What is the real reason for denial of evolution?

On another forum I frequent that is physicians only, this question was posed. While we cannot join in their discussion (which is lively, and probably dominated more by atheists) I thought it would be good to pose here also, and I will invite them here. I know we have discussed this many times within other posts, but did not see a post dedicated to it specifically.
Please try to avoid focusing on the evidence for evolution, but rather focus on why evolution is denied in the face of that evidence.


I think it is self-protective. For many people, the questions that would be raised by accepting what evolution claims are threatening to their self-conception as well as their in-group identity. And those questions threaten their confidence in their ability to know and understand what is right, true, and good.


Speaking only for myself, I’m not sure it was even possible for me to deny evolution “in the face of” the evidence, since a lot of it was not even really presented to me, and if it was it was done as a caricature or misunderstood. I guess I’d have to throw the question back at those who are more on the front lines of teaching against evolution. Many have good intentions and truly believe that evolution is responsible for imparting incorrect information about God and therefore contributing to people losing their faith.


I like to think of it in terms of stable and unstable equilibrium. Those who deny evolution have built up a world that seems to them to hold together, but if you question any of it, particularly their understanding of what God’s Word says, the whole lot tumbles - like a ball bearing on top of an upturned bowl. However, for the average BioLogos adherent, the equilibrium is stable - the ball bearing is sitting inside the bowl. So there is more willingness to tackle thorny issues as they might reveal more truth, and they won’t make our whole world collapse! We still have confidence in God’s Word, but we will entertain different interpretations of it. And even if we were shown evidence that evolution wasn’t right, it wouldn’t actually rock our world.


I think it must come down to that it seems distasteful that humans evolved the same way as any other animal (disregarding a TE viewpoint here) and were not specially created. It’s not like this is just a random scientific fact that is being disregarded.


It has been brought up on the forum before that evolution is marker for culture wars, and perhap AIG is the poster child for that position. I would be interested in the reasons our YEC and PC and ID brothers and sisters reject the the theory: Do you see it as devoid of rational support? Are your reasons purely theological? Do you feel it part of your social structure?

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I think for many people, evolution offends their intuitive assumptions about what it means for humans to be created in God’s image. Somehow special creation seems more dignified than countless generations of mutation events and non-human ancestry. For some reason the same individuals are not similarly offended by God’s forming each of us from a single fertilized oocyte.

For me personally, I accepted cognitive dissonance and didn’t want to think about the issue for years due to concern for my sense of in-group identity. (i.e. What would my closest Christian friends think if they knew? Would they still think of me as a biblical conservative?)


I have often wondered about that as well. How much does this play into the rejection of evolution?

If we look back through scientific history we do see some interesting trends. Galileo removed us from the center of the universe and put us in orbit around the Sun. That was not very popular at the time. The Big Bang and modern astrophysics frames Earth as a tiny speck in the overall universe. Darwin did what Galileo did. He removed us from the center of the biological universe.

I have also found it rather amusing when some christians praise the wonder and beauty of nature, and then in the very next sentence express disgust at the idea of being related to nature. It’s a strange juxtaposition.


Psalm 103:14: For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

Apparently we’re fine with being dust, but being related to an ancient ape-like creature is a bridge too far. :wink:

(I wonder if God’s presence is the difference – in Genesis we see God physically making Adam out of the dust of the ground, so perhaps it’s that changing the idea of the materials somehow takes God out of it.)


Note: I believe in evolution. But people here are being far too uncharitable to creationists, saying they’re ignorant or create their own mini worlds where things can’t be questioned. In reality, that’s simply false.

Creationists, many of them at the very least, are being as open and intellectually honest as they can be. So why don’t they accept evolution? One simple reason, the reason why I didn’t for so long. The “explanations” against evolution and “arguments” against it that are made up by AiG and the intelligent design people is highly elaborate and they can convincingly explain away a LOT of things. It’s not that creationists are in a bubble — in many cases, it simply is he case that the anti-evolution advocates have created a really elaborate system that isn’t obviously wrong at all. You’d know this if you’ve seen Kent Hovind’s older debates where he just wrecks the other guy, whose actually generally an actual biologist or even professor in the field. These guys walk into the debate expecting a bible thumping fundamentalist and are met with a highly trained lawyer. And they can’t do anything about it. It’s perfectly understandable why there are creationists — it takes a LOT of training to be able to disprove it while jumping over all the creationist hoops and “refutation”.


An example I bring up often is LIbby Anne. She describes her childhood as being immersed in YEC literature to the point that she probably knew the material better than the more famous YEC figureheads. However, those beliefs ran headlong into inconvenient facts when she reached university.

It does make me wonder what LIbby Anne’s views would be today if she had never gone to university and been confronted with these facts. How many YEC’s today have taken even a Bio101 class at a public university? How many truly understand what the evidence is? I can completely understand how some YEC’s honestly believe that there simply isn’t any evidence that shows them to be wrong, and it may not even take that much effort to wall themselves off from this evidence.

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Yes, and those arguments are coming from people on the right team, the one everyone in your closest community trusts, and you have been taught from a young age that the “others” (whether they are university professors, or scientists, or post-moderns, or liberal educators, or pluralists, or relativists, or atheists, or whatever) who accept evolution also promote other things that are considered dangerous or distasteful to those with “biblical worldviews,” so they are not considered trusted sources.

As several people have mentioned, I think a huge part of the “real reason” is community pressure and wanting to keep your social networks in tact. And it’s a real, not imaginary threat. The annals of this forum have no shortage of people who lost or didn’t get jobs over acceptance of evolution, or who experienced cold-shoulders or flat out rejection from churches, small groups, homeschool co-ops, or family. Social acceptance and belonging is more powerful than evidence.

And perhaps another side of the same coin is the fact that trusted members of the community who DO accept evolution, (the kind of people who might have a chance of being listened to because they aren’t already suspect as outsiders) don’t talk about it with their Christian friends. I know I don’t. I’d rather have friends who are wrong about evolution than risk losing their trust.


Very! And they come from people that we respect.

Wow. That is more difficult than I realized. Thank you.

Jason, many of my close relatives accept the Roman Catholic dogma that each of us begins life as a human being (with an immortal soul created by God) at the very moment of conception; i.e., when the father’s sperm enters the mother’s oocyte. Thus they are some of the individuals you refer to, and they feel that their belief agrees with the latest biological science. However, IMHO, they choose to ignore the implications that biological science tells us that happens quite frequently–that some fertilized oocytes split to form identical twins, or even to split again to form quadruplets. What happened to that single soul God created at the instant of conception? Of course a God who knows all that the future holds would wait until all monozygotic multiples were formed before any souls were created. But then we are back to the old problem: Can such an omniscient God grant true freedom to Humankind?
Al Leo


This rings true to me.

If not for this, I think more believers would be open to considering that ones interpretation of the bible might be something one could improve on over a life time. From the outside it seems that believers lack faith in their faith when something so well established as evolutionary theory stops them. But when I consider how the social fabric of the community depends on common interpretation it makes perfect sense. That is quite a pickle.

As so often is true, the intellectual objections are probably motivated by something more primal like what Christy mentioned. Many of us will prefer to intellectualize the problem rather than consider the other dimensions of human experience. Once one decides that there is a common enemy to rally together against, then the apologetics solution has all the emotional motivation it needs to proceed.


Good insight. Thanks.

I’m glad you mention trust. I’ve never been a YEC proponent, but I have had much more traditional views on Biblical authorship issues, and my response at that time to liberal-sounding views I rejected was always, “I know I can’t refute this, but I’m sure somebody much smarter than I am has done so, so I’m safe continuing to believe as before.”

Trusting the community’s perceived intellectual heavyweights helps people stay in the fold.


The real reason is what Augustine said about Paul in Romans 5.

You either have to KILL Original Sin… or you have to give Creationists their Adam/Eve “poofery”!

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This is a false choice. Plenty of creationist Christians are in churches that don’t put much emphasis on original sin at all. For them, it is an authority of Scripture issue. Leaving aside Genesis 2-3, in Genesis 1, The Bible says God created the world in six days. Period.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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