Janet Kellogg Ray shares her personal journey of reconciling her faith with the science of evolution and discusses the challenges faced by Christians in accepting scientific evidence.
Thanks for this. Communication and empathy are so important. I’ve bought both her books, and they’ve arrived last night!
Let me know what you think of the newer one if you get it. I’m perusing baby dinosaurs on the ark now. It’s well written, learned and a great read thus far. I am hoping she addresses questions about evolution and humanity at some point.
"Suppose you need surgery. Your surgeon comes into your hospital room and announces: “I’m in a hurry today, so I’m not planning to wash my hands or wear gloves for your operation. I’m also going to skip sterilizing the instruments. It’s ok, after all, germ theory is only a theory.” --JKR
Actually, if we are to make a science term hierarchy, theory is at the top. Science theories rank above laws and facts because theories make sense of laws and facts. Theories knit laws and facts together into a coherent whole.
Her terms are on point!
I understand her dilemma, however her reason for the throwing out of Genesis 1 creation account is not based on a theological foundation.
That is discrediting the basis for the world view…one cannot predetermine a philosophical belief from outside of philosophy.
I fully agree that the science appears to be contrary to the literal reading, however, for me the answer is found in the story of Elijah…he ran from Jezebel and hid in a cave. He was called out, not by the wind, thunder, earthquakes…but by the still small voice. Its the little snippets of our creation that God has left for those to find who are devoted to biblical truth. Everything else is corrupted by Satan and Sin.
What people reading this simply do not appreciate are the overwhelming numberof theological/or philosophical inconsistencies that begin to arise from the moment one takes this approach.
I am astounded to here educated people make the claim that theories are facts in order to justify their change in direction. I cannot find any sense in it.
I can absolutely tear holes in any Christian view that attempts to do this…so much so, it proves Christianity is absolutely pointless.
For all the demands that the bible interpretation must agree with scientific theory, im flabbergasted by her opening statment in the podcast…
“For myself, I have just come to the point that nothing discovered in science will cause me not to believe in God, nothing, no science discovery. We could discover absolute empirical evidence for abiogenesis or the multiverse, but the science is the one thing that’s not going to challenge my faith”
If science doesnt matter for her faith, why the heck has she been forced to change her theology?
I do not understand how people miss that glaring discrepency in this world view…and you claim YEC are blind to the obvious!
The truth is, one cannot choose God if you refuse to read as its written. All sorts of excuses are given, compromises made…in the end the entire reason for CHIST DYING PHYSICALLY ON THE CROSS AS ATONEMENT FOR THE WAGES OF SIN (Romans 6.23), is lost.
The philosophical and historical fact is, Christ died physically on the cross.
A person cannot be Christian and deny Christ died physcially on the cross.
If his atoning death was physical, how can the sin of Adam and Eve, and the entire sanctuary service, be allegorical?
We know for a fact the sanctuary was a physical demonstration of the process of atoning for sin, salvation, and redemption!
Another massive problem is that there is no biblical support for the idea that suffering and death were in this world prior to Adam and Eve because we have an overhwelming narrative that is completely at odds with such a view.
So when i hear a podcast opening statement supporting my claim science makes no difference to Christian faith, (which we all know is founded on the bible…there is no other source for it)…i agree!
Adam, what do you mean by this, please?
Do you see theology and faith as identical?
You can be more charitable. Some people start with the idea that scripture is literally true in all it writes and filter all information through that. But Some of us start with the idea that there is truth in our Sacred scripture and in science which is the best method of understanding the ordered nature of God’s creation. We don’t view evolutionary biologists (experts in the field with a lifetime of training and peer reviewed research) as nefarious individuals with an anti-God agenda out to destroy moral life. Now there are some militant atheists in that camp and there are some devout Christians. But for many of us there is truth in scripture and there is truth in science. And our best way to balance them is to read Genesis in an ancient, accommodated context. This is not “throwing out Genesis” but trying to find its meaning and value and the truth we believe it intends to teach. This is what I meant when I said you could be more charitable.
You know how when you are face with an apparent contradiction in the Bible you come up with a harmonization? The rope Judas used to hand himself must have broken and he fell…That is what we do as well. We have science, we have the Bible. How do we value both side by side? We all try to take in information from the world around us and make it cohesive. How do we fit them science and the Bible? We can reject all of science and believe in a flat, immutable earth with a three, tiered cosmos, where stars are small enough they can fall and land on the earth, as a literal reading of the Bible would suggest, or we can accept the overwhelming evidence these things are not true and approach the Bible from a different angle and prayerfully and humbly wrestle with our Sacred Scripture finding the truth it intends to teach. Do you actually believe there is a solid dome up in the atmosphere? An actual sort of metallic slab? If you don’t could I accuse you of “throwing Genesis 1 in the garbage” because you don’t believe in a solid firmament? I know a guy who argued the moon landings were fake just because there is a dome up there as the Bible describes!
Do you understand that literal interpretations of Genesis 1 and inerrancy anre also not based on “theological foundations?” They are based on assumptions, axioms and circular reasoning. The systematic theology texts I read state this directly. We all start somewhere. Some of us start with the idea that both science and the Bible have truth and they can work together in explaining the world.
Maybe you should check this out. Its very existence gives the lie to where you and yours are coming from and puts it right on its head!
One primary requirement is to test the way we read Genesis. For instance Day Two places vast waters above the firmament then Day Four introduces the rest of the visible universe and sets them within the vault of the sky (firmament) - yet Day Now includes Planet Earth orbiting the nearest star. Or in other words, the text of Genesis is about the Creator, while patting facts on the head to avoid confusing the issue.
Look at the first three verses - 1 and 3 state that God caused the Big Bang, i.e. invented time, space, matter, and light. With that as science, what do we make of verse 2? It grandfathers in the extant pagan notion that the universe began as vast featureless water. That and the Big Bang sorta collide, don’t they? Just like Day Four and Day Now.
Ditto, the Six Days make a profound, reverent literature. Yes they can look matter-of-fact; but does that motivate us to think of them as real fact? Verses 1 and 3 collapse thousands of pages of endless PhD theses on cosmology, particle physics, biochemistry, DNA, evolution, and so much more. What real effect would that kind of OCD data dump have had? Why confuse ordinary adult minds in a pre-literate context with a blizzard of irrelevant fact? Why not simply tell them a story that provides profound theology?
Story can have memorable detail, simple structure, and profound effect. Story places deep theology within the mental grasp of six-year-olds in Sunday School and ordinary adult minds 'way back when.
Science and scientists obsess over Creation. Creation does not lie and does not mislead.
Alas, philosophers leap from “we know all the facts and the facts appear to explain themselves” to “Therefore we need look no further for a non-material explanation” to “Thus there IS NO non-material explanation” to “THUS THERE IS NO GOD.”
Science isn’t the enemy because science adores Creation. The enemy is human folly as illustrated just above. In fact the ethereal beauty of what science has learned persuades many scientists with limited Scriptural backgrounds to turn to God as Creator.
in simple terms the most common complaint made by theistic evolution is the view that the bible is being interpreted incorrectly because science doesnt support any intrinsic biblical interpretations (ie those parts of the bible that are self revealing and which dissagree with science).
So what is often claimed by individuals is that bible readers are twisting and reading into scripture. Unfortunately, such a claim in light of self revealing bible doctrines is just wrong and stupid.
For example, what if science proves that God cannot possibly exist? The bible is quite self evident on the idea of God and even explains his character in great depth to us. If science were to prove there is no such thing as God, how then would a theistic evolutionist fit the scientific “there is no God” in with their philosophical beliefs? The only way it may be done is to then make the claim that readers putting their own interpretation of God into what is written in the bible. And so a concocted story begins…a philosophical belief is driven from outside of philosophy because it must fit the science!
If one is going to invest their lifes savings in Christianity, then inconsistencies in the foundation of the theology are front and centre in my mind…its like investing ones lifes savings into a ponzy scheme. It can be shown that money is made from a ponzy scheme…it only fails when someone breaks the cycle…so scientifically a ponzy scheme really is a great investment…and yet, when thinking philosophically and rationally about it, would you invest your lifes savings into one knowing that if the recruitment cycle stops it collapses?
I do not subscribe to the idea that our Christian philosophy is gained or even driven from science. Its a very difficult line because we know that architects have a certain philosophy in design and science is used in the realization of said design philosophy into something tangible, such as a building. I accept that dilemma…but i do not see the philosophy of religion in the same way an architect relates his philosophy to a building. The bible says that Gods aim for us is not in buildings…its in salvation. That suggests to me that building buildings through science is not what God claims we should be thinking about when trying to understand salvation.
Salvation is about Christ making atonement for sin so that we may be redeemed unto God.
Redemption is an interesting word…it signifies that something has been lost and is to be restored.
If suffering and death existed before than fall of Adam and Eve, what the heck are we being redeemed for/from? I do not agree that the bible can be read as an account of man suddely becoming self aware, doing something wrong as a result of immaturity, then needing salvation. The bible specifically tells us the complete opposite of that claim in the Israelite Sanctuary Service. God always educates his people and then gives them a choice. We have educated free will. The new testament goes to great lengths in talking about judgement and righteousness. We are only judged according to our knowledge…so an immature individual who has no idea that fornication or lusting after someone elses property is a sin is not judged by that lack of knowledge (now i accept that the holy spirit is that still small voice on all our shoulders…but lets not turn this into an essay about that dilemma…lets just suffice to say that originally in the first covenant it was the people who were to take on the responsibility of knowing with the help of the prophets…in the second it was God through the Holy Spirit.)
To simply answer the second question…i see theology and faith as coexisting but they are not identical. I agree that faith and science are different and i agree that faith must ignore science as Jent Kellog claims in her opening statement. I just dissagree with the idea that faith can ignore science…and then spend the next hour attempts to weld the two together!
All that means is the way you mistakenly interpret and understand it conflicts with the reality of God’s creation. Guess what? The truths that God intends to reveal in the Bible, their reality, do not conflict with physical reality he reveals in creation.
No Dale that is incorrect. What you have done here is attempt to mesh what you consider is Gods intended reality with what we see around us today…and then you make the claim that the earth as we know it today is an example of what the Bible meant in Genesis 1 “and he saw that is was very good”.
The entire premise above is seriously flawed, because over the next 66 books of the bible we read over and over and over again how sin corrupted this world and tarnished Gods Creation.
Again, you need to study more into the word Redemption. Redeemed from what and for what?
when the bible talks about restoration, surely even you must agree that restoration, when using our current understanding of the term, is the process of repairing/fixing/restoring something back to its original condition when new.
The restoration process in the bible is not simply a spiritual restoration. whether or not you are willing to accept the self revealing bible doctrines on redemption, it is very clear that is has both spiritual and physical outcomes. Proof of the physical is the return of the new earth in Revelation where there will be no more tears, no more death, no more suffering…all of those attributes that were described in Genesis
see the story of the plan of salvation ends where it began…with a new earth that does not have the tarnish of sin that you see around you today…and that you appear to continue to claim is how God created it!
That is a fair point and one worthy of a measured response. I hope you get one because I would like to read it. Is all of creation groaning or just working as it has been for billions of years? Did the fall actually change material reality? If so, how? It’s easy to call Genesis 1-11 poetry or theological fiction, the more difficult passages to explain are when we move to the NT and the words of Jesus.
I would be interested in seeing what others think Scripture “intends to teach” here.
Hi Vinnie, I was in the process of responding to your earlier post, however, I think responding to this one would be similar in any case.
you said above: “Is all of creation groaning or just working as it has been for billions of years? Did the fall actually change material reality?”
That is from Romans 8:22.
Lets look at the cross references in bibles for Romans 8:22
As we all know, I did not write the bible concordance…so its a fair bet theologians have thought long and hard about the correct understanding of that verse…
Jeremiah 12:4 How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field be withered? Because of the evil of its residents, the animals and birds have been swept away, for the people have said, “He cannot see what our end will be.”
Jeremiah 12:11 They have made it a desolation; desolate before Me, it mourns. All the land is laid waste, but no man takes it to heart.
There are also a number of New Testament texts that cross-reference Romans 8:22.
The point is, Romans 8:22 is quoting the prophet Jeremiah…what Paul is saying is that all creation is groaning under the scourge of sin…sin that entered this world when Adam and Eve were both deceived and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil.
Individuals could cite a different interpretation to the above, but is plainly obvious that is exactly what Paul is talking about.
I would suggest that before individuals go plucking texts out of the bible, the read the entire context of the chapters from which those texts are being plucked.
In Verse 1 of Romans 8, Paul clearly talks about condemnation…that those who have faith in Christ are not condemned. This text isnt about evolution or the age of the earth…or that death and suffering were in this world prior to the fall of Adam and Eve…its clearly supporting the interpretation that sin brought death and suffering into this world and that the good news of the gospel is that Christ died on the cross to make atonement for the physical and spiritual consequences of sin…death (Romans 6:23). I believe that the cross referencing of Jeremiah shows that the correct interpretation of Romans 8:22 is the one I should believe and do believe. I also accept that this may not be in harmony with science…but then again, im pretty sure scientifically we can prove that Ponzy schemes work and that what brings them undone is morality…so nothing new here.
I’ll be curious to hear what you have to reply when you find out how badly in error you are. Could it be the Lord himself who tells you, I wonder.
Dale, what i find unfortunate about your statement is that you seem to think that because i stand alone on these things and in contrast to other seemingly well founded Christians on this forum, I must be wrong.
What you should in fact be doing, is searching the scriptures for yourself to see if the cross references i have provided support my claims.
Note what the Bereans did in Pauls day in the following bible text…
Acts 17: 11Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true.a 12As a result, many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men.
The point is,.check what the obvious biblical interpretations are via cross references in bible margins. The whole point of cross referencing in Bible margins is to act as a study guide…they guide us in the wider theological understanding of the Bible. If you wish to keep only following those who pluck texts out of the bible and put individual spins on them, you are going to be easily fooled.
You will also notice that most of my responses on these forums include the bigger picture of Christ physically dying on the Cross to make atonement for "the wages of sin is death (romans 6:23). The reason why this is significant is because it is a contradictory claim to those who apparently believe that the wages of sin is only spiritual death. His death on the cross is a huge problem for the claim Genesis 1-11 is only an allegory.
I believe personally there is no Christian way around this…from my studies and lots of cross referencing using bible marginal study guides, it simply not possible to continue to believe in spiritual only death. To do so is to claim Christ didnt need to die physically on the cross…His physical death on the cross was pointless (or worse, it was only an allegory and never really happened). This also means that the entire Old Testament Sanctuary Service is a fabrication…it never pointed to a day when a messiah would take the place of the lamb as a sacrifice.
Clearly, the allegorical claim is fundamentally flawed…its contradictory to the Old Testament teaching that a real messiah would take the place of the sacrifice of sheep and goats…that is the entire point of the Sanctuary Service…it describes exactly how salvation was going to work. I know an atheist would simply argue this is barbaric…and i agree. But that is not a reason to write into the bible that because something is barbaric it must be an allegory anymore than one should write into the bible that Genesis 1-11 isnt literal history because science theories do not support its account.
The bible clearly tells us all creation has been corrupted.
The only way around that biblical statement is to make the claim that Satan cannot physically interact with this world…which is at odds with Jobs story where Satan whipped up a wind storm that demolished a house killing his children…or that during the ministry of Christ a herd of pigs were possessed by demons who caused them to rush down a steep embankment and into the sea thus drowning themselves, could not have actually happened.
See how the compromises get worse…one builds upon another until the entire narrative is an outrageous fairytale and nothing more. That is also why the claim a blending of evolution and theism is necessary, in order to stop science followers from leaving the faith, is false. Unbelief is only made worse by the accumulation of theological compromises.
What we are then left with is the opening statement from Jent Kellogg Ray…i dont care what science says, it will never influence or affect my faith. Unfortunately, i belive that her claim is of a faith without solid foundation, she attempts to weld her faith around the science (despite the above statement)…hers is a world view based on an accumulation of compromises (just my opinion)
I wouldn’t appeal to a literal Job as an arguing point. That is something to argue for, not from.
How does the sacrificial system in the OT prefiguring Jesus make all allegorical interpretation wrong? What is wrong with allegory if it teaches theological truth? God can use whatever genre He chooses to.
Here we go again, not any more. The firmament around your brain is too impenetrable in one direction, but the other direction lets a lot of words out.
Thanks Dale. I have read Coming to Faith Through Dawkins and found it useful.
One of the editors is Dennis Alexander. He is Director Emeritus of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge here in the UK. Their website is worth a look.
Thank you for taking so much time to address my questions. I know long, thought-out posts can take a great deal of time.
There are many things I’d like to discuss from posts 4 and 9, but I think it will be best to focus on a few things that might address the broader issues, rather than minutiae. I want to return again to your statements about philosophy, which I have wanted to discuss with you in other threads as well:
and this one:
If the basis for a world view is discredited, this is not a predetermination of the end of a philosophical inquiry. It reflects a demand that the process of the inquiry be based in truth, true things, be real, be supported by evidence, etc… A philosophy that begins from a faulty world view is unacceptable, not because we don’t like the conclusions, but because the basis of the logical structure is not level, does not square.
This being said, I don’t believe that Janet Kellogg Ray is addressing Christian faith as a philosophy but rather as revelation. This revelation will not be affected by her understanding of human biology and the what science can tell us. She, like many of us, recognizes that science continues to provide us with ever increasing and improving understanding of the world and how it works. And she has faith in Jesus. Whether these two things are compatible or incompatible, they are.
If philosophy is involved, it is there to insist that we are operating with true things, and operating truthfully. In being truthful, Christians speak about faith. We understand that faith is not something we can prove empirically; it is not subject to the scientific method. Additionally, neither are our theologies. We do the best we can with what we have as we have it and understand it, contingent on our time and place. We are never free of our time and place, no matter how objectively we attempt to approach any matter. Part of our faith must be that God is great enough to understand this and will do the best that can be done with the faulty belief we bring.
I know this kind of thing is disturbing to you and many other people who come here, too. I don’t know anyone who prefers uncertainty about things that are so important. This uncertainty is the very reason that science is so controversial among so many Christians. But it is our very philosophical commitment to truth that puts us in this position.
I like the distinction between authority and expertise. As I grew up, there wasn’t a difference; only someone with expertise could be an authority – that came from my parents and most of my teachers.
Same about “presenting both sides” (which I think is a relic of the “fairness doctrine” in broadcasting): we were brought up that it only counts as a “side” if they have some expertise. That’s used by YECists who have what is essentially pretend expertise, but most people can’t tell it’s pretend so they buy what the person is saying.