I have noticed that for some people, the reality of evolution is not a scientific issue, nor even a theological one. They will never be convinced by either the science or the theology that evolution is both true and consonant with a Christian view of scripture, because the roots of their opposition lie elsewhere – in a political and social worldview for which evolution has become a marker.
I know that many people have been persuaded by the scientific evidence and/or the theological interpretations that are consistent with evolution as God’s method for creation of the diversity of life. But others use a version of science or the Bible as screens to refute the idea of evolution, because they experience it as an intolerable challenge to their basic definitions of themselves and their concepts of humanity’s place in the world.
Of course, the situation is exacerbated by the insistence of many vocal atheists (in full agreement with YECs) that evolution is an atheistic idea. But I think the problem is deeper than that. Evolution is perceived by many as part of the “liberal” social ethic, along with gay rights and gay marriage, feminism, diversity, universalism, and so on. As a scientific theory, this is nonsense. In fact, historically, evolution has been used as propaganda for the extreme right – think of Nazism, scientific racism, genetic determinism (which is making a strange comeback), and so on.
We are living in world where Pontius Pilate’s question to Jesus “what is truth”? has many possible answers. This has probably always been true, in the time of Pilate and throughout history. The challenge is for us to see past our own political and social ideas of truth (which, I believe, are always shaky at best) and see a higher level of truth, that which is gained by the twin pillars represented by the two Books of God’s works and words – the scientific knowledge of nature, and truth of Scripture. Some will say that for evolution, these two books do not agree, but I believe that is false. What is clear is that science and politics treat the definition and description of truth in very different ways.
So we need people to understand that Darwin’s great idea is actually not related to political or social issues, unless it is falsely used in such a way. It is not a political or social theory. It does not say that humans are basically animals, nor does it contend that there is nothing special about human beings. Evolutionary theory, used properly, says nothing about human equality or inequality, and it takes no stand on any of the political issues that are so divisive in the US today. It is a scientific theory that has gotten overwhelming evidentiary support, and is not more political or social than the theory of gravity.