Is Evolution a Must Win Issue? (RJS)

Out of Ur – a blog from Leadership Journal at Christianity Today – provides an opportunity to comment on areas at the intersection of “faithful ministry and popular culture”. The issue tackled just recently in a post Is Evolution a Must Win Issue? was evolution and the age of the earth (HT RE). The post builds on the recent comments by Pat Robertson regarding the age of the earth. The clip is short – and available on YouTube in a couple of different versions. One is linked below.

YouTube Preview Image

Now the comments by Robertson do not really address evolution per se. The issue he addresses is limited to age of the earth, and to the presence of animal life and death prior to the appearance of humans. An old earth progressive creation position is entirely compatible with Robertson’s comments. But his comments do reflect an open position that pulls away from young earth creationism. In fact, Robertson suggests that a young earth is a rather destructive and untenable position; and I agree with him here. The dinosaur fossils (the one above from Colorado not South Dakota) are real and are very old (230 million years to 65 million years old).

The Out of Ur blog goes on to pose a wider question drawing on a broader range of incidents:

Why are both Christian politicians and media figures abandoning evolution as an issue in the culture war? It may be too soon to say for certain, but perhaps losing ground both politically and culturally is causing some Christians to be more discerning about which battles are really worth fighting.

The blog then points to an article Rubio and the Age-of-Earth Question by Dr. Joshua Swamidass, a professor in the Laboratory and Genomic Medicine Division at Washington University in St. Louis, published in the Wall Street Journal.  I clip a few choice bits out of Swamidass’s article – but you can read the whole at the link above.

As a Christian and career scientist, I see the episode as an opportunity for both Republicans and evangelicals to establish a more coherent policy on evolution, creation and science, for two reasons.

First, the age of the Earth and the rejection of evolution aren’t core Christian beliefs. Neither appears in the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed. Nor did Jesus teach them. Historical Christianity has not focused on how God created the universe, but on how God saves humanity through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The second reason that Republicans, including evangelicals, need to come up with a more coherent stance regarding the “age of the Earth” question—which journalists will always be happy to ask—is that there is simply no controversy in the scientific world about the age of the Earth or evolution. Evidence points to a 4.5-billion-year-old planet.

The evidence for evolution is just as strong. …

The evolution debate is not a scientific controversy, but a theological controversy about a non-central Christian doctrine. … The “good news” is how God saves us. Not how he created us. And it is through persuasion rather than force that he brings us to knowledge of Jesus.

Frankly I don’t really care one whit if the Republicans (or the Democrats for that matter) get their act together on this issue. Nothing of importance to me is tied up with political identity – absolutely nothing. But I do care deeply about the church and the future of the church as the body of Christ. Not only is the age of the earth battle not worth fighting – it is a battle that cannot be won. Arguing for a young earth is as ineffective as arguing that F≠ma, that energy is not conserved, or that a ball thrown into the air will not fall along an easily calculated path.

Some of the evolution questions are slightly more complicated. Even here it is clear that the data supports evolution, but it is also clear that some scientists push the data into a realm of philosophical materialism  or ontological naturalism unwarranted by the data alone. In a book I have begun reading, and will probably post on sometime soon, Evolution and Belief, Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist, Robert Asher notes that “the line between methodological and philosophical naturalism can be subtle and is frequently crossed, often by those who conflate agency and cause.” (p. 17) We can reject philosophical naturalism without rejecting the demonstrable conclusions of mainstream science. There are strands here that we need to pull apart and examine.

It is also clear that the theological questions surrounding the nature of mankind and the origin of sin will require a great deal of time and effort to think through the possibilities and their ramifications.  This is an activity that the church must take seriously. But it is not a scientific question – all science can do is provide some information concerning the viability of some possibilities given the nature of the world God has created.

We will certainly come back to these issues soon. But for today we can look at a “simple” (ha!) question.

What are the must win issues and why?

Is “evolution” (i.e. refuting evolution) a must win issue?

By the way – I don’t think proving evolution is a “must win” issue. I think we have to go with the data. To date the data is overwhelmingly in support of an old earth, progressive development of life, and of many of the mechanisms used to describe the material path of evolution. Our understanding of the evolutionary process itself continues to evolve.  But I do think the question is a scientific question, not a theological question. And as such it is important (even, perhaps, a “must win” issue) for the church to focus on the right questions and the right battles.

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

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  • http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    I always enjoy and appreciate your posts here, RJS. Bless you!

    I am quite sure that there are rather few ‘must win issues’ and evolution is not one of them. I think the difficulty for many evangelicals is twofold. First there is a long-standing tradition of believing evolution to be false, even wicked in some sense. It’s not comfortable to move from what you have been taught and always thought to be true.

    And secondly if evolution is accepted as true it raises other questions about faith. For example, is our understanding of heaven correct ( http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2012/11/other-species-in-heaven.html ) and if not how should it be adjusted?

    These are hard, hard issues for many people, but surely not of the ‘must win’ kind.

    I think the real ‘must win battle’ is the one over how to separate science and faith, how to define their respective areas of competence and influence. We need to find a new thinking that allows scientific evidence to work with, not against faith. Here’s a fun example using stars and whales to inspire a sense of awe, praise and worship in our hearts – http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2012/11/stars-whales-and-worship.html

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    RJS,

    You wrote, “It is also clear that the theological questions surrounding the nature of mankind and the origin of sin will require a great deal of time and effort to think through the possibilities and their ramifications.”

    It is patently obvious why you must still wrestle to reconcile these “theological questions.” It is because they are irreconciliable! This is because you’ve started at the wrong place – with Darwin – thereby undermining the entire theological scaffolding of Biblical theology. With Darwin:

    1. The creation wasn’t good but a bloody survival-of-the-fittest.
    2. Adam and Eve didn’t screw things up through their sin, but the fault lies with God’s struggle-for-life design.
    3. Death didn’t come from sin and there can no longer be a Fall.
    4. Christ – the Second Adam and Redeemer – becomes questionable. What is He redeeming us from?
    5. We being restored to death (Acts 3:21).

    It is like buttoning a shirt starting with the wrong button. Every other button will fall into the wrong slot. It is also this way with theology.

    You claim that the evidence for evolution is “overwhelming.” However, many scientists have gone on record, risking being labeled a “quack,” to assert that the evidence is under-whelming at best. Perhaps instead it might represent wisdom to allocate “a great deal of time and effort to think through the possibilities and…ramifications” [of evolution]?

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    If evolution is not a “must win” issue, why are so many TEs pushing this worldview on the church?

  • Jerry

    RJS,
    No, refuting evolution is not a must-win issue and trying to do so actually distracts from the proclamation of the gospel. As a young Christian I was an apologist for YEC having devoured the works of Morris and Gish from ICR. Later, through a friendship with a geologist, I begin to reexamine the evidence and came to the conclusion that science does not support a young earth. I still believe God is the creator (it’s in the creeds) but I don’t worry about how God did it. Daniel (#2), Jesus Creed has plenty of posts that address your questions–maybe not to your satisfaction–but they certainly answered by questions.

  • Matt

    Daniel: it is not obvious why one should not start with science or scripture. North American conservative evangelicals are famous for saying all truth is “God’s truth” (or as Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park said, “There are no versions of the truth.” If the earth is old — and the overwhelming majority of scientists believe the evidence points to this — then the question becomes “what makes the most sense of the evidence?” I am tired of the “it can’t be old earth/evolution” claims because scripture says so. What if old earth/evolution is correct (and again, the overwhelming majority of scientists are persuaded this is correct), then Waltke is correct: we need to stop being a cult. At the very least, we need to be prepared to articulate a biblical theology that takes old earth/evolution into consideration.

  • Phil Miller

    If evolution is not a “must win” issue, why are so many TEs pushing this worldview on the church?

    Honestly, who do you see “pushing this worldview” on the church? I can’t think of one example of someone who believes in theistic evolution saying that someone must accept their position in order to be considered orthodox. But it happens all the time from the YE camp. Certainly stating one’s opinion on an issue and presenting a case for it is not the same as “pushing”.

  • John

    @2 Daniel

    Your list (1-5) can be embraced and understood from both YEC and conventional scientific perspectives. As for those scientists who have gone “on record” against genomic evolution and conventional geology, there are scant few, and they are overwhelmingly teaching at Christian colleges (or retired from same). If they publicly refuted the YEC position, they would lose their jobs. I have survey data if you’re interested (jl -at- jps -.- net)

    Better to look at the >50% of science professors teaching at non-religious universities who embrace both Jesus and conventional genomics + geology. RJS is right – religion holds all kinds of “must win” issues, yet Jesus appears uninterested in many of the issues religion considers important.

  • FDR

    some non religious scientist disagree with evolution..Swedish embryologist Soren Lovtrup, in Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, wrote: “I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?”

  • AHH

    Excellent thoughts here.
    For me, the “must win” issue related to this is for the faith of the church and of Christians to be centered on Jesus, rather than on “different Gospels” where a particular interpretation about how God created, or (often related) a particular approach to reading and using the Bible, is made foundational.
    To the extent pieces like this help the church to avoid making nonessential doctrines into idols, it will be a “win”.

  • AHH

    FDR @8,

    Soren Lovtrup did NOT disagree with evolution (in its basic meaning of common descent). He disagreed with what he saw as the too-gradual nature of the Darwinian picture of how evolution happened, arguing that evolution proceeded in a more jumpy manner (known as saltation or macromutation). Almost all biological scientists disagree with his view of HOW evolution happened — but this is just a disagreement within science of HOW evolution happened and not about WHETHER it happened.

    Maybe this shows another reason for the church to stop treating this as a must-win battle — so often the “creationist” side takes quotes out of context and touts them as opposing evolution when they do no such thing. Providing another area in which the church looks dishonest to the rest of the world (I’m not saying FDR is being dishonest here — probably just copied the quote from some typical “creationist” site that cared more about being anti-evolution than about not bearing false witness).

  • John

    @8 FDR “some non religious scientist disagree with evolution..Swedish embryologist Soren Lovtrup”

    FDR, are you sure? I just browsed a review of his book. Lovtrup affirms evolution but does not fully support Darwin’s mechanisms. Lovtrup apparently holds two modes of evolution:

    1.) the creation of novel organisms, which is an epigenetic phenomenon and not controlled by natural selection.
    2.) the survival of those organisms, which is an ecological phenomenon and is controlled by natural selection.

    While this scientist disagrees with Darwin on certain points, he clearly does not disagree with the theory of evolution as abstraction.

  • FDR

    I was just wondering why “he” would call it “the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science.”… pretty strong words…. but i didn’t read the book so sorry if it is take out of context..
    also AHH, i would consider myself more of a “Historic Creationist” along the lines of John Sailhamer..
    What about you?????

  • Steve

    In both John 1 and Hebrews 11, Jesus is the means by which creation occured, not some evolutionary process. By attributing creation even in some way to an evolutionary process would take away from what God did through Jesus. There is no mention or any hint of an evolutionary process anywhere in scripture. If there was an evolutionary process involved the biblical writers were completely unaware of it. And while there are many geologists and scientists that believe in an evolutionary process, there are many that do not. It still is refered to as the theory of evolution, not as an absolute proven fact (although some do speak of it as if it were). I personally am uncomfortable re-interperting all texts that speak of creation based on a man-made and unproven theory.

  • Steve

    BTW I pan on presenting a paper on the concept of creation in the New Testament at the Northeast regional meeting of ETS, where the overall topis will be the existance of Adam.

  • t-coq

    AHH’s definition of “must win” is very helpful.

    My primary interest in evolution discussions has to do with presenting the gospel. I work with college students in the Midwest and anti-evolution is almost a part of Christian identity here. While I do not attack students who are YEC, I am constantly reminding them that there are honest, faithful Christians who love the Bible who interpret the data differently and that it is not a “must win” issue. On the other hand, whenever I talk with non-believers, science in general and evolution in particular come up all the time. They assume trade faith in God for faith in science (scientism) and dismiss Christianity because it is not addressing the questions they’re really asking. There is some shallow reasoning behind this switch but it is only possible when the Church makes YEC a “must win”. By presenting a perspective which, in my opinion, is faithful to the gospel and open to modern scientific discovers, we remove shallow unbelief. Then we can start talking about more important things like Jesus.

    Just my two cents

  • Phil Miller

    In both John 1 and Hebrews 11; Jesus is the means by which creation occured, not some evolutionary process. By attributing creation even in some way to an evolutionary process would take away from what God did through Jesus. There is no mention or any hint of an evolutionary process anywhere in scripture. If there was an evolutionary process involved the biblical writers were completely unaware of it. And while there are many geologists and scientists that believe in an evolutionary process, there are many that do not. It still is refered to as the theory of evolution, not as an absolute proven fact (although some do speak of it as if it were). I personally am uncomfortable re-interperting all texts that speak of creation based on a man-made and unproven theory.

    Well, the fact that the biblical authors didn’t mention evolution doesn’t mean much. They didn’t mention electricity either.

    But regarding Jesus being the means by which creation occurred, I think one could affirm that and evolution at the same time. The means by which a process occurs can exist outside of the time frame over which it occurred. Even taken in a literal fashion, Genesis presents creation happening not simply as an event, but as a process. Also, think of how the Kingdom of God works. Christ said the Kingdom of God was in our midst when He was on the earth 2000 years ago, but the Kingdom has not been fully consummated. Perhaps there’s a now/not yet paradox in the very fabric of the cosmos.

  • Dorfl

    “It still is referred to as the theory of evolution, not as an absolute proven fact (although some do speak of it as if it were).”

    The fact that we also refer to “the theory of gravity” and “atomic theory” should hint that the word ‘theory’ does not mean the same thing when used in the context of natural science as it does in everyday speech. Just like gravity and atoms, evolution is a fact that has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. It has not been proven absolutely, because nothing about the physical world has been proven absolutely, including the roundness of the Earth.

  • http://rwtyer.blogspot.com Rory Tyer

    There is one place in the New Testament (it may not be the only one, but it is the only one that comes to mind right now) where someone explicitly affirms that the negation of a given truth would undermine all of the Christian faith; it is 1 Cor. 15, and the truth is Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. There are obviously other foundational truths that I think the NT writers assumed and that, if negated, would affect faith very much; but the implications of the resurrection are such that it merits this specific weight.

    I think the church’s must-win issue is whether or not average people trust the Gospel narratives about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as both *religiously* true and also as *fundamentally and practically true guidance on all areas of life*. In other words, whether people think that they have a good reason to know and trust Jesus or whether they do not. If they don’t trust Scripture as basically true, then they have no reason to trust Jesus, and no basis for thinking critically about one’s identity as a member of the Church with a mission in the world. Knowing and trusting others who love Jesus can and does go a long way towards helping others find similar confidence in him, but I’m not sure that that could ultimately sustain an individual’s faith if it wasn’t eventually bolstered by some sort of reasonable confidence that the New Testament accounts are true and are worth trusting and involving in all areas of one’s life in various ways.

    So, to sum up: trusting Jesus and Scripture. That’s the must-win issue I think. Otherwise the church becomes just another socio-cultural institution that may or may not be relevant to any given issue based on one’s preferences.

  • AHH

    FDR @12,
    He was using “Darwinian” not as a synonym for evolution generally but as a label for the most commonly accepted picture of evolution’s mechanism (or perhaps a caricature of that picture) by gradual accumulation of small genetic differences. He thought there were more big genetic jumps instead. And, like many who try to promote unorthodox ideas, it would seem he used provocative language about how revolutionary his work supposedly was The Wikipedia article on “Saltation” is a helpful read.

    I’m not that famiiar with Sailhamer, but from a quick look I think he reads the text more responsibly than the young-Earth creationists but is still more tied to inerrancy and concordism (needing to make the text be a scientific description) than I would be comfortable with. Although from my quick look his reading of Genesis 1 would not preclude evolution being a part of God’s work in Genesis 1:1. I personally would be more along the lines of Peter Enns or John Walton (or RJS, I think), seeing this part of inspired Scripture as having a theological purpose and not trying to address the “how” or “when” of creation.

    But I fear we are straying from the topic of the post …

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil #11,

    Although you are correct that TEs don’t say that “You must believe in evolution to be saved,” they push it nevertheless. Biologos is all about making evolution amenable to the church. Grants are given for pastors to promote it.

  • Ed Gentry

    This issue is so tiring, even mentioning it so often produces more heat than light.

    We must win this: the church needs to stand up and recognize the truth that the earth is quite old, and that the bible does not require it to be young.

    This is critical issue especially for our young people. The young earth creation position is simply laughable it comes off as silly. Making it a central dogma is becoming an insurmountable barrier to evangelism since one would have to deny so much of what you see around you based only on a very bad reading of Genesis. I’m also very concerend that teaching this silly idea to our children may later endanger their very faith when they later realize how untennable it actually is.

    Evolution I admit is a more difficult issue.

    But this is also a must win issue: The church should proclaim loud and long the truth that the Bible is compatible with much of the theory of evolution. One can believe in the ressurection, miracles (then and now) and affirm much of the theory of evolution.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Matt #5

    If we start with evolution, we are not faithful to Scripture which requires that everything else must be critiqued in the light of Scripture:

    • The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

    The church has a long history of following in the heals of the social-scientific consensus of the day. The church then has made Scripture conform to this consensus for the sake of remaining socially relevant. Here are just of few of the many examples:

    1. The Steady State Theory
    2. Geocentrism
    3. Gay Marriage
    4. Universalism

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    John #7,

    I think that if evolution had been an issue in Jesus’ day, He would have countered it. After all, we see that He had affirmed Gen. 1 and 2 as history. (Matthew 19:4-6)

    You claim that the theological points I had mentioned can be embraced by TEs. I hope that this is the case, but I don’t see how without them ascribing to an inconsistent faith.

    TEs necessarily believe that God created through Darwinian mechanisms, namely, the survival-of-the-fittest. This is in direct contradiction to the Genesis account:

    1. Creation was “very good” in God’s eyes, and He hates death!
    2. The animals were all herbivores – no competition for survival!
    3. Humanity was so comfortable that they went naked.
    4. All of their needs were fulfilled.

    If God had ordained a competition for life, then who can blame Cain for killing his naïve, less-well-adapted brother Abel! In other words, all theology is overthrown.

    If instead the TE would simply say, “Well, I believe in evolution, but I don’t have a clue how to integrate it with the Bible, and I won’t try to, lest I compromise the Bible,” I’d have little problem with this.

    However, RJS and other TEs are actively attempting to re-figure the Bible to make it agree with evolution, compromising the Word. It is just too precious to allow this to happen!

  • Phil Miller

    Biologos is all about making evolution amenable to the church. Grants are given for pastors to promote it.

    You’ll have to prove this statement to me for me to believe it. All the Biologos grants I’ve seen are coming from the other side of the issue. They’re aimed at showing people who already believe in evolution or think they should that such belief isn’t at odds with the Christian faith.

    I can’t imagine anyone associated with Biologos going to churches and having Ken Ham style rallies trying to promote theistic evolution. I’m sure they’ll talk about if invited. But again, what’s wrong with that?

    I guess that’s the thing when it comes to issues like these. In a sense, one side has to “win” because there’s always one side that seems to insist that unless they win, the Gospel is at stake. That position has to be defeated because it’s wrongheaded, in my opinion.

  • Rick

    Ed #21-

    “This is critical issue especially for our young people. The young earth creation position is simply laughable it comes off as silly. Making it a central dogma is becoming an insurmountable barrier to evangelism…”

    So you agree with those that say it is a “must in issue”? You criticize the YEC camp for making it central dogma, yet you claim it is a “critical issue”.

    I think that goes to Daniel Mann’s point in #3 about the TE camp making it so important to their side as well.

  • Phil Miller

    The reasons Christian scientists like Francis Collins think this issue is important are much different than YECs do. Francis Collins wants to tell people that they don’t have to be intellectually dishonest to be a Christian. Ham seems to be telling people they have to choose – do honest science or be a Christian – you can’t do both.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Steve #14,

    I pray your paper goes well!

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil #24,

    I never said that Biologos is handing out the grants. Instead, please see:
    http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2012/09/why-we-are-troubled-by-darwins-inroads.html

  • Ed Gentry

    Phil, this is exactly the point!

    You don’t have to choose. You can have intellectual integrity and be a Christian. One can believe that God has been interacting with His creation since He initiated the big bang, and believe that the scriptures are inspired.

    I get very angry when some of the YE people tell me that because I don’t affirm young earth then I don’t respect the scripture or I must have certain other theological positions.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil,

    I have been so appalled by what I see happening to TEs. Since they no longer have any clarity regarding how to interpret the Bible – and I think that RJS admits as much – they have no assurance, no clear place to stand.

    Consequently, almost everything is up for grabs. They embrace pro-choice, gay marriage and all those beliefs that might make them social relevant. I also think that their belief in the Gospel is also weakened. How could it not be, when everything has to be reinterpreted and twisted to bring these teachings into conformity with Darwin!

  • Ed Gentry

    Daniel, this is exactly the uncharitable rhetoric that I see so much in the YE folks. The lack of grace astounds me I wonder if you really take scripture seriously. To demand because I don’t agree with your very bad reading of Gensis, that I must also embrace “embrace pro-choice, gay marriage and all those beliefs that might make them social relevant”, is almost evil.

    Daniel, are you really committed to the truth or to your ideology and your very bad readng of Genesis?

  • Ed Gentry

    Daniel, this is exactly the uncharitable rhetoric that I see so much in the YE folks. The lack of grace astounds me I wonder if you really take scripture seriously. To demand because I don’t agree with your very bad reading of Gensis, that I must also embrace “embrace pro-choice, gay marriage and all those beliefs that might make them social relevant”, is almost evil.

    Daniel, are you really committed to the truth or to your ideology and your very bad readng of Genesis?

  • Phil Miller

    Consequently, almost everything is up for grabs. They embrace pro-choice, gay marriage and all those beliefs that might make them social relevant. I also think that their belief in the Gospel is also weakened. How could it not be, when everything has to be reinterpreted and twisted to bring these teachings into conformity with Darwin!

    Well, this is pretty much a strawman. Have you actually read any of the stuff from people associated with Biologos? N.T. Wright isn’t a liberal when it comes to social issues. Neither is Francis Collins isn’t a liberal. I could go on. Read Greg Boyd’s (also not a liberal, btw), Satan and the Problem of Evil. It’s not primarily about evolution, but he does discuss it quite a bit. The different issues you bring up have been addressed extensively by theologians, and I think there’s a number of answer that are quite good.

    Sometimes I get the idea that some people think that just because an answer is complex that means that it’s convoluted or contrived. But some issues are simply complex and they require a complex response.

  • Bev Mitchell

    RJS,

    Yes, asking the right questions is so fundamental in all areas, material and spiritual. At one level I also agree when you say, with reference to biological evolution, “But I do think the question is a scientific question, not a theological question.” However, as a biologist, the knowledge and general appreciation of the complexities of wondrous life on this earth continually strengthen my faith. I’m not talking just about birds, bees and pretty scenery here, but more about what is going on inside any pretty tree. It’s mind boggling. The doctrinal concept that God, through the Holy Spirit, sustains (continues to make possible) all of this is given much greater meaning, for me, the more I understand about the biological processes that have to happen to yield the order and the relationships that exist.

    I’m not saying that all Christians should run out and sign up for lots of biology courses – actually, everyone should do this….. :). However, our understanding of nature, living and non-living, is linked in strong ways to our understanding of God. Serious confusion about the kind of universe God is making possible can cause confusion when we think theologically.

    Now I’ll read the comments so far. This is an important question.

  • John

    Daniel (that’s my son’s name) — I don’t care about your scientific beliefs or your political leanings. What I care about is our love, and especially our love for those who are hardest to love. If we spent as much time finding ways to tangibly love other people as we do defending our religious ideas, the nature of Christianity would be transformed. My understanding of genomics and evolution has virtually nothing to do with my faith in Jesus, or my love for others. Connecting faith to a scientific or political belief is a sandy foundation.

    I believe (21)Ed Gentry has one of the most important points in this conversation, “teaching this idea to our children may later endanger their very faith when they later realize how untennable it actually is.” Which gets back to RJS’s main point: Jesus gives us very few “must win” positions. Those positions that are must-win are not scientific, not political, and often not even logical. Tying “true faith” or “true love” to some scientific opinion is a dangerous and toxic posture.

  • RJS

    Daniel Mann (#30),

    That comment is a combination of pernicious lies and defamation. I have more clarity about how to interpret scripture as a Christian today than ever before in my life. I spend a great deal of time reading, listening to, or studying and writing about it. This isn’t in a muddled fog – but with Scripture as a coherent whole with a clear place to stand.

    Please argue your position without defaming the motivations or integrity of others.

  • Chris

    I don’t believe that evolutionary creationists need to “win” the battle of evolution. What we need is to get a seat at the table, along with YEC’s, OEC’s and gap theorists. We need to win the battle of opinion over whether or not a Christian can accept evolution and not compromise scripture. I’d really like to be able to discuss what I actually believe in my church without fear or reprisal, without risking being accused of being a closet atheist. Beyond that, I don’t really care who accepts evolution or not. There are quite a few differences among Christians that the mainstream will tolerate; we should be among those. The science will work itself out.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Ed #32 (and Phil #33)

    Ed,

    I don’t think that what I wrote was a matter of “uncharitable rhetoric” but instead of observation.

    Our presuppositions – our lens – affects the ways that we see and understand. The same is true with faith and the way we interpret Scripture. If we start with the presupposition that the writers of Scripture were writing errantly due to the influence of ANE cosmology – the view of many TEs – this will effect the way that we interpret Scripture and believe. It is unavoidable. Starting with the wrong presupposition is like starting with the wrong button. This will impact the placement of each subsequent button.

    You have made a commitment, and you should be cognizant of the implications of your commitment.

    I remember an interesting analogy about a frog in water. If the water is heated slowly enough, the frog will not detect the danger and jump out. Consequently, he will be cooked. I’m merely trying to turn up the heat so that it becomes apparent to everyone wading in it.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    RJS,

    I think that it is you who have “defamed” me, calling my statements “pernicious lies.” As far as the motivations are concerned, I merely rephrased the Robertson video you had affirmed – the motivation for social relevance because we are loosing our youth by sticking with a socially contrary position.

    There are also faith-implications resulting from the choice of our presuppositions. Many of the TEs with whom I have dialogued have correspondingly adopted a more liberalized social agenda.

    So let me just probe your beliefs. Do you believe in the legalization of gay marriage?

  • http://thebridge-cu.com Ron S

    Thanks for a helpful synopsis of this ongoing issue. Certainly appreciate and agree with your perspective and with your sadness that the YE stereotype of what it means to be Christian keeps being reinforced in the media.

    Isn’t a God who is an artisan and a craftsman as well as a designer of unimaginable adaptability much “bigger” than a God who zapped into existence this fabulous reality in which we live from some Platonic ideal form? The Young Earth view of God tends to present itself as the bigger view of God, but it is a much smaller view of God enslaved to the Greek philosophers understanding of “unchanging.” AND, for those who would respond, but we need to have a Biblical view of God, I would note that a careful literary approach to Genesis 1-2 does not favor a young earth understanding by the author. I could note several reasons, but two are crucial. (1) Genesis 2:4 in Hebrew uses the word “day” (yom) to encompass all 7 “days” of creation – a clear literary indication that “day” is “era” in the writer’s mind. And, (2) the Genesis writer/editor is far too smart (see R. Alter’s “The Art of Biblical Narrative” on how sharp this author was) to think that the last part of a 24 hour day could include the creation of a proto-human Adam, his carefully studying and appropriately naming all of the animals, then becoming lonely, then a marriage ceremony with a following celebration….

  • Phil Miller

    Starting with the wrong presupposition is like starting with the wrong button. This will impact the placement of each subsequent button.

    I actually agree with this. But I also think that reading the Bible as it were meant to be a science text is starting with the wrong presupposition.

    I actually used to be a rather strident YECer when I was in college (at a large secular state school, btw) and shortly afterwards. It really wasn’t until I started studying historic Christian theology and investigating some of these issues on my own that my position started to shift. It wasn’t like one day I just woke up and decided that I believed in evolution. Really, what happened was more that I started to realize that there was no reason to be so strident about a YEC position, and in doing that I was actually putting roadblocks up in front of the Gospel.

  • Jag

    Evolution is NOT “survival of the fittest.” Evolution favors adaptability, not tooth and claw. Defining evolution as “survival of the fittest” is a rhetorical device, not a true description.

  • Bev Mitchell

    RonS (40),

    I say absolutely yes to your comment, “Isn’t a God who is an artisan and a craftsman as well as a designer of unimaginable adaptability much “bigger” than a God who zapped into existence this fabulous reality in which we live from some Platonic ideal form?” But I would also suggest experimenting with ways to express this without using nouns like “craftsman” or ideas like “God’s handiwork.” Not that these are wrong but that they carry baggage that may hinder understanding.

    Consider: God is Spirit and God is love – can’t get much more biblical than that, We have no idea how the Holy Spirit interacts with our world of energy and matter, but the Bible says she does. Now, in initially making possible and continuously making possible this universe, the Holy Spirit works in truly mysterious ways (from our limited perspective). As soon as we begin expressing God’s work through the Holy Spirit in anthropomorphic ways, we open a door to serious misunderstandings (first couple, ribs, talking snakes, apples – that sort of thing). There is a whole new area of theology developing (pneumatology) that is beginning to wrestle with the question of how we should think about, and talk about the obvious (to Bible believers) interactions that occur between Spirit and material realities. Almost certainly, just using words that would be essential in talking about interactions within the world of energy-matter-material life to describe interactions between these two realities would cause great problems.

    I think many of our difficulties in this area can be attributed to this kind of problem. Few, if any, in this discussion doubt that God, through Spirit makes possible all that we know about in this vast universe. We basically argue, about how to express it in a way that is faithful to Scripture.

    I’m not picking on you here Ron. Just using your fine observation to extent your point a bit further.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil,

    My journey took me in the opposite direction. I had been a nihilist, having been brought to this conclusion through a psychologized materialistic worldview.

    Even after I began to become interested in the idea of God, I had concluded that the Bible couldn’t be true as long as evolution was true. However, a Jehovah Witness gave me a book critical of evolution. This led me to question my earlier university inculcated beliefs, opening me up to the possibility that macroevolution might not represent truth. It also opened me to the possibility that the Bible might have something to say.

  • Marshall

    I wonder about “win” … funny word here, I suppose it comes from thinking about “The” Church … ? Variation good, leads to differential survival, and there you are.

    “Evolution” lit. from Latin, unroll or unfold, is the dynamic process of change ceaselessly occurring wherever we look. The product of all that change is far from random, and the existence of that process is the grandest insight conceivable into the mind and purpose of God. IMO.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    As a geologist, brought up as a YEC’ist, and spending many years pondering the issue, here is my assessment: Unless you fall for Omphalos-type theories, there is no way that YEC is even remotely true.

    And having been a YEC’ist, and taking long to relinquish those views, I will state emphatically that the only way a real scientist, whether biologist, geologist, astronomer, physicist etc etc can hang onto YEC’ism is either to construct a useful mental disconnect, or to live in denial.

    It is simply a denial of reality, a check-your-brain-at-the-door issue. Hanging on to it as a major cause is incredibly harming to the faith, and even more so, the faithful.

  • http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    OK everyone, here is where I stand.

    I accept the evidence presented so convincingly by science and tested again and again and again and found to be unassailable. Earth is about 4.5 million years old, the universe is much older, evolution is responsible for the wide variety of life on our planet, etc.

    I believe that Papa, the Son and their Spirit spoke this wonderful universe into being and set the laws of physics so it would develop the way it did (as clearly observed by science). I have no idea how, nor do I feel any need to know how. I see no conflict and I’m not going to argue.

    If you are one of those brothers or sisters that wants to insist evolution is false, fine. Go ahead, let me know how that goes for you as further evidence comes in. But I’m sticking with the scientific evidence on the one hand and my heavenly Father on the other. I know I am fallen and sinful but I know I am also redeemed.

  • http://scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    Er… for 4.5 million, please read 4.5 billion. Silly typo…

  • TJJ

    I wholly agree with the overall premise here. Segments of the evangelical church are becoming flat earth societies , and as such , they are marginalizing themselves in society and culture. I understand the fear and threat felt by many such evangelicals , but ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence destroys credibility and dialogue with the wider culture about the Bible and Gospel.

  • sheila

    I guess just too many Christians, including the writer of this article are not scientists. The evidence for evolution and old age earth is underwhelming. Truth and facts are always important to our understanding of ourselves and the earth we live on and the God we serve.

  • Steve Sherwood

    That danged “reality based community” acting up again.

  • http://www.words2encourage.co.uk/ Richard Speller

    For me personally speaking the “must win issue” is what is covered in the early creeds that God is the maker of heaven and earth.

  • RJS

    sheila (#50),

    The writer of this article is a Christian and a scientist and professor who works in research at the intersections of chemistry, physics, and biology. The writer of the article quoted from the Wall Street Journal is also a Christian and a scientist.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    RJS (Ed and Phil),

    You accused me of making a “comment [that] is a combination of pernicious lies and defamation.” However, I was merely connecting the dots from the adoption of the hermeneutics of evolution – this claims that the Bible isn’t a science of history textbook and therefore is not concerned about the physical world – to the social and theological implications of such an interpretive principle.

    I tried to argue that this principle will undermine all certainty and assurance about Scripture. (I can’t tell you how many times TEs have told me, “Well, we have to be humble {meaning “uncertain” and “tentative”} about our interpretation of Scripture.) Consequently, when this clarity and certainty is undermined, there remains little resistance to the surrounding culture and its ideas.

    This is where my question to you, RJS, came in. I was simply testing this hypothesis by asking you if you believed in the legalization of gay marriage. However, it seems that you will not answer this question. (I would also pose the same question of Scot.)

    I think it is imperative to not only present ideas, but also to be transparent about where they lead. In this regards, I appreciate Karl Giberson, former co-head of Biologos Foundation. He wrote “Saving Darwin” about how one could successfully be a Christian and an evolutionist. However, he later confessed that the OT God was:

    • “tyrannical anthropomorphic deity,” “commanded the Jews to go on genocidal rampages…but who believes in this [OT] deity any more, besides those same fundamentalists who think the earth is 10,000 years old? Modern theology has moved past this view of God.” http://biologos.org/blog/exposing-the-straw-men-of-new-atheism-part-five/

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Sheila, I’m a geologist with 14 years of experience, professional designations in 2 countries (the scientific equivalent of professional standing in the legal community), I’ve co-authored a number of papers, I have been working in industry (mining, exploration), and have run a geochronology laboratory.

    Frankly speaking, what are your credentials?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Daniel, the key to your difficulty is that you are locked into a specific, modernist reading of Scripture. It should not be read like either 21st century history, or a modern theological treatise.

    Scripture’s prime audience was the people alive at its time of writing, which in itself is quite a timespan. We are its secondary audience. We are bringing our own assumptions to the text. But, and this I got from a rather fundamentalist Calvinist – A text taken out of context becomes a pretext.

  • Phil Miller

    I tried to argue that this principle will undermine all certainty and assurance about Scripture. (I can’t tell you how many times TEs have told me, “Well, we have to be humble {meaning “uncertain” and “tentative”} about our interpretation of Scripture.) Consequently, when this clarity and certainty is undermined, there remains little resistance to the surrounding culture and its ideas.

    Well, the problem is you’re treating Scripture in a way it doesn’t need to be treated. What your view tells people is that everything in the Bible has to be true or scientifically provable, and if it’s not, then none of it trustworthy. To me that is dangerous. That is why kids who grow up in the church take on religious studies course in college and end up doubting everything they thought they believed.

    We have to differentiate the different genres, intents, and purposes of Scripture. I don’t believe the intent of the author of Genesis was to tell people living 5000 or more years in the future the intricacies of the processes used in Creation. The purpose was to establish God’s purpose for the earth and His chosen people. This is a truth that exists over beyond the question of whether the universe evolved or not.

    I just find the whole idea of approaching Scripture as a document that has to absolutely factually correct in every detail it contains to be such an odd idea. To think that we should throw out everything in Scripture because some details in the story are different than what actually happened seems just, well, unfathomable to me. We don’t treat anything else like this. I don’t say, for example, that my wife isn’t trustworthy if while recounting the details of her day she gets the color wrong of the shirt someone was wearing. Though technically false, of course, that detail doesn’t really have any bearing on the actual story in most cases.

    I don’t know how much you’ve interacted with people who are having crises of faith, Daniel, but a campus pastor, I dealt with it quite a bit. The example I gave of kids taking religious studies classes isn’t hypothetical. It happens a lot. And right now, what kids are hearing from a lot of people in the church isn’t really helping. Basically, a lot of people are simply telling kids, “well, your professor is lying. He wants to destroy your faith.” Some kids may buy that answer, but that only work for as long as they can hold out and ignore a bunch of stuff.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Phil got at what I was hinting at in my comment at #57 so much better.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Klasie,

    If human beings were different when the Bible was written, and, in order to understand the Bible, we must read it through their eyes, how then do we understand the Bible in a manner that we can have any confidence about its teaching?

    I fear that your presupposition has taken the Bible out of our hands and placed it on Mars. To build on the point that I’ve been making, such a presupposition can only result in uncertainty, leaving us defenseless against the surrounding notions that impact us and indistingusihable from the prevailing culture.

  • jess

    Hearing Pat Robertson say what he said in that video was pretty surprising. You are right. The age of the earth battle cannot be won. Christians will be better off if they don’t think that the age of the earth can be answered by the Bible. A must win issue might be actually getting Christians, especially Christian leaders to actually look at the scientific data for themselves. Many Christians automatically assume that evolution is anti-God and so they oppose it without looking at the evidence. Science is one of the most vital forces in the world today and if the church wants to have as strong of a voice in the future as science will then it will probably need to seriously educate itself with regards to science and learn how to interact with science.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil #57,
    • “Well, the problem is you’re treating Scripture in a way it doesn’t need to be treated. What your view tells people is that everything in the Bible has to be true or scientifically provable, and if it’s not, then none of it trustworthy… I just find the whole idea of approaching Scripture as a document that has to absolutely factually correct in every detail it contains to be such an odd idea.”

    How then do you determine which verses are trustworthy? If you refuse to trust what Scripture says about itself – that it all must be fulfilled (Mat. 5:16-19) and that it is all God-breathed and useful to make us complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17) – what then is the basis of your trust? If you have the wisdom to judge Scripture to pick and choose what you regard as inspired, then you have enough wisdom to bypass the Bible entirely. If you can’t trust what the Bible says about the physical world (science and history), then what basis do you have to trust it when it talks about the spiritual? If you can’t trust it regarding things that we can see touch and measure, you have no basis to trust it when it teaches about salvation, heaven and hell.

    You claim that my approach causes our youth to doubt everything once they reach college. Instead, I would argue that this problem is better addressed by apologetics instead of pushing the Bible beyond as verifying or invalidating evidences.

    Rather, I would suggest that it is your approach that will breed doubt and skepticism by forthrightly asserting that the Bible can’t be trusted when it comes to its teachings about the physical world. If we can’t trust the Bible regarding things that can be verified – things of the physical world – you have deprived us of any reason to trust its spiritual teachings.

    Besides, regarding the Bible as God’s Word, I do not have the liberty to read into it what I want to help my students better accept it and reduce the tension created by their conflict with the university. We must first love the Lord. Faithfulness to Him is faithfulness to His Word.

    • “I don’t believe the intent of the author of Genesis was to tell people living 5000 or more years in the future the intricacies of the processes used in Creation. The purpose was to establish God’s purpose for the earth and His chosen people.”

    How do you ascertain intent? Not by imposing our own philosophy upon the text! We instead need to understand the Biblical teaching in context. Also, we need to regard how the NT interprets the Old. For example, Jesus took the Genesis accounts historically:

    • Matthew 19:4-6: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ [Gen. 1:26] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? [Gen. 2:24] So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

    Do we have the liberty to do any less!

  • Norman

    Daniel,

    I think you are on the cusp of becoming an Internet Troll considering your history of inflamatory and multitude of postings relating to this subject.

  • Phil Miller

    How then do you determine which verses are trustworthy? If you refuse to trust what Scripture says about itself – that it all must be fulfilled (Mat 5:16-19) and that it is all God-breathed and useful to make us complete (2 Tim 3:16-17) – what then is the basis of your trust? If you have the wisdom to judge Scripture to pick and choose what you regard as inspired, then you have enough wisdom to bypass the Bible entirely. If you can’t trust what the Bible says about the physical world (science and history), then what basis do you have to trust it when it talks about the spiritual? If you can’t trust it regarding things that we can see touch and measure, you have no basis to trust it when it teaches about salvation, heaven and hell.

    I don’t believe trustworthy necessarily has anything to do with being factually correct on every single detail. The biblical authors believed that the earth was a flat disc several layers of domes above it. They didn’t know it was a round heavenly body, and indeed, they would have no idea on how to process such information. Therefore, God spoke to them in such a way that they could understand, and under that inspiration they wrote.

    This is such an old and tired conversation at this point. Can you not see that telling a kid that once someone finds something in the Bible that can be proven incorrect that the whole thing is false is far more dangerous than telling that kid that we need to read the Bible in a responsible and holistic fashion? I could show you kids on my Facebook feed who grew hearing the things you’re saying and who now think that the whole of the Bible is not much better than a fairy tale. It’s because they were never taught to read the Bible correctly in the first place. I’m sorry to be so blunt, Daniel, but I find what you’re saying to be dangerous and harmful. I’m sure you’d say the same to me, but I feel the evidence is in my favor.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Norman,

    My experience is that people resort to name-calling when they have nothing more substantive to say.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil #63

    • “The biblical authors believed that the earth was a flat disc several layers of domes above it. They didn’t know it was a round heavenly body, and indeed, they would have no idea on how to process such information.”

    This is the very kind of response that deeply troubles me (and I think God also)! In order to preserve your worldview, you seek to denigrate the Bible. How will this type of thing edify the students you seek to encourage? In fact, the Bible displays accurate cosmological understanding:

    1. TIME IS NOT ETERNAL: 2 Tim. 1:9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

    2. THE UNIVERSE HAD A BEGINNING: Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Contra the steady-state theory that had ruled science).

    3. THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE PHYSICAL WORD AREN’T VISIBLE: Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

    4. LAWS: Jeremiah 33:25 This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth,

    5. WATER CYCLE: Job 36:27 “He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams.” (Also, Amos 9:6)

    6. ROUND EARTH, EXPANDING UNIVERSE: Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

    • “Can you not see that telling a kid that once someone finds something in the Bible that can be proven incorrect that the whole thing is false is far more dangerous than telling that kid that we need to read the Bible in a responsible and holistic fashion?”

    Can you not see that your approach of Bible accommodation and compromise isn’t faithful to Scripture and to God? While you claim that you are helping your students, you are merely helping them to accommodate to modernity and it’s whole set of assumptions. Instead of critiquing modernity through the lens of Scripture, you have opted to critique Scripture by the lens of modernity. Thus, there is logically no end to the compromise.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Daniel, well….

    Sigh.

    The End.

  • Phil Miller

    6. ROUND EARTH, EXPANDING UNIVERSE: Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

    Like I said earlier, this conversation is getting old and tired, but I find it ironic you site this verse. The Hebrew word chûg is translated to circle, which is correct, though some people (Rick Warren, for one) have tried to stretch it to mean sphere. That’s simply a bad reading of this Scripture. What Isaiah is describing is exactly what I mentioned earlier. He envisions the earth as a flat disc cover by a dome (the “firmament”) which is in turn covered by “the heavens”. The ancients views the earth something like a giant snow-dome where the inner dome was the air, and outside of that waters.

    Instead of critiquing modernity through the lens of Scripture, you have opted to critique Scripture by the lens of modernity.

    Actually, this is exactly what you’re doing. You’re forcing the Bible to be something it’s not. The biblical authors were not trying to tell anyone about the essential physical nature of the universe other than that God created it and it was good.

    I have probably already interacted with you about this too much. The topic of the post really wasn’t whether or not evolution is true or not, but rather whether its a hill Christians should decide to die on. I don’t think is. To do so is foolish, and ultimately a waste of time, energy and resources.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil,

    I just checked out six translations, all of which translated “chug” as “circle,” except NASB – “vault.” In short, none support your claim that the Bible is errant in this matter.

    You reaffirm all of my misgivings about TE. TE is not faithful to the Bible as God’s Word. Instead, it is faithful to its own modernistic agenda.

  • Phil Miller

    Daniel,
    You’re too much. You’re telling me that I’m not being faithful to God’s word by pointing out that Isaiah calls the earth a “circle”? That is what the text says. Isaiah literally calls the earth a circle. A circle is not the same thing as a sphere. That’s basic geometry. I’ve seen plenty of YEC bend over backwards trying to explain things like this away, but ultimately they fail. They want it both ways. You can’t demand that all Scripture be taken in a literal sense in some places and not in others. Your hermeneutic is inconsistent.

    I agree with what others said here. I find your comments towards me and others quite derogatory. Not everyone who doesn’t agree with you is being unfaithful to God’s word. I believe that most if not all commenters here would say they are doing their best to be faithful to it. Fortunately for us, though, that doesn’t depend on your approval.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Phil,

    You are distorting what I’ve been saying. I never argued in favor of literality, nor does the Bible. I’m merely seeking to understand it as it was intended.

    Meanwhile, you argue that “circle” means that Isaiah wrongly thought and wrote that the earth was flat. In this, you demean Scripture, making your own judgments more authoritative than those of Scripture.

    Then, you accuse me of making “derogatory” comments against you. However, I’m merely restating the very things that you have been stating – that you think that Scripture is mistaken and that you are correct.

    However, I do admit that my reflections are offensive to you. I am purposely not softening them. I want to show you what you and others are doing, in hope of shaking you out of the assumption that you are right and Scripture is wrong. Christianity can not survive on such a foundation.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Daniel @ 70: “I want to show you what you and others are doing, in hope of shaking you out of the assumption that you are right and Scripture is wrong”

    Translated:

    “I want to show you what you and others are doing, in hope of shaking you out of the assumption that you are reading Scripture correctly, and I am reading Scripture wrongly”.

    In essence, Daniel, it comes down, for you, to “I am right and you are wrong, so there!”

    The debate is about how we read Scripture. You insist that your method is right, and in spite of all evidence to the contrary (including the wide range of interpretations common in the early Church), everybody else is a ghastly heretic.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Klasie,

    The difference is simple. It’s not so much a matter of interpretation but simply this – are we willing to believe what Scripture says about itself:

    • Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

    • 2 Cor. 3:16-17 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    • 2 Peter 1:20-21 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    Interpretation is another matter. Sadly, TEs are not willing to receive this testimony. They think that they can improve upon Scripture by relegating certain parts of it to errant myth. This is tragic, not only for the TE but also for the church. While the TE believes that he is providing a great service by bringing the Faith up to modern standards, he is gutting it of all substance. While he might temporarily relieve some cognitive dissonance from the struggling college student, the TE condemns those he seeks to help to a vacuous, insubstantial, postmodern faith.

  • John

    So Mr. Mann, just to be clear – the Earth and the Cosmos are only 6000 years old. Is that correct?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Daniel, pardon me, but your cognitive dissonance is showing. Or rather, the inability to understand that words must be read within their context, is frightening, especially considering that you are a Bible teacher.

    Your assertion that TE’s are not willing to accept the testimony of Scripture is a blatant falsehood, based on your unwillingness/incapability to understand that the same sentence could have different meanings in different contexts. And, while propagating that falsehood, you are bearing false witness against your brother. And that sir, that rhetoric based on ignorance, is the VERY subject of this post, but it is damaging to the faith, damaging to the youth, and sows discord and division.

  • Kenny Johnson

    Is “evolution” (i.e. refuting evolution) a must win issue?

    Before reading the comments here, I would have said no. But, my goodness… after reading the comments, I think the answer is clear to me. Yes… we really do.

    I started out as a Christian being an OEC, then was introduced to Intelligent Design (and really appreciated Behe’s views and still do, to some degree) and have ended up being a fairly confident TE (or EC). The one thing that all of this has helped me do is let go of a lot of fear. And now I’m afraid that those who are taught that they HAVE TO accept a YEC (or even OEC) view in order to be a Christian is dangerous and damaging.

    We cannot hide out heads in the sand anymore. It’s hurting our witness and possibly or faith.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Klasie,

    You are guilty of the very same charges that you bring against me, but even worse. You are making very personal and unsupportable charges, while I’m merely pointing out the obvious – that while the uniform testimony of Scripture claims it is fully the product of God and therefore without error, TEs dismiss much of Scripture as errant myths.

    Instead of Scripture judging the TE, the TE sits in judgment over Scripture, eliminating what does not agree with the modern scientific and social consensus. Meanwhile, the TE continues to claim, “I too believe that Scripture is fully God-breathed, but we just have a different interpretation.”

    Dismissing Scripture as errant goes far beyond any question of interpretation. It even violates God’s very warnings:

    • Deut. 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    John, I haven’t counted the years, neither has Scripture.

  • Patrick

    The exegesis of Gen 1&2 lends itself to evolution. If John Walton’s views are valid on the philology/etymology of the words. I think they are myself.

    I think we can calm down, God is going to accurize the church’s views of things in due time. I pray for that almost daily.

    Seeing an oldster fundy like Robertson start the ball rolling here is encouraging to me.

  • John

    And so then Mr. Mann, do you trust God’s other book of revelation, the Earth and the Cosmos which He created, and our ability to study that book scientifically?

  • http://www.wanderprone.com nate

    When we frame our arguments as “Science says A, the Bible says B” I think we use the word ‘science’ too simplistically. There’s a level of science that is demonstrably true in the here and now and we can have no quibbles with it. Gravity accelerates an object at 9.8 meters per second, per second. Any one of us with a stopwatch, a tall enough building and a tennis ball can go prove this to be true and none of us can prove it to be not true.

    There is another level of science that takes what is empirically true, that which we can measure and demonstrate in the immediate, and extrapolates from that data to reasonable conclusions–we can see the fossil record, the geologic data and from these things form conclusions based on reasoned thought, but this science is far, far different from that which can be demonstrated empirically in the here and now.

    When the first aircraft were being designed, their developers drew extensively on the data they had proven regarding aerodynamics, horsepower to weight ratios etc. and came up with designs that they said empirically and scientifically MUST fly. In some cases their peers reviewed these designs and strongly defended their it-has-to-fly conclusions. Only they didn’t. They never got off the ground and unproven scientific conclusions cost men their lives. Only when the first aircraft actually flew were the designer’s conclusions from the data proven to be true and thus move those conclusions from the level of ‘interpretive science’ to demonstrably true science.

    The fossil and geological records are there for us to evaluate in the here and now, and I think that most scientists are doing their dead level best to reach logical conclusions from these, but I think a level of humility needs to be in the mix simply because we can’t prove the conclusions and we need to acknowledge that things like the age of the earth are not a lock.

  • John

    Roger Wiens is a scientist with the Los Alamos research program and Principal Investigator for the ChemCam Instrument on the Mars Rover Curiosity. Wiens is a Christian and tells “Why I Explore Space” at this website for the Mennonite Brethern.
    http://www.usmb.org/roger-wiens-why-i-explore-space

    At the bottom of this article Wiens provides links to the Rover research page and then to the Chem Cam page – click on “Team” and then “Bios” to learn more about the work Wiens is doing as Principal Investigator.

    “….Over the last 25 years Wiens has researched and given talks on various aspects of planetary science, from Jupiter’s moons to the composition of the Sun. Wiens received his training in Physics from Wheaton College and the University of Minnesota. Some of his work is highlighted in the e-magazine, God and Nature.”
    http://asa3.org/zine/?cat=35

    Some years ago Wiens published a paper for the American Scientific Affiliation, the network of Christians in the sciences, on radiometric dating of rocks – the techniques that have enabled scientists to determine the age of the Earth, and now do similar work on Mars.
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/wiens.html

  • Steve Kuethe

    Does our worldview match the world we view? I’m a Chemical Engineer who flies rockets for a living, but, I think Christianity makes more sense of the world I observe than any other thought system I’ve seen. One must-win questions is: Did God create the heavens and the Earth and therefore have the right to judge us? Naturalism and Materialism have successfully cross dressed as science in that they have fooled many in the church and many in American culture. Naturalism and Materialism both start with an assumption that only no-God solutions may be entertained as “science”. For a silly example notice that in all the CSI shows they examine evidence and use reason to find the real killer. But if Naturalists and Materialists were doing the investigation they would be limited to “natural causes” killed the victim. So I don’t trust the “scientists” who are naturalists or materialists. I am skeptical of an assumption that with regards to the universe agent-causation is anti-science. I’m more open minded then the neo-darwinsits and believe that both event-causation and agent-cauasation need to be considered so I can infer to the best explanation of the observations. All observation has shown that design requires a designer. The church needs to carefully assess the naturalistic assumptions that are supporting the conclusions of the various scientists and develop discernment about who are the naturalists and materialist cross-dressing as scientists. The Blind-Watchmaker form of evolution dies a quick death when you see it is based on bad assumptions. If you want to hear some very crisp thinking on this I’d suggest you check out this Christian philosophers site: http://www.str.org. Greg Koukl and his team carefully explore “Christianity worth thinking about”.

  • http://www.mannsword.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Nate,

    Good word! I only wish that our TE brethren would be as humble about some of the “findings” of science as they want us to be about the interpretation of Scripture.

    When evolution becomes more of a “fact” for them than the explicit teachings of Scripture, it is only natural that the clear and certain will be used to re-interpret what is less clear and uncertain, inevitably, it is Scripture that must suffer modification.

  • J

    #83Daniel – “it is only natural that the clear and certain will be used to re-interpret what is less clear and uncertain”

    Psalm 91 tells us in “clear and certain” words that God is a bird, with feathers and wings.

    #80Nate – “I think a level of humility needs to be in the mix simply because we can’t prove the conclusions”

    Our geologic and evolutionary models happen to be based on a profoundly rich and consistent body of scientific data. And, yet, most of those here citing the science behind age-dating and genomics have done so with “a level of humility,” and no scientist would argue that there is always the possibility of new evidence changing our models.

    And Nate, it works both ways. Those who feel that their personal faith would be undermined or negated by old-earth and evolutionary theory should also be of similar humility, willing to acknowledge that there are a number of well-reasoned, textual-hermeneutic theories. To hold an opinion is one thing. To insist that there is only “one reading” of ancient text (Daniel, et al) ignores centuries of scholarship and scholastic tradition. Such a position lacks the requisite humility you speak of, and, I suggest, is both unhealthy and counterproductive to faith.
    .

  • http://gracewithsalt.com Tim

    Perhaps the science is only limited to the natural world and must also assume a uniform history for it’s conclusions to be valid. I believe the Bible teaches a supernatural and catastrophic past (rapid creation, cursed world, flooded world). I believe when we take another look at the evidence with the Biblical information reinserted into the discussion, we can draw new conclusions from the evidence. I see no evidence in contrast to a young-earth, 6-day creation time frame. It’s all about starting points. What starting point do you use to interpret the evidence?

  • Pam

    Tim
    But your ‘starting point’ still involves interpretation. The 6000 or 10,000 year old earth position is still and interpretation and extrapolation beyond what the words of the Bible strictly say.
    There are many sites that address the holes in the YEC, including age of the earth, global flood, as well as the compatibility of evolution with faith. Head over to biologos or talkorigins.
    Finally, there’s an underlying assumption in your last two sentences. That assumption is that the ‘starting points’ are in competition. But why would the God who created all things – including giving us the brains that help us do science, including the tools we use to do science – make a world that, for want of a better term, lies to us? Radiometric dating is quite a reliable tool, and it gives us ages for rock that are much older than 6000 years. Then there’s the various layers of sediment and rock with fossils spread throughout them that are distributed in a way that means there couldn’t have just been one big flood event. So has God given us false science? Or false results? Or made the earth ‘look’ old on purpose so that our measurements – taken using our God-given gifts – are wrong? Or could it be that our scientific methods and measurements are right, the earth is in fact billions of years old, and God is an amazing God who gave the ancient Israelites enough knowledge about the world for them to understand, and who has over centuries and millenia helped us to explore and study and gaze in wonder at His creation, learning more and more about it as we go?

  • http://scilla.org.uk/ Chris Jefferies

    Daniel (83) ‘When evolution becomes more of a “fact” for them than the explicit teachings of Scripture, it is only natural that the clear and certain will be used to re-interpret what is less clear and uncertain, inevitably, it is Scripture that must suffer modification.’

    Evolution is open to question and modification, like any aspect of science it always has been open to question and modification. But you cannot question evolution on any basis other than the evidence. You are free to go and look for counter evidence. But complaining that evolution is in some sense false without counter evidence is foolish in the extreme.

    And no, it’s not enough to come out with the tired old arguments that have already been shown to be ineffective (the mammalian eye) for example. You need to find evidence that has not already been discounted.


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