Falk/Coming to Peace with Science - theology

I’m interested in some context for the Adam and Eve theology presented by Darrel Falk in Coming to Peace with Science.

I’m a brand new Christian and haven’t delved into Genesis beyond Chapter 1 yet. His interpretation of it - with links to the gospel - was very interesting. I’d just like to know if what he says accords with or conflicts with other received views about it.

I’d give you a summary but I only have the audiobook at this stage! What I’ve heard so far will probably prompt me to grab it in print.

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You mean this guy?

  • Coming to Peace with Science with Darrel Falk
    • 6 Youtube videos, the longest of which is 9 minutes and 41 seconds.
  • Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology Paperback – April 6, 2004
    • “Is a thoroughly Christian and biblically informed doctrine of creation compatible with widely held conclusions of modern science, especially biology? For Darrel R. Falk, this is not just an abstract question but one with which he has personally wrestled. A professor of biology, Falk brings together his biblically based understanding of creation and the most current research in biology. The result of his efforts to acknowledge the validity of science and the authority of Scripture is a new paradigm for relating the claims of science to the truths of Christianity. Written with the undergraduate student in mind, this book nonetheless will help anyone who is looking for a place to stand in the creation-evolution debate, fearful that they’ll have to choose between intellectual integrity and the faith of the church. Calling for charitable discussions within the church, Falk shows how an original and ongoing interaction of God with creation is fully reconcilable with the kinds of development identified by current biological science.”
  • I’ve never heard of him.

Well, I just listened to Falk’s 1st video (chronologically). LOL! His focus in that video is: Ta-da-ta-da!!! Chromosome 2 in humans and Chromosomes 2P and 2P in chimpanzees! So, I hadn’t “heard” of Darrell Falk until you brought him up, but … I’m slightly aware of evolutionary theory’s “fuzzy close enough” suggestion that humans and chimps originated in a common ancestral species.

  • Cf. my thread: What does it mean to “share DNA”?What does it mean to “share DNA”?
  • So, it looks like the Holy Spirit may want me to know more about Chromosome 2 and its theoretical origin as two different Chromosomes 2P and 2Q.

Screenshot_2021-04-03 twitbiblio on Twitter This or that questions, Funny emoji, Smiley

Welcome! @DarrelFalk was one of the first leaders of BioLogos. I agree he is talented. I’m tagging him to see if he would consider commenting. Blessings, Randy

PS there are also a few threads on another book of his, “The Fool and the Heretic.”

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Thanks @Randy – The Fool and the Heretic and the associated YouTube chat between the three authors were both very worthwhile. Unfortunately as a new Christian and an ex-professional astronomer, I find myself in the midst of this perplexing schism before I’m out of my babe-in-Christ diapers. The example they set of gracious engagement is very helpful.

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Welcome to the forum and the Christian faith, Russell!

There are about five approaches Christians have to understanding Adam and Eve.

  1. The Genesis account is literal history and Adam and Eve are the first humans, specially created by God several thousand years ago, not descended from animal ancestors. All humans alive today can trace their biological lineage back to this single couple. The Genesis account teaches that a single act of disobedience by Adam and Eve brought all death into the world and destined all humanity to be born sinful.

  2. The Genesis account is literal history but refers to an act of special creation about 150,000 years ago in Africa. All humans alive today descend from this pair.

  3. The Genesis account tells the story of members of a population of a few thousand humans created by God through evolution in Africa about 150,000 years ago.

  4. God created the human species about 150,000 years ago in Africa though evolution, but Adam and Eve of the Bible lived about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, along with a lot of other humans. God chose to reveal himself to Adam and Eve in a special way for a special purpose and they rebelled.

  5. The account in Genesis is symbolic or allegorical and doesn’t refer to history at all. There were no real individuals that represent historical Adam and Eve, nor was there ever a single event of the first human sin. We are supposed to understand the story as describing the universal patterns and condition of all humanity from time immemorial until now,

All of these approaches are Christian approaches. All are trying to understand Scripture and reconcile it with realities we know about from science and doctrines that Christians have passed down as essential to the faith. None of them succeeds in perfectly addressing every scientific or theological concern.

Within each approach there may be differences in how factual people believe the account is. For example, some people take the approach in 4 but don’t think the Genesis account is primarily about teaching historical facts, they think that real events and people are described in a mythologized or literary way to make principally theological points. Or people might take the approach in 5, but still believe there may have been a historical “fall of humanity” at some point.

The following article by Christianity Today’s editor -in-chief Daniel Harrel explains the differences between approaching Genesis as history and approaching it as literature. Both approaches are taken by faithful Christians trying to understand the Bible.

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You might like the Origins series of videos by fellow astronomers Deb and Loren Haarsma. They made them to accompany their book of the same name.

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Thanks - I look forward to watching them!

Hey, just curious. I googled them… Why do so many Christian public figures seem to live or work in Grand Rapids? (Excuse my ignorance - I’m Australian :sweat_smile:.)

I have wondered that about Colorado Springs.

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Thanks, Randy, for alerting me to this conversation.

Russell, I’m delighted that you are beginning the journey of following Jesus. I wonder, as the former professional astronomer that you are, if you would be willing to summarize what started you on this walk–the most fulfilling experience of your life, I predict. Also, are you currently involved in a church fellowship?

Sincerely,
Darrel

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Nice for you to see the impact one has. Found an interesting summary of you in Test of FAITH
Having wtched the clip on reading Genesis, as you seem to accept Genesis as poetic language - which is indeed the right way to address the intellectual as well as the illiterate - what do you think about my interpretation of the fall to be the poetic description of puberty - the rejection of the authority over the self with making your own claims about right or wrong in order to claim your own authority. It would also explain the comment of God to warn his children that this separation would make them die - e.g. mortal as with them separating themselves from his eternal authority become temporal beings. It’s logic for a loving and wise father to tell them and something that you might understand easier in old age when you have learned to accept that life is not under your own authority. It is a completely different understanding to the commonly interpretation that God appears to say - if you do what I told you not to do I will kill you. It would be incoherent as well as in his omniscience he would have known what was going to happen anyhow.

You say that if you look at the bible as a poetic description of reality it makes you loose the power of miracles. Let me tell you - it makes you understand the miracles for what they are. Poetry is the use of language to transmit metaphysical reality that scientific/materialistic language fails to transmit. It becomes clear when trying to write a love poem in physics textbook style. It becomes comedy gold. Once you unlock your mind from the materialistic view or reality the miracles become far more powerful than the acts of magic that we associate with them. The become acts of love and logic. It is only once you start to think critically about the miracles meaning if they were materialistic that you can understand that they are contrary to the word of God.
I will just illustrate this on one of the most popular miracles of Jesus that we all would like to believe in a materialistic view: the turning of water into wine.
The way you interpret this in a poetic way it will make you think that people changed their perception of reality and realised that the water they were drinking there was the most valuable drink they could ever receive, thus beat any wine by infinite scales. It allows you to realise the change in reality is based on your understanding of it.
If you read it as a materialistic message like those who I describe as suffering from “Santa syndrome” critical thinking will tell you that:

  • Jesus created a fake reality to suggest to the wedding guests that is was a shame not to have enough wealth to buy excess alcohol for a good party that required divine intervention to avoid a social distancing effect,
  • that he made the master of ceremony compliment the groom for not cutting the wine to pretend wealth not because of his honesty, but because he actually knew he had enough wine
  • that Jesus defiled the water of ritual cleansing (the closest to living water by the purity regulations imposed upon it) that was cleansing you as to present yourself before the Lord by making you aware of your unclean state. Turning it into fine wine to indulge in would do anything but that, so destroy its value in an instant - unless the most valuable thing is based on a materialistic scale.

If miracles point us to materialistic values critical thinking should make us realise what God we follow here. After all, poetic language is like a mirror held in front of us, as we have to interpret it and therefore reveal our God, e.g. that what moves us. And by that measure it becomes understandable why some people so fiercely deny the existence of a God as they do not like what they see in this mirror

Ha, sorry to disappoint but it was more of a crisis than a rhapsody! Many times over my life had I been dumbstruck in awe of God’s Creation, but I didn’t know to whom if anyone to attribute the agency behind it. In my younger days I dabbled in various traditions and practices that seemed worth investigating from my agnostic perspective but none were compelling.

Only recently did I reach a kind of crisis of meaning. Ecclesiastes may seem an odd choice for a first taste of Scripture but in desperation I followed my wife’s encouragement to read it, and it was perfect. That opened me up enough to try a prayer approached in “fake it til you make it” style, and there and then a leap of faith took place. I was overwhelmed with joy and regret and repentance and love and so on.

Ah - perhaps your ‘fulfilling’ remark applies to walking with Christ, rather than the circumstances that led me there. Yes, definitely! Our pastor likes to conclude most sermons with an impassioned (and I think, inspired) invitation to non-believers to accept God’s free gift of salvation, and still months later, every time, it leaves me uncontrollably weeping. Most inconvenient when you’re supposed to chit-chat afterwards :sweat_smile:.

So that answers your other question, yes, I am attending a church. It’s wonderful overall but unfortunately ‘origins’ looms as a sore point.

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Michigan has a large Dutch Reformed population. Grand Rapids was/is the home of the DeVoss family (founders of Amway, they are billionaires) and they have contributed a ton of money to develop various Christian charities and ministries there. Grand Rapids is the home of Calvin University (one of the top Christian liberal arts colleges in the country) and several large parachurch ministries like Bethany Services.

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Hi Darrel! Remember me? Nice to see you again.

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Russell, depending upon how far you are in reading in “Coming to Peace…” you may know that there are elements of your story that run parallel to my own. I didn’t have a long period of agnosticism, but I certainly struggled with an Ecclesiastics-like phase that led to my turning point. The road to a meaningful relationship with Christ was made possible in no small part by my faith in the biblically-based conviction that I didn’t need to have my many doubts sorted out to begin with. In fact some level of doubt is always spiritually healthy–it keeps us humble!

I think I would especially encourage you to read the book, “Surprised by Scripture” by N.T. Wright.

After reading and exploring, please don’t hesitate to pass along any questions you have. Many others will, of course, have the same ones.

In Christ,
Darrel

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Hi Beaglelady,

Good to hear from you, Your witty and wise comments added so much to the discussion board from the earliest days of BioLogos. I hope you’re well.

Blessings,
Darrel

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Many thanks for the helpful engagement with me, Darrel.

Yup, this is what happened for me, too. Just put the blocks aside and try it. And once that was done, there could be no going back. Some of the blocks then resolved themselves. Some were fixed by reading CS Lewis and Lee Strobel. Others - the association between Christianity and various factually or morally wrong things - almost went away by remembering that association is not causation.

But ‘origins’… I would love to be able to just put that one aside for now, live and let live, and concentrate on nurturing my infant discipleship. But when an anti-scientific view is enshrined in the church doctrine statement, and it’s a membership-based church, difficulty looms!

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I very much appreciate Dr Falk’s kind and insightful writing. @DOL Denis Lamoureux also holds PhDs in evolutionary biology and theology, and his free online course of Science and Religion on Coursera helped to shape my understanding of nonconcordism, freeing me from most of those entanglements (I think Dr Falk would say the same thing). I am deeply grateful to those, like Dr Falk and Dr Lamoureux, who blazed the way in finding faith within a scientific world view. Blessings.

Science & Religion 101 | Coursera

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Thank you so much! I hope you are okay as well. When you were in charge you would interact with us all, and I really miss that.

OK, I have been blessed with some time to go back through the audio and transcribe some of the content I was fairly cryptically (! sorry about that!) asking about in the original post:

“The serpent told Eve that by partaking of the fruit, she would become like God … Eve was tempted to exalt herself, to place herself in a position of importance reserved for God … We were created to live with the Tree of Life, that is, God, at the center of the garden of our lives. When we make the decision to put our will at the center, we displace God with ourselves. In so doing, we exalt ourselves to the point where we are attempting to become our own creators.”

Next, a section hedonism and ego-driven striving being the Genesis “fig leaves” to cover the emptiness of Godlessness.

“The story [of Genesis] ends with angels guarding the way to the tree with a flaming sword. Humankind is denied access. But does the story really end there, with humankind blocked from access to the Tree of Life? … The story resumes [in the book of Matthew]. There, on that tree is the Son of God, and Son of Man, Jesus.”

“Once we recognize that the sword of the Creation story has been snuffed out, and that there is free access to Eden’s Tree of Life, we see why it is hardly legitimate to talk or write about the Creation story without including the story’s ending: the New Creation possible in Jesus. That which we mistakenly consider two stories, is really one.”

So my question really is, is this a mainstream Christian understanding of the Adam and Eve story, and its relationship to the coming of Jesus? Would YECs agree or does reading Genesis as a history textbook preclude such interpretations? The above take resonates well with me but I want to understand the context among competing interpretations.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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