Sunday, November 7, 2010

Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design...and Jesus

I was thinking more about the whole issue of Evolution and Christianity. Some people clearly think they are in conflict. There is the whole silly bumper sticker feud between the Christian fishes and the Darwin fishes that grow legs and eat the Christian fishes. And there are obviously much more protracted, serious feuds on school boards and elsewhere.

I don’t see Christianity and the Theory of Evolution as being in conflict, but I certainly respect Christ-followers who do. As I’ve mentioned previously, I love and admire many people who embrace such beliefs. However, there are also plenty of Christ-followers I know who are firm believers in the Theory of Evolution. But there are plenty more I know who have never indicated to me where they come down on this issue—if they have given it any thought at all.

I have never once heard even the most devoted Creationist or the most ardent supporter of Intelligent Design say that rejecting the Theory of Evolution is a key tenet of Christian faith. Further, I have never heard anyone say Jesus came to Earth to show up know-it-all scientists. Frankly, I believe he came here for much more important reasons. And in the whole debate on this topic, I get concerned that that key fact gets overlooked.

Jesus came here to show us tangibly that he loves us and to teach us about our Father so that we could be reconciled to him. To me, that is what the essence of the Gospel (i.e., the “good news”) is all about. I was in the car thinking about all this. (Yes, I do some of my most important pondering in the car; it is one of the few times a busy mom and professor has a few moments to herself.) It occurred to me what an incredible red herring the whole Evolution debate is. The debate often distracts Christ-followers from truly following our Savior. It seems like there are so many more fruitful things we could be doing with our time. After all, for the short time we’re on this Earth, we’re supposed to be Christ’s feet and hands to bring his love to a world of hurting people. We’re not supposed to waste our time bickering amongst ourselves over things that are relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

If my jargon were more like that of my Evangelical brothers and sisters, I would not use the term “red herring.” If I were to use a more Evangelical way of speaking to express my belief, I would say the Enemy is trying to deceive, distract and divide the Body of Christ via the whole debate on Darwin. (Parenthetically, I tend to be hesitant to use such Evangelical word choice in part because I know secular people are turned off by it; such wording sounds paranoid and nutty to many non-believers, who then are often disinclined to listen to the substance of the speaker’s words.)

As I was driving (and pondering deep thoughts), I was also listening to a Christian music radio station. It occurred to me that the lyrics of our most popular Christian songs often express the most basic, most important aspects of our beliefs. That is probably why Christ followers can generally go to pretty much any Christian church, and participate in the “praise and worship” portion of the service without being offended or annoyed by the lyrics of the songs. The sermons can cause disagreement and controversy because that is where faith communities get into some of the specifics of their precise beliefs and interpretations of Scripture. Unfortunately, there is plenty of disagreement in the Body of Christ with respect to some of those details. But I have never heard of the lyrics of a mainline Christian song dividing Christ followers. Significantly, I’ve also never heard a Christian song about rejecting Darwinism. Maybe such a song exists, but it has not caught on because that is not a core part of who we are as Christ followers.

Maybe it is a stretch. Maybe I’m just looking for any lame excuse to share some good music. Regardless, I’d like to share a few songs that I think epitomize beliefs that are most important to Christians. The songs are available at the links below. I apologize that some of the videos have a high cheese factor. If the visuals are distracting, ignore them and just listen to the music. The lyrics are quite beautiful and convey some of the key truths cherished by Christ followers. Enjoy.

…And even if you are a serious person who doesn’t go in for frivolities like music, I encourage you to give these songs a listen. Music is very powerful. It speaks to us in ways that nothing else can. I remember after the horrific tragedy of 9/11, Oprah’s first show was simply a compilation of Gospel music performances. She chose to feature such music because it spoke to her and helped her heal after that tragedy; she thought it would minister to others as well. I myself am essentially tone deaf, sing off-key, and honestly have to concentrate pretty hard just to clap to the right beat in songs. Though I have no discernible musical talent of my own, I enjoy Christian music tremendously and it is a meaningful part of my worship experience at church, at home or even in my little car.

Amy Grant’s “El Shaddai”

Dolly Parton’s “He’s Alive”

Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God”

Mary Mary’s “Shackles”

“I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”

Genesis 1:1-3 (English Standard Version)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Matthew 4:16 (New Living Translation)

“The people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”

Matthew 5:16 (Wycliffe New Testament)

So shine your light before men, that they see your good works, and glorify your Father that is in heavens.

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