LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Theistic evolutionists argue that evangelicals must accept the theory of evolution in order to be taken seriously by the scientific community, but R. Albert Mohler Jr. says that even perhaps the most prominent theistic evolutionist finds it hard to gain acceptance among his scientific peers.
Since last summer Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been engaged in a debate over the origin of the universe and mankind, and those who oppose him say Christians risk being intellectually marginalized in the larger culture if they hold to a young earth and creationist view.
“I am wondering if you realize just how incredible it sounds to a scientist when you say that the earth is 10,000 years old,” Karl Giberson, a senior fellow at The BioLogos Foundation, wrote on the organization’s blog. “The measurements that scientists make to determine the age of the earth and the universe have become quite routine, like counting tree rings, or measuring a wavelength of light and it boggles my mind to think that anyone would set these simple measurements aside.
“Most scientists consider the age of the earth to be almost as well-established as its shape,” Giberson added. “Just as ‘flat earthism’ cannot be taken seriously any longer, neither can ‘young earthism,’ and I wonder if you really want Christians to ‘vote science off the island,’ for that is what you have to do to preserve the young earth claim.”
Mohler, though, says that even theistic evolutionists are sometimes shunned by secular scientists. In a blog post last fall, Mohler noted that Francis Collins, the founder of BioLogos and the director of the National Institutes of Health, is a prime example of an evangelical who has embraced evolution but still is considered intellectually deficient.
Collins is one of the most influential scientists of the last 100 years, having led the effort to map the entire human genome, Mohler wrote. He founded BioLogos to advocate for the theory of evolution among Christians, and since becoming NIH director has become a “forceful advocate of an aggressive broadening of research using human embryos.”
“Even with all of Francis Collins’ achievements, qualifications, and experience, the bare fact that he is a ‘believing Christian’ is enough to draw the active opposition of many in the scientific establishment,” Mohler wrote. “Just being a ‘believing Christian’ is reason enough for suspicion, condescension, and opposition.”
When President Obama appointed Collins to lead the National Institutes of Health, evolutionary scientist P.Z. Myers said, “I don’t want American science to be represented by a clown.”
“This is the predicament of those who argue that evangelicals must accept some form of theistic evolution — the guardians of evolution still consider them clowns,” Mohler wrote.
Mohler noted, “Even when Francis Collins presses his case for evolution, he is dismissed by many scientists simply because he believes in God. In other words, when we are told that we have to accept and embrace the theory of evolution in order to escape being considered intellectually backward, remember the opposition to Francis Collins. It just doesn’t work.”
Meanwhile, Giberson, in a five-part blog series at BioLogos responding to atheistic scientist Jerry Coyne, characterized Mohler and Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham as paddling in “intellectual backwaters” for being unwilling to relinquish a straightforward reading of the biblical creation account.
Mohler, in response, wrote that Coyne is one of the most recognized authorities on evolution in the world today, yet Coyne views those who argue for an accommodation of evolutionary science and religious belief as either dishonest or delusional.
Coyne had written, “The reason that many liberal theologians see religion and evolution as harmonious is that they espouse a theology not only alien but unrecognizable as religion to most Americans.”
Mohler wrote, “He is increasingly frustrated with scientists who make what he sees as a fallacious argument — that Christianity and evolution can be reconciled. ‘Attempts to reconcile God and evolution keep rolling off the intellectual assembly line,’ [Coyne] laments. ‘It never stops, because the reconciliation never works.'”
Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.