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

Brian D Harper (
Sat, 13 Mar 1999 20:05:31 -0800

At 10:34 PM 3/13/99 +0000, Vernon wrote:
>Dear Brian,
>Thank you for your gracious response to words that you clearly found
>offensive. However, as I'm sure you'll agree, how we come to be here,
>the purpose of our being here, and where we go from here, are matters of
>such fundamental importance to all that we cannot afford to equivocate
>and risk getting the answers wrong. Accordingly, I must immediately
>challenge a comment you made in your penultimate paragraph, for this
>expresses well what it is that divides us.

I agree that there are some things that are of fundamental importance
and that should not be compromised. We apparently disagree on exactly
what those things are. I greatly appreciate your open and frank comments.
I also will be frank, hopefully without giving offense.

>> I then told them (a student Bible class) 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.

>In my view, the statement, '...sidelights...of no real importance...' is
>both tragically complacent and ill-founded. Let me show you why:
>In exchange for faith in Him, we receive salvation. That seems clear

It is not clear at all, sorry. Your statement seems to me, according
to my understanding of scripture, to be heretical. Pardon me for
being frank but, as you say, there are some issues of such
fundamental importance that we cannot afford to equivocate. One of the
foundations of the Good News of Jesus is that we receive salvation
as a free gift, in exchange for nothing.

>but, on our side, what must such faith involve? Surely, at least
>the following:
> (a) believing all He said and did;
> (b) believing all that He believed (as revealed in the
> gospels and epistles;
> (c) heeding His, and His disciples, warnings.

Again I disagree. Saving faith is faith in a person, not ascribing
to a list of beliefs. This is not to say that your three items
above are not worthy goals towards which we should strive. But
they are not things that we exchange for salvation. Once again,
this seems to me to be heresy of the worst kind. Perhaps I
misunderstood you.

>Unless these elements are present when we offer our lives to Him, how
>can we begin to trust Him with the destiny of our immortal souls? Is our
>relationship with Him at the level of, "We agree with much of the Bible,
>and, particularly, with much of what you had to say, but, of course,
>you, our Creator, lived in a pre-scientific, pre-darwinian age. Clearly,
>when you informed Moses that you created birds on day 5, and land
>animals on day 6, you were mistaken - for that's not the way we see it!"
>Can anything be more preposterous! But that's just about the truth of
>the matter for you TEs, isn't it?

Absolutely not. Please do not confuse the word of God with the
interpretation of men. Galileo said it best:

"The holy scriptures cannot err and the decrees therein contained
are absolutely true and inviolable. But ... its expounders and
interpreters are liable to err in many ways."
-- Galileo

>Brian, the gospels record a number of instances where you, as an
>evolutionist, would have to disagree with Him in whom, through faith,
>you have salvation!

None that I'm aware of. I suspect, as above, I would be disagreeing
with your interpretation.

>Is this a healthy state of affairs? Why are you so
>convinced that evolution was God's method of creating? Do you possess
>concrete proof of this? If you do, I should be grateful to know what it

No, I have no proof, and I'm not 100% convinced. But when I look
at God's magnificent creation, that's the way it looks.

>Earlier, you suggested that my 'Mt.Carmel challenge' plays into the
>hands of the likes of Richard Dawkins. I disagree. Closer to the truth,
>and to the dismay of your fellow Christians, we find theistic
>evolutionists working with atheists to undermine confidence in the
>Bible, and in the gospel of Christ.

I have never seen a single example of this.

>You conclude with the words:
>> This barrier (the 'Mt.Carmel challenge') 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, is evolution really a cause worth defending to the detriment of
>your taking and accepting the whole of God's word at face value? For
>myself, I would never consider taking that risk: the stakes are far too

I'm not sure what you mean by " face value" but suspect that
it means accepting the whole of God's word as understood by Vernon
Jenkins. Nevertheless, let me assure that I do accept the
whole of God's word. You talk of risk. What about the risk that
someone fails to find Jesus on account of false barriers that
you have erected?

>However, thank you again for writing moderately, as befits a brother in
>Every blessing,

Yes, and thank you also. And if my writing was not moderate enough
this time, please accept my apologies. Obviously, these are
issues that I feel very strongly about as they go to the heart
of the Gospel message.

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University