Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Literal Interpretation of Scripture

I have to clarify one thing you said (twice): “…you can’t believe in evolution and believe in a literal translation of the bible.” This is somewhat misleading, because neither can you believe in anatomy, astronomy, geology, meteorology, botany, mathematics, or geography and truely stick to a literal interpretation of scripture. Scripture was never intended to be authoritative on those issues, and merely reflects the popular views of the human authors when it comes to the natural sciences.

In this respect, evolution is nothing special. It just happens to be where the front lines of this historic battle between natural and special revelation currently exist.

Gordon J. Glover in a comment on the blog Evangelical Dialog

Sin Gives New Meaning to Dying

But even if we grant that physical death is seen uniformly in scripture as a result of sin, is it only physical death that’s in view? Is death an evil, “the last enemy,” for biblical writers simply because it means that earthly life stops? Or is it because it threatens separation from God? (Cf. Psalm 6:5) Of course a biblical view of human death is multifaceted and there is considerable development from the earliest strata of the Old Testament through the New. But we can’t really separate the reality of physical death from its psychological and spiritual affects. In what I once called rather mouth-fillingly “hermeneutical retrocausality,” sin gives new meaning to dying that was a reality even before humanity came on the scene.

George Murphy in a post about evolution and original sin at Evangelical Dialog

Steadfastly Affirming God’s Sovereignty

Even after accepting an ancient universe, one of the issues that bothered me most about evolution was the randomness that it required. The concepts of divine sovereignty and chance seemed irreconcilable. But through continued theological and scientific studies, I came to clearly see that “random” occurrences at the micro level are in fact the constituents of order at the macro level, and through my theistic prism came to see that God actually uses events that we observers experience as “chance” to bring about His purposeful end. In fact, it seemed that all Christians should be able to relate to this: Despite experiencing circumstances in life that appear completely random, we believers steadfastly affirm God’s sovereignty and absolute control over all. Thus, another point of resistance to modern science dissipated.

Stephen Blake in a post on Biologos.org

The Sad Specter of a Marginalized God

The conventional wisdom is that whatever one may think of his science, having Mr. Darwin around certainly hasn’t helped religion very much. The general thinking is that religion has been weakened by Darwinism and has been constrained to modify its view of the Creator in order to twist doctrine into conformity with the demands of evolution. …

This sad specter of a weakened and marginalized God drives the continuing opposition to evolution. This is why the God of the creationists requires, above all, that evolution be shown not to have functioned in the past and not to be working now. To free religion from the tyranny of Darwinism, creationists need a science that shows nature to be incomplete; they need a history of life whose events can only be explained as the result of supernatural processes. Put bluntly, the creationists are committed to finding permanent, intractable mystery in nature. To such minds, even the most perfect being we can imagine would not have been perfect enough to fashion a creation in which life would originate and evolve on its own. Nature must be flawed, static, and forever inadequate.

Science in general, and evolutionary science in particular, gives us something quite different. It reveals a universe that is dynamic, flexible, and logically complete. It presents a vision of life that spreads across the planet with endless variety and intricate beauty. It suggests a world in which our material existence is not an impossible illusion propped up by magic, but the genuine article, a world in which things are exactly what they seem. A world in which we were formed, as the Creator once told us, from the dust of the earth itself.

Kenneth R. Miller, in his book Finding Darwin’s God

It was a hard choice of titles between the line in the last paragraph, “An impossible illusion propped up by magic,” and the line in the 2nd paragraph that I ended up using.

Consistent with a Creator

Yes, the explosive diversification of life on this planet was an unpredictable process. But so were the rise of Western civilization, the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the winning number in last night’s lottery. We do not regard the indeterminate nature of any of these events in human history as antithetical to the existence of a Creator; why should we regard similar events in natural history any differently? There is, I would submit, no reason at all. If we can view the contingent events in the families that produced our individual lives as consistent with a Creator, then certainly we can do the same for the chain of circumstances that produced our species.

Kenneth R. Miller, in his book Finding Darwin’s God

In The Shadows Of Our Understanding

If we accept a lack of scientific explanation [of events in the natural world] as proof for God’s existence, simple logic would dictate that we would have to regard a successful scientific explanation as an argument against God. That’s why creationist reasoning, ultimately, is much more dangerous to religion than to science. Elliot Meyerowitz’s fine work on floral induction [showing how genes are used to regulate flower development] suddenly becomes a threat to the divine, even though common sense tells us it should be nothing of the sort. By arguing, as creationists do, that nature cannot be self-sufficient in the formation of new species, the creationists forge a logical link between the limits of natural processes to accomplish biological change and the existence of a designer (God). In other words, they show the proponents of atheism exactly how to disprove the existence of God – show that evolution works, and it’s time to tear down the temple. This is an offer that the enemies of religion are all too happy to accept.

Putting it bluntly, the creationists have sought God in darkness. What we have not found and do not yet understand becomes their best – indeed their only – evidence for the divine. As a Christian, I find the flow of this logic particularly depressing. Not only does it teach us to fear the acquisition of knowledge (which might at any time disprove belief), but it suggests that God dwells only in the shadows of our understanding. I suggest that, if God is real, we should be able to find him somewhere else – in the bright light of human knowledge, spiritual and scientific.

Kenneth R. Miller, in his book Finding Darwin’s God

A World Without Meaning

It is often said that a Darwinian universe is one whose randomness cannot be reconciled with meaning. I disagree. A world truly without meaning would be one in which a deity pulled the string of every human puppet, indeed of every material particle. In such a world, physical and biological events would be carefully controlled, evil and suffering could be minimized, and the outcome of historical processes strictly regulated. All things would move toward the Creator’s clear, distinct, established goals. Such control and predictability, however, comes at the price of independence. Always in control, such a Creator would deny his creatures any real opportunity to know and worship him – authentic love requires freedom, not manipulation. Such freedom is best supplied by the open contingency of evolution.

Kenneth Miller in his book “Finding Darwin’s God”

I Beg Your Question?

It should also be noted that the Wellhausen theory [the Documentary Hypothesis] found what it was looking for. The theory grew out of a movement to find rationalistic, natural explanations for the biblical text. Once one assumes that supernatural revelation cannot occur any other explanation must take precedent. The late dates and various authors assigned to the books allow for purely naturalistic sources. This is a textbook case of question begging. The underlying premise, that there can be no such thing as supernatural revelation, resulted in the conclusion that the Bible is not a supernaturally revealed document.

Don Closson in the article Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?