Science and the Bible

originstoday_fullScience and the Bible. What a loaded topic, right?! For some, it’s an issue of territory-defining significance: what you believe could determine if you are viewed as fundamentalist or liberal, in or out, true follower or not.

It really can become that serious. Quite disheartening, I might add.

I’ll admit I’ve gone through some stages of change over the past few years in regards to this subject. I’ve become quite open to what might be normally termed as theistic evolution, or also identified as creationary evolution. The approach is still grounded in the belief that God is the one true Creator. Yet, he chose to use what we scientifically identify as evolution to bring about his good creation.

I don’t know all the in’s and out’s, and I never will. But I am at least quite open to the idea. However, I approach things first and foremost as a theologian, not as a scientist. Some are scientists (Denis Lamoureux, Darrel Falk) and some are theologians (John Walton, Bruce Waltke). Still, both groups dip in and out of the other in various ways. And they all invest their time a little differently as they look to faithfully come to grips with a robust Christian faith and a willingness to listen to the scientific evidence of today.

And so, for me, noting some of the points on the table from the various sciences, I try and grasp and assess things theologically, considering some of the points while working through the Scripture text.

Now let me say upfront that this does not mean I (or any other) am putting science above Scripture. What it means is that we recognise there are many good and wholesome tools that God has given us to help us understand his ways and the world he has created. I believe in the importance of setting Scripture as primary. But we have many other assets such as history, tradition, reason, experience, life, creation, science, etc.

I am quite convinced that God designed it that way. Continue reading

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The Garden of Eden in Ancient Context

9780310255727Over at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog, regular contributor, RJS, recently posted about what looks to be an interesting book – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary).

The point of RJS’s post, and referencing the book, is to note the parallel nature between the early Genesis accounts in Christian Scripture and that of other accounts that existed within the ancient near eastern context.

Sounds boring to some, but for me, it’s fascinating.

Why? Continue reading

A Literary & Theological Reading of Genesis

imagesJust over a week ago, I posted an article about whether or not Paul’s theology of Christ requires a historical Adam. I was mainly interacting with Daniel Kirk’s article in Fuller Theological Seminary’s Spring 2013 issue of “Theology, News, and Notes”. His premise, as is mine, is that Adam might not be a factual, historical, literal person. However, this need not affect our theology of humanity, sin, and especially that of Christ!

Of course, much discussion arises from this topic today because of Christian engagement with some prevailing scientific views, mainly that of evolutionary biology and the hypotheses presented.

What I have found interesting in my interaction with some surrounding this topic is one particular argument that keeps surfacing. It goes something like this: Your view about what the text says or doesn’t say has already been concluded before engaging with the text.

Meaning that I and others have concluded Adam is not historical/does not have to be historical before actually exegeting what the biblical text communicates.

It’s a fair challenge.

However, I’d say this approach is not completely unbecoming to Christian theology. Continue reading

Does Paul’s Christ Require a Historical Adam

Adam-Eve2Recently in Fuller Theological Seminary’s Spring 2013 issue of “Theology, News, and Notes,” New Testament professor Daniel Kirk posted an article that causes much discussion and debate these days – Does Paul’s Christ Require a Historical Adam? It’s a hot topic due to engagement with scientific findings and the desire for many Christians to maintain a historically orthodox faith.

This topic is of great interest to me these days, but more theologically than scientifically. I’d like to get more in to the science of things, and I’ve got some books that can be of help (Francis Collins’ The Language of God or Denis Lamoureux’s I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution). But I’m drawn more to think through things theologically, since I love the disciplines of biblical studies and theology.

Hence why my attention was drawn to Kirk’s article – a theological look at Adam as presented in both Paul, and the whole of Scripture, while discussing whether Adam must be a literal, factual human being (also noting that I appreciate the way Kirk writes and thinks, as evidenced in his book Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?).

You see, here are how things unfold in the discussion (or debate) over the nature of the first chapters of Genesis and Adam himself. Continue reading

Sin & Disorder Prior to ‘The Fall’ in Genesis 3?

In my last post, I shared about a blogging series at Jesus Creed, which has gone live with part 2 this week, and a book on the varying readings of the creation narrative that have existed throughout church history. That book is entitled Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives, by Peter Bouteneff.

Of course, while throughout church history, there have been various proposals of how we should understand and interpret the early chapters of Genesis, it is in the past century and a half that Christians have had to deal much more in the ever-developing fields of the sciences. The church has always had to engage science, no doubt. It’s just that there is quite a bit more to engage with today, with some pointers towards the ever-condemned E-word, evolution.

Now, though I’ve not yet had the opportunity to read Bouteneff’s books, what he seems to be offering is varying interpretations for the early chapters of Genesis within church history even before discussion is brought up around modern-day science. Therefore, when Christians today, that also hold to evolution, approach Genesis 1-3 within the genre of non-factual/non-historical literature, it does not mean they are out to diminish the God-breathed and authoritative nature of Scripture. Some might be, true. But this is not the framework of all. Some of them are simply trying to faithfully deal with the findings of good science as well as understand what Genesis was originally communicating.

I mentioned in my last article that there are two major problems evangelicals have when discussing the possibility of evolution being the means by which God brought about the good creation: 1) We must believe in a literal and specific first human, namely Adam, and 2) We must hold to a literal ‘fall’ into sin.

I want to address these 2 points over 2 articles, but start with the second one here and then point one in the next post. Continue reading