The God of Process and the Processes of God

creationOver the weekend, I posted an article about a feature-length documentary entitled, From the Dust. The film is a project of Highway Media and The BioLogos Foundation, and it’s purpose is to tackle some of the most important questions in the science-faith dialogue. The film interviews a wide variety of theologians, educators, and scientists, which allows it to be very informative, as well as carrying a kind of ‘pastoral’ flavour to it (since some of the theologians consulted are also pastors). The trailer for From the Dust can also be found in my previous post. And, as I shared, the video can now be rented/purchased from iTunes.

Yesterday, I watched the 1-hour and 7-minute documentary. I very much appreciated what the film had to offer, especially knowing that it consulted a god group of theologians that I respect. I would concur with this statement of the filmmaker, Ryan Petty: As a result of this project, the book of Genesis has become more alive and more dynamic than I had ever allowed it to be.

That’s my testimony as well as I’ve come to engage some of the theological and scientific dialogue around issues concerning the early chapters of Genesis – mainly noting that there is something bigger and more creative going on than a simple laying out a detailed journalistic account. The idea of God using [what we call] evolutionary processes to bring about his good creation used to be the most awkward and difficult thing to consider. Quite offensive! But here is the thing, or at least one thing that helped me as I began to consider in the early days of engaging with such an idea: When I ponder the nature of God, I don’t find evolution (that is purpose-directed evolution) as incompatible with what we know about his character.

Here’s what I mean by that. Continue reading

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From the Dust: Trailer and Available on iTunes

fromdust_digFrom the Dust is a feature-length documentary film from Highway Media and The BioLogos Foundation tackling some of the most important questions in the science-faith dialogue. You can see the trailer at the end of this post.

The interesting news is that the film has just become available for both rental and purchase via iTunes. Here is a short summary of the 1hour 7minute film: Continue reading

Peter Enns and the Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy & Hermeneutics

Over at the BioLogos Forum, Peter Enns is involved in a very lengthy series of intricately looking at both statements known as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (download a PDF of the statement here) and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (download a PDF of the statement here). Continue reading

Two Books in the Post on Evolutionary-Creation

I recently ordered two books from Amazon.co.uk (it’s easier to receive from there than the .com version in the US). Those two book are:

1. I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution by Denis Lamoureux

2. Theology After Darwin edited by R.J. Berry and Michael Northcott

I have ordered both books because of my recent interest in studying whether or not evolutionary-creation is a viable option for Christians (most add on the word creation to evolution because they want to maintain that all creation has a purposeful and personal Creator). Well, at this point, I actually am not bothered if God chose the evolutionary process to bring about His whole creation.

I’ve already begun dipping in to the subject via a lot of what the BioLogos Foundation provides on their site (articles, videos and essays). I think it is excellent stuff.

So, what I am interested in is studying more of the scientific research and theological implications, but mainly focusing in on the theological implications (as a pastor who loves studying theology). What I find is that many evangelicals continue to feel threatened by the possibility of evolution being the God-chosen path by which He brought about creation. They believe that if one accepts evolution, then this will negatively affect such doctrines as anthropology, hamartiology (sin), and especially Christology.

But I personally feel this is a bit too reactionary. I think we can maintain a healthy and robust biblical theology of humanity, sin and Christ even in the midst of a Christian theistic evolutionary view.

So I hope these two books will begin to help inform me more of both the scientific research and theological ramifications for an evolutionary-creation belief.

Can Science Inform Our Faith?

The question within this post’s title – Can science inform our faith? – can make many Christians uncomfortable. We are all probably aware that plenty of learned scientists can be somewhat anti-faith. Such people undertake scientific study with no regards for maintaining a solid foundation of faith in Christ and the gospel as taught in the Scriptures. A negative agenda, nonetheless.

Hence, the reason we can feel quite uncomfortable with the idea of science informing our faith. But, while such concerns are understandable, I don’t believe such concerns are the full picture for understanding how faith and science works. I am convinced the two do not have to be in competition, but rather, believe it or not, they can work together.

Let me explain more.

God created a good world. That is very obvious from the opening chapters of Genesis, right the way through the whole tenor of Scripture. We see this in such places as Genesis 1 and Psalm 19, and hence why God ultimately desires to renew the whole cosmos (Romans 8). And this good creation created by a good Creator is truly worth investigating in all its glory and splendour.

Not only that, but God has given us every good field of study to understand the good world He has created – from artistic endeavours, to mathematical endeavours, to philosophical endeavours, to historical endeavours to a whole host of other endeavours that we identify as general revelation. And one of those disciplines of study that also falls into the category of general revelation is that of the natural sciences, such as biology, geology, astronomy, etc. Every one of these areas falls under the umbrella of God’s good general revelation.

Thus, good study of God’s good earth under the discipline of the natural sciences is not actually anti-faith. Yes, as I have noted, some have set their sights on using such to destroy the faith. But there are plenty of faithful and solid scientists, actually both Christian and non-Christian, that have produced very good and foundational scientific study in understanding God’s good earth.

Now, I must set out as well that I am not asking Scripture to become subservient to science. But what I am asking is for us to recognise that science can come alongside our faith, helping inform us of God’s creation, and even possibly understand either what the Scripture is communicating in such areas or what Scripture is not communicating in such areas.

The greatest example I have recently been reminding us of is what happened when people like Copernicus and Galileo who, in the 16th century, came to understand, through good scientific astronomy, that we live in a heliocentric universe with the sun as its centre. But this was quite contrary to the prevailing view of the church in that day. Why? Because the church was convinced that the Scripture taught we lived in a geocentric universe with the Earth at its centre. For example, the Scripture spoke of the movement of the sun in its rising and falling. But we now know, and have known for a while, that the sun never moves. Rather the Earth does. Oh, yes, we still speak in this phenomenological language of the sun rising and setting. But, scientifically, we know what actually moves.

You see, here was one of the greater examples of how good natural scientific study led to understanding our universe, as well as what Scripture teaches, or what it does not teach in regards to that subject. In an ancient near eastern culture, and even in our modern culture, it is very acceptable to speak phenomenologically, meaning we describe things as they look to the human eye. And it still looks as if the Earth stands still and the sun moves. But, scientifically, we know for certain that the opposite is true.

It took a while, but people finally realised that the good study of astronomy leads us to faithfully conclude that our glorious universe is heliocentric. And this is quite ok when we realise that the inspired writers of Scripture never actually looked to communicate about astronomy or biology or geology or any of these natural sciences. God inspired these authors to communicate His inerrant truth within the midst of an ancient near eastern understanding of our universe.

And, you know what? Our knowledge still fails in comparison with the infinite One who created it all. We will continue to fall short of fully and completely understanding God’s good creation in all of its glory, since it was created by the Sovereign and Almighty One.

Again, this does not mean we make Scripture subservient to science. Nor are we to swallow every pill that comes to us, for science can err. But we are not to be afraid of faithful study of the natural sciences. Nor do we have to fear certain scientific terms such as carbon dating or fossil record or genomes or geological stratum, etc. These fields are not inherently anti-faith or anti-God. Some could use it that way. But there are plenty who undertake such endeavours with integrity.

So, I am personally convinced that science, true and good science, is not opposed to God or the truth of Scripture. All truth is God’s truth. And we can definitely utilise the disciplines in the varying sciences to understand the good creation of this world which God has given us.

For a great resource for Christians who want to consider more how faith and science work together, visit the BioLogos website.