Saturday, 31 January 2015

Here is why an increasing number of Christadelphians are accepting evolution

While I have received many letters of support from people who have found my material instrumental in showing them both the reality of evolution, and the fact that it does not contradict a robust Christian faith, I must be honest and state that by far the bigger reason why we are seeing an increasing number of people either accommodating evolution or accepting it is both the wretched nature of the anti-evolution arguments, and the frankly unpleasant, abusive, patronising nature of remarks made by some of the anti-evolutionists in our community. 

Of course, saying this is one thing, but demonstrating it is another, so a post dedicated to showing the growing number of those accommodating or accepting evolution in our community would not go astray. Names have been hidden due to the fact that regrettably, there are self-appointed zealots who think that slandering, persecuting, and abusing people who have the intellectual honesty to accept the evidence for evolution is somehow consistent with being a humble follower of Christ. One prays that soon, the idea that people would even be questioned, let alone excommunicated for accepting evolution will soon be little more than a scarcely believable memory.

Christadelphians who have been moved towards evolution by anti-evolution material 

1. “The recent material appearing in a range of Christadelphian publications which attack the scientific consensus on Evolution and promote the view that Genesis should be read as a 21st century appropriate scientific account of material origins has further solidified my position close to the Evolutionary Creation viewpoint. I sense in the articles a lack of confidence, an overreaction in response to a perceived threat and hostile fear which I do not detect in writings on other Biblical subjects. There is no openness toward the idea of any uncertainty on the subject at all, which I find quite disturbing and not in line with our professed ethos of being searchers of Truth. How do we expect the people to whom we preach to ask difficult questions about their beliefs if we are not prepared to do the same?” 

2. “It was the discussions between G and A that made me think about the topic seriously. In those discussions at BTDF I began to realise that the typical arguments against evolution didn't stick up. This shook me more than hearing anyone talking about the proofs for evolution.” 

3. “My views have evolved over time based on many years of studying and discussing the subject. Comments made by those who disagreed with me have definitely played a role. But far and away the biggest factor was considering what the Bible really says, and even more, what it doesn't say, and seeing that the dichotomy commonly set up by both creationists and evolutionists is a false one.” 

4. “I've reluctantly come to acknowledge the evidence for common descent as a result of lurking in various forums like to this. It has mainly been the noticeable lack of reasonable arguments from the creationist side that made me rethink it.” 

5. “When I first showed an interest in this subject in around 2007, I started with the belief that evolution was one of the greatest lies ever formulated. However, to help maintain a robust faith, every time I heard a public lecture about evolution or some other aspect of science in its relation to the Bible, I would go away to verify what I'd heard in the hope of weeding out the bad arguments from the good. 

But, the more I investigated, the more I began to doubt just how solid many of the arguments were. What I found was that anti-evolution arguments were consistently based upon a) factual inaccuracies, b) poor logic, c) ignorance of the intricacies of the subject, d) misrepresentation such as 'quote mining' and e) 'cherry picking' favourable arguments while ignoring anything that disagreed. I lost all confidence in books, websites, lectures and Bible classes speaking out against evolution and I eventually realised that it wasn't just a few arguments being made against evolution that were poor, rather it was all of them.” 

6. “As a young person watching the evolution debate unfold online and in the magazines, I have been finding myself leaning towards a personal stance that will either accept evolution, or at the very least accommodate those who do. The biggest force pushing me in this direction however has not so much been the positive arguments for evolution (though they have been useful), but the standard of argument against it, which has for the most part consisted of ignorance of the subject, bad logic, inflammatory rhetoric, and ad hominem. 

When I expressed my disapproval of this on a public forum, I was met with belittlement and slander which I was not allowed to correct on the record. When I explained the effect this was having on my views and asked those opposing to produce better arguments for their case, I was called a heretic. 

Nowadays when I read articles/editorials in the magazines opposing science and evolution (particularly The Lampstand, which has been publishing such items frequently of late), I find myself more often than not cringing at the errors in both fact and logic contained therein. This is particularly sad, as one of the best things this journey has given me is an appreciation of our pioneer brethren and editors past. I would hope that those in similar positions of influence today could further aim to follow the examples our community was built on in their approach to Science, and to Bible study in general.” 

7. “Although I have never been a YEC (that I can recall) I was an OEC at one time. These types of anti-evolution talks, and the speaker's refusal to answer questions and instead accuse me of not believing in the Bible definitely was a factor in accepting the facts of evolution. The argument I always received was "because my interpretation of the Bible says so," while providing no evidence as far has history or physical. Now my belief in the Bible has never been stronger and I can reconcile the creation with the world around me. Definitely has been the opposite of "leading to the path to atheism" in my case. In fact, it's led to a greater appreciation and awe of God. God's creation is definitely one of the greatest shows on earth.” 

8. “On the Christadelphian email discussion group Ecclesia-Discuss (and on Facebook), I saw P repeatedly criticising M's anti-evolution posts, demonstrating they were using out of context quotes, outdated sources, misrepresentation of facts, arguments copied from evangelicals, and ignorance of basic evolutionary science. The more I saw such weak arguments destroyed, the more I became convicted that there were no good arguments against evolution. I was not alone in this; observing the same exchanges, one sister commented “M, I don't have fixed views on this subject, but your extreme arguments are pushing me in the opposite direction to where you are coming from”.” 

9. “I was YEC for most of my life. but became OEC in my mid-30s. At this point I began interacting with the evolution debate. Although strongly anti-evolution myself, I felt less threatened by it as time went on. Ironically I found that flawed creationist arguments against evolution proved most convincing in favour of evolution. While I could not always understand the pro-evolution arguments, I could see why the anti-evolutionist arguments didn't work. In time, repeated evidence of lies and misrepresentations from anti-evolutionists destroyed their credibility. When I realised that theistic evolution presented no significant theological problems, I knew I could fellowship those who accept it.”