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Why Evangelize Evolution?
I'm often asked, as I was on Christian talk radio yesterday afternoon, "Why do you evangelize evolution? What are you hoping to accomplish?" My answer, of course, depends on what kind of audience I'm addressing.
I share the Great News of the science-based history of the Universe as passionately and as inspiringly as I know how (which is what I mean when I say I "evangelize evolution") for a variety of reasons. When I speak to evangelicals, what I'm hoping to accomplish is not exactly the same as when I speak in a non-Christian or non-religious context.
WHEN I SPEAK TO ALL AUDIENCES, I STRESS THE FOLLOWING:
• Without a meaningful evolutionary worldview it's impossible to understand yourself, your world, or what's needed for humanity to survive and thrive in the coming decades. (When I say "impossible", I don't mean difficult, I mean truly impossible -- like trying to understand infection without microscopes or the structure of the Universe without telescopes.) Without a holy deep-time worldview it's also impossible to understand religious differences or appreciate why the only way we'll ever move into a just and sustainably life-giving future is if billions of religious people are committed to doing so.
•I evangelize the history of the Universe to help people of all backgrounds and beliefs know A) how to enjoy evolutionarily meaningful and deeply fulfilling lives, B) how humanity can cooperate across ethnic and religious divides to co-create a healthy world together, and C) how we can experience our differences as a blessing rather than a problem.
• Until we learn to see through sacred evolutionary eyes, atheists and fundamentalists will continue to blame each other for the world's ills, liberals and conservatives will keep trashing one another, and, collectively, we'll fail to see that enormous global challenges are divine evolutionary drivers guiding us to greatness.
WHEN I SPEAK TO CHRISTIAN AUDIENCES, I ALSO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING POINTS:
• Without a meaningful evolutionary worldview it’s nearly impossible not to trivialize God’s Word, misinterpret God’s promises, misunderstand God’s way, or miss utterly what God’s will is for humanity and for the body of life as a whole.
• God’s Word is not just the Bible. Facts are God’s native tongue. Scripture—divine guidance, God's self revelation—extends much farther back in time and is far more magnificent than the biblical writers, or even Jesus himself, could have possibly known.
•God’s promises are not just about back then, up there, or someday. They are for your life, my life, and all our relations, here and now and into the future. God’s promises are not unnatural and otherworldly; they are experiential and undeniably real.
• Christ truly is God’s "one and only way" to salvation. But this is about being in Christlike integrity, not about being right or having the right beliefs. God is mocked when we claim redemption is merely about believing literally in unnatural things. Beliefs are a booby prize if you're not growing in humility, authenticity, responsibility, and service that is, growing “in Christ.” The reason so many born-again believers struggle so with their “sinful nature”—their instincts, their inherited proclivities—is because they fail to appreciate that the promise of redemption is for this life. It’s not merely, or even primarily, about what happens after we die.
• Any supposed “faith in God” that doesn’t include trusting that whatever happens on the other side of death is just fine is really no faith at all. Fear of a terrifying, hellish after-death scenario or hope of a blissful, heavenly after-death scenario are just that: fear or hope — not faith, not trust.
• God’s will is not difficult to discern. From a sacred deep-time perspective, God’s will for us, as individuals and as a species, is practically a no-brainer. In the day language of science, it’s “evolutionary integrity”. In the night language of religion, it’s “abiding in Christ” or “getting right with God”. Both are legitimate ways of seeing and saying it.
• Only by embracing evolution religiously—by having a "God-glorifying, Christ-edifying, scripture-honoring" way of valuing the entire history of Cosmos, Earth, Life, and Humanity—are we able to appreciate how ever-present is God’s Word, how undeniably real are God’s promises, how this-world salvific is God’s way, and how obvious and universal is God’s will.