What is “Evolutionary Creation”? Let Denis Lamoureux Tell You (he wrote the book)

Today’s post is more a 12 minute guest slide show (link below) by Denis Lamoureux, associate professor of science and religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta (full bio here).

I asked him if he would consider explaining the content of his book I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution, which is a great introduction to his view of origins called “evolutionary creation,” a term he will explain in this series, and which he prefers to the more common “theistic evolution.” (The idea is letting the right noun dominate the phrase.) Lamoureux covers chapters 1 and 2 today and I will get the other chapters up very soon

Lamoureux holds three earned doctoral degrees—dentistry, theology, and biology–which uniquely qualifies him to speak to the issue of human origins and Christian faith. He gets the science, he gets the hermeneutics, and he articulates both clearly for non-specialists.

A couple of introductory comments about the 12 minute Powerpoint. First, he says some very nice things about me at the beginning, which I attribute to a brain frozen from the long Canadian winter and a truncated hockey season. Second, as I just mentioned, Lamoureux is Canadian, so keep your ears open for an “aboot” or the like. Third, as you’ll see, Lamoureux is no fan of the Intelligent Design movement. Fourth, for those of you who are beyond the beginner’s stage, you can read his much thicker book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution.

To view this presentation, which is on Lamoureux’s web page at the University of Alberta, click here.

  • Greg M.

    Lamoureux’s work is awesome! His Evolutionary Creation book helped me to fill in key parts of my theological worldview now that evolution is a part of it.

    Having read your book too, I’ve wondered what your take would be on Lamoureux’s views on Adam. I know you see Adam as Israel, while Lamoureux sees him as made up, more or less, to explain where humans came from. Any common ground here?

    • peteenns

      There might be. I do push the Adam/Israel interpretation, and I think it can’t be avoided, but I also say that this interpretation does not exhaust the text, which I feel operates on several levels. The universal feel is also palpable. The two could be combined by saying that Israel is portrayed as “ideal humanity.”

      • Denis O. Lamoureux

        Hi,
        I have lots in common with Pete. In particular, his Adam book has pushed me hard to think about reading Gen 2-3 in the light of wisdom literature. For most of the winter my morning devotions have been on Prov, Job & Eccl. It’s been a blessing to my soul and also an opening of my mind to the wisdom flavor of Gen 2-3.

  • http://www.rethinkingao.com Mike Beidler

    Denis (aka “Denny”) was extremely influential in helping me make the final break from biblical inerrancy, with you and Kenton Sparks giving me a boost toward a more “incarnational” approach all the while embracing scholarly, objective, biblical criticism … all without losing my faith.

    Apparently I was helpful to Denis in return, especially considering I’m in the acknowledgments. Hey, you are too!!! ;-)

  • Kyle Greenwood

    Pete,
    How does his view differ from Warfield’s “mediate creation”? Or would you say it is closer to Zahm’s “derivative creation”?

  • http://prodigalthought.net Scott

    Pete

    Have you read Peter Bouteneff’s book, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives? He explores how early church fathers did not see a ‘plain literal’ reading of Genesis as the only perspective. Of course, many of them went with allegory, which I believe you, and others like Kent Sparks, see as unhelpful. RJS at Scot McKnight’s blog did a series on the book.

    • Mark Chennoweth

      Scott,

      Have you read Andrew Louth’s “Discerning the Mystery: An Essay on the Nature of Theology”? One of the chapters, called “Return to Allegory,” is extremely helpful. I’m in the middle of it at the moment. He doesn’t say allegory should be a way to avoid the tough parts in scripture, but more of a way of seeing the Holy Spirit guiding the church into a COMPLETED reading of the OT. He used T.S. Eliot and others for help. Scholars like James Barr, and Brevard Childs were influenced by the essay and neither of them completely wrote off allegory.

      I think where guys like Louth and others would differ with Enns is where Enns says we shouldn’t really FOLLOW the2nd temple hermeneutics of Paul, guys like Louth, Behr, DeLubac and others would say that the Church HAS and does and SHOULD follow Paul’s hermeneutical paradigm even while acknowledging that Paul didn’t respect the “authorial intent” of many OT texts. At least that’s how I see things at the moment.

      I’ve even seen an Eastern Orthodox blogger link to Enns’ paper on Apostolic Hermeneutics and say that this is how the church CONTINUES to interpret the OT and this is good and right. Interesting stuff.

  • https://theway21stcentury.wordpress.com/ unkleE

    This was very helpful, and gives m,e a book or two to follow up. Thanks!!

  • http://www.ja-nei.blogspot.com Hallvard N. Jorgensen

    I’m very thankful to Lamoureux; his “Evolutionary Creation” really opened up my eyes to the fact that the OT often espouses an ancient science. Wonderful book, I think. However – his reflections on hermeneutics and biblical theology – i. e. the “message-incident principle” – are less satisfying, in my opinion. I do not see how this principle is warranted by the text itself. And sometimes it rather seems as if he uses his own (sometimes lacking and theological narrow) evangelical traditions as a hermeneutical lens through which he can sift out the “essential parts” of the Bible.

    But I really recommend his books, and he has taught me a lot. DL points to problems that need to be addressed, and points in fruitful directions for solutions. But more work needs to be done on how his insights on natural science in the Bible alters our use of the Bible in our systematic theological enterprise.

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Thanks for the kind comments. But tell me more on why you are concerned with MIP?
      Now, regarding your comment about systematic theology, you are right. Historically Christians have conflated Adam & the Fall into the Message. If I’m right, then systematics needs decouple these incidental elements.
      Thanks,
      Denis

  • http://www.muzicindi.net Muzi Cindi

    Interesting take by Dr. Lamoureux! – I’m waiting to see how He will tackle the “hot potato” of: the fall into sin; the need to be rescued from a fall (that never happened); Science has now given us sound reasons for the human condition. He rightly says that our ancestors used “their” science to explain the origins of the universe. Didn’t our ancestors use (their) science to explain the human condition (sin)?

    • Mark Chennoweth

      Muzi Cindi,

      Christ diagnoses our sinfulness. We are sinful because Christ diagnosed as such. Paul didn’t know what kind of sin he needed saving from until AFTER God provided the Savior! It’s only THROUGH Christ that we can understand the human condition.

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Muzi,
      That’s coming in the future (and you are right it’s a “hot potato”). But suffice to say that I distinguish the statements about the physical world in Scripture (ancient science, if you wish to use that term) from the statements about spirituality (eg the reality of sin). When I read the Garden of Eden account I see myself–a sinner who attempts to justify my sin. Ain’t it true about all of us?
      d

  • Bev Mitchell

    Pete,
    Thanks for inviting Denis to do this, and Denis, thanks for accepting. This will be very helpful, I am sure.

    Denis,
    Great to see you here! That PP presentation really brought back old memories – and very good ones at that. The technology sure works better now, eh?

    Bev

    • J.L. Schafer

      speaking of technology, does anyone know what software he used to create the presentation?

      • Denis O. Lamoureux

        I use Power Point 2010 for the slides, and then use Ispring 2012 to put them online.
        If a computer knucklehead like me can do it, so can you.
        d

        • J.L. Schafer

          awesome, thanks

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      eh?
      Too Canadian for me! ;-)

  • Pingback: The Evolution of Language

  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_pdp_rev_all?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

    Muzi Cindi,

    Re Lamoureux’s handling of “the fall into sin; the need to be rescued from a fall (that never happened),” Lamoureux addresses that issue on pp. 156-8 of “I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution.” Without an historical Adam, he suggests that ” ‘original’ sinwas manifested gradually and mysteriously over many generations during the evolutionary processes leading to men and women. Thus, sin did originally enter the world, but not through Adam. . . . But do I believe in sin, and am I a sinner? Absolutely. And do I believe that Jesus died for my sins? Again, absplutely . . . ”

    A similar take on the fall into sin can be found in Daryl P. Domning’s book “Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution.” He suggests that “evolution is a better explanation than Augustine’s doctrine of original sin. The author prefers to speak of original sin as original selfishness. “Infants, for example, are guiltless of sin, but undeniably self-centered. This self-centeredness is in them by natural generation and is necessary and good for their survival, yet it is an obstacle to an eventual relationship with God. Hence they have the same need for Christ’s salvation as all other people (as the Church has always taught), even though they are as yet innocent of actual sin.” (p. 149)

    • Mark Chennoweth

      Paul,

      Thanks for the link! It’s the only book on this subject from Amazon that has actually gotten good reviews! Looks great!

  • mud man

    (Macro) Evolution is a process of building order out of chaos. Doesn’t the notion of “starting from chaos” contradict the doctrine of creation ex nihilo? I think that must bother a lot of people, and also the related notion that evolution isn’t finished, contradicting the doctrine of the completeness of salvation.

    • Bev Mitchell

      mud man,

      Have a look at Jon Levenson (1988) “Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence. At least at his Preface to the 1994 Princeton U. Press paperback edition.

  • Beau Quilter

    I viewed Lamoureux’s presentation from the perspective of a nonbeliever. I found it a bit like going to an advanced Sunday School. There was nothing offered to change my perspective, only a description of a particular way that believers can view evolution.

    Two things to point out.

    Lamoureux states that a dysteleological view of science requires faith, just as a teleological view of science requires faith. He’s using new terms but still basically passing on the old canard that atheism requires faith. Atheists, of course, will reject this loaded term being foisted upon them. The vast majority of atheists will acknowledge that they cannot disprove an all-powerful being who created the universe; they just find it extremely unlikely. Atheists don’t have “faith” in some ultimate answer to the universe; they are more interested in the questions we continue to probe about the universe.

    The second item interesting to me: Lamoureux states that the vast majority of Christians believe in scientific concordism with the bible; his view of evolution must reject this. He correctly demonstrates that scientific concordism leads to impositions of faith on the scientific process, leading to creationism and other errors.

    Christians who accept evolution routinely decry new atheists like Richard Dawkins for getting creationists “up in arms”. But why decry Dawkins? Doesn’t the problem lie with the creationists? Isn’t it the job of religious people to correct the theological views of other religious people? It certainly isn’t Dawkin’s job. Dawkins is nonbeliever. From his perspective, an enormous percentage of religious people are hampering the progress of science education in public schools, particularly the branch of science to which he has devoted his life.

    If all Christians shared Lamoureux’s views, Dawkins wouldn’t be speaking out about the problems that religions cause in the science classroom. But as Lamoureux points out, most Christians do not share his view. Most Christians believe in scientific concordism with the bible.

    • http://all-thought-is-practical.blogspot.com Scott Coulter

      My own problems with Dawkins have nothing to do with his views on science education. His anti-religion streak goes much further than religion interfering with science education policy. He misrepresents the religions and religious philosophies he denounces, or at best fails to acknowledge that what he is denouncing is not the mainstream of Christian (or Muslim) tradition. And his philosophical analyses are poor. His tone and content on religion and philosophy aside, his writing on science is good. For example, his explanation of how reductive explanation works is helfpul.

      • Beau Quilter

        How are his philosophical analyses poor? Eagleton says this, of course, in his essay, but never deigns to point out exactly where Dawkins gets it wrong.

        At any rate Lamoureux seems to contradict your contention that “what [Dawkins] is denouncing is not the mainstream of Christian (or Muslim) tradition”, when he points out that the vast majority of Christians are scientific concordists.

        Even if you could make an argument that Christians don’t try to enforce religious dogma on others, how can you make the same argument for the majority of Muslims? Turkey is the most secularized Muslim nation in the world, and just this week a man was convicted of heresy for a blog post he made with a wry comment about Islam. There is a reason that we prize freedom of speech in this country.

      • Denis O. Lamoureux

        Amen to that Scott!
        Dawkins is pretty shallow. As atheist philosopher of biology Michael Ruse states, “Dawkins couldn’t pass an undergraduate exam in the philosophy of religion.” Here is a clip of Dawkins commenting on my views. As you’ll see analysis gets an “F”, but if his purpose in life is to be a court jester, he gets an “A+++”
        http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/dawkins_and_lamoureux.html
        Best
        Denis

        • Beau Quilter

          I’m continually amazed at how the mention of Richard Dawkins can awaken the most sophomoric of insults.

          • Denis O. Lamoureux

            Really Beau? Did you view the video? Obviously not. My comments are in the context of the video. According to Dick, I’m a “man with an air of desperation” and also “an intellectual coward.” And you accuse me of “the most sophomoric of insults”? Your fundamentalism is clouding you mind . . .

          • Beau Quilter

            Sorry, the video does not play on my computer. To what fundamentalism are you referring, by the way?

            I seriously doubt, however, that your video will change my opinion of this amazing and renowned writer by many degrees. I’m curious about why you take the time on a blog like this to express such disdain for an eminent professor like Dawkins. Is it professional jealousy? Is it that any interaction you have with him is better for your CV than his? Or is it knowing that his books will remain in the canon of notable and relevant literature long after yours have gathered dust on the unexplored shelves of a smattering of obscure church and college libraries.

        • Beau Quilter

          Dr. Lamoureux

          When you describe Richard Dawkins, the award winning Oxford scientist, professor, and author of hugely influential books such as The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Ancestor’s Tale, and The Greatest Show on Earth …

          … as a man whose “purpose in life is to be a court jester”, what, exactly, are you hoping to accomplish?

        • Beau Quilter

          Dr. Lamoureux, I finally was able to play your video clip. Thank you. It’s another delightful interview which showcases Dawkin’s eloquent way of explaining his position. He doesn’t appear to really know who you are in this clip, does he? He’s just responding to a short few sentences you’ve provided in another clip. When he speaks of desperation and intellectual cowardice, he’s really just addressing the sort of apologist you represented to him at the moment. I doubt he would even have remembered your name at the time (perhaps you’ve interacted with him since?). At any rate, he never speaks with anything like stridency, and concedes that great scientific strides can and have been made by scientists who are Christians.

          • Leo

            Dawkins is highly respected IN HIS FIELD (biology). However, he has taken one too many forays into the realm of philosophy/metaphysics and has been thoroughly picked apart by those, such as Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig who specialize in this field, to the point where many of his disciples are looking for a new atheist knight in shining armor. He refused to debate Craig and even his atheist colleagues could smell the red herring of “I refuse to debate Craig because he believes God killing the Canaanites was justified.” Please.

          • Beau Quilter

            Leo

            This is VERY late, but I just noticed your response and thought I would give you an answer.

            Craig and Plantinga are in the minority of philosophers who argue what is called “the philosophy of religion”. Most philosophy professors are nonbelievers.

            But even among believing philosophers, you won’t find many who would actually argue (as Craig does) that the decimation of the Amalekites in the Old Testament was justified. Most theologians and philosophers of religion I read would simply say that the Bible is not inerrant and sometimes reflects the tribal ethnocentricism of ancient Hebrews. They would say that the overarching themes of the Bible point toward a creator, but that some biblical records (such as genocides) clearly reflect the morality of man rather than God.

            I think that’s pretty close to what Peter Enns would say about this aspect of Craig’s argumentation. Possibly Dr. Lamoureux as well.

    • http://www.muzicindi.net Muzi Cindi

      Agreed Beau Quilter:
      “Isn’t it the job of religious people to correct the theological views of other religious people?”
      Evangelist Michael Dowd is doing excellent work in this regard!

      • Beau Quilter

        And I would add that Pete Enns is doing excellent work in this regard …

    • Nancy Rosenzweig

      Atheists, such as Dawkins, also believe in scientific concordism with the Bible – they share a foundational error with Christian literalists. They believe that the Bible has no value if it describes concepts that just are not true. And so atheists consider the Bible to be without value because of its ancient, pre-scientific view of origins. Biblical literalists reject modern science (and other disciplines, such as history and linguistics that assume that the world is older than 6000 years) because it contradicts their interpretation of scripture. Same mistake, different conclusions. Lamoureux’s work is an attempt to repair the damage that this dependence on concordism has created.

      • Denis O. Lamoureux

        Oh! Nice observation Nancy.
        The irony of atheistic fundamentalism is that its hermeneutical skill set not much different than that of religious fundamentalism . . . which of course is no skill set at all!
        Best,
        Denis

      • Beau Quilter

        I just noticed this response, so sorry for replying so late. You say that atheists “believe that the Bible has no value if it describes concepts that just are not true.” What an ironically untrue statement. If atheists think that the “Bible has no value”, why are there atheists in biblical studies?

        It’s a gross mischaracterization to say that all atheists think the “Bible has no value”. They may not believe it to be inspired, but that is a different matter altogether.

        • Nancy R.

          Good point, Beau, there are indeed many non-believers who appreciate what the Bible reveals about the beliefs and practices of the people of the ancient near east. Stephen Jay Gould was notable in this regard, of course.

          My point is directed a bit more towards Christians who take an all-or-nothing view to biblical truth – and there are atheists, like Richard Dawkins, who encourage this approach. I’m sorry, I don’t have the quote at hand, but I did read that Dawkins claimed that only young-earth creationists were reading the Bible honestly, as opposed to Christians like myself, who accept that some stories in the Bible are myth – to be taken seriously, but not literally.

          I do have atheist friends who disparage the Bible as a whole because it contains stories that a reasonable person would not accept as literally true, or laws that no one would dream of following today. And this approach can be damaging to people of faith. I read of one well-known Christian apologist who almost lost his faith because he found an apparent error in the Bible – the number of years of the reign of one of Israel’s kings was reported differently in two books. He was only able to retain his faith after he somehow did the math to his satisfaction.

          • Beau Quilter

            I just have to wonder if a person whose “faith” is “damaged” by factual errors in the Bible, has a faith worth keeping in the first place. That’s the sort of faith that does damage to society (young earth creationists campaigning to change science curriculum comes to mind- though there are certainly other examples). Damaging that sort of faith, doesn’t strike me as a problem.

          • Nancy R.

            Young earth creationism (and excessive biblical literalism as a whole) is indeed a weak sort of faith that requires all sorts of absurd props to hold it up – as I’ve discovered in discussions with people who HAVE to believe that people and dinosaurs co-existed, despite a complete absence of an evidence that this is true.

          • Beau Quilter

            I agree.

            Liberal Christians often say that Richard Dawkins’ arguments against God only address a fundamentalist version of God. My response is to say – Great! Then Richard Dawkins clearly won’t be convincing any liberal Christians to become nonbelievers, so you have nothing to fear from him.

            And if Richard Dawkins’ convinces a fundamentalist to become a nonbeliever, there shouldn’t be a problem, to a liberal Christian since this clearly isn’t the same version of God that liberal Christians worship. In fact, I would argue that a liberal Christian making rational arguments will have an easier task evangelizing a nonbeliever than fundamentalist.

            By convincing the fundamentalist to think rationally- we’ve done half your work for you!

            You’re welcome.

  • http://www.muzicindi.net Muzi Cindi

    Paul Bruggink;
    “This self-centeredness is in them by natural generation and is necessary and good for their survival, yet it is an obstacle to an eventual relationship with God. Hence they have the same need for Christ’s salvation as all other people (as the Church has always taught), even though they are as yet innocent of actual sin.”

    I find this very contradictory! – If self-centredness is necessary; why do they then need SALVATION from something that is so useful to their survival? I see self-centredness as a very important need for our survival as human beings. Without this selfish gene we wouldn’t be able to compete and attain our upward mobility. AND; – If we evolving from a reptilian brain to a more Divine & Loving brain over millions of years; cant’t this be a scientific way of explaining the dogma “Jesus died for our sins”? – This dogma has to be retired from our vocabulary because it has caused too much Psychological damage OR else we need Philosophers to deconstruct it.

    • Mary

      Hi Muzi, I think you are correct that we need the “selfish gene”. At the same time though it CAN interfere with having a relationship with God. We develop the psychological structure the “ego” in order to function in life, however if we put the ego first then we end up with this definition of it: EGO=Edging God Out. It doesn’t come naturally to us to put God first. I agree though that the problem of human sin is very adequately explained by both biology and psychological principles. I happen to think we are evolving TOWARDS God rather than from him. Your example of the reptillian brain evolving is a perfect example. My personal interpretation of the “Fall” is that it depicts an evolution of consciousness from the non-awareness of animals (in which they are innocent of wrongdoing by virtue of not being conscious of it) to the awareness that our actions have consequences for others. I have not read this (although I am sure I am not the only one to think of this), but base this on Carl Jung’s ideas of symbology. If you look at the story, the fruit of the tree was not called evil or sinful. In fact that “mean ole serpent” (which is a symbol of wisdom in some cultures) said that they would become like God. It was the Tree of the KNOWLEDGE of both GOOD and EVIL. When they ate the fruit they suddenly realized that they were naked and were ashamed. Why should they be ashamed when they were created that way? But nakedness is a common symbol for shame in the psyche. This detail indicates that they were ALREADY sinful, but weren’t aware of it. The symbolism of getting cast out of the Garden is simply that once a conscience is developed, it makes life a lot harder. We are separate from the natural world, which is pretty much amoral in nature. Carl Jung believed that stories and myths like these are part and parcel of the psyche and usually come through dreams. Literally our myths are “dreamed up”! Many cultures still have the practice of dream sharing by their spiritual elders and they add to their mythology every day. This is likely how this story came to be and it was adapted later by the Jews. I believe this story basically depicts both an evolutionary step for mankind and also the way our psyches develop. As babies, we have no conscience so we are basically a part of amoral nature. At some point we learn to feel empathy for others and are taught that the world cannot revolve around our needs alone. As far as the concept of salvation I see many problems with it as taken literally. Symbolically it could represent the death of ego and the rebirth to God. In a sense we do need “saving” because we cannot go it alone and our egos tell us that we are separate from God when we are not.
      I hope you read this even though it is an old thread. If you want to respond, you don’t have to make a separate post. Just simply hit the reply button in YOUR post and your comment will appear in the thread. ;)

      • Mary

        Ooops! Wrong about that last part! I see the reply button in my window! :)

  • norman

    Being a Theistic Evolutionist myself I find much to agree with in Denis work “Evolutionary Creation.” However I also find some areas that I can’t agree with as well. My understanding of Genesis 1-11 is becoming more inclined to the idea that this piece of work was more of a polemic toward not only Paganism but also toward corrupt Judaism as it was practiced from about 600 BC and onward. I think we see these themes resonate with later 2nd T apocalyptic interpretations and early Christian interpretations.

    Judaism appears to have historical divisions within it that are somewhat easily to discern if we pay attention to their various literature including OT and 2nd T pieces. One theme that I am presently investigating is the idea espoused by some in that “Wisdom” was pushed aside by 2nd Temple Hebrew legalist (works) in the vein of Ezra and his ilk who differed with the evolving messianic Essene crowd. Therefore if we also examine Ezekiel we see similar patterns of polemics against first corrupt Judaism and their leaders and also the Pagan Nations who enticed them. These two corrupting influences were often tied together hand in foot and thus Israel is often described as a prostitute to the Nations.

    The Garden Fall is IMO reflective of Israel’s failure to follow “wisdom” and instead partakes of the Temple practices that become a form of Idolatry as illustrated by Jesus in the Gospels and extensively by Paul and are thus effectively set aside. Therefore eating of the Tree of Knowledge was partaking of Idolatrous/deviant Law Keeping (works) and I believe that is what drives Paul’s Romans 5-8 examination of Adam and the refuting of first century contemporary Judaism’s version of Idolatrous Temple Law keeping. I know many think Paul misinterprets Genesis to bring forth his ideas that he builds upon; however I think Paul got it exactly right in that he understood the underlying themes that resonates beneath the surface in the stories of Genesis and pulls them out to build his theses.

    That is why Genesis themes such as Cain the Older (apostate Jewish) brother is made the example of those in the NT who were repressing (murdering) “wisdom” followers as espoused through Christ. I think we also see many ideas in the flood account in which men of power corrupted the daughters of Adam/Israel and thus Judaism’s ways. It seems obvious to me that the Hebrew writer or writers of Genesis took a mythological ANE flood account already 1500 years old and reworked it into a device that fit into Exilic Judaism issues and themes that lasted for 500 or more years. We see this extensively in the 2nd century BC writings of Enoch and Jubilees and how they picked up and ran with those same themes carrying them forward. I believe Genesis was written then as a template for prophetic prophecy as it was occurring and as it was anticipated to unfold in Messiah. We can follow these themes right through Abraham and Joseph in which Joseph is a messianic template himself of the anticipated Messiah. The typology in Genesis is overwhelmingly appropriated by 2nd T messianic Jews right up to the last half of the first Century AD.

    Finally I believe the tower of Babel story l is very likely an exilic examination/illustration of the problems encountered with their Temple worship experience. That is a theme that we find strongly in Enoch’s examination in which he illustrates the Temple by calling it a “Tower” and it is destroyed by Messiah/God to inaugurate God dwelling in the Human Heart instead of a Temple made by human hands.

    Really Genesis is not as exotic in ways as we think but is very likely a workmanship of ancient Hebrew scribes/priest who penned as Paul would say a “hidden mystery” enveloped within and hidden until Messiah. The “mystery” was not hidden to the writers necessarily but to the hearers which are why you needed trained scribes who understood this literature; like Paul did to interpret it and apply it. Paul gets a bad rap today because many don’t seem to pick up on his form of Midrash Hebrew interpretations which is simply reading between the lines of the hidden mysteries that lay within.

    When we understand Genesis then as functional creation (with assigned revolutionary theological purposes) then we are free to work our Evolutionary examination without hindrance of Genesis at all. I believe in the future that examinations of Genesis will move in the direction as illustrated above as we already see some moving that way. It is much more a revolutionary piece of literature that is being laid out in Genesis than a Creation IMO (however creation and revolution are two sides of the same coin). It’s telling us that what was once right got pushed aside and needs to be set right again. That’s why Christ compared the Jewish leaders of the Day with their Father the Devil whom was the pattern that had been ongoing for centuries in this Hebrew feud. That’s why it’s also calling for a return to the Original Garden relationship with God. And no the Garden has not an inkling of physical implications in its story line and so we are not someday going to see a return to a physical Garden Shangri La here on earth. IMHO Paul would roll his eyes if he heard us try to explain the Garden “mysteries” in that manner.

    Here is how Paul read between the lines in Genesis 2: 24.

    Eph 5:31-32 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” THIS MYSTERY IS PROFOUND, and I am saying that IT REFERS TO CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.

    Paul sees the “woman” signifying active “wisdom” as the church under the headship of the Last Adam Christ.

  • http://www.muzicindi.net Muzi Cindi

    Dr. Lamoureux – In the clip that you attached; I just note that Richard Dawkins says He’s had second thoughts about God; BUT; not about the God of Jews, Christians & Moslems!
    Maybe there’s another way of reaching the likes of Richard Dawkins; away from the monotheistic concept of God. I think THE GOD DELUSION is basically a rejection of the juvenile monotheistic God!

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Muzi,
      You are right _The God Delusion_ is quite juvenile. One of the philosophers at my college did a course on it, and the philosophy students were bored out of their minds. It was so bad that the course was never run again.
      Dawkins is not only a poor philosopher, his historical knowledge of what Darwin actually believed is as pathetic. He makes this boast that Darwin allowed him to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Darwin would have been outraged. In fact, I published a two part paper exposing Dawkins’ historical incompetence, and even forwarded the provocative thesis that a proper reading the Darwin primary literature leads me to an intellectually fulfilled THEIST!
      If you want to read the papers, they are online at:

      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/p_darwin_1.pdf
      Denis O. Lamoureux, “Darwinian Theological Insights: Toward an Intellectually Fulfilled Christian Theism—Part I. Divine Creative Action and Intelligent Design in Nature” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 64:2 (Jun 2012), 108-119.

      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/p_darwin_2.pdf
      Denis O. Lamoureux, “Darwinian Theological Insights: Toward an Intellectually Fulfilled Christian Theism—Part II. Evolutionary Theodicy and Evolutionary Psychology” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 64:3 (Sep 2012), 166-178.

      • Mary

        This may be a little late to point out, but he didn’t call Dawkins’ book juvenile. He called the montheistic God juvenile and said that that was why Dawkins does not believe in God. And in fact I happen to agree that the God of the OT is VERY JUVENILE.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Beau,

    You are right, Christians can learn important things from keen observers like Dawkins. He certainly tells us how we often come across to people who share his world view – and it’s not pretty. His extreme reductionism also brings him into conflict with other biologists who think we should be looking at the data in a much more holistic way. See, for example how Denis Noble (The Music of Life) and the late Lynn Margulis tangle with Dawkins. The very important Oxford meeting of 2009 is a good place to start: http://www.voicesfromoxford.com/news/margulisdawkins-debate/158

    The problem, as always, is over-baked polemics. Dawkins indulges in it, as do his opponents. In my long experience, scientists usually do a better job of disagreeing agreeably than do Christians. But everyone can be provoked. To focus on what they say when provoked is to miss a lot of important stuff.

  • norman

    I don’t know what Dawkins thinks about recognizing a higher power but I heard him say (possibly tongue in cheek) that he entertained aliens planting life here on earth. So perhaps he is open to some theistic approach on what he might consider reasonable terms but not with all the baggage he sees from biblical approaches.

    After I got past his acerbic attack on Religion as he sees it, I did begin to appreciate his approach in a limited manner. After all many of us are not satisfied with the way that Christianity is presented historically and many want to smooth out the rough edges we find within. The difference is that we are often working from within a group (evangelicals) and tend to accommodate some of our extremes without becoming overly strident with them (but not always). After all it’s difficult to change people as an outsider as Dawkins is perceived even though we might see many of the same problems.

    If we boil religion down to its nuts and bolts it may turn out to be pretty much the same thing that Dawkins may indeed appreciate. The OT, Jesus and the NT reaffirms that the essentials are just 2 applications that should resonate in one’s life. One is recognizing that there is a higher power beyond ourselves and submitting to that recognition that we are not individually the end all be all of existences within ourselves. The other essential is treating people as we would want to be treated, and that should include the recognition that people develop worldviews as individuals and we all need leeway by each other as we move through life and adapt. That is the guiding principle that was supposed to govern Judaism, Gentile God fearers and Christians and is likely what Christ was seeking to reestablish.

    Historically the Hebrew writers saw their ancient forebears more accommodating and inclusive than we often accept. Those stories before Abraham illustrate that the simplicity of God Fearers was the commonality that these writers considered their rightful heritage going all the way back to the Adam character. The Adam character likely represented their (Israel’s) historical beginning recognition of a time when men begin to call upon the name of Jehovah singularly (Gen 4:26). I doubt they had historical proof of this but simply reasoned it out that their concepts of God had to begin with someone and coalesced eventually with Israel. This would have been a realistic assumption to describe Adam representing Israel and not pagan humanity at large. We see the Hebrews expound upon this concept in the Jubilee writing where Adam reigns as a priestly position to the Nations. However the division of true humanity represented by Adamites/Israelites was overthrown in the Ephesian letter where Gentile’s and Jews were merged into one humanity instead of two. The OT is a story of two humanities in the eyes of the Jews but it all developed around the concept of the One True God.

  • arty

    Where in the Nicaean Creed does it logically require you to have a position (any position) on the scientific theory of evolution? The list of things that one absolutely must believe, in order to be a follower of Christ, is actually pretty short. If I had a personal position within this debate (which I don’t), I’d only be forced into the position of believing that some other people believe things that I take to be in error, about non-first-principle matters, which isn’t exactly an earth-shattering conclusion to come to. Pretty obviously the phrase “creator of heaven and earth” allows for quite a large range of specific positions that might fit under that umbrella, but really, from a non-antiquarian point of view, what’s the point of trying to figure it out? You just end up with a variant version of all the interpretive theories of the book of Revelation, where few people stop to ask whether or not the point of having the book of Revelation is for us to “figure it out” somehow. What would actually change, in terms of living a Christian life here and now, depending on which position you took? Once you adopt the presupposition that Christ is who he claimed to be (a la C.S. Lewis), then irrelevant spewings from the Ditchkinses become just that, and can be safely ignored. Likewise, I can adopt the presupposition that Christ is who he claimed to be, with all that that entails, and waste no time whatsoever with the intricacies of the Evolution debate. Somebody enlighten me: Is this debate some sort of neo-scholastic hobby? Am I so dense that I can’t see how this is just a commentary on my lack of intellectual curiousity?

    • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_pdp_rev_all?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

      Arty,
      Re your “Somebody enlighten me: Is this debate some sort of neo-scholastic hobby?”

      You are correct in pointing out that the Nicaean Creed does not “require you to have a position (any position) on the scientific theory of evolution” and that for you personally, the creatio-evolution debate may very well be unimportant. But for Christianity as a whole, it is an important evangelistic issue, both inside and outside the church. According to a 2011 Barna Survey on Young Adults Leaving the Church, Reason #3 is that churches come across as antagonistic to science.

      Many scientists and theologians have attempted to address your question. One of the better answers comes from Francis S. Collins, in his book “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief,” pp. 177-178:

      “Young Earth Creationism does even more damage to faith, by demanding that belief in God requires assent to fundamentally flawed claims about the natural world. Young people brought up in homes and churches that insist on creationism sooner or later encounter the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of an ancient universe and the relatedness of all living things through the process of evolution and natural selection. What a terrible and unnecessary choice they then face! To adhere to the faith of their childhood, they are required to reject a broad and rigorous body of scientific data, effectively committing intellectual suicide. Presented with no other alternative than Creationism, is it any wonder that many of these young people turn away from faith, concluding that they simply cannot believe in a God who would ask them to reject what science has so compellingly taught us about the natural world?”

  • Jim

    I haven’t bought Denis Lamoureux’s Evolutionary Creation yet, but I’m definitely interested in this book. One thing that pisses me off is some of Dawkins comments that imply evolutionary theory is air tight.

    I’ve never seen a good explanation of how the “first cell” or precursor might have assembled itself with essential biopolymers (proteins, oligosaccharides etc) of high chiral integrity. Also, a bio-world with totally opposite chirality (l-sugars, d-amino acids) should equally be possible, and both chiral-worlds would be very low probability from a racemic soup. Of course once there are functional cells you would anticipate chiral control to be self-perpetuating.

    The idea of evolutionary creation therefore may make a lot sense. Apologize for ranting, but I feel much better now.

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear Jim,
      Don’t buy the book. It’s old news and it’s shamefully expensive (that’s the downside of being published by Wipf & Stock).
      Here is what I suggest: Go to my website and do my sci-rel course. The notes, handouts, and audioslides (about 22-23 hrs) are there for FREE. I’m about 80% done the latest version, with where my thinking is right now. EC was where I was in 2005 or so. And if this is your cup of tea, then come to the one week summer school for discussions on the topic.
      Best,
      Denis

      • jim

        Thanks for your suggestion and I will buy your next book then (preorder :) ). On a side note, I do remember the old Dent/Pharm building a U of A.

      • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_pdp_rev_all?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

        Denis,

        Re your “Don’t buy the book. It’s old news . . . ”

        What about those of us who prefer to get our information from books and printed blogs?

        How about a secomd edition of “Evolutionary Creation,” or will your current thinking be included in your upcoming book, and when and where can we expect your new book?

        • Denis O. Lamoureux

          Really!
          When to dent school there, and now I teach one section of my sci-rel course in the building.
          The Dents have left to a new building with the meds.
          d

          • Jim

            Yeah, there are a few more new buildings on the campus since I was last there. I had been involved with Pharmaceutical Sciences at that time. Medicine has amalgamated some territory since, not that bad though since Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy are all good schools at U of A.

        • Denis O. Lamoureux

          Dear Paul,
          All the notes & handouts for my course are online and free to download.
          The next book is a 4 views book by Zondervan including John Walton,
          Jack Collins (PCer) and Bill Barrick (YECer). They defend historical
          Adam. Lord willing it will come out in the fall just in time to ETS and
          my heresy trial . . .
          d

          • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_pdp_rev_all?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

            Denis,
            I just pre-ordered the book and “Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy,” both of which have an Amazon release date of November 26, 2013. Since this is too late for the ETS annual meeting, you may be safe for a while longer. I will check out your web site. Thanks.

  • Denis O. Lamoureux

    Leo says:
    April 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm
    Dawkins is highly respected IN HIS FIELD (biology). However, he has taken one too many forays into the realm of philosophy/metaphysics and has been thoroughly picked apart by those, such as Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig who specialize in this field, to the point where many of his disciples are looking for a new atheist knight in shining armor. He refused to debate Craig and even his atheist colleagues could smell the red herring of “I refuse to debate Craig because he believes God killing the Canaanites was justified.” Please.

    Leo,
    I know Bill. He would have destroyed Dawkins.
    So I guess we got to give Dawkins some credit
    for bailing out . . . and I guess we need to add a
    new evolutionary mechanism: Survival of the Gutless
    Denis

    • Leo

      Thanks for responding, Denis! I saw Craig’s debate with Sam Harris at Notre Dame and I was struck by how many students were walking around with Harris’ latest book “The Moral Landscape” prior to the debate. I wonder, though, after the debate, if many of those same students ditched their books after the beat down Harris received. I believe this, in part, was probably what led Dawkins to do his Forrest Gump impression by running and to “keep runnin’.”

    • Zeke

      Dawkins reference to Craig’s demands to debate him: “that would look great on your CV, not so good on mine”.
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig

      • Leo

        That was a clever line, but only hid the real reason he wouldn’t debate Craig. I had to laugh at Dawkins’ line about Craig “parading himself as a philosopher.” I guess having a PhD in philosophy counts as “parading.” He’s written over 30 books, has a masters degree in Philosophy of Religion and Ecclesiastical History (summa cum laude) and has debated two of the so-called “4 Horseman” of atheism and debated other atheist notables such as Flew, Carrier and Ehrman. Yeah, that Craig is a real hack! LOL!

        • Zeke

          I can’t defend Dawkins’ sometimes strident ridicule of religious types (although it’s easy to peruse Patheos and find countless hateful and nasty comments about atheists), but I think his point is valid. Craig believes that God is the source of objective morality, and thus has to defy his own common sense by arguing that the genocidal stories in the Bible are not only historically accurate (gulp) but rather quite understandable, warranted, and consistent with the wishes of the loving creator of the human race. To learn that Craig addressed an empty chair reserved for Dawkins at a subsequent “debate” speaks volumes about this man.

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  • Frederick

    These post are rather old, but I need
    to engage Denis Lamoureux as there may not be another way as I was
    lend his book and ask to comment on / question it. The Book I love Jesus and I
    accept evolution is a ‘oxymoron’ and presents nothing new then what
    Richard Dawkins or Charles Darwin have stated. But as now I got more
    respect for Richard Dawkins since understanding what a theistic
    evolutionist is, or supposed to be, is rather confusing. An
    interesting comment by Muzi Cindi about original sin from our
    ancestors ( before Adam) and Denis Lamoureux to explain it! So he
    wants to rewrite history, this hot potato is non existent, but Denis
    Lamoureux can do it, as he’s again trying to find a way to supersede
    God’s perfect Word. Another reason why I’d sympathize with Richard
    Dawkins and why he has a confused about what so called Christians
    believe. So original sin didn’t come from Adam (Gen. 3:6) then where
    exactly did it? But this unlikely to be answered as Denis Lamoureux
    only answers the easy questions as in evidence for his evolution of
    the chimpanzees or apes, the missing link to Adam. So being a so
    called theist evolutionist you can have Charles Darwin and God’s Holy
    Word as one? Or your evolutionist doctrines supersede His Word the
    Holy Bible? My is simply the Holy Bible doesn’t need evolution, The
    Holy Bible is a historical document that will out live anything else.
    It would be interesting, not excepted that Denis Lamoureux can
    respond to this so therefore I can forward his comments or
    explanations to his friends that lent me his book. Sincerely &
    thankyou. – Frederick


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