Early next month, my wife and I will travel to Ecuador where we’ll scratch off another bucket list item. Thanks to a tax refund and frequent flyer miles, we’re taking a four-day cruise through the Galapagos Islands.
This Ecuadorian island chain is ground zero for Charles Darwin’s theory of biological evolution, and it’s where he discovered many of the icons of his theory. Like Darwin, I plan to use a dinghy to scamper ashore in search of lava lizards, flightless cormorants, finches and giant tortoises.
The mere mention of Darwin in this faith-based column is likely to alienate some readers. Some of you find Darwin’s theory repugnant to your faith, while others believe that evolution dismisses any possible notion of creation.
However, many people of faith find that evolution doesn’t oppose their biblical views of creation. They find scriptural wisdom of 2 Peter 3:8: “With God, one day is as good as a thousand years ...” Meaning, they find it possible that God guided the process over millions of years in something called “theistic evolution.”
If you’ve not guessed, I count myself in this group.
Lest you dismiss theistic evolution either as heretical or scientifically untenable, I’d like to suggest that science and theology aren’t polar opposites. They only seem to be contradictory because they reach different conclusions. The reason they get different answers is because they are different disciplines asking very different questions.
Science asks “how” or “what” questions, while theology seeks answers to the questions of “why” or “who.”
So if you want to know how things work, consult science. It does a great job of addressing questions like how land masses were formed or what dinosaurs looked like.
However, if you’re asking “who” questions like, “Who put us on this earth?” then I suggest you look toward faith.
But even more important than asking “who” is asking “why.” Why did mankind come into existence at all? Or more to the point, why am I here? Why are you here? How do we relate? These are all existential questions best examined through the lens of faith, not under the scientific microscope.
When people are drawn into the science-versus-faith debate, they’re usually seeking answers from the wrong sources. When scientists try to disprove God, they venture outside of their expertise. And when theologians argue how young the earth is, they, too, cross the boundaries of their know-how.
The debate is a good occasion to reprise the old joke about the little boy who asks his mother where he came from. The mother cleared her throat and proceeded to thoroughly explain the biological facts of life.
When she finished, the mother asked the boy what prompted his question.
“Well,” the boy said, “my friend Jimmy said his family came from Colorado, so I was hoping you could tell me where I came from.”
Red-faced, the boy walked away, mumbling, “I knew I should’ve asked Dad.”
Which all goes to show you that while it’s important to ask the right source, it’s even more important to get the answer to the question you are really asking.
After our Galapagos visit, we’ll spend five days in Cuenca, Ecuador, with Florida readers Jim and Kay Stanley and will be preaching in their church. We’re exploring the possibility of spending a few retirement years in Ecuador, so if you have any Ecuadorian ties, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759. Twitter @chaplain. Leave your recorded comments at (843) 608-9715. Read more at www.thechaplain.net.