Are theistic evolutionists fooling themselves?

@Wookin_Panub, could you please explain what you mean? I’ve carefully read your paragraph and I must say that I’m totally stumped. Why would recognizing allegorical elements in Genesis prevent expectations of a Messiah? Is not Genesis 3:15 a wonderfully predictive allegory (rather than “mere” anything) which many see as the beginning of a prophetic thread through the Old Testament pointing readers to the “real Christ”?

Jesus often spoke in parables. And allegory is hardly foreign to the Bible. So why would allegory somehow detract from reality?

Does the fact that Jesus is not really a door destroy the invitation from God which is the Gospel message? Does a pastor cease being a shepherd of the flock once we acknowledge that people aren’t really sheep and goats?

It often bothers me when I hear someone like Ken Ham use words like “just” and “mere” as denigrating descriptors. They produce scornful phrases like “just allegorical” or “merely symbolic” or “nothing more than parable” or “mere illustration”, as if there is something inferior about allegory, symbols, parables, and illustrations. It seems insulting to the scriptures.

For me, reading Genesis 1 as a six-verse hymn with repeating chorus (“and the evening and the morning was…”) is no less grand and profoundly meaningful than is Psalm 23, even though I’m not really a sheep. And hymns are a wonderful way to praise God!

I’ve liked reading your interesting perspectives. So my questions are based on curiosity, not criticism. I really want to understand how you are looking at these topics. (In fact, I enjoy the provocative nature of the OP “Are theistic evolutionists fooling themselves?”, even though I would answer “Sometimes yes. Sometimes no—just like everybody else!”)



It wasn’t Genesis that created the expectation.

It was the Book of Daniel that taught about the messianic expectation:

Dan 9:25
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Like the Wise Men of the New Testament, it was the culture of the EAST (Persia especially) that taught the Hebrew to expect the Messiah:

Isa 45:1
Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, H4899 to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut…

To start, I hope @Wookin_Panub would come back. He has been incredibly respectful, and open to discussion, and I hope he hasn’t been scared away. We are after all taking a look at and glorifying God. I am making this post to add a few things to this discussion, and hopefully answer a few questions for @Wookin_Panub, who will be referred to from now on as the original poster.

First, it looks like the way that the original poster interprets Joshua is the same way I interpret Genesis. Although it may not be scientifically or historically accurate, Genesis still holds truth. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like you, the original poster, interpret genesis as a scientific and historical account of the creation of the universe. A literal belief is what this is called. As you know, there is more than one way to interpret scripture, and this includes the book of Genesis. How do you know what interpretation is the right one? Well, it helps to know what the intent of the author is and what genre you’re reading. Luckily, the intent of the bible is given to us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. These verses say: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The bible was written to teach us about God, how we may be saved, how to be righteous people of the Lord, and how to live a good Christian life as God wants us to. Nowhere does it say that the bible is intended to act as a science or history textbook. If it were, the bible is silent on quantum physics, photosynthesis, atoms, stars, Chinese history, etc. Everything in the bible is there to teach about God, not to teach us about science or history. Yes, some biblical accounts, like the firsthand witnesses of Jesus are meant to be taken literally, but books like the Psalms, Job, Revelation, and Genesis are meant to be taken as parables. Not literally true in a scientific or historical sense, but True in the sense that they are the Word of God. Thus, the Truth in Genesis is not that the Earth is 6,000 - 10,000 years old, or that it was created in six days, but that God created a universe that He cares for, and that all humans have and will sin against God, but that He is merciful in the end. This is what was meant to be taken from Genesis. God inspired His people to write Genesis in a way that the ancient people could understand his Truth. God did not intend to teach science or history with Genesis. He intended to teach His Truth. So, although the bible was written for us, mankind, it was not written to us modern humans.

It is good practice when reading a text to consider its purpose. The purpose of the bible is not as a non-fiction textbook, (In fact, I believe that much of the bible is fiction, but as I described above, it still holds Truth.) but is to tell us about God, and how to live our lives through Him. Thus, no matter what the genre, the books of the bible should always be interpreted as furthering our knowledge of God. I challenge you to re-read Genesis, but instead of looking at it like a list of facts or historical events, look at it and think, what does this tell me about God? I promise you, the meaning of the text will change, but you’ll learn a whole lot more Truths. If you’ve read it this way correctly, you’ll notice that one of the main themes of the early chapters is that God is the creator of everything. It never says how God created/s, just that He did. This is where the Bios comes in to play. We know that God created the universe. Thus, all truths in nature are also the Truths of God. Now we’re stepping out of the bounds of theology and into the bounds of science. For the sake of this post, think of science as the study of God’s natural creation. Science is not flawed, it is actually very good at what it does. The evidence from God’s natural creation tells us irrefutably that all life evolved from the same common ancestor. Unlike what is commonly stated, this notion does not contradict God. No, evolution is simply a means of creation, and as we can see, it is how God chose to create life. In that way, I consider evolution a holy process, and I think you should too.

Throughout these posts, you have also said that you think that we hold science higher than the bible, and in turn, higher than God. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this is not true of me. The bible and science are used for totally different purposes, so you can’t compare them to one another. To explain this, consider this parable: Imagine I presented you with the best tennis player in the world, and the best baseball player in the world. Then I asked you to choose which one is better at sports. Although both people are very good at what sport they play, they wouldn’t be very good at the other person’s sport. Suppose you said the tennis player was better at sports. I disagree, and accuse you of holding tennis higher than baseball. This is like what you’re proposing about science and faith. Both science and theology do what they do very well. However, neither one of them can do the job of the other. Theology was never intended to answer scientific questions, and science can’t answer theological questions because of its nature. Does this mean that one is better than the other? Of course not! They aren’t comparable to each-other. I have learned that to get the whole truth you have to accept both science and theology, and Biologos and theistic evolution present the best way of doing this. My knowledge is supported by two separate yet equally important pillars. One is called science, and one is called faith. They support a platform called truth. You have to have both, or else truth falls to the ground. Because all truths are God’s Truths, scientific inquiry is as much an act of worship as going to church. We must honor and glorify God in the office, lab, chapel, and everywhere else. To do this, we must accept both science and theology to honor God’s universal Truths.

Welcome to Biologos! I hope you do return to the discussion, and I pray that God will show you the way to theistic evolution so that you may honor all the Truths of God!

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I’d like to reply to myself and add that we probably don’t have everything right. Though I believe theistic evolution is the most correct interpretation of scripture, there is still a lot to learn, and I hope we can learn from each other!

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I certainly don’t see things that way. God revealed the past to us in two ways: the evidence from the scriptures and the evidence from the universe (creation itself.) The fact that I listen to BOTH, and thereby listen to the AUTHOR of both, hardly means that I’m placing anything higher than God.

Both types of evidence have to be interpreted by people. Yet, to listen to traditional Young Earth Creationists like Ken Ham, you’d think that the Bible is immune to human error in terms of errant interpretations while the Creation (i.e., the universe) is so prone to misinterpretation that we should fear anything that scientists have published. Why should we think that theologians are any more inerrant than scientists? (Frankly, the Scientific Method has an excellent track record that “theological methods” could only wish for!)

I don’t think God is deceptive. I don’t think God gave us a creation that can’t be trusted to tell us the truth about its history. To reject it outright would be to set your own flawed logic above God!

The fact that I don’t see any conflict between general revelation and special revelation (to use the theological terms) makes it all the easier for me. Both of God’s accounts of the past harmonize quite well as far as I’m concerned, assuming that one is willing to examine both types of evidence on their own terms.

I too hope that @Wookin_Panub will return to the thread to elaborate and discuss these topics.

I wasn’t replying to you, @Socratic.Fanatic, and if I did it was a mistake. I was replying to the original poster. I agree with everything you said in your post responding to mine :wink: The things you said are actually some of my core beliefs, and I’m sure they’re the beliefs of many others on here.

@Wookin_Panub said several times that we (evolutionary creationists) interpret the bible in the light of science, and that we hold God’s world before His Word. This isn’t true of me, and I don’t think it’s true of you. I think a lot of YECs don’t understand how someone could get a non-literal meaning out of Genisis from the bible alone, so they assume we start with science and work backwards. This isn’t how I operate, and I don’t think it’s how you operate either. Hopefully we can teach YECs our perspective, while we respectfully learn about theirs.

It is interesting that I did not get a lot of meaning from Genesis UNTIL I abandoned the flannelboard style literal interpretation and saw the deeper meaning there, which I first noted when Augustine’s writings on the flood were brought to my attention.

@QHansen I liked your post, Quincy, and while I also agree with your quotation above, I’d like to expand on it a bit. The sentence I’ve highlighted sounds a great deal like Stephan Gould’s NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria) which I totally accepted at first, but later found many exceptions to. The theology I was exposed to in Catholic parochial school said the essential difference between humankind and animal kind was that only we had immortal souls. But neo-Darwinian evolution states that our distant ancestors were decidedly animal-like, and the transition to our species, Homo sapiens, took place gradually over millions of years. But there can be no gradual transition from mortal to immortal. While I was impressed at how science so often led to the truth, I was reluctant to abandon that point of Catholic theology. So I was motivated to read extensively seeking a nexus for these two seemingly contradictory proposals. This led me to a satisfactory (at least for me) solution: Our physical nature is a product of Biospheric evolution while our spiritual nature has evolved Noospherically (to use Teilhard’s terminology; or through “memes” using Dawkins’) And, not surprisingly, this is essentially what Pope John Paul II proclaimed was a proper beliefs for Catholics–Evolution is NOT responsible for the existence of the human soul.

So, sometimes Faith can lead us to a better Understanding.
Al Leo

Then why are Jews who know Genesis very well not Christians? Many Christians do not know Genesis very well believe in Jesus.

Genesis is not the foundation of our faith. Jesus is.


Oh, I understood that. I was just chiming in and agreeing. @Wookin_Panub characterization of my views and yours (as holding Science as “higher” than the Bible) are inaccurate.

Wookin’s position seems to be very much in alignment with AIG and ICR. They constantly hammer home the fear-driven diatribes explaining why Christians who disagree with them are compromising and dangerous and not even truly Christian at all.

I apologize for the tardy response. I did not relaize they had a posts limit, and I just came back from vacation. The beach…yeaaaa! Now back to the topic.YES! they expected a real Christ, a real savior. They (Eve) knew of Christ coming. They just had a fuzzy picture

No offense, but why would I want to read an article that clearly views it from a theistic evolutionist perspective. The bible is simple and I have zero historical problems when reading the bible. Furthermore, the word, “trinity” is not in the bible, so that really is not a good parallel and secondly, I will admit that there are a lot of difficult passages in the bible, but Genesis 1 is not one of them :slight_smile:

Genesis points to Jesus, Genesis is the first book that talks about Jesus. Therefore genesis is an integral part of scripture, my friend :slight_smile:

I am sorry, but there is so much wrong with this argument. We are not talking about the constitution :slight_smile:

Actually my friend, it is you who has the incorrect view. When I say, “scripture” I am not always referring to a book with pages. I am also speaking of God’s word, which has always been here before creation. Scripture was being taught long before a bible was printed :slight_smile:

Actually that is so not true.

That is a bit of a bait and switch. I never said anything about evolution threatening the gospel. I said evolution in no way can be married to the book of Genesis, the book of origin. Which is why theistic evolutionists have to dismiss Genesis as allegorical. I don’t have to :slight_smile:

I appreciate that, my friend. As far as N.T. Wright’s heretical views i.e. ‘Cosmic child abuser’ etc…yaaaa… no thank you :slight_smile:

The bible is not a science book. It is written from an human perspective. It is quite easy to see that the author is referring to clouds, unless he saw big wooden structure with giant doors suspended in mid-air :slight_smile:

I believe my argument was, if I can’t trust the book of Genesis, then in no way could I trust the rest of scripture, since Jesus constantly reiterated the book of Genesis :slight_smile:

I believe you are putting way too much into this. I responded to swamidass who said, how can he trust literal interpretation of Genesis when there are many different literal interpretations, for which I replied. Allow your child to read Genesis 1 and ask your child what is says. The same way they read it is the same I read it. It is not difficult. It is quite simplistic in it’s form That even a child can read and understand it :slight_smile:

I am sorry. I don’t understand what you are saying; what you mean; what you are inferring;if you are being poetic; speaking metaphorical, since I shouldn’t read anything literal :slight_smile: