On November 18, 2011, the York University student club in which I’m Chaplain and Director – Leadership, Culture and Christianity (LCC) – sponsored a special public lecture by Dr. Denis Lamoureux titled: Beyond Evolution vs. Creation. Lamoureux has earned PhDs in BOTH Evolutionary Biology and Christian Theology. He currently teaches at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta, Edmonton and has the distinction of holding Canada’s first tenured track position in Science and Religion. Lamoureux is a self-proclaimed Evangelical Christian and an Evolutionist. He calls his position, Evolutionary Creation. You can also read York’s student newspaper The Excalibur‘s coverage of the lecture. In this blog post, I want to give some of the major points in Lamoureux’s lecture and also a link to his complete lecture with audio and slides.
The recent controversy at Calvin College over the issue of human origins in the publications of two of its professors causes me and a friend to think about how Christians disagree with one another. In a connected blog, Jason Postma, Youth Pastor at Bethel CRC in Newmarket, Ontario, explores how at the root of these debates is how “we use (and abuse) history and tradition in the formation of our identity” as Christians of a particular denomination, in this case, the Christian Reformed Church, to which, Calvin College is affiliated. Postma suggests that we remember the dynamic nature of tradition – that tradition is a living thing that requires “continual negotiation between imagination and preservation” – and the Scripture’s call to work towards Christian unity in our disagreements over interpretations and uses of Creeds and Confessions. He implores that we “always extend a hermeneutics of charity to those with whom we are in disagreement rather than point accusatory fingers and call each other heretics.” It is this “hermeneutics of charity” that I wish to explore further in this blog post.
The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate by Del Ratzsch (IVP,1996), 248 pages.
Most debates are polarized and extreme positions are opposed to one another in a right versus wrong, true or false, kind of way. This is definitely how the popular media tends to portray disagreements and debates. Polarizing positions this way keeps things simple, easy to follow, and increases readership or TV ratings. Other opinions that may be in the middle, or more sophisticated arguments, are ignored in favor of simplicity and drama.
Alas, our Christian or religious media tends to do the same thing as well. Especially in regards to the Creation-Evolution debate, many Christian writers tend to cast the two positions as absolute opposites with no middle ground. One is either totally for Creationism—which is often portrayed as believing in a literal six-days creation and young earth—or one is totally for Evolutionism—which is portrayed as atheistic, anti-Bible and anti-God. Thus, both sides are seen as totally incompatible and only one side can be right or wrong. There are exceptions, however, and The Battle of Beginnings is one of them.