Are theistic evolutionists fooling themselves?

I, myself have zero problem taking the book of Genesis literal, since I have no other way of taking it. The book of Genesis is the foundation of scripture; what is sin, why are we sinners, why did Jesus have to die a real, physical bloody death etc… Without Genesis, if all of Genesis is allegorical, then the bible collapses on itself, because all Christian doctrine are tied directly or indirectly into Genesis. I mean aren’t you deluding yourselves that Christianity, or for that matter, the God of the bible exist? So as I see it. If one takes Genesis (God’s word) as literal then one cannot believe in evolution (man’s word), and if one does not take Genesis (God’s word) as literal then one can believe in evolution (man’s word).

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It sounds like you believe Jesus because you think the literal interpretation of the Bible is correct. Great. I am glad you found Jesus.

I however, have the other way around. I believe the Bible because of Jesus. I think that Jesus is greater than any literal interpretation of the Bible. I trust Him because He rose from the dead. And now I trust the Bible as the authoritative, inerrant and infallible word of God because of Him.

This, I presume, were our differences lie.

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I thank for your response my fellow brother in Christ. It’s interesting that you brought up the resurrection. Why would I trust the rest of scripture? Why would Jesus have to die, for what? allegorical sin? If Genesis is not literal then every Christian doctrine, including the resurrection did not really take place in any real fashion. Granted I know that I am oversimplifying, but I believe you see where I am driving towards. There really is no foundation to build anything on. It’s an illusion :slight_smile:

You start with Genesis, and work forward from there to Jesus.

I start with Jesus, and work backwards to Genesis.


Of course, Jesus did not die for allegorical sin. That would make no sense. You and I likely have identical doctrines of sin and the fall. I just arrive at my understanding from Jesus and the New Testament first, rather than Genesis first.

Of course, I trust the Bible, but not because of a false trust in my human ability to interpret it. I trust not my interpretation of Genesis, but in the Bible itself because Jesus trusted it.

Of course, I believe the resurrection took place in real fashion, because without a bodily resurrection nothing about Jesus makes sense.

You think I have no foundation. This is absurd. My foundation is Jesus. Your foundation is a literal interpretation of Genesis. I think my foundation is solid. I think Jesus is greater than literalism.

A few questions for you:

  1. WHICH literal interpretation do you believe? THE CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE OF AUGUSTINE There are hundreds of literal interpretations, including literal intepretations that are consistent with evolution and an old earth. How do you know which one is correct?

  2. As a strict literalist, on what basis do you reject geocentrism? Clearly, the Bible LITERALLY teaches that the sun revolves (e.g. Joshua’s Day and Psalms 104) around the earth. Moreover, it is virtually certain that all the Bible’s authors believed that the earth was stationary. It is only in the 1500s that we figured out the truth. But, what gives you the right, as a literalist, to reject geocentrism?

  3. Why didn’t literalism protect fundamentalists from racism and segregation? (paging @TedDavis) Using a literal interpretation of scripture, your camp justified segregation as the Biblically correct (see as late as 2000. Most fundamentalist colleges only removed their rules against interracial dating (again based on a literal interpretation) in the 1990s. Bob Jones Univ. only did in 2000. AiG only came out against segregation and for interracial marriage in 1999. Once again their historical opposition was justified with literalism. Finally, if literalism, for generations, could not protect us from racism, how could it possibly guarantee a correct understanding of Jesus.

I see the appeal, but no, Jesus is greater than literalism for me.

PS. Thank you for calling me brother. I deeply appreciate your willingness to accept me as a family member in the Church. This is meaningful to me. Even though we disagree, through Jesus we are in the same family.

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The problem is that we cannot know Jesus without knowing scripture. Genesis is the foundation of said scripture. As for your questions:

  1. Tell you what. Have your child read Genesis 1 plainly, and allow them to tell you what Genesis 1 says. That is the best interpretation we could ever get :slight_smile:

  2. The bible does not say that sun revolved around the earth. It said that the earth stood still. That was a human observation recorded. It may not have been scientifically accurate, but it was the best the author could do with his limitations. Furthermore, do not not meteorologists say, “sunrise” Does the sun actually rise?

  3. As a black man, I can tell you that falls under “misinterpretation” of scripture. It has nothing to do with a literal reading of scripture. Sin is a real thing and it is sad that there are Christians who are racists, and will interpret scripture in such a manner.

Where in the BIble does it say this? I thought it said that Jesus was the cornerstone…

The rest is worth responding to also, but I’ll leave that for others to continue for now.

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I would say, also, that this is how we interpret Genesis with respect to the scientific details. In the exact same way you interpret Joshua. Maybe we aren’t so different.

How did people in the bible know of Christ coming? If Genesis was just allegorical. Why would they expect to see a real Christ?

They did not all expect to see a real Christ. They also, almost certainly, did not interpret the BIble literally. Recall the debates the Pharisees and Sadducees were having about life after death? Even the existence was not clear to them at the time. They all interpreted the Bible in different ways.

It was Jesus, through His bodily Resurrection, that made sense of it all. I really hope you read this article. It is really helpful. It sounds like you are unaware of much of the history.

Also, how do you know your child is correct in her interpretation of Genesis? Can he/she arrive at the doctrine of the Trinity correctly too? Why would we think a child’s interpretation is the correct one?

We are different in that, I interpret science (origin) by looking at scripture. You interpret scripture by looking at science.

I see why you might think that. It’s not accurate though. I understand origins through scripture first and trust the Bible much more than I trust science. Science, after all, is just a faulty human effort to study nature. It is through the Biblical teaching about my origins that I know who I am and how to see myself in light of Jesus.

I do not interpret scripture in light of science. It is the other way around.

Would you recommend the same approach for someone interpreting the Constitution? Should we fire all the experts in Constitutional law, disregard the history of how the Constitution has been interpreted and applied over 200 years, and let elementary students adjudicate Supreme Court cases? A fuller discussion of “plain meaning” and why the idea that a child’s understanding should guide our hermeneutics is not acceptable is found here.

While scripture greatly helps our knowledge of Jesus, that statement is incorrect on several levels:
illiterate people could not be Christians

People groups without a translated Bible could not be Christians.

The Bible would be wrong in Romans 1 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For
since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal
power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from
what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Can you believe the Bible without believing in Jesus?

Hi Wookin, welcome to the Forum! As a fellow Christian, I appreciate your concern for the authority of the Bible. Many of our kin (including me) have concluded that the scientific framework of evolution does not threaten the Gospel. It might threaten certain modern interpretations of the Bible though.

You see… It might help to make the distinction between God’s Word (stands forever, lights our way, feeds us, sharp like a sword, is alive and active, judges our hearts, et cetera) and our fallible, human interpretation. Jesus is God’s Word (John 1:1). Through the Scriptures, Jesus teaches us about Himself. But things can go awry at the point of our interpretation. That’s why we need Jesus to guide us into greater understanding of the Scriptures.

The Ken-Ham-style interpretation of the Book of Genesis is actually a very, very recent invention and falls in the category “man’s word” if we follow your dichotomy… Unfortunately, man’s word is fallible. That’s also why I don’t “believe in” evolution as a faith statement. I just consider it extremely plausible, given the current picture. I would raise my eyebrows if that would change, but the foundation of my life would still stand as firmly as ever:

Jesus Christ.

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This Thread is very interesting and in my view important for people wishing to push at theistic evolution. Woken Panub is to be commended for bravely and civilly engaging with BioLogos. I’m sure someone more familiar with BioLogos then myself can suggest some Threads/Posts that Mr. Panub or other interested folks can review.

The opening post asks some deep questions. Indeed, we Christians of whatever stripe can be deluded about wether or not the God of the Bible exists. As a non-scientist and non-philosopher but someone with a bit of theological training I rely on experts (theologians/scientists) to translate and help me interpret the Bible and the physical world.

I would recommend NT Wright’s “Resurrection of the Son of God” to answer Mr. Panub’s question about the basis for one’s belief in the Resurrection of Jesus. I’m sure someone can recommend a shorter book :slight_smile: I would further recommend reading books which analyze ANE genre - since the entire Genesis question revolves around the question of genre.

Anyway, fascinating Thread and I am deeply appreciative to see these deep questions engaged in such a helpful manner. I appreciate BioLogos. This is my first time posting but I’ve been reading BioLogos for the past few years.

Larry Schmidt



The Book of Job says that hail and rain are kept in great storehouses in the sky. If that turns out NOT to be true, are you saying the resurrection can’t be true?

@Wookin_Panub, why do you think that a child’s reading is best? I don’t understand that. The Apostle Paul talks about how he “thought as a child” when he was young. But we grow up and think as mature adults. So why would I want to consider a child’s interpretations of the Bible to be superior? In what other area of life to do we consider children’s opinions automatically superior?

Even as a young adult I had a lot of silly ideas about Genesis which did not resolve until I learned Hebrew over a period of many years and could start grappling with not only matters of genre but idioms and fine points of lexicography and complex grammar. Yes, I suppose I might prefer a simpler world where sincerity alone would carry me, but that’s not the world I live in.

Do you believe that God imparts special revelation “messages” to children? Or do you agree with various religious traditions around the world which believe we must “empty the mind” and thereby open it up to the wisdom of the universe?

I’m just curious to know. I’ve heard various people make similar claims about the superiority of children’s hermeneutics. It has always reminded me of an Art Linkletter afternoon TV program of the 1960’s. (I think it was called “House Party” or something like that.) He had four children as guests and Art would interview each. The laughs were in all of the misunderstandings that children had about simple things that adults take for granted.

So when I think of entrusting children with the interpretation of Genesis, I just don’t get it. Therefore, I’m eager to read your explanation.

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When I was teaching Sunday School I asked the class who built the first temple. A little boy said, “Cinnamon.”

A child’s interpretation of the Bible would include:

  1. the sun goes around the Earth;

  2. that you should give away all your money to The Poor;

  3. that rain and hail are stored in the sky;

  4. and that you can move a mountain with prayer.

And you should gouge out your own eyes if they are troubling you.

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