Joined: Mar. 2007
In detail, the dispute focuses mostly on macroevolution, that is, the hypothesis that major differences between kinds of plants and animals were bridged in the past through normal, gradual processes of reproduction and selection through many generations. Microevolution (small variations within a species)is not in dispute. And evolutionary naturalism ought not to be merely disputed but vigorously rejected.
So what about macroevolution? The fossil record is piecemeal, with gaps between major kinds. People already committed to macroevolution, either on philosophical grounds or because it has been accepted by the mainstream of scientists, fill in the gaps by postulating that there were intermediate forms,or some gradualist explanation. We should be suspicious, because the current atmosphere, in the general culture and within the subculture of scientists,includes the assumption either that there are absolutely no exceptions (closed regularity) or that no exceptions ought to be allowed as a matter of “scientific principle” The assumptions predetermine the answer.
On the other hand, let us not be too quick to embrace the alternative (some kind of progressive creationism) without looking to see whether it has weaknesses of its own.
Sometimes people operate here with an improper dualism between primary and secondary causes, so that one excludes the other. So ordinary reproduction (with secondary causes) does not involve God, and only an extraordinary act of creation (with no secondary causes) shows his existence, care, and involvement. This view has allowed unbiblical assumptions about secondary causation. And these assumptions put pressure on people not to look for secondary causes at all. So the accusation comes from the defenders of evolution that we have given up too early on looking for an explanation. To say God did it and stop there does not give us a scientific explanation but instead brings an end to science. There is a grain of truth here. But it is only a half-truth, because we need not stop with saying that God did it. Maybe there are ordinary secondary causes through which he did it. And even if there are not, God has reasons for what he does, and we may be able to discern a pattern that gives us some understanding of his reasons.
From a Christian worldview, we should affirm that, in principle, God could create animals either instantaneously or gradually, as he chooses. He could use a preexisting life-form as his starting point, just as he used Adam’s rib to create Eve. Whether he used extraordinary or ordinary means remains a secondary issue. We should avoid putting pressure on science artificially to prefer the extraordinary. But we should also avoid locking in the assumption that we must exclude the extraordinary. In fact, given the current atmosphere in science that wants absolutely to forbid the extraordinary, some pressure in the other direction is appropriate!