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Someone recently passed on to me the an essay from the Huffington Post entitled “Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution.” It’s 2 years old, and some of you may recall it, but I missed it when it came out.

The author, Jonathan Dudley, is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics, a graduate of Yale Divinity School and, at least at the time when the essay was written, was M.D. student at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Dudley was also raised evangelical in the kind of evangelicalism where being anti-evolution is a sign of defending the faith. Both Dudley’s theological and medical education has led him to abandon that idea and adopt the opposite point of view–it is an abandonment of the Christian tradition to reject evolution.

In the past, Dudley argues, Christian theologians have “valued science out of the belief that God created the world scientists study. Augustine castigated those who made the Bible teach bad science, John Calvin argued that Genesis reflects a commoner’s view of the physical world, and the Belgic confession likened scripture and nature to two books written by the same author.”

The main counter of the anti-evolution side is that they don’t reject science. They just reject evolution because it isn’t real science. Citing Intelligent Design apologist Phillip Johnson, evolution is “based not upon any incontrovertible empirical evidence, but upon a highly philosophical presupposition.”

Dudley concedes that science is not a “neutral enterprise” because “prior beliefs undoubtedly influence interpretation.” But waving the flag of faulty philosophical presuppositions as an alleged refutation of evolution quickly breaks down, for,

“…no amount of talk about “worldviews” and “presuppositions” can change a simple fact: creationism has failed to provide an alternative explanation for the vast majority of evidence explained by evolution.”

Creationism cannot explain, among other things, “why birds still carry genes to make teeth, whales to make legs, and humans to make tails,” “the broken genes that litter the DNA of humans and apes but are functional in lower vertebrates,” or “how the genetic diversity we observe among humans could have arisen in a few thousand years from two biological ancestors.”

To reject these findings of science is to reject the traditional Christian notion that God created the world scientists study. Dudley cites 19th century Princeton Theological Seminary theologian Charles Hodge: “Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science.” [Note: I’ve seen this quote elsewhere, but Dudley does not cite the source. I suspect it is from What is Darwinism? but I can’t verify it. I’m not in the mood to dig it up, but if you know the source, let us know in the comments. This certainly sounds like Hodge, though I also know he wasn’t giving science a free ticket either.]

That’s why Dudley says orthodox Christian faith has to accept evolution.

What do you think?


Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.