Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Entropy, Evolution, & ABC

Back in high school I had a good friend with whom I had lots of philosophical discussions (hey, we were in high school!) We would sit and talk for hours. One of his favorite topics was "why evolution overcomes entropy." Of course, some folk argue that it doesn't. Recently I've been thinking about how this applies to theology and to life in the Church.

It seems to me that a big piece of the conflict in the church and certainly in my denomination is not really about authority of scripture but about whether one adhers to entropy or evolution in their theology. Let me characature the two understandings...

Those who favor entropy see a world that was created perfect and has been winding down ever since the fall. Everything was complete on the 6th day and the sinfulness of humanity has been dragging things down further and further every day since. Technology is suspect because it always takes us further away from what was. Social change is suspect for the same reason. Any new discoveries or understandings have to be shoe-horned into a static theology or they are discarded. God never does anything new because on the 6th day, God was finished and God never does anything outside of a completed revelation. We must seek to be like the earliest churches as they were closer to the "true" church.

Those who favor evolution see that creation was not complete and that God is still at work. New things are waiting to be discovered and new understandings will be revealed. The perfect creation is not at the beginning, it is at the end and we, in partnership with God, are working our way towards it. Theology is always "written in pencil" as God comes to us from the future and surprises us. Social change is not only good, it is required. Technologic change is to be embraced. The church changes as its context changes and the "true" church is one that is faithful in its context.

It seems to me that there are good supports for both understandings in scripture and few if any people really sit at the extremes. Most of us hold some of both views. Which one understands to be dominant is the key. Those who voted for PSW to withdraw from ABCUSA hold to entropy. Personally, I embrace evolution. How about you?


Dennis E. McFadden said...


I'm on the side of entropy, not evolution (surprise?). But, I certainly appreciate your helpful framing of the issue in a most provocative way.


Suzanna said...

I used to be scared off by evolution, thinking it is the "enemy of the State". But the more I appreciate growth, not just the passage of time (how high school!), I am grateful that things evolve. In fact, it's rather hopeful. I think the scriptures don't try to put believers in one exclusive camp.
And doesn't the evolving of certain things mean that there are things that cannot? -Entropy.

Rob said...

I embrace evolution as well. It is really and for me to see how. When I read this post it makes me think about all of those times I was looking backward to find what God wants of me instead of looking forward. Somedays it is difficult to be a die-hard futurist realizing that I was raised as one would was taught to look backward in time for answers.

Dave Miller said...

Nice post Roy. For myself, I lean more to the side of evolution.