Reasons to Believe

Is Evolution vs. God a Laudable Science-Faith Encounter?

A new DVD entitled Evolution vs. God pits Christian evangelist and young-earth creationist Ray Comfort against a handful of secular scientists and multiple university students who affirm naturalistic evolution (the atheistic view that human beings evolved through purely naturalistic means). The DVD splices together segments of Comfort’s interviews with these professors and students on university campuses.

Evolution vs. God is an engaging, thought-provoking video that raises important questions about science and faith. It also seems to be receiving a wide showing among evangelical Christians. These reasons prompted me to provide a brief review of this documentary as a philosopher and theologian.1

Mixed Bag

As an example of evangelistic and apologetics engagement on science-faith issues, the video is largely a mixed bag containing both positive and negative elements. In the end, the way the video captures and shapes Comfort’s interactions with the interviewees seems contrived and somewhat unrealistic. Thus, the film may give Christians a false impression about how to do science-faith apologetics. However, before I offer further critique allow me to address what I think are the positives in the film.

Positive Elements of Evolution vs. God

1. A fast-moving question-and-answer format shows Comfort to be a clever interrogator who is quick on his feet and comfortable with the one-on-one sparring that often marks evangelistic and apologetics encounters. Comfort has logged many hours of street evangelism where he has refined his Socratic-oriented, Christianized rhetoric. He repeatedly asks specific questions that these secularists seem ill-prepared to answer.

2. The Q&A format reveals evidence of how both the secularminded professors and students rely heavily on questionable naturalistic philosophical presuppositions (worldview) to support their science-oriented positions.

3. Building upon the previous point, the video captures some evidence of how evolutionists are susceptible to groupthink. That is, they appear to be unaccustomed to facing questions critical of their philosophical assumptions. This element comes out when Comfort asks over and over for direct, observable evidence of evolution that constitutes a clear change in kind. (However, whether this is a fair-minded question or an example of a complex question fallacy deserves careful reflection.)

Negative Elements of Evolution vs. God

1. The biggest concern with Evolution vs. God is that the production shows evidence of selective editing. Instead of allowing the viewer to hear the evolutionary scientists explain their views at some reasonable length, the video utilizes an extreme cut-and-paste (even “gotcha”) format that works to the interviewers’ advantage. A thoughtful person will wonder what was cut out and if the video was then shaped illegitimately. I doubt that Comfort would appreciate skeptics’ selective editing of his interview responses.

2. Viewers might receive the false impression that the best way to witness to scientifically minded people is to use an interrogation format where people are asked to give brief responses to complex questions. The problem is that there really is no quick and easy way to do Christian apologetics and evangelism. The best efforts, especially in a science-faith context, come from people who are well educated in the sciences and who blend careful thinking with a winsome attitude motivated by genuine respect and care for others.

3. The general attitude the video seems to emit is that people who affirm evolution are motivated, not by reason and evidence, but by a desire to dodge their moral and spiritual accountability before God. While Scripture indicates that all sinners exhibit this behavior to some degree or another (Romans 1:18–20), this concern does not mean there is no evidentiary basis for evolution and therefore no need to respond to its claims.

Conclusion

Overall I think the video is worth seeing if for no other reason than to illustrate the lack of critical thinking that can typify both secularists’ and Christians’ argumentation. Unfortunately, Comfort’s approach to evangelism and apologetics in a science-faith context causes the negatives of the video to raise doubts about the positives. Christian evangelism and apologetics is not an easy business. God’s Spirit is the only one capable of instilling in the human heart a genuine desire to be reconciled to Him through faith and repentance in Christ. Effective evangelists and trained apologists must remain faithful to the gospel message itself and strive to practice the golden rule of apologetics. In presenting a vigorous, rational defense of the faith, they must seek to treat other people’s ideas the way they want theirs treated. In other words, respect people and their ideas—then leave the evangelistic results to the Holy Spirit.

Subjects: Logic

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that “all truth is God’s truth.” As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity’s truth-claims. Read more about Kenneth Samples.

1. For a review by a scientist who is also a Christian, I strongly recommend my friend and colleague Dr. Jeff Zweerink’s critique, which can be found on the Reasons to Believe website.