Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Science, Scripture, and Worldviews (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

The Biologos blog Science and the Sacred posted two excellent videos of N. T. Wright a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been slow in getting to these, with so many other interesting topics on the agenda – but both are worth a look and a conversation. The first Meaning and Myth deals with Genesis 1-3, the second is on Evolution, the Enlightenment, and Worldviews.

Watch these videos (below) and lets start a conversation.

What role does our worldview play in our understanding and interpretation of scripture?

In his discussion of Genesis, Wright suggests that we have problems with issues that are tangled together, theological, political, and cultural. We need to step outside of our preconceptions and look at scripture on its own terms.

A couple of brief quotes:

Genesis 1, 2, and 3, are some of the most explosive chapters – and when anthropologists talk about myth what they mean is not an untrue story. What they mean is a story that is full of power for how we understand ourselves individually, for how we understand ourselves as a community, for how we understand what the human project is all about. … we need to lighten up about these words and maybe find some other words because I do think it matters that something like a primal pair getting it wrong did happen. But that doesn’t mean I am saying that therefore Genesis is a kind of positivist, literal, clunky, history over against myth.

We have to read Genesis for all its worth. And to say either history or myth is a way of saying I’m not going to study this text for all its worth. I’m just going to flatten it out so that it conforms to the cultural questions that my culture today is telling me to ask.

The ideas of cultural influence and worldview are dealt with from a slightly different direction in the other video, Worldview and Scripture. In this video Wright suggests that we live in a worldview that insists that God and the world are widely separated from each other – an enlightenment worldview. At one extreme this worldview denies the existence of God, but the response within the church also buys into the enlightenment view.

The idea that God simply steps in from time to time to perform a miracle is an error of the enlightenment worldview. The conception that a natural mechanism – be it evolution, plate tectonics, or meteorology –  eliminates God from the picture is an error of the enlightenment worldview.

If we take off the spectacles of our worldview and see God as all in all – not as generally distant, stepping in to perform specific miracles from time to time – many of the conflicts between science and faith may disappear. At very least we can focus on the questions that matter not on misleading details.

What do you think? How does our worldview impact the way we look at scripture and at the conflict between science and faith? Does it influence the way we look at the questions of creation?

If you wish to contact me, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net



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John W Frye

posted February 2, 2010 at 8:49 am


OK, I’ll admit it…N. T. Wright is one of my heroes. There. Julie and I once had martinis with N.T. when he was in Grand Rapids, MI debating his friend Marcus Borg on the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amazingly in these two video snippets, Tom summarizes so much and offers an intelligent, Bible-honoring, God-centered way proceeding into profitable conversations about knotty science/faith issues. Thank you, RJS, for making these dialogues possible here at Jesus Creed.



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Lee

posted February 2, 2010 at 9:35 am


I am glad I caught this post early so that I can jump right in at this point. Although many of my conservative, Reformed colleagues and co-workers are the kind who feel that they must always voice their reservations whenever N.T. Wright is mentioned, I continue to be thankful for his intelligence and fresh approaches.
This said, I have always been taught a rather rigid orthodoxy about both the transcendence and the immanence of God. I have not done much thinking about this, but I think that warning flags will definitely go up for some people if Wright calls into question a distinct separation between God and his creation (transcendence).
So, does the concept of transcendence that I have been taught come from an Enlightenment or an Epicurean worldview? In what ways, and according to what biblical passages and principles, does a truly Biblical worldview (whether or not Wright’s point of view is the same) call into question the typical teaching of a distinct separation between God and his creation?
Please comment. Thank you.



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Richard

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:05 am


I agree with John (#1), though I didn’t get to sip martinis with Wright (add it to the bucket list I guess). I went down to the Creation Museum a few weeks ago with some students from a local Christian university (the class had visited the Field Museum in Chicago the week before).
I was fascinated at how much of their approach depended on a certain perspective on the world, the canon of Scripture, and how inconsistent it was at times. For example, the tour started with a seat in their planetarium where they informed us they were going to show us the cosmos from a “biblical worldview.” But then we settled back and were treated to a very Copernican understanding of the Solar System. It’s interesting that they’ll except that bit of science though there are texts in Scripture that would lend themselves more to a Ptolemaic universe, or the layered approach of the ANE view.
It was frustrating to hear that their reasoning for why young people are leaving the church is because the church has underminded their trust in the Scriptures by allowing for evolutionary processes instead of teaching a literal 6-day creation. To paraphrase- “If you can’t trust how the book begins, how can you trust the Gospel and how the book ends?”



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Joe Whitchurch

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:06 am


I watched only the first. I too am glad you posted this, Scott and will try to follow the discussions. If NTW gets to be the defining authority on history ‘something like the first primal pair happened’, and of myth ‘helps a community shape its worldview’, then his use of the words of Scripture could be helpful. But search on myth and go to the bookstore (and yes I know he reads more and wider than I) and you will see that the positivist, clunky, literal, historical gets other adjectives as well (wooden, Neanderthal, stupid) and the myth is mixed with a pagan superstitious magical thinking rather thoroughly, CSL and JRRT being rather exceptional. I’m not so sure the spiritual vitality of NTW and England v. his USA critiques as per his title and series cultural critiquing aspects, is necessarily where I’d be looking for integrative, high biblical authority of the Old Testament acuity. Doesn’t he overuse the phrase ‘something like that’. I seem to recall his using it to speak of the words of Jesus as stated in the gospel of John, e.g. that such were not actual word or quotes but that ‘something like that was said’. You can get wide readership and sympathy depending on how one interprets the ‘something like that’ and this is why my 3rd sentence above beginning with the word ‘If’ uses the word ‘could’ rather than a stronger word.



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preachinjesus

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:23 am


What do you think? How does our worldview impact the way we look at scripture and at the conflict between science and faith? Does it influence the way we look at the questions of creation?
I appreciate Rev Wright’s impact for God’s Kingdom. He has a unique position and is doing so well to show authenticity in the midst of speaking on difficult topics.
Our worldview does impact the way we read Scripture. Growing up in a dispensationalist, slightly neo-fundamentalist church I was taught a very different view of Scripture than Wright speaks about in the first video. That said I have found as we get more exposed to other views we broaden our ability to read and survey the texts given to us.
One of the challenges I have tried to take up is using ancient rabbincal commentary to better understand certain OT passages. They are closer to the text and also they are able to understand some of the contructions and idioms better.
Ultimately though we must remember that it is the Holy Spirit which conditions our hearts. Perhaps we can become so interwoven with our worldview that we forget there are other options. Yet when we deny ourselves and ask for the Holy Spirit in indwell our reading efforts we often find remarkable expansion of our read.



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pds

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:24 am


The Design Spectrum
Interesting thoughts. Which is why I question aspects of evo theory not because the Bible makes me, but because of the scientific evidence that undermines it.
You said,

If we take off the spectacles of our worldview and see God as all in all – not as generally distant, stepping in to perform specific miracles from time to time – many of the conflicts between science and faith may disappear.

Seems like you may be flattening the text in the other direction, in the way Wright describes beginning at 1:30 in the second clip.
By the way, I just had a very simple question deleted at the Biologos blog (twice). Go figure. I discuss my subversive question (and another comment that was not deleted) here:
http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/biologos-some-questions-should-not-be-asked/



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John W Frye

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:30 am


Regard comment #1– How often does a lowly Evangelical Covenant pastor get to name drop? LOL



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AHH

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:41 am


RJS summarizes Wright:
The conception that a natural mechanism – be it evolution, plate tectonics, or meteorology – eliminates God from the picture is an error of the enlightenment worldview.
AMEN! This is what many of us refer to as the “God of the Gaps” error, the assumption that “God did it” and natural explanations are mutually exclusive. Wright understands how bad it is that many Christians have fallen for that assumption, forcing them to oppose “natural” explanations in order to make room for God. Many of our science/faith problems in the church would disappear if this conception could be left behind — unfortunately much popular apologetics (including much popular use of ID) implicitly assumes this “God of the Gaps” framework.



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Joe Whitchurch

posted February 2, 2010 at 10:41 am


I just watched the 2nd video above and NTW seems gladly messy with God’s transcendence & immanence, and appears both-and/muddled on process theology, finite godism/panentheism conversations or ‘something rather like that.’ :-)
He does offer a good critique of deism, scientism, and uniformitarianism under the more obscure, ancient worldview of Epicureanism. Also while greatly appreciating his critique against gnosticism in the 1st video, I think one can read of geo-catastrophic judgments by God eschatologically in Scripture and still see a very earthy millennial kingdom and/or the new earth and heaven with continuities with the current and some discontinuities as well. I hear the alleged, ‘cloud harp playing’ eschatology persons speak more of the millennium and durations of time in history and new earth specificities than I hear of such from those I consider more a-eschatological. Saying *nothing* about the future state strikes me as more ‘cloudy’ than saying something physical and perhaps being over interpreted.



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RJS

posted February 2, 2010 at 11:19 am


Joe (#9)
I don’t think Wright is saying that God is everything (pantheism) or everything is in God (panentheism), and I don’t think he is muddled at all. Rather, I think he says that God is responsible for the whole. So the sun rises, an earthquake happens, the wind blows, a child develops … God is responsible for it all. When we study the “natural” mechanisms of creation, this is not somehow separate from the work of God.
Now where do we see direct action of God in ways that step outside of “natural” as opposed to action within what we perceive as “natural” or “normal”? I actually think that we see this in relationship and phenomena having to do with relationship.



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Daniel

posted February 2, 2010 at 11:52 am


I think Wright is right on point about our culture affecting our reading/understanding of Scripture. Almost everyone we read in seminary is a dead white guy, whose understanding of Scripture has been influenced by Tubingen, Calvin, Barth, Luther, etc. But the interesting thing is what happens when we expand our cultural worldview.
First of all, the Bible is primarily written from a Semitic, middle-eastern worldview. As Christian we extrapolate our understanding from what we hear and read, but the understandings gleaned by present-day Bedouins on parables is probably closer to the real meaning than what we hear on Sunday mornings.
I think one of the things we must do is move beyond our Western understanding of Scripture. There are valuable insights to be gained from our African, Asian, and South American brothers and sisters as they attempt to wrestle with Scripture and God’s revelation. To simply say that dead white guys have it figured out is, quite frankly, and insult to the Bible, which has truth to teach to all mankind, regardless of their culture.



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rick

posted February 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm


“The idea that God simply steps in from time to time to perform a miracle is an error of the enlightenment worldview. The conception that a natural mechanism – be it evolution, plate tectonics, or meteorology – eliminates God from the picture is an error of the enlightenment worldview.
“If we take off the spectacles of our worldview and see God as all in all – not as generally distant, stepping in to perform specific miracles from time to time – many of the conflicts between science and faith may disappear.”
Good luck with that. Both sides seem firmly entrenched in not only holding their worldview but defending it viciously. Where is Thomas Kuhn when you need him?



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Ray Ingles

posted February 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm


The conception that a natural mechanism – be it evolution, plate tectonics, or meteorology – eliminates God from the picture is an error of the enlightenment worldview.
I think the description of that error is, itself, an error. Evolution, for example, doesn’t disprove God(s) – but it does undermine some arguments for God(s) that were once considered ‘slam dunks’.
Some people do decide to apply Occam’s Razor at that point, but that’s a separate issue.



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RJS

posted February 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm


Ray,
Evolution undermines some arguments for God – but those arguments were, for the most part, arguments developed in a enlightenment context. If we step outside of that context and look at a broader historical and cultural picture, evolution is “no big deal.” Yes it is different – but so is our understanding of meteorology. The important issue to think about, I think, is how we view people, humanity – not how we view creation.
What argument is undermined that is not an enlightenment argument?



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Joe Whitchurch

posted February 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm


#10 RJS
RJS, I find you very clear. If what you think you hear NTW saying is indeed what he is saying, I’m quite pleased with his helpful thinking. Why is it my evangelical leaning friends always interpret him to me in ways I appreciate and those with whom I disagree seem in radical agreement with him as well? On the same turns of phrase. Thanks again, RJS. Have you considered writing? :-)



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Jeff Cook

posted February 2, 2010 at 9:31 pm


We select our glasses and then they tell us what they want us to see. I don’t know how you get away from that–not only with our hermeneutic, but with our epistemology as well. Does anyone have a way out of that?



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RJS

posted February 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm


Jeff,
No way out that I know. One can of course argue that the attempt to recognize the role of worldview is a worldview that allows us to recognize that worldviews are not absolute and universal.
More realistically though – doesn’t recognition of the forces that shape worldview allow some freedom to think outside – “creatively”?



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Daniel Mann

posted February 3, 2010 at 6:47 am


RJS (and Ray),
RJS wrote, ?Evolution undermines some arguments for God – but those arguments were, for the most part, arguments developed in a enlightenment context. If we step outside of that context and look at a broader historical and cultural picture, evolution is “no big deal.”?
I?m afraid evolution is a ?big deal.? Although it might not undermine a belief in God, it certainly undermines the God of the Bible who created everything as ?very good? and plans to restore everything to that ?very good? condition, not to a dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest.
According the Scripture, it was humankind who screwed everything up, bringing about the Fall, sin and death, while evolution would have it that things were a mess because the mess represented God?s grand design.
These worldviews are diametrically opposed! Let?s not minimize the conflict!



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:03 am


Daniel,
The real issue is what humans messed up – and the nature of the death this brought into the world. Even people like John Calvin (who took Genesis rather literally) did not think that all biological death was the result of the fall. Rather he thought the fall meant that humans decayed back to dust rather than being conveyed to the next state without the pain and suffering of disease and decay.
The extreme illogical literalist approach that makes all death a result of the fall is diametrically opposed to the idea of evolution. But neither scripture nor orthodox Christian faith are diametrically opposed to evolutionary creation.



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Gregory Laughery

posted February 3, 2010 at 7:05 am


Jeff (16) and RJS (17)
Perhaps, it?s best not to be thinking of a ?way out? of our hermeneutical and epistemological situatedness, but rather to be configuring it as a ?way through? to a possibility of new understanding. Hermeneutics and epistemology, in our context, are likely to have modernist and postmodernist tendencies, which nevertheless do not restrict us to going round in a vicious cycle of the same, because we can and do arrive at new understandings as we traverse through that which we belong and are potentially distanced from.



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Ray Ingles

posted February 3, 2010 at 9:11 am


RJS – Evolution undermines the general “argument from design in biological systems”, which was undoubtedly formalized in the Enlightenment, but was present nonetheless before that (e.g. Psalm 139:14), or Aquinas’ Fifth Way.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:01 am


RJS,
Let?s not muddy the waters with Calvin, who would never have supported a whisper of the evolutionary worldview, which provides no room for a ?very good? creation and the entry of sin and death through the Fall.
In this regard, I appreciate Christian evolutionist Karl Giberson, who tried to write, in “Saving Darwin,” in favor of the harmony between the Bible and Darwin. Nevertheless, he was candid enough to admit the great price he had to pay:
?Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science?.[Darwin?s] acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories?the fall, ?Christ as the second Adam,? the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.? (9-10)
You wrote, ?The extreme illogical literalist approach that makes all death a result of the fall is diametrically opposed to the idea of evolution. But neither scripture nor orthodox Christian faith are diametrically opposed to evolutionary creation.?
What does ?orthodox Christian faith? entail? Doesn?t this faith necessarily entail taking Scripture as Jesus and the Apostles took it? They consistently affirmed the historicity of the Genesis accounts, something evolutionists can?t do. Instead, they must illegitimately allegorize Scripture to conform it to Darwin.



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:18 am


Daniel,
I don’t think bringing Calvin – or Augustine – into the picture is muddying the water. I think that you want a crystal clear black and white understanding and fail to appreciate the nuance of the very intelligent past thinkers in the church. They worked within the understanding of their day and looked at scripture as of God – but not in a simplistic fashion. What Calvin would have thought confronted with the scholarship of our day is a moot (debatable) point. Given the position of many very intelligent Calvinists, I think he would have been at peace with it.
With respect to Jesus and Paul as their words are recorded in scripture – we must again think about the nature of scripture and the nature of incarnation and revelation. Taking scripture as Jesus, Paul – and the writers of the NT took it is not taking it in the same way that modern inerrantists want to take it. In fact this is one of the major “worldview” errors – thinking that scripture as word of God must be a “magic” book rather than a relationship interaction of God with his creation.



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 10:22 am


Ray (#21),
I have not read much of Aquinas – so someone else can speak to that. With respect to Psalm 139 – evolution disproves nothing about this kind of design. I can be fearfully and wonderfully made by whatever process. This is exactly my point – enlightenment worldview separates work of God from “natural” process. If we separate those two one can argue that evolution and Psalm 139 are opposed – but why should we separate those two?



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Daniel Mann

posted February 3, 2010 at 11:46 am


RJS,
I don?t think that separating Calvin and Augustine from modern-day inerrantists is warranted. They too, along with Jesus, Peter, Paul and all the writers of Scripture, were manifestly inerrantists:
? JESUS: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18
? PAUL: ?All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.? 2 Tim. 3:16-17
? PETER: ?And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.? 2 Peter 1:19-21
In light of the above, I think that we need to be careful about marginalizing modern evangelicalism as a modern aberration. Instead, I think it more appropriate to scrutinize modern attempts to marry Jesus to our popular worldviews.



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm


Daniel,
None of those scripture references speak to the issue at hand.
Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. This speaks to the story of God’s interaction with his people and his means of redemption. No problems here at all. In fact I would say that my whole understanding of the NT gospel rests on this idea. If it is the reference to least stroke – that still doesn’t get you to a dictated literalism.
With respect to Peter’s discussion of prophecy – these are the portions of scripture where divine direct communication is explicit. In these cases I am inclined to take it literally – but that also doesn’t speak to the issues of Genesis 1-3 or evolution.
Now Paul – this is the favorite and most misused passage of scripture. Think about it this way – the parable of the good Samaritan is certainly “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” so to is the parable of the prodigal son. To move to another form of communication – the Sermon on the Mount is also useful in this fashion – and the statement that the greatest commandments are those to love God and love others. Scripture for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training can include story, history, poetry, prophecy, and commandment – but we don’t read them all with the same lens.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm


RJS,
I think that our topic has subtly shifted. I am arguing in favor of ?inerrancy,? not a ?dictated literalism,? as you put it. Of course, the NT isn?t arguing in favor of this, but neither is modern evangelicalism.
Of course, we have to interpret each passage in context, recognizing the genre of literature that we are dealing with. Some narratives are historical; some are parabolic. We agree here. However, I think that we need to take our cues from the NT regarding interpretation.
For instance, I feel compelled to regard Genesis 2 historically, at least in some regards. Jesus did:
? “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
Had God not literally joined Adam to Eve, Jesus? argument would have been baseless and erroneous.



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm


Daniel,
Jesus argument would be invalid if humans were not created male and female (but we are) and if God did not ordain marriage – as uniting man with woman.
Of course the long permissive attitude (even perhaps God ordained) toward polygamy kind of means, I think, that we look at the intent behind Jesus words to the kinds of practices and relationships common in the first century culture – not to an ontological oneness. But I know that others disagree here.
Your inerrancy seems to be “dictated literalism” because you don’t seem to want to allow the use of language to tell truth and convey messages in fashions that are common in all cultures worldwide as far as I can tell. Scripture is not comparable to mathematical proof – it is much more powerful.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 3, 2010 at 4:19 pm


RJS,
I?m somewhat confused regarding your response. You wrote, ?Your inerrancy seems to be “dictated literalism” because you don’t seem to want to allow the use of language to tell truth and convey messages in fashions that are common in all cultures worldwide as far as I can tell.?
You equate ?inerrancy? with ?dictated literalism,? but I can?t figure out why. Then you argue that this ?dictated literalism? is not in step with the normal usage of language. In this, you might be right, but this isn?t an issue that concerns me, at least here.
Also, I?m not sure what you mean when you write, ?Scripture is not comparable to mathematical proof – it is much more powerful.? Are you referring to the interpretation of Scripture or the validation of Scripture? In addition to this, you seem to place in opposition the more ?powerful? message of Scripture with ?proof.? Must it be an either/or proposition? Why not both!



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RJS

posted February 3, 2010 at 8:41 pm


Daniel,
OK – obviously my point wasn’t clear. Lets see if I can say it a little differently. You said initially that evolution and Christian faith were not reconcilable – something I disagree with.
The major issues you brought up were twofold – theological concern with death and decay and a concern based on scripture.
I don’t think the issue of death and decay is serious in general, because the idea that the fall introduced all biological death and decay is not a clear teaching of scripture or even the consensus view in the thinking of the church over the last 2000 years. The fall had clear consequences for humans created in the image of God.
With respect to scripture – I think that the idea of evolution becomes a problem only when scripture is read in a way that it is not intended to be read or used. Many people seem to use scripture as a series of propositions to be assembled like a mathematical proof – a=b, b=c therefore a=c …
For example – Paul says all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training. Peter equates Paul’s letters with the “other scriptures” therefore all Paul’s writings are God breathed. A logical “proof” structure is built.
Now I think scripture (including both NT and OT) is reliable for teaching etc. This is the position of the church from the very beginning not because Paul gave a proof text – but because the judgment of the Church was that the Spirit of God was with those who walked with and followed Jesus and they preserved the writings, because the story of the NT is the continuation and fulfillment of the OT.
But I also think that we have to let scripture be itself and read it in the context of its genre, its purpose, and context. John Walton’s book “The Lost World of Genesis One” is a good place to see what this can mean in terms of the way we read scripture.
None of this means that I think I have all the answers – or know how everything fits together. The issue that NT Wright, Tim Keller, and John Walton all stumble on in one way or another is exactly how we understand the fall. And all three consider it in some fashion history – not merely “inner truth”. I agree.
But to say – as you started off (#18), that these worldviews (evolution and Christianity) are diametrically opposed, and the conflict shouldn’t be minimized … that I disagree with.
Secular naturalism, purposelessness, atheism … these are diametrically opposed to Christianity. Evolution itself can be understood in the context of Christianity, the same way we understand meteorology and embryology in the context of Christianity. Our faith says God does it – science tells us something of his normal method.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 4, 2010 at 6:18 am


RJS,
Thanks for hanging in there with me. If what you say is correct ? ?Our faith says God does it – science tells us something of his normal method? ? then indeed, there is no problem. However, Scripture seems to say much more than that, things that contradict the foundations of evolution:
? Creation and life weren?t a matter of survival of the fittest. Even the animals were herbivorous: Genesis 1:30-31 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
? The Fall into sin and death wasn?t God?s fault but ours:
? Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned–
? 1 Cor. 15:21-22 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
? The answer will not be a Restoration into the original ?survival of the fittest? but perfection: Acts 3:21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
To try to get around these very foundational pieces of the Christian worldview requires the use of such broad and flexible interpretive approaches that just about any philosophy can be successfully inserted into Scripture.
By adopting these interpretive approaches, Christian evolutions (as far as I can tell) have condemned themselves to faith which is uncertain, un-confident, flaccid and vacuous. For them, evangelism has become largely a matter of converting Christians to evolution and not evolutionists to Christianity. Sadly, they seem to have lost any viable witness before the evolutionists who (based on what I?ve read) regard them as disingenuous and compromised, although they are happy to use them to undermine the Christian faith.



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RJS

posted February 4, 2010 at 7:09 am


Daniel,
I don’t think the first point is valid – the interpretation of Gen 1:30-31. But the others, Romans, Corinthians, Acts, (and more) are issues that must be thought through. The issue is not to get around the core commitments of the faith – but to integrate our total understanding of the world into them. (Note the order – we don’t shoehorn faith into science, rather our scientific knowledge informs how we think about some aspects of our faith.)
Books, talks, etc. that simply say “I am a scientist, evolution is true and compatible with scripture” but never wrestle with the theology and interpretation, miss the main point. You pointed to Giberson’s book Saving Darwin in an earlier comment – and I must admit that I didn’t find his book particularly useful on this point, and his style was not helpful either.
I am not really concerned about converting Christians to evolution. It is not necessary for faith, and in many contexts it simply doesn’t matter. A wide variety of positions are compatible with the faith.
I am concerned with the mission of the church in spreading the gospel within all groups, including our Universities – and the first roadblock, the one the allows people to never wrestle with the meatier issues, is the dismissal of an old earth and/or the general scheme of evolution.
I am also concerned with the impact a YEC position in particular has on the faith of Christians who study science in general and biology in particular.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 4, 2010 at 10:01 am


RJS,
I think we share many common concerns. I too certainly don?t want to take a position that will turn seeking college students away from the Gospel, but I also don?t want to compromise the Gospel or water it down in order to make it appealing to the seeker. I think that the Church has taken this tact many times with disastrous results.
We have seen how liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, liberation theology, psychoanalysis, yoga? have all been imported into the Church to appeal to modern sentiments. I fear that evolution is just one of the more recent temptations.
Please forgive me if I seemed to suggest that you personally were more interested in converting Christians to evolution. I certainly didn?t mean to imply this. Instead, this is simply my general observation about the fruits of marrying Darwin to Jesus.



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Jack

posted February 21, 2010 at 11:18 am


I have followed this with interest. The thing that I see coming up again and again is ‘the gospel’. The gospel has absolutely nothing to do with the creation story but everything to do with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. When we start putting in other ‘pet projects’ into that story, we are messing it up. When we try to ‘convert evolutionists’ by talking about creation, we are not talking to them about the gospel, but about an alternate view of how it all began.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that creation/evolution is not what the gospel is about. It’s one of those (many) things that are secondary (tertiary) to the core of the proclamation that Jesus is creation’s true King. Believing how the cosmos was made does not change that fact. So let’s not muddle the water.
With that stated, all creation stories (Christian or otherwise) simply state that all that is seen and unseen was created by god (whomever or whatever that may be). All evolution theories simply state a possible way of it happening. One tells about what happened; the other about a possible way it happened. When we try to get more detailed into the bits of it than that from a sacred text, we are simply speculating into something that the original writer(s) may or may not have intended. When we then think we have figured it out, we make it a litmus test for ‘orthodoxy’. Which, again, means that it has been elevated to an essential, gospel thing. When it never was intended to be in the first place.



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