“Don’t believe all that stuff from science about how this world came into being; this is the world that God made!”
“Don’t believe all that stuff about evolution; this is the world that God created and it belongs to him!”
My colleague was in full flow and everyone sat and listened attentively. It had been fine up to that point, but suddenly we were back to a pre-modern world view. I felt like saying something, but it didn’t seem appropriate. We sang the hymn after the sermon and carried on.
The Church lost a further notch of credibility amongst the more educated and cosmopolitan of the congregation as we slipped back into arguments that should have been buried in the 19th Century.
Amongst the non-religious population the suggestion that the world was made in Six Days is comical. Amongst the majority of Christians the ideas of Charles Darwin present no problems. Even amongst evangelical Christians, scholars like Alastair McGrath have demonstrated that there is no conflict between evolutionary science and Christian faith; they are about different things.
But maybe the simpler line is more attractive. My colleague’s home church is packed Sunday by Sunday; mine was two-thirds empty, even for harvest festival. Perhaps there would be merit in telling a lesser untruth, and adhering to pre-scientific teaching, in order to attract people along to hear a greater truth, the good news of Jesus.
In an uncertain age the church that offers certainty is attractive. People want answers not questions. They want to find reassurance when they come to church; they want to know that all is well with the world. Perhaps to turn a blind eye to scientific facts is not such a great sin if the empty places are again filled.