Why Christians Don’t Need to Be Threatened by Evolution


(system) #1
If we trust in the God of creation, revealed supremely in Jesus Christ, we can learn to live with the unanswered questions.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/why-christians-dont-need-to-be-threatened-by-evolution

(James Stump) #2

@JRM asked lots of questions in today’s post. He’ll be around to work the answers to some of them with us. How would you sharpen some of those questions?


(Wookin Panub) #3

If I can’t trust God to give me the true and simplest matters of creation, then how in the universe could I trust God on any spiritual matters i.e. salvation. God will cease being God (holy, righteous etc…) and is relegated to nothing more than a super being, who created us. :frowning:


(James Stump) #4

I’m afraid we don’t share your pessimism on this… God has equipped us to understand matters of creation and given us the “book” of creation. If we want to pursue scientific questions related to creation, the tool of science has proven to be (literally) a godsend. If we want to pursue theological questions related to creation, God has revealed himself through the book of Scripture. We should reflect on it and the history of its interpretation in the Church. For a holistic understanding of creation, we should be reading both books and entering into dialogue with others who do too.


(Wookin Panub) #5

I know. Isn’t that the point of this thread? Why there are Christians who are threatened by the abhorrent teaching of evolution in the bible

Again, the point of this thread. Since Genesis is allegorical, then there is no book on creation.

That I agree with, but disagree with your understanding of science, which is evolution.

What book? Genesis is allegorical

When you read Genesis 1 plainly, without any preconceived ideas or presuppositions. There is no need for special interpretation or hermeneutics. Genesis 1 means what it says

Reading God’s word? yes; Questioning God’s word? NO! :slight_smile:


(James Stump) #6

But surely you see that your “plain reading without any preconceived ideas or presuppositions” breaks down by the time you get to Genesis 2. You simply can’t read both creation accounts that way without doing some “special interpretation”. You have to say something like, “well, Genesis 2 is actually an expansion of day 6 in Genesis 1, even though it is not presented that way at all.” And “the order of created things in Genesis 2 really only pertains to a specific locale, not the whole world, even though it is not presented that way at all.” And so on. If you don’t do some of that special interpreting, you’ve got yourself some flat-out contradictions. And of course we could point to lots of other passages of Scripture for which you do not at all adopt the “plain meaning” hermeneutic. It is disingenuous to claim that you do so consistently.


(Wookin Panub) #7

I was speaking of Genesis 1.

There aren’t two creation accounts. Furthermore, I assume you have no problem in interpreting the 4 gospel accounts in the crucifixion of the Christ?

When read plainly, contextually says “world”, meaning world. You would have to inject, “specific locale” There is no qualifier to point to it being local, therefore that is you injecting your view to fit your presupposition.

Again. I point to the 4 gospels

My friend, it is disingenuous on your part to expand an argument that was clearly dealing with Genesis 1 only, in order to support your presupposition :slight_smile:


(James Stump) #8

I’m afraid we’re not tracking with each other here… How is it disingenuous to show that you can’t employ a consistent “plain reading” hermeneutical approach? You say that you just read the plain meaning of Genesis 1. I show that you can’t possibly do that with all of Scripture; so, the point is that you need some reason (an argument) for why it is appropriate to do so in Genesis 1.


(Wookin Panub) #9

In layman terms. You see no contradictions in Genesis 1, so you go outside Genesis 1 to find a “contradiction” (there are no contradictions in the bible) in order to prove we can’t trust Genesis 1? You can trust Genesis 1. Jesus clearly did :slight_smile: Luke 11:50–51 50 “that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this …”


(James Stump) #10

No, the contradictions we see are between your interpretation of Genesis 1 and what has become clear in the natural world. I’m using the rest of the Bible to show that your interpretation of Genesis is suspicious on its own; so since it doesn’t fit with what we’ve learned from the natural world, the reasonable (we think) conclusion to draw is that there must be another interpretation that is more faithful to the actual intentions of what God has communicated through Scripture.

That’s all I have to say on this topic. Blessings.


(Wookin Panub) #11

Actually those are your contradictions seen through the lens of your presupposition. I on the other hand read it plainly, which happens to align with my presupposition. Imagine that

It fits my understanding of the natural world :slight_smile: Perhaps it doesn’t fit your understanding, because you are wrong.

So when God says, “First day” He is not actually intending to communicate “first day”? I don’t know about you, call me kooky, but when someone says, First day. I actually think they are talking about first day. God couldn’t be any clearer :slight_smile:


#12

Just because someone doesn’t accept your favorite traditions concerning your interpretation of Genesis 1 doesn’t mean that we don’t “trust Genesis 1.”

I trust Genesis 1 and the entire Bible just fine. Your favorite TRADITIONS concerning how you like to interpret the Bible? Not so much.

And so do I. (Nice playing of the Jesus-card, by the way.) As to your citing Luke 11:50-51, why do you think that poses any sort of problem? Also, you just reprimanded Jstump for “going outside Genesis 1” and then you cite Jesus’ reference to a Genesis passage outside of Genesis 1. I don’t get it.

If you truly believe that God is the author of both the Bible and creation, is it not appropriate that when your favorite traditional interpretation fails to comply with one or the other (or both?) of God’s two major revelations to us, it is time to reconsider your interpretation of one or both?

Why do you think it wise to trust your interpretation of what God has revealed in Genesis 1 but then totally disregard what God has revealed in his creation? It sounds like a desperate attempt to cling to your favorite traditions: simply disregard what God has revealed in his creation—as well as disregard the internal self-contradictions you demand of the Genesis text under your favorite traditions.

Yes, it can be fun to think that anyone who rejects my interpretation of a particular scripture is defying God, and then construct straw man arguments based upon misrepresentations of the positions of my Christian brethren. But hopefully it was a failure of my youth and was based on a blind allegiance to my favorite Young Earth Creationist ministry heroes. My tendency to put everybody into “us” versus “them” categories----where the “us” were the godly people who stood alone in defending the proper interpretations of the Bible—certainly made everything very simple. (But only if I ignored what God revealed in the scriptures that were contrary to my favorite traditions and totally destroyed by what God had revealed in creation itself.)

Meanwhile, @Wookin_Panub, I’m still very interested in reading your answers to the questions I posed to you on other threads. Whenever your positions are challenged—or we simply ask for clarifications—you keep moving on to new accusations against those you vilify. It makes the discussions quite frustrating.

Of course, I could use the same tactics with you: Why do you believe God fills his creation with a deceptive, false history of the earth and biological life on earth which can’t be trusted? Why do you think fallible man’s interpretations of God revelations in creation itself can’t be trusted but your interpretations of God’s revelations in the scriptures should be considered inerrant?

One other question because I want to understand your purposes for participation on this forum. Are you here to learn from other disciples of Jesus Christ by means of mutual exchanges of ideas or are you here to recruit for your positions and your interpretations of scripture? (I’m not implying that there’s anything wrong to want to win over people to share your opinions. I simply want to correctly understand your goals here. I’m quite interested in your views, if only you will slow down a bit and engage questions and provide clarifications. Surely your opinions deserve that kind of careful consideration. Can we agree on that?)


(Wookin Panub) #13

That is not my interpretation. I merely believe what Genesis 1 says, my friend :slight_smile:


(Wookin Panub) #14

My apologies. I will come back to that thread. It’s a lot of typing. I do not like to type nor am I a person of many words. I wanted to take a break. I will respond tomorrow :slight_smile:


#15

Let me get this straight:

  1. Other people who disagree with you have their own interpretations of Genesis 1—but your opinion of Genesis 1 is NOT an interpretation. How do you determine that your opinions are not interpretations but the opinions of others are interpretations? Explain please.

  2. I too believe what Genesis 1 says. Yet, my view of Genesis 1 is quite different from yours. I can also cite various church fathers and centuries of theologians who believed what Genesis 1 says, yet their views differed from yours. So what makes the views of others “interpretations” but your view is NOT an interpretation? Are you unique among humans in having views of Genesis 1 which are not interpretations?

  3. If I want my views of various scriptures to be “interpretation free”, how can I manage to do that? How did you acquire this unique ability?

  4. Was it a mistake for me to spend many years in Greek and Hebrew exegesis training? Was it a mistake to enroll in hermeneutics courses? Is Bible interpretation a bad idea?

=> @Wookin_Panub, should I make it my goal to be interpretation-free?


#16

In future posts, I would like to see the author’s questions about how to read Genesis and how to understand the Fall addressed further. Specifically, how would the New Testament and St. Paul read Genesis and understand the Fall? The issue with Genesis and evolution has never been about Genesis and evolution, it’s about St. Paul’s soteriology and anthropology. It’s about how Christian theology might change due to a different understanding of the “salvation story”. It’s about how authority might change if the Bible, the Church Fathers, the Reformers, confessional documents, etc. are questioned as authorities. This isn’t just a question for literalists and fundamentalists, but their fears about the slipper slope are valid insofar as the questioning of one’s touchstone can then undermine various other doctrines based on the same or similar authorities.

In short, I’d like more discussion of St. Paul’s view of Genesis and its effect on doctrine, and less on our views of Genesis and science.


(Christy Hemphill) #17

@aka I am also looking forward to thoughts on these issues in the upcoming posts.

In case you are bored waiting for the next installment of this series, here are some past BioLogos blog posts that have dealt with the Paul/Adam questions from a few different perspectives:






(George Brooks) #18

@BradKramer, I nominate this paragraph to the hall of fame… it concisely describes a truth … a truth encountered by the time you get to Genesis 2. Very nice!


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #19

I quite agree that Christians need not be threatened by evolution, or to put it another way, faith is not threatened by science. However we have been discussing this for a long time, with little success

So the question I have is, What is the problem if evolution is not a threat to Christianity? It appears to me that the problem is that evolution is not a threat to faith, but a threat is to a philosophical world view. That being the case we are wasting our time and energy if we are discussing science.

We might do better if we discuss theology, because philosophy id often disguised as theology. We would do better if we discussed philosophy, except no one wants to discuss philosophy Thus we have a serious problem because the issue is not properly defined and few understand it properly.


(Rob S) #20

There’s an even more exciting reason why Christians need not fear the challenge to Genesis from materialistic science–because Genesis IS science. Seriously.
Recall that in the 19th century, we were told that there was no evidence for any of the stories in the OT being true, and not until we get to Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus), does the OT get corroborated by history. Then as the 19th moved into the 20th, more and more evidence mounted that the stories were accurate back to David, then back to Joshua, and now back to Abraham. David Rohl, a rather controversial Egyptologist, explains that the calendar was all messed up, so when evidence was found for, say, Semites living in Egypt, they data was misclassified and ignored. Only after the calendar was cleared up, did all this evidence for the historicity of OT get classified correctly. Read (or watch the movies) “Of Pharaoh’s and Kings” and “Patterns of Evidence”.

In exactly the same way, and with the same result, the timeline for Genesis 1-11 has been mangled. Personally, I blame the LXX translators, and I’ve written 300 pages on the topic. But once the date of Noah’s Flood is pinned down (9590BC), the rest of the calendar lines up quite nicely between science and Genesis, including Cro-Magnons, Neolithics, Mesolithics, location of Eden, planting of the Garden, and so forth.

How does Evolution fit into this? Well, not very well, frankly, but fortunately it is almost completely irrelevant to Genesis. I think that Gen 1:2 places the origin of life at the very beginning of the Universe, within a few thousand years of the Big Bang, which happens on comets, not on the Earth. This pretty much destroys the parochial earth-based evolutionary tale, but like I said, nothing that happens over the next 5 logarithmic days of creation depends on evolution. Which is just fine, since there’s a meeting in the UK this summer to replace evolution with a new paradigm. More importantly, Genesis 1 is telling us some fascinating details about how the universe was fashioned for the events of Genesis 2. And that’s why Genesis is a science textbook.