Yesterday I stated my disagreement with Young Earth Creationism (YEC). Today, I saw the comic above and it made me laugh. But, the comic also makes a good point. Many Christians are afraid to answer the question of whether they believe in Young Earth Creationism or some form of Old Earth Creationism or of Theistic Evolution. Frankly, it is not because they are truly unsure. Rather, they do not wish to face the almost instant attack that is received from those who believe in YEC.
In all too many of our congregations, conservative Christians who do not buy into YEC theorizing are made to feel as though they have deserted God and are put on the spot to explain why they disagree with YEC theory. More than that, they are often labeled as having been “corrupted” and or “taken in” by secularism. In other words, despite the easily confirmed fact that many conservative Christians (particularly outside the USA) theologians see no conflict between some form of Theistic Evolution or Old Earth Creationism, nevertheless all too many USA conservative Christians are willing to quickly label them all as not being true interpreters of Scripture. Entire swaths of conservative Christians are quickly dismissed without a second thought.
It bears mentioning that the irony is that some of the great modern conservative Protestant Christian heroes are in strong agreement with one of the theistic evolutionary models. For instance:
John Stott – The evidence of Genesis 2-4 is that Adam was a Neolithic farmer. The New Stone Age ran from about 10,000 to 6,000 BC. [and in another quote] All pre-Adamic hominids, still homo sapiens and not yet homo divines, if we may so style Adam.
Tim Keller – For the record I think God guided some kind of process of natural selection, and yet I reject the concept of evolution as All-encompassing Theory.
From the Early Church Fathers, one can quote Origen – Now who is there, pray, possessed of understanding, that will regard the statement as appropriate, that the first day, and the second, and the third, in which also both evening and morning are mentioned, existed without sun, and moon, and stars— the first day even without a sky? And who is found so ignorant as to suppose that God, as if He had been a husbandman, planted trees in paradise, in Eden towards the east, and a tree of life in it, i.e., a visible and palpable tree of wood, so that anyone eating of it with bodily teeth should obtain life, and, eating again of another tree, should come to the knowledge of good and evil? No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree, is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it.
Throughout Church history, orthodox believers have fallen on one side or the other on this issue. However, it was not until YEC began its strong attack in the mid-20th century that this issue became a dividing issue between supposedly “true” Christians and supposedly not so true Christians. What had been an issue over which freedom was permitted during most of Church history became something dark and divisive, over which all Christians must take a stand, over which all Christians would be judged. YEC adherents have not served the Church well, but rather have tried to force the Church into a stance over which there has yet to be agreement during our history.
The end result has been much derision on the part of secularists and much pain in the body of the Church. If anything, YEC has had the effect of silencing university students who might otherwise have stated that they were Christians. Nowadays, even secularists know that the first question to ask a Christian is about evolution or some other hot-button issue. But, of evolution there is no clear consensus among orthodox Christians like there is on many other hot-button issues. So, it is easier to keep quiet than to chance ridicule over something you do not even believe in.
This is a sad thing.