Lamoureux's Evolutionary Creation


#1

So I read Dr. Lamoureux’s Evolutionary Creation book over the weekend. Having already read a few of his articles on Biologos, I had a fairly good sense of what to expect so no major surprises. Already in the EC camp, I was most interested in his approach to hermeneutics and further expansion on the “Message-Incident principle.” I am still processing some of his arguments but feel it’s definitely a valuable contribution, particularly in exposing the flaws of scientific concordism. On the other hand, I was less convinced by his arguments for the absolute non-historicity of Genesis 1-11. I remain uncomfortable dismissing Paul’s view of a historical Adam and original sin. I suppose I still prefer to believe in a historic Adam (as a recent representative of humanity rather than sole progenitor). Just curious, for those of you who have read this book:

  1. Were you persuaded by his arguments that Adam never existed and therefore there was no historic fall or original sin?
  2. Did anything else in the book change your previously held views? (Admittedly a general question, but just wanted to generate discussion).

As an aside, I am sincerely thankful for this community and the diversity of thought among those seeking to take both scripture and science seriously.


(Randy) #2

Thanks for that review. I was just planning on buying that book, too. I did take Dr Lamoureux’s free online course, which I think mirrors that (on Coursera).

I, too, have struggled about that question. I read a lot of George Macdonald as a teen (influenced C S Lewis and was somewhat of a reactionist against his strict Calvinist upbringing). So, I admit I’m more eager to accept Lamoureux’ point of view. I can go into that more. However, you might find Michael Heiser’s (head of Logos software) discussion interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M97gjvIH8vA. He is quite orthodox, but believes a different interpretation is appropriate for original sin.

Peter Enns (Inspiration and Incarnation, Evolution of Adam); Brian Zahnd (Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God); and Brad Jersak (A More Christlike God) are on that side, too; but others can comment very well, and in very valid ways, on the other side from this forum.


(Randy) #3

I just got an email from Dr Lamoureux in the last hour or so. I had asked him about the book “Evolutionary Creation,” and he responded with the following:–his thinking has “evolved.” :slight_smile: (pun intended).

Morning Randy,
Thank you for your interest in my work.

I only have one MOOC [online course]. And the one I’m

working on is a high school version of

the one you took.

Regarding my book Evolutionary Creation,

I would not buy it–too expensive and its where my thinking around in 2006/2007.

Here are some papers that present my latest thinking:

Blessings,

Denis


How I Finally Told My Church I’m an Evolutionary Creationist—and How I Should Have
What does original sin actually mean and what are its consequences?
How do you Reconcile Evolution with Genesis?
(Christy Hemphill) #4

It’s always good to remember that scholars are in process too. :slight_smile:


#5

Interesting. I had previously read his articles on Evolutionary Psychology and Beyond Original Sin. I will read the others as well. I’m encouraged that there are several individuals working on these issues (including Dr. Lamoureux, whom I certainly respect), and expect that assorted views will further develop in time, given the diversity of theological traditions among believers accepting EC.


(George Brooks) #6

@jasonbourne4

There are millions of Eastern Orthodox Christians who have lived and died a devoted Christian life without thinking about a Fall or Original Sin.

In their culture, Adam’s sin represented the test case for humanity and the Best of Us failed the test.
It was now clear that less perfect humans were inevitably going to sin … but their sins would be their own. They would not be guilty of Adam’s sin from the very moment of birth. For the Eastern Orthodox, the guilt of sin appears with the arrival at the age of moral awareness.

I have always thought this was a perfectly sensible arrangement.

EDIT: Typo corrected from “It was no clear…” to "It was now clear …"


(Christy Hemphill) #7

Tremper Longman and John Walton take more of a “Genesis 1-11 records history, just according to different cultural rules” approach. That is more appealing to me. I would like to think of the narratives being part of God’s mission in human history, even if they are highly mythologized or stylized or contain co-opted elements that fit the author’s purposes. I prefer to believe there are real historical events and individuals behind the narratives, though I don’t know that we are ever going to be able to distill those narratives down to “historical facts” and “extraneous fiction.” I don’t think that should be our interpretive task.


(Denis Lamoureux) #8

Yup. Everyone is in the process of growing in their faith & knowledge.
Blessings,
Denis


(Matthew Pevarnik) #9

Just did some editing as all of the links didn’t work for me originally. I hope you don’t mind Randy!


(Randy) #10

I was just trying to figure out how to thank you–thanks!

Though I should clarify that those papers are Dr Lamoureux’, not mine. :slightly_smiling_face:
Here is his webpage for those who want to research more:

https://sites.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/


(Ronald Myers) #11

The key questions appear to be

  1. how or when did we become responsible for our actions?
  2. how does the image of God manifest itself in an evolving organism?

The corollary question is ‘when did we became spiritual beings?’

These questions should not be taken to imply that our bodies are not the product of evolution. We are told of a time that anatomically modern people became behaviorally modern so it is not much of a stretch to have a spiritually modern transition as well.

As much as I like Denis Lamoureaux and his passionate ministry, these questions remain open to me


(Christy Hemphill) #12

Just because we could be held responsible for our actions (intellectual capability, moral aptitude) does that mean God did? Does sin exist apart from the revealed will of God? Was God required to reveal his will simply because of the evolved aptitudes and capacities of creatures?

Is the “image of God” an evolved capability? I would say there is little Scriptural support for the idea that it is something intrinsic to humanity and their developed capacities. It’s a calling. Can’t God call whomever he wills whenever he wills, regardless of what capabilities and capacities have evolved in creatures. In other words, why would we assume God would be required to bestow his image on a creature simply because he/she had the capacity and capability to bear it. That is not how being chosen usually works in Scripture.


(Randy) #13

Hm. Good thoughts. But I’m not sure I’m using the right semantics, but if we had the ability to know the morality of a decision by cognition, I would think we would have that responsibility.

Don’t many animals exhibit signs of remorse and guilt, to a lesser extent? I’m not even sure whether or not God interacts with them on that level or not.

And I can probably “evolve” into circles of wondering how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, if I go in the wrong direction here. It probably does boil down to our current consciousness and what we do with responsibility we are aware of now, in our relationship to God–not the possibilities of the past.


(Ronald Myers) #14

I agree that there is little to nil scriptural support for it, hence my question which needs to be answered before I would accept a full evolutionary position.

Just because we could be held responsible for our actions

Scripture is clear from the beginning that God holds us responsible for our actions in a way that other primates are not and that that our standard of behavior is not at all like the observed behavior of the primates. So again how did this transition take place? I suspect that if one question is answered , the rest follow quickly.

Here the perception is that in multi cell evolution, aspects of organisms become different, larger or smaller , even to the point of being vestigial. but no new feature arises from nothing. E.G we don’t grow a third eye and so on. Image of God and moral responsibility seem to have no evolutionary precedence


(Christy Hemphill) #15

Generic immorality is relative to a community. Polygamy and honor killing is immoral by some human standards and moral by others. Sin on the other hand, requires an absolute, God-given standard that is violated or rebelled against. I don’t see how there is sin without direct revelation of God’s will. So for me, the question of when humans became capable of moral reasoning is somewhat irrelevant, because when we talk about “the Fall” we aren’t talking about generic immorality, we are talking about intentional rebellion in the context of a relationship with a God who has revealed himself and made clear his absolute standards.

I think you can accept that humans arrived on the planet via common descent but reject the idea that their status as image bearers was something they evolved. I don’t think “image of God” in the Bible is shorthand for “intelligent, rational, and capable of moral decisions.” I think it is a role or vocation that humans were chosen for at a specific point in time as part of God’s redemptive work in human history. Obviously, humans as a species would have needed to develop the intellectual and moral capacities to fulfill this role prior to being called to it, but the capacities themselves are not the image of God.


(Ronald Myers) #16

I think there is common ground here. The common ground is that at some point in the distant past God intervened to either change and commission pre-existing beings or simply commissioned then. A full evolutionary view does not allow or, perhaps, see the need for this intervention. The vocation idea is attractive and it can be observed that our vocations contribute to shaping us

A good definition of the image of God is elusive. In addition to the qualities that you cited I add the ability to love in agape fashion and even that may not be all there is to the image of God


(Gregg Davidson) #17

Because of my peculiar line of research, I have read over 40 books on creation, EC, and intelligent design. That gives me a pretty good background from which to comment on Denis Lamoureux’s EC. He makes some excellent points. I really appreciate his examples of the many ways in which the biblical writers employed the understanding of nature at the time of writing to illustrate immutable truths about the kingdom of God. However, as “jasonbourne4” mentioned a couple days ago, I do take issue with Denis saying that Paul was simply wrong about Paul’s understanding of Adam. I also believe it is premature to say that genetics now makes Adam & Eve impossible. I wrote a PSCF article in 2015 that was a thought experiment on whether it is possible for modern genetics to be correct AND there to still be an actual Adam (spoiler: my answer is yes). The article also addresses issues of human evolution and the presence of a soul.
Davidson, G. (2015) Genetics, the Nephilim, and the Historicity of Adam, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 67(1):24-34. http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2015/PSCF3-15Davidson.pdf


(Phil) #18

Just skimming the article, looks very interesting, and I need to go back and read it carefully to do it justice. Thanks for sharing.
I am reminded of the saying “have your cake and eat it too” when looking at ideas like this, and wonder if sometimes we contrive things to fit our mold, or if perhaps that is indeed how things took place. In this case, perhaps it is, but even if it is not, is interesting to contemplate. One consideration is whether it changes anything in our relationship with God if one view or the other is true. My thought is that it probably does not, but we may well come away with new insights.


(Gregg Davidson) #19

Indeed. Your reflections are why I describe the article as a “thought experiment” as opposed to declaring that it IS what happened. I think what I describe is very possible, but I don’t hang my proverbial theological hat on it.


(Ronald Myers) #20

I assert that it does not unless we make it so. For me this has has the lesser goal of reconciling the scientific data with the Bible convincingly so that we don’t needlessly put barriers between seekers and Jesus.