When debating evolutionists, the average Christian must concede a lot — mainly, reams of scientific info and terms. I can navigate my way through the Bible, but when it comes to Horizontal Gene Transfer, Epigenetic Inheritance or the Cambrian Explosion, I am relatively clueless.
This doesn’t mean we should sacrifice all scientific spin to the academics, but that we should at least admit, at some point, the average Christian is way out of their league handling evolutionary data. Yes, we should possess a rudimentary understanding of arguments against evolution, namely that it is unproven and untestable. Still, I am dependent on somebody else (i.e., Christian scientists) to “technically” bolster my argument. The Christian, then, must rely on the Bible and common sense — and someone with a degree in the biological sciences — to wage war against the barbarians.
However, more and more of our brainiac “brethren” are embracing theistic evolution. It’s caused not a few rifts among Christians (see my post: Saving Science From the Church). But I personally believe that conceding theistic evolution is a reasonable middle ground, if not a move that makes tactical sense.
You see, most non-theists embrace the concept of biological evolution not for its wealth of evidence, but because it’s (currently) their best argument against God. In other words, many people believe in evolution simply because it supports an atheistic presupposition. In this way, evolution has become the default “proof” that the Christian God does not exist. Of course, uncovering actual “proof” that men came from monkeys is another story.
So why concede theistic evolution?
For one, as I mentioned above, it frees us the embarrassment of defending scientific data, biological processes, and genetic research that we know little or nothing about. This is not meant to say that there isn’t any data or research to support biblical creationism, but that wielding technical arguments without technical background or accompanying savvy is a double-edged sword. It is far better, in my opinion, to cite sources and references that support one’s position, rather than throw around terminology and statistics willy-nilly.
Secondly, biological evolution is not clearly ruled out in Scripture. Of course, many Christians would dispute this. The Bible’s aim, however, is to show us the origin of the Universe and the Beings who inhabit it, not provide a detailed description of the organic processes God may have used along the way. Man is created in the image of God. This is central to the Genesis creation account and distinct to historic Christianity. As long as a theistic evolutionist affirms that biblical doctrine (i.e., that Man is much more than an advanced animal; he is Divinely imprinted), how that Man was “assembled” should be peripheral.
Third, conceding theistic evolution frees us to focus on the essential issue: How everything got here. Think about it: The core distinction between Creationists and Evolutionists is not evolution, per se, but the belief that a Superior Being is behind the Cosmos. That’s it. Conceding theistic evolution allows us to (1) Completely remove the “evolution” argument and complex scientific narratives and linguistics, and (2) Focus on the larger issue of who we are and how we got here.
Admittedly, conceding theistic evolution is more a strategic turn than a biblical imperative. I mean, the Scripture could easily be interpreted to say that God instantaneously brought a human from the soil. But is that a hill we need to die on? By conceding an “evolutionary process” we remove a central plank of the non-theist’s apologetic and expose their underlying presupposition that the Universe is just a godless, unguided tangle of particles that arose from, well, Nothing. As long as we do not deny the essence of the biblical account, conceding the process (i.e., an evoltuionary mechanism) can help us get more quickly to the real issue, which is usually hostility toward the Creator.