Free eBook: Evolution & Scripture are NOT Mutually Exclusive – Ham & Nye are both wrong

Most folks probably know that Ken Ham and Bill Nye just debated the origins of the earth. Ham, a youth earth creationist, and Nye (the science guy), an atheist, demonstrated that the old dichotomy remains in some segments of culture: the bible and science are incompatible. This is a false dichotomy – one that prompted the writing of a free eBook Evolving Evangelicalism: Inviting Church Leaders to Refine their Approach to Scriptures and Origins – ought to alarm those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. Nye did make clear that there are some Christians who disagree with Ham – and for good reason!

In Evangelicalism, young adults raised in the church are leaving their faith behind.  Others, often in the same age demographic (but not always), will not entertain the idea of becoming a Christian because they perceive it as untenable based on their intellectual sensibilities.  As one study states, young Christians leave the church because “churches come across as antagonistic to science.”  This concern is a byproduct of Evangelical church culture that often perpetuates an ethos offering mutually exclusive options.  Either: A) believe in God as Creator to be a Christian or B) hold to biological evolution to be an atheist.

In this eBook, I invite church leaders to refine their approach to Scripture and origins.  Many well-meaning Evangelicals, in an attempt to honor the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures, fail to recognize that God’s world reveals truth as well.  As St. Augustine believed, both the books of Scripture and Nature must be considered in our quest for truth.  Those who lack this awareness “bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren… and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books.”  This applies to the conflict created by Evangelicals between evolution and a biblical theology of creation. This antagonistic stance is unnecessarily hindering some people from becoming or remaining part of the Christian faith, when in fact, the biblical witness of cosmic and human origins in no way conflicts with modern science.

In the biblical portion of the eBook I examine Genesis 1 through its: literary form, historical context caused by the exile, subversion of Babylonian ideology, choice of the word bara’ (create), functional ontology, and its cosmic temple inauguration view.  After demonstrating that Genesis 1 is not about how God created materiality, I offer three theological options for understanding Adam and Eve in light of the two books.  All of the issues discussed arise out of the biblical text and refine our reverence for God’s Word rather than compromising because of science.

At the end of the eBook, I offer several ways the church can move past the false polarity between science and Scripture.  This issue is not a mere intellectual exercise but potentially has eternal ramifications for those sensitive to scientific concerns.

A. Genesis 1
B. Theological Approaches to Adam and Eve


Evolving Evangelicalism: Inviting Church Leaders to Refine their Approach to Scriptures and Origins

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  • To my knowledge, Nye is best described as an agnostic, not an atheist.

    • Bill Nye Reveals He Is Agnostic

      I am too every Sunday morning from the time I finish chores on the farm until noon. Agnosticism isn’t incompatible with Christianity.

      Leslie Weatherhead (1972) The Christian Agnostic. Abingdon Press.

      • But, to be clear, Nye also isn’t a Christian 😉

  • Lyndon Unger

    Brueggemann’s made up literary form?


    Walton’s baseless liturgical guesses?


    Manufactured multi-verse chiasm?


    JEDP idiocy?


    Totally unsubstantiated polemic and temple themes?


    Dude, every one of those ideas has been engaged, tried, and found wanting.

    Thanks for the free book. Recycling is cool when dealing with cardboard and pop cans, but not when it comes to bad ideas.

    • Thanks for the distorted way you read my paper 🙂 even if u disagree, I wish u well.


    • Keep making atheists, Lyndon, if that’s your goal. You’re doing a good job.

      “Indeed I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a god.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823

      Damnfoolish literalist fundamentalism is why I dechurched 20+ years ago. Understanding the Bible, much like Kurt has written about the creation poem, is what got me back into reading it again these last couple years.

  • Good for you, Kurt. What got me to reading the Bible again after 20+ years of being dechurched* was my hobby of reading anthropology and then seeing how archeological fact reconciles with the Genesis mythology, as Mennonite theologian Ched Myers does so well, when he writes, “The Fall story of Genesis 1-11 is not only a theological text. It is also an etiological narrative (a story about origins) concerning the rise of civilization in the late Neolithic period.”

    Ched Myers (2005) The Fall & Anarcho-Primitivism and the Bible. Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Edited by Bron Taylor. NY: Continuum.

    Yes, the creation story is an ancient poem, beautiful literature if one doesn’t try to wring out if it what isn’t there: a literal scientific account of origins. I like your poetic analysis, your exegesis makes it all the more delightful.

    Also, I’m fine with scientific naturalism. Yes, it does indeed conflict with orthodoxy, but then so did Jesus. I doubt he ever wanted to be a magical fire insurance talisman that Paul and other mythmakers turned him into. Traditional soteriology elevates Satan (or the Wrath of of a capricious god) as the most powerful god, with another god saving us from the first.

    I take the view of the author of the Declaration of Independence, which contains the phrase “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”** as a deistic/pantheistic viewpoint.
    * From conservative mennonite for not believing in hell. 😉 I say hell is a tourist attraction!

    ** Who is Nature’s God?

    • Ken Steckert

      Brian – you read Paul as a fire insurance guy? While I think many have made much more out his letters than what he intended (I think they were personal letters to small audiences, not doctrinal theological dissertations), I do not find any attempts to scare people out of hell, much less a fiery hell in Paul’s letters.

      Aside from Revelation (which is apocalyptic and never intended to be taken literally anyway) Acts and all of the letters that follow are focused on Jesus and not an eternal torment in hell that will result if people do not believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The fear of hell came after the books accepted in the biblical canon were written, as I find the fear of hell completely absent from them. The only fear of hell that Jesus spoke was to the religious Jews, not to the “sinners.”

      • Yes, Paul is the primary Platonicizer (hey, what a word!) of Jesus, turning the Jewish ethical reformer into a Greek/pagan salvation magician.

        “…Our soul is immortal, and has judges, and pays the utmost penalties whenever a man is rid of the body.” ~Plato, 7th letter, 335a

        Sure, the “penalties” have been inflated, lately with the pagan Nordic Goddess of the underworld, Hell, and the “Torture” (yep, that word is in there) theology of Revelation. But that is what most Christians are trying to avoid. When I say I’m a Christian but don’t believe in Hell, the most frequent first words are “But then why believe in Jesus?” Indeed, why!

        Jesus never guessed he’d be a Greek dying-rising solar deity presented as pagan savior. That’s what Paul the Mythmaker did.

        “…I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists*, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

        * “The euthanasia of platonic christianity: Thomas Jefferson, Plato, religion and human freedom.” Gregory Lawrence Knittel, San Jose State University 1993.

  • AmyS

    I’m glad you have the energy to engage in this conversation, Kurt. Good work. On this topic I’m content to say: The Bible isn’t a science book, nor is it a modernistic history. Reading it as though it is either results in theological conclusions which are fundamentally flawed–silly at best and dangerous when applied in Christian practice. I agree with Ham on one thing, biblical illiteracy among Christians is a hindrance to the church and to the kingdom. Unfortunately, Ham contributes to the perpetuation of that very problem.

    • Thanks Amy. I couldn’t agree with you more! PS: this is my paper from Senior Seminar 😉


    • Shinjitsu

      And yet it possesses a scientific apprehension far too advanced for its time. See Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:7; Ecclesiastes 1:7; Amos 5:8; Job 38:33; Jeremiah 31:35; 33:25; Genesis 1; Leviticus 11:27, 28; Psalm 139:16; Leviticus 13:1-5, Numbers 19:1-13, and Deuteronomy 23:13-14 for starters.

      Science has been playing catch-up ever since.

      • AmyS

        Shinjitsu, In order to find “scientific apprehension” in Christian scripture one must eisegete modern epistemologies and rhetorical aims into the ancient text. If we have any hope of deep engagement with the theological and religious aims of the scripture, including practical applications for today, we must first take very seriously the cultural distance between us and the ancient world. In the case of the modern discipline of science, such methods of thinking simply did not exist then. Any read of the Bible which finds modern scientific principles in the text are fundamentally flawed and therefore unreliable for application to the Christian faith and life. (I have considered each of the texts you cite, but do not have the time now to answer each one.)

        • Shinjitsu

          Amy, I’d be very interested in seeing the evidence of your claims.

          • AmyS

            1) Ancient Near East history and culture

            2) The history and development of Western thought
            3) Basic principles of literary analysis

          • Shinjitsu

            Could you be a tad bit more specific to the particular passages I shared?

          • AmyS

            I could, but I’m not going to.

            Kurt has presented a fine paper here. I’m not going to rehash what he has already said so well. Furthermore, I can only guess at what you mean to prove by each of the scripture refrences listed above. All the same, I am convinced that none of them affirm or discredit scientific explanations of human origins (which I have already stated are not, in my opinion, in any conflict with belief in the God of the Bible). You and I seem to approach the Bible in very different ways, and I sincerely doubt that any further arguments I offer here will be edifying.

            May the peace of Christ rule in all our hearts.

          • Shinjitsu

            What, then, of the instruction found here:

            Be “ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.” -1 Peter 3:15

            Do you really feel your evasion is in harmony with this basic requirement for all sedulous Christians?

          • AmyS

            I have only one master, Jesus Christ. You do not own my time. I owe you nothing but Christian love, which I have given you freely.

          • Shinjitsu

            And you honestly feel your expressed disdain for my sincere queries is loving?

          • AmyS

            First, I reject your assertion that faithfulness to Christ constrains me to remain in this conversation as long as you want me to, without regard for my own wellbeing. 1 Peter 3:5 is an instruction to believers, that we should be well prepared when persecution comes, to answer for the hope we have through Christ’s resurrection. It is NOT, as you have implied, a theological shackles with which one believer may hold another hostage. To use it as such, in this case, is to either characterize yourself as a persecutor of the faithful (the one who demands an answer), or to brutalize the text in order to promote your own agenda (manipulating me to stay engaged in coversation by capitalizing on my desire to be obedient to God). Regardless, by Jesus’ own example we see that silence is sometimes the right answer.

            Second, I hope to assure you that no disdain has been intended. If I have truly transgressed, I pray that the Holy Spirit will show me my error and lead me to repentance. The decision to withdraw from the conversation at this point is made with goodwill toward you. Furthermore, while I am well informed, well equipped, and well gifted to answer you on all of the points you have raised, and while I sincerely enjoy a vigorous debate, there are many legitimate demands on my time which take priority over my participation in blog comment threads. Simply put, I don’t get to do all the things I want to do (like staying here to play for hours).

            Finally, our disagreement about the compatibility of evolutionary biology and Christian faith cannot be settled through argumentation about Bible verses. No matter how many scriptures you and I discuss, we will never see eye to eye unless we agree upon the fundamental nature of the Bible and the hermeneutical approaches with which it is read most faithfully. That’s not likely to happen here and now. All the same, I wish you well. May grace and peace be yours through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Shinjitsu

    If I may, what do you make of Christ’s teaching of special creation by God Almighty in opposition to molecules-to-man evolution?

    • AmyS

      False dichotomy.

      First, I’m not familiar with any specific teaching of Jesus that necessitates the doctrine of special creation.

      That said, there is nothing in evolutionary biology which contradicts the existence of a divine creator. In fact, science makes no claims about God whatsoever. While some scientists may be vocal about their particular beliefs about God, science itself cannot speak to the matter on it’s own terms, and so science (as a pure discipline) is silent. Whether or not a divine creator established the universe is not disputed by science itself. In other words, there is nothing in science itself (including the subdisciplines of evolutionary biology and astrophysics) which seeks to dispute the existence of a creator who establishes and sustains the processes which scientists observe and systemetize.

      Likewise, science makes no claims about the meaning of life, including the valuation of human beings or any other extant thing. Those questions are the purview of religion and philosophy.

      There is no tension here. As a Christian, I affirm that God created and sustains the universe by processes which can be observed and systemetized by science. Humanity as a whole, and each individual person, can be a special creation of God, AND be the developmental result of a divinely instigated evolutionary process.

      • Shinjitsu

        ““Have you not read that the one who ***created*** them from the beginning made them male and female and said: ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together, let no man put apart.”” -Matthew 19:4-6 (Emphasis mine.)

        “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” -Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26, 27.

        Is the TOE compatible with the biblical account of the Noachian Flood?

        • AmyS

          Yes. Compatible. Why wouldn’t it be?

          • Shinjitsu

            Because the General Theory of Evolution is “The theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form” yet Christ taught that God Almighty was responsible for the creation of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis. He also teaches that the Noachian Flood was a true historical event.

            How do you reconcile these with the TOE?

          • AmyS

            1) God created and sustains everything that is. Including the first humans. No scientific description of that creative process is provided in scripture.

            2) Your use of “true historical event” assumes much about the ancient world that is not necessarily so. Modern understandings of histories are completely inadequate for exegeting ancient texts.

          • Shinjitsu

            1. So you shoehorn one in? How is that noetically honest?

            2. Are you suggesting Christ lied about the Noachian Flood having actually taken place?

      • Shinjitsu

        “From the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zech·a·ri′ah, who was killed between the altar and the house.’ Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.” -Luke 11:51

        • AmyS

          I’m not sure what you mean by citing Luke 11:51. Are you trying to curse me?

          • Shinjitsu

            What a curious question. Do you think you deserve to be cursed?

            I quoted it to show how Jesus taught Abel was a historical figure just as Zechariah was.

          • AmyS

            1) I only ask because Luke 11:37-52 is an oracle or curse against pharisees and lawyers.
            2) Of course Jesus speaks of Abel in a historical sense. Any of his contemporaries would have also. So what? That has nothing whatsoever to do with modern scientific theories or modernistic approaches to history.

          • Shinjitsu

            If Abel was a historical figure then so was his father, Adam, and so was the way by which Jehovah God created him. That is to say, Adam didn’t evolve from some ape-like beast. He was created according to his kind – humankind.

  • ccws

    This accords pretty well with what I was taught growing up. I’ll never understand why so many people insist on flattening out the complex “why” of creation into an absurdly simplistic “how.”