Friday, October 04, 2013

Breaking news: Darwin lived!

So, I repeat my point: evolution cannot simply be grafted onto evangelical Christian faith as an add-on, where we can congratulate ourselves on a job well done. This is going to take some work—and a willingness to take theological risk.The cognitive dissonance created by evolution is considerable, and I understand why either avoidance or theological superficiality might be attractive. But in the long run, the price we pay for not doing the hard and necessary synthetic work is high indeed.Ignoring reality or playing theological games won’t do—no matter how unsettling, destabilizing, perhaps frightening such a calling may be.It may be that evolution, and the challenges it presents, will remind us that we are called to trust God, which means we may need to restructure and even abandon the “god” that we have created in our own image. Working through the implications of evolution may remind Christians that trusting God’s goodness is a daily decision, a spiritually fulfilling act of recommitment to surrender to God no matter what.That’s not easy. But if we have learned anything from the saints of the past, it is that surrendering to God each day, whatever we are facing, is not meant to be easy. Taking up that same journey now will add our witness for the benefit of future generations.
I've already commented on some of this, but I'd like to make a few more observations:
i) One of Enns's personal quirks is how he constantly writes as though Darwinism presents a novel challenge to the Christian faith. He acts as if this is 1860. Stunned Christians are staggering around the blast zone in groping efforts to piece together the shards of Biblical theology after Darwin detonated his bombshell a year before. Yet Darwinism was a dominant scientific theory long before Enns was born. Moreover, he's now 52-years-old. When did it suddenly dawn on him that there's a theory called evolution which poses a prima facie challenge to traditional Christian theology? Did this epiphany happen 10 years ago? Sooner? Later? 
Several Christian generations have come and gone since Darwin published his revolutionary book. As far as a theological "synthesis" goes, even if you think "evolution demands true intellectual synthesis," what makes Enns imagine we need a new synthesis? Theistic evolution isn't new. There are preexisting paradigms. 
For instance, after the Vatican initially opposed evolution, it backpedaled. How typical! As a result, you have lots of prominent Catholics who've made peace with evolution, viz., Karl Rahner, Cardinal Dulles, Alexander Pruss, Kenneth Miller, Michael Behe, George Coyne, Stephen Barr, Vincent Torley &c. If Enns is so desperate to synthesize Christian theology with evolution, why doesn't he seek inspiration in one of the extant models? 
ii) As far as the Christian "journey" is concerned, historically and biblically, Christians knew the destination as well as the route–ahead of time. They knew where they were going, and how to get there. 
By contrast, Enns requires Christians to precommit to evolution, precommit to a theological synthesis, before we know the theological consequences of that precommitment. Like the Devil handing us a blank contract: "Just sign here on the bottom line, and I'll fill in the pesky details. Trust me!" 
That's worse than a Faustian bargain. At least Dr. Faustus knew the terms of the diabolical pact going in. Enns is demanding that we take a risk without a risk assessment. Let go of Scripture, then jump off a ledge in the dark. 
iii) What about surrendering to the word of God no matter what rather than surrendering to the theory evolution no matter what? 


  1. Amen! great stuff Steve.

  2. There is no such thing as heresy for Enns. He's essentially a naturalist, for even if supernatural claims are allowed they are subjected to naturalist methodology.