Can put away the polemics and role play a bit? I'm not setting a rhetorical trap for an argument - I don't have any hidden agenda to get you to paint yourself into a logical corner. Just humor me a bit.
Suppose you were a pastor and I were a member of your congregation, all other things being the same. I am not one of your deacons or elders, I'm just a layperson, a decent enough ordinary member of your church who takes his faith seriously enough to have attended seminary, and who takes truth seriously. I've come to you because you are a friend whom I hold in high regard and someone whose judgment I respect.
I tell you that I believe the historic truths of the faith: the reality of human depravity and my own sin, my need of redemption which can be found only in Christ, that God is Creator and sustainer of all things.
But, I explain, I am also a student of God's creation, and everywhere I looked I found the evidence for an ancient universe and biological evolution overwhelmingly compelling and finally convincing, leading me to a quandary.
To this point my view of inerrancy has been intact, but there are real theological challenges. Genomic evidence seems settled that at no time was there a breeding population of modern human beings of less than 10,000 individuals. I can find no geological evidence for a global flood and myriads of evidence against one. So I've come to you to see what you think I should do with these ideas I find troubling.
I'm not out to engage in a campaign or to evangelize my ideas. I simply can't ignore data which seem to challenge the historicity of Genesis 1-11 and the idea of a historical Fall. I still embrace the Doctrines of Grace.
So what would be your counsel to me, pastor? I hope you'll answer that way because apart from not being a member of a church pastored by you, everything else describes where I actually have been and am in my walk with Christ.
So if I were a friend and not some anonymous Internet commenter, how would you respond in a way designed to comfort my doubts and reinforce my faith? An inner struggle in the life of the mind may not seem as real as struggle with divorce, sexual temptation, illness or hardship, but those who have doubts over intellectual matters are no less in need of wise and compassionate counsel, are they not? Can we not say alongside the father of the afflicted boy in Mark 9:24, "I do believe - help my unbelief!"
i) I’m not sure what you think I’m supposed to say in that scenario. Looks like a set-up where you’ve framed the issues to yield a foregone conclusion. So what’s left to talk about?
If you treat your framework as nonnegotiable, then there’s nothing more to say. If you take for granted your assumptions about the “data” or the “evidence,” then, by definition, something else has to give. That’s a forced option.
ii) What if the pastor doesn’t see the evidence lining up the way you do?
iii) There are, of course, some “Evangelicals” who subscribe to theistic evolution (e.g. Don Page, J. J. Davis, B.B. Warfield, Alister McGrath). However, I don’t see an exegetical pathway from Scripture to Darwin.
iv) I’d ask you if you’d read the best young-earth creationists (e.g. Byl, Wise, Sarfati, Snelling, Marcus Ross).
I’d ask you if you’d read the best old-earth creationists (e.g. Collins, Poythress, Walton, Youngblood).
I’d ask you what critics of evolution you’d read (e.g. Berlinski, Chien, Dembski, Meyer, Richards, Wells, J. C. Sanford).
I’d ask you if you studied temporal metrics. I’d ask you what you studied in philosophy of science. I’d ask you if you’d considered the full implications of creation ex nihilo.
v) Sounds to me like there’s a veiled threat in the way you’ve cast the alternatives; that unless the pastor gives his parishioner an out, the parishioner will turn his back on the Christian faith.
However, Scripture means whatever it means. You can accept or reject it (with the corresponding consequences), but you have to accept it or reject it on its own terms. The reader must be prepared to hear the Bible as the original audience heard it. That’s true of literature in general.
We can’t make it say or not say something just because that would conflict with our precommitments. We’d be fooling ourselves.