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

 

Arnold, if you noticed I cut and pasted this article which was written in 2011.  I posted it primarily in reference to the historic understanding of Augustine and Calvin.  To me, and in my humble opinion as a philosopher and theologian, to deny evolution is to deny the dynamic involvement of God in time, and a denial of history.  Most of our theology was written with a Greek understanding of a static changeless universe and hasn't really taken seriously the very notion of God's covenant with a temporal creation.  Too many assume that God's declaration at the end of the creation story is a claim of perfection, when it seems to me that the world was created very good for God's purposes in history and with our evolutionary development so that one day God will be all in all.  I know that this is a major paradigm shift but it’s necessary if we want to understand God's word in Creation.  So many people who have commented in the forum are so enthusiastic with their declaration that the Word of Scripture needs to determine the truth of Creation, but why is that when the word of creation speaks something contrary to our own interpretation of the written word it’s so readily rejected.  If the word interprets the word then we must not employ a top down hermeneutic that rejects out of hand anything different than what has been believed and said in the past.  The speech that pours forth day and night must circulate with Word incarnate in Christ and Word in scripture, so that the fullness of what God is up to in the world may be understood more and more clearly. 

Arnold, perhaps I have misunderstood you, but God incarnate in Christ is not just a reply to sin; if that was the case the prologue to the Gospel of John makes little sense me.  God empties himself for the sake of love and fellowship with us so that we may share in the very presence of God here on earth which will one day be made complete in time and history.  Yes sin is a barrier to understanding God, but that in Christ has been overcome, and that is just the beginning of our intimate experience of the love of God, surely there is more to our relationship with God than overcoming sin.

Henry was actually quoting from the article in his link but just forgot to add the quotation marks. Either way what Mr Dudley says in his article is not defendable either scientifically, logically or theologically. He is a very confused man. But the point is clear. When people believe in an idea as nonsensical as evolution, it seems that nothing is off the table. People will compromise right down to questioning or throwing out many clear teachings of scripture such as original sin, our need of a Saviour and Christ's substitutionary atonement.  Many don't begin intending to do so, but find that many of these truths become indefensible when compromise is allowed.  Look at Edwin Walhout the author of the original article.  Look at people like Francis Collins and Peter Enns.  They've dug themselves into a hole and now are at the point where they are so confused that they say things that are really quite ridiculous. It's like any other big lie. If you don't come clean you'll need to add more lies to try to save face

 

I believe that the conflict between science and religion is a false and dysfunction problem.  As a child my father and I would sometimes talk about the creation stories.  I remember asking him why some people believe that everything was created in six 24 hour days and get mad at others who don’t.  My father always believed that the days of creation were long periods of time.  This is how the church has read the text for centuries, going all the way back to Augustine.  And it was always a surprise to me to find believers who insisted that the earth was made in six 24 hour days, when even the most basic knowledge of geology and earth science tells us a very different story: sedimentary rock takes millions of years to be built up from endless layers of river silt and sand, the light from the stars takes billions of years to arrive in our night sky, and of course what about dinosaurs?  Once when I asked just such a question of young earth creationist I was told that all dinosaur bones were a fabrication of atheistic scientists who apparently had nothing better to do then walk the earth planting fake bones to deceive the faithful.  The odd thing about this claim was that this person couldn’t give me the name of anyone she knew who was involved in such a grand conspiracy. Neither have I found anyone like that.  The irony here is that interpretations of the origin of the universe that disregard our scientific understanding of the world are only possible if we completely disregard that God is the creator.  The very thing that such positions are intended to do, intended to defend the creation of God, end up by dismissing the truth revealed to us through the world God has given us.  I have often heard it said that God made to the world to look really old just so we would have to accept the belief that God created the world in six 24 days.  In other words, the revelation of God through this world, the same world that the Psalmist says pours forth divine speech day and night, is a world believed to be deliberated put together to deceive and trick us.  Such persons have already made up their mind that their interpretation is correct and all other assumptions about the age of the earth were wrong, that the Bible gives us a true literal scientific picture of the world that stands in mortal opposition to anyone to reads differently.  But if we live in the six day waiting to enter the 7th day of rest, then the whole notion that the days of creation are 24 periods makes no sense at all.

 

The question of long or short days, of evolutionary development or instantaneous creation, still makes the same assumption, that Genesis is giving us some kind of scientific information, a proof that God created the world, a theory of some kind that can be affirmed or denied not on the bases of scientific principles of investigation, but by a kind of faith that must reject all scientific evidence to contrary.

 

On the one hand, it is true that Creation is an article of Christian faith, and that we do not accept the truth of our relationship with God by means of scientific argument.   We cannot prove that God exists, nor can we prove that God created the world.  Ours is a confession of faith from beginning to end.  We are people of faith rooted in Christ, faith in forgiveness as an unconditional gift from God, but also as the letter to the Hebrews 11:3, tells us: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”  Therefore Genesis is a document of faith, and an expression of living faith in the promises of God, of the promise given to Abraham, the promise of the Messiah, of the kingdom of God, and the end of all things when God will be all in all as Paul tells us.

 

However, on the other hand, this does not mean that faith and science are opposed to each other in some kind of battle for supremacy; quite the opposite!  Science explores the realm of the visible, faith the realm of the heart, made flesh in communion with God.  So when astronomers tell us that the universe is old, somewhere in the region of 13.7 billion years old, and geologists tell us that the earth is 4 billion years old, and anthropologists tells us that human origins can be traced back more years than we can imagine, we should not be upset by this or troubled.  There is no grand conspiracy here; no grand attempt to defraud and misrepresent observable facts, there is simply an ongoing attempt to make sense of what we see around us, to make sense of our Father’s world as it has been created, or as it is, as we find it, not as we want it to be or think it should be, but as the world God has made irrespective of how much time we think God should have taken to make the world.  

 

Let me use the following example to make my point.  When we go the doctor and he or she recommends a specialist, why does it take so long to see them?  Because everyone wants to see them, they are supposed to be the best in their field; they are scientists of the human body.  They use the same scientific principles to understand the body, as geologists use to date fossils, or astronomers use to understand the age of the universe.  When you need a doctor the last thing you want to hear is “My preacher taught me everything I know about medicine.”  Nor are we going to be particularly happy if our doctor offers you is his home brew elixir for $29.99, which he claims will not only cure everything, but does a great job waxing your car as well.  We want a medically trained doctor and not a quack or snake oil salesman.  And it isn’t much of a comfort if he or she happens to be a Christian quack and tells us that his secret home brew elixir was received from God by direct revelation.  No!  We trust that our doctors have been trained in the scientific procedures for diagnosing our illness and for prescribing medication.  We willing let our doctors give us poisons in small doses to cure us, and we hope that their skills with the knife and saw were not acquired at the butcher shop: cow, pig, and human are not all the same.  So when other men and women who have been trained in the scientific understanding of our planet, and conclude that the earth very old indeed, then we too should not see this as an untruth or quackery, but just one more way to take stock the wonder of our world, and the patient careful unfolding of God’s creative work.  If God has taken 13.7 billion years to bring us to the place we are now, that is not a threat to faith, but for me increases my overwhelming sense of gratitude.  I live but four score and ten years and return to the star-dust from which I came.  I am just a moment within a span of time that is incomprehensibly long, and yet all this was created for us to fellowship with God.  It staggers the mind, it’s beyond my comprehension, and therefore I can only accept in faith.

 

Now most of us I think already believe something like this.  We know the earth is old, you may even have a fossil collection at home, and I don’t mean your parents.  We recognize that the earth is indeed old, but we are deeply conflicted with regard to the relation of such claims and the claims made by Genesis.  Our whole culture is based on scientific principles, all our technology is the product of scientific thought that is not at odds with faith as such, but only at odds with a belief that Genesis must to be read as a scientific text that contradicts all other science theories.  And this for me is wrong, counterproductive, and makes us look foolish for the wrong reasons.  Remember it took the Roman church over 400 years to concede that Galileo was right after all.  On October 31, 1992, the Vatican finally declared Galileo’s views free from condemnation.  Tell me, who of you still believes that the sun rotates around the earth, and not the earth around the sun?

Roger, thanks for your words of encouragement, the truth will not be shouted down!  Why do so many university educated young people leave our church?  Perhaps it is due to the insistence by far too many people in the CRC that we must beleive something that is completely false.  I am more that willing to be a fool for Christ, I do that every day in the classroom, but I will not be a fool for foolishness sake, nor will I confess something that is not true; neither should the church.

Blessings

Henry

For those that might be interested in some features of my interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, here are video links to my sermons:

Genesis One, part one, http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JFB00FN

Genesis One, part two, http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=DKLWWGNX

Genesis Two, part one, http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=DGKGLPNX

Genesis Two, part two, http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=DGKGD7NX

Dr. Carl Werner believed in Evolution similar to you, Henry. n hI

In his second year of university, Dr. Carl Werner (biology, medicine) was challenged by a fellow classmate with these words: "I bet you can't prove evolution." Thus began his quest for an answer. Driven by his stringent scientific background and exceedingly curious nature, Dr. Werner read and researched every topic he could find on evolution, including geology, biology, paleontology, biochemistry and cosmology. From 1997-2011, Werner, along with his wife, Debbie, traveled to 9 countries on 4 continents to visit 60 museums and 20 fossil dig sites, and interviewed 60 fossil experts.

See Evolution - The Grand Experiment ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIqto00mf3w )

Also suggest that you watch: "The Puzzle of Ancient Man" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5qW806QTE8 )

Acts 17:11

King James Version (KJV)

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Notice that it clearly states that they consulted the Scriptures to confirm whether being told the truth, not the backwards way of using man's fallible knowledge to critique Scripture.

Almighty God, our Creator, places His word above His name and we know how important God's name is, it's in the ten commandments.

Psalm 138:2

King James Version (KJV)

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Job 38

King James Version (KJV)

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

this blog says it better than I could http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/27/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/

 

Henry, do you suppose that the specialist that we wait to see has done every experiment and every study and every procedure that make up his specialty? Certainly not. He may have thoroughly studied and practiced in that particular field but some of the past work that was done he accepts by faith.

A palientologist does not look at every bone and fossil ever dug up and decide for herself how old it is. She accepts by faith the work that has gone on before. The same goes for a geologist.

How does a fossil form? Why won't that dead skunk on the side of the road turn into a fossil?

What is time? Can we measure it the same way in space as we do on earth? What about astronauts who age faster when they're on the space station?

How do the rock layers form? What do floods, tsunamis, volcanos and earthquakes do to the surface of the earth?

Can anybody answer these questions without at some point saying "I believe"?

Henry,  you said, "As a child my father and I would somtimes talk about the creation stories." We don't like to think of dear old Dad as ever being wrong, but could he have been?

Written in the law of God with his own finger, God compared the six days of creation to a six 24/7 hour work week. (Deuteronomy 5:13)

Written in Scriture is the geneology of Jesus that can be traced all the way back to Adam. (Luke 3:23-38) = about 6000 yrs.

Jesus the creator of the universe while on earth performed supernatural miracles in a moment outside of time, by his word at his command. Could Jesus not speak the universe into existance like he demonstrated his supernatural authority while he dwelt among us? "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host...Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalm 33: 6-9)

Is God wrong?

I love my dear Dad, but I've come to realize somtimes he was not always right. 

Kevin, you surprise me, I was not offering and ode to my all knowing Father, I was simply stating the context in which I grew up, read the whole text.

Of course God is not wrong; it’s your interpretation that is wrong.  It is impossible to justify a 6000 year old earth on the basis of any book or science.  When Galileo was condemned it was, among other things, the reading of the Psalms that referred to the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, the sun was moving not the earth, and from the perspective of daily observation and ancient understanding that appears to be the case, but we now know that is the result of the earth’s rotation and not the sun’s.  So was God wrong or was our interpretation wrong.  Please set aside literal interpretations of Genesis, once you do then the entire text opens up to amazing depth that deals with us, all Adam.  Do as Paul does and read Genesis theologically.

CORRECTION: The link for Genesis One Part One is incorrect, the correct link is:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JFB00FNU

sorry for the inconvinence

CORRECTION: The link for Genesis One Part One is incorrect, the correct link is:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JFB00FNU

sorry for the inconvinence

John Oudyk, your link to Rachel Held Evans article for CNN is indicative of some of the sentiment of younger persons in the church or those who have left, but it is certainly not conclusive. That said it is definitely something the church needs to deal with, but by providing better leadership and teaching and not by compromise. Many other research and polls suggest that young people are leaving the church because the church doesn't provide answers to the questions they have.  Many of their questions are due to the culture we live in. They are looking for answers and not getting them and all the while the world is telling them that the church is irrelevant and the Bible is an outdated relic.

Consider the following quote from one of Rachel's blogs reporting on a Pew Forum.

""Pew reports that “in their social and political views, young adults are clearly more accepting than older Americans of homosexuality, more inclined to see evolution as the best explanation of human life and less prone to see Hollywood as threatening their moral values. At the same time, Millennials are no less convinced than their elders that there are absolute standards of right and wrong. And they are slightly more supportive than their elders of government efforts to protect morality…” Back in March of this year, The Pew Forum made news when it reported that 70% of millennials are in favor of same-sex marriage.""

 

So if millennials are leaving for the reasons stated in this blog, and I realize this isn't a blanket statement, who is to blame? The church cannot compromise on these issues, but has done a poor job of explaining to its members and non-members why it takes the stand it takes.

Henry it's too bad your father was not able to give answers to your questions. That is by and large the problem in our churches today.  Leaders including Pastors, Elders, Teachers, Professors and parents hold a large responsibility for the lack of knowledge in our churches and subsequent decline in attendance.  Instead of Biblical answers we have allowed compromise to run unbridled in our churches. We have told our youth that these questions and issues were not important. We just told them to trust in Jesus, and don't worry about the rest.  In schools they are told that the Bible isn't relative and that science has proved it to be unreliable.  The church response is to "just trust in Jesus." But there are answers to these questions but often people are too lazy or proud to look for them.

Some of your examples are a little farfetched. It was hardly the norm for the church until relatively recently to hold to anything else but a literal view of creation as told in scripture.  And your story of a "young earth creationist" telling you that dinosaur bones were a fabrication of atheists to "deceive the faithful," would of course be a ridiculous thing for anyone to say. I've heard that some would say things like that but in all fairness I think you would be hard pressed to find a YEC who would deny that dinosaurs existed.  I've said many times before, it isn't the evidence or the facts that make someone a long ager or an evolutionist or a theistic evolutionist or a young earth creationist. We all have the same facts but its how we interpret the facts that are different. Your example of irony is in itself ironic for this reason, because we do not disregard science in our interpretation. It's a bit odd up to suggest that all scientists who are YEC's disregard science in their interpretation. Your statement where you state that "even the most basic knowledge of geology and earth science tells us a very different story: sedimentary rock takes millions of years to be built up.... light from the stars takes billions of years to arrive in our night sky..." is a misstatement, for in fact "even the most basic knowledge of geology and earth sciences" show that this isn't true. These conclusions are based on the presuppositions of the researcher and do not take into account catastrophic events such as a worldwide flood.  Even in the long age billions of years view, astronomers concede that the light/time travel has serious problems.  You make it sound as simple as because a star is x miles away and the speed of light is y then distance = x times y, but it's not quite that simple.

Your doctor story also is a poor example. My good friend is a medical doctor and a young earth creationist, while my own doctor is an atheist and an evolutionist. Both of them practice medicine quite happily because as you well know (or should know) operational science such as that which a doctor practices has absolutely zero to do with historical science, age of the earth, geology etc. I've heard people say that understanding biology would be impossible without the foundation of evolution, but that is utter nonsense. Evolution does nothing to help understand biology and if anything confuses the study.

I'm sorry but I have no idea why you would have more gratitude for what God has done for us if He took 13.7 billion years "to bring us to the place we are now," then if it happened as recorded in Genesis, where He spoke the world and the universe into being. I'm impressed at what God has done and I'm even more thankful that even though we messed up a perfect world by disobeying Him, that He loved us so much that He sent His own Son to take our place in judgment so that today I can be reconciled to Him and that someday I can live with Him in heaven where there will be no more sin or death or crying. You say that you think most of us believe that the world is old and you give an example of fossils. I know what you are trying to do but it doesn't make sense.  Fossils don't come with a date stamp. Their age is an interpretation. If you have a commitment to the idea that the world is millions/billions of years old and a particular fossil is supposed to be a certain age base on that worldview than you will find a way to acquire such an age regardless of whether it makes sense or not. I have fossils, I have a dinosaur footprint fossil, as well as dinosaur teeth and claws but I would have a very different age for them than you would come up with. 

Also you need to stop using the Galileo story in the manner you do. The short caption of the story as you tell it is like using the film "Inherit the Wind" to teach the Scopes Trial. There is a lot more to the story of Galileo than simply the Church condemning his correct observations.  

One doesn't need to be a literary expert to know that in the Psalms there is a lot of poetic and figurative language as with the example of the sun rising and setting. Modern meteorologists still give us times for sunrise & sunset and we understand what they mean. Genesis as those who study Hebrew recognize was written in historical narrative. So to suggest that because in the Psalms there is poetic or figurative language we can then also pick other texts to be non literal does not follow. Goodness where would we stop? Well I guess we don't know yet because more and more sections of Scripture have been called into question.  Scripture for many is not authoritative, but can be changed to mean whatever our itching ears want it to say.

I'm curious where you think Paul doesn't consider Genesis to be history?

 

Arnold, is your argument so weak that you need to insult my father?  Is this the manner and style of your debate? Why don’t you leave my father out of your conversation, you have no idea who he was or what he taught me.  I think you need to reread my post, because you have completely misunderstood what I was saying.  Evolution is fact.  I accept that.  Now the task is to rethink the theological implications.  If that is a project that you can’t participate in, that is your choice based on your own interpretation of scripture.  Ultimately, this debate has nothing to do with living the life in Christ; but if the CRC moves in the direction as many fundamentalist denominations have by making a 6 day creation the measure of orthodoxy, then we are no longer reforming as the Reformed tradition has insisted all along.  

Arnold, do yourself a favor and listen to my lecture/sermon on Genesis One

I didn't insult your father; I said it was too bad he could not answer your questions.  My parents also could not answer the questions I had, but thankfully someone I knew pointed me in the right direction. That is when things came together for me. I suspect that most in the church have no idea what to say to their kids when they ask these kinds of questions. This is sad and I believe is a breakdown in the leadership of the church not equipping members.  In your father's day there was likely very little material to support a Biblical creationist model, but today there is much available. You state that evolution is fact but I disagree.  I would have to say you believe it because you haven't really considered the implications theologically and the logical and practical impossibility of it.  An idea which was spawn only to remove God and our accountability to Him is not a good starting point. When is has never been observed and is scientifically implausible it seems an odd theory to hang onto.  For an atheist it provides an escape, but for a Christian it seems inconsistent. I'm not trying to be a pot stirrer I really want to give answers.  I've know and I know many who think as you do, but I've also seen what I would consider and epiphany in some of these people.  It's interesting that it's not a result of new scientific data that they have learned that changes their way of thinking.  It's simply a realization that the theory of evolution and long ages just doesn't fit with the revelation given in God's word. Not to beat a dead horse, but again it's not the facts it's our worldview, our presuppositions that lead us to our conclusions. How else would you account for so many PhD scientists who hold to a 6 day creation model?  Are they all so dumb that they disregard all known scientific data? With all due respect to your sermon, I doubt there is anything I haven't heard before.  I've been at this for quite a while.  Similarly there is no way that I will convince you with my words.  You have to check it out for yourself and I would pray that you would change your mind, but that's not up to me.

 

 

Arnold, what you think your comment does or doesn’t do, it still insults my father.   I don’t know you, but I do know so many folks who sound very much like you who go around standing on their truth running rough over and belittling those who they think need to hear their “truth," there are a few old guys in my church that do that every chance they get. I hope you are not like that and don't presume so.  BTW contrary to your statement, evolutionary thinking has it origin in Christian millenarian thinking and not in godless thinking; you need to do your homework.  A good start is Michael Ruse “The Evolution-Creation Struggle,” where he gives a great overview of the historical and religious context of the rise of evolutionary thinking.  And I don’t know where you get your data from, but there are only a fraction of scientists who subscribe to young earth creationism.  You might also due well to read the article in Christianity Today about the historical Adam written by Henry Venema (this not me, this is another Henry Venema not related to me).  All I can say that my life struggle, intellection work, and publications have led me to the position I now hold, and this was done in prayer with God who I believe has revealed this to me.  Just to give you an idea of who I am, I received my BA from Dordt College in philosophy, my M.Phil from the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, and my Phd. with honors from McGill University in Montreal.  I have taught at Trinity Western University in BC, St.Thomas More College in Sask, Northwestern College Iowa, Messiah College in PA, and now at Brandon University Manitoba.  Through all my studies and teaching my bible has been with me at the center, and the conclusions that I have come to have been hard won and totally liberating.  When I teach I do so openly and persuasively as a Christian; and now in a publicly funded university, and I have yet to receive a complaint about the force and quality of my faith.  I have also had the chance to preach a couple dozen times in Brandon CRC, many of which can be found on www.Godtube.com.   So don't pass judgment on me as if my faith and believe are less than yours  and desperately in need of a science conversion, its unbecoming for this forum, and I bet it doesn’t go over well in your home church either. 

 

The word of God should always be our starting point. Why deny what truth tells us. Humans produce humans, horses produce horses and fish produce fish, just like God said. Scientists are still looking for the evidence to prove evolution. They are left with their own imagination. The strong delusions of the world are coming upon the church in the name of science. "Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false." (2 Thessalonians 2:11)

Kevin, that is so true.  I might have mentioned the 'Evolution vs. God' video.  See the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ9A8RQLy4s

Towards the end of the trailer a lady mentioned the "problem" of a lack of imagination for those who have no faith in evilution. God agrees with her in Psalm 2. "Why do the heathen rage and imagine vain things?" That's what their theories and arguments are, VAIN IMAGINATIONS.

Henry I think you need to have a little thicker skin.  What did you expect?  Your posts don't exactly ooze with a desire to consider positions other than your own.  I don't condone anyone calling someone who professes to be a Christian a non-Christian, but at the same time Christians do say things that are inconsistent within a Christian worldview. It doesn't make it right but sometimes we say things in this format that we wouldn't normally say because it can be so impersonal.  But, you seem to come off pretty lofty yourself.  From this side of the monitor it seems that you are suggesting that those who don't believe in evolution as you do lack even a basic understanding of science and have an incorrect interpretation of Biblical texts. I dare say that many who believe in evolution, and I'm not saying you, don't even know what they are saying they believe in.  Many will use examples of such as variation within species, adaptation, viruses becoming resistant to antibiotics, etc and call that evolution, when it is not. Evolution in the sense that every living thing has a common ancestor or that human's and chimpanzees have a common ancestor is not science. It hasn't been observed, cannot be tested or repeated, it is simply an idea. Similarly with rock formation, or the time it takes light to travel from distant stars, there are other workable theories that fit with the Biblical time scale.

I don't dogmatically stand on my own truths as you imply, I stand on the Word of God. That needs to be the basis of our thinking in every area. Man's ideas do not trump scripture - period, especially when those ideas destroy the very foundation of why we are in the state we are in and what God has done to redeem us from that state. If speaking with unbelievers within an evolutionary worldview, there is little hope to give. Usually sooner than later, the issue of sin will come up when we tell them that they need to believe in Jesus as their Saviour. We will have to explain why He became one of us and why He needed to die. The subject of sin will come up because that is the basis of why we need Jesus. What other reason could you give someone except that Jesus came to pay the penalty we deserved because of our sin and disobedience?  If death, disease, bloodshed were present prior to Adam & Eve sinning in the garden, why would God say that they would die but also promise a Saviour to redeem us so we wouldn't be estranged from God forever?

You may be frustrated, but I can tell you that it's frustrating on my end as well. We too are ridiculed. We are also told we don't understand Scripture, that we are scientifically challenged, that we pose a barrier to people in the church and out of the church and need to change our view. But also in my camp there are theologians, pastors, scientists of every field along with lay persons. Many have once been evolutionists, both theistic and atheistic, and have come to realize that their worldview did not align with scripture. They did not leave their brains at the door or ignore all their scientific training. I think I stated this before, but practicing and benefiting from operational science gains nothing from an adherence to the evolutionary theory, it just plain has no effect whatsoever. Historically, science has flourished in Christian cultures while being stagnant and even retreating in pagan cultures. From my perspective I see the evolutionary worldview doing serious damage to our culture and our churches so I think you need to not be surprised that there is a push back and even a strong push back at that.

 

I would like to say something similar to Matt.  You think that you are enlightening your readers but if you would just for a moment consider the possibility that we have read all the material you have read and considered all the angles you have and have come to very different conclusions, would you still consider yourself so enlightened and we so lacking in knowledge?  Perhaps we are saying the same things you are, that we only give you the information and pray for ears to hear and I would and hearts to listen.

 

Against my better judgment one last reply!  When I read the various Banner forums it’s the same people complaining about the same things. So what extent do these forums represent the CRC or just the lunatic fringe who have nothing better to do then find fault with everything?   Our church is in deep trouble largely due to our doctrinal arrogance coupled by constant fighting about secondary issues far removed from the love and hospitality that our Lord requires.  I’ve seen members chase their own grandchildren out of church because they believe they are living in sin, I’ve talked to former members right across Canada and the States who say they will never go back to the CRC because all the church elders do is fight, and family members that condemn each other to hell because they think or look differently.   Are we here to impose our will on others, are we God’s policemen, or are we here to welcome anyone and everyone who walks into our churches.   As to needing a thicker skin, that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard yet.  The church is supposed to be a place for the tender hearted and the broken, for the little children who have been abused by others, and not a place that requires a thick skin just to endure the abuse of know it all members.  It’s exactly your attitude reflected in far too many of our members that makes our church the last place to look for solace and comfort because openness of the heart is attacked by those who can’t comprehend the pain and suffering and just continue the abuse by their “truthful” proclamations.  For God’s sake man, why should anyone put up with you or some other member who insists that they have the right to get in someone face and then complain that their aggressive attitude should be endured by their victims?  If the church is supposed to be a place of welcome and embrace, what you and others present in your forum contributions is an image of church that makes me cringe, and I want nothing to do with it.  I have never seen such a forum of abusive comments in my life, and I don’t think it serves much of a purpose other than giving an outlet for disgruntled folk to hear themselves speak.   So if I have a thin skin it’s because it has been worn down by folk like you, and why my teaching and ministry to my students is so successful.  Vulnerability is the essence of my Christianity; my students see that truth living in me, and because of that classrooms of atheists have been opened to the light of Christ.  If you want to harden yourself to defend you positions, that is your choice, but remember honey is so much more inviting than vinegar.   

Arnold, a quick reply . . go back and check the resources i've given and answer truthfully: have  you read those authors? really read them? or others who hold similar positions? . . as i've said before, my reading on this subject moved as my position did . . Ham, Johnson, Behe, Collins, Lamoureux, etc. . .

but that's not even the point . . i was clear from the beginning: i came in here to talk to people interested in reconciling faith and science, mainly because of evangelistic mandate, not to argue about whether such a project can/should happen . . also, if you look back, i don't think i've represented myself as enlightened or anyone else as lacking in knowledge . . if i have, i'm sorry . .

the bottom line for me, again: whether evolution is true, many outside the church think it is; therefore, we must have a "reason for the hope in us" that can reconcile evolution to Christian faith . . and in such a way that does no violence to the essentials of either . . 

to me, again, this project is possible and necessary . . that's all i wanted to say all along . . if anyone sees it otherwise, that's a different conversation and one that i'm not really interested in having here . .

Holy Moly, get a grip contributors.  This blog has really degenerated.  I don’t think there is any oversight of what is being written.  But as fellow Christians we should be able to do better than this.  This forum is for an exchange of thoughts in regard to Edwin Walhout’s article in the Banner.  I don’t think this forum is limited to CRC people so there will be a wide variety of comments and viewpoints. That’s the beauty of a web forum like this.  We should be able to express a view, without being accused of heresy or accused of being outside the church of Christ.  Let’s show some grace to each other, please.

Henry (and anyone else interested) . . finally had time to look at some of the video links you posted . . in the first one, you mentioned Pat Robertson and his reaction to the Dover, PA case . . it made me think of a news story from last year, which i also wrote a blog entry about

news story: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/29/pat-robertson-challenges-creationism/

blog: http://mlloydhill.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/attention-christians-how-to-believe-in-the-bible-and-dinosaurs/

now, i'm not an expert on exactly what Robertson's exact current views are re: science, evolution, the Bible, etc. . . but they appear to be more nuanced than what i (wrongly) expected and are apparently different than his 2005 comments on Dover . . both good (and interesting) things, i'd say, and relevant for a few reasons to this entire science/faith topic . . (see the blog entry for specifics)

anyway, your sermon made me think of it, so i thought i'd post . . keep at it, brother :)

To clarify, which might have been done already, the issue is NOT between science and faith but evolutionism and faith, i.e. man's speculation versus God's Word.

Those who believe in evolutionism, share what you believe is the most compelling 'evidence' for evolutionism.

To Henry, and all:

Even though I've stepped out of the debate and discussion here I've continued to follow--with fascination and growing sadness. I'm former CRC and Calvin student (many years ago)--but raised in the church I remain grateful for its many blessings and strengths. The contrasts are very interesting and they are evident here. We have John, Joy and Arnold who are convinced that only their interpretation is valid and anyone who doesn't agree is walking in darkness. While not going as far as Mr. Lemon who seems willing to condemn anyone who doesn't agree to eternal damnation, I suspect there was some internal cheering going on when Mr. Lemon excommunicated Henry. But then the CRC also offers folks like Alvin Plantinga and Loren and Deborah Haarsma. Anyone as interested in this subject as I am, regardless of worldview and interpretation of the Bible, owes it to themselves to read the Haarsma's book "Origins." They offer a most gracious, loving but comprehensive look at the various viewpoints.

Henry, I stepped out of this discussion because I really have no desire to try to convince Arnold, John or Joy of my perspective. To convince them that truth may be different than they have defined it would likely shake their faith to the core and that is not an enterprise I wish to take on. I am far more interested in addressing those who have left the Christian faith because they see such a conflict between a completely literal interpretation of Genesis and what is plainly understood in our world. I have a friend who is stunned at my interest in science as a believer because his view is Christians cannot possibly be willing to try to understand science because of their preconceptions. 

So, while I can understand the hurt and frustration of being the subject of the name calling I've sadly witnessed here, I want to encourage you. Let's go back to the start of this discussion: Pastor Walhout's article. He had the courage to write that as Christians come to grips with the truth revealed in the book of nature, we would of necessity have to revisit some contemporary understandings of important theological issues. He is right and I wanted to give him some support and encouragement in the midst of these personal attacks--some even suggesting there should be some punishment for him. Oh how eager we are to gather the wood for the burning of heretics!

One strong characteristic of the CRC (and I think related to its strong Dutch heritage--I speak as as the son of a Dutch immigrant) is the "Defender of the Faith" mentality. We tend to think that if we do not stand up against those who disagree that the faith of our fathers will be lost. I think we need to trust the Spirit more as the real defender of the faith and to learn that it is good to learn from each other, to be open to new ideas, and to be fearful of the heresy of thinking our particular ideas about God are the only ones true and inspired.

Please continue on Henry, with your preaching and teaching, and your conversation here.

Apparently not everyone agrees with Rachel Held Evans: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/08/01/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church-a-response-to-rachel-held-evans/

Gerald, by what authority do you base your claim that there is a "conflict between a completely literal interpretation of Genesis and what is plainly understood in our world"? Who decided that God's Word through nature conflicts with God's Word through scripture? I'm not trying to pick on you, I'm trying to understand what it is about evolution that is so convincing to you and others that you believe revealing it will shake Arnold's, John's and Joy's faith to the core?

Henry says "the word of creation speaks something contrary to our own interpretation of the written word". What language do the rocks speak? Who gives a voice to the dead bones and fossils?

 

Gerald thanks so much for your kind and supportive words, they have given me hope that dialogue is possible, and in response to Rosemarie, my apologies in advance for the length of my response as I try to answer your question in a roundabout way.  What language does the Bible “speak?”  It is the language of faith which requires us to read and internalize its meaning.  Yet it really puzzles me that so many posts say "the Bible says" or "God says” as means to justify their “truth” claims.   With all due respect to those who speak like that, but such speaking forgets the most profound reality, the Bible “says” nothing at all!  It is you or I who say what the Bible means, like all books it requires an interpretive act by the reader or community of readers to make sense of its meaning.  Now before anyone condemns me to hell, which I thought was God’s prerogative and not church members, let me try to explain what I mean.  When I hear commentators claiming that God says this or that, the force of their conviction seems to bypass the recognition of the process of reading.  We all learn how to read and then forget how much work it took to learn how to read in the first place. 

Reading a text, including the Bible sort of works like this:

1) We are told what the Bible says or means before we read it for ourselves by others.  Our historical time and place has already conditioned how the Bible is received by us.   Our social and economic conditions place emphasis on some texts and neglect others, or even give a completely different meaning.  For example first world readers typically identify with the good Samaritan by understanding that we should help others unconditionally, where as third world readers may identify with victim on the road and come to understand that we should not be too proud to receive the help of others.  Is one reading right and the other wrong?  Of course not!  The parable can be understood and applied in so many ways like divine sparks flying out of the text setting heart on fire to meet the uniqueness of the circumstance.  In other words, every reading is pre-figured or pre-determined for us by what has been given to us.  This is the first condition that every reader faces. 

2)  When we take up the Bible for ourselves we give it a configuration, we put the parts together so we can understand it.  But what part do we read first, and in what order do we put the rest of the parts together.  For example: do I start with Genesis One or the first chapter of the Gospel of John?  For me Genesis is incomprehensible without the prologue to the Gospel of John, and Revelation for that matter which teaches us that whatever God is up to, it takes place in time and history with Christ as the beginning middle and end, as the historical working out of God becoming all in all.  So each tradition or reading focuses on different arrangements of the Bible texts, making some narratives and teachings more important than others.   This is what happens when we read.  We take the words of sentences to means something in relation to paragraphs, and paragraphs in relation to chapters and so on.  Then we compare them with other words, paragraphs and chapters.  This is done by the mind which has been trained to read like this, and our readings are never infallible.  It’s something we do and is quite a remarkable work of the individual and collective imagination; we put together the meaning in such a way that we share it with others, but this is just the first step.   A great example of this can be found in the film “The Black Robe.”   A priest asks a native to tell him something no one else knows about him, the priest writes it down and gives it to another priest who has not heard what was said and he reads it out loud to the complete surprise of the native who can’t read, its magic!  But the second priest doesn’t have to understand what was written down to read it.  There are mechanical readings and then there are readings that understanding of the meaning of what is said.  Here is another example: when a church elder is asked to read a sermon while the preacher is on holiday, it could read it with great power and persuasion without understanding a word of it.

3) But this still doesn’t complete the meaning of the text. It is with the interpretation of the Word within our hearts that completes its meaning.  The Bible is silent and dead if it doesn’t transform the heart, convert the soul, and shake us out of our complacency.  Reading opens up meaning to be received, and without transformative reception there is no understanding, as Jesus tells us it is not the hearing of the word but the doing of the words that reveals understanding.  This whole process of reading is what is called interpretation or hermeneutics without which we just have alphabetical scribbles on a page.  

Ok, Rosemarie now I come back to your question.  When the Psalmist says the creation pours forth speech day and night, he is not a mental case pressing his ear to a rock waiting for it to talk.  He is saying something poetically about something that is happening to him; perhaps he is overwhelmed by the staggering expanse of space in the night sky, the feeling of infinite distance in relation to his tiny self in comparison: “what is man that thou are mindful of him.”  Or perhaps he is feeling absolute dependence on God who gives him life without any ability to give life to himself; he can only live what God has given. But one can also say that the language of mathematics speaks about the extraordinary complexity of the creation that anyone can use to explain the material order of things, and you don’t have to be a Christian to know that 2+2 = 4.  Mathematically based science explains so much about the order of the material world, it relies on a constancy of the world so much so that everyone can measure climate temperature with a thermometer and get the same results, depending on what scale you use, F C or K.   Just like reading a book which requires knowledge of a mother tongue, so giving a scientific explanation requires knowledge of the language of mathematics which can be shared across every mother tongue.  And with scientific experimentation we give a configuration to the material world that can never just be a private explanation, it’s always shared and debated, and when all is said and done we can conclude for example that water freezes in the same manner everywhere, and can provide universally expectable explanations for why water freeze when it gets cold.   So it is in this manner we could say that creation or rocks speak of their age by way of scientific explanation.

However, when we move to the grand question of what is the purpose of the universe and our lives, then we are dealing with questions of the reception of scientific explanations and what that might say about how we should live and who has made us this way, and for people of the Book we call it creation because whatever means or method God used to bring the world to the place it is now, it is by his metaphorical hand that has been done.  A wonderful example of this is the Ted Talk by Brian Cox who tells a scientific creation story but gives no recognition to God, he is an atheist, but the story he tells I find more or less compatible with a God who creates the world.  While he gives no agency to God, it is a creation story nonetheless based the agency of the laws of physics.  He stares in the face of God and only sees physical laws.  Only God can reveal the person behind the beginning that starts with a physical “bang,” and only God can lead us to understand the universe as a work of his love, mathematics cannot. http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_cox_on_cern_s_supercollider.html  (I’ll try to find another video where Cox says something like this: “everything is so ordered right from the first millisecond, it shouldn’t be that way, and it doesn’t make sense.”  This brilliant man can explain so much yet can’t see the hand of God in this.)

The reformed tradition has always talked about the book of nature and the book of scripture; both speak the word of God.  The Bible says something to us about our place in the world and the Creator who gave us life and purpose.  Whereas the book of nature amplifies the extraordinary complexity of what God has done by giving us better and better explanations of how things work, and as a Christian I would say that includes the processes (evolutionary or otherwise) by which the Craftsman brought his creation to life.  Both books require reading and rereading, interpretation and reinterpretation, theorizing and re-theorizing, thinking and rethinking, theologizing and re-theologizing.  And sometimes a discovery about the material world can totally transform our worldview, but that is nothing to fear, it is God’s good pleasure to reveal things in his good time. Who in the ancient world would have understood particle physics, how pages would it have taken to detail 13.7 billion years of creation in the making.  That is why I love the Genesis creation stories, they get right to the point with a beautiful hymn of praise: God has created his temple universe, (as the Hymn says, “God is in his temple all within keep silent,” a reference to John’s Revelation but equally applicable to Genesis), and we are his image bearers, lovers, creators, and fabricators of everything we call culture.   While a physicist can explain sub atomic particles, only God can reveal that he made the world for fellowship with him. 

So creation speaks and we need to interpret it.  As Jean Calvin so beautifully explains, the knowledge of God is correlative with the knowledge of self and/or the world, and the knowledge of self is correlative with the knowledge of God.  You can’t have one without the other, both interpret each other, and without both there is no knowledge of God.  And there is the rub.  The reading of scripture interprets nature/creation, but nature also interprets scripture.  One word cannot have priority over the other.  Christians love the top down idea that scripture interprets nature, but we forget that the inverse is equally true; God’s Word cannot be divided or broken.   Both are the “music of the spheres” even though we no longer believe that the moon and stars rotate on crystalline spheres.  And this is why the life of faith and understanding is never finished.  “Now we know in part then we shall see face to face.”

I hope this helps answer your question.

No, I'm afraid you didn't. 

2+2=4 That's straight-forward, operational, demonstrable mathematics.

Rock layer + rock layer=13 billion years? (Sorry, 13.7 billion. Or is it 15 billion?)

When we pick up a fossil we are told what it says by others. Our historical time and place has already conditioned how the fossil will be received by us. Just try to find a dictionary definition that doesn't call a fossil "the remains or impression of a prehistoric organism..." ! An organism, yes but who says that every fossil is prehistoric?!

We had a rain storm here last night. A large gully has been dug out at the side of the road. Do I believe that it took 40 or 50 years of a slow drip to dig out that gully? Or did the inch of rain do it in about 10 minutes? Would the citizens of High River, Alberta say that the river slowly changed the landscape of their town over the last 100 years?

Yes, water freezes when it gets cold. But the rocks still don't speak up for themselves. Someone is telling you what they believe the rocks are saying. By what authority?  Maybe the language of the rock is not their mother tongue. Maybe they started at the wrong spot...

What is it about evolution that is so convincing?

Well I tried my best, perhaps you should speak with someone who can explain the techniques of dating fossils, I'm a philosopher specializing in interpretation therory not carbon dating, but I'm pretty sure they don't use dictionary definitions to determine the age of fossils and rocks. There are actual repeatable tests scientists can use recognized world wide as valid that can determine how old things are, they are not just repeating definitions and dogma.  A few years ago while visiting northern British Columbia I went to the Driftwood Fossil Beds, where visitors are welcome to look and find fossils. I was lucky to find a perfectly fossilized alder leaf 53 million years old squeezed between sediment layers.  I split open a rock and there it was wonderfully preserved on both sides of the rock like book matched veneer.  There is absolutely no scientific evidence what so ever that this fossil was formed 6000 years ago or there about, and I proudly deplay my prize, its quite rare a valuable. Here is a link to a website for more information if you are interested in visiting the park.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driftwood_Canyon_Provincial_Park

Likewise Henry, where is the proof that the fossil that you mentioned you found was actually 53 millions years old?  Was there a date stamp on the fossil or a tag on it saying: "I died 53 million years ago"?  How can people believe the evolutionism rubbish?

Fossil wood from a quarry near the town of Banbury, England, some 80 miles north-west of London, was dated using the carbon-14 method. The ages calculated ranged from 20.7 to 28.8 thousand years old. However, the limestone in which the wood was found was of Jurassic age, of 183 million years. Clearly the dating methods are in conflict.

Your answer clears a lot of things up.

Your acceptance of the date "53 million years" on the fossil you picked up and your faith that scientists are using tests that are valid, not just repeating definitions and dogma means that you are putting your faith in one interpretation of God's Word in nature without subjecting it to the kind of complicated assessment you subject the Bible to. My point about the definition of "fossil" was not that I use it to determine the age of fossils but that even the definition of the word has been changed to fit the present accepted worldview of evolution. The word "fossil" used to mean "dug up". That perfectly preserved alder leaf you "dug up" did not tell you it was 53 million years old. Someone told you it was. Does your heart tell you the same thing? Is there another explanation?

Evolution is not science. It is a fiction story displayed as fact. An invention of man to replace God.

"But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statment of th truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Many have been trying to reconcile evolution to the biblical creation account.  Evolution is adding to the word of God that which is not there, and it comes with consequences.

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." (Revelation 22:18,19)

Because of the adversarial tone of the discussion I had earlier decided to bow out. But Kevin's latest post begs an important question: how many people who are appreciative of the contributions of science which point towards some form of evolution, and who therefore, according to Kevin, add to the word of God, how many of them/us have been visited with the plagues mentioned in Revelation? I myself have not. Anyone else reporting any plagues? Any analogical or metaphorical plagues don't count. They have to be literally identical to what it says in Revelation. Anyone? Just askin'

There are many creation scientists that show the truth of six 24 hour day creationism. The assumptive language in the article is so blatant! Throw the Banner out.  I won't bring it to leave at the dentist or doctors offices anymore.

Here is an interview with Francis Collins author of "The Language of God," well worth the time to read

http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/2009/julaug/evolutionthebibleandthebookofnature.html

A review: http://creation.com/harmony-and-discord-a-review-of-francis-collins-book-the-language-of-god

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact" -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We've all seen pictures of the devastation caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. We can watch video of it happening. We can compare the before and after "google earth" shots. And yet we look at the Grand Canyon, the mountain ranges, we dig up fossils of recognizable plants, we marvel at the huge deposits of fossilized bones and come to the conclusion that this must have taken a couple billion years...

 

What’s good for the gander is also goes for the goose.  Aren't you saying that a 6 day 24 hour understanding of creation is the "obvious" reading, when in fact you may have been "deceived" by a literal fundamentalist reading rather than a reformational reading of the liturgical poetry of Genesis One?   Simply saying No to my Yes doesn’t advance discussion very much and is rather pointless.   

Who are actually those being deceived?

"My findings were that the probabiity that Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 is narrative is between .999942 and .999987 at a 99.5% confidence level. I conclude therefore that it is statistically indefensible to argue that this text is poetry."  Steven Boyd (Ph.D Hebraic and Cognate Studies, Professor of OT AND Semitic languages)

Chapter 1 (Genesis) was written in the Hebrew language which is consistent in using one structure for narrative and quite a different one for poetry.  Hebrew poets like David used a SVO (Subject Verb Object) structure like English.  In general, if the Hebrew goes VSO it will be narrative, but if it is SVO it will be poetic."  Charles Taylor (Ph.D Linguistics, Professor of Theology).

Genesis One is definitely in Verb Subject Object structure, i.e. Narrative.

Henry V, you said that your teaching opens doors for atheists to come to know Jesus (or something similar) and I appreciate that.   But you also said, "So what extent do these forums represent the CRC or just the lunatic fringe who have nothing better to do then find fault with everything?   Our church is in deep trouble largely due to our doctrinal arrogance..."   I understand your frustration.  Everyone gets frustrated when their perspective does not appear to be understood.   But your comment degenerated into name-calling and personal attack:  "lunatic fringe"???    Are you sure that your explanation of Genesis one is not also doctrinal arrogance?  

The reality is that you admit you do not understand scientific "dating methods", and yet have faith in them, in spite of the example that was given of the inconsistency in these methods, or the inapplicability, or the assumptions made behind them.   I believe Joy Adams pointed out that one atheist, Richard Dawkins, has more respect for the evangelicals than the "progressive" theologians who try to marry evolution with scripture.  He thinks that evangelicals see the disconnect while the progressive theologians are just fooling themselves.   So based on his statement, it makes a lot of sense for christians to actually examine evolutionary theory itself to see what it is saying, and whether it actually is verifiable or sustainable to the extent that atheistic evolutionists say it is.  Merely trying to marry evolution with Genesis 1 apparently sustains many atheists in  there atheism. 

I would suggest you pay more attention to the objections raised to evolution on scientific grounds, and to the fact that there are many christians who are scientists who no longer accept evolution as scientifically viable. 

I have read a bit of Lamoureux's stuff, and find it unsatisfying (and not new either).  There is also much commentary available that explains the problems with his perspective. 

I also think that so often these discussions change... from discussions about the science, or about scripture, about God's will, into discussions about one or two commenters' attitudes, adversarial language, (and maybe ancestors and descendants, and the color of boots they wear... :) )  That is hardly ever helpful, as you can see that you will fall into the same trap when you imply that your opponents are lunatics, while of course, you are not. 

Henry, it does not seem you will easily open your mind to accepting a different possibility, but maybe you should at least give it a try to understand honestly how others as educated as yourself can defend a different option, based on their observations and rational process.  

Here's a suggestion.

I suggest that folks who advocate a certain position in the creation/evolution debate beheld completely accountable for their positions as if it were a matter of our Christian creed.  Bearing false witness isn't just a breach of the 9th commandment but also the deepest offense against God and the most obvious sign of the Enemy's handiwork.

I have noticed that time and time again, there is little concern for correcting "facts" brought to the discussion which, after further investigation, turn out to be demonstrably false.  Often time, it was proved false long ago. No apologies. No explanation.  Yet the same analogies and illustrations and references keep coming up -- likely because readers have not done the work of checking their value and relevance as evidence. 

It is evident that this isn't a quest for truth anymore.  This is a propaganda war and those who scream loudest and who point fingers the most rabidly at their brothers and sisters are those who hope to win by sheer volume. 

In keeping with the Lord's command concerning the woman caught in adultery, I suggest folks who think they have a handle on the facts to think again. Have you checked your own commitment to speaking nothing but the truth with genuine regard for your neighbour's welfare as well as the Lord's renown?   Or are you simply trying to popularity score points among your brothers and sisters by appearing to be "right"?  Are you willing to be "on the hook", so to speak, for what you say so that if it's proven you have spoken falsely you are as liable as someone who has disparaged the virgin birth of our Lord or the fatherhood of God?  

My personal experience has been that many of proponents of the Young Earth interpretation ignore the 9th commandment repeatedly and even viciously.  According to Jesus (as well as Moses and the Apostle: e.g. Deut. 13:1–5; Titus 3:9-11), the best advice is warn such folks once, then move on.  

 

When someone gives you some  "insight" in this quarrel, check out the validity of their evidence.  You don't need to dismantle their whole position.  Just look at the specific cases they cite and check out whether the "evidence" is not only scientifically questioned but thoroughly debunked and discredited.  It's usually easy to find online.  When you find you've been "played", remember where it came from and devote yourself to things more productive in the service of Christ.  This kind of stuff isn't discerned by argument, but by its fruits.

A case in point:  In another thread related to this one, a certain opinionated gentleman made the case that the "geological column" was a misleading fiction invented by Scripture-denying scientists. That nowhere on earth can a person find an intact geological column in its entirety.  When I pointed out that there is several places in the world where the geological column is intact, he first denied the evidence, then minced words, then tried to explain it away.  No apology for his false statements.  When I pointed out that Christians were the ones who discovered the geological column and made a significant contribution to science because of it, he disparaged their faith. Apparently they were not the right kind of Christians.   

It's this kind of false-speaking that is outrageous and we should learn opt out of such conversations and  to find better sources for information for Jesus' sake.

 

I will continue to post "cases in point" from the above thread until the point is made very clear.  Thanks for the opportunity.

To Charles Beltman: I appreciate your concern, and your comment re. the scientific enterprise seems right on. That said, are you sure you want to say "Creationists do none of these things"? I personally know several bona fide, reputable, scientists who have no problem seeing God as the One creating and sustaining the universe, beginning however long ago, and by whatever means, including an evolutionary process. I suspect you do, too.

There are also many bona fide, reputable, scientists who have no problem seeing that Almighty God says what He means and means what He says.  Exodus 20:11 was even written in stone, by God: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Some of these scientists participated in the RATE project.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMy2IUeXJRI

I was talking about the nineth commandment, Joy.

God means what he says in that one, too.

Ever hear the devil say, "Didn't God say that he created the world in six chronological 24 hour days and rested on Sunday and made it his sacred day of rest?"   I have.

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