Pay No Attention to That Data Behind the Curtain!
by Melissa Cain Travis
Within the Christian community, there tends to be a certain degree of polarization when it comes to questions of origins–the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of species, and the origin of mankind. There are some who believe that the scientific community cannot be trusted on matters of origins, that human scientists cannot draw reasonable conclusions from the relevant data alone, and that the Darwinian agenda taints the situation so severely that we should dismiss all of it wholesale and rely on a plain reading of Genesis for our information about origins. At the other end of the spectrum, there are Christians who have embraced most all of the conclusions of the [currently] reigning Darwinian paradigm, and criticize dissenters as being either A) anti-science or B) narrow-minded about orthodox boundaries for Scripture interpretation.
In my view, both of these extremes fall short of what should be our true goal. If we are to love God with our minds, as Jesus Christ commanded us, we must commit ourselves to thoughtfully examining the scientific and philosophical arguments (from ALL SIDES) that have bearing on origins issues
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before adopting any position. Even then, we should hold our view with a good measure of humility and a willingness to continue learning. I’m not saying that this is an easy task or that everyone who sincerely attempts it will eventually agree with one another. But, those who take this wiser route to their conclusion will have a better understanding of the views with which they disagree and an appreciation for the information we can glean from creation itself.
One particular facet of the origins debate that has been getting a lot of press in recent years is the question of human origins. The related field that tends to fascinate us the most is paleoanthropology (the study of the human fossil record), because fossils are evidence we can visually examine and compare with what we know about humans living today. When evaluating the fossil record as a whole, there are some creationists who claim that that there are ape fossils and there are fully human fossils, but no good evidence for anything intermediate–anything “in between.” Christians who embrace an evolutionary history of mankind interpret the data very differently, seeing a branching tree of descent rooted in very ape-like ancestors that slowly progressed through many transitional forms before Homo sapiens finally emerged. I would like to argue that both of these views discount very important fossil data in order to preserve the theological or philosophical commitments that underpin their position…
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