At the Crossroads of Scripture and Science: Learning from the Council of Chalcedon

We need to see the Christian theological tradition as a gift, rather than a burden, as we work through the tough issues related to evolution and Christian faith.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Can we state the current tension that needs to be resolved though (perhaps I should purchase the book)? If it’s the ol’ _the Bible isn’t up to modern views of historicity and scientific understanding–well that’s not a tension but our own misunderstanding. And the misunderstanding is one of the nature of revelation. Is revelation something that transcends the history and science of its day and genre. We certainly wish it would. However, perhaps revelation is more significant and doesn’t pertain to the more “earthy” parts of scripture.

The appeal to view the current butting of heads between, specifically, the polygenism advocated by the scientific evidence and the biblical presentation of Adam as the progenitor of all humanity through a Chalcedonian lens has an air of theological sophistication, but I fear it just won’t do. It’s one thing to confess that Christ is both fully human and fully divine (two natures, one person) and to acknowledge that such a mystery is past fully finding out. It’s another entirely to confess that humanity cannot be genetically traced to two sole ancestors and yet somehow can. On the one hand, we’re dealing with metaphysical categories of personhood and natures that are all analogical at best. On the other, we’re dealing with empirical data that is either falsifiable or isn’t.

So until I hear specifics (beyond some vague appeal) about how to reconcile the scientific data and the biblical data through a Chalcedonian lens, I will continue to be convinced that what we are facing is still more of a Galilean moment, where we have to confess (if we’re going to acknowledge the evidence) that humanity cannot all be traced to two sole progenitors—just like we have to confess that the earth is not a flat, immovable mass set on pillars, that there is no such thing as a firmament, that the sun does not in fact go around the earth, etc. In the end, my fear is that the “Chalcedonian appeal” is simply further passing the buck of doing the difficult but necessary work of rethinking our theological systems.


If I am not mistaken the Council of Chalcedon produced the doctrine of the two natures of Jesus Christ, that Jesus the Messiah was perfectly God and perfectly Human. This is a profound paradox which is at the heart of Christian theology along with Jesus as the Logos, and does need to be the foundation of our understanding of the relationship of Christianity and science.

One important issue is that Science as proclaimed by the Scientism is based on materialism, meaning that the universe is composed of energy/matter alone. Theology still holds on to Western dualism or mind/body dualism. Both of these are problematic under the Two Natures of Jesus.

First of all we cannot say that Jesus was half God and half human, that His mind/spirit was divine and His body is human, because Chalcedon holds that Jesus is completely Human and completely God, body, mind, and spirit. Therefore while we disagree with Scientism in saying that the universe is not only material, Chalcedon does not help us to explain the relationship between the mind and body as a dualistic concept.

Second, as human beings we cannot honestly say that the mind is a physical entity. Thinking is a non-physical exercise that other creatures cannot perform.

Third, Chalcedon says that Humanity and Divinity are not the same, but different, yet they are compatible, because they resided fully and completely in One Person, Jesus Christ. The NT also that God, the Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of Christian human beings.

The best answer to this issue is to ask what it means to be created in the Image of God, Who is the Trinity, Father/Creator, Son/Logos, and the Holy Spirit/Love. The human is composed of the body, mind, and spirit. There is no question that in the NT the mind and spirit are two different, but related entities. Of course science has trou9ble with both the mind and spirit because right now it is not designed to study them even through reason and purpose are a parts of nature.

The primary sticking point is the theological understanding that God has no body and flesh and blood are not welcome in heaven. It is very true that God is not limited in space and time as our flesh is. On the other hand Christians believe in the “resurrection of the body,” which means that Jesus still has a resurrection body and we will have bodies in heaven.

The physical is most closely related to God the Father Creator Who created the universe and all its majesty. God the Father created our bodies and it is our bodies which give us the power to create along with our minds and spirits. In this sense God the Father relates to our bodies as part of the Image of God.

Then how do you explain all the changes that can occur in thinking that are the result of physical changes in the brain? Schizophrenia for example.


Thank you for the question.

Schizophrenia is a disorder that does cause4 changes in the mind, but I am not aware that it is caused by something physical such as a virus or bacteria like diseases that attack the body.

The changes can be detected by tests and treated with drugs which would indicate the changes are responsible. The causes are a different question.

There really is no contest between the persuasive power of a dozen major fields of science intersecting at the conclusion of a very old Earth, and ancient literature that proposes that God not only wanted to create Earth in six days … but that he Did it that way!

There is nothing inherently persuasive about God trying to save himself time by coming up with this idea… or that anything important was accomplished by him using that approach!