best book on evolution and faith I’ve read in years (or, constructing a cathedral in your mind)

FETEI bet you thought I was going to talk about my book The Evolution of Adam.

Fooled you.

********

I’ve been around this block for a few years now. Generally speaking, the debate over the compatibility of evolution and Christianity, especially among evangelicals, lacks the input of scientists who not only practice their discipline but who have thought deeply and reflectively about the theological and hermeneutical implications of what they do.

Such participants would be able to speak clearly and effectively about the theologically challenging advances of scientific knowledge as well as the inadequacy of science to act as a dominating “sacred narrative.”

In other words, what is too often lacking is a hermeneutically informed engagement of the scientific process–one that is fully aware of what it has brought to the table yet mindful of its limits.

The same sort of lack–notably among evangelicals and fundamentalists–is found on the other side of the discussion, where biblical interpretation or theological constructs are held up as the most reliable “informants” for drawing conclusions about the natural world.

In other words, hermeneutics is a big deal for the science/faith discussion, which brings me to a wonderful book I recommend very highly and that deals specifically and creatively with this hermeneutical dimension, From Evolution to Eden: Making Sense of Early Genesis by Gregory J. Laughery (director of Swiss L’Abri and author of Living Hermeneutics in Motion: An Analysis and Evaluation of Paul Ricoeur’s Contribution to Biblical Hermeneutics) and George R. Diepstra (retired biology professor at Northeastern Illinois University).

These authors have added to the conversation a stimulating, nuanced, and compelling book on the interaction between science and faith, where neither “wins” over the other, Rather both areas are seen as human hermeneutical constructs that are in dialogue with each other and that do not give the false hope of a simple solution that the more common “dominance model” promises.

The goal of the book is beautifully expressed in an opening illustration (pp. vi-viii; my formatting and emphasis).

Perhaps we can turn to the artistic world, where the meaning and mysteries of life are contemplated, explored, and expressed in an effort to illuminate complexity and uncover valid directions. The great Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi [1852-1926] captures something of the spirit of our work when he says, “Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.”

For Gaudi, it was critically important to read (interpret) both the book of nature and the biblical text to fully appreciate life. In other words, he promoted a spirit of cooperation between God and nature. The best expression of this partnership can be found in his unfinished masterpiece, la Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona. . . .  

As we approach the cathedral, we come face to face with a breathtaking array of colossal walls, spires, windows, and sculptures that appear to spring outward and upward toward the heavens. Found in this explosion of architectural angles and designs are representative scenes from the biblical narrative, including the nativity and passion. These relief sculptures are complemented by the portals of faith, hope, and charity.

Gaudi designed the outside of the basilica as a stunning display of the unfolding drama of the biblical story, a story that brings us into contact with realms beyond the world around us, realms which evade our total and complete understanding.

Upon entering the basilica, the experience continues as we are immediately struck by the presence of great stone pillars that hauntingly ascend to a cavernous ceiling. The pillars give the sense of being surrounded by a series of massive tree trunks. Once the ceiling is reached, the effect is completed by the presence of branches that form a silhouette of leaves overhead. And then as we look beyond the stone forest, shades of color dance through the pillars.

Gaudi created this effect by strategically positioning long strips of colored glass on the walls of the cathedral, as well as placing two large stained glass rose windows on either side of the head apse. When light filters through the stained glass, colors appear to bleed from one window to the next. The visitor might feel a powerful sense of transformation as the colors run the gamut from blue to green to yellow to brown and bits of red.  This sense of change intensifies as the light in the room undergoes dramatic variations in step with the time of day and the movement of clouds.

Thus, the architecture itself reflects an assortment of changes in the natural world. Through this kind of splendor inside the basilica, glimpses of sacred space are configured in all their wonder and beauty, and the interplay between nature, perception, and thoughtful expression come to a climax.

What can we learn from Gaudi?

In a sense, the basilica symbolizes our need to construct a cathedral-like place in our thinking, where beliefs drawn from both biblical and natural sources can be in dialogue. And just as the basilica reflected changes in the outside world, so must our sacred thoughts be open to changes in our understanding of the world around us. This makes the task of constructing our own cognitive cathedral of thoughts, questions, and beliefs an ongoing affair that never comes to a complete end.

Interestingly, the basilica seems to reflect this point of view. It still stands unfinished after almost one-hundred-and-fifty years of construction. These images, and the complexity they provoke, set the stage for the work that follows.

According to the authors, when either science or some form of biblical literalism becomes the dominant “informer” in the dialogue, the result is “a false sense of invincibility that unduly hastens to close the channels of dialogue and critique” (p. 19).

In other words, “war” is not the proper metaphor for the relationship between science and faith, nor should we seek some uneasy detente where each is given its closed off pasture to roam in.

Instead, the authors envision a type of engagement where the neither “side” of the discussion is delegitimized and where neither is allowed to become the overarching sacred metanarrative. The tensions between them are too real and “at best can be minimized but not eliminated” (p. 30).

Science and faith is each a “complex communicative practice” and their distinctness reflects “the spatio-temporal context of their practicingTEA communities”; and the relationship between them is not that of  “predator-prey” but symbiosis (p. 32).

The book isn’t for beginners. You’ll find some complex sentence structure here and there, and the authors are informed by philosophical/hermeneutical voices that do not always make it into street level evangelical treatments of this issue: like Paul RicoeurIan Barbour, and Wentzel Van Huyssteen.

Still, the book is readable and worth the effort. Plus–and how I wish others would follow suit–it is only 114 pages long with a nice bibliography and index.

For my tastes, their discussion of Genesis 1-3 doesn’t touch down enough in the kinds of things that might occupy biblical scholars, but then again the authors’ intention is not to address every issue and have the final word.

They aim to create pathways and trajectories to take us far from both either/or thinking or some uneasy resolution–both of which rest on an unreflective hermeneutical foundation.

*********

[Note: Just a reminder that my blog will be moving the peteenns.com soon. I will keep you all posted!]

 

  • gingoro

    Looks good but no Kindle version so I can’t buy. DaveW

    • peteenns

      Well, you CAN but you have reasons not to.

      • gingoro

        I can’t and keep my word.

    • Just Sayin’

      You could always post a nasty one star “review” for a book you haven’t read. Oops! I see you already have . . .

      • disqus_ArAZvzDh0k

        gingoro = Dave W. removed his non-review.

  • http://batman-news.com Mike Edwards

    Enjoyed the post and will take up the challenge. Can those who insist in a certain biblical hermeneutic let go if it turns out the earth is much old than they thought? Can those who insist in a certain scientific explanation of the earth and human existence let go if it turn out the earth is much younger that they thought? We don’t have to insist on either account as we try to understand what God is really like.

    • Kim Fabricius

      Not quite. When it comes to how old the earth is, the scientific explanation is the only explanation in town. If new data suggests that the earth is younger (or older) than they thought — i.e., than than the current explanatory consensus — then of course scientists will let go of it — and work towards a new explanatory consensus. For creationists, however, it is unthinkable that the world might be older than than they think on the basis of their literalist hermeneutic, which is a science-free zone and therefore impervious to new evidence and calculation. Indeed the possibility not only of new explanations but also of radical paradigm shifts is written into the project of science — and, alas, written out of fundamentalist project of reading Genesis.

      • Bill Barman

        When it comes to how old the earth is, the scientific explanation is the only explanation in town. If new data suggests that the earth is younger (or older) than they thought — i.e., than than the current explanatory consensus — then of course scientists will let go of it — and work towards a new explanatory consensus.

        That’s not how it’s been working. Russell Humphreys is a creation scientist who’s explanation of the earth’s magnetic field is quite accurate and has successfully predicted what the Voyager II space explorer would find when it measures the magnetic field on Neptune and Uranus.

        For a peak into his mind’s cathedral where science and faith have a dialog, read this:

        http://www.icr.org/article/beyond-neptune-voyager-ii-supports-creation/

        “The key postulates of my theory come directly from the Bible, as I mentioned above. If the solar system were much older than the Biblical age, the predictions would not fit the observations. But the predictions do fit the observations, thus supporting the Bible and a straightforward creationist understanding of it. In contrast, dynamo theory predictions have fared poorly in the solar system, not only at Uranus and Neptune, but elsewhere, particularly at Mercury, the Moon, and Mars. One commentator says, you would have thought we would have given up guessing about planetary magnetic fields after being wrong at nearly every planet in the solar system. . . .”

        For creationists, however, it is unthinkable that the world might be older than than they think on the basis of their literalist hermeneutic, which is a science-free zone and therefore impervious to new evidence and calculation. Indeed the possibility not only of new explanations but also of radical paradigm shifts is written into the project of science — and, alas, written out of fundamentalist project of reading Genesis.

        Actually it seems to be the other way around. It’s the religious presuppositions of the scientists who need deep time that cause them to ignore new scientific facts — like a youthful Pluto. They then try to explain away the anomaly with increasingly absurd conjectures.

        Once that phenomena is recognized by a Christian, the science – faith space within the mind’s cathedral becomes quite harmonious, peaceful and serene.

        • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

          You might want to check this out:

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/magfields.html

          Humphrey’s predictions work because he leaves a variable open and works backward from his predicted result.

          • Bill Barman

            Thanks for the link. Here’s is another link that adds to the controversy.

            http://trueorigin.org/ca_rh_01.php

            So who are you going to believe? God’s Word and competent scientists who produces real results basing their science upon God’s Word? Or others who discredit the results posting their criticism on web sites DEVOTED to “rebutted assertions of those advocating intelligent design or other creationist pseudosciences” instead of through the same peer review process Humphreys had to jump through. (talk about shutting down dialog)

            What’s really interesting in Humphreys rebuttal of almost twenty years ago is what he has to say about theistic evolutionists who propagate the misinformation.

            Warning to readers — personal opinion follows: Personally, I’m choosing to believe God’s Word with or without what scientists say. But it’s pretty neat having smart brothers in Christ giving sound explanations of things I don’t have the intelligence to understand, accurately predicting what secular scientists are going to find. That adds another dimension to the very tiny cathedral in my mind where the faith – science dialog plays out.

          • ugluk2

            Creation pseudoscience exists to give fundamentalist lay people the illusion that science supports their belief system. The fact that you are happy with it means it is is performing its function, but this has nothing to do with real science.

          • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

            I don’t consider Humphreys a competent scientist, nor do I think young Earth creationism is based on God’s word, so I guess I’m going to go with the overwhelming testimony of the scientific community composed of Christians and non-Christians.

          • Bill Barman

            Phil and ugluk2

            Well I guess that settles it.

          • ugluk2

            Nothing is settled in a blog comment section, Bill. Do a serious study of geology or astronomy or both and then you’ll understand that the evidence overwhelmingly shows that the earth and universe are billions of years old. I don’t think you are under any obligation to do this, but then your opinion isn’t worth any more than mine is on some technical subject I have never examined. I don’t have opinions that contradict those of leading experts on cryptography, for instance, because I have nothing beyond a very slight knowledge of the subject.

          • Chris Falter

            Hi Bill –

            Humphreys states in his email that the graph was based in substantial part on “much other archaeomagnetic data I didn’t cite.” Yet he expresses disappointment that the unsourced data were questioned.

            He also states that he performed a “rightward compression of the timescale to compensate for a common error in carbon-14 dating due to ignorance of the effects of the Genesis flood.” So after compressing the data the data rightward to make it consistent with YEC C-14 dating–and inconsistent with everyone else’s C-14 dating–he discovers that his best-fit regression is consistent with YEC C-14 dating, and not with everyone else’s C-14 dating. Do you see why his methodology does not inspire confidence? First he alters the data to fit his assumptions, then he discovers that the analysis of the data fits his assumptions. This is not a shining example of how to do science.

            Finally, the major criticism of Humphreys’ model was that it was too credulous of ancient, imprecise measurements. These problem has existed as long as technology has been advancing. Christian proponents of literal interpretation of the Bible used to say the Bible was right and the heliocentric theory was wrong because heliocentrism predicted a parallax effect that was contradicted by observations. Then the scientific community got better telescopes, which produced more accurate observations that confirmed the parallax effect, and thus heliocentrism.

            The astronomers didn’t disprove the Bible, of course; theologians just had to update their interpretation of passages in Joshua and Psalms in a manner consistent with the scientific observations.

            Since more recent and reliable observations of the magnetic field have been made, the graph of the equatorial magnetic dipole moment has been essentially flat. The best fit regression is now a line of y=k where k is a constant. Humphreys’ dependence on unreliable data from inferior, ancient technology to generate an exponential decay regression is another reason why the overwhelming majority of the scientific community has not accepted his position.

        • Chris Falter

          The surface of Pluto has been exposed no more than 100 million years. That’s a long way away from proving, or even suggesting, that Pluto is only 7000 years old. 7000 is over four orders of magnitude smaller than 100 million.

          I recently listened to a 40-minute debate between Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe and Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis over the age of the universe. Ross spent a few minutes describing the overwhelming evidence that the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Lisle did not once in his approximately 20 minutes offer any scientific evidence against Ross’ analysis. His one and only point was that, based on the one and only possible interpretation of Genesis 1-3, God must have created the universe six to seven thousand years ago. Therefore, the evidence of a 13.8 billion year history is just apparent, not actual.

          Why did Lisle not dispute the science? I’m only speculating here, but I think he knew that Ross would instantly shred any scientific evidence he offered. Ross is a highly qualified and articulate astrophysicist, unlike the typical reader of a Pete Enns blog (Chris Falter raises his hand) or an Answers in Genesis book. Lisle had no ability to dispute the scientific evidence, so he instead decided to reinterpret it.

          So maybe Lisle’s right about this apparent age thing. And if he is, perhaps also you and I were just created 5 minutes ago as fully formed adults with an apparent age of many decades, and endowed with memories and capabilities that only make it seem like we were created longer than 5 minutes ago. And this blog is entirely a chimera, too, specially created 5 minutes ago with an apparent age of several years. And Pete was specially created 5 minutes ago with an apparent age of ???, and those pitching records he holds at Messiah College were specially created 5 minutes ago, too, as memories and web pages.

          But seriously, highest strikeout rate AND highest walk rate? I spent 8 years wearing the tools of ignorance behind the plate, but I never caught anyone quite like Pete.

          • Bill Barman

            The surface of Pluto has been exposed no more than 100 million years. That’s a long way away from proving, or even suggesting, that Pluto is only 7000 years old. 7000 is over four orders of magnitude smaller than 100 million.

            However, 7,000 is still less than 100 million. Which will come first, a plausible explanation as to how Pluto is no more than 7,000 years (i’m guessing it actually no older than the number of years since Noah’s flood) or a plausible explanation using secular wisdom as to why it is no more than 100 million years?

            http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/Asteroids2.html

            I took the time to listen to the interview. The moderator had them both on a very tight leash. I heard both debaters use their allotted time referring to scripture rather than scientific evidence. The only evidence that the universe is 13.8 billion years old I heard was that since the universe is expanding, if you reverse the process you come to the big bang 13.8 billion years ago. Then he stated that the majority of cosmologists agreed with that. I think this is where “begging the question” arguments came in. But the assumptions that go into the big bang theory just to make it seem to work, assumptions like inflation, dark energy and dark matter are so far more unintuitive, your facetious apparent age illustration would be more believable to the common man looking for the truth — which seems to be the reason both men agreed on why this topic is important.

          • Chris Falter

            Brother Bill –

            I do appreciate your listening to the debate I linked to.

            I respectfully and fundamentally disagree with your characterization of science as “secular wisdom.”

            By your definition, Isaac Newton’s Principia is an exemplar of secular wisdom. In it Newton set forth his four philosophical presuppositions:

            Rule 1: We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.

            Rule 2: Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

            Rule 3: The qualities of bodies, which admit neither intensification nor remission of degrees, and which are found to belong to all bodies within the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever.

            Rule 4: In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or very nearly true, not withstanding any contrary hypothesis that may be imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur, by which they may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.

            Newton’s philosophical principles sound very much like Pennock’s methodological naturalism.

            Since they continue to follow Newton’s method and philosophy, today’s astronomers are using an inductive method based on their very best observational data about Pluto, the rest of the solar system, and other solar systems, in combination with well-accepted physics principles, to arrive at a parsimonious, physics-based explanation of the surface of Pluto. They have already established one of the constraints: the result must be consistent with a Pluto surface no greater than 100 million years old. On the other hand, I don’t think that either Newton or today’s astronomers would accept a constraint of being consistent with a particular interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. Certainly Newton did not accept the constraint of a geocentric universe that eminent theologians like Luther, Calvin, and Melanchthon had propounded based on passages in Joshua and Psalms.

            I look forward to whatever emerges from the work of the planetary astronomers over the next few years (or decades, perhaps). The astronomers have done an amazing job of explaining observations that initially seemed astonishing, such as the cosmic microwave background radiation. If we agree with Newton’s way of doing science, along with his formulation of planetary physics, we should patiently give astronomers some time to digest the Voyager findings and formulate new theories.

            As far as dark matter goes, there are really good observational data to support its existence. The fact that common men like you and me find it unintuitive does not count for much in the scientific community. Nor should it. Common men like me find the curvature of space-time–and especially the curvature of time, as manifested in the paradoxes of time introduced by Einstein’s special relativity–to be incredible and unintuitive. Common men like me also find the probabilistic and “many worlds” aspects of quantum physics to be incredible and unintuitive. As Richard Feynman quipped:

            I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

            BTW, I checked out the link you provided on the origin of the asteroid belt, but I will comment on it separately so that our discussion is as easy as possible to follow. Poor Pete, we’re making it hard for him to referee the threads….

          • Chris Falter

            So I read the article on asteroids. Like so much of “creation science,” it strains at gnats and swallows camels. Brown eliminates the planetary fragmentation theory because “too much energy is needed to explode and scatter even the smallest planet.” Yet the amount of energy needed to launch the asteroids from earth must be vastly greater, don’t you think?

            Also, I would expect a hydroplate event to launch fragments in every direction, not just in the plane of our solar orbit. Yet our observations of asteroids show them basically in the plane of planetary orbits. The fact that they are in the plane of the planetary orbits is strong evidence that their formation occurred at the same time as the planets.

            Further, Brown has not performed calculations of the amount of energy needed in a hydroplate event to launch fragments deep into the solar system, or how much energy the imagined collapse of subterranean pillars would have released. (I checked all the footnotes and citations that seemed relevant, but I couldn’t find such calculations.) Until Brown does so, he hasn’t cleared even the first hurdle in providing a scientific theory.

            Finally, the “predictions” offered are not unique to the hydroplate theory. For example, he predicts that “asteroids spinning faster than ten rotations per day will be found to be single, well-rounded rocks.” That’s all fine and good, but the prediction emerges from Newton’s laws applied to the material from which asteroids are formed. There’s nothing about the prediction that would say, “if X is true, then the hydroplate theory must be true and competing theories must be false.”

            Until Brown offers useful predictions, his article does not offer any reason to favor the hydroplate theory over the theories offered by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community.

          • Bill Barman

            OK Chris, you beat me down with your rhetoric and brain power. Whether or not there is valid logic laying underneath, I don’t have any more stamina to dig into it. However, since you seem to have a good grasp of the errors Walt Brown made, you might consider taking him up on his debate offer. http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/FAQ427.html#wp3116043

            When we both go home to be with the LORD, let’s look each other up. I am very curious to find out which is going to be of better service, intellect or faith. In the mean time, grace and peace.

            Your brother in Christ.

            Bill

          • Chris Falter

            Thanks for your gracious reply, Bill. I am honored to be your brother in Christ.

            I think our Savior has spoken on the subject of what provides pleasing service:

            “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength.”

            Both faith and intellect are important–in different ways, perhaps. But God clearly cares about both.

            Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

            Chris

          • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

            This is the part that chafes at me – this idea that you can believe the Bible or you can believe “secular science” – whatever that is.

            The Young Earth Creationist position is not biblical, nor does it take the Bible seriously. You do not have the faith high ground, here. If I were an atheist trying to undermine biblical authority, I would consistently teach that YEC is the teaching of Genesis. And that’s exactly what they do.

          • Bill Barman

            This is the part that chafes at me – this idea that you can believe the Bible or you can believe “secular science” – whatever that is.

            To me “believing” is taking someone at their word. If I take the Bible authors’ at their word, then to me that’s believing the Bible. If I take secular scientists at their word (and I don’t when they start conflicting with the Author of the Bible’s word), that’s believing secular science.

            The Young Earth Creationist position is not biblical, nor does it take the Bible seriously.

            The YEC position is based on the presupposition that the Bible is an accurate historical record, therefore any scientific evidence needs to be interpreted in such a way that the presupposition isn’t violated. If that isn’t taking the Bible seriously, I guess we have different meanings for the word “serious”.

            You do not have the faith high ground, here. If I were an atheist trying to undermine biblical authority, I would consistently teach that YEC is the teaching of Genesis. And that’s exactly what they do.

            An if I were an atheist trying to undermine biblical authority, I would point to Christians who are ram-rod rigid in what they believe science says and are wishy-washy about what they say the Bible says.

            It’s been a great learning experience conversing with you all at this blog site, but I really need to let it go and move on.

          • peteenns

            Bill, “taking the Bible at its word” is a problem, isn’t it? If you mean “taking it absolutely literally” then you’re going to run up against all sorts of well-known interpretive difficulties. If you mean something other than literal, than you are open to the very things we are discussing here, like understanding the Bible in its historical and literary contexts–which tends to alert us to the problems of literal readings.

            Some would argue that a literal reading of the Bible ISN’T taking it at its word.

          • Bill Barman

            One last comment, and then I’ll be going.

            “taking the bible at its word” means something different to me than it does to you. I mean that from an Information Theory perspective, I view the Bible as God’s communication to us. That means He caused all the following to happen from His “transmitter” side:

            God chose from all available options the physical medium upon which to write His Word and ignored the rest.

            God chose from all available options the language to be used (code/grammer) to speak and write His Word and ignored the rest.

            God chose from all available options the thoughts He wanted to convey (meaning) and ignored the rest.

            God chose from all available options the intent He wanted to impart to the hearer/reader (action) and ignored the rest.

            God chose from all available options the overarching purpose for doing all this and ignored the rest.

            I (the receiver) have the predisposed inclination — i.e. unbelief — to replace his meaning, action and purpose with my own. But thanks be to God, we have available to us, when we first believe the Gospel, the indwelling Holy Spirit to get it right. His Spirit in us receives the message faithfully and by faith interprets it for our own understanding.

            And that is why I can’t change my presuppositions to yours.

          • peteenns

            Believe me, Bill, I and others commenting here understand where you are coming from. Some might even have articulated it at some point as you do here. It is an elegant theory. But theories need to be able to explain “data.” The biggest obstacle you will find with your theory is the Bible itself.

          • Chris Falter

            You seem to be assuming, Bill, that God speaks to us *only* through the text of Scripture. But the Scripture itself teaches us that God speaks to us via other channels, as well:

            “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

            “[S]ince the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

            “[H]e has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Acts 14:17

            God is communicating to us through the universe He created. Yes, the universe itself has information content! With the help of the scientific community–many of whom are devout believers–we need to pay careful attention to that information content.

            Which leads us back to topics like the age of the universe, the history of the solar system, and the evolution of life.

            Kind regards,

            Chris Falter

          • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

            But you’re not taking the biblical authors at their word. You’re taking the biblical authors at your word. You, a 21st century westerner, read the Bible, develop an understanding of it commensurate with the way you read texts, and you believe -that-. But that’s not taking the Bible at its word. I agree you believe your reading of the Bible, but your reading is almost by definition wrong.

            To me, taking the Bible seriously means doing the hard work to understand it on its own terms instead of “presupposing that the Bible is an accurate historical record” by our modern, Western historiographical assumptions. Why don’t you presuppose that it’s accurate by the ancient world’s standards, tropes, and uses of history?

            No atheist attacks biblical authority by appealing to Christians who believe in evolution. None of them do that. They attack it by interpreting Genesis literally (i.e. atheists and you interpret the Bible the same way) and pointing out that it’s ridiculous. You agree that atheists have the right interpretation, but should believe that over science.

            My contention is that atheists do not have the right interpretation, and neither do you. I don’t have a big problem with people believing God created the world 6000 years ago or even 6 days ago, but I do have a problem when they present that position as the only faithful one and the rest as idolatrous compromises.

  • http://dogmatics.wordpress.com/ Kevin Davis

    Woohoo, I’ll be in Barcelona in four weeks, exploring Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia! Now, I’ll be thinking about the evolution debate when I’m there! Oh why can’t evangelicals follow the lead of Roman Catholics, where this debate has been a non-debate for decades?

  • Bill Barman

    In a sense, the basilica symbolizes our need to construct a cathedral-like place in our thinking, where beliefs drawn from both biblical and natural sources can be in dialogue

    A question comes to mind in envisioning this construction.

    Is he saying the cathedral-like place in OUR thinking a common cathedral? Or is he suggesting each individual construct a cathedral-like place in his/her thinking?

    If it’s the former, help me understand how that actually plays out in the real world.

    • peteenns

      Not sure I follow your question, Bill. nI think, though, he means that we all need to be able to see how science affects faith vice-versa.

      • Bill Barman

        Gotcha. I kept thinking maybe he’s talking about some sort of community effort, like real cathedrals are built. Since I can easily see how a cathedral-like place already exists in each person’s mind on both sides of the science-faith debate, i thought maybe I missed the point.

    • disqus_ArAZvzDh0k

      Bill, It’s indeed the latter and Pete gives a helpful response. Greg