Tag Archives: Evolution

Adam vs. Atoms #1

Are Christians who look for literal scientific revelation in Genesis abusing the Biblical text?  John Walton, in The Lost World of Genesis One, says "Yes",  proposing a better way to interpret and honor the authority of Scripture based on pioneering research from the Ancient Near East.

Are Christians who look for literal scientific revelation in Genesis abusing the Biblical text? John Walton, in The Lost World of Genesis One, says “Yes”, proposing a better way to interpret and honor the authority of Scripture based on pioneering research from the Ancient Near East.

When the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis are talking about the origins of the universe, should we read it like a scientific textbook…. or something else?

Many Christians today read the first part of Genesis assuming that God is supernaturally revealing to us the natural history of physical creation. This is a reasonable assumption. The Bible claims to be God’s Word, and we all want to know how it all got started.

So it would appear that God is simply stepping in Himself and giving us “just the facts, ma’am,” as Joe Friday said on the classic 1960’s TV show, Dragnet.  But what exactly does that mean? Before Adam gets created, there are no human eyewitnesses peering over God’s shoulder to see what He was doing. Even if you believe that Moses was the author of Genesis, you have to grapple with the reality that Moses was not hanging out in a tree in the Garden of Eden with a video camera or an iPhone camera app, recording the interaction between Adam, Eve and the Serpent. Joe Friday is wondering what to make of all this! So then, how does that historical information get from God to Moses, and then finally, to us?

Unlike the Gospels that are built on eyewitness testimony, in early Genesis many wrestle with God’s meaning of things like “days” and try to figure out how it all fits in with modern science. Are they 24-hour periods of time, or long epochs of time? How do you get “light” on day one when the sun does not appear until day four? What about the Big Bang?

But these are modern types of questions that today’s Bible readers bring to the text. Have we really taken the time to consider how the ancient Hebrew readers from several thousands of years ago understood the Genesis text? Centuries before NeoDarwinian genetics, the telescope, Google, and… we can not forget, Joe Friday… what did God’s people think when they originally read Genesis One?

Joe Friday wants to interrogate Moses.. he might just have to settle for Wheaton College's John Walton.

Joe Friday wants to interrogate Moses.. he might just have to settle for Wheaton College’s John Walton.

Meet John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College (uh, not the guy in this photo… you will see a photo of Walton later). Walton argues in The Lost World of Genesis One that though Genesis was written for us, it was not written to us. It is a subtle distinction, but it emphasizes the reality that we must not pretend that Moses, or anyone else in the Old Testament era, originally wrote for a 21st century audience. Instead we must first understand the mindset of the ancient Hebrews before we try to apply the Truth of Genesis to modern-day concerns.

To put it the way that a William and Mary chemistry professor and friend of mine would say it:  Is Genesis talking about “Adam” or “atoms”?
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A Year of Biblical Doubting #1

Rachel Held Evans first book.  She's young, church-going.... and not very sure about her faith.   Does she represent the future of "evangelical Christianity"?

Rachel Held Evans first book. She’s young, church-going…. and not very sure about her faith. Does she represent the future of “evangelical Christianity”?

How do you handle doubt? Some want to shove it under the rug. Some, frankly, never really go through serious periods of doubt. Others wallow in their confusion. Some simply rebel as an escape mechanism. Others are driven to God’s Word, study, prayer, and fellowship to find answers. Where do you go when you begin to second guess everything, if you ever do?

Part of what we are trying to do with Veracity is to provide tools to help folks to get into God’s Word so that God’s Word can get into us. What resources are available that can equip us to better understand our faith so that we can better serve the Lord in our worship and witness? However, there are times where doubt can plague us in our spiritual journey and threaten to derail us spiritually. Perhaps an explanation about the Bible we once heard no longer makes sense anymore. Or is there some assumption that we have made about the Christian life that no longer appears to be working? Perhaps we expected God to do something and things did not turn out the way we think it should.

Doubt is an enormous topic to tackle in a single blog posting. So I will be content for now to give you a partial case study.
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The Tinkering Engineer and Design

In Why Evolution is True, biologist and atheist Jerry Coyne seeks to drive a wedge between intelligent design and NeoDarwinian evolution, favoring the latter. But what if the Bible and "real world" engineering both make a case that there is less of a contrast than what Coyne would have us believe? Would a little imagination from an engineer help?

In Why Evolution is True, biologist and atheist Jerry Coyne seeks to drive a wedge between intelligent design and NeoDarwinian evolution, favoring the latter. But what if the Bible and “real world” engineering both make a case that there is less of a contrast than what Coyne would have us believe? Would a little imagination from an engineer help?

When God created the world did He do so as a Master Engineer or as a Tinkerer?

I recently finished listening to an audiobook by Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago biologist, and vocal critic of Christian interpretations of science. In Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne is making the argument that the biological theory of evolution rules out the possibility of Intelligent Design. Evolution does not reflect the divine activity of a Creator. According to Coyne, the biological world does not resemble the work of someone creating things from scratch. Instead, the evolutionary process demonstrates the work of tinkering; that is, working with a limitation of available parts, experimenting at putting together different solutions. Tinkering is not very efficient, nor does it always produce the most beneficial results, hardly becoming the activity of a Divine Creator. But for Coyne, this tinkering is exactly what NeoDarwinian evolution is all about… and it is true.

Jerry Coyne did his undergraduate work at the College of William and Mary, finishing in the 1970’s. I currently work at William and Mary as a network engineer. Coyne is a superbly skilled scientist, but I need to respond to him as an engineer. Continue reading


Evidence of Transformation

“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
(1 Corinthians 15:44, NIV84)

Dinosaur at Toronto Airport

How come there are no dinosaurs in the Bible? I found this one at the Toronto airport.

After all of Clarke’s hard work leading up to our Facts & Faith symposium, I decided to see if I could help out by taking Veracity on the road—to look for evidence of agreement between science and faith. So…

Niagara Falls

Greetings from Niagara, Ontario! It’s very wet (and beautiful) here.

Old earth creationism, young earth creationism, theistic evolution, neo-Darwinism, naturalism, theism, atheism, science versus faith, science and faith—we’ve taken on quite a bit of material in the weeks leading up to the symposium. There seems to be no end to controversies surrounding these topics. Got it. But does any of this stuff really matter?

Bird at Niagara Falls

What are you thinking?

It is ironic that the three intramural Christian positions on creationism (young earth, old earth, and theistic evolution) all agree that the age of the earth is not essential to the salvation of anyone’s soul. So why does it matter? OK, let’s come at the issue from a less Christian perspective.

Suppose you are sharing your faith with someone who is unfamiliar with Christianity, or has doubts about the claims and content of the Bible. (If you’re not encountering people like this, might it be time to leave your monastery or otherwise get out and meet some real people?) Further suppose that your beliefs are not supported by contemporary science or scientific scholarship. Would you be willing to argue that “science is wrong?” It turns out that many Christians do indeed argue that science teaches things that are contrary to the Bible and that science is wrong. Welcome to the Bible versus science, an unnecessary either-or proposition. Continue reading


C.S. Lewis, Myth, and the “E” Word

C.S. Lewis on the cover of Time magazine, 1947.  Did he ultimately find "Evolution" to be compatible or in conflict with Biblical faith?

C.S. Lewis on the cover of Time magazine, 1947, perhaps the most popular Christian apologist of the 20th century. Did he ultimately find “Evolution” to be compatible or in conflict with Biblical faith?

A few years ago, a series of letters written by C. S. Lewis back some seventy years ago came to light that has given scholars some questions as to the Narnian’s changing views regarding the “E” word. By the “E” word, I mean … “evolution”.

The “E” word is generally something you do not say in polite company around many evangelical Christians, unless you want to say something negative. Here at Veracity, we have no qualms over discussing topics related to the “E” word. Yet the stakes are high, as many students of Scripture have noted. Some say that evolution is the greatest threat to the truthfulness of the Christian message. Others, to varying degrees, say that evolution is at least partly, if not fully, compatible with Christian belief.

How do  you sort this all out?  It sure would be helpful to know what one of the most popular Christian apologists of the last one hundred years, Oxford’s C. S. Lewis, might have thought about the matter.
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