When Small-Town Faith Meets Big-City Science: A Personal Reflection


(Jay Johnson) #21

Your medical training apparently did not include a class on hermeneutics. Strange. I thought it was part of the curriculum at all medical schools.

And just how did God communicate with Adam and Eve? Did he write things down and pass them notes to read? Did he speak with them face to face, as with Moses? Do you walk with God in the cool of the garden? Have you heard his voice?

Or do you, like Augustine and the rest of us, have to pursue your understanding of the Scriptures “as a son of Adam in the sweat of my brow … Where the discovery is laborious my ardor is increased, and the spoil obtained is eagerly devoured, and is hidden in my heart for my nourishment.”

It is sanctimonious and snarky to characterize those who have spent their lives in the study of Scripture as “secular ANE experts.” I, for one, am thankful for these faithful servants of the Lord, whose labor equips all of us to serve the Lord better. As Paul said in Eph. 4:11-16 –

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”


(Phil) #22

I apologize for such, and certainly am guilty as charged at times. It is difficult to say, “No you are wrong and here is why” without it coming off as confrontational and snarky at times, but that is the nature of an open forum, and so long as ideas are confronted and personal attacks avoided, some latitude is given. Bear in mind that the discussion forum Is comprised of varied individuals, and may not represent Biologos. For that, look to published articles on the main site.
In any case, your observations and comments are welcomed, just do not expect them to go unchallenged. We all need to heed the many verses that encourage humility. There are probably so many because we have such a problem with it. This one spoke to me this morning as we seek wisdom in such things, from Proverbs 11:2:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.


(Randy) #23

There is an interesting Christian precedent here, isn’t there? It used to be that “pagan” meant those from the country, didn’t it? They were mainly the outliers who still worshipped the old Roman gods while Christianity flourished in the main cities.

So, the advantage works both ways, doesn’t it? .Humility both ways helps in communication. Good illustration, Mr Kramer.

I appreciate @jpm’s humility. I’m an MD, as well. Science is so broad that medicine is a terrific way of illustrating how much we have to rely on consulting others with more training in a different specialty to learn more. I certainly have a lot to learn.

God bless.


(Colin Eakin) #24

Thank you for your kind words.

  1. Meretricious was indeed misspelled. The correction is duly noted. It was a simple after midnight mistake that was not corrected prior to posting.
  2. It is interesting to me that you found I used that word previously in a Biologos post. I was not meaning to be supercilious nor redundant. And i meant no implication of harlotry (I was not aware of the origins of the term when I used it). It is the only word I know to convey a concept which might seem appealing and worthwhile on first blush, only to find that its underpinnings are feeble or absent. I know of no synonym for this. It remains my description regarding the paradigm of uniformitarianism, especially when Scripture tells us that it is erroneous to presume all things have always operated as they do now and will continue to do so (2 Peter 3:3-4).
  3. I do apologize that my remarks lacked the humility I would like to see in others. am sorry for this. I think I was especially incensed by the implication in the title of the article, and let my indignation get the better of me. Please forgive me for my tone (I did read the article, and not merely “troll” it, as was charged).
  4. The challenge to my comments was expected, for obvious reasons. Hopefully, you as well will acknowledge that as long as Biologos articles continue (in my opinion) to mislead (in my opinion) by explaining the Bible away from its apparent meaning in the vain attempt to get God off the hook from His Bible writers, it will trigger similar rebuttals. I am not sure what value the “conversation” has. Perhaps it will lead to a better understanding of each other’s perspective. More likely (in my opinion), it puts us on record for one side or the other before God, in which case I plead for mercy from God for both.

(Christy Hemphill) #25

I think maybe this is what confused people, because the actual content of the article takes issue with the very attitude you thought the title implied. It was critical of a reporter’s condescending, patronizing tone toward small town American values and beliefs and tried to offer a sympathetic defense of the people who feel condescended to by this attitude. Brad was trying to explain why simply trotting in a big city museum exhibit is not the best way to engage smaller rural communities, not saying that there was something deficient and defective about them. I’m a city girl and I found the article instructive and convicting of my own prejudices and stereotypes.


(Phil) #26

I can appreciate your viewpoint, but feel our musings about such things will not be placed on the balance when we come before God, but rather the scene will as described in Matthew 25:31 and following. Not to say that it is unimportant that we have accurate theology, as that may well determine how our lives influence others.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #27

I sincerely apologize for falsely accusing you of not having read the article, and also for taking offense myself. I’m genuinely caught off guard by your humble and gracious tone. I aspire to take such a high road more often.

Oddly, I actually felt the term was quite a clever fit for the critique brought by the average YEC believer, which doesn’t use the term “harlotry” but could — namely that we EC / TE folks are “playing the harlot” like Israel in the time of the prophets, running after the foreign gods of Science and Academic Respectability and Peer Review and leaving the God of our youth. No matter how many times we explain that we are merely attempting to read Scripture carefully in its context while maintaining its high authority and that that search is what leads us to be able to embrace evolution, such that hermeneutics is the driver and evolutionary science the passenger… no matter how many times we insist on this, we often get these accusations (or assumptions) that we think science trumps Scripture and that we’re dropping every Christian distinctive in some hell-bent rush for relevance. And you know, if that were really the case, there would be few things more biblical than calling that harlotry! It’s just not what we’re doing.


(Jay Johnson) #28

I second that emotion. Is it coincidence that song was by The Miracles? Haha.

You speak like someone who has never read Ecclesiastes:

3 What benefit do people get from all the effort
which they expend on earth?
4 A generation comes and a generation goes,
but the earth remains the same through the ages.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets;
it hurries away to a place from which it rises again.
6 The wind goes to the south and circles around to the north;
round and round the wind goes and on its rounds it returns.
7 All the streams flow into the sea, but the sea is not full,
and to the place where the streams flow, there they will flow again.
8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it:
The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing.
9 What exists now is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing truly new on earth.

Peter doesn’t argue against uniformitarianism. He doesn’t even challenge the scoffers’ main complaint, which is that long stretches of time pass by when it seems like nothing is happening, like God will not fulfill his promise. In reply, Peter simply points out what the scoffers have forgotten, which is that God has intervened previously, and he will do so once more, when the curtain will fall on history as we know it.


(Darek Barefoot) #29

Brad, I enjoyed reading your comments. The vast majority of my Christian friends view evolution as demonic nonsense. If they ask me directly, I will tell them that I believe evolultion is one of God’s means of creation. But if I went around advertising it, I would have almost no Christian friends and no church to attend–unless you count those like the one behind my house, which says, “We draw on the wisdom of Jesus, Buddha, and others.” Or the local RC church, which I respectfully differ with in certain areas.

The scientific evidence had a great deal to do with my own change in viewpoint many years ago. And lack of courage on my part in not facing it honestly sooner. There’s no one, single way people change in their beliefs. However, I have a big problem with people who profess to love truth in every area and serve Him who embodies truth not only refusing to face scientific truth, but condemning those who do. And though I love them, I don’t excuse them with the culture war. I don’t let my younger self off the hook either.

In most cases, NOTHING will change them short of a miracle. So, pray for miracles. Outside of that it’s hopeless–as laudable as efforts like those of Biologos may be.


(Dr. Ted Davis) #30

Hi, Colin,

I’m glad to see that you apologized for saying this–and that others apologized to you as well–because last year we not only exchanged views here, but also exchanged some private correspondence in which I do not recall either of us being snarky or sanctimonious. Tone is extremely important to us at BL. It would in fact be fair to say that our first commandment is to watch what we say, and how we say it.

As I said to you then, Colin, please do share your views with us. We have no monopoly on truth.


(Dr. Ted Davis) #31

Yes, Messiah still has a distinct Anabaptist flavor. For example, we have a peacemaking minor and an annual visiting lectureship devoted to Anabaptist topics (named for my late, enormously respected colleague, theologian Martin Schrag), among many other concrete examples I could offer.

Messiah is technically in Mechanicsburg, but only b/c the US Postal Service forced us to start using that zip code a few years ago. Prior to that exercise of federal authority, we were officially in the village of Grantham–not on many printed maps, even though the college usually is. Grantham might have more than a thousand residents, if we include domestic pets. The college dwarfs it.

I am in the midst of reading final papers from students in a course about Darwin, evolution, and God. See my series of columns for BL on that exact theme as well as the series on science and the Bible, and you get a sense of where that goes. Quite a few of my students are Anabaptists, but the majority are Christians of other types–including recently some Catholics from Africa. I don’t try to persuade my students that BL is right about origins, but I do try to change the strong anti-evolution attitudes that many of my students (not usually the Catholics) bring to the class. The final papers are based closely on this brand new book, which features chapters by (among others) both Ken Ham and Deb Haarsma: https://www.zondervan.com/four-views-on-creation-evolution-and-intelligent-design

I’m extremely happy with the results, more so than I had expected or hoped. Most of the students engage the diverse views accurately, fairly, and without rancor. Compared with what so many of my students hear in their home churches, where (they tell me) it’s AiG vs the devil, I’m simply delighted to see them do their own thinking–regardless of where they end up, including those who find YEC the most persuasive position in that book.


(Jay Johnson) #32

I’m extremely happy to hear that you teach such a course! And not at all surprised by your results! Hang in there, brother!


(Dave Hughes) #33

I agree, trust is needed. I’m a young earth person, been to Creation seminars… Was made to feel stupid back in the '80’s because I didn’t believe in evolution. The chairman of the District Ministry Board wanted me to go to a “liberal” seminary to get my views on evolution straightened out (of course his view of scripture and mine were significantly different). I’m on this website because I highly respect Francis Collins and a great Christian high school science teacher friend. I heard Francis speak at a conference in Chicago in the '90’s? and recently read a talk he’d given that spoke of this organization. I need to be able to “trust” the Christians I talk with if I’m going to be “converted” to this view point. I clearly don’t understand the science but I do know something about scripture and what I learn needs to fit into that framework. I’ll be the first to admit that if I’d been a preacher when folks believed the world was flat I would have been able to give you a scriptural confirmation that the world was flat. Clearly scripture I would have interpreted as giving evidence for a flat earth needed to be reviewed. The same will have to happen for me to be an “old earth” person.


(Christy Hemphill) #34

Welcome to the forum, Dave. Hopefully you will meet some Christians you can trust, and those interactions will be edifying not intimidating or humiliating, whether or not you change your mind about anything. People can get carried away by their passion for various aspects of the origins debate, but we should never lose sight of the common ground we share in Christ and the common mission we have of proclaiming his lordship to a broken world. Feel free to start a new thread on any topic you would like to hear more about or any question you don’t think you’ve heard a good answer for.