CHRISTIAN scientists and theologians expressed their belief at a conference in Auckland recently that they believed in evolution, and that the universe, earth and life were millions of years old. However, they made it clear that evolution did not remove the need for God’s existence. Some of the presenters said they believed God had “intervened” or had more of a hands-on approach at points in evolution, while others held a view more in line with Deism – that God had set up the physical laws (natural law) of the universe and since then let the universe and nature run by itself. Several of the presenters affirmed that humans had descended from a primitive species of ape-like creatures which lived before humans and the present-day ape family.
These controversial claims were made at a full-day seminar, entitled “Faithful Science” at Northcote Baptist Church, North Shore, on August 1. The event was attended by about 200 people of all ages and featured nine speakers. The conference was run by TANSAA (Theology and the Natural Sciences in Aotearoa Auckland.) Presenters the Rev Dale Campbell of Northcote Baptist Church and the Rev Dr Graham O’Brien who is on the InterChurch Bioethics Council, spoke of how they deal pastorally with people, particularly young people. Many people they said had questions and their own struggles or doubt regarding what to believe about God in relation to creationism, and the theory of evolution.
Mr Campbell said evolution “loads people down; they are expected to carry problems if they feel they can’t believe in it. “Dealing with evolution-creation conflict can distract people from the main issue of sharing the gospel and doing [God’s work]. There are so many important issues which need to be dealt with by Christians and the Church”. Dr O’Brien said the process of evolution was true as “it scientifically accounts for natural selection, Mendelian inheritance, molecular biology, cosmology and the age of the universe, principles of physics, and geology including plate tectonics”.
Yael Klangwisa, a lecturer in world-view studies at Laidlaw College, said the stories of creation, Adam and Eve, and the fall in Genesis were symbolic, and tended towards a poetic-style when read in Hebrew. She said it was essential to read Genesis using linguistic and cultural tools and analysis, and in the figurative or metaphoric way it was written, rather than taking or reading it in a literal sense. Dr Graeme Finlay, a senior lecturer in molecular medicine and pathology who gave a message entitled “Just a Glorified Ape?” maintained that humans could be seen genetically to be strongly related to the various species in the ape family such as orangutans and gorillas. Dr Matt Flannagan, an adjunct lecturer at Laidlaw and Bethlehem Tertiary Institute rounded off the seminar with his topic on “Does Evolution make Belief in God Untenable?” Dr Flannagan said “evolution does not, if it’s true, disprove God.” …
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