed a degree of anger that he had gone all through school, college, and through a doctorate program in biochemistry and had never been taught even the basic problems with evolutionary theory.
Ignorance of the severe problems with Darwinian evolution, and ignorance of the creation alternative is the major reason behind most people’s belief in the theory.
Solution: These folks need to be taught the truth about the impossibility of Darwinism and prayerfully presented with the only alternative, special creation and the gospel message –and, not a watered-down version that presupposes certain aspects of Darwinian evolution theory to be true. The more the biblical version of origins is diluted and compromised, the more difficult it is for many people to see why Darwinism is so flawed. Many simply wind up thinking that evolution must have been part of the creation process. The incredibly stark differences between the two become muddied.
Reason 2: Observation. We see “natural” events on earth, not “supernatural” ones. This is particularly true of non-Christians and agnostics. It’s a specific world view that provides a complete background, a framework, for accepting evolution as reasonable. Here’s the thinking…
We all live our lives, day in and day out. We see the sunrise, then the sunset. We watch the weather, we see time pass, we observe the normal, humdrum of every-day experiences that are part of the natural world. So, when the question arises about the origins of Earth, space, seas, living creatures, etc., the natural tendency is toward a “naturalistic” explanation for all of it. This is often expressed by evolutionists as “the present is the key to the past”. There’s supposedly nothing that can’t be explained by processes we observe every day. All difficulties can simply be smoothed over by vast amounts of time acting in accordance with these processes.
Conversely, special creation requires a special act of God, a supernatural event. Miracles run counter to what is observed every minute of virtually every day. To believe that a miracle happened is to accept the “impossible”, or certainly, the unnatural. People resist it. When a miracle did indeed take place, many people were thrown into confusion. They wondered how this could possibly be! The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were forced to acknowledge it, but most tried to explain it as an act of Satan, ignore it, or suppress the evidence. Many of the common folk did too, as witnessed by those who ran off to tell the leaders about the resurrection of Lazarus. Why didn’t they fall on their knees and praise Jesus as (minimally!) someone extremely special who had just performed a supernatural, “impossible” act?
Virtually all of us get into various ruts from time to time. It might be a habit, or a mind-set, or a life style. We might not like the rut or perhaps even agree with it, but there is a certain “comfort” to being or staying in a rut. Perhaps it’s the familiarity with it. We come to know what to expect. To step out of the rut is to enter new territory, to make changes that might be uncomfortable, to be surprised.
Naturalism is a very powerful rut. We observe natural things all the time, and virtually never the supernatural. Darwinism therefore essentially proposes that the natural is all there is, so it provides a license, of sorts, to be involved in anything we feel like doing. “It’s natural!” Everyone winds up doing what’s “right in his own eyes”.
Solution: The solution is the same as for the first reason. People need to be shown the falseness and the dangers of this rut! Their thinking can be challenged by both the gospel and by evidence of design in nature!