How the Heavens Go?

How the Heavens Go? May 19, 2008

I recently posted a blog about the journey that i have taken towards having an open mind about evolution and science in general. Although i do not feel obligated to recant or retract anything that i have stated, i want to clarify some things so that no one gets worried about my beliefs.

1. I trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and believe that he was with the Father before the foundations of the cosmos.
2. I trust the bible as authoritative and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

3. I am committed to attempting to exegete Scripture forwards from the 1st century rather than backwards from the 21st century.
4. The bible is compiled of several genres that must be read as literature. Inspired yes!!! but that does not remove the cultural implications or the intent of the original authors who wrote: historical narrative (tell story), didactic literature (straight forward language), wisdom literature (timeless truths), prophetic literature (foretelling or forthtelling), apocalyptic literature (imagery soaked)
5. Ask the questions: What am I assuming about the text based on my modern experience? What is the writer’s reference point?
Keeping these issues in mind, i must clarify that I have an open mind to evolution because the bible is not a science book. I have heard it said by someone lately that “the bible tells you how to go to heaven; not how the heavens go.” For instance, the Genesis account never says that God made it this way or that; it simply says that God created and “it was very good.” The first three chapters of Genesis are written as poetry, so they should not be viewed as proposing a bunch of propositions. I would say that Biblically speaking, we ought to view this section of Genesis as conveying certain theological truths (God loves the world that he created, God blessed humanity with his image, etc.); but not as particularly concerned with modality (how he created it all [ie. 7 days]). Some may say that if we question this then everything is up for grabs; but I say that is exactly why we MUST KEEP GENRE, CULTURE, AND CONTEXT in mind. Lets read poetry as poetry. Lets read the narratives of the gospels as exactly that; narratives about the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord. Now, lets return to Genesis 1 for a moment…
1. This passage is not meant to give us a scientific formula for creation.
2. Genesis 1 is written as a piece of poetry
3. Most Christians throughout history did not view the six days of creation as literal 24 hour periods
A. Poetry does not seek to analyze something, as much as it seeks to convey a message.
B. The word ‘Day’ in scripture can also mean a long period of time.
C. If this is read as literal: why is the marker of a 24 hour day [sun, moon,
stars] not even created until day four?
4. Taking the Bible seriously does not mean accepting whatever ‘makes sense’ on the surface; it was not written in 21st century.
5. This poetic text is not concerned with how, but with Who.
Those are some basic comments about the Genesis account of Creation. I want communicate that there has always been Christians who have simultaneously held to some understanding of Darwin’s Theory (by the way, i see it as exactly that; a theory). It is a lie propounded by the fundamentalism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that the Bible and Evolution must be viewed as in antithesis (for instance, Asa Grey was a devout Christian and took over Darwin’s work after he died). However… The BIBLE AND ATHEISM ARE AT ANTITHESIS! and i want to affirm my belief in a loving creator who was willing to die for his creation!!!!!
With that all sorted out, I again want to emphasize that there are several Bible believing Christians that are open minded towards some of the teachings of evolution, not all of the teachings, but some. It is only radical evolution that has been distorted as ‘atheistic’ (the view of Dawkins, etc.) that is rediculous and opposed to what i believe about my Savior and Lord.
Here is a link to a conservative Christian webpage about this issue:
Also some Books by Evangelicals who hold to Theistic Evolution…
“The Language of God” by Francis Collins
Coming to Peace With Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology
by Darrel R. Falk (biology professor at Point Loma Nazerine University)
“Three Views on Creation and Evolution” Edited, J.P. Moreland

Here is a chart that explains the basic views on creation [double click to see full view]…

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  • jason

    good stuff… One thing I would want to add is in regards to this comment:”Most Christians throughout history did not view the six days of creation as literal 24 hour periods”I had a conversation the other day with a friend of mine who is an orthodox Jew. I asked him about Genisis and what the different Jewish perspectives are. He told me that Jews have always looked at that as a story and that the word for day could also mean “ages” and that for God a day could be 1000 years… It was interesting because to him it was more about the fact that God created and not exactly how. I think when we try to focus on the “scientific” argument we miss the point. The Judeo-Christian creation story was written around 600 BC. At the time the prevelant creation story was the Babylonian one, which was filled with violence, anger, and gore, body parts becoming land, etc… The story Moses wrote (inspired by God) showed a completely different world… a world where God created the world out of love.Ok… I am tired…I am done writing.

  • Kurt Willems

    good comment… just cause i want to be a jerk i am gonna deconstruct one thing:Either moses wrote it (1200–1445 BC -ish) or it was an oral tradition that found its final form around 600BC after being redacted and what not. I am comfortable with either scenario, but thought i would mess with you a bit! ha

  • jason

    Yeah… i got my 600 BC quote from a more secular source… My point was not the time (as you know)… because if it was oral tradition it was 600 BC if it was Moses it was somewhere around 1400BC (correct me if I am wrong)… both dates are after the Babylonian story had already become well known… In both cases the Judeo-Christian story is in contrast to the cultural narrative of the day.

  • mike

    Just a note of information for you, Galileo cited Cardinal Baronius (1598) for the statement, “The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” Thanks for your reflections.