Applying Evolution

"Evolution is unproved and is unprovable. We believe in it because Creation is unthinkable." - Sir Aurthur Keith

Conservative Protestantism is often criticized for not accepting Evolution. Darwin’s theory is a dominate cultural force that churches face and from education to government to news, the lack of acceptance of Darwinian theory is emerging as a black mark.

Yet, those who embrace evolution and give the church black marks have yet to answer one profound and simple question. What are the practical applications of Evolution?

Science generally attempts to benefit mankind in some practical way. Biology, chemistry, and mathematics, among other fields of science, have given mankind an amazing array of benefits, from medicine to the combustion engine, from the lightbulb to the computer. Even a farmer can take a little bit of science and apply it.

Evolution, however, does not seem to have similar properties of every day use. It’s fundamental premise is historical and based on random events sifted through force over expanses of time so vast as to be beyond human observation. No doubt, Darwin’s theory is elegant and makes efficient use of the data. It is not however practical.

Most sensible people do not want their medical treatment to be random and applied through brute force (such as finding the right blunt object through trial and error to induce unconsciousness before surgery). Vehicles and computers are not designed to function on random power. People tend to desire to those things they rely on to be as precise and consistent as possible. No sane mother would turn her child over to a babysitter whose ability to care for children was uncertain and unstable. They do not desire childcare that is always changing in random ways and applied through sheer strength. Science that is based on sound, fixed information find application.

The primary areas where evolution has found practical application are philosophical. One, it provides intellectual ground for atheists to stand on and from which to level criticisms of the church. Two, it provides justifiable reasons to reject the authority of the Bible. Christians who accept evolution are essentially finding ground to place their truth claims in something besides their own sacred texts.

If there is one practical, non-philosophical area where evolution could be applied to everyday life, it would be to sift by force humanity in order to determine which humans are working against the progressive evolution of mankind. The elimination of the physically weak, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled, and the intellectually weak, such as those who refuse to accept the authority of science on the subject of evolution, in order to promote a society of the fittest is a practical application. Evolution provides an intellectual framework for rationally deduced final solutions. After all, it is about survival of the fittest.

That is the great taboo.

Reclaiming Old Bastions in a New World

Needing some righteous renovation.

During the twentieth century, Christians on the conservative side of the theological spectrum began militantly defending the faith against the encroachment of liberalism. Five fundamentals of the faith were held up and defended while attempting to dismantle counter ideas.

However, it became a militant ideology and defenders of the fundamentals of the faith separated themselves from the main ecclesiastical bodies and formed their own churches. The idea of separating from a mainline church is not a new concept, but in the twenty-first century the conservative side of the aisle is horribly fragmented and the American church has no practical unifying identity. This fragmentation continues as new denominations and non-denominations split and build.

As this happens, the secular culture becomes more unified and established and the church becomes weakened. The state-run churches of secular Europe suffer from a lack of vitality and a lack of attendance and the secular spirituality that is held as Christianity in those churches holds nothing of substance for people to genuinely cling to. Similar doctrines are held in American mainline churches today.

The entertainment and pop-theology economy that is the evangelical church offers little substance as an alternative save the emotions and subjectivity found in young, post-modernist congregations.  At the same time evangelical seminaries only serve as factories, producing evangelical pastors to plant like-minded churches. An arms race of churches has been set off for the plethora of evangelical churches while the liberals hold the old mainline churches.

A better solution would be for conservative Christians to view the mainline denominations that have fallen into liberal hands as mission fields. For centuries these old churches were pillars of Protestant faith, doctrine and tradition. To let them crumble and decay for the sake of a nameless and aimless evangelical movement that is constantly redefining itself seems like a great act of retreat and surrender. Given that unity is strength, the current state of disunity is handing the hearts and minds of American Christians over to a secular state.

The old church names like Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist and Presbyterian have been around for centuries and were once pillars for millions of Christians in the United States. Filled as they are by liberal theology, mainline churches are moving from being preservers of the Christian faith to being mausoleums of the Christian religion. Christians are called to be salt and light in a tasteless and dark world and that bland darkness appears to be finding a home in churches that once shined brightly.

It might be argued that the mainline churches are dead and beyond hope. Perhaps they are. However, what is being offered as an alternative and presented as the future tastes too much like a fad and does not seem to have any staying power. For sure, the church has lost historic ground that is in dire need of recovery.

The Ills of Christian Pacifism

"Vengeance is mine," saith Cheech Marin.

While expressing patriotism and support for the United States military the church seems to have a problem with war and violence. There is a type of pacifism the pervades Christianity and seems wholly at odds with the support for the U.S. military.

Usually the two main arguments against the use of war and violence are trust in God’s intervention and showing the love of Christ to non-Christians. Together, these two doctrines, both foundational to the faith, leave no room for non-civil action.

If a voice calls for violence in defense of Christians home or abroad, it is often marked as extreme and radical, blacklisted as “fundamentalist.” Even the threat of a secular society rising against Christians is not enough to stir any acceptance of violence.

In Egypt, Coptic Christians are dying in violent clashes against Egyptian military police. Christians protested with a peaceful sit-in Muslim violence against an orthodox church. They understand that Egypt is not friendly to Christians, being a Muslim nation, and are using the transition to civilian rule to protest.

The vast majority of Christian voices call for prayer and missions to the Coptic Christians. The idea is that God will intervene on their behalf and Christians outside of Egypt need only act with faith and compassion. In the face of persecution and violence, Christians are called to be passive.

However, Christians do not apply this thinking to other important areas of their lives.

For example, if a Christian is able-bodied, has employment opportunities, but refuses to spend his time working to earn a living and provide for his family because he trusts that God will provide, he is looked down upon for not being responsible. Unless there is an overarching spiritual reason, such as overseas missions, an American Christian is expected to work and earn his own way and not be dependent on others, even as an act of faith. It is said that God does not simply hand the Christian life on a silver platter.

A more explicit example is a sick child. There is a tremendous controversy over Christian parents who are passive when it comes to medical science, preferring to pray, fast and trust in God’s intervention. If this child dies, the parents are looked down upon because the medical science that could have saved the child was never utilized. Again, it is expected that Christian parents should use all human means at their disposal while trusting that God will intervene as they do what they can.

In the case of governments that oppress Christians and criminals that threaten the lives of Christians, it would seem consistent that Christians would use every human means available to them, including deadly force and war, to defend themselves.

If God calls Christians to be passive in their approach to the non-Christian world, then Christians should be consistent in their pacifism in all areas. However, since pacifism may have only been a doctrine meant for the early church (much like the inequality of husbands and wives), then Christians may find that they have a responsibility to advocate and support violence and war in defense of Christians here and abroad.

For sure, the secular state has no vested reason to protect them.

Legislating Morality Is What Governments Do

“Breaking the law, breaking the law.” – Judas Priest

The defense of a person’s rights is a hallmark of the American idea of liberty. Written into the founding documents is the concept of inalienable rights, rights that cannot be denied by any system of government or established authority. While the three overarching rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are general and public in nature, citizens in recent decades have grown comfortable with advocating for a whole list of private rights. Debates, arguments and conflicts reveal that not everyone agrees on these rights.

One argument that is quickly used in terms of rights is that morality should not be legislated by government. It sounds comfortable and agreeable, but some fundamental principles are being misunderstood. When a man states that he has a “right” to some behavior, he is essentially saying that he is in the right in what he is doing. In other words, he is arguing that he is doing nothing wrong. And in doing nothing wrong, he argues that any law prohibiting that behavior is unjust.

Laws serve as public declarations of what a society has agreed is wrong. The vast majority of U.S. citizens agree that it is morally wrong to steal from other citizens, so a law is drafted to declare that stealing is wrong. The law then empowers certain individuals with the authority to punish violators of the law, those who do the wrong, by depriving them of property (through fines), of liberty (through incarcaration) and maybe their life (through execution).

Every law written is a moral statement and by design governments are established to legislate and enforce the morality that is agreed upon by the society. Citizens agree upon what they believe is right and wrong and draft laws and establish governments to punish dissenters. This law and order is sustainable only if there is an agreement on what behavior is acceptable, what is morally right and wrong.

The real debate in a multicultural nation is what source of morality will be used to draft the laws. Equal rights do nothing to solve the dilemma as competing moral standards clash. At some point, the authorities must make a decision, uphold one moral standard over another and punish dissent. This is essentially what happened in the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln chose a moral standard, legislation was drafted against the practice of slavery and southern states that dissented from the law were punished through war, their claim to the right to practice slavery and succession denied them.

The same kind of debate surrounds abortion and gay marriage. The American culture is divided morally over both practices and a culture war has been underway for decades as one group, a minority, has used all possible means to either convince or convert the majority whose morality it is dissenting from. The moral standards from which behavior was judged and laws drafted once came from a Protest Christian culture, a theistic morality. However, this has shifted as the handful of positions holding authority and influence in the country were increasingly filled with secular thinkers and Protestant dissenters.

In a culture as divided as America, there is no such thing as equal rights. To promote the rights of one will inevitably trample the rights of others. If gay rights are established legally, dissent from those rights, which would be expected in churches, would necessarily and naturally require some sort of punishment for dissent. Whether it is called “discrimination” or “hate,” dissent from the moral consensus that accepts gay rights will be in violation of the law, of the legislated morality. As tolerant as human beings can be, there are limits when it comes to blatant defiance.

The government can and does legislate morality and punishes those who are considered immoral. The question is who is considered immoral. In the twenty-first century, Christians need to understand this. A new, post-Christian morality is being legislated against their beliefs and dissent will have to be punished.

A Quiet Hope for the West

A seed of hope for the West

Winston Churchill said, “Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.” At first this seems like a sound piece of wisdom, but it ultimately presents a type of naivety. If there are spacious plans for a new world then the inevitable question is why the old world does not produce contentment worthy enough for preservation.

Human activity being sourced in imperfection inevitably leads to change. History is a constant recording of the changes that emerge in the generations of human existence. As change occurs, there arises tension between what is and what will be as what is becomes what was. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday.

In the twenty-first century, the old world is the Christian west and the new world is global secular socialism, with its optimistic obsession for world peace and an end to poverty. The conservative essentially functions to preserve the old world as much as possible whereas the liberal seeks to usher in the new world as fast as possible.

The fundamentalist stance of the twentieth century was a militant rage against the machine of progressive liberalism within the culture and the church while the conservative stance is a less militant, persistent struggle to hold the ground. Unfortunately, the fundamentalists and conservatives have lost the culture war. Feminism and secular philosophies have won their victory and a weakened Christianity has sold its soul to capitalist materialism on one hand and Marxist materialism on the other.

In the midst of this confusion, I came across a small twinge of hope, like the proverbial plant in a wasteland. I met a young couple who had become parents and who were members of a liberal mainstream denomination. They both worked, him full time and her part time, and lived by humble means. Yet, they seemed content and stable. It would shock me if I were to hear of them divorced in the future not because they seemed happy as much as they seemed stable. The man had no causes for which he fought and there was no militancy in him. He simply worked as a minister and focused on living a wise life. The woman was not a feminist and harbored no desire to fight against men. They were a content couple.

Perhaps this quiet, unassuming example is the seed that will preserve the Christian west. The foundation of any civilization is a stable and fruitful relationship between men and women, best expressed in the Christian institution of marriage. The reckless decadence of pornography, feminist divorce and the gay lifestyle is simply unsustainable and neither material prosperity nor material equality can compensate.

It was said by Christ that wisdom is proved right by her children. The meekness of a stable Christian marriage is a voice of wisdom and history will ultimately prove her right.