Theological reasons for believing in evolution


Every time you open the Bible you have to make interpretative decisions that consider the literary style, authorial intent and historical context. The plain reading often fails short. Do you believe that Jesus is literally a vine?

(John Warren) #22

A vine was a well known symbol to Jews of Jesus’s day, and therefore was obviously a metaphor. Genesis reads like a narrative, with all those vav-consecutives, action statements, and time references. Why wouldn’t you take it at face value? An easy rule is, take the text’s straightforward meaning if you can. Metaphors and grand symbols punctuated here and there in someone’s discourse are pretty easy to deal with.

Evolutionary theory didn’t come along until millennia after God told people through Genesis 1-2 how long Creation took, and through the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 just how long ago all that was. So those poor hearers of God’s infallible word were in the dark, where they had to think, “Hmm, God’s spent a lot of ink explain how the cosmos came about. But I don’t think this text means what it says at face value. To bad we don’t have someone to explain scientifically how it really happened.” Or you have to posit some alternative standard of the way about Hebrews read a text which involves quite a bit of gymnastics.

(Mitchell W McKain) #23

EXACTLY! It does NOT read like a science text! Historical? YES! Literal? NO!

Because the names of those trees sound more like metaphors than real trees. If I say a place is full of lying snakes and nosy rats are you really going to take this at face value as referring to fauna? Well “life” and “knowledge” don’t fit any better in conjunction with trees unless you are just telling a fairy tale in which the listener is not expected to really believe such things exist.

That is like saying an elementary school teacher is lying because he doesn’t get into the details of quantum field theory. It is not just a matter of accuracy. It is a question of what they need to know at the time and what is actually meant to be communicated. Nothing in Genesis even begins to suggest that this text is in any way intended to explain HOW God created the universe and everything in it, as if it were some kind of “creation for dummies” book.

(John Warren) #24

You’re asserting that the two trees didn’t exist except as part of a fairy tale. What’s your basis for this assertion?

I partially agree with you: God tells us that He created humanity from dirt. And he created things relatively instantaneously (in the space of days and in a certain order), but He didn’t tell us how He did all this, because, as you say, this is not a science textbook.

Who are you and Pete Enns and Walter Kaiser and Karl Gibson and to determine the bounds of what God wanted to convey in Gen. 1-11 and what the early faithful needed to know, especially if you end up, with this hermeneutic, upending the plain meaning of the text?

What if I said I think all those Resurrection and Appearance stories of Jesus were simply to convey the real truth that Jesus lives on in our hearts, since we all know that people don’t rise from the dead? That’s where your hermeneutic takes you.

(John Warren) #25

Quantum Field Theory?? The idea that the Earth was created in 6 days 6000 years ago is not an advanced concept. Anyone can can grasp it.

(John Warren) #26

How can you compare the level of detail in quantum Field Theory with the amazing simplicity of the Genesis Creation account?
These are pretty basic facts being presented in the text. Ones that elementary school teachers would be confident that their students would grasp. The whole “Genesis is not a science textbook” is a mantra and a canard.

(Mitchell W McKain) #27

No that is not what I am asserting. But the basis of my assertion is the names of the trees. As metaphors they sound like an explanation of something real, but as trees they sound like something in a fairy tale, just like talking animals. So the same applies to the snake. Representing the angel Lucifer as the snake does in most of Christian theology, this story then becomes an explanation for the fall of man, but insisting on an actual talking snake makes it sound more like the Walt Disney movie “Robin Hood.”

No. Genesis tells us that God created a single man Adam from dust. As a science text explaining how God did things this makes no sense whatsoever. But if I tried to describe making things from elementary particles, the word “dust” might be as close as I can get to this. And besides the pretty obvious incorporation of the narrative into a homily about a day of rest, there really isn’t any talk the time God’s actions took. After all, what do the words, “morning,” “evening,” and “day” all mean mean before there was even a sun?

We are people who God presumably wants to communicate something to. If that is what this book is, then how can we not make our determinations about God is trying to convey in this text? What the text conveys certainly does depend on the genre. If it is just a comic book, then magic fruit and talking snakes work just fine. But if this is supposed to be something relevant to our lives in the modern word beyond mere entertainment for children then these will not do it. Actually, if this originated in a fireside tale shared with the whole community, as I think it was, then it was probably intended to serve both purposes at the same time.

Then I would say you are entitled to your opinion. But as for me, I would say that violations of the laws of nature are not required for the miraculous. A lot of things can look like death, and CPR might look like you are resurrecting someone from the dead if you are not familiar with it.

You were the one complaining about Genesis not explaining scientifically how it really happened. QFT has a great deal to do with how science answers that question these days. Since 6 days and 6000 years does not fit the evidence, then that would hardly fit the bill of a scientific explanation.

(John Warren) #28

So are you saying Jesus didn’t really die?

(John Warren) #29

No, I’m not complaining that Genesis isn’t a scientific explanation. I’m complaining against the notion that taking Genesis 1-2 at face value means asserting some detailed scientific explanation.

(Mitchell W McKain) #30

Nope. Obviously I was a little careless in reading your response. Sorry about that. I go with Paul in 1 Cor 15 where he takes great pains to explain that resurrection is to a spiritual body and not to a physical body. So in cases where it is a physical body like Lazarus then no I don’t think they died according to the modern understanding of the word. But when we are talking about Jesus then yes he died and was resurrected to a spiritual body, which explains a number of things about the narrative, like why it was more difficult to recognize him and how He appeared in a room without opening the door.

I don’t believe I did any such thing. I object to treating Genesis as a science text as if it were giving a detailed explanation of how God did things. But I think I made it clear that if you do read this in a naively literal way then the result is a comic book or a fairy tale.

(Mitchell W McKain) #31

Perhaps part of the problem is that discussion is getting mixed up with the other discussions going on. For example I didn’t respond to the first question you asked me.

Because like I said, earlier in the post, design is incompatible with the nature of life. When that is removed then the only kind of creator of life are like these other examples we see in the world.

The whole “read the Bible in a straightforward manner” would be your mantra. But like jasonbourne said this attempt to pretend there are no interpretive decisions going on is a tactic of rhetoric and pure deception.

As for it being a canard, that is total nonsense. If you read the actual history of response in Europe to Darwin’s book the reactions by the clergy are predominantly positive including the very first written response. It is only in America where many Christians had this habit of reading Genesis like a science textbook that conflict arose. It is not a myth, but a fact of history.

Does Nature Need To Be Redeemed?