I haven’t done enough research to post anything firm here, and to be honest I probably never will… but the answers I got from Christians about defining ID and theistic evolution and creationism were notÂ the same as the answers that came from readers here. The Christians I surveyed mainly agree that:
- ID just means some sort of intelligence or deity was behind the origins of the universe and life.
- Theistic evolution means that God used evolution to create the diversity of life on earth.
- Creationism is pretty much what we think it is, either of the young earth or old earth varieties.Â
The last two include ID as defined above, and creationism of the old-earth variety may also include theistic evolution.
These were my working definitions before the discussions in the old posts linked above. I now see that there are two ways to define ID: The way the Discovery Institute does (which is how most Skepchick readers seem to define it) and the way the guy on the street (me), or in the pew (the Christians I interviewed), does.
My guess is that this means the ID people from the Discovery Institute have either been very successful (they have their own motives which they even hide from Christians because this gives them the ability to be more sleazy) or veryÂ unsuccessfulÂ (Christians have no idea how the DI defines ID and they don’t care about the “official” definition or about the Discovery Institute’s goals).
Anyway, I think the reason most conservative Christians don’t believe in evolution is because they’ve never really learned about it. The main reason I hear that people don’t believe is that they can’t imagine how X, Y or Z could have evolved, almost all of which are very, very easy to imagine if you understand the concepts of variation, genetics, and natural selection. That is, most people who don’t believe in evolution are just ignorant. I don’t mean that in the snide way as a synonym for stupid either. They just have never learned about the way evolution actually works. They think it is just random chance, like rolling dice. I know that when I was a Christian, once I read about evolution — and not the distortions of evolution taught by creationists — I immediately believed it because it is so darn obvious. (Isn’t everything obvious in retrospect?)
So, I wonder — partly in light of the discussion in the quickies the other day — how can we explain these things to conservative Christians without alienating them or being condescending? So far we’ve been doing a crappy job.