The Fool and the Heretic - Todd Wood and Darrel Falk


(Curtis Henderson) #1

I couldn’t decide if this should go in the “science” or “theology” category, so I chose neither :slight_smile:. Todd Wood and Darrel Falk wrote a book together that I believe will be of interest to a lot of people here. I ran across a short interview (click here) that increased my curiosity.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Thanks for that link. Just reading their interview about the book was a good showcase of something important. Christians disagreeing and maintaining fellowship. That is an important skill for Christians to have today.


(Laura) #3

Interesting link – thanks for sharing. I’ve always wondered how Todd Wood fits in within the YEC idea framework considering he seems to do a reasonable job of speaking up against their worst arguments and propaganda.


(Randy) #4

Thank you! This book reinforces that while we disagree with the interpretation of science, we would still all sit down in church together, worship together (yes, same pew) and take Communion together! @Cornelius_Hunter, @aarceng, @Marty, @WilliamDJ, @Ashwin_s, @DennisVenema, @glipsnort


(Curtis Henderson) #5

I had hoped that working together on this project might help a rather unconventional YEC like Todd Wood realize that an acceptance of evolution does not automatically equate to a Christianity without foundation. A quote from the interview suggests that he is still not entirely convinced.

Putting evolution and Christianity together can definitely yield heresy, but part of my journey with Darrel has been the unsettling and unnerving discovery of genuine Christians trying to hold the orthodox gospel and evolution together. Darrel isn’t quite the heretic others take him for. Actually, he’s a decent, kind gentleman, and as far as I can see, he’s a real Christian.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the quote, but the fact that he thinks Darrel isn’t quite the heretic others take him for is concerning. Apparently Darrel still qualifies as a heretic, just not as much as some people think. He also mentions that Darrel is decent and kind, as though surprised by this discovery. I do imagine I’ll read the book, but the interview left me disappointed.


(Curtis Henderson) #6

Oh, I even missed a deeper point - “as far as I can see, he’s a real Christian”. Was that seriously something Todd had to truly see to believe??! And he still ends with a qualifier!


(Phil) #7

I thought his statement about the " unsettling and unnerving discovery of genuine Christians trying to hold the orthodox gospel and evolution together" was rather unsettling myself, as it was seen as " unnerving" to think that there might be a Christian who accepted evolution. i’m sure some of that is just rhetorical hyperbole, but it still reflects the opinions of some. Still, a very positive conversation. Unfortunately, I understand that his position has resulted in Dr. Woods being marginalized by the YEC community in some respects.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #8

I hear you. On the other hand, these qualifiers are probably no worse than what YECs feel is being done to them in forums like this one. Sure we may not say that their faith isn’t real - but claiming that they are dishonest, insincere, willfully ignorant, etc. carries about the same emotional sting and potential ostracism as the other. So overall (at least just from the book-review interview we saw here) I thought it a positive example of learning to live with a bit of that sting and not break ultimate fellowship over it. Just as families (if they persevere in the task) learn to live with each other despite persistent disagreements.

Of course, it remains to be seen if that fellowship can have enduring substance. If I was a gambling man, I’d probably put dollars to the dime that Falk and Wood not only do not attend the same church, but probably attend churches that are very much not like each others. It’s one thing to concede to a “passing-someone” on the net that their faith may be genuine and quite another to happily send your kids to the same Sunday school with theirs.


(Joel Duff) #9

I recently wrote a review of this book. I do recommend the book highly. Those thoughts are here: https://thenaturalhistorian.com/2019/01/30/book-review-the-fool-and-the-heretic-by-todd-charles-wood-and-darrel-r-falk/
I am writing more extended critique of the book that I will publish at some point next week.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #10

Now, I have been wrong with this sort of charitable reading before, and, mind you, I haven’t watched the video yet, but reading what you quoted, I see this as potentially tailoring his message to his base.

For most of my adult life now, my faith has been in a pigeonhole-resistant moderate space where liberals think I’m painfully conservative and conservatives (if they know my positions) think I’m painfully liberal. I know the tightrope walk of speaking to conservatives about a potentially problematic position and hedging.

If Wood were to wholeheartedly endorse Darrel as an unproblematic brother in Christ, he would lose a lot of his target audience and furthermore open himself up to serious attacks on his bona fides. On the other hand, if he says what you reported him saying, then he may convince some skeptics to nudge their way closer to his position without losing them. It’s a gamble, but he may figure folks in the BioLogos tent will appreciate the irenic gesture and not hit back too hard. (Hey, for this BioLogos-inclined guy, anyway, it works!)

That’s how I read it, but YMMV.

Blessings,
Andrew

[Edited b/c I just noticed Darrel’s name has only one L.]


(Curtis Henderson) #11

Perhaps you are correct, but he is already persona non grata with AiG and ICR for admitting that evidence supports evolution very well. I’m not sure he would have much more to lose by unreservedly accepting Darrel as a brother in Christ.


(Curtis Henderson) #12

Thanks, @Joel_Duff, I appreciate the review. It does put me in a mindset more likely to read the book.


(Randy) #13

Exactly the phrase going through my head–for the title of both sides, too.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #14

They are missing the real point.

The fact is: The Bible is not the inerrant Word of God. Jesus Christ is the perfect Logos of God. There is no way that some one who thinks that the universe was created in eons of time is a heretic.

It is good the two get along, but a serious scandal that there should be this problem, and even worse that evangelicals overwhelmingly support Donald Trump.


(Marty) #15

Totally agree, Randy! Thanks.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #16

Not if some “Christians” go around calling other Christians “heretics” if they, so to speak, “believe” in evolution. Many people who believe in the Word of God are legalists who keep a list of people that they believe cannot be real Christians, like Democrats.


(Randy) #17

That’s such a difficult conundrum. I take comfort in the idea that “heretic” means simply believing differently; not necessarily to be condemned to hell. It reminds me of Tevye’s (in Fiddler on the Roof) statement, “If I try and bend that far, I’ll break.” There are more parallels. If you remember, a Christian had married his daughter. He had already made several compromises with his tradition in accommodating his other two daughters who had married, but realized that with this, he could not accept the Christian, nor his own daughter Havilah who married him. It tore his family apart, but his own faith was at stake. It’s hard for us to understand for others (see also this wonderful post by Dr Zamzow https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/4-strategies-for-having-fruitful-conversations-about-science-and-origins ), but in the long run, he did come around and said, “God be with you,” to them, as he left for America. It takes years (probably a decade in my case) to come to the evolution point of view (though I accepted it as an option earlier). Thanks. :slight_smile:

At any rate, we’ll have eternity to figure out how to have Communion together!


(Shawn T Murphy) #18

Dear Curtis,
Thank you for posting this. I have been labeled a heretic many times in many Christian circles for similar views as Falk discusses.

I think that the scientific data informs us of the “how” of creation, whereas the Bible tells us of the “who” and the “why.” Todd thinks the Bible addresses all three.
Second, I think that the evidence of God having created the universe and all life forms over billions of years, not seven days, is overwhelmingly strong and this helps me decide that the genre of the creation account is not literalistic.

This is the most important point about the synergy between science and theology. Science and logic can help to determine which parts of the Bible are literal and which are not. But in my experience, it takes more than science to logically determine the meaning of the non-literal passages - uncovering the why’s.

There seems to be wide agreement that the world was not created in the literal seven days on Biologos, but I have not seen a logical explanation posted here of why the Yawhehist described the creation story as seven days. What meaning did he place on the days? This is the direction of my inquiry into the science, religion and philosophy.


(Joel Duff) #19

A couple of other notes about "The Fool and the Heretic." It was suggested above that Wood was careful in his language as a way of tailoring his words to his base. I can understand how it may appear that way but I doubt that is the case here. His base is awfully small. He really is an outside with respect to the dominant YEC forces. I think he is just being honest with his feelings.

Now honestly doesn’t mean he is right in his thinking. My positive review of the book was not to mean that either or both authors were correct in their assessment of the science or even each other. What is on display are what each of them is thinking about each other and what they perceive each to represent. Its is a valuable exercise to see two people grappling with their own motives and their partners motives. I found myself frustrated throughout the book saying No your wrong here, here and here or why can’t you see how you are misunderstanding each other. But it’s a helpful exercise to see two people reflect on the process of dialogue and that is the value of the book.

Here is a bit of what I’ve written (draft form that hasn’t been published yet) for my follow-up article that digs a bit deeper into where I think the book falls short:


There is an asymmetry in the authors standing in their respective communities

The book strikes a hopeful tone that respective dialogue and communion can exist among Christians with opposite views on the issue of origins and the age of the earth. Can this introspective look into the development of a richer and deeper dialogue really be an example to the larger community of Christian scientists with opposing views? Although Wood and Falk demonstrate that such dialogue is possible I am not as hopeful that their experience will be more broadly applied. The problem is that their situation may be atypical. Todd Wood is an outsider in the young-earth community and has been willing to criticize the young-earth establishment while Darrel Falk is an insider in the evolutionary creationist’ community. As a result the model in this book is not easily transferred to the interactions of any YEC and evolutionary creationist.

What does it say about young-earth scientists working at established YEC ministries that it was only a person outside of the mainline YEC organizations that has been willing to plunge into these dangerous waters? Unfortunately, I expect that rather than hailing this book as a step forward, the YEC established will either ignore this book (the most likely scenario) or they will interpret Todd Wood’s responses as fitting the “foolish” moniker. Either response would be a shame and a missed opportunity for self inspection on their part. It’s a big step forward. It shows a path for Christian fellowship even in dispute. The type of fellowship that, even if both feel the other is damaging the church, minimizes that damage and eventually may lead to a measure of healing.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #20

I agree. Heretic does not mean condemned to hell. It means disagreement, but I think there are in a sense two types a disagreement. One is with those outside the family of faith and the other with those inside the family of faith.

The one we are speaking of in this blog is within the family of faith, between the Fool YEC and the Heretic Theistic Evolutionary Creation. The problem is not the science, even though we pretend it is. The problem is that some Christians believe that the Bible must be understood in a particular manner that is unique in the Christian family. and set this up as the test for Christian faith, which it is not.

The problem here then is that the side which is calling the other heretic is out of step with the rest of Christianity and needs to reassess its position, which it won’t as long as it calls others heretics. If it disagrees with others on particular basic doctrines, it needs to discuss these separately.

Christians and Jews are somewhat different. They came from the same family, so there is a closeness, but we have been separate for a long time. Sadly intermarriage does sometimes create divisions in families, which we must work to overcome without blurring the differences between the two faiths.