I suspect that a thousand years from now Christians will look back at the 21st century and say, “How could Christians have let themselves think that?” They’d have in mind our theology—some of the doctrines that are so precious to us and that we consider to be the backbone of Christianity.

And we do the same thing, don’t we? Of the people who lived 500 years ago we say, “How could they really have believed those things to be so important in their Christian faith?” We have in mind such doctrines as purgatory, indulgences, relics, the authority of the pope, apostolic succession, transubstantiation, the Inquisition, the sacramental system, Mariolatry, and so much more.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if a thousand years from now, or even in 500 years, people look back at our cherished doctrines and exclaim, “How could they believe all that?”

Why do I say this?

Because something is happening in our world that is likely to shake our systematic theology to its foundations when we better understand its implications. It won’t change the Bible or the theism that shapes our way of thinking. But as future theologians work at uncovering the implications of this discovery, they may find that some of the doctrines that form the essential structure of our creeds and confessions miss the mark. New insights and new doctrinal formulations will replace those we now treasure. People in the future will study the same Bible but understand it differently. Something is happening in our world right now that will bring vigorous theological revision for generations to come.

What is that “something”?

It’s an insight that began as a hypothesis in 1859, gradually developed into a scientific theory, and is fast becoming recognized as established fact. I refer to what we have been calling “the theory of evolution.”

Scientists recognize generally that the universe began with an enormous explosion—the “big bang.” They provide various scientific avenues to demonstrate the great age of the universe, perhaps as old as 15 billion years. The varied scientific disciplines provide convincing demonstrations of the continuous development of the universe since its beginning, such as producing over billions of years the vast reaches of space and the seemingly infinite number of stars and planets and galaxies that dot the heavens.

Our planet, Earth, has been part of this development. The scientists who study these things demonstrate how life appeared and how it has matured and diversified over millennia. They see this process of development producing a form of life called homo sapiens, and they trace this development from its common ancestry with other forms of life.

There may, of course, be areas of disagreement among scientists about certain items. But very few competent scientists will challenge the underlying process of development. These scientific discoveries can all be subsumed under the rubric of evolution—or, if one cannot get past the negative connotations of that term, we can use the alternative term development.

Implications for Theology
The question facing Christian thinkers is this: What effect does this process of evolution have on Christian theology? Do modern scientific discoveries have any implications for the way we understand the purpose of Christianity? If so, what are they? I am not going to argue whether or not evolution is true; I accept that the findings of modern science are reliable and must be taken as established fact. I also accept that the Bible’s basic teachings are just as definitive as those of science. So what might the implications for our theology be? If evolution is the catalyst for change, in what areas might we need to reconsider our traditional theological understanding?

Creation: We have traditionally accepted the words of Genesis 1—that God created the world as we know it today in seven literal 24-hour days—at face value. Bishop Ussher’s chronology even suggests the exact year when that that happened: 4004 bc. But there is no way we can possibly continue to hold that doctrine any more than we can hold the doctrines of a flat earth and a geocentric universe. One week for God to create the vast universe as we know it? That just doesn’t comport at all with the reality of a universe billions of years old. So we have to find a better way of understanding Genesis 1, a way that embraces scientific insights honestly and a way that also embraces the reality of God’s creative activity.

Adam and Eve: Traditionally we’ve been taught that Adam and Eve were the first human pair, Adam made out of dust and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But sustaining this doctrine is extremely difficult when we take seriously the human race as we know it today sharing ancestry with other primates such as chimpanzees. Where in the slow evolution of homo erectus and homo habilis and homo sapiens do Adam and Eve fit? We will have to find a better way of understanding what Genesis tells us about Adam and Eve, one that does justice to Genesis and also to what the Bible teaches about their connection to Jesus.

Fall into sin: We have traditionally understood Genesis to show the first human beings, in a state of innocence, living sinlessly in the Garden of Eden. They are then tempted. They yield to temptation and God sends them out of Eden. But if we take the discoveries of historical science seriously, where could we fit that story in? It would be extremely difficult to locate any such Garden of Eden, and even if were able to do so in modern Iraq, where is the scientific and historical evidence of a pristine origin and expulsion from that Garden? Furthermore, at which stage in human development would we place this event? We will have to find a much better way of understanding what sin is, where it comes from, and what its consequences are. Theologians will have to find a new way of articulating a truly biblical doctrine of sin and what effect it has on us.

Original sin: According to this doctrine, the fall of Adam and Eve is an actual historical event that plunged the entire human race into sin. Ever since, both the guilt of sin and the pollution of sin, theologically speaking, have been passed on from parent to child in such a way that we all come into the world tainted by them. We say that our children are conceived and born in sin. But if Adam and Eve are not understood as real historical people, then there can hardly be an inheritance of sinfulness from parent to child all the way back to Adam—in which case the entire doctrine of original sin falls by the wayside. We will have to find a better way of understanding not only what sin is but its effect on the population in general—a way that does justice both to the Bible and to science and that helps us understand how sin works in our own lives under God.

Salvation: We have traditionally understood the work of Jesus as dealing with the two aspects of original sin: guilt and pollution. Jesus removes our guilt by dying for our sins on the cross; he removes our pollution by sending us his Holy Spirit. This makes good sense, but if the doctrine of original sin needs to be revisited, theologians need to consider whether our understanding of Jesus also needs to be revised. Does the theory of evolution have any implications for how we understand Jesus’ ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension? How does Jesus fit into the ongoing process of evolution in the fullness of time? How does his ministry impact people in later generations? We’ll want our theologians to tackle this issue in a truly biblical way, preserving everything essential to the biblical story while fitting it into a new paradigm that defines meaningfully what Jesus Christ has done and what it means for us to be Christians.

God’s purpose in history: Evolution is a way of understanding history that describes a process of development taking place from the beginning of time. We, then, need to be asking questions like these: What is God’s purpose in all of this? If there is a meaningful process taking place in time and history, where is it going? What does God want the human race to become? What is our future over the long reach of time? Traditionally we have talked about an end of the world. But if we take evolution seriously—that is, the 15 billion years that already have passed—what are we to think about what the world will look like a billion years from now, or even a mere million? Can we see anything of God’s purpose for time and history, and can we get a glimpse from science of what that future might be—one that preserves what the Bible teaches but also is true to science? Our philosophical theologians will need to take a serious look at these questions. Major changes may well be in store for our eschatological doctrines.

I could go on and give my own insights about these doctrines, but this is sufficient to make the point that we need to take seriously in our theology the theory of evolution, now developed into established fact. Huge changes may well be taking place in tomorrow’s theological world, but we ought not be afraid of facing them. On the contrary! We should be excited and challenged by God’s grace to move onward and upward into more realistic insights into his Word and will. Who knows but that God has brought us into the world for such a time as this, to listen to what he has been saying and doing for billions of years and to take the lead in improving our understanding of biblical theology accordingly?

There are various ways we could respond. One option is denial—saying evolution can’t be true because it contradicts the Bible. Another option is inattention: who cares? Still another option is carelessness, or jumping to immature conclusions. The best option is prayerful attention, listening carefully to everything God is saying both in his original creation and in his redemptive gospel. If we can find the grace to do this humbly and obediently, surely we may trust the Lord to guide us into all the truth he wishes us to understand.

Committee on Creation and Science Report

E. The present apparent conflict between Christian faith and science over questions of origins cannot be easily resolved. Not only are there various interpretations of the evidence confronting natural science; there are also various plausible interpretations of Genesis 1. Thus all sides in the debates about origins should acknowledge that that they do not have a completely satisfactory solution to the problem and that therefore certain criticisms made by some of their opponents are at least partially justified. In the midst of such disputes, the church must firmly confess that which is the clear teaching of Scripture and central to the Christian faith; but cognizant of the legitimate freedom of science to examine the evidence and of the legitimate freedom of exegesis to interpret Scripture, the church must not bind consciences beyond that confession.

F. The Scripture clearly teaches that God is the Creator of all that is, that he created all things good, [and] that man and woman were made in his image to serve on God’s behalf as stewards of the world that he made. This biblical teaching of Creation stands in judgment over all naturalistic, evolutionistic worldviews.

J. . . . Some hold that this clear biblical teaching necessarily requires an explicit rejection of any theory which posits the existence of evolutionary forebears of the human race, that there is a clear clash of paradigms between prevailing evolutionary theories and the biblical account of origins. They argue that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see how a responsible exegesis of Genesis 1-3 does not rule out the evolutionary account of human origins. Others are not fully convinced that this clear biblical teaching requires such a rejection, for various reasons. . . . Some take Scripture (Job 38:4; 1 Cor. 13:8) to teach that God has no intention that we know all the answers in this area. Some believe that we are called to somehow take account of both of God’s revelations whether we currently know how to do that or not and that traditional conclusions would be compelling on scriptural grounds were it not that nature seems to be authoritatively telling us something else. That is not to say that the scientific theories are right, but only that neither we nor the church is presently in a position to state authoritatively that Scripture speaks definitively on this issue.

—from Report 28, Committee on Creation and Science, Section VIII: A Summary of Conclusions, Agenda for Synod 1991, pp. 408-9

 

 

Tomorrow’s Theology

  1. What is your gut reaction to Walhout’s statement “Something is happening in our world that is likely to shake our systematic theology to its foundations”?
  2. Is it possible to “not fear but face” these changes, as Walhout suggests? What is God’s purpose in all of this?
  3. How does Jesus fit into the ongoing process of evolution in the fullness of time? What does this mean for Christians?
  4. Walhout encourages theologians to take evolution seriously and also to tackle this issue in a truly biblical way. Describe the kind of faith needed to bridge the (seemingly dualistic) divide between these two realities.
  5. What is your prayer for theologians and scientists? What is your prayer for the church? What is your prayer for yourself as you meet new challenges to your understanding?


About the Author

Edwin Walhout is a retired minister of the Christian Reformed Church living in Grand Rapids, Mich. To read more by this author, visit Smashwords.com, where over two dozen of his e-books may be downloaded.

See comments (50)

Comments

I would like to make a few comments about David Bothof’s post of May 24, 2013.

You start right out and state; “I believe evolution, the big bang, and that the universe really is billions of years old.   But I don't agree with most of what you've said here.

 

Then you spend the rest of your post showing how illogical and unscientific it is to simply accept an idea such as evolution without scientific data to support the idea.  In an honest conversation with scientists, both those who tout the evolutionary worldview and those who do not, there is admittance that evolution is not technically even a theory, in a scientific sense, due a complete lack of supporting data or observation. It’s time we rethink why we would even say such a thing as “I believe in evolution” and consider the implications to the integrity of God’s word and His plan of salvation when we simply accept when we are told that the universe is billions of years old and that it began with a “big bang.” That said you do raise some very valid objections to Walhout’s article.  Thank you for that.

I would also like to comment about the post by David Dykstra on May 29, 2013

I would hope that much of what you said was true, in that for the most part no pastor, candidate or office bearer who would support a worldview such as what was presented in this article would be allowed to serve in the CRC.

However the Calvin College example may not be the best example. Bear in mind that not only the professors you spoke of, but also some in the past and present would present a similar scenario as did Walhout in this article.  This disturbs me very much, since Calvin is supposed to be a CRC college.  Parents who send their kids to Calvin would be unaware that a worldview at odds with a Biblical worldview is condoned and even taught in some course studies. Unfortunately Calvin College is not unique in this among Christian colleges and universities.

 

I’m not sure of your take on the book you referenced written by Loren & Deb Haarsma’s, but knowing what they have written and proposed elsewhere, I found it hard to read with an open mind.  Bear in mind that Deb Haarsma is now president of the BioLogos organization.  The worldview of BioLogos is pretty much on par with what Edwin Walhout wrote in his article. If you explore their website be sure to dig in a little to understand what they truly believe.  A casual skim over won’t give you the complete picture.

Congratulations on an excellent article Edwin.  It is amazing to me that Christians can once again stick their heads in the sand and deny scientific fact, much as in Galileo’s day.  As to what theological teachings will have to change to fit the truth’s of God’s natural revelation, that may be up to debate.  You present a good start in you article.  But as you say in your article, changes will have to come.  In 500 or 1,000 years Christianity will have gone through some radical transformations.  To much of the world today, Christians look like the man who, as a child, was told that the stork brings new babies to a family, and he still believes this as he has grown into an adult.  The truth of the matter is that evolution has become scientific fact and Biblical creation (especially a literal seven day creation) is the theory.  And it has become such a weak theory that it’s an embarrassment to teach in public education.   The creation account of the Bible is a theory that was assumed true in an age of antiquity when there was no such thing as scientific research.  But it seems that many in Christian circles would rather live in a fantasy world than in a world of reality.  Thanks Edwin, for your mind challenging article. Indeed God reveals his truth in both nature and the Bible.  Hopefully the rest of us will wake up and smell the roses (natural revelation) and recognize how beautiful they are.

Roger I’m curious why you would congratulate Edwin Walhout on his article. Is it the part where he says that the universe is too large and complex for God to create it in only 1 week, or when he denies that Adam & Eve were the first pair of humans created by God?  Or maybe it’s where he says that the fall into sin was something other than history and that by extension the doctrine of original sin is therefore something else than what Jesus Himself taught and the church has taught throughout history. Perhaps it is the part where because God did not create us perfect, but created a world already complete with sin, death and bloodshed, so we really so we don’t really need a Saviour. Or is it that since God is not telling the truth in what should be the foundational portion of His Word, that it would be natural to assume that the rest of it could be questioned or discarded as well?  Maybe it was all these things including the logical conclusion that an eternity in heaven without sin, death or pain is really just a nice story to make people be nice to each other.

 

The truth is there nothing redeeming about this article, both from a scientific or theological stance. And regarding your slam on Christians being blind to scientific “fact,” you obviously haven’t bothered to get the real story of history regarding the Galileo affair or you would not have used it. In an earlier post I gave some links you could follow if you would like to read an honest version of history. You state that evolution has become scientific fact and imply that God’s Word has become a theory. That is some claim! In the reality evolution technically isn’t even a theory for lack of evidence.  A scientific theory is the result of a hypothesis that has been developed due to at least some corroborating observation and experimentation. It shouldn’t be just a hunch someone threw out. Continued testing and observation would result in a theory becoming a law.  The “theory” of evolution has none of these factors. It cannot and has not been observed, tested or repeated. So the question is why would it still be touted as scientific?  Hmm..., maybe because it leads to the logical conclusion stated above. It’s the oldest lie, “did God really say?” As for the literal 6 day creation as written in the Bible, you can be assured that it is not taught in any public institution.  Sadly many Christian education systems don’t either. However be assured that religion has not been taken out of public schools. Christianity has only been replaced by the religion of evolution.  God does reveal His truth in both His Word and in nature, but our starting point will direct us to our conclusions. Science is about facts and we all have the same facts. Whether a person believes in evolution or Biblical creation will not alter the facts.  It will however alter our interpretation of the facts and lead to very different conclusions. Christians who do not embrace the evolutionary worldview are not living in a fantasy world blind to reality. We recognize how our wisdom is really nothing compared to the wisdom of God, and so when He says something we listen. I too hope Christians wake up, so that we can understand even more of what we see in nature by looking through the lenses of special revelation which is God’s Word. The church is under attack as never before and the enemy has used a tactic from the past. Evolution is nothing more than a Trojan horse. When we opened the gates and let it in the carnage soon followed. 

Well Arnold, let me play the devil’s advocate, seeing as you seem to take that view toward those who don’t agree with you.

As to Galileo, do you deny he was tried by the church and found guilty of heresy and had to spend the rest of his life under house arrest because of his defense of scientific truth?  Check out Wikipedia.

Again, playing the devil’s advocate, Edwin Walhout’s article is excellent because he is trying to make some sense of the Christian religion in light of the increasingly sound scientific research that supports evolution or historical development.  Arnold, you try to defend a Biblical idea of creation when it is indefensible.  You base your total argument on one book, the Bible, that was written in antiquity, when nearly all writing had a fantastical view of God and his relationship to the world.  Why don’t you reread the early chapters of Genesis and tell me that such a story has any grounding in reality.  And you place all the scientific research that has been done in the last 50 years over against this one book (actually, a couple chapters of this book) and claim the multitude of scientific research is false.

Let’s consider the Bible for a minute.  It took nearly 1,500 years for the canon of Scripture to be canonized after the events of the New Testament took place.  And even then, the Bible stood on pretty shaky ground.  Bible scholars, such as Martin Luther, wanted the books of James, Hebrews, Jude and Revelation to be removed from the Bible.  But Christians still use terms like inerrant or infallible to describe the Bible.  But Christians can come to little agreement as to what the Bible definitively teaches.  There is little agreement among Christians as to what really took place at the beginning of time.  There are hundreds of interpretations of the creation account.  The same is true when you come to the end of time; pre-mil, a-mill, post-mil, dispensational, etc.  Again there is little agreement as to the person and work of the Holy Spirit, from Orthodox to Pentecostal.  And the same is true as to the person and work of Jesus Christ.  How about prayer?  Any reasonable person knows that prayer does not help the Christian any more than non-prayer helps the unbeliever.  Their odds are the same whether in sickness or in playing the lottery.  How about Christian agreement on the sacraments of baptism or the Lord’s Supper?  There is none.  What about the role of women in the church.  Oops, again no agreement as to what the Bible teaches.  And we could go on and on.  And you would expect the person outside of Christian circles to believe that your source of truth carries any weight when it weighs in on science?

I’m sorry, Arnold.  To the person who does not claim to be a Christian, your arguments sound pretty much like the adult who still believes babies are delivered by the stork.  It would take real (but misplaced) faith to believe such a lie.  We both know that such a view is not grounded in reality.

I would like to speak to question 2 and 4 of the discussion questions offered above. For some reason, when confronted with the type of conflict I see displayed on these pages, I am often drawn to the story of Job, especially the interaction between Job and his well-meaning friends, and God’s perspective on that, as told in Job 42.

Job’s friends were quite sure that they understood God’s way of doing things. They felt free to tell Job what changes he needed to make in order to divert the disaster that had come upon him. The story describes Job as unwavering in his deep but non-linear faith. In the end God confirms that there were/are things happening in Job’s life and in the entire universe which no human will ever understand. Job concedes that he has questions, but agrees that he is in no position to challenge the ways of God. That could have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t.

We then learn that God was not pleased with the friends of Job. He faulted them for being so presumptuous as to try to explain to Job how God operates. He is displeased with their arrogance.

In answer to question 2 above, I am afraid to be that arrogant. I am afraid to side with those scientist who claim to have figured out what God did, and when and how, or even to suggest that God may not even have been in the picture at all. But I am equally afraid to side with those theologians, or sometimes armchair theologians, as the case may be, who think that from their studies of the Bible they now are in a position to explain to “Job” (i.e. you and me, the average person in the pew) the ways of God. If Job 42 is any indication, God may have a bone to pick with all of us who pontificate about God, about how God operates, about how the world was made, about who needs to be saved, and how, and about what lies ahead for the church and the world.

Also in connection with question 2, to ask “What is God’s purpose in all of this?” is like asking “what is the purpose of the story of Job?” This particular tension between theology and science is virtually identical to the tension we feel in reading the story of Job: “Some things seem obvious, but there is more to it than meets the eye. At some point God may, or may not, reveal the details. Meanwhile, he is still in charge. Whether we believe it or not, God is God, and we are not.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Per question 4, “What kind of faith will help us stand in the gap of these seemingly irreconcilable realities?” I have been blessed by the writings of Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, associated with the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albequerque, NM. He specifically addresses the problem of dualistic thinking in his book The Naked Now. This is not to say that he has never irritated God. In that respect we must all learn “How (not) to speak of God”. (c.f. Peter Rollins) as we seek to break the addiction to certainty and satisfaction.

I would like to re-visit the stork story, which many of us were told when we were young in connection with where babies come from. It is important for us to realize that most parents, when they tell their young children that story, don’t believe it themselves, nor do they intend to continue to deceive their children once they are old enough to know the real story.

Imagine, however, a young child’s reaction, when a well-meaning, but slightly arrogant cousin, takes it upon him/herself to “break the news to the youngster” prior to the parents well-timed correction. The youngster may very well react aghast and with utter disbelief to the cousin’s nonsense, and proclaim with absolute certainty:  “Babies are brought by the stork, ‘cause my mother told me so…”

I regularly have breakfast with a dear old friend, a highly educated and wise man, who occasionally comments on current theological developments with the salient observation that he likes to keep an open mind about things, just in case “my mother was wrong”. In other words, while staunchly conservative in many of his view, he wants to allow for the possibility that the truths he held dear since childhood may not all be true after all. At the same time, he very deliberately points to the fact that letting go of “what I was taught at my mother’s knee” is a very scary thing indeed.

I think that the Banner editors were wrong in publishing Rev. Walhout’s article. I think in doing so they resemble the well-meaning, but slightly arrogant cousin above, in seeking to expose the low-information readers to information that so vehemently conflicts with “what their mothers told them” that they cannot help but react aghast and with indignation to such heresy.

cont'd

Love demands that we not overload children with too much information. Love demands that we look for the proper preparation, and the right timing, to shatter childhood illusions. Jesus once said:  “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” (John 16:12) Might he still say that today?

 

What does it take to prepare people to re-examine long-cherished beliefs? A safe place. A place where questions are encouraged and accepted. A place where no-one is made to look foolish for being “not-sure”.  It is my prayer that the church might be such a safe place.

John VD, I feel a need to respond to your comments.   Starting with the stork story.  The stork story is deceit;  it may seem to be harmless deceit like santa claus, but in fact it is deceit and the reason the child is upset when the truth is told, is not because the truth is hard to believe, but because he wants to trust his parents who told him about the stork or santa.  Deceit is very rarely harmless, unless it is very short and quickly remedied.  If it lasts more than a day, it may instead become betrayal of trust. 

No parent is required to tell the whole story;  but parents are required to tell the truth.  Same with scientists and theologians.   We may not understand all of science, nor all of God or theology.   But playing with falsehood?  Not kosher.   God was not angry with Job's friends because they spoke truth, but because they were speaking falsely, blaming Job for his own problems.  God also reprimanded Job, because Job felt that his own righteousness meant that God should not be making his life so hard on him.  True, God is bigger than our knowledge and thoughts, and this is what God pointed out to Job.   But if we accept what God said in Job, then how can we argue with what God said in Genesis?   If God misled us in Genesis, then perhaps God was also misleading Job and us?   So it is difficult then to make an assumption that we don't know something, when God has given us pretty clear indications. 

You are right that in a way we should have a "safe place" to discuss.   Maybe Edwin was being devil's advocate and really does not accept the precepts of evolution at all.   Maybe he just wants to use this method to bring out the truth about evolution, and the truth about the consequences of raw evolutionary theory (as roger gelwicks so clearly displays).   But the reality is that discussing evolution without the right context, and accepting the raw assumptions and conclusions of evolutionary theory, while trying to discount its implications for faith, is like watching pornography in order to debate the merits of pornography.  It is a dangerous game, and not really safe. 

I agree that people should be made simply to look foolish.   But there is also merit in not letting them make themselves foolish, due to unchallenged thinking. 

I would be nice if we could edit our comments... but since this is not possible, I want to correct the second last sentence, to this:  "I agree that people should not be made simply to look foolish."

Dear Banner,

When it comes to “Tomorrow’s Theology” by Edwin Walhout appearing in your pages, I am both hopeful and disappointed.

Why hopeful? Because it represents yet another call for Christians to abandon the “war” between faith and science. I think we should heed this call for at least two reasons:

1. “All truth is God’s truth,” so there should be no war in the first place. The Bible is wholly true in its intended meaning. Scientifically established facts are also obviously true. The issue isn’t choosing
between things like Genesis 1 and evolution, but “faith seeking understanding” in how they fit together.

2. We are taught to be culturally relevant in passages like 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Acts 17:16-34 and others. To speak to current culture, our faith mustn’t be seen as unscientific or anti-science.

Why disappointed? Because this particular article just didn’t do this vital call justice. It needed carefully worded, sensitive, quality argumentation. It needed to be written by a credentialed voice of authority.

The church has such voices, capable of such argumentation. Respectfully, those are the voices The Banner should be publishing.

Finally, for anyone interested in writing on this topic that does do it justice, try Denis Lamoureux, Francis Collins, John F. Haught, Keith B. Miller, Kenneth R. Miller or Peter Enns to start.

Hopefully,

Matt Hill 

Rev. Walhout argues that ' Something is happening in our world right now that will bring vigerous theological revision in generations to come. What is this Something? " I know the answer; Empty pews the end of the Banner  and the end of a denomination called the Christian Reformed Church ( of North America ) 

Matt, I agree that there should be and ultimately is no conflict between science (the discovery of creation), and theology (the study and knowledge of God).   On the other hand, there is a conflict between evolution and Christian theology, and many scientists would argue there is a conflict between evolution and science as well.  Science and culture are not comparable issues.  Being culturally relevant has nothing to do with being scientifically accurate, nor with any conflicts between evolution and theology. 

Assuming that evolution equals science is a false premise.  Science is a process and a body of knowledge;  evolution is a theory, or perhaps merely a hypothesis of pre-history.  Evolution has many scientific barriers, problems and difficulties which are often ignored by die-hard believers of evolution.  The theory itself is constantly "evolving", and thus difficult to evaluate.  Something that is so ephermeral and  difficult to evaluate should probably not be declared as "fact". 

Matt, I didn't check all the authors you mentioned, only one.  Peter Enns name was vaguely familiar so I briefly checked out a commentary on this writing by a theology professor named John Byron.  It seems Peter Enns believes Adam either was evolved or didn't really exist as a single person.  If the others are similar, then they all have the same problem:  they believe that sin exists, but have no basis for believing it.  If they believe in evolution of animals and man, then they should understand that it is impossible for sin to exist, since every action of animals and man is only natural and right, no matter how "evil" we think it to be.   Then "evil" is only whatever man subjectively decides it to be for a particular era for man's own evolutionary needs, and there is no objective measurement, nor a universal knowledge of evil.  Under evolutionary needs, eugenics, abortion, mass genocide, adultery, pornography, fornication, wars, poverty, and child abuse are all perfectly natural, perhaps even necessary and desireable.  It's just part of the evolutionary process. 

"Behold the days are coming." declares the Lord God." when "I will send a famine on the land-not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water; but of hearing the words of the Lord." Amos 8:11

 

 

“…changes for eschatological doctrines…”

Joe had been battling cancer for five years. There are now hundreds of tumors scattered throughout his body.

Pastor Smith visits Joe in the hospital. He can barely speak. He can’t move.

Joe whispers, “I can’t wait for Jesus to return. I can’t wait for the new heaven and new earth.”

Pastor Smith replies, “because of evolution we really don’t know God’s purposes for the future. We need to wait for evolution to run its course so that we are such good or smart people there will be no more death, crying, mourning, or pain.”

Roger, I see you never bothered to check into the history of the Galileo affair.  It would be helpful for you to read the following articles.  There are many more, but these are good ones.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v14/n1/galileo

http://creation.com/the-galileo-twist

The rest of your blog really is really just a lot of jabs at Bible believing Christians and can be understood because of your low view of Scripture.  If you think I’m ever going to relinquish the Bible as authoritative you would be mistaken. Once we question the accuracy of the Bible we really have nothing left at all. You can mock me if you want, but yes when I read the Bible, including the early chapters of Genesis, I do fully believe that what God Himself tells me is true.  Why wouldn’t I?  I could just as easily make fun of your story that everything came from nothing and slowly over billions of years and become what we see today.  You suggest that we accept the story of evolution although it has never been observed and is scientifically implausible. What we see is change and adaptation within kinds as we would expect. One major difference between our worldviews is that God Himself wrote the history book on which mine is based. Your view of the historical accuracy of scripture is quite low and frankly out of touch with reality. The accuracy of scripture is hardly in question to the point that even within non Christian circles, it is considered very accurate. Although there may be divisions within the church as to the interpretation of various parts of scripture it is our limitations not scripture that is lacking. Anyway, if you don’t consider the Bible as the Word of God Himself and as the proper starting point in all areas then I really don’t see how there can be a real discussion. If the Bible is not true and trustworthy Christians would be the most pitied. But, as I stated earlier, it is your presuppositions that directed you to your conclusions, not science and not facts. How else would you explain that scientists in virtually every vein of scientific research can come to such different conclusions? Is one side, either the Biblical creationists or the evolutionist unintelligent? Of course not, but rather it is the mind of evolutionist that has been blinded. Although you have stated yourself that prayer doesn’t achieve anything I would strongly disagree and I do pray that minds and hearts be opened.  Some think we can gain acceptance among our non-Christian counterparts, but in truth they have no admiration for those who compromise scripture.  They will mock Christians because of their belief in God and in a Saviour who can save them from their sins regardless of how much we coddle to them, but they are even more hypocritical of Christians who compromise the very foundation on which there faith is built. The devil has many advocates, both outside and inside the church, but God’s Word is still truth, whether we believe it or not. There is a fable being told today that is much more venomous than the stork story. It is a story that undermines the very Word of God, which at the same time tries to masquerade as science and fact. It is perhaps Satan’s more pernicious lie. That lie is evolution. Thankfully the truth is that we can trust God’s Word from the very beginning, and science makes perfect sense when studied through this framework.

In reply to John Vandonk’s post of June 1, 2013.  I could be accused of making some condescending remarks as well so I won’t worry about being insulted. You say that the Banner was wrong in publishing Edwin Walhout’s article because “they resemble the well-meaning, but slightly arrogant cousin above, in seeking to expose the low-information readers to information that so vehemently conflicts with “what their mothers told them” that they cannot help but react aghast and with indignation to such heresy.”  So are you saying that Christians who hold to a Biblical creation model and who refuse to compromise on the clear reading of scripture do so simply because they are “low-information readers” and just as naive as the young child who believes in fairy tales told by his or her parents?  Well, I know several very prestigious scientists who would not fall into a naive or “low-information” category and yet practice their vocation quite happily and all the while as a Biblical creationist. As I have said several times before, it is not a science vs faith issue, but a faith vs faith issue. All have the same facts, but all do not come to the table with the same worldview or presuppositions.  How else can a scientist who is a Biblical creationist come to such different conclusions of origins as one who approaches with an evolutionary worldview?  The science of origins is not operational science but historical science meaning that it cannot be observed, tested or repeated. Many laugh or scoff when I suggest the following websites, but so be it.  However if people want to understand how scientists and lay persons use the Word of God in how they understand and study both historical and operational science please visit the following websites. www.answersingenesis.org and www.creation.com  

Hey brother,

Let's not talk past each other. I don't want to argue with you about evolution -- that's exactly the problem. Hear what I'm saying:

Regardless of what I said about "all truth being God's," in a world where many people think evolution is true, the church needs to be respectful and open to that, and it needs to have an answer for the person who believes in evolution and wants to know whether they can also believe in Jesus.

Science absolutely does have to do with cultural relevance in this sense. From this perspective, what we personally believe about evolution doesn't even really matter . . I may think evolution is a fact (not 100% certain, truth be told), you may not (I bet you're not 100% convinced either) . . but it's what the unbeliever whose scientific beliefs may be barriers to faith believes that matters.

Re: your last paragraph, respectfully, you're getting ahead of yourself. First of all, Enns' perspective is just one in a spectrum of ways to understand how Christianity and evolutionary theory may co-exist. You assume that there can be no sin or evil inside an evolutionary framework, but this is just not the case. Believe me brother: the issues you raise are also issues for many other smart people who also believe in the Bible and who are wrestling just as much as you . . but who have come to different conclusions than yours. Will you not give them a fair hearing?

Lamoureux -- the first author on my list, not the last :) -- wrote a book called I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution. This is the point. Loving Jesus first and then, taking science seriously, trying to see how that fits with things like evolution. I recommend the book to you, sir. Thanks . . 

Matt, you are correct when you say there is or should be no war between faith and science because there isn’t one. However the implication always seems to be that what is touted as scientific fact cannot be wrong so it is scripture that must accommodate. That is a dangerous precedent if not only for the fact that there is no consensus on the facts of contemporary science and that it is constantly being revamped. The Word of God never changes even if we have difficulty understanding all of it all the time. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it isn’t the facts that are in question it is the interpretation of the facts and a person’s a priori presuppositions. For example se http://creation.com/amazing-admission-lewontin-quote  Several articles and viewpoints of all of your referenced authors can be can be accessed in one place that being www.biologos.org  While I would never endorse what this website preaches or that of any of its contributors, it is good to know what they believe so we can be prepared. BioLogos and its member contributors hold to a similar worldview as does Edwin Walhout. But to get the other side of the story it would only be fair to again add some links to those of the Biblical creationist side.  www.creation.com or www.answersingenesis.org or www.icr.org     I would encourage everyone to research these websites. 

Thanks .. my (two!) posts were for John . . tried to post directly to his reply and failed . . tried again, failed again :)

I’m surprised that several people have responded to the “stork” analogy, in which I said that many non-christians would claim that the Christian is like the child who grew up into adulthood and still believed the story told to them by their parents, namely, that babies are delivered by the stork. This analogy holds true for many people, maybe even most people, including Christians.

In Christian circles, parents claim the Biblical proverb, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Christian parents teach their children the Christian perspective on life and salvation with the hope that their children will take hold of this perspective for themselves, even in adulthood.  Hence, the analogy of the stork.  But you ask, where is the lie that is told to the children?

But let’s recognize that people of nearly every religion would claim the teaching of that proverb;  Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, and any other religion.  They all teach their children the way of salvation and life as taught by their religion.  And they all claim that their perspective is the only true perspective based on their own God-inspired Scriptures which are completely trust worthy, just like Christians claim.  And they all hope their children will carry with them the religious training they received as children into adulthood.  And once again, you have the analogy of the “stork.” 

Is deceit involved by any of these parents, irregardless of their religion?  Of course not.  Of course, Christians say, “only our message is true.”  But every other religion says the same.  So are all other religions false except Christianity?  Whose source of truth do we consult to verify that truth?  Why not the Koran or the Book of Mormon?

Maybe all religion is a human attempt to explain the God who has revealed himself in creation.  Most religions will acknowledge that God reveals himself in nature.  But now religion, including Christianity, wants to explain God and his relationship to people further than what He has already given naturally, and perhaps further than what he ever intended.  It could seem that the one true revelation of God is nature.  Perhaps scientific research is the best indicator of how he accomplished his great task of creation.  And doesn’t nature tell us enough about him to cause us to stand in awe him?

And somehow Christians think that scientific researchers have a vendetta only against them. But science is not an endeavor to disprove any one religion or even all religion.  It’s an honest attempt to understand the distant past and how this world came into being, and what implications that might have for the present and for the future.  And if you believe in the God who has revealed himself in nature, he could have done it anyway he pleases, including the use of evolution.

I hear most of the responses on this blog dissing every other perspective but their own.  Edwin Walhout, in contrast, is trying to make sense of a Christianity that doesn’t deny the sound research being accomplished in the field of science.  Let’s give him some credit in a noble task.

Arnold,  I appreciated your link about the Galileo affair. It actually reinforced my belief that our different responses to seemingly contradictory perspectives/situations have more to do with levels of maturity and development than with facts and evidence, or, as you rightly put it, it’s about faith vs faith.

Back to the stork. I did not mean to be condescending. Please consider the following two scenarios:

1.       Job’s existential crisis leads him to ask a number of questions. His friends come with a whole bunch of answers, all familiar, all logical, and, in the end, all wrong. God enters and reframes all the questions. The bottom line is: God is God, we are not. We can only know what God reveals, which is not everything. The mature conclusion is to trust God and stand in awe.

2.       A young child asks mom where the newly arrived baby came from. The mom has options. Even if she herself believes the answer is: from God, she may decide to say, instead: from the stork, from mommy’s tummy, from mommy and daddy kissing, from …… Now the child grows up. Quite early on dismisses the stork theory. Then begins to learn about biology, about fertilization, about cells and organisms, about fetal development, etc. All of it true to some degree, but in the end only one answer covers all the bases: from God.

There is something profoundly difficult about not knowing. We resist it with all our might. Some have called it an “addiction to certainty”. We seem to want to be able to explain things, know the details, describe the processes. It takes wisdom, and maturity, to be able to say, in the end: “I don‘t know, but God does, and I trust God.”

For scientists to make excessive claims about their discoveries is immature folly, and may result in the sort of trouble Galileo found himself in.

 

But it is equally immature for Bible readers to make assertions about what they presume to “know”. Their attempts to extrapolate from spiritual writings “how babies are formed” or “how the universe came to be”  has the appearance of a young child insisting that Mommy answer all their questions. Only when they truly grow up will they realize that most of life is a mystery, known only to God.

Has anyone read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn?

He shows how paradigms govern scientific research. These pradigms set the agenda and cause the scientist to ask certain questions and to find certain answers. Paradigms set the tone for what conclusions are made.When looking at new data or existing scientits interpret reality based on the the pre-existing paradigm model for understanding reality. Certain conclusions are overlooked because of the paradigm. Only later when new models arise are those conclusions discovered. There may be anamolies discovered in a paradigm, but scientists will hold faithfully to the pradigm even though the paradigm cannot fully explain the data observed.

We have different paradigms at work in interpreting reality. The dominant one accepted by the scientific community leads to evolution.

I am not going to base my theology on scientific paradigms that seem to always be in flux.

 

 

John VD, yes, everything comes from God, and yes we don't know everything.  Very true.  BUT, that doesn't mean we don't know anything.  Scripture itself indicates that God knew us in the womb, how our bones "were knit together".   The most rudimentary and uneducated person knows that babies do not come from storks;  there is no excuse for making such a false statement.  But perhaps the analogy does work in this way, that just as there is no excuse for telling kids about "stork freight", so there is no excuse for making the grandiose claims of unlimited evolutionary theory. 

Steve, 

On a whim I Googled The Structure of Theological Revolutions. This is what came up. 

http://www.gendertree.com/Theological%20Paridigm.htm

 

Matt, thanks for your response.  You say the problem is arguing about evolution, and I might say the problem is arguing about what scripture says.... and then where are we?  As far as a fair hearing, yes I would give anyone a fair hearing if they are searching for truth.  I would give you a fair hearing if you can explain how you make evolution work with faith in Christ.   But there are numerous ways people have tried to meld christianity with evolutionary theory, and sometimes the differences are based on different ways of defining evolution.  Each case is different, but most cases are also inconsistent.  For example, if you are an evolutionist who does not believe that humans evolved, but were created separately, then you are breaking with the evolutionary faith.   Once you do that, then you need to justify why you do that with humans only, and not with other "links". 

If you have the view that humans did evolve, but that God then brought his spirit and image on an individual, you still must deal with how this changed the genetics so dramatically.   If it did change the genetics so dramatically, we then lose evidence that humans naturally evolved from other primates. 

If humans evolved naturally, and God's spirit did not change the genetics, then it becomes more difficult to argue that some primates are more human than others, and also difficult that humans are presently merely inferior specimens of what will surely evolve into super humans in the future.  These superhumans will naturally, by evolutionary principles, have the natural right to exterminate, subjugate, or enslave the inferior human specimens, since this would be completely in accord with evolutionary theory. 

It is difficult to meld a theory of pre-history that automatically excludes God from the process, with a scriptures that indicates that God was actively involved every step of the way.  It is also difficult to meld such a theory which requires the basics of mistakes, random chance, mutations, natural selection by death and disease and predators with something that God declared "good".   It is difficult to then say that the things used to make evolution work, all of a sudden became evil when Adam sinned, or were evil all along, but man was not aware of it though presumably he had participated in it all along, and Cain murdering Abel was not the first but only one in a long line of murders that had happened for millenia before. 

Should we respect everyone with different viewpoints?   Yes, and no.  Of course viewpoints are usually held sincerely, and we should respect that.   But not all viewpoints are equally valid, and some viewpoints such as roger gelwicks for example, are completely unacceptable for a christian, even for an evolutionary christian, so what does respecting such a view mean then for us?   I respect the person, but not the viewpoint at all.  Or perhaps it makes "respect" somewhat meaningless.  

However, if you have a way of melding the paradigms, then I will give you a fair hearing.  I cannot really discuss this with Enns or Lamareoux, since they are not posting here.  Lamoureux in a short audio says there is no debate that humans evolved, that there is no debate that evolution happened;   this alone makes it difficult to continue with his beliefs, since it is very obvious to me that there is debate on this.   So we already are at loggerheads.   He tries to be a christian evolutionist, which I respect, but the problems with such a position cannot be minimized.  He simply does not accept an Adam and Eve ever existed.  He tries to suggest that "sinning" is merely a result of achieving human maturity in the species similar to achieving culpability for actions based on the age of human being (adult vs infant).  But this is just speculation.   We can all speculate, but for speculations to achieve validity, they must be substantiated by the evidence.  The evidence for evolution of humans is simply missing.  

He says people are created in the image of God, but how does he know that?  Is this not found in the same "non-scientific" text of the Bible that he claims cannot tell us definatively that Adam and Eve really existed? 

He says people are using the bible as a scientific text when they claim Adam and Eve existed;  this is a false deduction.  It would be like saying that we are using a history book as a scientific text when it tells us about the battles of the second world war, or tells us who was president on V-day.  

John,

right . . that's what i thought .. talking past . . 

don't want to debate, as i said . . people like Lamoureux aren't here and i am, but they're the credentialed voices of authority i said such a discussion called for, not me . .  and you have their books . . if you'd like to prejudge their positions by reading what others say they said and cherry picking things out of context, go ahead, but i don't have time to walk through that kind of thing, especially when that's your first instinct -- sorry . . 

again, for people interested in how faith and evolutionary theory might co-exist, there are lots of resources for you, like the authors i mentioned (plus others) . . if your mind is already made up and you believe that faith and evolution simply cannot co-exist, these authors aren't for you (and no amount of words from me will help, hence my not casting of pearls . . )

Matt, I'm not sure what you mean by "talking past".   Just because we differ, doesn't mean we are talking past.  Yes, I took comments from a commentary on P Enns.  But I actually listened to an audio by Lamoureux himself speaking.  Perhaps some is out of context, because I don't have time to read seven or eight books all of a sudden, which are going to talk about views which I believe are fundamentally flawed from the beginning.  As I said, I am quite prepared to give you a fair hearing, but not on the basis of you simply quoting "authority".  If my response has been incorrect, it is fair for you to demonstrate how or why, and I will listen and respond appropriately. 

Can evolution and christianity co-exist?   They do if you re-define evolution to only include deleterious changes in species due to mutations within "kinds".   That is a kind of de-volution which has actually been observed often, but it is a far cry from the type of macro "onwards and upwards" evolution which is believed in by many evolutionists.  Trying to see how evolution and christianity can co-exist is speculative and also unnecessary, if evolution is discovered to be unprovable and unscientific, and contrary to evidence.   You don't want to debate, but you want me to understand and believe that you can meld macro-evolution with christian faith, and are obliquely trying to persuade me that this is possible (a form of debate).   In such an attempted persuasion, is it fair for you to try to control the parameters of the discussion?  

I have in fact responded to at least three potential scenarios, as well as to Peter Enns claim, and to Lamoureux's claim as well.   Have I misunderstood these claims?  If so, then how? 

I will say this:  if someone says they love Jesus, then we should not question that.   But we can question whether a belief in evolutionary theory is consistent with their understanding of Jesus.  And we can question whether they really have proof of evolution, or whether there is an alternate explanation for what they are seeing in the rocks and fossils and genetics. 

John, we're talking past each other, because though i've said multiple times i'm not here to debate, you continue to attempt to do so . . i'm not trying to get you to "understand and believe that you can meld macro-evolution with christian faith" . . i'm clearly talking to those who are prepared to allow that possibility -- you aren't . . what i've tried to say from the beginning is clear: some people believe in evolution and we need to find a way to speak to those people evangelistically, discovering how faith and science can co-exist for them . . . notice, now, what you're doing, however: by refusing to believe that faith and evolution even can be reconciled, you're out-of-hand dismissing anyone (like me) who attempts to reconcile them . . to be frank, i left a church over this, brother . . not because i so firmly believe in evolution, but because i cannot believe a pastor would stand at a pulpit and tell a room full of people that you cannot believe in the Bible and evolution at the same time . . this is the kind of message -- the message that you're now echoing -- that, imho, just can't be the church's message . . whether evolution is true or not, this is a live issue for too many people for us to just dismiss . . but you're dismissing . . as i said, i'm not going to debate you, because it's clear that on this point, your mind is made up . . that is the problem

I have read with interest many of the other comments.  What does strike me is that very few of us who have written really are biologists and that certainly includes me.  The last course I had in biology was with Dr. Martin Karsten at Calvin almost 40 years ago.  I have tried to keep up a bit by reading different articles and books, but I certainly do not know this field as well biologists who support either evolution or creationism.  (Yet, I really doubt that the author, Rev. Walhout, who undoubtedly took his biology class many years before I did, is any more versed in the field than I.) 

My main difficulty with his article is that he is suggesting major foundational changes in our theology in order to make it compatible with a theory that not even all biologists accept or agree on.  I recently read Herman Bavinck's book In the Beginning: The Foundations of Creation Theology.  In the book Bavinck warns against trying to mold our theology to fit the popular theories of our time.  I think his advice is quite apropos to our present discussion.  Scientific theories come and go and are changed as scientist find new evidence.  And, yes, evolution is a theory.  As a theory it certainly does explain a significant amount the observable data, but not all of it.  I have read enough to know that not all those scientists who hold to evolution are in agreement. Even for them there is some ambiguity and there is data that they have difficulty understanding.  Even if evolution explained all the the data it would not be a fact.  No one can make that determination with complete certainty, not even the biology department at my alma mater.  The only one who could possibly know that is the Creator himself. 

I just don't understand why Drs. Harlowe and Schneider, Rev. Walhout, and apparently others in our church would want to challenge the very foundations of our theology when neither they nor anyone else today can cannot possibly know or understand the process God used to create this world. Those pastors like me who have written responses to the article should reflect on the fact that accepting such changes undermines the theological foundation of all your sermons, teaching, and counseling.  Are you really willing to call that foundation into question?  It also undermines every one of our Reformed confessions, the very theology that identifies our church.  More than that, it undermines the theology of most other Christian churches, even the Orthodox Church which Schenider seems to praise in his article.  

Yet, as I indicated in my previous submissions, none of this has been accepted by the Christian Reformed Church.  And given the fact that it attacks the very foundations of our theology it is presently considered heresy, no matter what credentials of the authors are.  If those who favor these teachings want them to be considered as anything but heresy they should request our synod to establish a study committee to review them.  Asking for responses from Banner readers is not same. And doing so only gives those readers the false impression that their heresy is acceptable belief in our church, when it is not.   

It's difficult to talk about this without giving the other side the impression that you are simply dismissing anyone, true.   Just as you feel dismissed because you think I am refusing to believe that faith and evolution can be reconciled, so I feel dismissed because you are refusing to consider that evolution may not need to be reconciled.  This is indeed a conundrum.  

I have elsewhere said that possibly the earth is older, especially considering the first day or the first three days not entirely regulated by solar conditions.   I think this can be reconciled.  I even think that certain aspects of evolution could be reconciled if necessary, but I just don't think it is necessary.   And if it is not necessary, then it is like trying to reconcile disease or war with God's love, without considering man's role in it.   Maybe you can reconcile it;  the Greeks did with their gods, but since scripture explains it for us, why try to reconcile that differently?  

As human beings we often reconcile things illogically, don't we?   We know that overeating will make us unhealthy, but we overeat anyway.  We know that divorce is wrong, but we find a way to justify it.  Does that mean that overeaters or adulterers cannot be christians?   Does that mean their lifestyle is inconsistent with their faith?  Human beings have the wonderful capacity to believe in two contrary things.   We do it all the time.   The issue is not whether we can do it, but rather to explain it in a logical or rational fashion based on faith and reason and scripture and scientific evidence.   It is no good to simply say that it can be done;  it must be demonstrated, and every step along the way of this explanation ought to be susceptible or available for examination.   This goes all the way from the assumptions, to the presuppositions, to the intial hypothesis, and to the supporting evidence and interpretation of that evidence. 

It does no one any good to say that they can be reconciled per se.   That proves nothing, and it becomes an empty statement.   The Israelites used to reconcile offering sacrifices to Baal, after they had first offered a sacrifice at the temple.   It wasn't the reconciling, but the actual things they were doing and trying to reconcile that was the problem. 

So could God have used evolution to create people?   Of course he could.   Did He?   That's the important question.   And if God had used evolution as we can observe it, would the world look the way it does today?  That is also the question.   Many christian scientists say no.  Are you willing to consider that as readily as you consider the need to "reconcile"?  

So here’s a question: Does God, or the Holy Spirit, use venues like this to facilitate spiritual growth, development, and maturation? Or is this where we become more entrenched in, fixated on, and obsessed with our private “truth” (i.e. “my” theology) Has anyone actually ever changed their thinking about something as a result of comments made on these pages? Is anything happening to anyone of us as a result of either reading Rev.Walhout’s article, or the comments that follow (including mine), that pleases God, or enriches the human experience, or helps anyone grow closer to God, or trust Him more?

I would very much like to hear from people who saw something on these pages that constituted something like a divine appointment, a spiritual stirring that resulted in some sort of movement towards God, or change for better or …(dare I ask) …for worse.

If nothing like that has ever happened, then perhaps all of us are guilty of blowing hot air. But, and here’s the rub, that would then also be true in every other venue where we pontificate like this, including our pulpits: much ado about nothing.

Of course, that raises an important question: What DOES precipitate change, and growth, and increased wisdom, either in the church or in the world? Any thoughts?

 

John, i'm trying to be gentle and sensitive, but wow that's a lot of writing to miss the point again . . i've been in forums like this before and i must say: you seem suspiciously to want contention, not understanding . . i wouldn't respond again at all, but i feel really strongly about the original point of my post . . it's why i wrote the banner to begin with and so i need to know it's heard . . 

one more time: what you and i think or believe on this issue doesn't matter . . i don't want to debate evolution with you, because your mind's made up . . (as to my mind and whether i've considered the need to reconcile, i have . . i've read widely on this topic for going on 20 years, from Ken Ham to Peter Enns . . my views on this have (ahem) evolved, but are still open . . clearly, yours not so much)

what does matter is: seeking to understand how those who do believe in evolution can also believe in the Christian faith . . you don't see the need for reconciliation,  but many do .  you can argue that they shouldn't, but this may not be a worthwhile project, as many people (like you) will have their minds made up in the opposite direction . . are you really willing to say to an unbeliever who believes in evolution that there's therefore no way for him to have a consistent faith? . . will you first try to convince him to give up what he considers to be rational beliefs before he can even consider your particular brand of the faith (the one that sees evolution as incompatible)? . . i'd rather say: "oh, you believe in evolution? . . that's cool . . there are reasons to believe in that . . did you know you can believe in Jesus too?" . . see how simple that is compared to clearing away the cultural barriers of his science first? . . 

again, please, focus: i don't care if you don't believe in evolution . . i do care that you allow for the faith and evolution to co-exist . . and i do care that you understand that some of your brothers and sisters disagree with you on this . . and i do care, most importantly, that those outside the church aren't forced into a position where they won't even consider becoming believers, because they've been led to believe that they can't believe in Jesus and evolution by people who are approaching this issue as you are . . 

i beg: do not try to engage the "is evolution true?" question again . . don't even subtly shift it to the question of "do we need to reconcile evolution and faith?" . . hear the point: the possibility of reconciliation must be allowed and communicated clearly to those outside the faith, so as to not turn away those who need said reconciliation . . 

 

One thing that I omitted in addition to failing to write some definite articles before some nouns or put an "s" at the end of plural words was that I failed to respond to the idea that some have expressed that if we do not accept this alternative theology as a possibility we may drive "seekers" from believing in Jesus.  I think that Ephesians 2: 8 applies here, "For it is by grace have you been saved through faith and this [faith] is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any should boast."  Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. While certainly we should not go out of our way to to frustrate the Spirit's work, I doubt that we are frustrating him when we are proclaiming what we really believe is the truth as taught by Scripture.

All right, Matt, so you think I missed the point.   If your point is that we do not need to pick on every difference or settle every question before we can begin to talk of Christ's redemption plan for us, then you are absolutely right.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  This applies to everything, our beliefs, lifestyles, sins, rebellion, etc.   On that point we agree. 

However, once we(they) are christians, and once Christ has claimed us for Himself, it is incumbent on us as Christians to build each other up, to contend for the faith, and to explain the meaning of scripture and life in the context of God's grace.  Are you aware of Charles Templeton who once was a preacher, and then abandoned his faith presumably because of his acceptance of evolution?  What if he had not understood evolution to be true in the way it was presented?  What if he had known of all the scientific difficulties with that theory? 

So you are saying in effect, but what if someone does not see any difficulties with it and accepts it, and yet wants to follow Christ.   If Christ chooses him, and if he loves Jesus, he will continue to love Jesus, even when he becomes frustrated with trying to understand how it fits with evolutionary theory which he accepts.  In most cases, he will pick up on the things I am saying without anyone even telling him, because it will be obvious to him, as it is to Dawkins, Templeton and others.  As I said before, people will try to reconcile the two, and sometimes they will do so inconsistently, and maybe that is the best we can hope for. 

What you perhaps do not understand, is that giving the appearance of acceptance to such an approach by implication also gives the appearance of acceptance to evolutionary theory.   Then we have a different problem, which is that those who do not understand the science very well still see the logical conclusions of accepting evolution regardless of how it is melded.   In every case (unless you can provide me with an exception), words and things are changed in Genesis, as became very obvious when your authors began to say that there really was no Adam and Eve, for example.  This has implications for how we understand scripture.   To you, as you said, "this doesn't matter."   But that is only your opinion.   You have no evidence that it doesn't matter;  you simply state it as an apriori fact, that it doesn't matter.   That is your paradigm, which you cannot seem to see beyond.  I believe that it does matter.

Of course, God can work around all of our human frailties, including how we understand creation came to be.   And we ought to be gentle and charitable in this issue, in that you are right.  So yes, we can simply ask them how they reconcile it.   But we can also point out for their benefit, that maybe it isn't as clear cut as they think it is.   That may excite them to further investigation, and to renewed scientific thinking.  

Perhaps we are both trying to protect their faith, but in different ways.  Yet, truth must triumph in the end, since God is true, even if everyman is a liar.

JZ:

I do not say this flippantly, but God help those whose faith requires our protection. I always thought that is why Jesus sent His Spirit, our advocate. Now get some sleep. It's late where you are.

hey John,

thanks for now speaking to my original point . .

the issue you bring up is an important one: what if the gospel becomes watered down due to our trying to fit it to evolution? this is a key issue . . you seem to believe that reconciling the Bible and science (e.g. evolution) must equate to losing some biblical truth . . obviously, this is no good . . no one is interested in doing this . . i think you're assuming this, rather than doing the required reading to see that there are options that allow for God-directed evolution and still affirm everything in the Bible is true as to its original meaning . .

you continually bring up Adam and Eve, for example, and seem to believe that Enns et. al. just accept that there is no historical Adam and Eve . .this isn't the case at all . . and please: don't quote individual authors to the contrary .. you're right: some of them have 100% given up on a literal, original human pair from which all humans descend .. but that doesn't mean there aren't other options that might align with the Bible's original intent with which they do agree . . again: i'm not here at all to go into the specifics of this . . nor am i here to debate when your mind is made up . . once again, i'm interested in this from the evangelistic standpoint that you're now seeing/granting . . 

you also now argue that, for people inside the church, acceptance of evolution can (will be?) detrimental to faith eventually . . you offer Templeton . . okay, but there are counter examples . . me, for one . . what if, through my study, i decide evolution is true, but have no options other than to abandon the faith? . . thankfully, this is not the case  . there are options . . but this is the scenario i'm trying to avoid . . and i believe, unfortunately due to the stance of much of the church, that many people have given up the faith, because they believe that they cannot also accommodate widely-accepted science . .

finally, to JD and David . . you're right, of course: faith is from God . . ultimately, we don't need to "protect" anyone's faith . . i completely agree . . however, this truth does not change the clear call from the passages i cited in my original post to be culturally relevant in our evangelism . . and John, i never said truth doesn't matter, or what we ultimately believe doesn't matter, or how our beliefs affect our theology doesn't matter . . i was speaking only of this conversation . . what you and i here and now believe in the context of this forum doesn't matter in comparison with what i'm really talking about: making the kingdom more of a possibility (from a cultural relevance standpoint, granting God's ultimate sovereignty) to those who are still outside it due to the faith/science issue . . 

Matt, it seems we understand each other.   I hope you can also grant me and others the freedom and encouragement to challenge the theory of evolution wherever it needs to be challenged on the basis of science itself.   If it is important to grant some evolutionists the freedom to gain their faith in Christ without making evolution a watershed issue, then in the same vein it is also important I believe to grant Christians the ability to doubt the theory of evolution when there are obvious problems with the theory scientifically, especially when so many christians see obvious contradictions between evolutionary explanations of scripture, compared to the way it appears to be written for our understanding. 

John VD, yes you are right, but (I always have a "but"), 19 "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food." Rom 14.   Scripture asks us to consider "Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters."   Of course, we can dispute when this applies, but God asks us to also be considerate for the sake of Christ. 

"Whaaaaat!!"  "You have got to be kiddiing me!!!"   "Why should I accept it as 'established fact,' because you say so ?!?"

These where the phrases coming from my 15 year old son one evening.  He was obviously becoming quite agitated so I asked him, "What's going on?"

"Have you read this article?" was his reply.  Well, I have read it now and I certainly understand his reaction.  This article not only calls into question the Biblical account of creation, but our ability to trust the very words of Christ Himself as well.  Jesus says in Luke 11:51   "From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all."   How can the blood of ABEL be spoken of if his parents Adam and Eve were not literal people?   If Jesus says in Mark 10:6  "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female."  Are we wise (or even safe) to question it ?

So how can a Christian look at the "evidence" of evolution and continue to hold to the Biblical accounts?  Well for me I consider the Flood of Noah's day. (Which Jesus also speaks of as literal in Matthew 24:37-39.)  Genesis 7 tells us that the waters rose 20 ft higher than all the mountains and that water flooded the earth for 150 days.  We know from oceanography that the conditions in the deepest parts of the ocean are so great that it prevents us from  being able to study some regions because the cameras and equipment are often destroyed by the tremendous pressure caused by the weight of the water.  Can you imagine how much pressure was on the earth if there was so much water on it that the mountains were covered?  We have no idea what that would have done to the rocks, sediments, and creatures experiencing it.  (Or maybe we do...) A process that may under present conditions have taken billions of years to occur may have happened very rapidly.  I also note that the Bible records that people lived much longer before the flood - some for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Could it be that conditions on earth were greatly altered during this time.  If so, experiments and observations taken from our point of view could be invalid since we can't factor in what conditions were like originally. There are just too many unknown variables.  When we take scientific theories as fact we end up making statements like, "One week for God to create the vast universe as we know it? That just doesn’t comport at all with the reality of a universe billions of years old. " - We are talking about ALMIGHTY GOD!!  He could have created the vast universe as we know it instantaneously if He so desired.  .  In my mind if He says 7 days, there is no “reality” of a universe billions of years old!!

 

The Genesis account also has God creating plants animals and man as mature creatures.  Adam was not created as an embryo or the trees as seeds.  Maybe he created the earth mature as well.  If a scientist looked at ADAM on the day he was created he may determine that Adam was around 22  (I'm guessing of course," years old.  But that would not be the case.  Evolution simply does not have all the information it needs to determine as fact what was going on in the beginning of things.  I choose to believe the account of Someone who was actually there In the beginning - God Himself.  We would do well to interpret scientific “evidence” in light of Biblical revelation and not the other way around.

 

John Z . . by all means, question evolution . . it's very question-worthy (especially for the scientist who sees it as wholly naturalistic) . . it's also very question-worthy as to how we fit it with our theology, but as we now both agree: such a project is possible and valuable and must be allowed . . it's simply evangelistically irresponsible not to undertake it . . 

Larissia's recent comment is a great example . . Larissia, you're right that the ultimate goal is to reconcile science to scripture, not vice versa . . you've just stumbled upon a conversation about how -- in the case of evolution -- there are answers to the great questions you're raising . .

"So how can a Christian look at the 'evidence' of evolution and continue to hold to the Biblical accounts?" . . great question . . the thing i want everyone to hear (on my way out) is that there are possible answers. . moreover, we must work towards them for the sake of those who now accept, or may come to accept, evolution . .

 

remember: we're all of us here (presumably) believers . . and our goal is to "make disciples" . . that being so, in the case of evolution (as with everything else), to echo what both Johns (and others) are calling for: "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity" . . 

John Z, I have no problem with your idea of challenging the concept of evolution based on scientific research itself.  But I don’t think that is what I hear from you or many other Christians who weigh in on the subject of evolution.  What I gather from you (not a scientist) and many Christian scientists is that the main undertaking is to prove why evolution can’t be true or right.  You put a big stumbling block in front of your scientific endeavor, and it’s not even a scientific stumbling block but a Christian theological stumbling block.  You presuppose the answer to how (even in its detail) the world and universe had its beginning.  And because you have the answer before you ever begin any scientific research, the goal of Christian science is to disprove what other scientists are uncovering.  The Christian perspective is to look at natural revelation through the lens of special revelation or the Bible.  That simply means that science researcher has to begin with the presupposition dictated by the Bible which is set in stone and then disprove what others are finding.  So it is obvious that you are not challenging evolution on the basis of scientific research itself, but on the basis of what you think the Bible teaches.

A true scientific researcher will do his/her science apart from any limitations placed on them by any religion, whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim or whatever.  Then if their conclusions collide with any religion, which they will, their conclusions have been based on an unbiased foundation. They are looking at their world simply as they see it in reality.  You would say there is another reality beyond what we see in front of us, and that reality can only be seen through the lens of faith.  How can you expect the predominence of the scientific world to be on your wave length (or your bias) when even according to your theology you can't have such a bias unless you have been chosen by God?  And you think you don't have a biased view of science?

Roger, I would challenge evolution because of my bias.   But the basis of the challenge would be does it stand up to scrutiny?   Is it consistent?   Is there no other way of explaining or interpreting the observations?  In otherwords, the basis of the challenge would be data, observation, and scientific principles.  I disagree that atheistic scientists or evolutionistic scientists based their conclusions on an unbiased foundation.   The only people who do not have a bias are dead people.  The point is to recognize your bias, and to describe and define it.  For example, what does it mean to be a uniformitarian? 

It is an overstatement to say that the goal of Christian scientists is to disprove what other scientists are uncovering.   And this statement is strictly speaking false.   Christian scientists do not disprove facts, but they do sometimes re-interpret them.  Yes, they may be disproving the theory, but not the observable facts.   They are not saying that there are no fossils.   They admit that dinosaurs existed;  that giant dragonflies fossilized;  that giant camels have been discovered with the mammoths and mastodons in the artic; that the coelecanth fish still exists; that clamshells are found on the tops of mountains; that there are huge salt beds under Michigan; there are huge pools of oil in Alberta and Texas;  etc., etc.   They dispute how all or some of these things came to arrive there, something which has not been observed.  They point out the problems with radiometric dating, with genetic mutation and adaptation theory, etc.  These are legitimate concerns which should be dealt with regardless of the bias. 

You are right that I am not a scientific researcher, although I have done crop rotation research in the past.  I do have a degree in science, and experience in science, including reading a number of scientific journals.  (And just to keep it interesting, I also have a degree in Philosophy).   I do not claim expertise in geology or paleontology, but I do understand scientific method and principles reasonably well.  Dr. Jerry Bergman has put together a list of about 3000 scientists who are/were not evolutionists, but instead hold to a creationist mindset.  It is not an unreasonable  nor an unscientific position. 

Hey John.  You are more of a scientist than I had assumed.  My assumption was wrong.  Apologies.  Perhaps all people do have biases, but the Christian bias is more obvious and does not stack with the reality that surrounds us.  You would have to acknowledge that the view of creation as presented in the Bible is not readily observable or even deducible.  The core teachings of the Christian faith are not observable and must be accepted by faith.  As the author of Hebrews points out, “faith is the assurance of things not seen.”  Therefore the core teachings of the Christian religion must be accepted by faith. They must be accepted by faith because people are not born with a human nature and a divine nature at the same time (a divine nature that existed from eternity past), nor do they defeat death by means of a miraculous resurrection.  These teachings about Jesus Christ have to be accepted by faith.   Crucial to the Christian message is a historic seven day creation and an historic Adam and Eve as described in the Bible (because you claim the Bible as completely true and trustworthy).  That is in part why the debate over creation vs. evolution is so important to you.  If the Bible didn’t include the first three chapters of Genesis, I doubt that this debate would even exist.  Although there might be some differences of opinion on the interpretation of facts, there would be an overwhelming agreement on the fundamental principles of evolution, even as there is among secular scientists today.

The bias that you claim, I believe, is more than whether the scientific research stands up to scrutiny (as you say), but really is a matter of whether it stands up to the creation account of the Bible’s first few chapters. Although corrected by you, I would still argue that the majority of the Christian scientist’s ultimate goal is to disprove evolution, such as by most “young earth creationists.”  Dr. Bergman’s list of 3,000 scientists, I would imagine, is made up of mostly Christians.  And further more, being a creationist does not exclude evolutionary views.  I would assume that many evolutionists believe that God’s process of creation was by means of evolution (theistic evolution). Many of these 3,000 may not believe in the God of the Bible but do believe in God. And many of the comments on this blog support a theistic evolutionary perspective, as well as Edwin Walhout. 

Creationism (in the broader sense) is not necessarily an unreasonable or an unscientific position, but a literal understanding of the Biblical account is unreasonable.  It asks you to believe things that have no grounding in reality, and asks the world to agree with it.

Roger . . i agree with you that Christianity must be accepted on faith, but this doesn't mean that said faith is unjustifiable, that there aren't good reasons to accept it, etc. . . and John is absolutely correct: everyone has a bias . . the core tenets of naturalistic evolution, scientism, etc. also all must be accepted on faith . . notice: we sometimes assume there's some fundamental difference between accepting things by faith and accepting them by (science, evidence, whatever) . . but exactly where is the scientific experiment that proves there must be a scientific experiement to justify all knowledge? there is no such experiement -- that's an assumption itself . . 

more of interest to me: you seem to believe that a literalist interpretation of Genesis is required by Christianity . . this isn't necessarily the case . . . that's the point i've been trying to make with John: there are ways being developed by people with unassailable scientific (and spiritual) credentials -- for example, Francis Collins, a Christian and evolutionist who was part of the Human Genome Project -- that allow for some kind of evolution to have occurred, but for biblical teachings to nevertheless hold . .

in my view, the Bible doesn't ask for people to believe things not "grounded in reality" . . it reveals divine truth which, when understood correctly as to its original meaning/intent (which is not to say "literally" . . a very misleading word that should never be uniformly applied to a complex book of complex genres to a complex audience with complex purposes . . . a word that, often, is obviously not the way the Bible intends itself to be taken), aligns with the reality, scientific and (more importantly) otherwise, that is then seen to be all God's reality to begin with . . 

in other words: please don't see Christianity in terms of the stork story you brought up earlier . . if you dig a little, there may be much more to it than that . . in my experience, there is . . 

Thanks Matt for your response.  I’ve noticed the direction you have taken in your comments and I tend to agree more with you than taking a hard core literalist view of Genesis 1-3.  I remember into the past when taking any view other than a literal translation got you classified as a heretic. If I were a Muslim, I’d be an infidel.  And it still sounds like many want to put Edwin Walhout into that category, even now.  I’d like to see Christianity be much more generous toward those presently outside its circles.  I tend to think of God as being much more gracious than what even many Christians think of him.  Why would God want to divide people into the goats and sheep, when the sheep are no better than the goats.  But that’s another debate.

It’s true, even as I conceded to John, that we all have biases.  The question is, does scientific research unearth more evidence that supports an evolutionary or a creationism bias.  At one point in time, I’d have to agree there wasn’t a tremendous amount of evidence to support evolution, and one might logically opt for creationism. There were too many unknowns.  But increasingly the evidence is falling to the support of evolution.  And as in a trial, you want to go where the evidence leads you.

That being the case, I think that Walhout may be right, Christians may have to revisit some of its favorite doctrines, its view of Scripture being one of them.  Already Christians of a Reformed bent have regressed from an inerrant Scripture to an infallible one. (Infallible meaning, not that Scripture is without errors, but rather it is unfailing in accomplishing what God intends by it.)  That’s been a big step.  So I think that Walhout is on to something and in another 500 years the evidence will lead the church to make some dramatic adjustments.

You talk about the complexity of the Bible, and its many genres.  Even John Calvin recognized its complexity.  But one problem is what about all these changing views.  Until fifty years ago, no one doubted a literal seven day creation.  Now that science unearthed a lot of evidence to support an old earth, that old view of creation is rapidly changing, even amongst the scholars of our CRC denomination.  Were Christians all wrong since the time of Moses up until fifty years ago?  Were my parents wrong?  I guess so.  But the same thing can be said of so many cherished teachings.  The view within our denomination on divorce and remarriage, women in the church, the use of spiritual gifts, prayer as seen by many in the CRC, the death peanalty.  We could go on and on and see new interpretations making the old ones invalid.  Does the Bible have a different relevancy based on culture? 

But what makes you think that the Christian religion is the only valid one.  Muslims raised in their faith grow up to love their God and want to serve him as they’ve been taught from their Scriptures.  I’m not talking about extremists.  I know Hindus that have a tremendous love for their God (or Gods) and want to serve their God as well as those who surround them.  I know Mormons that are much more devout than most Christians, wanting to serve their God as taught in the book of Mormon.  Or what about the person who recognizes a creator God and stands in awe before him and wants to live in service to him and those who surrounds him.  All recognize from their religions a plan of salvation for them.  And most are mutually exclusive of other religions.  And Christians also say, sorry, but we are the only true religion.  And your plans of salvation are false and only ours is true.  You’re all going to hell.  Doesn’t that sound a little arrogant?  Maybe they all fall short?  You say there are good reasons to accept Chrstianity.  But those of other religions claim the same for their religion.  What are the reasons for Christianity (that you mention) that don’t have answers (maybe different ones) in other religions?  And what makes the Christian view of creation more correct than the secular view when the evidence is increasingly leaning in its direction?  There’s more I’d like to say, but I’ve said too much already for this kind of format.  Blessings to you.

Hi Roger . . as you say, you're bringing up a lot here . . i mainly posted in this forum because i feel strongly about my original points: 1. we need to reconcile faith and science as this article says . . 2. this wasn't a great article, but there are great writers on this topic . . . i'm really not interested in debating about anything . . if you have strongly held beliefs about something, i'm not naive enough to think i'll change them here . . that being said, you seem to be looking for my legitimate thoughts, so let me try to address the things you're bringing up . . it'll get a bit long . . sorry!

when it comes to whether the "evidence" supports creationism or evolution (you also say the "secular" view) more, i submit that the question is already on the wrong track . . i don't think creationism and evolution are mutually exclusive views -- that's kind of my point here -- and i also don't think that one can objectively stand apart from a view and see where evidence leads that cleanly either . . as John was saying, we all interpret from our own worldviews . . the question is: does a Christian interpretation of the "evidence" we have in the universe make sense? . . on that hypothesis, are things as we'd expect? i think the answer is a resounding "yes" . . if you want reasons why i say so, check the authors i mentioned (among many others . . including lots from the more "traditional" side of the faith/science debate -- guys like Behe, Phil Johnson, etc.  . . so called "intelligent design" people who have lots of good arguments to indicate that a supernatural intelligence seems involved in the universe) . . 

you bring up that it's hard to interpret the Bible, that it depends on culture, etc. . . very true .. but this doesn't change the fact that the Bible has an intended meaning and that it's our task to discover it . . this meaning may not always be literal, but i don't see that as a concession at all . . many parts of scripture were never intended to be taken literally . . the issue is determining whether something is meant literally, metaphorically, as an allegorical example, or what have you . . i agree that interpretations have changed over time and i admit that the idea that the church is somehow "folding" under pressure to adapt to culture bothers me . . nevertheless, our call is to faithfully interpret . . as to your specific application of this issue here -- that "Until fifty years ago, no one doubted a literal seven day creation" -- this is not the case . . as early as Augustine, Christians have understood that much of the Bible might be meant figuratively, with Augustine specifically mentioning the danger of interpreting early chapters of Genesis in a way that would come off as "absurd" to the rest of the world .. so while your point has weight, nothing changes my basic answer here: the Bible has an intended meaning, this is not always literal (and this is not a concession) and it's our job to discover it

the last bit of your post is mainly about why Christianity is the true way as opposed to others, why should one accept it, etc. . . wow . . so much to say . . first, all of your questions and issues are great ones and legitimate .. and you're not even bringing up other issues one might raise against Christianity! (like the "problem of evil" .. which is the grandaddy of problems for the faithful, imho, though i still 100% believe that faith and not disbelief is the response that evil calls for, sad and horrible as evil is) . . i recommend a book to you called The Reason for God by Timothy Keller . . he's an excellent and very thoughtful writer -- very sensitive and smart -- and he addresses all of these great issues you're raising . . 

as for what i would say on this general topic . . in a nutshell . . Christianity is absolutely unlike all other world religions . . in a world where there's clearly something wrong (and yet, clearly something right) it says what is wrong with things and explains why (some other religions don't do these) . . it details how God has dealt with the world, culminating in the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth (again, something unique to Christianity, obviously), through which -- somehow, mysteriously -- we may miraculously become part of God's process of redeeming things . . to finally end with a complete re-creation of things, where all things are as they should be . . . i think of it like a story: Christianity has a problem and a solution . . it's a narrative . . no other world faith does exactly this . . sure, there are similarities -- all religions involve people, so what would we expect? -- but only the gospel does exactly this . . and, moreover, as a hypothesis about the world, this narrative fits . . in other words, there are reasons apart from this narrative itself to believe it . . here i'd include things like historical data about Jesus' life and so on . . .

so, wow . . like i said: lots to say  . . but you kind of asked for it :) . . may i ask you: are you a believer? . . you seem like maybe you were, but now aren't . . or aren't sure anymore . . or maybe you've just been part of a "Christian culture" but never a participant . . i don't know where you're at, but i sure do hope, wherever it is, that you're open to at least the possibility of faith in Christ . . like i said: if your mind's made up, i dont' want to debate . . you're a smart guy who's obviously informed and interested on topics like this, so perhaps nothing here's a revelation to you . . that's fine . . i've said what i said . . . at least remain open to the possibility that there's something to it . . maybe pick up a book or two that i mentioned . . open your heart and see . . blessings to you too

Roger, you should probably read Stephen Whatley's comment on this thread, the third one in.  And Kevin Hoekman put together a pretty good synopsis on May 9 on this thread, of how Genesis 1 fits with nature.   So the view of special creation is just as observable as the view of random and selected evolution. 

If the first three chapters of Genesis did not exist, then some of Jesus' and Paul's comments would not make any sense.  In fact, it would be hard to justify God's demands for obedience to his laws.  It is also highly debatable whether a literal understanding of the creation account is unreasonable;  you state it, but others disagree.   And they seem like reasonable people to me. 

Roger, I don't know if you have ever listened to Ian Juby videos on scientific facts related to evolution and creation.   If you are interested in the scientific side of this, you could check him out on youtube or on "wazooloo.com".   He has numerous examples of challenges to traditional evolutionary thought, and he actually investigates fossils, rock layers, as well as some of the basics of evolutionary theory.  Although he talks about science, he is usually understandable even to non-scientists. 

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