After an intensive 10 day speaking tour in South Africa that included 11 churches and 2 full-day speaker training sessions for the local CMI office, my son flew in and joined me to experience this beautiful country. This tour was subsidized by your US office to help our small SA office. I was fortunate to take some leave at the end of the tour, so we went on a sightseeing safari in a game reserve, slept in a grass hut in an African village, and descended deep into an underground diamond mine. But perhaps the most memorable experience was the morning we went scuba diving, with sharks and without a cage off the coast of Durban. Our dive master assured us that the 16 black tip reef sharks would be more interested in the fish in the chum bucket rather than us. Despite the dive master’s encouragement, I confess to being instinctively fearful when at least 3 sharks bumped against me, ‘smelling’ my neoprene wet suit, deciding if I was going to be part of their day’s menu. Thankfully, they preferred the tasty delicacy of dead fish that were less likely to fight back. Due to initially consuming too much air from my tank, it took me a while to relax and realize that these beautiful creatures would not fulfill the stereotypical nightmare of carnage I had seen so often in movies and documentaries.
Don’t be intimidated
Of course, the water is not our natural environment, and the sharks most certainly are ‘masters of their domain’. One could draw a similar analogy to the work that CMI does. Sadly, in the area of origins science only one view stands prominent. Evolution is the only view taught and it is rarely even questioned. So, when our own staff venture into these waters and challenge the established convention, one might say it is akin to ‘swimming with sharks’. In fact, creationist views are so openly ridiculed that we might even be considered ‘chum bait’. That is, simply attack the messenger rather than attempting to deal with the science in an effort to dissuade many from seriously considering an interpretation of the evidence that lines up with the historical account of the Bible. Since this interaction with evolutionists is a daily experience for CMI staff, we have learned to not fear these ‘foes’, but all the more strive to understand the environment they swim in and their desire to ‘right a scientific wrong’. But most of all, to help them see the evidence clearly from a new perspective.
It’s not about winning an argument—we need to win people over
1 Peter 3:15 commands all believers to “ … always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that you have … ” However, we too often forget the requirement stated in the rest of that verse, “ … yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Too often believers engage evolutionists with the facts of evidence seeking to ‘win the argument’ with a knock out punch. But we must strive to respond to the people who challenge the biblical paradigm with a tone of real “gentleness and respect,” seeking to win over our opponents. Our goal is not to ‘win’ an argument with people who believe evolution, but to knock down intellectual barriers to the truth so that the Holy Spirit can win their soul to the Kingdom.
Too often, we hear believers proclaim the ignorance of what evolutionists believe, sometimes to their face. It might be surprising to hear a creationist say this but, evolutionists are just being logical, if one keeps in mind the waters they swim in. Now before you grab your pitchfork, consider this. Most evolutionists have never been exposed to an effective presentation that demonstrates how the physical evidence supports the biblical account. In their environment, they hear constant reinforcement that evolution and millions of years are scientific fact, so their paradigm is logically based on the only framework they have been exposed to. If and only if we approach them with “gentleness and respect”, patiently encouraging them to open their minds to consider a different way of interpreting the facts of evidence, we can slowly help deconstruct that intellectual barrier. If they can see that biblical history make sense of the evidence, then they can also consider the Bible’s Gospel message and the Lord’s mercy on their soul.
So, the next time you dive in with the ‘sharks’, have no fear. If you have prepared yourself with an effective defense for your faith, though they may bump into you, respect their environment and them as you share the truth.