A Hatred of Science Is Killing the Church: Why Young Adults Leave or Never Show Up

science

Both on The Paulcast: A Podcast All About the Apostle Paul and at Pangea Church (Seattle), I have been walking through series on science and scripture.

How I go about that now is quite different than I imagine my methods if I were 19. Back then, evolution was off the table. In fact, it wasn’t even something I gave any thought to until 2008 (mid-20s).

I was a creationist by default.

I had deconstructed (or at least beginning this process):

  • my understanding of how to interpret Scripture in light of historical context,
  • my view of women,
  • the “end times / Revelation,”
  • the Christian hope (not merely going to heaven, but heaven coming here in new creation),
  • just war theory (I was on my way to pacifism),
  • and many other areas.

But creation versus evolution wasn’t on my radar.

And then, quite late to the party, I read Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian.” The book has a main character who teaches science in a public school. He is both a Christian and holds to biological evolution.

This blew my mind.

Yet, it was the first area of questioning my upbringing in the faith where I wondered: Am I unfaithful to God?

But over time, it became clear: the bible has little value if read as a science book.

Evolutionary creationism is the best option available. 

I don’t hold to this view because I have lots of faith in science. My allegiance is in God and Christ.

But, Scripture doesn’t speak to this issue when we read it in light of historical evidence and its genres.

Evolution as biology and the Scriptures can walk hand-in-hand.

But, this is taking time to make its way into the mainstream culture of the North American church. This is especially true in my broad tribe of evangelicalism.

A study that Barna published a few years back states that young adults are leaving the church because of the perceived attitude of the church to science. Here’s what it says:

One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

This posture toward science is and will continue to kill the future of the church.

This is bad news.

And I don’t want my daughter growing up and graduating from her faith when gets to college.

I don’t want to continue to set people up to have to choose between their brains and the back door of the church.

We need a better conversation. We need to listen to the best biblical scholars and Christian leaders. We need to read the crap out of the Biologos website.

We need to shut down this part of church culture. It is killing the church and de-converting young people.

The gospel is too important to defend creation science.

The message of Jesus is too life changing to spend any energy fighting biological evolution.

God created. God loves creation. God died to heal creation.

This creation is approximately 14 billion years old.

Killing the church isn’t worth fighting battles that we were never meant to win.

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  • http://www.followingjesus.org Kurt Struckmeyer

    You are speaking of the fundamentalist evangelical church, not mainline Protestants or Roman Catholics. The “church” is much bigger. Conservatives always speak as if they are the only ones!

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      Hi @kurtstruckmeyer:disqus . Great name. As I said clearly: “But, this is taking time to make its way into the mainstream culture of the North American church. This is especially true in my broad tribe of evangelicalism.” — Evangelicalism is a big tribe in NA… And even in *some RC circles the evolution issue still surprisingly exists.

      Also, I’m not a conservative… so you must not know my work. This is, after all the “progressive” Christian channel. :-)

      Third, I was speaking to my tribe… those who grew up in evangelicalism.

      Fourth, I by no means think or speak as if evangelicalism is the ‘only one.’ That is flat out projection. Shoot, most evangelicals won’t claim me these days 😉

      • pacman2076

        I dance with my brother. He has a doctrite in theology. He doesnt evangelize from the pulpit. But swears he does in his own way. He of course is of the arminian doctrine. Asked me not to bother him any more. I am an inactive member of the largest Mennonite church in america. Not to boast. It just happened that way.

    • pacman2076

      I personnaly, am only interested in the church. Also called the body of Jesus. If its not in the bible. Its a man made tradition. Purgatory. Soul sleep. Praying to saints. All man made. Or maybe lucifer made.

  • Paul

    The issue isn’t science against the church, the issue is one of authority. You say “This creation is approximately 14 billion years old.” How do you know that? You’re going to science as the ultimate authority of truth. You’re assuming a naturalistic view of origins which I believe to be fatal to your faith in Christ.

    Take Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 as an example. He fed more than 5000 people with only a couple of fish and a few loaves, yet gathered up 12 baskets full of leftovers. What we have here is a mini creation event; Jesus bringing something from nothing by power of his word. Now suppose you could get one of those loaves and fish into the hands of today’s scientists and asked them to comment as to their origins. How did they get to be what they are? I would think that they would say that the fish came about through eggs being fertilised, hatching and then following the natural process of growing into fully mature fish. Likewise the bread would have been brought about by the mixing of flour, oil, water and salt, mixing and then baking those ingredients at a certain temperature for a certain length of time. Would they have been right? Absolutely not. The authority for the truth of such a question comes from the Word of God and its recording of the supernatural work Christ performed to bring them about.

    “The message of Jesus is too life changing to waste any energy fighting biological evolution.” What you fail to understand is that conceding on this point makes Jesus a liar. He spoke of Adam as a real historical person and biological evolution leaves no room for that interpretation. Suppose as well that God in his mercy, allows this world to progress for another billion years or so, and man evolves even further than he has already (play along with my intellectual supposing for a minute). Our bodies surely would have become something greater than they are now wouldn’t they. And surely it would be approaching blasphemy to propose that Christ would be made incarnate in a body inferior to those of our future ancestors.

    I get that you are experiencing a sort of cognitive dissonance between what you believe and what postmodern scientists are saying, but the answer to that is found in where you look to for ultimate answer, ultimate truth. Our ultimate authority is with God, not science.

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      While I respect your opinion, I think we read the bible differently. It is authoritative, but it is written in genre, rhetoric, stylization, in contexts, etc. Taking all this into account, your view that “makes Jesus a liar” is unneeded. PS- Billy Graham and CS Lewis both were ok with evolution.
      Peace.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://kurtwillems.com
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

      • Paul

        I appreciate that you “respect my opinion” Kurt, but I wasn’t offering you one. I was asking you what todays scientists would say about the bread and fish that Jesus Christ created in the feeding of the 5000.

        I understand how scripture is written Kurt. I understand about genre and style and such, but you haven’t dealt with what I said. I don’t really care who was “ok with evolution”, I care about whether it is true or not. I hope you will at least have the courtesy of dealing with what I have actually asked.

        You may not like the implication of the statement “makes Jesus a liar” but the truth is, you have to deal with why Jesus would believe in a historical Adam when there wasn’t one. Was he uninformed? Was he wrong in thinking that? How could the Son of Man be a prophet if he couldn’t even get the truth of Adam right?

        Like I said, the issues are yours to deal with.

        • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

          I have dealt with this in numerous posts over the years. Check out this if you are curious…
          Free eBook: Evolution & Scripture are NOT Mutually Exclusive – Ham & Nye are both wrong https://shar.es/1FurQE
          Peace.

          KURT WILLEMS
          http://kurtwillems.com
          http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
          http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

          • Paul

            no, I’m not curious. I just think that you’re wrong. Yes there is a ‘light of nature’ but that will never give us a complete picture of the truth. Only the ‘light of revelation’ can do that. Maybe you should do some reading. ‘God, Adam and You: Biblical creation defended and applied’ Edited by Richard D. Phillips; ‘Not a Chance: God, science, and the revolt against reason’ by R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison; ‘Darwin on Trial’ by Phillip E. Johnson all might shed a little light on where your thinking (and faith) has gone wrong.

            And you still haven’t said whether or not you agree that the scientist of today would come up with a different answer as to the origins of the fish and bread Christ created then what actually brought them about. Maybe you haven’t because you know that the answer to that will bring your house of cards tumbling down.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Paul. Not only are you being rigid… but you are being rude.

            Peace.

            KURT WILLEMS
            http://kurtwillems.com
            http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
            http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

          • Paul

            Rude Kurt? Is that because I said you were wrong? What a curious thing to say. Rigid? You mean like when Jesus Christ said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” That sort of rigid? I really doubt that you and I believe in the same Jesus…or belong to the same church.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Glad to know you compare yourself with Jesus. haha. But… yes, it is rude to argue in circles, use pejorative language (*house of cards* as one example) and then not be willing to see how that assumption about both my character and intellect (and faith in my Savior Jesus) could be valid… even if different from your own. Engage… but do so in a way that is open handed. If you want to tear down my view… fine. But do so with the actual facts of my view, not your strawman. I gave you a chance to actually see that I wasn’t full of hot air by giving you access to my full *biblical* argument. Oh well.

          • Paul

            Pejorative language Kurt? Like saying I was comparing myself to Jesus? How is quoting what Jesus said my comparing myself to him? You really don’t want to be taken seriously do you. It’s not arguing in circles if you’re still waiting for the other person to deal with the points you initially raised. Trying to get them back around to that is not arguing in circles, it’s just trying to keep you on point. I was trying to engage you Kurt but you kept avoiding the point I was making.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Paul. You literally accused me of not being an authentic follower of Jesus or part of the Church of Jesus Christ. That is pejorative at best. In fact, I was being gracious in your description of me.

            If you really want me to talk about what scientists would do with a miracle story like the feeding of 5000, it depends on which scientist you ask. If you ask a scientist like Francis Collins who is the leading geneticist in the world and an evolutionist (and an evangelical Christian), he would say that Jesus has power to do things miraculously. I would say the same thing. It is silly to have to choose between the two. Again, had you been interested in actually engaging the issues, I have exegeted the relevant biblical texts and have made them available to you— if you were actually wanting an answer beyond simple yes and no statements. What is clear is that you are unwilling to actually hear reasonable approaches to the interpretation of holy Scripture.

            This is fine. But do not troll my website if you are not actually willing to engage in authentic and kind toned conversation. And yes, when you said “like Jesus”, it was a sort of comparison with Jesus. That was all I was saying in the earlier comment.

            You are not going to win people over with your approach. Authentic conversation and a willingness to even be wrong is the only way conversations like this ever produce any fruit. I love Jesus. I have an abiding relationship with him through the presence of the Holy Spirit. I pray. I have Christian community in my life. I have accountability in my life. I just happen to think that we could read the creation passages with a bit more nuance and understanding.

            Too many people are walking away from their faith because they can’t reconcile science in Scripture. This choice is one that we continue to impose on people, but it is entirely unnecessary. God could have guided evolution. The Scriptures do not have anything to say about “how” God created when read in their context appropriately. They speak of “Who.”

            Unless you are willing to engage with my biblical arguments that I made available in that e-book, I am no longer going to engage in this discussion with you. You have not demonstrated core principles of Christian charity and humility. I hope you will see things slightly from my angle… and consider real dialogue instead of what you have done thus far.

          • Paul

            “If you really want me to talk about what scientists would do with a miracle story like the feeding of 5000, it depends on which scientist you ask.”
            You’ve misrepresented my position Kurt. Not a very good way to have a discussion. I didn’t ask you what “scientists would do with a miracle story..” I asked you what they would do with the physical bread and fish if they were to get there hands on it and examine it as scientists. The question had to do with authority not hermeneutics.

            “It is silly to have to choose between the two.” Again, only if we were discussing biblical interpretation or the like. The question was about physics. What would the scientists say about the bread itself and the fish itself? That is a question of scientific analysis. Testing, analysis and the like. Apparently you’ve missed the point altogether. Shame.

            “…do not troll my website if you are not actually willing to engage in authentic and kind toned conversation.”
            That’s really a poor way to carry on a conversation Kurt. Accuse the other of being a ‘troll’ and hope he just skulks away in shame. I’m not trolling your blog Kurt. I thought I was having an open discussion with someone who has made some rather outlandish claims in an article which was circulated widely on social media. Now you seek to end the discussion the way most people who struggle to make their point…accuse the other of being a troll.

            “What is clear is that you are unwilling to actually hear reasonable approaches to the interpretation of holy Scripture.”
            I’m sorry Kurt but you do make some rather grandiose statements. How do you know what I’ve studied or read outside of your world? How do you know to what lengths I’ve tried to understand the full implications of evolutionary philosophy on the clear teachings of scripture? I listed just a few books in a post above that cover just a few of the problems that are inherent in accepting the theistic evolutionary position you put forward.

            You accuse me of being uncharitable and lacking in humility and to that I cry foul. Charity is of the heart and comes from the principle of motive. Do you know my motive in discussing these issues with you? Do you know whether or not I argue from a position of arrogance? The problem with a written discussion is that there is no personal intercourse, no tone or inflection is involved. Try and keep that in mind when reading what I have to say and at least afford me the kindness of reading it in a better light.

            “Unless you are willing to engage with my biblical arguments that I made available in that e-book, I am no longer going to engage in this discussion with you.”
            I’ll grant you that point. Although I’ve heard your position many times in the past, I will go away and read through the ebook you’ve suggested.

            “I hope you will see things slightly from my angle… and consider real dialogue instead of what you have done thus far.”
            I would second this thought. So far you’ve ignored my main point in my initial post, you’ve then misrepresented my position further along all the while accusing me of being arrogant, unkind, and uncharitable.

            The issues I had with your blog “A hatred of science is killing the church” were many and varied, not the least of which was what I thought was a fundamental problem, the issue of authority. You’ve continued to ignore that.

            “Authentic conversation and a willingness to even be wrong is the only way conversations like this ever produce any fruit.”
            Again I would second that thought. I have changed my thinking on many subjects (a willingness to be wrong) throughout my Christian life, yet it has always been through a thoughtful understanding of what scripture has to say. I’m not convinced that you’ve taken the same approach in this matter.

        • tusk321

          Paul. Sadly you’re making your issues, ours… as in those that don’t want to follow your path that leads to nothingness. What works for you, doesn’t work for the whole.
          and Anything that detours us as human beings from our natural path, is simply unnatural.
          That is fact. xo

          • Paul

            Back in Darwin’s day he believed in the ‘fact’ that the ‘Cell’ was ‘simple’.
            Reckon he was right?

          • Armindo Silva

            Darwin did not know anything about genetics and genetics corroborated it’s theory.

          • Paul

            You’ve missed the point.

    • duffman1953

      Oh please get real! Jesus DID NOT feed 5000 people with a few loaves and fish IT IS A MADE UP STORY written in a book by bronze age people who believed that magic was real! Just because a book says everything in it is true does not make it so.If J.K. Rowling said everything in her Harry Potter books was true would you believe it? Of course you wouldn’t! What you would ask her for is evidence but christians suspend all logic and rationality when it comes to the Bible – no attempt to really examine the book intellectually, no attempt to seek real evidence to support what it says and so on. Just simple, blind acceptance (blind faith) that it is all true – walking on water, healing the sick with a touch, water into wine, god sends himself to earth as his own son (???) to suffer a temporary death (he did not ‘sacrifice’ his son in the literal sense) etc etc. Clearly, to a rational, logicial and scientific mind this is all nonsense and you (christians in general) will demand proof/evidence for any great claims made by anyone (what would you say to me if I claimed I saw a Unicorn for example) in any other sphere of your lives but not when it comes to your Bible and faith.

      • Peter Murphy

        My goodness. What an ignorant statement, “Clearly, to a rational, logicial and scientific mind this is all nonsense and you (christians in general) will demand proof/evidence …”. My amazement continues when I read these comments about the Bible, both New and Old Testament. Again, the Catholic Church has always taught that the Bible is an inspired book about God. It is a book of theology and not of science or history or anthropology or any other field of study. Read the Bible as it was meant to be read, a book telling us about God. There is no conflict with science. The Bible is completely “rational, logical” if you bother to understand how and why it was written.

      • Paul

        You saw a unicorn!? Were there any other eyewitnesses? No? Bad luck then.
        How do you know Jesus “DID NOT feed 5000 people with a few loaves and fish?” Pretty sure you weren’t there.
        “If J.K. Rowling said everything in her Harry Potter books were true, would you believe it?” No. Not unless thousands of people were witnesses to her performing wonders like healing the blind and lame, raising the dead, or feeding 5000+ with a few loaves and fish. You assume (and incorrectly) that I haven’t spent any time examining the book intellectually and in that assumption I would say you couldn’t possibly be more mistaken. Not only have I examined my own views on God and the Bible, but I’ve also spent considerable time examining the naturalistic, rationalistic view on origins and I’ve found it highly improbable. Ok, I mean impossible. Have a go for me. Tell me why there is something rather than nothing from a completely naturalistic point of view. I’m all ears.

    • tusk321

      Paul. You question that “this creation is approximately 14 billion years old?” But seem to believe that Jesus fed more than 5000 with a couple of fish..??? Ignorance is biiss.
      You seriously put that much faith in your fairytales, just because they are printed in a book..? Supposedly the word of gods will, with all its various authors and contradictions. Written some 300-400 years, after Jesus was supposedly crucified.
      If it is the word of a god, would it not be perfect?
      I think it has more to do with those with faith utilizing the Bible as a weapon, against common sense. If you want to hide in your fables that’s fine but your book doesn’t, and will never control the world as you see fit. Comparable to the terrorists known as ISIS.
      A naturalistic view, IS the realistic view. There is an energy on this planet that binds us together, the only unnatural element is religion (not to be confused with spirituality) and it’s destructive path. The church will inevitably destroy itself with ignorance, from the inside out. A gnashing of teeth, feeding off one another, until nothing left but bleached bones, cast from a blinding light that has caused chaos for decades but this world/United States will never founder to an absolution that will sadly never come.
      But we are still in league, as human beings, and we are in the here and now. Science is fact. Religion is fiction. There’s no debating truth.
      PS. Science IS the ultimate authority in TRUTH. The Bible is a dictionary of fools. And I say that because I’m sick of religion trying to define millions of lives by its outdated definitions.

      • Paul

        It never ceases to amaze me with what ignorance people like yourself rant on about the bible being myth. It is either just that, sheer ignorance or else you’re just gullible. No historian would hold the view that the New Testament was myth, nor anything other than at the very least the writers were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded. Luke, who wrote the gospel that bears his name and the book of Acts, has been widely recognised as the premiere historian of his era. He records historical rulers, cities and towns and even leaders in the community with stunning accuracy. No reputable scholar would hold your uninformed view that the Bible was written 300-400 years after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That view is mere wishful thinking on your part. No historical writings have been subjected to a more rigorous testing then the scriptures have and the Bible has passed every test. Authors writing within 20 years of the events recorded, and more manuscripts available than any other writing dated around that time. Most scholars believe that we have a fairly accurate translation of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ yet the nearest manuscripts are about 800 years after it was written, and there are only 4 or 5 of them in total. Yet you declare the bible to be ‘myth’ when there are over 20,000 manuscripts available and they date to within 25 – 30 years of the original documents. Your understanding of the Bible is grossly flawed…no, blatantly wrong.

        You ask the question “If it is the word of a god, would it not be perfect?” No, not a god, but if it is the Word of the God whom the Bible describes, then yes, absolutely. The church has long held the view that the Bible is inspired, infallible and inerrant.

        You say, “A naturalistic view, IS the realistic view.” Really? How on earth do you know that? And what sort of a nonsense word is ‘spirituality’ when you say that everything is ‘naturalistic’. If all there is is matter, the material world, then please explain how all this matter got here in the first place? And please don’t lose touch with reason and rationality as you attempt to give your explanation.

        Your closing remarks are just the ravings of a madman. “science IS the ultimate authority in TRUTH.” Science is a tool, used to help us understand the natural world we live in, and as a tool it is highly effective. You want to elevate it to a position it was never meant to hold and in the process have gone off on a fools errand and you’ll never be able to find Truth in the important questions of life. Why are we? Who are we? Good luck looking to answer those questions in science.

      • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

        I’d just like to say that it is clear that you either don’t know any intellectually honest Christians or like painting with a broad pejorative brush. Be an atheist… cool. I have many friends who are. But don’t treat us like crap, just because we happen to believe in God. This is an example of a far reaching extreme of a ‘false polarity’ perpetuating unhelpful culture wars. This posture is exactly the same as the fundamentalist Christians who like beating people over the head with bible verses. There has to be a better way of conversing with real people. Otherwise things will not get better: for anyone.

  • Rene Eppling

    Kurt – I’m glad to see that you are headed in the right direction with regards to 21st century science. You still have a way to go, but at least you are turning in the right direction….
    I know that you clarified the evangelicals are not always open to modern science, but I think you are wrong as it pertains to the Roman Catholic viewpoint. As a career Catholic school student, we were immersed in the arts and sciences, much more so than the public school counterpart. Religion and faith were never commingled with science. They were always separate as they should be….
    There are very few people who can claim they corrected Einstein on his theoretical physics – a Belgium priest would take that honor in 1927. Too bad the science and history books don’t want to teach you that a RC came up with the Big Bang theory.

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      I understand this… and am glad for the RC’s posture. But in conservative pockets of the country, like where I grew up… this wasn’t always the case. Cultural Christianity enveloped lots of traditions, even one’s open to science like the RC.

  • pacman2076

    The earth is only 10/15 thousand years old

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      There is little to no evidence to back that up. Poking holes, as creation alt-science does, isn’t helpful. It is driven by a belief that Genesis 1-11 gives us literal history, but the book wasn’t written to give us such information.

      • pacman2076

        Ok so you know where i get my knowledge from. In short. Where does yours come from??

      • Paul

        “…the book wasn’t written to give us such information.” That is a faith statement Kurt, a ‘belief’ on your part that isn’t supported with a plain reading of the text. Why couldn’t the book be written to give us such information? Why couldn’t it be a record of what God did at the beginning of creation? You assume far more than is required.

        • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

          Here’s a sort of response. You won’t like it, I’m guessing: The Word “Create” Means “Arrange” – Genesis 1 & Science – http://go.shr.lc/2p2Jepp

      • pacman2076

        We whine the scripure is not accurate. Not true. Jews were fanatics about history and geneology! Jewish history writers and bible study groups are continually comparing. Existing manuscripts. See. https://www.compellingtruth.org/original-Bible.html
        You want to believe the bible isnt real. Isnt accurate. Just say so. Proves your faith in Jesus is weak. Or you only “say”you have faith in Him. As for science vs scripture. Science comtinually proved the bible is true. And the bible continues to be first in the simplest sciences. See Ray Comfort. Science revealed in scripture

  • D2U

    The church doesn’t hate science it disavows false science that is opinion without facts or twisting truth to fit a self-proclaimed narrative.

  • Johanna Rubin

    Preach!

  • DuckyShades

    The issue is these made up doctrines like the authority and infallibility and inerancy and etcetera of scripture. That’s the issue. That is why people are so afraid to think and read. They’re bound by those. Until those are regarded for what they are – attempts to create certainty – Christians will want their cake and eat it too when it comes to science. Or NDE’s. Or anything that threatens orthodoxy but holds substantial weight.

    • Paul

      The doctrines of the authority, inerrancy, and infallibility of scripture aren’t “attempts to create certainty” as you assume, they merely reflect the reality of a God who speaks. How could a God who has created all there is not have authority when He speaks? Or err? Or make mistakes? As a Christian I’m not afraid to think or read. I never would have thought or read as deeply as I have in this life if I wasn’t a Christian. So no, authority, infallibility, and inerrancy aren’t ‘the’ issue. Whether or not there is a God, creator or Ultimate Being is ‘the’ issue. The only thing you need to know to prove the existence of God is that there is something with being, be that a star or a planet or a stick.

      • DuckyShades

        No, they really are. A friend told me he couldn’t entertain the idea that maybe Noah’s Ark wasn’t a real live event, backed by scientific observation, but a story likened to Gilgamesh in attempts to understand and make sense of their world. Why? Because that would mean the “word of God” is not innerrant. That’s just the beginning. Christians feel if you take one brick out the whole thing crumbles. Or in other words – fear to think.

        • Paul

          Sorry Gibs712 but you’re talking nonsense, and you haven’t even dealt with anything I’ve said. All you’ve done is say “No, they really are.” I assume in connection with your original claim that the doctrines of the authority, infallibility and inerrancy of scripture were “made up” in an attempt to “create certainty”. Reaffirming what you’ve already said is no proof of your point. What you fail to grasp is that it is highly likely that the story of Gilgamesh is a poor retelling of the flood story given in scripture.

          The certainty is found in God himself and as I said before, those doctrines are a reflection of this God speaking. I’ll ask you again, how could God not have authority in what He says? How could He err in what He says? How could He be mistaken in what He says? These are the questions you failed to address. Try again.

          • DuckyShades

            Oh boy, a fighter. Everything you say assumes one thing: The bible is the word of god. But it’s not worth the energy nor is it fruitful to “argue” that and “try again” on a blog with contentious people; just not gonna do it. You want it I can tell.

          • Paul

            “Oh boy, a fighter.” What a ridiculous thing to say. Gone fishing have you and surprised that the fish decided to fight back? You assume that I assume, which is unfortunate. And you’ve even managed to not see your own assumption in the process.

            I’m not assuming the Bible is the Word of God, I’m actually accepting that it is at the very least, a reliable historical document. A document which records the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ referred to the Bible as unshakeable, immovable and the very Word of God Himself.

            I believe it is the Word of God for many reasons, the foremost of those being that Jesus Christ believed it to be so. He said the Old Testament was written concerning himself, and that he would lead his Apostles in testifying about what he said and did, which is the New Testament.

            Whether or not the “bible is the word of god” and is “not worth the energy” I disagree. Whether or not God has spoken isn’t important to you? Well it certainly is to me. Go away then and sit in your silent world without any sure Word from above. Have a think about how hopeless that really is.

          • DuckyShades

            Didn’t read past the first paragraph. Bye.

          • Paul

            I’m not surprised…

          • Dubious in Tennessee

            I read it all, lots of effort and well written to a position many hold. I get that the Bible undoubtedly contains teachings God wanted his creation to know. Wish Biblical writings were a bit more consistent. However, I do not believe it is inerrant and some of the inconsistency suggests that the writers were discussing things from either the learning that had occurred or their present circumstances.

            I think where you lost your power to discuss was using words that suggested contempt for those who do not want such intense argument or do not agree with the need for you to persuade them of the rightness of your view. . Arthur Brooks today mentioned this very topic that this use of contempt is what polarizes us and does not allow us to act together where we can.

            I guess I do not think that not believing that the Bible is inerrant or that every chapter was something God wanted us to know really threatens my salvation.

            I love the Methodist saying, do all the good that you can, for as many as you can, for as ever long as you can. Corollary, love others as Christ most surely loves you. I can barely ever get that done, much less worry about all the arguments about sacred texts.

          • Paul

            I appreciate the words of caution, although I would like to offer a few words of caution myself. You use the word contempt, and I can see how you might see it that way. I was a bit strong in my frustration in the above posts and have amended them accordingly.

            Although there is a sense in which we are all equally created before God, there is another sense in which we are not. We all, each and everyone of us, have our own distinct personalities, some reserved and cautious, others robust and confident. Each and everyone of us starts from the same position though, sinners in every faculty of our being, from our intellect all the way through our will and emotions. God hasn’t finished with me yet so I am grateful for the correction. I appreciate the way you have approached me in your rebuke and will try and be more circumspect and charitable when dealing with those I disagree with.. even when they show arrogance and contempt themselves.

            I understand your reluctance to accept that the scriptures are inerrant, and that you think that there are inconsistencies but I have found that the inconsistencies are either ours in our hermeneutic or are issues that can be sorted out through sound reasoning and exegisis.

            The overriding principle that I take to scripture is this. If there is a God, (and I believe there is) then what He has created cannot have something in it that is not in Him. In the creation we see that it is personal, that it is relational, and the only means that we have of expressing that relational part of our being is through our ability to communicate or speak with one another. This is foundational to any kind of personality in relationship. If we can’t speak to each other, there is no relationship.

            I believe in, not only God, but in a God who speaks. And if He is a God who speaks, how could we possibly say that He could speak falsely, or err in what He says. The problem I have with those who say that scripture only contains God’s Word is that they now have no ability to draw the line as to where He starts speaking or where He stops. If I don’t know that, then how can I trust in anything it/He says?

            Jesus considered the bible of his time (what we call the Old Testament) to be the very Word of his Father and gave many strong indications of that in what he said. He also promised his appointed Apostles that they would be led into all truth regarding him, that the Holy Spirit would come and lead them in this task. Paul talks of all scripture being “God breathed” and Peter associates Paul’s writings with “the rest of the scriptures”. That is why we believe the New Testament to be part of God’s revelation, part of his Word.

            “I guess I do not think that not believing that the Bible is inerrant… really threatens my salvation.”

            I think I understand what you are trying to say, but again, I would offer a couple of words of caution.

            If the bible is not inerrant then we can have no confidence in anything it says (how can we know if what we are reading is true or not?) nor the promises it makes. And if we can’t have any confidence in what it says, or the promises it makes, how can we be sure of our salvation? Doesn’t the story of our salvation come from the very pages of scripture itself? To cast doubt on the veracity of scripture is to surely cast doubt on own salvation isn’t it?

            I remember listening to John Gerstner a long time ago in a lecture on this very thing. He said at the time that there were some he knew who said that although the bible is the Word of God, it erred. He was more than a bit credulous with this claim, because in his mind (and mine as well), to say that is to say simply that God err’s. I find that an untenable position to hold.

            I too have heard that old Methodist saying before and although I can identify with how you feel “about all the arguments about sacred texts” I think you miss an important point in not understanding that one of the ways we show our love to others and that Christ shows it to us, is through communicating truth. And if God can’t communicate truth to us (inerrantly and infallibly), then how can we be expected to pass on that truth to others?

            If we give up the fight over the inerrancy and infallibility of the scriptures, then we give up any hope of being able to truly know anything of what God has said.

  • Peter Murphy

    I am amazed that this topic is even raised. I am a cradle Catholic and, in my experience, religion and science have always gone hand-in-hand, both now and in the past. The Catholic Church has been at the forefront of science over the centuries. I completed theological studies at the Katholiek Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) where the Big Bang Theory was first formulated by a Catholic Priest, Father Georges Lemaître in 1927, four years before Edwin Hubble. In fact, Albert Einstein visited the University to attend a lecture of Father Lemaître. Remember the famous quote from Einstein in 1954, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

    • Robert H. Woodman

      One of the many reasons I left Southern Baptists for Catholicism is the former group’s insistence that we must believe that the Bible is literally true as a science textbook despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Catholicism has a much saner, holier, and Scripturally faithful approach to understanding God and Creation.

      • Judgeforyourself37

        I never attended a So. Baptist Church, but the RC still eschews artificial contraception, abortion, and anyone who is LBGTQAI. Furthermore, they refuse to ordain women! Where in that dogma, do you find sanity or science???

        • Robert H. Woodman

          I find the Roman Catholic Church’s positions on artificial contraception and direct abortion to be both sane and scientific. Moreover, both of those positions are consistent with the Church’s opposition to the death penalty in all but the most exceptional circumstances. If the Church’s leadership takes different positions on women’s ordination and gender attraction and gender identity than it takes currently, then it must necessarily abrogate significant parts of the Bible, Sacred Tradition, and magisterial teachings. If it does these things, it will consequently lose its Christian identity, becoming just another social club doing charitable works.

          • My Name, yay

            Although Catholics can disagree with the Popes on whether the death penalty should be used there is a document on that , but I agree with what you said

    • Armindo Silva

      «I am a cradle Catholic and, in my experience, religion and science have always gone hand-in-hand, both now and in the past.»

      You know that this is not true. Nicolaus Copernicus, Filippo Bruno; Galileo Galilei and others… Consult The Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

      —-

      “No one is required to” believe “in Evolution Theory, Relativity Theory (special and general), or the Standard Model of the Elementary Particles. In SCIENCE there is no room for belief. In SCIENCE the intelligent person accepts the evidences that corroborate the hypotheses. You may even be appalled by the consequences of Theory of Evolution, for example, but you can not close your eyes to the TONS of evidence of all kinds that corroborate Darwin’s beautiful idea and which today is a FACT more than proven by Genetics. “»

      ——
      Albert Einestein; de Peter A. Bucky, The Private Albert Einestein, Kansas City: Andrews & McMeel, 1992, p.86. Cito:

      “I cannot then believe in this concept of an anthropomorphic god who has the powers of interfering with these natural laws. As I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science.”

      —-
      In 1929, when asked by Rabbi H. Goldstein of New York, if he believed in God, the physicist Albert Einstein replied: “I believe in the god of Spinoza, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not In the god who is interested in destiny and the actions of men “.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66IdRhSuXrE

      • Peter Murphy

        Of course it’s true. I was referring to “my experience”. History is full of anomalies but, in the end, truth prevails. The Catholic Church’s own evolution has been one of caution and trial-and-error – a bit like science! We all (religion and science) stumble forward seeking the truth!

  • http://www.thegodreality.org/manuscripts.html johnheno

    Joanna, spot on!. “The issue isn’t science against the church, the issue is one of authority.” The authority of Biblical revelation vs the authority of atheistic SCIENTISM, masquerading as science. The World Science Festival has shined a light on the reality that there is a fine line between scientific creativity, intelligence and madness..(Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPiah-8pCQk&t=184) As stated “Science has not yet discovered if madness is, or is not, the sublimity of intelligence.” Science has indeed gone mad, without God. There is no delusion like self-delusion, and no deception like self-deception.

    Sadly, the Christian world is the most easily deceived of all. It is sheer madness for any theist or Christian to attempt to integrate theism and Christianity with the hard-core atheism of “philosophical”naturalism and godless materialism on which the science world now operates, It is impossible to integrate theism with Atheism..Those foolishly engaged in this activity have been driving the hearse to their own funeral, for decades. And we have all witnessed the deadly consequences of this mindless endeavor. The once dominant theistic and Christian worldview has been decimated, and banished to the fringe of all western cultures.This should never have happened! Because the atheistic dogma of “philosophical” naturalism is founded on metaphysical RELIGIOUS beliefs well beyond the verifiable limits of science and physics.The reality is that science is still an ocean removed from ever establishing the “blind faith” dogmatic assertion of godless naturalism: The highway to the godless “theory of Everything” is paved with unanswered questions, unresolved theories, problematic hypothetical models, thermodynamic contradictions, quantum paradoxes, and ever more mysteries.

    Moreover, the theory of evolution itself has no experimental or observational basis. No one in all of human history has ever see any form of life evolve into something unrelated. Every breeder and horticulturist who has ever lived knows that there are cross breeding boundaries, and reproductive limits, for every form of life in existence, without exception. Making the hypothetical Darwinian evolutionary continuum impossible. These natural boundaries are true of every form of life form in existence. Even simple life forms such as bacteria do everything they can to survive as bacteria, and not change into anything else other than bacteria. They resist change. This is precisely why bacteria develop a strong resistance to antibodies. Thus, creationist scientists are utterly bewildered that the Christian world is largely so lacking in discernment that they have naively swallowed the poisonous atheistic evolutionary bait. The theory of evolution is purely an unverified, and unverifiable, PHILOSOPHICAL construct: Entirely founded on unverifiable assumptions, mere inferences,circular reasoning,self fulfilling predictions and contrived explanations. All based on purely subjective interpretations of data relating to what “supposedly” happened in the unobserved distant past. Indeed, cosmic and biological evolution turn science and the established principles of “causality” on its head. They are the only beliefs know to science where the “effect” is not only FAR GREATER than the cause, but actually OPPOSITE to the cause: Life comes from lifeless natter, consciousness from non consciousness, mind from mindless matter, reason from non-reason, intelligence from non-intelligence,and the personal from the impersonal. They tell us that all these ‘natural’ miracles happened without a miracle worker. Which we would all have to concede is “really miraculous.”

    As the apostle Paul stated, “Professing to be wise they become fools, ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” Indeed, the hard core atheism of “philosophical” naturalism operates on the ILLUSION that because scientists know how the natural world “works” they have explained how it came into existence. When in fact nothing in existence can be explained by natural causes and godless processes alone. including the origin of the cosmos. life, the DNA double helix, consciousness, or anything else in existence. No scientist has ever demonstrated that any of this can be produced by natural process and godless causes -from scratch. Indeed, the Big Bang model is proclaimed to be the best option for cosmic existence. Yet there are serious unresolved problems and paradoxes with this theory of origins. For example, over 95 percent of the ‘evidence’ for the Big Bang is still missing – dark matter and dark energy. Thus, these guys, and their Christian fellow travelers, have their feet are planted firmly in mid air. Those scientists and others who have abandoned theism and the creationist worldview held by the pioneers of modern science, and fully embraced the bankrupt metaphysical religious beliefs of philosophical naturalism and godless materialism have embraced the madness involved. The World Science Festival has shined a light on the thin line between science and madness. In Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind.it states, “Science has not yet discovered if madness is, or is not, the sublimity of intelligence.” There is no delusion like self-delusion, and no deception like self-deception.

    So, all anyone has to do to prove me wrong is provide me with
    experimental and observational science to establish that the
    dogmatic assertions of philosophical naturalism and godless
    materialism is empirically verifiable and true: The godless
    theory of everything turns out to be the theory of nothing.. Here: http://thegodreality.org/tomato.htm

  • Robert Landbeck

    “God created. God loves creation. God died to heal creation.” But I can find no evidence that the Promise of the Incarnation has healed anything? The fact that creation needs healing points to one of several fundamental conflicts affecting all religious claims. How is it that one is born in the image and likeness of a Creator God but without the divine wisdom or moral insights to manage the wider creation? With environmental crisis on the horizon, talk of a sixth mass extinction that will probably include ‘us’, nuclear tensions on the rise, extremes of rich and poor distorting all political process, the Doomsday clock moved closer to midnight, Where is the healing? Tikkun Olam as yet to begin. The higher aspirations of our species remain unrealized by any religious teaching, scientific insight or secular political process. Human nature itself remains in serious moral and spiritual deficit. If God is ever to complete his ‘project’ before man destroys it, there will have to be a ‘judgement’ on our understanding of God and a hard rain is gonna fall!

    • http://www.disciple52.wix.com/communitychaplaincy Bernell

      We are the “project”. The reason why we flounder in our understanding is because we have, once again, been seduced to wander from God. This time we have followed Paul , and his gospels of salvation, predestination, and justification by faith deep into the religion Christianity. We ignore Jesus, to seek first the Kingdom of God. Herein lies the problem; disobedience. The reason why Christianity has not healed the world is because Jesus never intended for us to get bogged down in religious arguments. People are leaving the building that Christians hold so dear because they are realizing they were fools of a false hope. Kingdom or nothing. Your choice

      • Robert Landbeck

        If religion was offering the ‘Kingdom’ I would be first in line. But the faith of this world is not of God but an all too human theological construct or man. And theology only exists because whatever Christ might have once revealed in ancient times was lost, and theology represents the failed attempt to recover the insight. All is false hope. All is chasing after wind.

      • Rob1911a1

        The sick notion that the bible is ‘literally true’ is what most people are rejecting. It is parable, metaphor, teaching, maybe a touch of history (in the loosest sense), but that is all. This ridiculous rigid belief nonsense (human sexuality is sinful, creationism, earth is only 10,000 years old – neither of which is in scripture, I should note) is why people get turned off. As a wise man once wrote: “Let the people keep the God that is in their hearts”.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    I am 66 years old and a lifelong Christian and have always believed in science. I have never felt that science conflicted with faith. The Bible is neither a science book or a history book. It is the story of faith and people’s relationship with God. And some of it is myth that explains tenets of the faith.

  • David

    Christianity holds to the truth that God created humans in His image. The theory of evolution does not hold to that truth.

    • Steven Waling

      Unfortunately evolution holds all the evidence.

      • David

        Oh dear! Steven, you are indeed deceived. Stop trying to see reality as only available through the lens of science. There is in fact a greater reality that God has revealed through His word, but you have shut yourself off from it. Where is the evidence that a non-human gave birth to a human (which must have happened if evolution is true), and yet eyewitnesses testified that a virgin gave birth to the Son of God – confirming what a prophet had predicted some 700 years before!! You don’t want to believe it, but the evidence is there. Why won’t you believe it? Because it isn’t scientific evidence!

        • Steven Waling

          The bible isn’t God and is frequently wrong. There were no eyewitnesses – the gospel writers wrote a long time after the events they wrote about and simply took stories from the oral tradition. You don’t have to leave your brain behind when you go to church. The word of God is Christ is not a 2000 year and older set of writings. It’s you that’s been deceived – by preachers with dollar signs in their eyes.

          • David

            No eyewitnesses? John said he was! ” He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” John 19:35-37

            Luke said that in his research into the life of Jesus he checked what the eyewitnesses reported: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

            Note: “that you may have certainty.” I’m sure this Roman official to whom Luke was reporting would have had the resources to check on the accuracy of everything Luke was claiming.

            So readers, who will you believe: Steve or John and Luke? I’ll take John and Luke any day, because they were there to know the facts!

            By the way, I am a gospel preacher, but money has nothing to do with it. I sacrificed a well-paying secular job to take up full-time ministry. But the blessing of telling the world the great things of God more than makes up for that.

          • Steven Waling

            The author of John’s Gospel was writing around 90AD. He was not the author of the Gospel attributed by tradition to his name. None of the Gospel writers were the ones tradition assigned as authors. This is standard NT criticism. And I’m sure you’re a gospel preacher just like the ones Jesus called whited sepulchres. Just cause you claim to be called doesn’t mean we have to believe you. Get an education.

          • David

            Steve, we know the truth about Christ as the Word, and we believe in Christ as the Word, only through the words of the Scriptures as we have them. If we cannot be sure we have the true words of God and Christ in these Scriptures, then our faith is pointless, and indeed Christianity is pointless. If instead we have to believe the words of those who criticise the Scriptures, then our faith is not in Christ and his word at all!

            For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
            But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Romans 10:16-18
            As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32
            I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:14-21

            If we do not believe in these words of Scripture, but instead believe in the critics of Scripture, then we are not believing in Jesus at all, but in the critics’ version of Jesus. Note the following:

            For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:4

  • CCent

    Before I ever really started looking into things I saw the creation story(s) and was like “why can’t they work together” (creation and evolution) in some way. Holding to this I never really cared that much to be honest for a long time. But, then I see how some of this gets carried into the political realm along with other things. Studying religion in college I often looked at all the bumper stickers of the Jesus fish eating the Darwin fish and vice versa and thinking that this was so stupid. When was the debate like 1925 and now we are in 2017? I have to wonder as well sometimes when I see the social constructs of some people…just recently saw a strong Catholic saying that this was the only true church while damning the Lutherans. At the same time she was prompting the whole Ham of the Ham Rye debate. Where does this come from?
    Anyway, I do wonder how much stays hidden from the popular level or churches. I mean in other stuff sometimes you read the “real deal” and it is so good but then you look at pop culture christian bookshelves and you say “what is this crap?” Anyway, if anyone sees this there is a book by Ian Barbour which I consider an awesome overview. Jon Polikinghorne also amazing. We are in quantum physics now thank you and as it began through that kind of study I am interested MORE in learning about quantum phyics than I would be void of such religious studies. It can be a proponent rather than a set-back.

    I do think that much comes to the relation to reason and revelation..We look now at the various factions and I think that place of origin can be helpful. At least it is to me. While the model off I think of liberalism in looking at science and various other aspects of knowdge. The response by many was then funamentalism which rejects all. I do see some of the liberal branch disrgaurding revelation. I still hold to the revelation BUT, the liberal knowledge can contribute in understandings and some of the really really good ones like totally connect or match up in relation to the revelation…if that makes sense.

    Of course, to me still the problem I often have is the “popular level.”

  • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

    So many comments! My goodness. I know this is a hard issue for Christians to discuss. But, even so, I feel led to talk more about it. Here’s a follow-up post: The Word “Create” Means “Arrange” – Genesis 1 & Science – http://go.shr.lc/2p2Jepp

  • mitchfinnie

    Thanks for the article. I am one of those who has left the faith mostly due to this conflict of science and fundamental Evangelicalism. It was at least what opened the door for me to think critically of what I was taught as I grew up and, in the end, reject the idea of the supernatural or the divine completely. While I still attend church, I do not consider myself a Christian by any stretch of the imagination anymore. I did end up finding a church that matched mostly with my own philosophical beliefs, or lifestances. I honestly didn’t even think it was going to be possible. It is refreshing now that I do not have to turn off my critical thinking anymore to do theological gymnastics to justify the beliefs I use to have. I am now free to truly doubt, question, and change my beliefs due to the evidence. Thank you for writing this and bringing to light the conflict that us millennial generations are realizing with hard set, non-scientific based theologies that some of us grew up with. I do believe that this anti-science stance will end up killing the evangelical movement as we know (and I for one will not complain one bit).

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      Wow. Thanks for signing on and offering this important perspective. Of course, I hope that this journey leads you out the other side considering if perhaps the problems with your faith in the past were the categories, not the God that we often try to cage up with our categories. But whatever the case may be, I’m glad you found a community where you can still connect with others with similar values.

  • Emily Elizabeth Windsor-Cragg

    Who writes this silly stuff? The Church was hamstrung and then silenced by the 1965 Johnson Amendment. Since then political-correctness has decimated congregants who feel the need to stay with the Christian Covenant itself. Science has its own problems, teaching a bunch of hoooie about cosmology, astronomy, geology, geography and health. Neither is thriving rational thought–neither a P-C Church nor Scientism that teaches Relativity, spinning ball earth & helio-centrism.

  • Kitirena Koneko

    Galileo Galelei and Giordano Bruno, thou art both avenged! Eppur si muovi, indeed!