Jim Hamilton weighs-in on the debate between Peter Enns and Al Mohler about evolution and the age of the earth. His conclusion:
The issue is one of authority. And the question is not whether there will be an authority but which religion’s authoritative claims will shape our thinking: will our world-view be shaped by the authoritative statements of the medicine men and shamans in white coats or by the Spirit-inspired authors of Scripture?
Read the rest here.
Shaman and medicine men?
It seems naive for a man who uses the lastest in communications technology (a marvel of science one might say), to paint scientists as silly, ignorant witch doctors.
If you want to believe that the earth was created in 7 days, fair enough. But one can be a Christian and believe in evolution. I will cite myself as an example.
This is a worthwhile discussion to have, but let’s not make arguments by dehumanizing the other side. We don’t learn anything by assuming those who disagree with us are idiots.
Well stated. Hamilton’s post is poor science and theology.
I tried to find out if Hamilton was an advocate of ‘serpent seed’ theology, but no one would help me with that. I’m not sure what his theology is built on, butto me, it looks like he is a fundamentalist Baptist in his views..
God accommodated to the understandings of the original authors/readers; we KNOW this happened as God is so far beyond us; then the question is how much did God accomodate.
I am not surprised that the defenders of evolution would come out of the woodwork. As Albert Mohler and others so well articulated that if you want to assess that Gen. 1 & 2 are not what they say they are then why stop there?
Don Johnson – How did God accommodate to the writer of Gen 1 & 2? What, Moses could not possible understood long periods of time if God so desired? God did not accommodate He had written what He wanted communicated to His creatures.
If the evolutionist is high on the inspiration of Scripture, how do you properly interpret Exodus 20:9-11? Properly understood, the days in these verse are equivalent with one another (each is understood as a 24 hr. period). Since this is the case, one is hard press not to conclude that the days mentioned in verse 11 refers back to creation and that then with Scripture interpreting Scripture, one is stuck with the 7 days being literal days and not some long extended time frame.
“Defenders of evolution” and yet still Christians. So apparently it’s still possible to reconcile the two. Just because you haven’t thought through the implications of this doesn’t mean that others haven’t.
What you are describing sounds like a faith based on fear. You’re afraid to consider what evolution might mean to the faith, that it might overturn everything that you believe. As one who has walked this path, it’s true that many things that American Protestant Christians (including mself) believe need to be reconsidered. However, along this journey you will see God walk alongside you, and God on the horizon calling you forward. We need to stop fearing evolution, and honestly engage it.
On Gen 1, I strongly suggest reading John Walton’s “The Lost World of Genesis One”. He makes a very good argument (that I agree with) that in reading this text we need to think as the original readers/hearers would have thought and that is very different from us today. In effect we need to discard a lot of what we think it is saying in order to see what it is actually saying in original context. For example, he teaches that Gen 1 is discussing a functional creation, not a material creation; God of course did materially create the universe, but Gen 1 is not that story so we are reading it wrong if we think it is that story.
The Hebrew word bara is often translated “create” and is used when David asks for God to “Create in me a clean heart” I do not think anyone reads this as David asking for a new material heart.
Also, I am not sure if you know this, but God is still in the seventh day of rest according to Scripture, as Genesis does not have any ending formula for the sevent day as it has for the others. This is how Jesus can argue as he does about healing with the Pharisees on the Sabbath and how Hebrews can say what it does on the Sabbath.
One way to see the question is how does God’s works and God’s word interact, since both proclaim truth the truth should be consistent and not discordant. If they seem discordant this is an indication that one is misreading one of them.
This is not a matter of ‘authority of scripture.’ It’s a matter of interpretation, exegesis, and genre. But absolutely not about the authority of scripture.
And I thought the Southern Baptists rejected Fundamentalism back in the day. I guess it came back up….
“medicine men and shamans in white coats”
If this is your idea of an article worthy of notice, then I question your judgment. Calling names is not worth wasting our time!
What is increasingly frustrating to me in this discussion is the continual claim that what science gives us is evolution and what Scripture gives us is creation (unless you reject, as so many do, the plain reading of the text in Genesis).
The fact is, groups such as the Creation Ministries International provides a plethora of resources, written by Ph.D. level scientists who are involved in on-going research, who argue and demonstrate powerfully, that science, wherever it leads, is not leading towards Darwinian or even theistic evolution.
Yet Christians continue to spout the non-believing party line about how modern science contradicts Scripture.
It does not.
There is no scientific reason to discount Genesis 1 -11 as real history.
As I see it there are 2 reasons to do that. One is, as the history of evolutionary thought easily demonstrates, a need to write God out if the story altogether, and number two is to gain academic respectability in the academy.
Number one makes sense for an atheist. Number 2 makes sense if the respect of the world and, in many cases, the ability to retain one’s employment, trump the glory of God and fidelity to his word.
No doubt many with scoff this away as simple minded. They must, of course, in order to continue to believe as they do.
The science is actually quite clear, and increasingly available. And yet groups like Biologos continue to use the same arguments against those researches, as the atheists do. And it seems to be working in the church.
There are lots of reasons for scholars to think that the stories in Gen 1-11 are not of the genre of straight narrative history. And these scholars go back a lot time, long before the birth of the scientific method, so science could not have been the reason for their thinking this.
It’s helpful for me to remember that what is discovered in the natural world (God’s general revelation) and what is learned from Scripture (God’s specific revelation) are going to match up and show themselves to be wonderfully consistent. This makes sense because they’re both God’s.
I think though that there are 2 implications that come out of that. 1) Many people are going to realize that there is indeed a God and that he did indeed create. 2) Many people are going to realize that while they were correct to trust God’s word, they will have to admit that they may have to shift some of their understanding of it.
Let me say that I believe God’s word to be true, that I believe general and specific revelation will prove themselves to be unified about creation, but that I also don’t believe that I have the full picture of how God did what he did.
Fair enough, but be careful not to imagine that general revelation and special revelation are on the same level.
Scripture judges and explains general revelation in a way that general revelation can never do to Scripture.
Also keep in mind that the vast majority of those who’s view of what we call general revelation have a vested interest in discounting what Scripture tells us. That alone makes evolutionary science both suspect and dangerous.
One need only review all the discarded scientific theories of the past (and very very near past) to see that.
The thing about your tow implications is this:
For number 1, we already know from Romans 1 that everyone already knows that there is a God and he did create everything, and further, that we are all answerable to him.
For number two, what evolutionary thinkers, especially those who claim to be believers, will try to tell us, is that without their wisdom and understanding, we cannot understand Scripture because the plain sense of it (ie. 6 day creation, global flood, homosexuality being sinful to name a few hot-button items) cannot be believed.
Unless we understand where someone wants to take us, we cannot begin to understand what they are really saying and why.
That is to say…a Christian cannot trust the judgement of someone who would tell us that Paul and Jesus and others, misunderstood the world and so provided to us faulty information in Scripture.
The believers I run with claim that it is a genre and interpretation debate. That is, Gen 1 does not describe a 6 day creation as YOU would think it should be, it describes it as the original readers thought it should be. In other words, you are misreading it if you think it describes a material creation as is commonly taught. See Walton on Genesis.
Maybe so, but it remains true that the leading (currently) proponents of the idea the Gen. 1 isn’t a 6 day thing, also claim that Jesus and Paul were wrong at several points in Scripture.
That is, of course, impossible, which is why understanding Gen.1 & following is much more than a genre and interpretation issue. There are too many other biblical authors who stand on it’s truthfulness as a description of real-time creation.
When I was in high school my pastor had a neighbor who was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery was recommended, to be followed by a long round of chemotherapy. My pastor’s neighbor went to a prayer service a week or so after his diagnosis and just before he was scheduled to have surgery. At the prayer meeting he was told that in every instance where Jesus encountered physical sickness that the Bible declares that the folks were inhabited by an enemy spirit (a demon or legion of demons or an “unclean” spirit). The Bible clearly defines the manner with which bodily sickness is to be faced. The teachers at the prayer service insisted that my pastor’s neighbor didn’t have a tumor, he had an unclean spirit which could only be removed by following the example that scripture taught. He was annointed with oil, hands were laid upon him and in Jesus’ name the unclean spirit was commanded to depart his body, leaving him untouched by any disease, completely whole and healed.
My pastor saw him at the mailbox one morning and asked him when his surgery was going to take place. He confided that he’d discovered he didn’t have a tumor and, in fact, had never had a tumor. The Bible in no instance talks about tumors or other such “secular” identifications. What he had was an unclean spirit and it had been removed from his body. So he’d cancelled his surgery and wasn’t going back to his oncologist. My pastor tried to talk with him, insisting that he continue to consult his doctors and heed their advice. He refused. He died.
I believe the Bible is God’s inspired “word” and I believe it contains eternal truths. I don’t believe the Bible writers understood malignant brain tumors. They understood them to be unclean spirits. I don’t think God intends for us to read the Biblical accounts of creation as settled science anymore than I believe he expects us to read the Biblical accounts of illness as a modern medical text book.
So Jesus was wrong then. He didn’t cast out any evil spirits, he unwittingly cured tumors.
Them silly ANE people, here they thought that dead people would sometimes rise from the dead and virgins occasionally gave birth.
Good thing we know better now.
I don’t mean to diminish the fact that certain instances of demonic bodily possession are real. And I do think Jesus encountered some of them. My point is, I believe he also cured epilepsy and mental illness and possible tumors and, likely, an entire host of other medical issues that were the results of natural, physical phenomena. My point, I think, reflects Don’s previous thoughts concerning God accomodating to the intellectual capacity of 1st century a.d. people. The Bible didn’t address these maladies in specifics (the woman with the issuance of blood having, perhaps, an ovarian tumor of some sort, as an example) because it was simply beyond the scope of the medical/scientific understandings of the day. So all sickness was addressed as a spiritual condition.
The larger point, I think, is that we truly pick and choose when we are going to stand firm on what the Bible teaches us and when we aren’t. Most Christians I know who insist on the scientific infallibility of Genesis 1-2 don’t hold that same sense of assurance if it comes to a personal health issue, and certainly not when facing a medical issue involving one of their children. They don’t have any problem psychologically assigning more authority to the advice of a medical professional than they do toward Biblical accounts of how to cure illness. Understand, I’m not saying praying isn’t vital and that the Bible doesn’t offer anything valuable if/when we face physical illness. It certainly does!! But most Christians I know don’t approach the Bible as a medical journal nor do they count on it to diagnose and treat illness, even though the Bible clearly has specific things to say about illness and the treatment of certain ailments. They rely on medical professionals for that.
Points taken. I’m not claiming a belief in Darwinian evolution. I’m also not claiming that general revelation is on par with special revelation. At least, I wasn’t meaning to. I do believe that our study of the world around us will bring us to a place of agreement with Scripture. I also believe though, that through that, there may be room for some of our dogmatism on some issues to be challenged.
My take is the book of God’s works and the book of God’s word should agree and if they do not, then it means one is reading at least one of them incorrectly.