Re: Evolution's Imperative (was Def'n of Science)

Brian D Harper (
Thu, 11 Mar 1999 11:17:44 -0800

At 10:47 PM 3/9/99 +0000, Vernon wrote:
>Greetings Kevin:
>In response to your recent posting let me first address your closing
>> I have to admit that I'm not sure what your point is here. Could you
>> elaborate?
>I had written:
>> >We read in 1Kings 18, verse 21, "And Elijah came unto all the people,
>> >and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God,
>> >follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him
>> >not a word."
>What Richard Dawkins and I have in common is that, confronted with the
>Mt.Carmel challenge (though he might not put it that way!), we have each
>made a choice: Dawkins for 'Baal' and I, for the living God. Theistic
>evolutionists, on the other hand, are - in the words of the AV - 'halted
>between two opinions'. They stand guilty of attempting to 'have it both
>ways'; to serve two powerful masters whose agendas concerning themselves
>are poles apart! The Lord himself warned us about such a situation

My first inclination was not to respond to this. Your response
brings me a great deal of anguish and sorrow and thus there is
a tendency on my part to just put it aside. Nevertheless, you've
shown a willingness of late to discuss some issues openly and so
I thought I would try to put together a reply. Well, not really
a reply but more like an appeal. An appeal to a brother in Christ
to take some consideration of the consequences of your actions.

Based on your comments it seems to me that the choice of which
you speak is really between God and a philosophy/theology/religion
of evolution that would more properly be called evolutionism.
I would dare to say that all TE's join me in rejecting evolutionism.

What I would like you to consider is the possibility that your
"Mt.Carmel challenge" either/or confrontation just plays into
the hands of someone like Richard Dawkins. With this either/or
established he no longer has to confront Christianity, he just
has to have some convincing arguments that evolution has occurred.

Let me give you a concrete example. I have been teaching a Bible
study for international students for many years. Almost all of
these students have a college education and most are working on
Masters or PhD degrees in Science or Engineering. There are also
a few postdocs and visiting scholars. Almost all the students are
asian and of these, almost all are from mainland China. As a
sidelight, I had one couple attend for several years who had been
present at Tianamen (sp?) Square. I also had three young men
who served in the Iraqi army during the Gulf War. Anyway, in view
of the above description, you will probably not be surprised to
learn that very few of the students in my class are Christians and,
in fact, the majority are atheists.

So, as I'm sure you can appreciate, teaching this Bible study is a
tremendous challenge. I decided a long time ago not to deliberately
get into the creation/evolution controversy in this class since I
didn't want to cause any confusion about extraneous matters. Instead,
I always teach Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Nevertheless, the subject does come up indirectly now and then and
I always spend some time on it whenever this happens. The last time
it came up went like this. I opened the class with the questions:
"How many of you believe in God?", "How many of you do not believe
in God?" and then asked for a show of hands. Most raised their hands
for the "do not" question. I then asked why and one young man (a PhD
student in Civil Engr. from Mainland China) answered immediately
"Evolution". I feined incredulity :) at his answer and asked in a
bewildered voice "You mean you cannot believe in both God and evolution?"
to which he replied "no". I then put this to the rest of the class
and was surprised that the answer was unanimous. Everyone in the class
thought that belief in God and in Evolution were mutually exclusive.
Next I asked where they got this idea and there were two answers:
(a) this is what they were taught in school (from mainland Chinese) and
(b) this is what they had been taught by other Christians.
I thought to myself: "How odd that Christian teaching and Communist
dogma should agree.

I then told them that Christians hold many positions on creation/evolution
and that such views were just sidelights, of no real importance to
the Christian message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation by grace
through faith plus nothing. Next I explained what some of the possible
positions were, spending most of the time on Theistic Evolution since
this position has the most bearing on the either/or question. BTW, I
also told them I would not reveal to them my own position. We spent quite
a bit of time on this, including a reading and discussion of Genesis 1.

When it was all over, the young man who originally responded so quickly
"evolution" now, with a huge smile and a great deal of excitement, said
"I believe, I believe in God now." And so it would seem that the only
barrier between this young man and belief in God was a false barrier,
your "Mt.Carmel challenge". This barrier was erected by (I'm sure)
well meaning Christians. And so, back to my appeal. My appeal to you
is that you not be one of these well meaning Christians.

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University