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I’ve been traveling this week and unable to get back to David N. Livingstone’s book Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins. We will return to this book next week. On a related note though there is a new report of a distinct archaic human lineage – reported in the Journal Nature and making the New York Times: Bone May Reveal a New Human Group. The data behind this claim is not a full skeleton but the DNA extracted from a single finger of a child excavated in a cave in Siberia. It is ironic but “the signature in the cell” – the DNA content of cells – provides much of the strongest evidence for both evolution in general and common descent in particular. The other lines of evidence – from paleontology to comparative anatomy – provide corroboration. This is data that we must wrestle with and integrate into our understanding of God’s creation.
The necessity of confronting the data connects with a recent video of a conversation with Bruce Waltke:
Waltke starts this clip with a caveat – “I think that if the data is overwhelming in favor, in favor, of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … And rightly so, … we’re not using our gifts nor trusting God’s providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.” Later he continues: “So I see this all as part of the growth of the church. We are much more mature by this dialog. …”
Waltke is not a scientist – and the caveat about the data is a fair one. We need to have honest conversations about the data – but we also must go with the data. To do anything else is a failure to trust in the providence of God. If he created by evolution, so be it – this can be integrated into the faith.
What do you think? What should be the approach of Christians to the growing mound of data? Intelligent skepticism, Serious study, Wonder and Awe, Entrenched refutation, something else? Who do you trust?
FYI – Transcript of Waltke’s comments produced from the video:
I think that if the data is overwhelming in favor, in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult, some odd group thats not really interacting with the real world. It will…I mean rightly so, I mean we will, we’re not, we’re not using our gifts nor trusting God’s providence that brought us to this point of our awareness. Because I see all of history as in God’s providence and I think we are at a unique moment in history, so many strands are coming together, we’re on almost to my mind a pinnacle of history. We’re aware of these things. And to deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death if we stopped loving God with all of our minds and thinking about it, I think it’s our spiritual death. It’s also our spiritual death in witness to the world that we’re not credible, that we are bigoted, we have a blind faith and this is what we’re accused of. So I see this all as part of the growth of the church. We are much more mature by this dialog that we’re having, and I think this is how we come to the unity of the faith, is that we wrestle with these issues. We’re all in the body of Christ as one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. And we may disagree with one another, but we are really interacting in a very serious way, trusting God’s truth. And that we are testing what is true and holding fast to that which is good and we are the richer for it. And if we don’t do that we are going to die. And I think it is essential to us or we’ll end up like some small sect somewhere that retained a certain dress or a certain language. And they end up iso… marginalized, totally marginalized, and I think that would be a great tragedy for the church, for us to become marginalized in that way.