Most of the time I hand off anything about science to “RJS” but the next two chps in Adam Hamilton’s Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics are about Galileo and evolution and the Bible … and I thought I’d see if I can ride this bike with no hands! (My image for doing this on my own.)
The Tribunal of the Supreme Inquisition — what a title! — made this finding: “We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare, that thou, the said Galileo … has rendered thyself vehemently suspected of heresy by this Holy Office…” (73). What was Galileo guilty of? He believed the sun was the center of the universe and the official interpreters of the Bible thought the Bible clearly taught the earth was at the center. He was deemed a heretic.
The implication is clear: though one cannot appeal to Galileo for any and everything Christian scientists might claim, we need to realize that sometimes science shows that what we think the Bible says is not what the Bible says. That’s where we need to settle in if we are going to be truly Biblical, truly Christian, and truly scientific. If we conclude that science says something clearly and demonstrably, we ought to be willing to reconsider what we thought the Bible was saying. This doesn’t make science authoritative; it makes our interpretations in need of the Protestant principle: reformed and always reforming so that we grow in understanding what the Bible really does say.
Essentially, Galileo warns us that the Bible teaches us how to go to heaven and not how the heavens go. That science and faith complement one another. That there is no final conflict.
If you could say one thing to Bible-believing Christians about human origins, what would it be?
When it comes to evolution, Hamilton sketches why it is that Christians have trouble with an “unsupervised, impersonal” form of origins — contradicts a literal reading of Genesis 1, diminishes the role of God in history, and it suggests that humans are nothing but animals — not Eikons (images) of God.
But Hamilton argues that “unsupervised, impersonal” is not science and science should go no further than science can go. He then sketches — fairly in my read — creation science, intelligent design, and theistic evolution. (He mentions the little-known fact that BB Warfield, the architect of inerrancy doctrine, believed in theistic evolution, something JG Machen was not happy about.)
Hamilton opts for theistic evolution.