The two word response of my gym trainer at the university gym at which I am a chaplain, in response to an evolution-friendly comment by me. :)
Dr. Todd Wood, a young earth creationist on the scientific credibility of evolutionary theory. I respectfully (and at the same time resolutely) disagree with his theology and biblical interpretive stance, but I hugely appreciate his scientific honesty.
“Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.I say these things not because I’m crazy or because I’ve “converted” to evolution. I say these things because they are true. I’m motivated this morning by reading yet another clueless, well-meaning person pompously declaring that evolution is a failure. People who say that are either unacquainted with the inner workings of science or unacquainted with the evidence for evolution. (Technically, they could also be deluded or lying, but that seems rather uncharitable to say. Oops.)Creationist students, listen to me very carefully: There is evidence for evolution, and evolution is an extremely successful scientific theory. That doesn’t make it ultimately true, and it doesn’t mean that there could not possibly be viable alternatives. It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. I am motivated to understand God’s creation from what I believe to be a biblical, creationist perspective. Evolution itself is not flawed or without evidence. Please don’t be duped into thinking that somehow evolution itself is a failure. Please don’t idolize your own ability to reason. Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it. Maybe that’s not enough for your scoffing professor or your non-Christian friends, but it should be enough for you.” -Dr. Todd Wood, Bryan College (source: FB page – ‘Evolutionary Creationism‘)
I’m reading a recent interview with Jonathan Sarfati, a well-known anti-evolution Christian author.((Australia’s Reformed Evangelical Periodical, Autumn 2012, 3-6.))
I’m not going to critique the scientific statements he makes, I just wanted to pick up on a theological/biblical claim that he makes, which I hear very often. He claims:
The whole gospel of Jesus Christ depends on a literal happening in the Garden of Eden where Adam sinned against God and brought God’s curse upon us. Evolution undermines this account of our origins by putting death before sin.
That’s a big claim. He presents a choice between a) believing the gospel of Jesus Christ and b) affirming the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection in biology. For Sarfati, there is no both/and. He refers to Paul as telling us that “Adam brought death into the world”, and refers to Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. So what do these passages say? And are they appropriate to bring to bear on conversations about animal death before humans? What would Paul say about us doing so?
Well, it turns out that neither passage is talking about animals at all. What they are talking about, however, is humans. Both passages present us with two distinct representatives for, not animals, but humans. We can either be ‘in Adam’ or ‘in Christ’. The point is that human sin brings human death. Adam, no doubt assumed to be the first human by Paul and the rest of his Jewish contemporaries, becomes the representative of all who sin and die, because he (whose name means ‘human‘ funnily enough) was the first human to do so. Christ, on the other hand, did not sin. And although he too died, he pioneered the way into a new, un-dying, eternal, glorified state of life that we call the Resurrection. The physical death and suffering of animals before humans has literally no bearing on either passage.
Sarfati laments that “theistic evolutionists would have us believe that God used [evolution which involves the ‘last enemy’ of death] to create things which then became ‘very good’ “, but even ‘perfect and young earth’ folk like him have not only to recall that creation is brought from ‘tohu va vohu’ (formless and void) to a state of formed and filled by God’s very good ordering and creativity, but also to explain how a ‘very good’ creation can have a deceitful, crafty and lying serpent in it. The Sunday-school picture of a ‘perfect’ creation doesn’t hold up, and it isn’t the point.
Christians who believe in evolution also have to face the problem of restoration. If Christ is going to restore or ‘regenerate’ the world, what will He restore it to? …millions more years of death, suffering and disease? …evolution is opposed to the biblical ideas of creation, fall and redemption. We undermine the entire message of Scripture if we try to introduce the idea of evolution into it. (emphasis mine)
Again, if a literal Eden is the prototype of the final restoration – the goal for all things – then it must have a lying snake in it, and we must be able to sin again, and it also might be formless and void and in need of forming and filling. But in Scripture, it is not Eden that is the prototype. It is Christ. Our great hope is not to simply be like a pre-fall Adam, but rather that “we shall be like Him”, that is, Christ. Our hope is not to be brought back to a state of posse peccare, posse non-peccare (possible to sin, possible not to sin), but to be brought forward to a state of non-posse peccare (not possible to sin).
“Restoration” in the sense of ‘going back to Eden’ is not the right concept. We don’t go back to the beginning (for another replay?), but forward to the goal, our telos – Christ. “Transformation” or “translation” or “metamorphosis” is the better image, and that given by the picture of Christ (not Adam) as the “firstfruits” of what is to come. Moreover, to quote 1 Corinthians 15:49, “Just as we have borne the likeness of the man who was made from dust, we will also bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” We don’t look back to Adam, but forward to Christ, who has come into human history as the ‘archetype’ of humanity. We don’t look back to Genesis 1&2 and a ‘very good’ creation, we look forward to Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22 to a liberated creation, and a “new heaven and new earth”. Or as the great maxim says, “more is gained in Christ than is lost in Adam.”
I was pleased to be asked along with Dr. Graeme Finlay (Senior Lecturer in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre & Molecular Medicine & Pathology in the School of Medical Sciences at Auckland University) to take part in a talk-back show on Evolution and Christianity today. I had to laugh when Graeme and the host Pat called me a theologian; last I checked, a lowly undergraduate degree in theology doth not maketh one a theologian :) The audio is here for any interested in our conversation.
My ‘techno-skepto’ mate, Damian, has posted an updated version of his funky cool little evolving tool. Head over and have a play with the numbers (offspring & mutation rate) and the target phrase.
I really enjoyed the research on this one. My continual struggle is starting early enough on an assignment so that I have time to drown myself in research and actually write the essay. There are 34 items in the bibliography (dictionaries, commentaries, journal articles and some topical monographs), and I really only dipped into things. Pretty late in the piece I was wow-ed by Karl Barth’s commentary on Romans 5:12, and really want to look into that more.
Anyway, hope it’s interesting reading (warning, it’s 4,000+ words)!
I’m just getting my teeth into a research essay for my Humanity and Hope (Anthropology and Eschatology) paper, which will be about The Fall in Christian Evolutionary Perspective – in other words, how to biblically, Christianly, and Theologically understand the Fall in a framework that accepts evolutionary science. As usual, I’ll post the essay on my Essays page – it’s not due for another couple weeks, so won’t be until after that.
For now, I share a quote regarding the effect of the human fall upon the rest of creation – from a lovely little book called Living with the Animals: The Community of God’s Creatures, by Charles Birch & Lukas Vischer: Continue reading falling out with animals
The following is not intended as a theistic proof, but it is yet another of countless points of ‘resonance’ with belief in a Creator.
I was just thinking last night about how deeply human or ‘anthropocentric’ music is. Whilst we can anthropomorphise and talk about the ‘song’ of the bluebird, or the rhythm of the cicadas or crickets, these animals are not truly doing ‘music’. It is a human activity. Continue reading musical bodies
I knew I’d have to blog about this one. I just got back from the latest TANSA (Theology and the Natural Sciences in Aotearoa) meeting at Laidlaw College.
The Speaker was Dr. Peter Wills, who, it turns out, is a naturalist (I also met and had a nice talk with a lady who shared that she no longer professed faith, so this was no Christians-only affair). Nicola, the chairperson for TANSA, opened with a lovely quote from theologian Michael Welker to give expression to the ‘T’ in TANSA, as Peter would handle the ‘N’ (couldn’t help but smile to myself seeing boxes of ‘Hell’ pizza behind this ‘godless’ scientist ;D ). Continue reading naturalistic dualist?
On the 5th day, God filled the skies and seas with all kinds of sky-life (‘every sort of winged bird’) and sea-life (‘swarms of living creatures’). Everything that flies through the sky. Everything that lives in the sea. A few points: Continue reading pre-fall death