Intellectually I find the conversation of "Creation vs. Evolution", in the right context, interesting and revealing on people's characters and the nature of their faith. However, I have personally found that this issue has snuck up on the church to become a greater source of division than it need be.
In particular I have seen far too many people offended, damaged and isolated in the church, including myself, by this debate. With my background as a biological scientist, and being a Christian, you may find it strange to read this: as a Christian it doesn't matter to me whether the Earth, and all that is in it, was created by a process of evolution or creation.
Is one more Christian than the other?
Genesis 1 verse 1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Is "Evolution vs. Creation" the same as "Atheist vs. Christian"? I believe that this isn't the case, and framing the debate in such a manner is dangerous. Equating the two is essentially the same as stating that if you believe in evolution you are an atheist. This simply isn't the case: many Christians,including myself, believe in some form of evolution and are Christian.
We believe in the same salvation through Christ as any other believer. Furthermore, believing in creation doesn't necessarily mean you are Christian (Jews, Moslems, Jehovah Witnesses and many other religions believe in creation).
More useful questions would be: "Do you believe Genesis 1:1?Is God the creator of the universe?" To these questions certainly all Christians must agree.
Is the debate saving people?
Debate around evolution and creation in the church is an interesting intellectual discussion, but doesn't concern salvation. Suggesting that it is may actually make nonbelievers who believe in evolution less receptive to Christianity.
The prerequisite of salvation is well summarised in Acts 4 verses 11-12.
Acts 4: 11 - 12 11 Jesus is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.' 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
These verses tell us that nobody is saved by any of their beliefs except in Christ. As such the priorities of the church should be concerned with the revelation of Christ.
Is the debate edifying?
The role of such debate in the church I think should be framed by what it adds to our lives and the lives of others. Is it likely that such a debate will increase our capacity to love God or each other? I don't believe that debate on this issue is likely to improve our character and relationship with God.
There are many things in our lives that make for interesting discussion and debates. However many of these issues are of an intellectual nature. As a Christian I truly believe that how the universe was created is much less important that knowing who created the universe.
As a church we should spend less time debating amongst ourselves and focus our energies on what we all desire: salvation for all.
Nathanael Yates from Perth, Western Australia, is an award winning young scientist completing a PhD in the neurobiology of schizophrenia
Nathanael Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/nathanael-yates.html