Tunnel vision regarding Genesis


(Phil) #1

I was reading here this morning, seeing the same questions and same answers posted that I saw a year or two ago, and making much the same comments, and wondered if we get tunnel vision, spending too much time on Genesis to the detriment of our understanding of how the rest of the Bible relates to the faith -science interface.
We spend the time there of course, because that is where a lot of the controversy lies, and because that is what the other factions in the discussion focus on, but ultimately it is a rather small part of where we live our lives, and perhaps we should give more attention to those other parts of life and how scripture relates and how it impacts us in the world of science, since that is the part of life the site is about.
Of course, all of this is mostly what I am telling myself, but thought I would share. We need to look less at beginnings, and more at growth and development. Less milk, more meat. Or less cereal, more broccoli perhaps for the vegans among us.
As we look at Jesus, he only referred to the first of Genesis obliquely to clarify the marriage relationship, and quoted Psalms most often, showing this imbalance we give the first chapters of Genesis.
What are your thoughts? Should we spend more time in other areas? What topics would you like to see discussed that directly affect how you live life, particularly in how it affects you regarding science and faith?


(Randy) #2

Great point. For example, what is it that makes people like Francis Collins decide to follow Jesus? How are we to find that knowledge of God, and putting that love of Him into use by loving our neighbor, is an outgrowth of science?

I like how @jasonbourne4 leads a Bible study at his practice. One of my partners does at ours, as well. It’s not just Bible study–serving your parents as @beaglelady does, your students as @Mervin_Bitikofer and @Jay313 your children and church as many others do @Elle, @Christy, @pevaquark, @Korvexius (they have many other things, I’m sure). It’s often those who keep doing what God wants us to do, putting the book of James and 1 John into practice without fanfare or praise of men, that find God is there.


#3

Perhaps instead of tunnel visioning Genesis, we should take discussion Genesis and turn it into a wide plain, even including how we act in the world. I think there’s an extraordinary amount of archetypes and symbolic representation in Genesis that tells us how to act our lives in the world, and this discussion has been recently opened up by Jordan Peterson in his famous biblical lectures.

I think this is a good new way to move forwards.


(Randy) #4

Good idea. I’ll plan on watching it tonight if possible. That, and NT Wright studies? Other meat?


(Haywood Clark) #5

What strikes me as odd is the avoidance of actual science by creationists. I would think that if I truly believed that creationism or ID was correct, it would draw me in deeply to science and closer to God, as science does.

Instead the opposite occurs.


(Randy) #6

Yeah, but I think we can learn from each other. They are our brothers and sisters, after all. And I have to confess that lately, I’ve not been focusing on God’s word as much. I really need to get back into that.


(Haywood Clark) #7

How do you teach anything to someone who refuses to go any deeper?


(Randy) #8

Well, looking back at my time as a YEC, I was afraid of losing my salvation with thinking outside the box. It was only when an evolutionary Christian confronted me with our mutual faith and the fact that I wasn’t being fair to her or the science that I listened. I thought, first of all, that I should be Christlike–and I wasn’t being that. Todd Wood has a good reputation for talking with EC that way from a YEC standpoint.

Maybe that’s a spot for another thread.

At any rate, I think that we can go deeper into faith and reading the Bible. I liked @Christy’s idea of a verse for review. Biologos has done a great job discussing evolution and faith; but maybe we need to discuss faith from a deeper standpoint–the one that Francis Collins found himself following. I know the moderators are deep in that way. Maybe @jpm has other thoughts. Do you?


(Randy) #9

What passages do people feel appropriate? I’m currently memorizing the following Proverbs (with the hopes I’ll improve)

  1. Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them. Prov 29:20

  2. Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Prov 29:25

  3. A man’s pride brings him low;
    but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Prov 29:23


(RiderOnTheClouds) #10

What matters about Genesis is not how true it is, but rather the lessons we can learn from it. In my opinion, as a Christian Virtue Ethicist, Genesis 1:26 is the foundation of Christian ethics in my opinion, which is less about trying to avoid hell (salvation is through faith, not works, though works do show our faith) and more about trying to achieve a Godlike/Christlike character, and thus achieving eudaimonia, both in this life and the next.

7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths (be like God).” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:6)

This theology of becoming like God is in my opinion derived from the fact that man is made in God’s image.


(Haywood Clark) #11

That’s exactly what I mean. Did this Christian start with the very nature of science, or with the evidence for evolution? It seems that the former has a better chance of succeeding than the latter when dealing with a firmly closed mind.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #12

Here is my explanation and defence of Christian virtue ethics here;


(Christy Hemphill) #13

@Randy I think you make an excellent point that we can get fixated on the passages that seem most relevant to debated origins positions and not realize that the same approach to Scripture that informs an EC origins position (i.e. understanding the cultural context and conceptualizations of the original audience and trying to hear the message that transcends time and culture and act on it with an attitude of obedience and worship) can also bring lots of insight to the rest of Scripture.

I am involved in a curriculum project that BioLogos is developing for high schoolers (You can read Kathryn’s plug for it here) and we are writing devotional/Bible study segments that focus on different Christian virtues applied to a particular question or topic in science. We wanted to avoid that tunnel vision you speak of where every Bible passage was some kind of EC take on a debated position. So, for example; we reflect on gentleness when we are talking about creation care, faith when we are talking about ways of knowing, wisdom when we are talking about reproductive tech, self-control when we are talking about the extent of human authority over nature. It has been good for me to meditate on these core aspects of Christian character and how they inform how we act in the world in light of the knowledge science gives us.

We can get caught up in the idea that truth is something we know, which is part of what truth is. But, I was reading in a book by John Sanders (I found a similar passage on his blog here) that at one point Paul uses truth as a verb in Eph 4:15. Since we can’t do that in English, it gets translated “speak truth,” but that changes the concept a bit. We are supposed to do truth, it’s our way of life. I would echo what Reggie and Randy have alluded to that if you want to “do truth” God’s way, you need to meditate on his word and let it shape your life and choices.


(Randy) #14

Thanks, @Christy. Maybe you can share some insights from that sometime.

I was just listening to Praveen Sethupathy’s talk about truth from the Biologos conference 2017 about the nature of truth from both the Bible," Quid est Veritas" (What is Truth?"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6ffOQ4gdDY

The Matthew 5 Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount seem to be the quintessential practical social justice exhortation.
The Beatitudes

5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

The Law and the Prophets

17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[c] not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks[d] one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Concerning Anger

21 ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[e] you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult[f] a brother or sister,[g] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell[h] of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister[i] has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[j] and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court[k] with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Concerning Adultery

27 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.[l] 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.[m]

Concerning Divorce

31 ‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Concerning Oaths

33 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.[n]

Concerning Retaliation

38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


(John F. Davis) #15

As an ordinary Christian who trusts the Bible and accepts evolution, I believe the extra attention paid to Genesis 1 is not tunnel vision, but is justified for evangelism and for our children. Knowledgeable people can dismiss the authority of the Bible when the opening chapters appear to be fake history. Students’ faith can be challenged even when the subject is introduced by a sympathetic teacher. (Just for the record, I like John Walton’s “Lost World” explanation but don’t want to sidetrack this discussion.)


(Randy) #16

Thanks. I am sorry–I completely agree that discussing Genesis is really important–it’s the bedrock of the Biologos (and AiG and ID, RTB I guess) review. It’s only by reading with Biologos and Lamoureux, Boyd and Enns that I’ve gotten more comfortable with that. I guess that I was agreeing with @jpm that it’s not just Genesis that is important; and since the Scriptures are related, maybe there’s a richness that comes from incorporating all of that.

I haven’t read Walton yet, though I heard a review at Onscript. I am not sure I fully understand his take on the violence in the OT, but from what I hear, he’s great. I think if you post a new thread on John Walton, I’ll learn a lot–I’ll keep an eye out for that.

I’m pretty ordinary too, despite my funny picture. Nice to meet you; correct me at will. Thanks.


(John F. Davis) #17

Thanks, Randy. I also am not quite convinced by John Walton’s understanding of Joshua.


(Phil) #18

I agree that that is a huge problem. A problem that is realized when people come to think that what they were taught as history is indeed not true. Would it not be better if they were to realize that it is not history? That is not to say it is not important, just that it is not history


(Randy) #19

Yes. With great respect, I am going to have a LOT of questions for God in Heaven some day–about why it’s all so complicated.–unless the whole point of what we need to learn is that God is God, and the ability to recognize ANE vs “plain reading” of Genesis isn’t that important, after all. Like Rich Mullins said

“I can’t see how You’re leading me
Unless You’ve led me here
To where I’m lost enough to let myself be led”


(Christy Hemphill) #20

2 posts were split to a new topic: The fossil record fits best with progressive creation