I have the opportunity this week to be at the BioLogos conference Christ and Creation in Houston. I’ve escaped the chilly north, but more importantly have the opportunity for excellent company and thought-provoking conversation. It is great to connect with old friends, meet new people and finally meet a few I’ve interacted with through this blog for years. Last night Tom Wright and Francis Collins spoke at the plenary and provided a musical interpretation of Genesis as well. Tomorrow morning Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight will speak on their new book Adam and The Genome. Live Streaming of the plenaries is available, with the opportunity to submit questions and watch the videos later as well. It may still be possible to purchase a ticket for virtual attendance here: Christ and Creation.
Collins made the point that science and faith do not betray an unavoidable conflict, that there is a wondrous coherence between the two. Because he came to faith in medical school (read Language of God for his story), he never experienced the conflict that so many Christians experience. Such past thinkers as Augustine, Bacon and Lewis can help point us forward. The ethos of conflict is unfortunate for three reasons: (1) Far too many Christians, both young and old, lose their faith over this issue, failing to see a way forward. (2) Far too many scientists (and non-scientists as well) either can’t or won’t consider faith as a viable option when the consensus is unavoidable conflict, and (3) Modern science raises many significant ethical questions. We need the voice of the church in these conversations – not to undermine science, but to speak to the ethical and moral questions.
Unfortunately, with teaching obligations and the flight options available, I missed Wright’s talk, so I’ll have to catch the video. For now we can turn back the clock. Several years ago Wright recorded several short videos for BioLogos reflecting on the theme of this conference – Christ, Creation, Genesis and more. The clip on Genesis is particularly relevant to discussions of Adam, Eve, and Christ.
Starting about 1:55 in the clip Wright says:
… the big story which is there is that humans are given their identity as wonderful creatures within a wonderful God-given world, and that nevertheless they blow it. That Israel was called to be the people through whom God would remake and redo that project and they had blown it as well, which kind of then sets you up for the question what happens next. And unless you’ve got that double picture in mind there is all sorts of stuff in Matthew Mark Luke John Acts, Paul, etc. which you just never understand.
The OT is essential to understand the gospel. The point of Genesis is not the age of the earth or the snake and tree. There is a functionality, a message, which transcends the literal narrative. Those who worry about dismissing Genesis as “ANE myth” do well to be concerned. There is a theme beginning in Genesis 2 and 3 – repeated many times throughout the OT – of failure and exile, failure and consequence. This is the backdrop for the story of the gospel. Without this backdrop nothing makes sense. An important focus of the gospel is that God through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves – he broke this cycle of failure, took the consequence. This is what enables the inauguration of the kingdom of God.
The understanding we develop from studying God’s creation may change the way we interpret the framework for telling this story in Genesis – but it doesn’t change the story or the history leading up to the incarnation.
I will have more reflections on the conference next week – but for now I’m soaking it in.
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