Education for Christian Counseling: Christian Counseling Can Find Common Ground for Creationism and Theistic Evolution???
The ever widening chasm between science and theology is misfortunate because it deviates from the common reality of truth. A truth that correlates between the senses and the metaphysical realities between the one absolute truth in the universe. These divisions and arguments of thought from Galileo and Rome to evolution and creationism are not products of science and theology at odds but human error. The Christian who counsels those in doubt, whether from the pulpit, a ministry or an individual counseling session must put aside the biases of science and theology and see a universal truth of God. The truth of science and theology are not at odds because both are authored by God. The only clash is between erroneous opinions of men who misuse both sciences.
Theology as the First Science
The first premise is understanding the reality that theology is the first science because its subject is the highest and most important good which is God. Theology while divergent from scientific methods seeks an end that the senses cannot comprehend. This does not diminish theology or make it inferior to science but pushes it beyond the limitations of the finite. Science with its own methods and tools does not seek metaphysical conclusions but instead looks for ends that are within the realm of our senses. It does not seek to confirm or deny the existence of metaphysical realities, but hopes to understand the inner workings of physical manifestations and realities of the sensible universe.
With this premise understood, does true science when it seeks to discover the origins of the universe assault the theological ideals of Creationism? While creation is touched by both theology and science, one must understand the difference of scope. Theology hopes to understand the origins beyond empiricism, while science attempts to understand creation through visible manifestations. Science is limited in this endeavor because the physical traces of creation eventually lead to metaphysical realities which cannot be observed, while theology can cross over this boundary and with faith before reason begin to understand the realities that science can never proclaim or deny.
Why then do creationists become so intimidated by science? The first reason is scientific bias. Many scientists allow their atheistic philosophy push their conclusions. Many scientists are infected by Positivism or direct Empiricism that oversteps the boundaries of sciences and declares that anything not observable is non-existent. Such proclamations are not science but philosophy. Hence when science is tainted by a secular philosophy it loses its credibility. This is unfortunate.
The second intimidation creationists face at the question of evolution and science is their own radical interpretations. While Modernism has assaulted the divine scriptures, stamping historical incident as myth, many biblical Christians have held on to outdated philosophies and biblical interpretations that do not harm the sacred integrity of divine inspiration. In fact, as science has progressed in helping one to understand the creation of the world, many Christians have kept theology at war with true science by holding on to aging concepts that are at odds with truth. The ironic thing is simply that these aging concepts of biblical interpretation they hold as dogma is not an article of faith and can be interpreted differently without harming the truth of theology. There is more damage done when outdated concepts of religion obstinately defy scientific rationale. The same case was with Galileo. Religion demanded that the Earth was the center of the universe, but true science observed that the Earth revolved around the Sun. How did this concept harm the ideals of true Christian theology? It did not. The same holds true for theistic evolution.
Humani Generis: A Revolutionary Document
Before many of my fellow Christians seek to reject me as a liberal which is amusing since there is far from a liberal ideal in my body, I would like to contend that mainstream Christian teaching has held the possibility of a theistic evolutionary option of belief in contrast to literal creationism. This has been now for some time an option and is far from a novel ideal. Pope Pius XII in “Humani Generus” pointed out a variety of Christian options in response to evolution; Far from a modernistic text, this encyclical of the 1950s, condemned atheistic evolution or any defamation of Scripture as not divine in origin or as a collection of mythological stories. In fact, Pope Pius XII denounced any ideas that spirit evolves from matter as Pierre Teilhard De Chardin proposed, or any speculation that the creation of the soul was not a direct intervention of God in the unfolding evolutionary process. The Pope merely remarked that it is plausible that God utilized evolution as a means of unfolding his creation and at the direct and precise moment, took a man and woman and infused into them a divine soul that was made in in his image and likeness. The Pope also pointed out that heretical ideals regarding the story Adam and Eve were to also be disregarded. Among them including ideas that the story of Adam and Eve were mythological tales to understand creation and that Adam was not a true historical figure. The Pope also condemned any notion that the idea of Adam as not an individual but instead a name for a tribe of people that had evolved was to be completely labeled as incompatible with Christian doctrine.
Christian spiritual directors who may be uncomfortable with this but prefer a more literal interpretation of Genesis can still find peace in that the Pope nevertheless remarked that while these new scientific ideas could be plausible, they are still nonetheless are not infallible statements and could possibly be erroneous. With this in mind, he still advocated an equal argument for the idea of creationism. The primary point to take from this is that Christians can still remain orthodox and share the same ideals of God’s creation but differ on the method and physical way God created the universe. The primary requirements as Christians is to believe God created everything and that Adam and Eve were created in a special state of grace that spared them the natural world and its elements. Whether their initial matter evolved over millions of years is irrelevant. The relevant issue is that Adam and Eve were made in the image and likeness of God and after their fall, were expelled from paradise to exist in the natural world.
Still it is my conviction that many literal interpreters of Scripture will find fault with an open acceptance of theistic evolution. This does not proceed from faith but a lack of theological understanding of scriptural exegesis. The faith of those who accept theistic evolution is as strong as those who accept creationism, but the difference arrives in how one interprets Scripture. Is it to be interpreted literally, symbolically, poetically or in a simpler language for the time? While it is obvious some books are prophetical, wisdom or historical literature, one must ascertain what type of book is Genesis? To boldly proclaim Genesis, especially regarding Adam and Eve is purely an intense day by day historical narrative would seem to be missing the point of creation. Genesis is primarily a theological book with ideas written by men, yet inspired, in how to explain creation. If the author or authors chose to use symbolism and analogy for an ancient audience, how then can we dare to infallibly proclaim it is a historical narrative? While it is possible, I would contend nonetheless that this is the wrong path to follow.
A Christian Bad Word-The Big Bang?
As science shows more and more evidence for the “Big Bang”-yes that bad word all Christians shutter to hear-one starts to come to the conclusion that Genesis while completely true from a theological perspective, nonetheless, is being misinterpreted when one views it as historical narrative. It is as if one reads a certain type of map that gives information about resources, but instead uses the map as a guide to understand the political division of countries. Yes the map is showing us true reality, but we are reading it for the wrong information that we need. It essence, the map is fine, it is our use of that map that is wrong. The same is true of Genesis. Genesis and the creation of Adam is far from fiction or myth, but it is more concerned with conveying to an ancient audience the creation of man, not a day by day narrative from a modern historical perspective. Of course, Adam did exist. Of course they existed in a state of perfection. Of course Satan tempted Eve. Of course Adam and Eve were expelled and needed a Redeemer to save them. But-was the Genesis of the world completed in Seven Days? Did God look like an old man in the Garden? Did Satan truly manifest as a snake? Was Eve’s sin of disobedience due to the eating of a certain fruit? These points are irrelevant in the overall theme of the historic incident of Adam and Eve.
From a different perspective, perhaps not a correct one, but well within my right as a believing Christian as I have shown forth, I would like to point out how I felt after watching the Science Channel on the Origins of the Universe. As I sat there and scientific data performed its purpose of collecting observable data the more I became convinced that God did indeed use evolution as his recipe for creation. The moment of the Big Bang was described as a moment of intense heat and density that suddenly imploded upon itself unleashing every seed for what one sees in the universe today. Yet the scientists could not explain how nothing became something. Within their set of tools, they could not and never can. They do not possess the metaphysical tools to go beyond the moment of something into nothingness where the uncaused cause of creation, which is God, exists. As they portrayed the “Big Bang” and its ultimate explosion, I saw the finger of God, as in Michelangelo’s epic painting of creation, unleashing his divine energy upon the universe. Is this not what science is about? Attempting to in an unbiased way understand how God created the universe?
If one just for a moment thinks deeply about it, even small parts of the “Big Bang” point to Scripture. In the beginning God said “Let there be light”. Light without stars? Yet the light of creation existed before the stars. Again, and God found order in the chaos. Immediately following the “Big Bang”, there was complete chaos as protons clashed with one another and matter and anti-matter exploded in a murky soup. Yet order came from that chaos. A design emerged.
This article is not intended to insult creationism. In fact, I openly declare that creationism may still be historically true because evolution technically was never observed by its own scientific criteria. My only point is that Christians should not fear true science but embrace its efforts in understanding the universe. It is also time to for Christians to understand that literal interpretation or lack of it does not make a Christian bad. Ideas of symbolic interpretation existed during the time of the Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.
In these regard, how do Christian Counselors view evolution and how do they speak of it during sessions with clients? Do you represent a literalistic view, a scientific view, or a mixture?
If you are interested in Christian Counseling Education, please review the program. Education for Christian Counseling can be found here.
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C