We had in studio today Dale Campbell who is a Pastor from Auckland’s North Shore, and Dr Graeme Finlay who is a senior lecturer in Scientific Pathology at Auckland University speaking about their belief that biological evolution is the way by which life developed.
Graeme and Dale are convinced that life has evolved and that the human species has an evolutionary history, The are both Christians and believe that God is sovereign over the process of evolution and that He upholds it.
Dale Campbell and Dr Graeme Finlay Part 1
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Dale Campbell and Dr Graeme Finlay Part 2
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Dale Campbell and Dr Graeme Finlay Part 3
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Dale Campbell and Dr Graeme Finlay Part 4
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  1. Just caught the end of this broadcast on Sat morning, and will work thru these posts asap, but I actually don’t need to hear them to make my comments.
    1 – I agree with that Christians (I am on BTW) should not ever be afraid to have these conversations – and they are indeed critical to our understanding. Yes – we need to show respect to all opinions, yet not be afraid to unpack them to show the failings. So I for one am NOT complaining about this topic on your show.
    2 – The end of the show seemed to concentrate on the Creation age debate (i.e. 6 literal days vs long term) which is a completely separate scientific/scriptural debate to that of evolution. The genesis text can be read completely fairly and reasonably with both interpretations of ages and I think is pretty ‘benign’ theologically in that either view does not really affect the Christian world-view. The more important point is that if it was NOT theologically ‘neutral’ we should then err on the side of Scripture.
    2 – Accepting evolution on the other hand is the complete opposite. It has CRITICAL theological implications, such that TE, (Theistic Evolution, or God ‘using’ evolution) simply is nonsense to the Christian – i.e. it does ‘not make sense’ and it truly is a deal breaker theologically to anyone who considers it carefully. Firstly though – by evolution we must define the term as macro-evolution or neo-darwinian synthesis, – i.e. natural selection operating on the results of gene mutation and the cause and origin of all species from a single cell. This is different from the other major definition (that btw was the ONLY sort that Darwin actually observed) as ‘changes occurring within a kind’ due to natural selection such as his finch beaks and peppered moths. No one has issues with the second definition – only the first, which is a flawed extrapolation of Darwins findings. Hear (very briefly) are the main reasons why TE is ‘non-sense’ to the Christian faith.
    a) Evolution by strict definition is a completely ‘natural’ process. There is absolutely no requirement for God to operate in it AT ALL – and that is ‘by the design’ of Darwin, (and Dawkins) and all serious proponents of it. That is fair enough – they are welcome to their opinion. I want to listen to these audio’s to hear (in precise terms) exactly HOW the TE guys think GOD was/is actually involved in a process that by definition occurs completely without any supernatural requirement at all. What bits did God do? I don’t expect anything credible. If I was an atheist I would snigger with disdain at Christians who feel this need to endorse a completely natural (NO God required) process, yet also need to add God to the mix? Why is that?! And they’d be quite right to jest, and they all do! I might just as easily state that to boil water I need to put the water in the jug turn it on – and oh by the way – we do need to add God too – of course. Ooooh Really?! (says the atheist).
    b) Evolution as classically defined above actually fails on its own merits, and more and more people in the science community are beginning to openly acknowledge its failings having admitted it in secret for years (as per the video Expelled). Its interpretation of the ‘evidence’ is flawed because it ‘pre-supposes’ and ‘pre-requires’ a naturalistic worldview. That is – it is an attempt to interprete the physical evidence (which all aligns nicely with a ‘design’ world-view btw) without allowing a supernatural design element into play. Modern science revealing the complexity of the cell and mathematical information theory etc, show that evolution fails as a credible view, and it is only the philisophical naturalism that has been written into the very definition of ‘science’ that protects it (for now) as the only other possible way to interpret the data without invoking design.
    c) The real kicker for TE however, is the theological implication of accepting that Adam and Eve were not ‘real people’ after all, and thus there was no real original fall, which is the ONLY reason JESUS was/is required to rescue us – which of course is the foundation stone of the Christian faith, along with His resurrection which Paul says if didn’t happen we are all to be felt sorry for. There is no credible way to define or describe a ‘fall’ from an original creation state that God said was ‘good’ – in an evolutionary model. Do monkeys ‘sin’? Why don’t they require a saviour yet we do? Evolution absolutely must define that the boundary between monkey and man is pretty much non-existent, as is the boundary between what humans are now and what we might become in the future. How do you in meaningful and credible terms describe the actual ‘first humans’ as the ONLY created beings that have moral obligations to God requiring an extra-ordinary and supernatural saving act within this view?
    It is only intellectual bullying by the scientific community, and worse a bowing down to it by the church, that makes people feel the need to sound Christianity sound credible. The shame is they don’t realise that a) it isn’t necessary at all and how embarrassed they will be when evolution is finally openly rejected, and b) they are actually doing the exact opposite – making Christianity a laughing stock.
    Kindest regards,
    Richard Coulbeck.

    • Congratulations in sponsoring this discussion on Christian radio. Some issues raised by Richard have spurred my response.
      Firstly, in relation to the statement that the strict definition of evolution being a completely natural process.
      This is often chorused by folk like Richard Dawkins to completely exclude God from the origins and development of the universe. John Lennox as a scientist, who is also a Christian, accepts evolution as the way in which God created the variety within biological creation. He has debated this issue face to face with Dawkins.
      Darwin’s Origin of Species, based on observations of micro-evolution, caused him to propose that changes could be significant enough to establish new species. Recent findings in cosmology, genetics and the genome has subsequently added some confirmation of the evolutionary picture.
      Dawkins’ retort asks why do Christians unnecessarily add God to the evolutionary explanation. Many Christians, because of the history of the evolution/creation debate, baulk unthinkingly at the idea of evolution as they hold it to be consequentially antagonistic to a Christian worldview.
      However, the Christian response to Dawkins should be the question, why do you take God out of the evolutionary picture?
      If God’s creative action is rightly explained best by evolution, as we currently perceive it, why should we expect anything within it that we could then label as God’s direct ‘touch’. If we believe that the world was created by God, is it likely that some unusual or inexplicable natural phenomena is going to be labelled ‘Made by God’ and ordinary natural processes not? That scenario is nonsense from both atheistic and theistic perspectives and theologically inconsistent.
      So, there are no bits which God made and other bits which were not.
      It is therefore a religio-philosophical reason, not a scientific based one, requiring a ‘made by’ label or in the atheist case no label because for them the universe is uncaused.
      Secondly, to Adam and Eve and do monkeys sin and need salvation. Through our understanding of genetics, we find we have common ancestors with other primates. Graeme Finlay is quite enthusiastic about this and I have no expertise or reason to oppose that view. And it is misleading that Christian anti-evolutionists tend to portray humans being descended from monkeys.
      Theologically, all creation is to be saved not just mankind. An extra-Biblical caricature of salvation does not help our understanding of God’s relationship with us and creation and therefore how we are to critique an atheist’s view.
      We really have to step back from our culturally embedded, modern scientific worldview when reading Genesis. We cannot treat Genesis like a science journal or a newspaper report and much less as a comic strip. The truth of Genesis is however an explanation of humanity, God, creation, the fall and redemption, which are all part of the shared reality of creation. All those things cannot be explained using common terms from a single perspective. The Bible came to us through the life experiences of many authors from different eras using different forms of language. It was not dictated within a single perspective in a single sitting, word for word.
      Thirdly, the real bullying comes from two sources in the debate. Firstly, in the guise of science, the semi-philosophical unscientific rants by Dawkins and his wingman Lawrence Krauss among others, with their depreciation of history and ancient scholarship outside their own experience. Secondly, and just as appalling, is the misrepresentations of science made by literalistic readers of the Bible.
      Fourthly, for any contemporary Christian to agree with the idea that evolution is a credible explanation of God’s creativity, is seen as a retreat from orthodoxy by some within the Christian community. The problem lies fairly within the Christian community because of false orthodoxy. Here poor understanding of what scripture and science are, has played into the hands of atheists. Positions of false orthodoxy have overwhelmed the ability of many Christians to be constructively involved in the evolution debate and have little effectiveness in combatting secularisation of western culture. As a result it now seems, to some Christian and science communities, that Christianity is in retreat.
      Fortunately, this is not so as the cobwebs of false orthodoxy are being blown away, not by bankrupt theological liberalism (ie Geering’s Godless Christianity), but by fervent conservation and restoration of biblical scholarship with reference to modern scientific understandings. This hopefully will result in encouraging not only a sane conversation and critique within the debate but also in supporting a solid Christian witness in our contemporary world.

      • Thanks for the response BC, and with total respect am happy to respond.
        1) “Through our understanding of genetics, we find we have common ancestors with other primates.”
        This finding is not proven. What we actually find is that we have common design features to many other creatures that have similar morphology and some common behaviour, which is not irrefutable proof for common descent at all, except (as mentioned before) in a atheistic world view where the evolution model is the only possible explanation it’s possible to cling to.
        2 – “And it is misleading that Christian anti-evolutionists tend to portray humans being descended from monkeys.”
        My apologies – there was no intention at all on my part to make use of the term ‘monkeys’ in a way to bring unfair disrepute to the opposing view. Feel free to replace that term with ‘primates’ (as you used above) or whatever else you define were the direct human ancestors in the model. The theological issue I described regarding who exactly must be ‘born again’ to be saved according to the classic Christian view, remains.

        • Thanks Richard for your reply.
          I just want to clarify my first point regarding genetics. You refer to the products of genetics, morphology and behaviour of different species, which I didn’t mention.
          My reference to genetics relates to the more foundational findings of the human genome project in particular. Together with growing knowledge of primate genomes and the contemporaneous development apes and humans, the descent of man is fairly well established.
          The following links may be of interest to you:
          Unwarranted fitting of evidence to theory is dangerous ground because the next scientist is just itching to prove new proposals wrong and establish his own credentials in their field of study. Most scientists are not celebrity minded but head down in research projects. Naturally they have their own philosophical outlook on life which is culturally informed but when applied to scientific results are subdued by the scientific method and peer review.
          Scientific enquiry is by definition limited to physical phenomena. There is no dispute or fudging of that. Any claims new atheists make of science expressly excluding God from the picture can not be scientifically substantiated. Dawkins tries this on in his books ‘The Selfish Gene’ and ‘The God Delusion’. If you want an overview of the history of the evolution issue I recommend ‘The Selfish Genius’ by Fern Elsdon-Baker published by Icon Books Ltd. It’s well worth reading.
          However, it is important that we step away from calling any scientific enquiry as ‘athiest’ or ‘neutral’ or even ‘Christian’. When qualification of that nature is introduced, it produces more heat than light within the debate. What we can do is follow-up and highlight any fallacious statements made beyond the reference to science.
          The issue of being ‘born again’ relates to the picture Jesus sketched for Nicodemus. Literalistic Nicodemus’ objected to Jesus’ proposition of anyone being born again. Jesus pointed out that he was alluding to spiritual renewal rather than the physical process of birth. But the spiritual process of ‘new birth’ is not emphasised to exclude the physical realm as if Jesus was defining a spiritual/physical duality as being core to Christian theology.
          Although the relationship between God and man is different to that of God and the rest of creation, our position has an effect on creation. Unfortunately this relationship seems to have been forgotten over the last 200 years by Christian evangelicalism, especially within the western culture of capitalism and colonialism, in placing an almost exclusive emphasis on individual salvation. The platonic physical/spiritual duality and the idea of souls as entities, produce a truncated picture of the nature of humanity and human salvation in relationship to the rest of creation. These false dichotomies reflect in our understanding of our relationship with creation, the nature of resurrection and the future of all creation.
          We must confess that the general evolution debate has much unneeded baggage to deal with on both sides of the argument. Whether or not we are convinced evolution is true in respect to science and theology, it neither confirms or denies God and creation.
          What both sides have to face is that the plethora of natural laws, formulated throughout the history of science and philosophy, did not bring the cosmos into being and do not govern what exists or explain why it exists the way that it exists and its purposefulness.

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