Calvin College Professor: Science, Biblical Confessions Not Incompatible

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The challenge of pursuing scientific truth while being true to biblical confessions is one the Christian Reformed Church cannot ignore, a Calvin College scholar told a group of Synod 2014 delegates. The setting was an optional lunchtime forum for delegates.

Loren Haarsma, an associate professor of physics, said Christian doctrine is compatible with biological evolution but that questions and possibilities abound within that framework.

“In the church we have a range of views on biblical hermeneutics, the age of the Earth and biological evolution,” Haarsma said at a luncheon hosted by the college. “How do we deal with that as a church and as a Christian college?”

The answers are far from simple, but scholars like Haarsma are exploring them with integrity, Calvin president Michael Le Roy told the group.

“This is an example of a scientist being rigorous about the science and being faithful about the confessions,” Le Roy said. “You can see it’s far more complex than the oversimplified views that often get portrayed.”

The forum aimed to help delegates gain insight into a Calvin-produced report on “confessional commitments and academic freedom.” Synod had earlier accepted the report, which was requested by Synods 2011 and 2012 out of concern about college teachings on human origins and evolution. The report is not a position statement but an explanation of the context in which the college does its work, officials said.

Calling confessional commitments and academic freedom “indispensable and interdependent elements” that shape the school’s teaching, the report acknowledges many Christians are “disturbed” by apparent conflicts between modern science and the creation accounts of Genesis. But it asserts it is “critically important” for Calvin faculty to “engage fully and deeply in the study of evolution and origins.”

Haarsma, who gives presentations to churches and runs a seminar series on Christian perspectives on science, gave no definitive answer to the controversial questions. Instead he offered a range of scenarios that have been proposed as to who Adam and Eve were. They included being specially created about 8,000 years ago, selected as representatives from among many humans and symbolic of many revelations from God in the ancient past.

Haarsma also presented different views of the historical origins of original sin, the scientific evidence on human origins, and what Scripture reveals about such issues. He stressed that scientific findings don’t rule out God or miracles, and that evolution doesn’t rule out God.

“If we can see gravity as God’s way of keeping things going in the universe and tectonic plates colliding to form mountains as God working naturally, we can see God working through the evolutionary process,” Haarsma said.

Asked by a delegate how confident he is in the theory of evolution and humans having common ancestry with other life forms, Haarsma said “the science is really good” from “multiple streams of evidence.” But other delegates questioned how the possibilities he posed relate to Scripture.

“How does the wrath of God against a sinful humanity play into these scenarios?” asked Rev. Jeffery Scripps of Classis Georgetown. 

Rev. Paul Vander Klay, a pastor from Classis Central California, told Haarsma afterward he appreciated that he was addressing the issues.

“Part of the problem we have in the denomination is we’re not talking about this in a helpful way,” Vander Klay said. “I appreciate your courage. The church needs it.” 

Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.

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Evolution and the Bible not incompatable? Have we forgotten that evolution is based on speculation, assumptions, and theory, without a shread of hard evidence to back it up? The word "science" means with knowledge. Although evolution in the secular world is classified as science, it is not rooted in fact, because it can't be observed through experiment.

It's baffling to me as a Bible believing Christian, that there are those in so called christian circles who can put secular theory on par with God's infallible, inerrant, authoritative Word, and try to marry the two.

If a teacher or professor can teach that evolution is fact, then that would cast doubt and unbelief, and could cause a person to deny that Gods Word is true.  This false teaching could lead the vulnerable astray into not believing God as authoritive, but man as the source of knowledge and truth. This is indeed damnable because evolution contradicts God.

Of course believing in evolution you would have to deny the observable science, and the authority of the One who was there, at creation. The One that says horses produce horses, humans produce humans, and fish produce fish, after their own kind. Evolution says,  "that's not true." 

If the world is not going to believe in the living God, then they have to come up with an alternative solution as to how they got here. Satan always has an alternative plan to decieve.--Evolution vs God.

Why does our Christian learning Institutions have to buy into this foolish, wicked scheme? And why can't our shool boards and church leaders see this evil, false teaching, and fight against it? Where are the leaders who will stand up for what is right, and insist that our Christian Institutions teach truth?

"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:7)


Amen Kevin! By allowing Loren Haarsma to address Synod, it gives a very one sided view and almost an endorsement of sorts to his ideas, which by the way are anything but scientific.  They of course do reflect the ideas of the secular "science" of the day but as Kevin also stated, one has to deny all observable scientific fact along with and even more importantly all Biblical facts. He likes to make it a science vs faith issue as is so often done to try to discredit the creationist veiw of origins and scripture. Historical science is not observational science and as such is faith based. It's time to expose the truth about evolutionary nonsense.