A while back I blogged a bit about Richard Colling, an evangelical Christian, microbiologist and a supporter of the theory of evolution. The major item of controversy at the time was his book, Random Designer, which seeks to combine his Christian faith with his acceptance of evolution.
I’m going to blog my way through his book, because I think he expresses some important points for Christians who are considering how to respond to the issues raised by evolution and other scientific discoveries on the one hand and their understanding of scripture on the other. Dr. Colling is exceptionally well qualified to comment on these issues.
In this first post I just want to make some general remarks on his introduction. I share some experiences with Dr. Colling in encountering and dealing with the issue of evolution in a church environment. As I understand his theology, he comes from a Wesleyan background, and teaches at Olivet Nazarene University, thus Wesleyan theology provides some connection
But to a large extent we come at this from completely different perspectives which makes this very interesting reading. He encountered creationism in a debate between a creationist and an evolutionist at the University of Kansas, and was shocked at the poor arguments presented by the creationist (p. 6). I was a convinced young earth creationist until I encountered material on evolution and started to compare the quality with the creationist literature I’d grown up on. There was simply no comparison.
The following quote gives the flavor:
This book, then, contains the ideas and perspectives of one broadly trained scientist who is not satisfied with religious platitudes or scientific dogma. I am just like you, attempting to fit the pieces together. The goal is straightforward–to develop a personal faith and cultivate a close connection with God, while at the same time fully acknowledging the scientific laws and processes that plainly govern our existence. [emphasis in original]
I think this provides a valuable perspective for Christians. It is also hardly threatening. I will make a more complete evaluation as I continue reading, but thus far this looks like an excellent book to put into the hands of someone who is seriously asking questions about this issue.
On pages 16-17, in discussing science and faith, Dr. Colling makes a strong case for teaching evolution in public schools saying that it is “an integral component of biology.” He also emphasizes that evolution and atheism are not necessarily connected. “The problem arises,” he says, “when the interpretation and meanings of evolution are extended too far.”
At the conclusion of chapter 2, Dr. Colling has laid out the claim that evolution is not necessarily theistic or atheistic; those conclusions go beyond the actual science involved.
When next I blog, I’ll be looking at chapter 2, in which he discusses thermodynamics in a way that is very accessible to lay people. For all those who think the 2nd law means that evolution is impossible, Dr. Colling would disagree–he says that the 2nd law is essential to evolution.