Perspectives on Theistic Evolution

I was interested to read Christianity Today‘s coverage of a recent Biologos conference. The attendees included forty-one scholars and pastors who hold to (or are at least sympathetic to) theistic evolution.

Knowing that they are in a minority among Protestants did not limit the gathering’s enthusiasm. About 60 participants came by special invitation, with the proviso that their names would not be publicized without permission. This was intended to encourage open conversation on sensitive topics. Attending were such luminaries as N. T. Wright, Alister McGrath, John Ortberg, Tim Keller, Scot McKnight, Os Guinness, Joel Hunter, and Andy Crouch…This year’s program centered on concerns for the church—especially for young people who feel torn between science and the Bible…

Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach young earth creationism (YEC), participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. “We have arguments, but they have a narrative,” noted Tim Keller. Both young earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is “the job of pastors,” Keller said.

This is a big topic, and I do not intend to resolve all the issues here. I would simply like to direct interested readers to an alternative perspective. Albert Mohler delivered an address on the topic in 2010 in which he argues that the biblical doctrine of creation is incompatible with any form of evolutionary theory of human origins (theistic or otherwise). Listen to it here, or watch it below.

58 Responses to Perspectives on Theistic Evolution

  1. Don Johnson April 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    I listened to the whole presentation. Mohler has studied the area, listening to others who disagree with him for the most part. I commend him for this.

    Since I am EC/TE and follow this area, I was disappointed that he did not interact with Walton and Enns, since they discuss the exegetical reasons for being EC/TE. After listening to Mohler, one might think that such people do not exist and furthermore are not possible to exist at least as believers, but they do.

    His basic argument for being YEC is that ‘this is the most natural reading of the text’. I disagree with this for exactly the reason that Walton, Enns, and Christopher Smith give in their books. In other words, it is an interpretation question and I think Mohler is taking the text out of context, specifically the immediate context of Gen 1 being different than Gen 2 as well as the cultural context for both and therefore misunderstanding the genres of the stories. And once you do that, one will misread the text in large ways.

    • Daryl Little April 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      The problem with Enns is that he has already said that Paul and Jesus clearly understood Adam to be an historical person, and that they were wrong.

      That in itself removes him from serious consideration in the study of Genesis and creation.

      Mohler is correct in stating that the theological issues are the only issues that matter.
      Science changes constantly, Scripture does not.

  2. Kenneth Ross April 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    I wonder, Denny, how many of those who hold to theistic evolution continue to hold to a real, individual, Adam and Eve. My perception is that many who hold to ‘TE’ are ready to abandon a historically orthodox understanding of Adam and Eve.

    • Don Johnson April 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      Here is the key question, is it required for a faithful believer to read Gen 2 as a historical narrative or is it possible to faithfully read it as something like a parable. Just because something is possible to read as a historical narrative does not always mean that one MUST read it that way. It also does not mean that a historical narrative is even the best wasy to read it. I agree that there are possible concerns about seeing the whole Bible as entirely non-historical (as some atheists claim), but I think those concerns can be addressed.

      So the question is a genre question.

  3. Don Johnson April 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Read John Walton on Gen 1 if you are willing to learn how to read the text in cultural context. He has both a popular book and a scholarly book out. He is an OT professor and also wrote NIVAC Genesis, so he is credible.

  4. Jerry Corbaley April 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    The Biologos discussion is right on one point. Theistic evolution needs a narrative. I am assuming they mean a narrative that actually interprets Genesis 1-11 in light of billions of years of evolution and the dramatic improvement of humanity. That is to say, somehow make the text say what Theistic Evolutionists already believe.

  5. Don Johnson April 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    The text does not need to “say” what EC/TE already believe. If you read Walton, he shows how one can understand Gen 1 in context, for example, and there is no intersection with what science says, they can each be correct but not overlap.

  6. Jerry Corbaley April 10, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    If you read icr.org you will see that Biblical Creationists understand the context of Genesis quite well. There is no need to duck the intersection of the words God has spoken with the laws of science God has created.

    Macro evolution is not operational science, it is historical science. It cannot be tested and cannot be reproduced, and it contradicts itself every passing month. It produces no technology except social theory. It provides the narrative fable to justify human pride and remove accountability to the Creator.

    • Don Johnson April 10, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      One might think that all has been said on Gen 1 that is possible to say, but John Walton disproves that idea and disproves it in a big way. Anyone, including ICR, who might think they know the context of Gen 1 without reading Walton is just kidding themselves, his insights are that important.

      • Jerry Corbaley April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am #

        Anyone who thinks they know the context of Genesis 1 without reading John Walton is just kidding themselves?

        I have been known to overstate a case.

        • Don Johnson April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

          His scholarly book “Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology” puts the relevant cultural context documents all in one place. One could assemble them by themselves, I suppose.

          An ancient cosmology is a functional creation from already existing stuff that is differentiated and then given names. Thinking that Gen 1 describes creation ex nihilo is already taking it out of context. But the big way to disrespect the text is not seeing Gen 1 as a functional creation, as opposed to other types of creation, this means one is misreading it in a big way.

          • Don Johnson April 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

            For anyone that want want to investigate that Walton and Longman have to say on Gen 1-2 at a recent ETS seminar, see this link. I highly recommend it.

            http://marccortez.com/2012/04/10/john-walton-and-tremper-longman-on-genesis-1-2-video/

          • G. Kyle Essary April 11, 2012 at 4:04 am #

            Let’s not overstate his importance, which is largely disregarded in the field outside of evangelicals arguing over perspectives of creation.

            Much of his argument depends on a highly controversial reading of the Hebrew verb “bara,” rejected by the vast majority of Hebrew scholars I’ve read on the subject. I have no problem with his reading, but I don’t think it’s established in the least at this point. In fact, in a discussion I had with him about two years ago over the usages of the verb even within Genesis, I was shocked at the lack of development of his thinking at that point. Unfortunately, he didn’t really further his arguments in his more academic offering. Maybe he will publish a paper someday?

            For a starting point into this discussion, see his discussion with John Hobbins and other good believing and unbelieving Hebrew scholars in the comments (Lenzi, Holmsdedt, Heiser, etc.) – http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/05/does-genesis-1.html

            At the same time, much more can be said in support of the functional perspective built specifically on Hebrew exegetical grounds. John Sailhamer began this work with “Genesis Unbound,” and others have taken it up in the last twenty years. The benefit to Sailhamer’s method is that it does not require eisegetically reading remotely similar ANE texts into the text, nor does it depend on the fictitious construction of an “ANE cosmology” with which to compare the Hebrew Bible. He makes the case using the Hebrew text alone alongside canonical interpretation within the Hebrew Bible.

            It should be stated though that Walton does affirm an historical Adam & Eve, and as of our last conversation he considered that “essential.” A good group of others at the BioLogos conference also hold to an historical Adam & Eve (like Keller for instance).

            • Don Johnson April 11, 2012 at 10:26 am #

              That AHP thread is from before the publication of Walton’s scholarly book or his presentation above. I think it would be best to discuss his views from that basis and not from his earlier works. He says how it took him years of thinking on the subject to get to where he is today and that he only had pieces beforehand. So I respect him a lot for clearing a trail thru the woods for me to follow. Previous to his works I could see that parts of Gen 1 could be (faithfully) read in a functional way, but I did not see that ALL of it could be (faithfully) read that way.

              • G. Kyle Essary April 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

                Don,
                This is incorrect on a number of levels. As I stated above, having read the books, discussed the topic with Walton and others, his latter book did not advance his arguments concerning bara, and the criticism from Hobbins stand. Furthermore, you are incorrect about the timing. In a discussion with Walton nearly two years ago, he told me that the Eisenbraun’s manuscript was complete and at that point they had been sitting on it for two years…I think he has stated this in other places as well. He wanted the scholarly work published before the IVP book, but Eisenbrauns took their time in publishing the manuscript.

                As I stated above, I think there are better arguments in support of the functional reading. I hope his work on the “bara” continues, because it stands unconvincing at this point and that is a key piece of his argument. This is the main reason that I think his work has not been widely accepted outside of evangelicals arguing for a particular view of creation.

              • G. Kyle Essary April 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

                To clarify, I think his two years of thinking was sometime between his Calvin College (mid-90s) address and the publication of the NIVAC volume. I love a lot of what Walton is doing, especially in regards to the temple motifs, but holes remain that need to be filled.

            • G. Kyle Essary April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

              Joshua,
              There were unquetionably ANE “cosmologies,” just as there are lots of cosmologies today. I assure you that a discussion between myself, my Chinese Buddhist neighbors and the Muslim neighbors across the street would provide you with differing cosmologies. Furthermore, a chat with Stephen Hawking might give a different picture as well.

              There were plenty of ANE cosmologies, so constructing a unified ANE based on texts from two millenia scattered over hundreds of miles, drawing pictures of it (like the terribly unhelpful one here – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_XAakLKI3wRs/S3WidTbq8eI/AAAAAAAAACM/ZWvA3YA2pVs/s1600-h/enns.ane.bmp) and then reading that construction back into the text as the governing hermeneutic seems a fools errand. To be honest, in some people’s work, it becomes as eisegetical as a bad preacher reading the latest pop psychology into the New Testament.

              • Don Johnson April 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

                It seems clear to me that bara does not require material creation but a functional creation does fit. One can see this just from the Biblical uses, unless one is just assuming material creation and then uses escape valves to explain the exceptions.

                The basic point is that a word gets its meaning from the way it is used and not because some rabbis told some translaters that it means “create” and some modern people think this means creating material because that is the modern paradigm.

                In any case, show me the evidence for alternatives, as Walton says in his video.

                I also have HUGE concerns with Mohler’s summary solution, that things were just created by God with the appearance of age:

                1) It totally destroys the basis for science of any sort.

                2) It makes God into a deceiver on a grand scale.

                So the cost is just way too high to accept that form of intellectual and faith suicide for me.

                • G. Kyle Essary April 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

                  Let me give a few problems (and there are more). Some are addressed in Walton’s book, others are left unaddressed.

                  Honest question: Do you read Hebrew? I’m going to assume you do, and use some below in my comments.

                  1. There is a clear difference between ??? and ????. There is a tendency in Walton’s work to conflate the two. The former is only used in three places in Genesis 1. It is used for God’s action during the beginning period; it is used for the creation of the “great sea creatures and every living creature that moves” in 1:21, and it is used for humanity in 1:27.

                  A more natural reading of the Hebrew is that God will ??? something in order to ???? it, where the latter more denotes function and purpose. This is why you have a phrase like “?????????????? ???????? ?????????” at the end of 2:3, where the implied meaning is “which God ???’d in order to ????.” They cannot both simply mean something on the order of assigning function.

                  2. I’m not sure that the concept of creatio ex nihilo was intended in Genesis 1:1 (although as Walton says it is found elsewhere), but that’s not my argument. My argument would be that ??? deals with manufacturing something, whether or not from existing material. That’s not the issue. The question is whether or not Walton is justified in saying that it serves a functional purpose as opposed to a manufacturing purpose. I believe that ??? deals with the manufacturing, but ???? deals with function. Walton has not justified thinking otherwise at this point, but may someday.

                  3. ??? is specifically theological. It’s used in reference to God’s action. ???? is a common term used by all sorts of agents. It does not seem that Walton’s analysis differentiates between the two to the extent that the differentiation is made in the text.

                  I’m not arguing for Mohler’s interpretation…far from it. I’m just saying that Walton’s work isn’t as well established as this thread presents. I’m much more convinced by the work of Sailhamer from twenty years before (much of which Walton attempts to build upon).

                • Johnny Mason April 12, 2012 at 9:33 am #

                  In regards to God as a deceiver, let’s assume for a moment that God created Adam, either ex nihilo or from the dust of the earth. Why would creating Adam as a mature adult be deceptive? If it is not deceptive, then why would creating a universe as mature be deceptive?

                  Also, in regards to evolution in general, a basic necessity of evolution is death, so if evolution is true then death was in the world prior to Adam and the Scriptures are in error, correct?

                  • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 10:14 am #

                    Creating Adam as a mature adult would be deceptive. That is the simple answer.

                    The verb is Hebrew yatsar/form which is what is done when one makes a clay pot. Recall that Genesis was written to those in a Bronze Age farming/herding society, this is a very simple way to say that God formed humanity (Adam) to be what God wanted in terms in functions, in the text given in Gen 2 to “dress and keep” the garden, which are temple terms for what a priest does.

                    The theory of evolution does rely on death to do the “natural selection” (as contrasted with the artificial selection done by humans to form plants and animals). The act of digesting food involves death as does many other natural processes that are a part of life. Forming fingers in the womb involves death of cells between what the fingers will become, so God uses death to “form” our bodies. Using what are called natural processes are part of what we call God’s providence.

                    I disagree that death before Adam was formed implies Scripture is in error, what it implies is that certain INTERPRETATIONS of Scripture are not consistent with death before Adam, this is similar to what Galileo experienced when he said the earth moved around the sun, certain interpretations of Scripture text that “clearly” says “the earth shall not be moved” are inconsistent with the heliocentric model.

                    • Jerry Corbaley April 12, 2012 at 11:22 am #

                      Hey Guys,

                      Are you following any Biblical direction in interpreting Genesis this way? Any at all?

                      Creating Adam as a mature adult would be deceptive? The very text that proclaims that Adam was created mature clears up any confusion. The very assertion that it is deceptive accuses God of deception.

                      What are you doing?

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 11:52 am #

                      Psa 103:14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

                      Do you not see the possibility that the author of Genesis is using poetic imagery when the text says that the human was made of dust?

                      In any case, why do you claim that the text says the human was formed mature? I do not see that claim anywhere in the text, altho some interpretations of the text may make that claim.

                    • Jerry Corbaley April 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

                      I can’t think of any Biblical text to justify your method of interpretation either.

                      Genesis 1 speaks of God creating the heavens and the earth in six days.

                      Let me remind you of another historical narrative in Exodus 20:1-21. Here God Himself speaks to multiplied hundreds of thousands of people standing upon quaking ground with a voice that terrifies them and says, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.

                      Do you actually think the scholars among them should conclude, “I wonder what God meant by that?”

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

                      Per Walton, Gen 1 and Ex 20 can be seen as referring to a functional creation, in fact, that is the preferred way to see it, as I understand it. Just because we today think in terms of material creation does not mean that is the way the original readers/hearers saw it back when.

                      Also, I see heavens and earth and sea as referring to the ancient tiered cosmology. That is, you look up and see the heavens and you look around and see land (of Israel) and sea (Med., Galilee, or Dead Sea). These are very simple intuitive terms for what Bronze Age farmers and shepherds saw.

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

                      P.S. I am trying to answer your questions, but you have declined to answer my question. Do you not see that poetic forms might be being used in the early chapters of Gen? Seeing them in this way does not lessen the truth that they are conveying that Israel’s God created everything we see.

                    • Jerry Corbaley April 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

                      Hi Don,

                      Yes, I can see that one could choose to consider the early chapters of Genesis as a poetic form. One could choose to see the resurrection account as a poetic form.

                      I would like to ask again; Are you following any Biblical direction (instruction) to interpret Genesis this way? In other words, is the inspiration for your preferred interpretation Biblical or secular?

                      You see, Don, one of us is suppressing the truth. Romans 1:18 does not speak well of that action. If we are seeking to influence others (as clearly we are), then one of us is distorting the truth and Acts 20:30 does not speak well of that.

                      Our methods of interpretation are radically different. It is like the Bible means two entirely different things.

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

                      Hi Jerry,

                      I am trying my best to understand the creation/origins stories in Genesis along the lines that the original readers/hearers would have understood them, in the literary genre of creation/origins stories and as God accommodated to their ancient understandings in order that the stories would be able to be understood.

                      Yes, we differ, I think you are mistaken and you think I am mistaken. This does not mean I see you as “suppressing the truth” that would mean that you are a deceiving teacher like the serpent who lies to entrap others; I merely see you as mistaken on this area of Bible interpretation.

                      This is the very common challenge of prot Bible interpretation, there are various ways to understand some of the texts. There are whole series of books dealing with various subjects such as 2 views of women in ministry, 3 views of justification, and 4 view of the end times, etc. I might adopt one of those views, but I do not think the others are “suppressing the truth”, I just think they are mistaken.

                      For example, I go to a Baptist church, I believe in credobaptism as I think that is what the Bible teaches. Other believers might go to a Presbyterian church and believe in paedobaptism. I think they are wrong and they think I am wrong and this is for something that is stated in Hebrews 6 as being part of the “elementary teachings” of the faith. But I accept them as believers even tho we differ on something that is very fundamental.

                    • Jerry Corbaley April 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

                      Hi Don,

                      I do understand the perspective from which you begin.

                      I am not your judge, nor vice-versa.

                      It is easy to tolerate one another from a distance. Yet we might strongly object to the others influence over close friends or family.

                      I do recognize your polite and self-controlled manner and commend you for it.

                      I have no desire to continue or expand our disagreement. Carry on, it’s Denny’s blog.

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

                      Jerry,

                      I do not mind honest disagreement among fellow believers on such subjects as creation/origins and end times, we all see thru a glass darkly, but we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit even if we do not have unity in the faith. When I teach on the subject in a Christian context I teach the various options of YEC, OEC, and EC, along with Framework on Gen 1.

                    • Johnny Mason April 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

                      @Don – Im not sure who your responses are aimed at since the indentation is not working, so I will do my best to answer the questions I think are directed at me 🙂

                      “why do you claim that the text says the human was formed mature”

                      First, we need to define maturity. Is mature an adult? Is it a baby? Is it a two month old fetus? Is it a just-conceived egg? If it was a baby, wouldn’t that be more mature than a fetus? I believe Adam was formed as an adult, because Gen 2 speaks of Adam tending to the garden and naming the animals, not exactly something a baby or small child could do.

                      I have no problem with poetic imagery, but Genesis is not psalms. It is a continuous story all the way up to the Israelites in Egypt. There is no break in the narrative where it goes from poetic/allegorical language to a more historical narrative. The only real break of narrative occurs between Gen 1 and Gen 2, but from Gen 2 on it is all seamless.

                      I am open to the idea of Gen 1 being more poetic, but given that, evolution is still incompatible with it.

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

                      I see Gen as Sinai covenant preamble, so the narrative has a main purpose of showing God being faithful to God’s covenants and when a covenant is put in jeopardy, God will ensure the covenant promises continue. But many people before me notice that the form of the narrative changes between Gen 1-11 and Gen 12-50 as the former narratives are highly stylized and contain many more poetic elements and less details. The flood story is one giant chiasm, for example and other stories in Gen 1-11 are filled with chiasms, yet straight history does not usually roll out in a chiasm, e.g., if someone put the history of WWII into a chiasm, you would immediately recognize it was some form of poetry. In other words, Gen 12-50 is how people normally tell stories, but Gen 1-11 is not, something else is going on there. God reveals essential truths that God wants the Israelites to know in Gen 1-11 but he does so in a way that accommodates to their cultural understanding of creation/origins stories, which is a type of literary genre.

                      Gen 1 when seen per Walton as a Cosmic Temple Inaugeration along functional lines is a narrative that does not conflict with any possible scientific narrative along material lines. He discusses this towards the end of his books. They can both be true as they do not intersect.

                    • Johnny Mason April 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

                      @Don – You are using the scientific definition of life and death, not the Biblical definition, which is odd considering your argument is about understanding the Scriptures through a cultural context, when that culture had no idea about cells and what happens in the womb. The Bible says that the life is in the blood (Lev 17:11-14), so only creatures with blood have life. So death is the ending of this life. Now Romans 5:12 tells us that sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin. So if death existed while life was evolving to Adam, then Romans 5:12 is wrong, and sin existed in the world long before Adam showed up.

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

                      Johnny,

                      Yes, the Israelites had a simpler conception of life than we do. They classified animals in a functional way, water swimmers and air swimmers, so a bat is an air swimmer even tho it is not a bird but a mammal. So it is a challenge on how translations show these categories when modern wordviews do not see things using these ancient categories. But the first thing to see is that death did exist regardless of how Adam is conceived.

                      Paul is using 1st century Jewish ways of discussing things in Romans, this is not too surprising, but that does not mean we should read him as if he was claiming this in the 21st century. I have seen way too much of the teleporting of 21st century ideas back into 1st century text and it is generally a bad idea to do so. Since we know death did exist, we need to try to figure out what Paul meant in Rom 5 and that means getting into his ways of thinking like a 1st century Jew.

                      They did know that plants are alive and rocks are not and when you eat a plant it dies but if you eat rocks they will not sustain you.

                    • Johnny Mason April 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

                      @Don – “But the first thing to see is that death did exist regardless of how Adam is conceived.”

                      Did sin exist prior to Adam? If so, how? If not, then how can death exist when there is no sin?

                    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

                      The point is to figure out what kind of death to which Paul is referring. There are various ideas among the faithful.

                      I see the Gen 2-4 stories as similar to parables, they are true because they are true for everyone, every one of us has the potential to act like one of the characters in the stories because of our choices, to make good choices and bad choices, to be deceived and thereby sin (like the woman) or to sin deliberately (like the man) or to plot to sin (like Cain) or to even teach others to sin (like the serpent).

  7. Jerry Corbaley April 12, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Hey Guys,

    “I am the Lord your God, who……made you walk erect”.
    Leviticus 26:13 ESV ins

    Are you following any Biblical direction in interpreting Genesis in this way?

    • Don Johnson April 12, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      The short answer is we are trying our best to understand Genesis in its original cultural context, which is how any text should be understood to primarily mean. That is, God came down to the level of humans in inspiring Scripture, and not just any humans but humans who were the original hearers/readers, in the case of Genesis Bronze Age Israelites, and accomodated to their understandings, else they would not have understood it.

      For example, the sun and the moon are “lights in the sky” since that is how they appeared to them (and to us, altho we may know they are giant balls of gas and rock, respectively). Part of what God communicated is that those lights were created things and NOT “gods”, this was truly revolutionary in its time (we take it for granted and can miss how revolutionary this claim really was).

  8. Daryl Little April 13, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    “I see the Gen 2-4 stories as similar to parables, they are true because they are true for everyone, every one of us has the potential to act like one of the characters in the stories because of our choices, to make good choices and bad choices, to be deceived and thereby sin (like the woman) or to sin deliberately (like the man) or to plot to sin (like Cain) or to even teach others to sin (like the serpent).”

    So…I’m a sinner by nature (before I even have a chance to sin) because some guy, in a made up story, did something that the story-teller said that he shouldn’t do?

    Seriously?

    As Al Mohler said, the science changes. The real issue is answering the theological question.

    Claiming that Genesis is a parable and that a 1st century Jew didn’t mean what I mean when he said “In Adam all died” is inching perilously close to heresy.

    Believing that Genesis doesn’t mean what it seems to say is not heresy per se, but, , cutting the roots from out of the trees makes for a very unhealthy tree.

  9. Michael Lynch April 13, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    There was some talk of God being deceptive. It would be deceptive, cruel even, for God to give us the words that he did in Genesis, allow the church to believe the plain interpretation for thousands of years, and only tell us that is the wrong interpretation through “science” in the last 200 years.

    There is no reason God could not have written Genesis in a way that plainly told us there was a long period of time leading up to Adam. My God is not a God of confusion. Those who want to change Genesis are being either deceptive or compromising. The sad thing is that you are trying compromise with atheists who have no intention of doing likewise. You look no wiser for holding to their “science” while believing in the Christ of the Bible.

  10. Michael Lynch April 13, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    There was some talk of God being deceptive. It would be deceptive, cruel even, for God to give us the words that he did in Genesis, allow the church to believe the plain interpretation for thousands of years, and only tell us that is the wrong interpretation through “science” in the last 200 years.

    There is no reason God could not have written Genesis in a way that plainly told us there was a long period of time leading up to Adam. My God is not a God of confusion. Those who want to change Genesis are being either deceptive or compromising. The sad thing is that you are trying compromise with atheists who have no intention of doing likewise. You look no wiser for holding to their “science” while believing in the Christ of the Bible.

    • Don Johnson April 13, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      Michael,

      There is not an atheistic science and a theistic science, there is only science. It is the same science for everyone. Just because some scientists extend their science into scientism and atheism is no reason for others to do so, or not do so. Just because some scientists are also believers is not a reason to be a believer either. The reason to be a believer is because of the gospel.

      Also, it is simply not true that there has been one long record in the church on how to interpret Genesis, your statement that this is the case just means you need to investigate why this is not the case so that you will better know what you are discussing.

      • Michael Lynch April 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

        You’re right that I shouldn’t have made it sound like there has only been one strict interpretation leading up to false science.

  11. Michael Lynch April 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    A related post: http://www.dougwils.com/Evolution/does-tim-keller-live-on-an-old-earth.html

  12. Kenneth Ross April 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    This is a long thread, but one I have followed with a certain interest. I am a scientist by training, with a background in molecular genetics. I am now by God’s grace a pastor and teacher. I have lost nothing of my fascination with life science, but always have, and always will approach science from the same viewpoint you take, Johnny. Scientific opinion and knowledge is open to error; the Word of God is not. We all choose a standard; for me, that standard is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. That’s what everything else must measure up to.

  13. Adam Omelianchuk April 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    “I have much respect for science and the scientific method, but its not perfect so when science and God’s Word conflict, the Word wins.”

    That isn’t really a fair fight, though. The book of Scripture and the book of Nature do not conflict, because they have the same author. The real question is what to do when science and theology conflict, as both are human interpretations of the God-authored books. How do you resolve conflicts? Saying that theological interpretation is more reliable than scientific interpretation will not do. All one has to do is point to Galileo to see why that is embarrassingly false.

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