Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
The entire movie From The Dust is currently online on YouTube.
So “correctly interpreted”, this ancient document doesn’t actually contradict modern science at all! How convenient!
It would be refreshing to hear a Christian in a documentary like this just say that Genesis was wrong in some of its claims. I suspect that the people in this documentary aren’t willing to say that because they have rather superstitious views of the bible (some of them are even inerrantists, e.g. McGrath!).
It’s also sad to hear these people trying to sell theistic evolution to their coreligionists by saying that you would *expect* a loving person to create life through evolution (Polkinghorne at ~56 minutes says he would do that because he would use “an unfolding of fruitful potentiality”).
Really? Random mutations are an integral part of evolution. Random mutations cause horrific birth defects. Do we expect a loving person to create life using a process that involves horrific birth defects or one that doesn’t? I think the answer is obvious.
Well, it is certainly no worse to envisage God creating through a process of evolution, than to envisage God deliberately causing every individual birth defect, and deliberately crafting each killer microbe to wreak havoc on other organisms.
There are plenty of places where people like me will say that Genesis is simply wrong. But not everyone is at that point in working through their thinking about this topic. And not everyone who reflects on the issue draws that conclusion. But showing that many of the theological questions are independent of the acceptance or rejection of mainstream science can at least hopefully get more people on board with our current understanding of the world.
I agree with your first paragraph (although I’m not sure which scenario is worse, they’re both horrible). But it doesn’t change the fact that trying to sell evolution as a process that we would expect a loving person to use is extremely silly. It’s as silly as saying that we would *expect* a loving person to “deliberately cause every individual birth defect”.
I don’t think you’re like the people in this documentary. Those people seem to me to be basically fundies that accept evolution. I’m talking about people that try to claim that Noah’s flood is described as a local flood because they aren’t willing to say that the Bible is in error.
I hope stuff like this movie helps people to get away from YEC-ism, but I think that it would be more helpful to just point out how utterly silly the Bible is instead of trying to create inerrantists who accept evolution.
Well, as an educator, as well as from my own experience, I know that working through the details of one’s worldview – especially when it involves conservative religious teaching – is often an extended process. Sometimes even when people reject the details of their earlier indoctrination in one big leap, they don’t leave behind the fundamentalist approach to knowledge. And so I’m happy to share anything that might be useful to people and help them think in more helpful ways about some topics, as long as it seems to be moving people from less accurate ways of thinking about things in the direction of better ones in at least some areas, and isn’t moving them in clearly worse directions in others in the process!
Pretty good movie. I wouldn’t knock Polkinghorne too much, as another commentator has, “Polkinghorne at ~56 minutes says…”. Polkinghorne also says some people like things “black and white”, referring to fundamentalists. But it applies to atheists too. “No Gods, no mysteries”. And they want answers, not questions. Someone in the movie said he wants questions, not answers, since answers end the conversation. If you could see an electron without measuring it, you’d see a smear around the nucleus. It doesn’t exist at any one location at any one time. It only exists as a probability. When you sum all the possible probabilities, does it actually exist. Like the student said, we are more than the sum of our molecules. Also, about birth defects, basic to evolution is the desire to survive. So even with a terrible birth defect, the child will still struggle to survive. Parents still want to have children, even though there is a probability that bad things might happen. Sounds like a mystery to me.
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