“If you can’t say something nice …”?
Why evaluating opposing arguments can lead to salvation
Published: 17 August 2021 (GMT+10)
First published in a CMI newsletter, January 2021
Sometimes we receive negative feedback along the lines of “You only ever criticize evolution”—in other words, we only engage in negativity and this is not a productive methodology. But over the 40 years of CMI’s ministry, such ‘negativity’ has borne tremendous fruit!
First, these attacks come from opponents, or those who are listening to opponents. We would expect these types of comments from skeptics and evolutionists, who are naturally perturbed at the thought there might be genuine evidence for creation. It is rare that we receive such a comment from a genuine, concerned supporter, but when we do, they often explain that their concern is about evolutionists taking offense! The fact that people complain about criticism should not automatically make us stop.
Critiquing is an academic convention
Though we may be robustly criticizing someone’s theory and calling out bad scientific arguments, it is rare that any actual scientist within the evolutionary community complains about tone or critiques because they understand the academic process. Many lay folks don’t quite understand that in the publishing realm, it is expected that one’s thesis will be summarily critiqued and reviewed by both friends and enemies. For example, when you read any of our articles or books, they have been internally critiqued to the best of our ability. I can speak from personal experience that until one gets used to it, this can be a painful process seeing lots of red ink on your text! Whenever we publish a book or an article, we know that we are also fair game for criticisms by those who disagree with us, and they most certainly make it known.
Critiquing is biblical!
We do reserve somewhat stronger criticism for those ‘Christian’ groups who promote ideas of theistic evolution (Biologos) or progressive creation (Hugh Ross/Reasons to Believe), because they undermine the authority of Scripture, and if taken to their logical extent, the Gospel itself. One only has to look at the Scriptures to see how Jesus spoke very sharply about those who blended man-made ideas with the Scriptures, even calling them wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) and even children of the devil (John 8:44). CMI’s reviews are mild by comparison.
The fruit of a critical approach
Is the above just a defensive response to justify what we do? First, part of our modus operandi is to ensure that we are not being overly critical of individuals for the sake of it. As most of us are former evolutionists, the old adage “there go I but for the grace of God” is not lost on us. Second, in the secular education system, if people are only ever exposed to one side of the arguments, then how will they ever understand that they have been fed a false history of the universe unless it is critiqued?
I suppose one way to judge all of this is to look at the fruit of one’s ministry. While the criticisms of tone are extremely rare, you would be familiar through CMI’s letters and writings that we constantly receive testimonies of people being helped by the robust challenges to evolutionism. Many former evolutionists and atheists have now come to the Lord. For example, Norman W. wrote to tell us:
“Raised with the idea that evolution was fact, not a model, I became a theistic evolutionist after being saved, because I felt the need to blend evolution with Christian theology. I was asked by a creationist to provide some proof of evolution. I thought this one of the easiest tasks, but after over 10 years, I was still unable to provide one piece of evolution that would withstand real scrutiny. In fact, after thirty years, I have never been more convinced of the infallibility of the Bible and Creation. I can blame evolution, directly, for keeping me from salvation for at least 20 years, before finding a relationship with Jesus.”
Note that Norman was challenged (critiqued) by a Christian as to his views. We should also not forget that there is a biblical admonition to criticize evolution. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to: “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” At CMI, we are acutely aware that one should play the ball and not the man! And, go figure, it actually works. Nurse Jason W. emailed to say:
“I was an atheist for a decade. When I became a Christian I still believed in evolution. Your book Refuting Compromise helped me understand biblical creationism and I’ve never wavered in my belief since.” Note that Refuting Compromise is primarily a devastating critique of progressive creation!
And many of us in full time ministry would not be here if we had not heard evolution deconstructed in some way.