A guest post (the biblical story of God and us that includes evolution) from a frequent visitor here

Homo Sapiens (Naturalis) and The Creator-servant’s Universe-The Revelation: The Biblical Story of God and Us in Brief

By Bev Mitchell

Homo Sapiens (Naturalis)

Homo sapiens, the ones who know, the conscious ones, the self-conscious ones. We sense that we are on a journey, that we have a story and are in a story, that we are part of that story. We know in our conscious selves that we have come from somewhere and are going somewhere. We resist the thought that our conscious self will one day end. We refuse to really believe this. Self consciousness, self awareness act like powerful lenses that focus us on …. well, ourselves. We are not only self conscious, we are naturally, unavoidably, self-centered. This is perfectly natural, even essential in a material setting.

We, the conscious ones, are aware of life. An amazing thing, life. Think about it. Consider the energy required to make life possible – start with the energy of the sun. Those energized packets (photons) arriving in waves from the sun, specifically those in a narrow energy band called visible light, make life possible. Photosynthesis organizes carbon, present in the air as carbon dioxide, into carbon-based life. All life, as we know it, is carbon based. Consider the word ‘organize’. The only way to organize anything is to put in energy, continuously. It is fundamentally a battle against entropy (disorder), relentless entropy. To win against entropy requires a continuous flow of energy and efficient management of that energy. As far as we know, this battle has been going on from the time something was first organized – from the first moment that chaos was challenged, and it will continue as long as entropy makes disorder a possibility.

Our consciousness also makes us aware of the other-others like us, others not like us, others not at all like us. Beings. Living things, with an existence, beneficiaries of those sunny photons and photosynthesis and efficient energy management, but apparently not self-conscious. At least not in a way that allows the kind of communication we would like to have. But part of the family of living things nevertheless. It’s really quite amazing when you stop to think about it.

Our awareness of a journey, of a story there somewhere, also moves our minds beyond life, to before life, to afterlife. A bit of a scary thought that second one. But just try not thinking about it for very long, I dare you. While we are naturally self-centered, we have a strong sense that …………… I won’t presume to say what your strong sense is, but I am prepared to bet that you have one.

So, here we sit, conscious, amazed, self-centered, unsatisfied. Maybe if we just get busy we can ignore that last bit. After all, there is so much to do, so much to learn. It’s even a full-time job just keeping entropy at bay in our own little corner. What keeps us very busy should satisfy us, right? And then there is this self-centeredness, kind of cozy really, maybe it’s even all about me. That would be satisfying, wouldn’t it? If only I could get everyone, everything, else to agree. Damn!

Meanwhile, the universe continues to spin, to evolve. Much stays the same, but, if we pay attention, much is changing. We can’t conclude or pretend, like our recent ancestors did, that things are essentially wrapped up. The story is moving. We are conscious of this movement, we are conscious of the passage of time, we are conscious of a direction in the movement, we want to know what the movement is about, what is behind it, what is its purpose, where are we going? Enter religious thoughts, theories, speculations, disagreements, battles……..

Religious awareness first comes from our self-centeredness, and may never move beyond ourselves, may remain entirely on the human plane, and may be thought of in material or spiritual terms, or both. This kind of religious thought and activity is essentially like all other complex thinking and activity, it’s entirely self-centered. It’s probably even adaptive, in the Darwinian sense. Such is the state of Homo sapiens before some revelation from God. Some revelation from the One who makes all this highly organized universe possible, a reality, brings it into existence and sustains it.

To continue with the story, some revelation from God is absolutely essential.

The Creator/Servant’s Universe -The Revelation

This universe came into existence in the face of a spiritual rebellion against God’s will. Our creator is waging a cosmic battle against rebellion, chaos, disorder and confusion – a physicist would say, a battle against entropy. Maximum entropy equals maximum disorder. There is a spiritual battle, a rebellion against God, that comes from a great deceiver who wants only chaos and darkness (Rev 12:7-9). In the first verses of the Bible we see God’s response to chaos, darkness and emptiness – he simply and powerfully says “Let there be light.” This is the first bit of evidence that our Creator, through divine love, will win because he is the one God, YHWH, and in response to his first command we are told “there was light.” This work will be completed as our Creator’s perfect masterpiece when rebellion is no more and the Son of God, the resurrected Man-God, reigns supreme in perfect love.

Our Creator is neither a God of the gaps nor a God of the zaps nor the grand tweaker. The vast majority of the gaps left by current scientific work will be filled in, so these are ultimately embarrassing places to shelter our understanding of God’s mighty acts. As for imagining a God who ‘zaps’ things into existence (or out of existence) this only reveals our sad desire for magic. At least, we should expect our Creator to behave in a more interesting manner. More recent proposals that God deems evolution a reasonable way to get to our present world, but reserves the right to tweak things along the way, don’t really capture the big picture of an immensely great God either.

According to the growing mountain of scientific evidence, God does indeed work in far more interesting ways. The observable universe studied by physicists and cosmologists is unfolding, and has been unfolding for 13.7 billion years. The living world that biologists explore is constantly changing, and it has been changing for more than 3.5 billion years, with no end in sight. Furthermore, all living things are related; none have been found that don’t belong to the same big family. Now that is the work of a very interesting Creator. No zaps, no gaps, except those due to our lack of knowledge, and tweeks unnecessary.

The evolving cosmos and the evolving bios to which we belong are clearly works in progress; not independently either, but part of a huge, long-term, unfolding masterpiece. And amazingly, all of the participants are part of the process. All are unfolding in relation to everything else in an unimaginable, magnificent symphony. If, on our own, we tried to imagine how a Creator might operate, we would never come up with this – it’s way beyond us. We would probably imagine something more like a grand zapper who controls everything. It’s a good thing we weren’t asked for advice on the method to use! We were just given the opportunity to participate and ended up with the blessed ability to appreciate the results, the ongoing results.

It turns out that our Creator doesn’t stop creating. It’s also obvious that he is not in a hurry. At 13.7 billion and counting, we probably have a while to go. Diversity and change also seem to be high on the Creator’s list of good things. It seems, as well, that our Creator is more than a little interested in us. We can’t reach him, but he reaches us in self-revelation. His works in the natural world certainly get our attention, but he actually comes to us, first through Israel, the chosen nation, then in person, the new Adam. The creator actually becomes a creature.

We have noticed, all of us, that we have serious problems with what Scriptures call the ‘knowledge of good and evil’. Having this knowledge, like Israel having the law, makes us acutely aware that knowing the difference between good and evil but is of little help in actually doing good. We are born failures at doing good, far too often. We expect points for trying, but basically we lack something fundamental when it comes to being good the way we know we should – in ways that will please a holy God.

Enter the Creator become Creature. Since he is making everything in perfect love, he knows a thing or two about always doing the right thing. The Creator’s physical presence among us, is a unique, once-in-a-creation event – what scientists refer to as a singularity. In fact, from a Christian perspective, the singularity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, the God-man, is the very heart of creation as well as the essential beginning of the Gospel. He is the apex of creation while also being the one through whom creation flows. This Creator we worship is truly interesting beyond our imagining!

Then, because of our inborn inability to deal with the temptation to not do the right thing, and the resulting dysfunction and horror this brings to our world, our Creator as Servant voluntarily suffers with us. In fact, suffers maximally and ultimately, participating even in death for us. But our Creator/Servant did nothing that should lead to death, he accepted it on our behalf – a willing sacrifice. Then, our Creator/Servant, in a glorious continuance of his very interesting creative work, rose from the dead in a glorified body – a victorious King. Scriptures call him the ‘first-born’ from among the dead because he is indeed a new creation – the Creator/Servant/Perfect Sacrifice/King, our Lord.

This resurrected Lord now takes up residence with the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and looses the Spirit, the very Spirit of Creation, upon the earth for our edification, guidance and empowerment. As we have been through all of time, we are called to continue with our own role in creation, now under the guidance of this Spirit of Creation. The Creator is not done yet. He keeps making moves that are more and more interesting. Now we are called to get on with the good over evil thing, but with the Spirit of Creation within us, because, in Christ, we too are new creations. Not completed yet, but, as with all of creation, works in progress.

This great, ongoing and ever more interesting creation story needs to be told. The Spirit of Creation within us moves us to tell the story, with boldness. The treasure we have within is a treasure to tell people about. It’s all connected. It has been going on for 13.7 billion years. We are a part of it simply by being born, and as Christian believers we are a part of it with a wonderful new re-birth and a new role. We have been given Good News to tell to the whole world. The Creator, Immanuel, has come to us. The Creator, Jesus the Saviour, has redeemed humanity. By repenting from our self-centeredness and acknowledging the work and centrality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we can live and grow in him as he lives and grows in us. Ultimately, we shall behold him and we shall be like him. We will then know him as he is. His love will have won!

Bev Mitchell, Doaktown, NB, Oaxaca, MX The Creator/Servant’s Universe April 19, 2012 modified May 2 and 9, 2012 Homo sapiens (naturalis) added May 11, 2012

 

 

  • James Rednour

    Bev, that was moving, poetic and personal. Reminiscent of something Sagan would have written. Consciousness is the key, isn’t it? The gift bestowed upon us by our Creator that enables us to introspect and consider the universe in which we live while at the same time allowing us to look into the eyes of another human and know that that person shares the same hopes, dreams and fears that we do. If being created in God’s image does not mean this, then what could it possibly mean?

    The truth of the evolution of the human species (and all of creation) is a far grander, richer narrative than the God of the Zaps (as you so cleverly stated). It is a story of a God so sure of Himself that he does not need to control every speck of dust in the universe in order to bring about His grand plan. What could be more Godlike than a Creator who relinquishes some control and yet KNOWS He is still fully IN control? No parent who ever handed the car keys to their teenager for the first time ever thought they were still fully in control. Yet God does.

    God could wipe out sin and death, but He has chosen not to. Why not? Why allow the suffering that exists in this world? Wouldn’t the world be better off without death? We think so, but what do we as finite beings on a speck of dust hurtling through infinity really know about anything? Science has demonstrated without a doubt that we are insignificant in the grand scheme of the Cosmos. And yet, God…

    I believe God has allowed death to exist as part of a grand plan to demonstrate His eventual mastery of it in each person who places their trust in Him. For what greater fear could a conscious being have than the end of his consciousness? And what greater love than a God who could conquer it?

    • Bev Mitchell

      James,
      It’s always good when someone clearly understands something complex that one tries to put into words. As your summary illustrates,  we really do have to pay attention in the spirit of the Wesleyan quadrilateral. Or as Kent Sparks expresses it  in his new book “reflect theologically on what is said in light of (all relevant)  biblical texts and in light of God’s voice as it speaks to us through tradition, cosmos, experience and Spirit.

  • Robert

    should we regard Jesus’s miracle of the bread and fishes as magic as well? I don’t think we can pontificate on how God did what He did.

    • Bev Mitchell

      Robert,
      You have missed one of my main points. I agree we cannot pontificate on how God does what he does, and that I try hard to avoid doing. God reveals to us what and why. He has lovingly given us the ability to investigate the what very deeply.  Our answer to what is not at all on the same level as God’s why and will always be incomplete. His why on the other hand is what the Holy Spirit is always ready to reveal to the true seeker after righteousness. Of course, we all hope that God will someday tell us how.

  • gingoro

    This is an excellent essay except that it seems to set up a dualism between God and entropy or chaos. In order to have entropy one needs the space time continuum to have something to become disordered over time. Entropy is the only physical law that I am aware of that has a definite forward time direction, all the other laws are time reversible at least in principle.

    As I see it God created all that exists outside of himself including space time and entropy. In fact, although Roger probably would object, if God had not created sentient beings and communicated to them God’s laws then evil would not exist. Note I am not saying that God ordained evil for all eternity past, mankind had a say in disobedience and the introduction of evil to this world. Of course bad things happened on earth prior to mankind’s rebellion but I would not call them evil which to me means transgressing God’s law as Paul says.
    DaveW

    • rogereolson

      Why do you think I’d disagree with that? Evil is the privation of the good. It couldn’t possibly exist without free will/power of contrary choice on the part of creatures.

      • gingoro

        Because you want no connection in the sense of causation between God and evil. At least that is how I have understood your criticism of high Calvinists. Maybe I misunderstood.
        Dave W

        • rogereolson

          You understand.

  • http://highroadkokko.blogspot.com Bruce Kokko

    Beautiful job!

  • http://relevancy22.blogspot.com Russ

    Very well said Bev – Loved the article and intend to make free use of it! http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-narrative-story-of-god-creation-and.html

    Russ

    • Bev Mitchell

      Russ,

      Es tuyo. Hope it’s a blessing.

  • donsands

    13.7 billion? What was the universe 13.7 and .1 years ago? I just don’t understand how people are so sure God didn’t create this universe a few thousand years ago. And if we believe Scripture to say this, and affirm it, then it seems we are deemed and shunned as foolish and even stupid.

    Absolute truth, the Word of God, stands firm because God wrote it down exactly as he knew would be best for His glory, and for us, His redeemed.

    I do also believe that all who genuinely trust in Christ for their sins to be forgivene and even blotted out forever; and that Jesus rose from the grave, are all one in Christ, and brothers and sisters in our Lord; though we do have disagreements.

    • rogereolson

      Let’s see…how can we be sure the earth isn’t flat?

      • Tommy

        By easily observable science. Why in the world are there scientists, plenty who are not Christian, who will defend a young earth? There is plenty of evidence to support it.

        You should probably pick a less flammable straw man than the old flat-earth tactic.

        • rogereolson

          “Easily observable science?” I hadn’t heard that could prove a young earth. Can you name any scientist with a Ph.D. in geology or biology (not engineering) from a major national research university who thinks the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago? And why does it even matter? Who cares how long God took to create? This is such an unimportant issue.

          • Tommy

            That “easily observable science” was an answer to your question on how we can know the earth isn’t flat. We’ve observed that it’s not flat. That’s what science depends on, is empirical data.

            I’m not going to try to convince on a young-earth worldview. Even if you have the right position, you can show much more grace than you are now, to Donsands or myself. I’m only standing up for his right to interpret Scripture and evidence in the way he does. And I do.

            “This is such an unimportant issue”. You’re right, when it comes to our redemptive story, our salvation in Christ, it’s moot. We’ll find out eventually. So should you really use such dripping sarcastic words to defend yourself?

          • rogereolson

            I think young earth creationism, especially taught to Christian young people, sets Christians up for ridicule and loss of faith. My experience of teaching theology (including the doctrine of creation) for 30 years shows me this. Virtually every student who has ever come to an accredited Christian college or university of arts and sciences believing in young earth creationism goes through a crisis of faith during his or her science classes–even when they are taught by devout, evangelical Christian professors. The evidence for an ancient earth is overwhelming. In my experience only engineers and other non-geology, non-biology scientists believe in young earth creationism. And most people who believe in it make way, way too much of it in terms of how crucial they think it is for authentic Christianity. I have no disdain for young earth creation Christians who have no particular reason to know better, but I do have disdain for Christians who continue to believe in young earth creationism who have reason to know better but are simply hanging onto it because they’re fundamentalists. I know a Christian woman who says she does not believe in dinosaurs–even as she is standing in front of a clear footprint of one in rock (in front of a county courthouse in a Texas town). She’s elderly and lacks education and I wouldn’t embarrass her by arguing with her. However, if an educated Christian person stood there and said “Adam fed the dinosaurs” I would laugh out loud at him or her.

      • Dwight Gingrich

        Mr. Olson, I want to say this kindly, yet I want to ask… is that a fair response? I’m not sure what all you’re implying by that question-response. I think you are implying that A) the Bible implies the earth is flat yet we all accept a scientific correction of that understanding and agree the earth is round, therefore b) despite the Biblical statements about the earth being made only thousands of years ago, we should accept a scientific correction of that understanding and agree that the earth is millions of years old.

        Is that what you mean? If so, I’m not sure it’s a fair rejoinder. The Bible nowhere states that the earth is flat. It only uses idiomatic language (sun rising, four corners of the earth) of the same nature that we round-earthers continue to use today. On the other hand, the genealogies of the Bible, despite the mathematical complications they present, do seem to present a statement of belief about the age of the earth. Similarly, as many Hebrew scholars agree, the human author(s) of Genesis apparently believed the world was created in 7 days; that is the natural reading of the author(s)’ understanding.

        Thus, when we use science to correct a flat-earth view, we are only pushing up against idiomatic language in the Bible, not against any real contradictory data. But when we use scientific theories to correct a young earth view, we are pushing up against meaningful theological and textual data in the biblical text.

        Of course, I have not here provided a meaningful defense of the young-earth position, but perhaps we can see that neither was your critique of it meaningful or quite fair? Blessings!

        • rogereolson

          I was saying that all Christians once thought the Bible taught the earth is flat; we now know better. So, all Christians once thought the Bible taught the earth was created a few thousand years ago in six days of 24 hours each. We now know better. At least most of us do. To insist on the ancient interpretation is to fly in the face of everything modern science says and raise the specter of absolutely unwinable conflict between “the Bible” and science. Better to make the same adjustment we made in the time of Galileo and admit that our interpretations of the Bible have been wrong. Even Charles Hodge advised this (even as he resisted evolution which is close colleague and follower Warfield believed in).

          • Dwight Gingrich

            So, in your estimation, does the Bible speak falsely about the age of the earth? If so, how does that impact our estimation of the Bible as trustworthy? By what criteria do we determine which parts of the Bible should be considered trustworthy? At what point are we safe to say not only that the Biblical authors believed X, but that they wrote that X is true (as I believe they did regarding the age of the earth), but that we can disregard what they wrote?

            Perhaps there is a satisfactory answer to these questions, but I have yet to be convinced that theologians have sufficiently addressed the theological ramifications of rejecting what the human author(s) of Genesis 1-2 evidently believed was true. What I do see is an eagerness to bow to modern scientific theories, which have been formed in the ideological context of anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions. (I’m referring to the history of evolutionary thought, from Darwin to present, which has developed within secular universities.) Bowing to such naturalistic presuppositions, however re-interpreted through models such as theistic evolution, seems to me to be an anachronistic way of reading of ancient Scriptural texts. If evolutionary interpretations of scientific data had developed in the context of a high regard for biblical texts and a faith in a God who acts supernaturally within human history, then I would not be so suspicious of it. As it is, the naturalist gatekeepers of scientific departments and journals make it very difficult for a supernaturalist to even complete studies at a top-tier university in order to be considered part of the discussion. I wonder: what would happen if thousands of Phd scholars who began with supernaturalistic presuppositions and a high view of Scripture “started over” with the same data that naturalistic evolutionists have interpreted in support of their various models? Would macro-evolution then appear less self-evident?

            Add to those problems the fact that scientific understandings have undergone major paradigm shifts in the past and will certainly again in the future, and I am still leery of bowing to “science” (in this case, theories predetermined by scientific naturalism) rather than adhering to unchanging biblical text and the apparent beliefs of the biblical authors.

            Please understand, I do not mean to make charged accusations about your view of Scripture, but to ask honest questions for which I have not yet read answers that satisfy me. Thank you!

          • rogereolson

            I make a distinction between Scripture and interpretation of Scripture. I find no place in Scripture that identifies an age of the earth. Bishop Ussher pinpointed it at 4004 B.C. Many, perhaps most, people simply adopted that idea (that the Bible itself says creation was in 4004 B.C.). That set people up for a crisis of faith when science proved that’s impossible and biblical scholars showed Scripture nowhere says or even indicates it.

          • Ivan A. Rogers

            Roger said, “I was saying that all Christians once thought the Bible taught the earth is flat; we now know better.”

            Ivan says, Roger, who told you that “all” Christians once thought the Bible taught the earth is flat? How dumb do you think Christians are, pray tell? Any human being with eyes to see the curvature of the earth on the horizon would immediately surmise that the earth cannot be flat. Here’s some interesting historical information to make my case:

            Flat Earth?
            Pythagoras – (582 B.C.) noted that the altitudes of stars varied at different places on Earth and how ships appeared on the horizon. As a ship returned to port, first its mast tops, then the sails, and finally its hull gradually came into view. Aristotle, who lived 300 years before Christ, observed that Earth cast a round shadow on the moon. When a light is shined on a sphere, it casts the same shadow. The Greeks calculated the general size and shape of Earth. They also created the grid system of latitude and longitude, so that with just two coordinates one can locate any point on Earth. Greek philosophers also concluded that the Earth could only be a sphere because that, in their opinion, was the “most perfect” shape.

            But the biblical prophet Isaiah who lived 118 years before Pythagoras (700 B.C.) referred to “the circle of the earth” (Isa 40:22). To these ancient observers, it was already an established fact that Planet Earth was spherical. It is simply not true that early Christians believed in a so-called “flat earth.”

          • rogereolson

            I didn’t say all Christians ALWAYS thought the earth was flat. There was a time when (okay, I should have said “virtually”) all Christians thought so. But that’s not my point. Let’s switch to earth versus sun centered solar system. For centuries virtually all Christians (I know of no exceptions) thought the sun revolved around the earth. When Copernicus argued otherwise he was laughed at, ridiculed and called insane (even by Luther). Then came Galileo…. We changed our interpretation of the Bible to fit the facts. We’ve done it many times throughout history. We have to remain open to science, otherwise we simply open Christianity to ridicule by our obscurantism.

          • Dwight Gingrich

            This in response to your last comment: “I make a distinction between Scripture and interpretation of Scripture. I find no place in Scripture that identifies an age of the earth. Bishop Ussher pinpointed it at 4004 B.C. Many, perhaps most, people simply adopted that idea (that the Bible itself says creation was in 4004 B.C.). That set people up for a crisis of faith when science proved that’s impossible and biblical scholars showed Scripture nowhere says or even indicates it.”

            No, Scripture does not state the age of the earth. But it does record genealogies which give some parameters, despite the multiple interpretive challenges they present. Kenneth Mathews, after 10 pages of analysis in his commentary, concludes of the genealogies of Genesis 5: “We should avoid using the numbers as a means for establishing an absolute chronology. Genesis 5 is best taken as an ‘open’ genealogy, perhaps spanning several millennia, though we cannot conclusively assert how much time.” He then adds in a footnote: “J. A. Boreland rightly observes that any gaps in chap. 5′s genealogy could not, on the basis of biblical practice, be sufficient to oblige the hundreds of millennia required by evolutionary paleontology” (referencing The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions about Creation and the Flood [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990], 177-78). If this is true–and it seems to me to me to be the most natural reading of the text on a literary level–then the earth cannot be as old as most contemporary scientists claim.

            Again I note that the drive to believe the earth is millions of years old does not come from a close reading of Scripture, but from a mindset that could be called scientism–a belief that scientists proclaim a prophetic word of truth that theologians dare not challenge. You write of a young earth that “science proved that’s impossible.” But science equally proves that Jesus’ resurrection is impossible. Of course, with God, neither are impossible. It is also worth remembering that science can only observe the present. It can only speak tentatively about the past– especially about the very origin of energy and matter, at which point the constants upon which scientific inquiry is based necessarily had a beginning.

            I am not able to enter scientific discussion of this topic, but I am troubled to see theologians who are also untrained in science simply bowing to scientific theories developed by unbelievers without (it seems to me) adequately considering the theological ramifications. In no way am I advocating a return to head-in-the-sand disregard of science. All truth is God’s truth, and we should never fear truth found in either the Book of Scripture or the book of creation. Nor do I think it is particularly helpful to become single-topic defenders of young-earth creationism. But I remain concerned by another ditch: the evangelical desire for public credibility, while often originating in commendable apologetic motives, can lead us to treat Scripture with less care than we should. I simply cannot be convinced on this matter by claims of “science says,” when that science was built on anti-supernaturalist assumptions and when a natural reading of Scripture suggests non-evolutionary creation and a younger earth. If I am to be convinced, it will take disinterested biblical exegesis and theological discussion that addresses this topic’s implications for all of Scripture.

            I don’t feel a need to discuss this much further in this forum, but if you wish to recommend exegetical and theological resources on the topic, I would be happy to hear of them. Thank you, and God bless!

          • rogereolson

            On the basic issue of biblical hermeneutics and science I can’t recommend better than Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture. It was written in the 1950s, but Ramm (a leading evangelical theologian trained in science) laid out the basic methodology we must take to be faithful to Scripture and “the material facts of science.”

          • Dwight Gingrich

            Roger, thank you for your book recommendation. You have not responded to most of my theological challenges to your assumptions, so perhaps that book does.

            There are many things about this discussion that make it very difficult. Here’s one: On the one hand, pro-evolutionists can rightly say that Darwin’s lack of scientific credentials are irrelevant if his conclusions are accurate. But it is not fair to make that claim and then turn around and reject out-of-hand the ideas of young earth creationists simply because they don’t have the right degree–especially when such degree programs are run by pro-evolutionary gatekeepers. Those of us who are not yet convinced of the evolutionary, old-earth position want to be sure that all evidence is being fairly considered.

            One final thing: I agree with “Tommy” that sarcastic words are not helpful in this discussion. When you write “I do have disdain for Christians who continue to believe in young earth creationism who have reason to know better but are simply hanging onto it because they’re fundamentalists. …If an educated Christian person stood there and said “Adam fed the dinosaurs” I would laugh out loud at him or her,” then I find myself questioning whether your attitude is Christ-like. Disdain? Laughing at people in their face? If you are right and they/we are wrong, then I don’t mind being the object of forceful argument and even frustrated tears. But your “disdain” makes it much harder for me to trust you to teach me how to read God’s Word.

            Thanks again for the book recommendation.

          • rogereolson

            Some things we have passed; this age of the earth debate is one we should have passed. That it keeps coming up among Christians simply boggles my mind. I can’t even begin to fathom why they think it’s important or what evidence they can produce (even though I’ve read young earth books and talked at length with advocates of young earth creationism). To me it’s like the issue of whether the sun is the center of the solar system; it’s a done deal no longer open to serious debate. If someone told me they believe the sun revolves around the earth, and I thought they were serious, I would laugh at them. So would you.

  • Jeff Martin

    Bev,
    I am with you on the 13.7 billion years, but not with you on the macro-evolution, not micro, MACRO bit. To be consistent with the whole ordering theme it seems to me that macro-evolution strikes me as that which is confused and disorderly. I mean even according to evolutionary scientists the mutation method is really, really inefficient, not to mention there is no solid evidence of macro-evolution except for neanderthals to modern man. It strikes one as too messy. At least with the average run of the mill natural laws there is a better chance of good things happening than bad things. In Macro-evolution it is the opposite!

    As Samuel Balentine says in his commentary on Leviticus 11 and its relation to Genesis 1 – “In explicating God’s image..the creation story places considerable emphasis on God’s careful ordering of everything in the world, ‘according to its/their kind’. This concern appears 10 times in Genesis 1. The text with the next most frequent number of occurences in Leviticus 11, which specifies that the dietary laws are similarly defined by the concern to categorize clean and unclean animals ‘according to its/their kind’. The dietary laws mirror the good design of God in creation.” (94).

    • James Rednour

      Hi Jeff, I don’t know any biologist claiming that one species gives rise to another in one or two generations, but when species are isolated for hundreds of thousands of years, micro becomes macro. Scientists are discovering that certain genes are completely pliable and can give rise to some pretty dramatic changes in just one generation (doubling the length of a finch’s beak in just one generation, for example). Read up a bit on Evo Devo. The fossil record clearly shows transitional forms of all types (say from fin to foot) in strata of decreasing age. Despite claims from creationists that the fossil record is the enemy of evolutionists, the opposite is true. And genetics proves common descent beyond any reasonable doubt. BTW, very few ID advocates (including Michael Behe) argue against common descent. Their main arguments are that certain biological features cannot be explained by natural selection.

      • Jeff Martin

        James,

        I did not say anything in my post that alluded to things changing in one or two generations.
        I also do not have any problem believing that we all evolved from apes.
        What I am pointing out is that the Bible refers to things being made after their own kind becuase of showing how organized and ordered God is – the very point Bev was trying to make!

        I am not the type to believe that Genesis 1 is to be read as a diatribe against evolution, that is pure nonsense. It was designed to show that Israel’s God was better and more ordered and organized than the other gods.

        • James Rednour

          Hi Jeff,

          My apologies for not understanding your position. Many Christians who oppose the idea of macroevolution often have a misunderstanding about how micro becomes macro over time, instead implying that massive changes between forms occur in short bursts because the fossil record does not show every transitional form. I understand your position better now. Like CGC, I want to encourage you in your search for truth. All truth is God’s truth and we shouldn’t fear it or ignore it because it ultimately brings glory to Him. Peace to you.

    • CGC

      Hi Jeff,
      I used to be where you are. But there has been an explosion of collective evidence from transitional fossils, to dna analysis, etc. that shows common descent as a given in the strong majority of the scientific community. For Christians to take an overtly literalistic interpretation and not really deal with the science is going to continue to create problems for our young people who will we taught one thing from their Christian parents or church and then get blown away (if not in HS), surely in college in thinking they either have to chuck their faith or check their brains on the issue of science.

      Whether “kinds” or “day” or “week,” these are all analogies being used in Genesis. One could just as well argue that God must have vocal chords, a mouth, and lips, because Genesis says he ‘speaks.’ Jeff, you can deny macro-evolution all you want but here are two reading suggestions for you to look at in considering all this (even if you reject it, look at the issues and evidences more closely). I would recommend “Three Views on Creation and Evolution” (Howard Van Till gives one of the best presentations I have come across in looking at evolution). The other book is “The Evidence for Evolution” by Alan Rogers. One should also note the resurgance of the Biologos website which has many prominent Evangelical Scholars contributing that understand we need to come to better grips with faith and science than what we have done in the past.

      • rogereolson

        I asked another commenter (who apparently believes in a young earth) why this matters. You have explained why it matters. Thank you.

      • Jeff Martin

        CRC,

        See my reply to James above, also I will read Van Till’s chapters, thank you for the references. I am not a young earth creationist who takes Genesis 1 literally BTW, nor does my initial post suggest so.

        I also accept Micro-evolution within a family of animals, but not yet convinces about macro yet, though I have read a lot.

        I am trying to keep consistent with the theme of orderliness and organization as a theme in Genesis 1 is all

        • CGC

          Hi Jeff,
          May God bless you in your continued studies . . . Like I said, I was where you are at not that long ago. The Biologos is a great website in regards to the science of our day and answering questions that many Christians face. The Rogers book I mentioned on “Evidence for Evolution” is certainly worth reading (I believe you can get a used copy by Amazon for pretty cheap). You can look at the Biologos website but the latest DNA evidence coming out in the last two decades pretty much is a clincher for common descent. I have heard Dr. Leakey and a few other scientists say lately that the whole debate in this area is going to be largely moot. Where there used to be so many gaps and holes in the evidence (that was one of my major problems with macro-evolution as well), the holes and gaps are becoming few and far between and macro-evolution prediction skills is on the mark so much lately that most people in the higher sciences are recognizing the evidences and power of evolution’s explanatory power.

    • Bev Mitchell

      Jeff,

      This can only be resolved if we are prepared to consider what careful peer reviewed science shows that God has done as something we need to account for in our interpretation of Scripture. We can wait as long as we like to incorporate solid science into our world view, and review our interpretations accordingly, but a time always comes when we must. This is not at all letting science dictate to Scripture. It only has to do with our interpretations which, we all should agree, are fallible. 

      A much larger problem is the amount of damage that will be done to the Kingdom by any inordinate delay or outlandish defenses of our version of the truth. There are some areas where it’s more important to be reasonable (or at least unsure) than to be right.

      • rogereolson

        Amen.

      • Jeff Martin

        Bev,

        I agree with you wholeheartedly about taking all different aspects of life into consideration. By the way I love Dr. Enn’s books and Kent Sparks as well. I have no problem with believing in the non-literal interpretation of Genesis or Job or Jonah for that matter.

        I would have to debate you though on the solid evidence of macro-evolution. From the evidence that I have seen – besides that of Neanderthal to Modern Man – can you really name one piece of evidence of any significant change that shows strong evidence of macro-evolution. If so I would like to see it and I would not be opposed to changing my mind. Again I am not opposed to changing my mind because I do not have to have Genesis 1 be a scientific document

        • Bev Mitchell

          Jeff,
          Many years ago I determined not to try to teach biology in an exchange of paragraphs. Biology, like all science, relies on data, mountains of data. I have taught some of this to hundreds (well I guess thousands) of students for over 30 years. All were willing to take at least one full semester of biology at a major research university – most took many such courses. That is where one begins to find the answers to your questions. I’m not ducking your question here. The lines of evidence are many, from many fields. The cord these lines make is exceedingly strong. It will not be unraveled by picking away one line at a time. And, if we have an archaeologist in the house, she would give you the same answer from her field – and on it goes. As I said above, “We can wait as long as we like to incorporate solid science into our world view, and review our interpretations accordingly, but a time always comes when we must.”

        • Bev Mitchell

          Jeff,
          Another approach to your question would be to ask you to consider not just the problem you see with macroevolution, but also the solid results from geology, archaeology, anthropology, history, literary study as well as biology. As they touch on Scripture, the findings of the last 100 years, for example, are closely related and are not going to unravel to such a degree that we can go on reading Scripture as was popular before we knew what we now know. Your problem, my problem is not with science. We must find better ways to interpret Scripture that do not ignore these solid discoveries. Debating points of science is fine, if improving science is the goal. As Christians however, we should be even more concerned about improving our understanding of Scripture.

          • Jeff Martin

            Bev,

            Thanks for your thoughtful replys. Is there a good online course on Biology I could take considering my limited time? I have taken an archaeology course at Harvard University, and it did open my eyes to the evolution of man to a certain extent. Though again I hesitate to go too far because of lack of transitional fossils which should be more prevalent than non transitional and also becuase of something that was said in Science Magazine, an evolutionary magazine – If aliens were to visit earth, they would, without a dount, say that homo sapiens are also from a different planet than earth.

            Also you never gave me your thoughts on the connnection between Leviticus 11 “after their kinds” and Genesis 1′s “after their kinds” and if, according to your view that does not have to do with order, than what is the connection, if any? I realize that Genesis 1 is not arguing against evolution. That is not a scientific document. But it just so happens I believe to intersect the discussion, even if it intersects it accidently

            I do believe in an old earth so geology probably would not help much.

  • gingoro

    “No zaps, no gaps, except those due to our lack of knowledge, and tweeks unnecessary.”
    I quite agree with you that many/most gaps are likely to be filled as science discoverers more of God’s work in out universe and that we must and should not base our faith on gaps, although I doubt that at the quantum level we will ever find deterministic causes. However, your statement that I quote above seems to me to be a matter of philosophical or religious preference. The scientific approach is to look and see or try to see if in fact God intervened and not to make a-priori presuppositions. I would hope that you agree that since God began to interact with mankind that there have been a considerable number of interventions and bestowals of grace. Now I know that some of the high Calvinists take the position that petitionary prayer essentially changes nothing but I would expect that you are not in that camp and neither am I since I beleive that the world is open to God’s intervention. The essay smells to me of a preference for deism or semi deism where God is essentially hands off.
    A partial quote from something that I posted on Jesus Creed.
    “A few years back an ID supporter joined the old ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) email discussion list. After quite a bit of discussion he asked if any of us believed that the natural world we see now came into existence based solely on the laws of nature, their constants and the initial values set at the instant of creation
    . Everybody agreed that God had intervened at least once and probably more than once during the history of life to produce the world we now see and mankind as we see him. No one was referring to Jesus Christ’s life and death or other similar supernatural occurrences but just to the beginning and development of life as we know it. In fact Ted Davis said that he considered himself a supporter of ID except that he did not think that design and ID could be proven scientifically. Ted was either the president of the ASA at the time or soon would be.”
    DaveW

  • Matt

    Roger, one question that has puzzled me for some time – Is the possibility of evil itself evil? How can there even be a possibilty of evil? Did God create evil (made it possible) when he imbued free will/power of contrary choice on the part of creatures. thx

    • rogereolson

      No, the possibility of evil is not evil. And making it possible is not creating it. If I decide to have a child, knowing he or she will sooner or later sin, am I in any way doing evil by having the child? I don’t know anyone who would say that.

      • gingoro

        But Roger if you had not sired the child then the child never would have existed and thus never would sin. in that sense if God had not created sentient beings evil would not exist.
        Now I am not saying that you would be doing evil by having the child but that you are a link in the causation of that child and it’s evil.
        DaveW

        • rogereolson

          To me, “a link in the causation” is not the same as “being the cause” when it comes to free will decisions and actions.

  • Bev Mitchell

    gingoro

    “The essay smells to me of a preference for deism or semi deism where God is essentially hands off.”

    My goodness, I certainly didn’t mean to smell up the place. Of course God works in the world, especially through human beings to help other human beings. He also works in us by placing his Spirit within us – but it does also depend on how much of us we let his Spirit have. The problem with the micromanagement of nature bit that many don’t feel comfortable relinquishing is that we have no way of knowing where to point. God of the gaps thinking can easily become God of the mini then micro gaps. We need to challenge ourselves to think of a God so big that he doesn’t have to do things in ways we can understand. We have to develop a healthy distinction between the questions why, what and how, and ask them in the proper contexts. This is especially true of Scripture where “how?” is hardly ever appropriate.

    Also see my response to Robert above, and especially the summary of my thoughts provided by James at the top. 

    • gingoro

      How does one identify “being the cause” of something. Intuitively I understand they are different but in any given case it is often hard to decide exactly what the cause is.
      DaveW

      • rogereolson

        In ordinary language we do not call someone the “cause” of an evil act just because he or she permitted it especially when, overall (big picture), permitting it was better than forcibly stopping it. For example, my teenager asked to borrow the car. I handed her the keys knowing she might, sooner or later probably would, have an accident. She did. Was I the “cause” of her accident? No one would say so.

        • gingoro

          Roger Legally and financially you could be held liable, at least in some cases. If that were true then in some sense you must be part of the causal chain of your daughters accident. I agree that you are not directly responsible in this case but in many cases it becomes hard to figure out what “the” cause of a particular occurrence is.

          From wiki
          “In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held the cause of that injury. There are two types of causation in the law, cause-in-fact and proximate (or legal) cause. Cause-in-fact is determined by the “but for” test: but for the action, the result would not have happened. For example, but for running the red light, the collision would not have occurred. For an act to cause a harm, both tests must be met; proximate cause is a legal limitation on cause-in-fact.”
          I would agree that you are not the proximate cause of your daughters accident.
          You can have the last word if you are so inclined as I do not think this is a decidable issue.
          DaveW

    • gingoro

      Bev In my opinion mankind must not have any religious or philosophical need for God to intervene or not but we must be open to in fact what God has done. Having given up God of the gaps does not imply that there are in fact no gaps.
      DaveW

  • Ivan A. Rogers

    Evil is not just a subjective thing limited to Homo Sapiens. It’s an all-encompassing entity affecting the entire creation of God, i.e., the universe and all sentient and nonsentient life. The fall of the first Adam introduced immediate death and disintegration to the heavens (including earth) and to the posterity of the first man. As promised, the second Adam came to re-create and recover all that was lost by the first Adam. Christ, the creator of all things, didn’t need billions of years to bring humanity (by evolution) to our present state of being. He, being all-powerful, could make humankind “in his image” with a declarative word on the sixth day of the creation event. By the seventh day, God had “FINISHED” the creation work he had been doing (Gen 2:2). Finished means finished; no need for evolution!

    By the way, Darwinian evolution is being discredited by the most recent genome studies. And here’s a little something that some people don’t want you to know:
    “Charles Darwin rejected both the positivistic outlook and the biblical literalism that were championed in his day. Although he is usually thought of as subversive to all creation theories, an examination of his personal writings and his major work, Origin of Species, shows this view to be incorrect. He related some themes of biblical theology to natural selection in a sophisticated manner. His formal education gave him excellent preparation for the religious aspects of this endeavor, since the only academic degree he ever earned was in (gasp!) theology, after a three-year course of study at Cambridge University.”

    The man who doubted that God could “ZAP” the created order into existance turns out not even to have a degree in science, but was a theologian instead. Sheesh!

    • rogereolson

      What is the source of that quote?

      • Ivan A. Rogers

        Sorry, Roger, but I neglected to record the source of the article that insists Darwin’s only “earned” degree was in Theology. I have personally done a computer search on “Darwin’s earned academic degrees” and it’s very revealing to find him credited as an adept at virtually every known scientific and philosophical field ever to be engaged by humankind. BUT, if you follow carefully, it will be cleverly and reluctantly admitted that his only “earned” degree was theological.

        Inasmuch as you have been actively engaged in a debate with Calvinists, I did come across an interesting article that mentions both Calvin and Darwin as opposites. You’ll find it at: http://christianreader.typepad.com/christian_reader/2009/06/darwin-calvin.html

        • rogereolson

          I don’t think Darwin’s degrees matter to whether he was right or not.

        • James Rednour

          Galileo didn’t have a degree in physics or astronomy, but no one doubts his contributions to either of those fields or denies that he is the father of modern scientific experimentation. Darwin was probably one of the three most influential scientists ever (I’d rank only Newton higher with any certainty). His theory of natural selection was supported by decades of observation out in the field. Alfred Russell Wallace came up with the idea of natural selection about the same time, but Darwin was the one with the hard data obtained through years of observation and record-keeping to support his hypothesis. The amazing thing is that he developed the theory when the fossil record was barren and no one knew anything about genetics or DNA. That his theory has stood the test of time and has moved from speculation to fact is a testament to his stature as a great scientific mind. The proof is in the results, not the degrees he had or didn’t have.

    • Bev Mitchell

      Ivan,

      Forgive the lengthy rebuttal, but your statements highlighted so many prime issues that engaging them may help clear away some of the fog.

      (1) “Evil is not just a subjective thing limited to Homo Sapiens. It’s an all-encompassing entity affecting the entire creation of God, i.e., the universe and all sentient and nonsentient life.”

      And who here is saying it isn’t? Note my sentence 

      “This universe came into existence in the face of a spiritual rebellion against God’s will.”

      (2) “The fall of the first Adam introduced immediate death and disintegration to the heavens (including earth) and to the posterity of the first man. ”

      And what was there before? A garden? Here is where the history of life as described by biologists, with mountains of evidence from every angle, comes up against a specific and popular interpretation of Genesis. Please read people like Pete Enns. “The Evolution of Adam” or “Genesis for Real People” would be fine places to begin. At the very least, let’s be clear that we are discussing different ways of reading Genesis among Creed-believing Christians. Our interpretations of Scripture should seek to make sense within a broad spectrum of other reasonable conclusions – some of which actually qualify as truth. 

      On some things we don’t have to be completely right, but in all things we should aim to be completely reasonable. 

      (3) “God had “FINISHED” the creation work he had been doing (Gen 2:2). Finished means finished; no need for evolution!”

      But even an elementary understanding of life on earth makes it abundantly clear that nothing is finished. The idea you highlight also affected biology back in the days when people thought that specimens from a population were really only imperfect representations or shadows of the perfect real thing “of its kind”. Systematists (of the biological persuasion) still deposit a “type” in a, hopefully, well curated museum to be the representative of any new species they describe. The fact that  is is called a “type” reflects that now discredited idea of perfect type.

      Interestingly, the only place where the idea still holds, and based on God’s self-revelation in the Incarnation, is in Christ, the perfect human.

      Consider reading some of the works by people who now call themselves theological interpreters of the Bible. They try hard to practice what is known as critical realism, a most refreshing idea in our world of absolutes that inhabit the extremities. A good start would be Kent Sparks’ recent book “Sacred Word, Broken Word”. 

      (4) “By the way, Darwinian evolution is being discredited by the most recent genome studies. And here’s a little something that some people don’t want you to know:”

      This is not so. But, when you fully understand what genomic studies are teaching us you will have a bigger problem than anything poor old Darwin ever proposed. It really is time to seriously consider a new look at the questions Holy Scripture is meant to answer.

      • Ivan A. Rogers

        Bev:

        I negleccted to say that your original post was excellent in so many ways: well thought out, well organized and well stated. In fact, I enjoyed reading it; recognizing your skillful writing gift. In some respects my response was an elaboration upon some of your own inferences, e.g., “Evil is not just a subjective thing limited to Homo Sapiens. It’s an all-encompassing entity affecting the entire creation of God, i.e., the universe and all sentient and nonsentient life.”

        But when it comes to the subject of Darwinian biological evolution, that’s where we take divergent paths. It is a known fact that many credible “evolutionary” scientists are now seeking to discretely distance themselves from Darwin’s theory of evolution. They are slowly beginning to realize that it’s a little much to accept that humanity’s nearest relative is that hairy, stinky, slobbering, grunting, knuckle-dragging, cootie-picking primate perched in a cage at the local zoo.

        You asked for some scientific documentation of my conclusions. First I would refer you to an excellent article on “DNA Mutation Rates and Evolution”; easily accessed by clicking on: http://www.detectingdesign.com/dnamutationrates.html

        Other interesting studies and comments may be found as follows:
        Berlinski, D. 2009. “The Deniable Darwin.” Discovery Institute Press, 41-141.
        Lubenow, M. 2004. “Bones of Contention.” Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
        Thomas, B. Are Humans Evolving? Depends on Your Definition. ICR News. Posted on icr.org November 3, 2009, accessed June 2, 2012.
        Burke, M. et al.2010. Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila. Nature. 467 (7315): 587-590.

        Finally, I submit a couple quotes from well-known evolutionists: Science writer Jennifer Viegas said, “The last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans remains a holy grail in science.” An issue of Scientific American stated, “But with so little evidence to go on, the origin of our genus has remained as mysterious as ever.”

        Concerning my statement that the fall introduced “death and devastation” into the universe, you asked, “And what was there before? A Garden? No. There was the actual substance sufficient (without evolutionary change) to mold and shape the Earth as Adam was to receive it. The Earth was called into existence “without form and void,” but having been created by God’s declarative word it contained, in itself, the “entire” contents of a Garden. No evolutionary change of the elements were needed.

        • Bev Mitchell

          Ivan,

          In your concluding sentence you conjecture “No evolutionary change of the elements were needed” and suggest that this follows logically from your preceding sentence. It does not. 

          But setting this aside, thank  you for the kind words. We are not in agreement on the “how” but we are in agreement on the “who” and probably on the “why”. In fact, I don’t think we should even ask “how” when it comes to God’s work. It is so big, so grand, so beyond us that the best we can do is support our most able people as they seek to understand what God has done. We tend to get very confused, and often confrontational, when we insist on asking “how?” when God has ways far beyond our imagining.

          This is probably not the best place to put the next little bit, and Roger will let me know if it clutters things up to much on this already lengthy thread (thank you all). But the questions we ask are so very important, especially the littlest ones. Consider the following:

          A story of two “hows?”

          There are two kinds of “how?” “How?” is never pious. “How?” can be either innocent or arrogant. True believers should avoid the latter, true non-believers have no use for it.

          Imagine two scientists considering a problem by asking themselves “I wonder how that works?” One of the scientists is a non-believer, the other believes in God. In fact, the believing scientist is quite pious and actually sometimes is tempted to think that her “how?” is different from, even better than her colleague’s “how?” In fact, they both should only be asking the perfectly reasonable, scientific and somewhat colloquial “how?” In this case, there should be no difference at all between the “hows?” of the two scientists. The sense of this way of asking how would be captured completely by the less colloquial “I wonder what?” This is the innocent “how?”

          Time has now passed. The two colleagues have worked hard and they are a gifted team. They, and their grad students who actually did most of the work, now know the answer to “how?” or to “what?” Science has taken a step forward. Critical reviews and later confirmation from other are awaited, but they are confident enough to turn their attention elsewhere. Typically, elsewhere is usually very close by, almost imperceptibly just below, or just beside, the previous unknown. Another “how?/what?”.

          A thought then passes through the head of the believing scientist. Her piousness is having a bad day (consult various histories of religion to see how this can be so). In this case, the blowback is mild, even turned to a good end. What they have discovered is really quite important and gaining the attention of the press. That very day it is suggested by some reporter for a TV network that we may be getting closer to understanding “how” God has worked. Justly excited about their discovery, and wanting to give her piousness a workout, the believing scientist agrees, saying something like, “Yes, it is wonderful to catch a glimpse of how God works!”

          Immediately her spirit is checked – her piety turns out to be genuine – and she rephrases her exclamation “Isn’t it wonderful what God is doing”?! The reporter, puzzled, asks for an explanation to which our scientist replies “In this life we only get to observe and wonder at what God has done and is doing. You see, our team is already working on the next question. It’s always like that, in fact, it will always be like that. The deeper down we go in any subject, we never find the bottom, but this makes me joyful rather than sad. I am more than content to discover more and more of what God has done.” Then, sensing a teachable moment, she concludes “You see, as a Christian, when it comes to God I can’t really expect to know ‘how?’ and my non-believing colleagues have no reason to ask it.”

          Judging from his expression, the reporter was still puzzled, but it was time for a commercial, and this network never stays with a topic long enough to do it justice anyway, so the audience was left hanging. Fortunately, many were astute enough to remember the prophet’s words,

           “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
           neither are your ways my ways,” 
          declares the Lord.
           As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
          so are my ways higher than your ways 
          and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

          And some even took the time to look it up and read on an extra sentence or two,

          “As the rain and the snow 
          come down from heaven, 
          and do not return to it 
          without watering the earth 
          and making it bud and flourish, 
          so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
          so is my word that goes out from my mouth: 
          it will not return to me empty, 
          but will accomplish what I desire 
          and achieve the purposes for which I sent it. 

          You will go out in joy 
          and be led forth in peace; 
          the mountains and the hills 
          will burst into song before you, 
          and all the trees of the field 
          will clap their hands.”

          Considering all this, who would dare ask the arrogant, thoroughly impious version of “how?”

          Ref. Isaiah 55:8-12 NIV 2011

    • James Rednour

      “By the way, Darwinian evolution is being discredited by the most recent genome studies.”

      Could you please cite any evidence to support this assertion because it is absoultely false. I would recommend the book “Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA” by Douglas J Fairbanks to you. After reading it, you will understand why your assertion is false. Fairbanks is LDS, but the end of the book contains an excellent treatise on why faith and science can coexist.

  • CGC

    Hi Ivan,
    James is right, the DNA is powerfully collaborating macro-evolution although there is also some fine tuning even in Evolution that continues (so far at more a micro level than macro level). Also note that evolution itself goes where the scientific evidence leads (and so should Christians). At one point in Geno research, it looked like all descendents came from one single man and woman (but still common descent). Now the evidence strongly shows that there was about 10,000 people that came onto the scene at about the same time. All this can fit within a Christian creation framework (if people are willing to let go of a modern literalism in their interpretation of the Bible) as well as evolutionary framework (whether the scientists are Christian or atheists or something else).

    • Ivan A. Rogers

      CGC said: “At one point in Geno research, it looked like all descendents came from one single man and woman (but still common descent). Now the evidence strongly shows that there was about 10,000 people that came onto the scene at about the same time.”

      Ivan says to CGC: I can’t believe you said that, CGC. I would urge you to sit quietly for a few moments and think about the implications of your statement. “10,000 people came onto the scene at about the same time.” How does this happen without them originating from “one single man and woman”? If you’re suggesting that 10,000 “people” just popped up out of nowhere, that would be a greater miracle than God who only created two people in Eden. If you’re suggesting that modern humanity are closely related to and decendants of those hairy, stinky, slobbering, grunting, knuckle-dragging, cootie-picking primates down at the local zoo, please count me out!

      By the way, the latest scientific genome studies are incontrovertible and continue to insist: All of humanity decended from ONE woman who has been scientifically called “Eve”, which means = “the Mother of all living.” The genome evidence also concluded that she could not have lived more than 50,000 years ago. This fits the biblical account perfectly. Very embarrassing to evolutionists.

      • rogereolson

        It might be helpful to cite the source of the claim that “the latest scientific genome studies are incontrovertible….”

  • Bev Mitchell

    Dwight,

    In your August 10 response to Roger you conclude,

    ” I simply cannot be convinced on this matter by claims of “science says,” when that science was built on anti-supernaturalist assumptions and when a natural reading of Scripture suggests non-evolutionary creation and a younger earth.”

    then you ask “… if you wish to recommend exegetical and theological resources on the topic, I would be happy to hear of them.”

    I’m no expert at exegesis but I’m not always able to resist temptation either. So while we wait to hear from the pros, I can offer the following.

    At times like this somehow I always think of Balak son of Zippor who sent messengers all the way from Moab to  Pethor on the Euphrates to express the Moabite’s great fear of Israel to  Baalem son of Beor in order to get a second opinion. This was not a holy lot, and Baalam was the closest thing to a world class scientist/seer in the neighbourhood. The story gets even more revealing when we read “God came to Baalam and asked…..” Amazingly, this happens twice with Baalem finally receiving permission to go to Moab, but strictly told to say only what God says. 

    But there is more! On the road, three times, Baalam has a conversation with his long-suffering old donkey regarding the message of the Lord, and for a good part of the time, only the donkey can sense the angel of the Lord. Finally Baalam gets the message, the Lord gets through and we hear the result in  Baalam’s confession (he is still a pagan we must remember) “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.” 

    We must acknowledge that God is the one who chooses those through whom he will speak, and in some cases to whom for that matter. Our task is to evaluate the message, not to question God’s choice of messenger

    And speaking of Moabites, remember Ruth and her famous descendent. 

    • Bev Mitchell

      Note to self:

      Learn to spell Baalam…. Balaam – no e, too many a’s like Canada or Oaxaca. Got it!

    • Dwight Gingrich

      Hello Bev,

      Thank you for taking time to respond. Your reminder of God speaking through Balaam (and even through Balaam’s ass) is a good reminder to all in this discussion not to use ad hominem attacks but to fairly admit all evidence and fairly weigh all evaluations of that evidence.

      I’ll forgive you for the “too many a’s like Canada” statement–I’m a Canadian. :-) Eh? There’s another one.

      While I appreciate your kind words, I’m still disappointed in the responses that have been given by the pro-evolutionists in the comments here. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough what I meant by the words you quoted. What I meant is that, as I read the history of the development of evolutionary theories, it appears to me that these theories were the product of a very intentionally anti-supernaturalist bias, a bias which precluded the possibility of divine creation as traditionally understood by Christians. If this is true, then current evolutionary theories are not only an interpretation of data (which, by the very nature of scientific theorizing about the past, can be no more certain even in a best case scenario than the “beyond reasonable doubt” of a court room), but are an interpretation of data which has been formed while intentionally precluding the data from pointing in any supernatural directions. It appears that the science departments of the major research universities are now so dedicated to evolutionary assumptions that it is difficult for anyone who challenges that position to earn an advanced degree or be published in peer-reviewed journal.

      If that scenario is largely true, then I’m not sure how we as Christians, who hold supernaturalist beliefs both about the origin of the universe and about the witness of Scripture, should be quick to accept evolutionary ideas. If the scenario I’ve described is even moderately true, then non-evolutionary explanations for the origin of the universe (and its age, and the origin of life) have not yet been given fair hearing in the “court” of higher education. Perhaps now you understand why I say I am unlikely to be convinced by claims of “science says” or “everyone knows.” Too often it looks like “science says” (except for any scientists who dare to disagree, who will not be allowed to be peer reviewed) and “everyone knows” (except for those who don’t, who don’t count).

      I have not heard a meaningful response to this understanding I’ve described. I think probably the majority of conservative evangelicals share a perspective of the educational playing field much like I’ve just described. Those of us who suspect that the above scenario is true will not be convinced, either, by being laughed at as Mr. Olson describes. I still say that it is hard to trust someone to teach me how to read the Bible better when that person does not appear to be following the clearest of all Scriptural teachings: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Less ridicule and more rational engagement in thoughtful discussion would be helpful. Please understand, I do not want to be judgmental; I only want to clarify how such statements sound to some of us, and remind you of the barrier that such behavior presents for those of us you are trying to “convert” to your point of view.

      Secondly, my request for exegetical and theological resources means that I have not yet read anything from pro-evolutionary theologians that convinces me they are facing head-on the theological problems that evolution presents. I know I’m not a scientist, and I know Mr. Olson is not either. He is ready to “bow” to pro-evolutionary scientists based on trust in their scientific judgment. I am not, as I described above. He also appears to have come to terms with the theological challenges which that position presents. But I have not read anything that allows me to come to terms with those challenges. (The book Mr. Olson suggested may be very helpful, although it is also very old, written before any real serious hard science was attempted by creationists.) The challenges I refer to include such questions as:
      * What should I do with the fact that the author(s) of Genesis apparently not only believed the earth was only some thousands of years old, but wrote that perspective in the Bible (via genealogies) as factual? (Again, this is very different, it seems to me, than language in the Bible about flat-earth or geo-centrist beliefs. Language in those cases, as far as I am aware, are either merely idiomatic such as we still use today, or else demonstrate the beliefs current at the time, without being presented in a format that seem to prescribe such beliefs as true.)
      * What should I do with apparently clear statements by Jesus and Paul which, again, not only reveal that they believed in a literal Adam and Eve, but present that belief in a way that seems to prescribe it?

      Each of those questions can be easily misunderstood and would require careful reflection. Many more could be added. Those of us who are not scientists but theologians (professionally trained or not) will never fully master the scientific factors surrounding origins. But we are responsible to engage rigorously with the theological ramifications of theories of origins. It is not enough to smile at those who (unlike me) believe dinosaurs never existed.

      Even Bruce Waltke, who accepts theistic evolution, writes, “Abraham is connected to Adam by a linear genealogy…. The authors of these genealogies do not make a distinction between Adam and Abraham by characterizing Adam as mythic and Abraham as historical. Indeed, they treat both of them as real, historical figures. Similarly, Christ and his apostles base some of their teachings on the historicity of Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-8; 1 Tim. 2:13). In Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, the apostle Paul contrasts Adam and Jesus Christ as the heads of two races of humanity. The historicity of both figures is foundational to Paul’s doctrine of human redemption through Christ Jesus… God shaped a real Adam and Eve at the beginning of human history.” (An Old Testament Theology, pages 249-50). That quote, especially the second last sentence, reveals the urgency of the theological discussion. By the way, I’m not sure how Waltke reconciles belief in theistic evolution with belief in an historical Adam who is the head of the human race. From what I’ve scanned of his book so far, it appears he (conveniently?) separates discussion of theistic evolution and of the historicity of Adam and Eve, without addressing how one informs the other.

      As someone noted (was it you, Bev?) a forum like this is not a good place for you to try to defend theistic evolution; such a task requires prolonged study. However, neither is it a good place to reject alternate viewpoints by brief appeals to “science says,” without acknowledging the theological issues involved.

      If you want to point me to resources that address the theological ramifications of theistic evolution in a rigorous manner, I would be open to that. Preferable these should be resources that also address the question of the anti-supernaturalist basis of evolution, as well as the kind of questions I began listing above. Thank you, and may the grace and peace of Christ be with you!

      • rogereolson

        Let’s be clear that I have not advocated any particular view of evolution here. I have only rejected young earth creationism as untenable. I have studied enough of the evidence to be convinced of that. Beyond that, going into biological evolution, I am somewhat agnostic and I think it’s unimportant theologically so long as one does not buy into naturalism, sacrificing God’s special, supernatural activity. From all the reading that I have done, some kind of “progressive creationism” seems best theologically.

      • Bev Mitchell

        Dwight,

        Thanks so much for your extensive contributions to this discussion. If I understand you correctly, I personally know only one person who has all the official qualifications you seek. He is a dentist, a doctor of theology (evangelical) and has Ph.D in evolutionary biology from the University of Alberta, one of Canada’s best programs. Will that do?

        I met Denis when he was a Ph.D. student (his last, well at least his most recent degree). When I was Assoc. Chair of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, we collaborated for a time in helping Bible belt science students come to terms with the challenges they were facing in first year biology. The U of A actually teaches evolutionary biology fairly thoroughly in first year – not all schools do, by the way. Denis, a bapticostal, I think he would say, now teaches and writes on science and faith at one of the colleges of the U of A, which happens to be Catholic.

        Having, hopefully, covered all the bases, I will indicate below where you can find him. But my points of August 11 still stand and Denis will tell you the same thing. We evangelicals need to seriously revise the way we approach some parts of Scripture. We need to step back from the details at least long enough to see the entire grand story and we need to lose our fear of trusting the results of good science, and, I should add, learn to tell the difference between good science and bad science.

        How to find Denis: http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/

        • Dwight Gingrich

          Bev,

          Thank you for directing me to to Denis’s website. I hope to survey the links there to see whether he addresses the foundational questions about theology, hermeneutics, and naturalistic presuppositions over which so many people seem to leap-frog by simply saying “God did” evolution. I agree with the importance of seeing “the entire grand story” of God’s activity, but also believe that that story will crumble if we adopt readings of Scripture that, for instance, throw the trustworthiness of Christ’s words into question, as I noted above. The forest cannot exist unless the trees survive; exegetical and hermeneutical details are crucial and cannot be replaced by flowery, sweeping narrative that overlooks biblical data and embraces emotional persuasion rather than logical integrity.

          I am also looking for an approach that has enough humility to realize that evolutionary scientific claims are only a recent blip on the vast scope of human history, that they are not nearly as universally affirmed by educated people as heliocentrism or the spherical shape of the earth (both being simple observations of the present, not complex theories about the past), and that the history of science includes many records of “certain” science being overthrown or radically modified. The way that Christ and Paul (in his inspired writings) interpreted Genesis, however, will never change.

          So, I’ll end by saying I’m anything but “converted” at this point, but that one of us is wrong on this point, and it could be me. Blessings, and thanks again for the link!

          • rogereolson

            It’s good to remember, however, that it is possible to get lost in the forest because of the trees. Surely the forest does not depend on individual trees here and there.

      • CGC

        Hi Dwight,
        1. Look at the Biologos website (this deals with many of your questions and issues).
        2. On the interpretation of Genesis, if you want to see how some of the earliest Christians interpreted Genesis (rather different than our modern ways of reading Genesis), see Peter Bouteneff “Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives” (Baker, 2008).
        3. Read Mark Noll’s “Evangelicals, Creation, and Scripture: An Overview” at Biologos.org.

  • Andy

    Thanks, Bev, for the post and engagement of ideas in this post and others. I’ve noticed your comments previously and had added a good bit of thinking to mine own from your comments.

    I have much to learn on this post’s topic. Apparently it does not help that I’m an engineer! :)

    But where this site has been valuable for me is learning of new resources (probably the 3-views book for this post) and then being able to engage (or in my case observe engagement) with Roger as a respected theologian. Because these arminian positions can seem very lonely, at times.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Thinking of Jeff Martin’s question (from his August 10 post), this is to students of all ages who share Jeff’s laudable willingness to learn.

    Firstly, the main question for concerned Christians is not “is science correct about evolution?” For the purposes of practical Christianity the answer is simply, yes! No scientist can claim that our faith is rendered obsolete by science because of what literalists say the Bible says. Think about it. A polemician like Dick Dawkins has a vested interest in our taking Genesis literally, as if it were a scientific treatise. He does not believe that the Spirit of the Lord speaks to us through the text. We do, and we should listen carefully. The Spirit is not teaching us biology, geology, history or cosmology in Genesis. He is revealing himself, the living God. How much better than that does it have to get? So, let’s get off this long-standing hobby horse and smell the roses.

    If you are a mature, Bible believing Christian and your faith is upset by someone like Dick Dawkins, shame on you. If you are a young believer, shame on the people who let you out of Sunday School, youth group or Bible School so ill prepared. Ask these folk to read Dr. Olson’s eulogy to Dr. Ralph Powell posted August 9. Ask God to strengthen your faith. Read and talk to people who can show you how to approach the Scriptures by asking questions Scripture has been inspired by God to answer. Dr. Olson can give you great references that will get you back on the right track.

    Secondly, and I mean secondly as in way back. If you are interested in biology, great. I love biology so that makes me very happy. But I have also met many students who thought they were interested in this very demanding field who soon discovered they were not. Some reveal themselves in the written course evaluations at the end of term saying, “Now I know I don’t want to take any more biology.” The subject is vast. The hurdles in terminology and mountainous detail just in year one are daunting. Research biologists don’t usually hit their stride until well into their 30s, if not later. In many ways it’s like theology. In fact, I’ve started thinking of the “Life” sciences as having two parts – biology and theology. This is not to deify the secular, but it is to point out that the study of life on earth, including its grand history, should be expected to reveal much about the one who made it all possible.

    Thirdly, I’m no fan of online courses, especially in biology, and more especially for introductory biology. Using electronic media to augment regular class and tutorial attendance – absolutely. As soon as reasonable digital infrastructure  was available I gladly explored how to use it all in introductory and advanced courses. It was a great help (and extremely time consuming for the professor, at least in the early days). But the following anecdote will illustrate my concern. In the late 90 s, after finally getting all of the visual material used in class up on the web (essentially the meat of the entire course), I made this available to my 300 or so first-year students. (Good old Biology 108 – all that wonderful stuff the molecular biologists didn’t want to have cluttering up Biology 107). Most used it to print off, bring to class and make notes upon. It was a joy to see so many faces looking at me as I spoke, as opposed to the top of heads sweating as their owners wrote. But one fellow (at least) thought he saw a chance to be more efficient. He took the notes and cut the class. In my office after the exam, he wondered about his poor grade (I had no idea he had cut the class, and, in first year biology classes of that size, TAs do the grading in any case). I sadly had to remind him of my little speech on opening day. Don’t do this! Things will be said every day in class that tie all these facts together. If you don’t have someone who has been there before help you tie them together, it is highly unlikely that you will do so on your own. That’s biology – a mountain of facts yes, but facts that tie together beautifully after much consideration and study. We face exactly the same thing when we come to Scripture. I would no more expect someone to understand biology properly after a few courses than I would trust a “theologian” who has aced Greek, Hebrew and Survey of the Bible in first year seminary. Sorry for the long answer, but some things just take time.

    I wish you all great success in your studies but, even more, great joy in knowing the Lord!


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