Looking for answers…and not from Ken Ham

Hi Ralph,

Well into my adulthood, I had the same view of evolution and the Bible that you express on your website. Then one day a dear friend of mine, a geologist, planted a seed that challenged my thinking. I write about the experience in this blogpost. I hope you will read my post, even as I read a few of yours.

The upshot is that almost everything I thought I knew about the work of biologists, paleontologists, and geologists was wrong. Clearly, this is not as critical as being wrong about the cross and the resurrection would be. At the same time, I feel badly about the friends I alienated from the gospel by propagating untruths about biology, paleontology, and geology. I am trying hard not to repeat that error. :slight_smile:

Grace and peace,
Chris

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Whoever attempts to translate Scripture whether they are exegetes, scientists, Christians etc… They will only be partially successful on their own because it is the teaching, mentorship and friendship of the Holy Spirit which fully reveals and opens up God’s Word in the Bible.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom The Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
John 14:26.

Be aware this was a warning as well as reassurance from Jesus Christ. Just one
or two words mistranslated can alter the whole meaning of Bible a verse or verses. For example: “Jesus died” has a very different meaning to “Jesus had to die.”

Foster and develop a close relationship with the Holy Spirit, He is a Person, part of the Holy Trinity. It is only in this way that you will be sure about what you read in The Word of God.

The Words in the Bible are NOT dead words on a page; they are alive, and they posses the ability to change what they convey. Biblical Truth is not grasped in one fell sweep but rather it is revealed by the Holy Spirit in line with an individual’s growth and development in Jesus Christ.

Lots of Christians are waking up to the reality that our Triune God wants a relationship with those who believe in Him. A knowing OF The Father, rather than a knowing ABOUT The Father.
“TASTE and see that The Lord is good.”
Psalm 34:8.

It is only this close loving relationship which changes everything; it is where knowledge moves up several notches to incorporate Almighty God’s Wisdom; and it is where the peace which passes all understanding originates from, and is lived out.

I pray you will find this relationship because it lies within the grasp of every believer, it is not just for Christian Mystics or Contemplatives. To access this reality is so very simple and fundamental; its roots are within every single person on earth. After all we are ALL made in The Image of Alimighty God, there are no exceptions or mistakes. There is only the creation of distance, doubt and fear which is the job of the enemy.

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Sorry about the typos, but I have had to write my previous message in a hurry,!

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Entropy from thermodynamic laws says that all things in the universe, without any external input, move from order to disorder, and cannot do otherwise with its self contained unusable energy. Evolution begins with unexplainable existing matter, energy, and motivation to reverse thermodynamic laws. Just google creation vs evolution. You will find many books. Hope that helps. I researched evolution while in university a few years ago, and found it to be full of gaps and unfounded assumptions. The bible is easier to verify.

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Hello Reginald -

I think you have misunderstood the relationship between the laws of thermodynamics and biology. Rather than repeat the long conversation that occurred on this forum just a month ago, I am going to supply a link to the first post. You can read the responses from there.

You are right that evolution does not explain the origins of the universe; it does not even attempt to do so. I stand with you in agreeing that the Lord God created the universe and everything therein.

Blessings,
Chris

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“And secondly, is there anywhere in scripture that gives us reason to believe evolution was the correct process? Or is it just that science shows evolution and scripture leaves room for that interpretation?”

As others have already pointed out, Scripture generally does not give scientific information, but it does strongly command us to take an honest approach to what we do.

There are a few things, however, that could be considered to provide some rather indirect support for evolution. First, the account of Jacob getting Laban’s goats, though obscure in exactly what he did, suggests that Jacob was directing some evolution by artificial selection. Secondly, the approach that God takes to revelation is rather evolutionary. Instead of just handing Adam a copy of the Institutes of Christian Theology, God instead gives information rather gradually, building up over time. Thirdly, the general pattern of events uses natural laws - the use of miracles is minimized. Even when a miracle happens, it tends to be only the minimum needed - feeding 5000 with a few loaves and fish is followed by saving the leftovers; water turned to wine has to be served in the ordinary manner; visions and an angel are used to get Peter and Cornelius together so Peter can preach to him, the axe head floats but has to be put back on better, a wind parts the sea but the timing is rather convenient…

Thus, evolution does fit with the general pattern of God’s action as seen in the Bible. But that’s pretty much it.

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Sons of Thunder — love your moniker here btw!!..I am so glad you asked the questions that you have asked. I have read Laura’s response and I will read others. I had my “reckoning” with YEC thinking during a developing interest in history, which bumps into an interest in related fields such as archaeolog, geology, and more. I also was well influenced by a small book called God’s Universe, by Owen Gingerich. You might have heard of it or be able to find it. He was (is?) astronomer emeritus at Harvard. His description of the development of the carbon atom, in one chapter, left me convinced that the universe has been around for a bit. It just seemed sensible. At one point or another, in all of this, I had to ask myself how reasonable it is to “like it” when some historical item or archaeological discovery verifies or corroborates something in the Bible…and then to turn around and vilify that sort of data when it seems to complicate things a bit? And by “data,” I mean anything that suggests or implies that the universe and/or the earth must be somewhat older than 4K (give or take) years? It seemed somewhat dishonest intellectually to not take something seriously when it challenges (say) what I think the Bible says, if I am going to applaud the same sort of source when it affirms things.
Well, that is my take on it. I did just have a discussion on this whole issue with a cousin who wonders about the implications of all this. I told him that if God had had to discuss plate tectonics with Moses, and tell him how many light years it is to the next star — it would have made for a very large Pentateuch. I am going to enjoy reading the responses of others here, I am sure.

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thanks, jpm…well put

thanks for the blog reference!

Welcome @SonsofThunder ! There are many great suggestions already. What are you curious about? When I first began to accept evolution, I was so tired of the mental gymnastics and and decided that even if God had made things to look a certain way even though they are no older than 6,000 years, I wanted to learn about what it is that astronomy shows. The universe is too amazing and I’m too curious, and I found an astronomy podcast. While listening to it, I learned how just how well supported the evidence shows an ancient universe, and also that in its lengthy story are demonstrations of what seems to be Biblical concepts. Nature isn’t just about looking beautiful, it truly does describe God’s character to me with its abundance of life, creativity, patience, and power to name a few things. So maybe a good place to start might be to research what you’re already interested in :slight_smile:

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And I suppose a smoking gun from my experience, @SonsofThunder, is that while creation apologetics could fit earth history into its own box, the history of Mars can’t be explained away in that box.

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Get a copy of “Finding Darwin’s God” by Kenneth Miller. When he wrote the book, Professor Miller was a Biology professor at Brown University and a practicing Roman Catholic. He explains why he believes what he does and why Young Earth/Creationist/Intelligent Design people are mistaken. He also tells about his public appearances with proponents of those views. I’ve given away several copies.

I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian.

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This is an interesting point @KateKnut. Would you mind explaining a bit more of what you mean, please?

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There have been countless times since Jesus walked the Earth when Scripture has been challenged by people of pragmatic and “scientific” bent. The argument over so-called “creation science” and “evolutionism” is no different. Jesus in John chapter 6 encountered skeptics to what He was teaching (John 6:60-63). In response to their complaint that His sayings (Scripture) were hard to accept, He said that His words are “spirit and life” and that “the flesh profits nothing.” So it is that the words of flesh (science of the flesh) do not counteract the words of the Spirit of God.
In my response to Chris Falter (see above and below in this string) are as follows.
Chris, I also, read a lot of the early “scientific creationist” literature and found it useful for poking holes in biologic evolution, but not convincing that the earth was young or that creation science was believable. However, I think they are correct in their straightforward reading of Genesis, contrary to Hugh Ross’ calling days “eras.” I have read most of Ross’ publications, and do not think he is convincing. Have also attended his seminars and conversed personally with him. I appreciate his science, but do not share his modifications of Scripture to fit his scientific persuasion.
My own view is a hybrid one that remains based in straightforward literal reading: Ancient Earth (billions of years)–Youthful humanity (thousands of years). Our confusion today lies in the common assumption of everyone involved in the debate that the earth we currently inhabit is the creation that Genesis 1 describes. I think I can demonstrate from Scripture an alternative to this common assumption. I think both the earth and humanity are special creations of God, not some meandering unguided process of evolution by natural selection, which cannot, and never has been, demonstrated.
How can I believe this? That is the answer I provide in my book referenced earlier in this chain of posts. I would be happy to discuss this personally with anyone who is interested, but the topic deserves, I think, a focus and concentration that is too distracted and diluted in this forum format. I just can’t keep up with all the diverse posts and focus clearly. If anyone wishes to contact me personally, my email address is found on my blogsite: https://sowhatistruth.com. I’m not too adept at negotiating this sort of communication, so everyone please forgive my errors or faux pas.

I’m curious Ralph what I’m genesis 1-11, or even just 1-3 , makes you believe that the literary style is biographical or historical in its narrative? What other chapters in the Bible covers thousands of years and dozens of people with stories in just a few chapters? It’s not written the same as the story of Moses and so on.

So placing all science aside what in the narrative demands a literal interpretation?

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In the end of the day, figuring out the age of the Earth, the ages of fossils found in it, and how those fossils relate to each other, is all basically measurement.

As for people of pragmatic and “scientific” bent – for many of us, we have to be because that is our jobs. We work in careers where we have to approach science, in one form or another, professionally and responsibly. As such we are taught rules that we have to obey and standards that we have to maintain. In fact, if we didn’t obey those rules and maintain those standards, we would drive our employers out of business and in some cases possibly even kill people in the process. If, that is, we weren’t fired for gross professional misconduct and sued out of our insurances first.

For those of us who are Christians, it’s just that we expect to see the same rules obeyed and the same standards maintained in our apologetics teaching materials as we have to maintain in our jobs. In fact, that’s what the Bible itself demands:

¹³Do not have two differing weights in your bag — one heavy, one light. ¹⁴Do not have two differing measures in your house — one large, one small. ¹⁵You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lᴏʀᴅ your God is giving you. ¹⁶For the Lᴏʀᴅ your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly. – Deuteronomy 25:13-16

Now if you’ll just excuse me, I have a whole bunch of failing unit tests to fix.

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I don’t feel like I’m challenging scripture….I think I’m challenging my laziness in accepting Ken Hams view of Genesis and science because it has always felt to me like the loudest voice in the Evangelical room.

And the way Genesis is written….to me personally it feels like allegory…as do many other mythical stories from around the time. So I am challenging my PERSONAL closed mindedness and am trying to remain or become more teachable.

So many times I have heard main stream science or evolutionists compared to the serpent in the garden saying “did God really say?” And I guess the demonizing just bores me. The Bereans essentially were saying “did God really say?” When they were searching the scriptures.and that was commended. I think any responsible person should ask the same words the serpent said to Eve…did God REALLY say?

I know that a lot of my evangelical friends and some fundamentalist Christian high school science teachers I listen to say that if we don’t take Genesis in an extreme literal sense, then people will just go about determining the rest of scripture any way they want. While I agree some might do that, I feel like any fear that forces us to react with over simplistic ideas to keep things under control isn’t trusting that God can very well get his point across any way he pleases. So I also am challenging that idea. I feel like out of fear the Pharisees had added so many rules to protect the law because they didn’t trust God to do what needed to be done. In the same way I don’t want fear and control to force me into over simplifying things to make things easier to manage.

My whole goal is to hear what God may have to say through the Scriptures, science, other believers, etc. and if he’s as great as I hope and believe he is, then this may be a far more exciting and unlimited journey than I had hoped at the start.

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I refer to that accusation as “quote mining the voice of the serpent.” They’re taking four words of Genesis 3:1 out of context and twisting it to mean something that flatly contradicts clear instructions elsewhere in Scripture. The Bible tells us clearly that we are not to believe every spirit but that we are to test the spirits to see which are from God. (1 John 4:1.) There is no end to the number of cults and heresies you could introduce by attempting to shut down critique in that way.

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Hello Dr. Rohr,

It seems that you regard the publications of biologists and paleontologists as “science of the flesh” that must be discarded if they run counter to the Scripture.

I suggest an alternative approach that has stood the test of time in the Church: The Doctrine of the Two Books.

This doctrine has its Scriptural foundation in Psalm 19. The first stanza describes the first of the two books, the Book of Nature:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. (vv 1 - 4, ESV)

The second stanza describes the second book, the Book of Scripture:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple (v 7, ESV)

Tertullian was the first church father to describe this doctrine:

“We conclude that God is known first through Nature, and then again, more particularly, by doctrine; by Nature in His works, and by doctrine in His revealed word.” [Adversus Marcionem, I, 18]

It is quite significant that Galileo quoted this very passage when he contended that the doctrine of geocentrism, so plainly taught by literal reading of Scripture, must be reconsidered when confronted with strong scientific evidence.

Tertullian was not alone in teaching the doctrine of the Two Books. Other proponents included:

  • Justin Martyr, Irenaeus (source)
  • Clement, Origen (source)
  • Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, John Cassian, John Chrysostom, Ephrem the Syrian, Maximus the Confessor (source)
  • John Scottus Eriugena, Hugh of Saint Victor, Saint Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas (source)
  • Francis Bacon (source)
  • Martin Luther, John Calvin (source)

This is a veritable Hall of Fame in Christian thought!

The doctrine of the Two Books took on great importance in the Reformation because scientific discoveries created upheaval in what had been previously thought established by Scripture. Rusbult explains:

We should agree that in holy scripture the main purpose is to help us understand spiritual realities, but is this the only purpose? Do any passages in the Bible contain scientific information that should be used in our scientific theories? Or should we use information from nature to help us interpret the passages? When thinking about these questions, one useful principle is illustrated by changes in our theories about the solar system:

In 1500, we had a coherent system of false beliefs. Everyone thought that planetary motions were earth-centered, and that the Bible taught this science. Our interpretations of nature and scripture were both wrong, but they agreed with each other and were thus in harmony.

In 1620, there were debates among scientists, who didn’t agree with each other about how to interpret nature. And there were debates about how to interpret scripture; some theologians, but not others, agreed with Galileo’s interpretation of biblical passages that seem to indicate a moving sun and stable earth, when he said “the intention of the Holy Spirit is to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” At this time, some interpretations of nature conflicted with some interpretations of scripture. { In addition, scientists and theologians were influenced by other factors, including personal interests and Aristotelian philosophy. }

In 1700, science and theology were again in harmony, with both agreeing that planetary motions are sun-centered. But unlike 200 years earlier, now both interpretations corresponded to the reality in nature and scripture, and were therefore true.

What was the change in theology? In 1500, people claimed that the Bible teaches an earth-centered universe when it says “the sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises,” when it describes a mobile sun that “rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other” and a stationary earth: “the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5, Psalm 19:6, Psalm 93:1) In 1700, almost everyone agreed that the Bible authors were simply describing what seems to be happening when we observe the sun, just as we now talk about a sunrise or sunset.

What caused this change? Our interpretation of the Bible was influenced by information from nature, interpreted using science. This influence was beneficial, since it helped us recognize that in these passages the Bible was not making a scientific statement teaching us “how the heavens go.”

I respectfully disagree, @Anyman, that we are dealing with a conflict between science and Scripture here. I find myself agreeing with Rusbult that the issue we face is a conflict is between differing interpretations of Scripture.

What we learn from the Book of Nature can help us interpret the Book of Scripture more faithfully. In the same way that scientific observations helped early Reformers like Kepler and Galileo to more faithfully interpret Ecclesiastes 1:5, Psalm 19:6, and Psalm 93:1, the observations of paleontology and biology can help us more faithfully interpret the early chapters of Genesis today.

@SonsofThunder - I hope that you, along with Dr. Rohr, find this doctrine of the Two Books to be helpful!

Grace and peace,
Chris Falter

Edits: Some formatting; link to Rusbult essay

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Indeed. And I think it is a conflict of where we have placed our faith, whether our faith is in our OWN knowledge and our OWN reading of scripture or in the understanding of God and what HE continues to teach us in the earth and sky!

But that requires us to be open to God teaching us how to interpret the scriptures rather than making our doctrines and our understanding of scripture into the god we follow. John 5:39 “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me.” So Jesus tells us that the scriptures are a poor replacement for God Himself.

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“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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