Saturday, October 11, 2008
I might not believe, but I can still appreciate
My wife, her parents, and I visited Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind last weekend. Sterkfontein is famous for hominid fossils that have been excavated there; it is one of four sites in the world, all of which are in South Africa, where fossils of the hominid Australopithecus africanus have been found, and currently a full skeleton of a 3 million year old specimen, fondly named “Little Foot”, is being painstakingly removed from the wall of one of the chambers.
My wife and her parents are Christian. In fact, her parents are retired missionaries who worked in rural KwaZulu-Natal for many years. But all three are comfortable with evolutionary theory. I guess I’m quite lucky, as a person who believes in evolution, to have many Christian friends who don’t view evolution as a threat to their faith, and this always makes for interesting discussion! In fact, most of the Christians I currently know would consider themselves theistic evolutionists, albeit of differing persuasions.
While we were waiting for the cave tour to begin, Cori, her parents, and I had an interesting discussion revolving around the question of whether Christians, who don’t believe in evolution, can come to the caves and, despite not believing, still at least acknowledge the depth of work that palaeontologists have done, and have some appreciation of the importance and beauty of the site. After all, I – as an ex-Christian – can still visit St Paul’s cathedral and stand in awe at its splendour, and I can still appreciate the impact that Christianity has had on art, literature and culture. I guess the question we were grappling with was: can a person have appreciation for a site like this, despite the fact that they might not agree with what it teaches?
By the way, if any of you are around in the Johannesburg area, do yourself a favour, visit Sterkfontein, and take one of the cave tours. It is incredibly fascinating.
Posted: 6:00 pm