December 18, 2017

Adam and the Genome 9: Chapter 5- Adam, Eve, and the Genome: Four Principles for Reading the Bible after the Human Genome Project.

Adam and the Genome 9: Chapter 5- Adam, Eve, and the Genome: Four Principles for Reading the Bible after the Human Genome Project

We continue our review of the book, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science, by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight. Today, Chapter 5.

The book now moves to the four chapters written by Scot McKnight that will explore the theological implications of what Dennis Venema established as the scientific viewpoint in the first four chapters.  Right out of the gate, Scot raises the obvious point; what happens when science and the Bible disagree.  Who are we to believe?  Some of us will dig in our heels, others will shift with the latest conclusion of science.  What the first thinks is faithfulness to the Bible the second thinks is intellectual compromise.  To illustrate the first he quotes Martin Luther; “The more it seems to conflict with all experience and reason, the more carefully it must be noted and the more surely believed.”  When Luther deals with Eve being formed from a rib, he says; “This is extravagant fiction and the silliest kind of nonsense if you set aside the authority of Scripture and follow the judgement of reason,” and “Although it sounds like a fairy tale to reason, it is the most certain truth.”

Scot calls this the “dominating” approach.  Luther will allow the Scripture, against reason he admits, to dominate the evidence.  Galileo then is the mirror image with another kind of domination: “A natural phenomena which is placed before our eyes by sense experience or proved by necessary demonstration should not be called into question, let alone condemned, on account of scriptural passages whose words appear to have a different meaning.”  Scot then says:

“The choice to let either the Bible or science dominate the other is common enough, but there is a better way, one that permits each of the disciplines to speak its own language but also requires each of the voices to speak to one another.”

He cites the examples of John Walton, Tremper Longman, and Peter Enns as types of scholars who have opened up new pathways for this kind of dialogue to take place.  Scot then tells his own story.  He grew up being told that evolution was for atheists and those who embraced evolution could not embrace the Bible.  But he then began meeting and getting to know scientists who were Christians who acknowledged that the evidence supported the basic theory of evolution.  Their trustworthiness at the personal level made their science more credible as an option to him. He then says there were 3 defining moments when his intellectual questions about science and the Bible began to make sense.

The first was when he read a book (now nearly 40 years ago) that discussed “macro” versus “micro” evolution.  That book, combined with reading a biography of Darwin, pried his mind open to the possible reality of the scientific truth of evolution.  The second moment in his journey involved the last few years of blogging with his blog partner “RJS”, a PhD chemist, and reading Dennis Venema and John Walton, particularly Walton’s “Lost World of Genesis One”. RJS’s blog posts and Venema and Walton’s writings combined to open his mind to a new way of reading the Bible.  I’ll let Scot tell his third moment in his own words:

“My third moment was the day a college student in tears told me that, had I not taught about reading Genesis 1 in the context of the ancient Near East, he would have abandoned the Christian faith.  He wanted to be a scientist but knew there were some non-negotiables about science that were totally convincing to him.  One of which was some kind of evolution.  That Genesis could be read in ways other than what he was taught—young earth creationism—was a defining moment for him and for me.  I am convinced that a kind of evolution—theistic, evolutionary creationism, or planned evolution—fits the evidence best and does not threaten the Christian faith or a fair reading of Genesis.”

The Genesis text itself displays evidence it is not to be read in some modernistic, CNN-news report, type of historical narrative.  A talking snake who loses its legs, magic fruit that make you wise when you bite it, another magical fruit that makes you live forever.  Angels with flaming swords—so where is Eden, the Bible doesn’t say Noah’s flood destroyed it, we should at least be able to walk up to the flaming-sword-wielding guards.  A man named “The Man”, a women named “Mother of All Living”, another man named “Spear” who kills his brother named “Fleeting Breath”.  Then he worries about other people killing him—what other people?  And he takes a wife- who would that be?  Don’t say his sisters, Genesis 4 is pretty clear that after Cain killed Abel there were no sisters born yet.  If these features don’t make you at least wonder what kind of literature this is—then nothing will.

In reading the Bible properly and in context, Scot believes there are four fundamental principles we should keep in mind that the best readers of the Bible constantly bring into play.  They are: respect, honesty, sensitivity to science students, and the primacy of Scripture.  With regard to the first one, Scot says:

“To understand what someone is telling us, we must respect that person as a person, we must respect that person’s speech, and we must do our best to understand that person’s speech from that person’s context…   That same principle of respect is needed for reading the Bible, especially a section of the Bible like Genesis 1-11, a text that, no matter how embattled it is, resounds with some of life’s deepest themes.”

It is manifestly obvious that the text of Genesis came to be in the ancient near East (ANE).  It sounds like that world as read from similar contemporaneous texts, uses categories and terms and ideas from that world.  It has the “pre-scientific” assumptions of that world.  So if you don’t respect that text as designed for an ANE audience, you don’t really respect that text.  Scot points out we have learned from specialists in ANE studies that these creation stories did double duty: they were mythic history and present theology.  The most respectful reading knows this double duty feature of ANE accounts, and gives that same respect to the Bible’s own account.  So, he concludes, it is disrespectful to Genesis 1-11 to think it somehow should be giving an account of the modern sciences of geology, astronomy, or biology.

The second principle is honesty.  In keeping with the topic of this book that means to be honest about the Bible and the science.  Scot tells his students not to fear the facts but to face the facts.  The fact is that the Bible really does make it look like Adam and Eve are the only two humans from which we all descend.  But science tells us that human DNA goes back to more than two people.

Scot notes that FEAR motivates the vitriol and vehemence on both sides.  The more fundamentally-minded Christians are afraid that the science undermines the Bible; that the Bible might be wrong and their entire faith might collapse, and take down society with it.  The more fundamentally-minded secularists are afraid that the Bible believers are going to force their religious beliefs on education and the rest of society.  There is a modicum of truth to both fears. 

“Honesty leads us to say Genesis 1-2 sounds like other creation narratives in the ancient near East.  If it does, it does.  Where there are similarities, we admit them; where there are dissimilarities, we admit them.  We don’t need Genesis 1-2 to be totally unlike other ancient near East texts in order for it to be true, just as we don’t need Jesus to be totally different from the rabbinic teaching of his day for his teaching to be true.  What we need most in studying the ancient near East and Genesis 1-2 is an openness to truth wherever it might be found.  Openness to truth is the most Christian principle I know of.”

The third principle is sensitivity to the student of science.  By “student” Scot means students nurtured in Christian homes and churches and under the tutelage of public school teachers.  This means they hear the Bible in one context and science and evolution in another context (often hostile to one another).  While some parents think they can avoid this dilemma for their children; it has been seen over and over again they are just kicking the can down the road.  Eventually, the student is going to experience the raw capacity of evolutionary theory to explain scientific realities.

The very purpose of this book is to avoid the “crisis” or “all or nothing” mentality of the evolutionary issue, particularly in regard to Adam and Eve and human origins.  Scot has had students come up to him in tears thanking him for saving their faith.  They had been told they either buy into six-day creationism and “literal” Bible interpretation or they couldn’t be Christians.  As they studied science in college they realized this false dichotomy was forcing them to choose between their love of God and the Bible and their love for science and discovery.  Scot’s honest and irenic exposition of the issue gave them a third way out of the dilemma.  We do our children a disservice if we don’t follow Scot’s example.

The fourth principle is the primacy of Scripture.  Christian’s affirm the Bible as God’s revelation to God’s people.  The Reformation statement was “sola scriptura” but Scot likes the slight modification of “prima scriptura” instead.   He says:

To go to the Bible first means respecting the Bible as it is—a developing narrative.  God doesn’t give us a systematic theology textbook, nor does God give us a question-and-answer resource book.  Rather the Bible is an ongoing and constantly updating narrative, what we often call a ‘story’…

In affirming this Scripture Principle, however, I hasten to add that we don’t go ONLY to the Bible.  The affirmation of ‘prima scriptura’ means we look to the Bible in its context first, as we have already stated above.  Reading the Bible in context leads us to the Bible’s dialogue with its context.  We will discover already at work in the Bible an interaction between the Bible and its culture—both challenging culture and affirming culture.  At the most basic of levels, the Bible comes from a Semitic and Hebraic culture, Jesus came out of a Galilean Jewish culture, and the apostle Paul was reared in a Roman world as a deeply observant Jewish man and so became a man of two worlds in a profound way as he evangelized gentiles.  To read any of these without respect to their contexts is to misread them.

Scot ends the chapter with a discussion of the meaning of attaching the word “historical” to Adam.  It is the most frequent asked question when discussing human origins; do you believe in a “historical Adam”?  He questions the appropriateness of making “historical” the ruling adjective.  Is that not prejudicial in and of itself?  First he clarifies what is meant by “historical”:

  1. Two actual (and sometimes only two) persons named Adam and Eve existed suddenly as a result of God’s creation
  2. Those two persons have a biological relationship to all human beings that are alive today (biological Adam and Eve).
  3. Their DNA is our DNA (genetic Adam and Eve); and that often means;
  4. Those two sinned, died, and brought death into the world (fallen Adam and Eve) and ;
  5. Those two passed on their sin natures (according to many) to all human beings (sin-nature Adam and Eve), which means
  6. Without their sinning and passing on that sin nature to all human beings, not all human beings would be in need of salvation;
  7. Therefore, if one denies the historical Adam, one denies the gospel of salvation.

Scot doesn’t dispute the adjective has an important role to play in our theology, but he does dispute that what most mean by “historical Adam” is what Genesis meant in its world.  The alternative to using an adjective like “historical” when it transcends what the text says is to find more organic terms that are more natural to the world of these texts.  That is what Scot proposes to do in the chapters that follow.

• • •

Other posts in the series:

Comments

  1. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    There is an important distinction in that issue of FEAR: “”” The more fundamentally-minded Christians are afraid that the science undermines the Bible;….and take down society with it. The more fundamentally-minded secularists are afraid that the Bible believers are going to force their religious beliefs on education and the rest of society. ”

    The first fear is a fear of being de-legitimized. The second fear is a fear of being subjugated. That is a very practical distinction.

    Also isn’t the first fear – and this has been something that has bugged me for a l-o-n-g time – saying that IF the Bible is proven not to be true it will lead to the collapse of society. So… really, that is saying that society needs the the Bible regardless of if its veracity? That is an intellectually devastating thing to believe; what kind of “faith” does that engender?

    I do not mean to take this off topic – but here is the center of a lot of arguments – they are very connected to how people *feel* about Genesis – as a proxy for something else. Meaning we are often not talking about Genesis when we are talking about Genesis.

    • “The first fear is a fear of being de-legitimized. The second fear is a fear of being subjugated. That is a very practical distinction.” Excellent point, Adam, i quite agree.

      “So… really, that is saying that society needs the the Bible regardless of if its veracity? That is an intellectually devastating thing to believe; what kind of “faith” does that engender?” Just so, Adam. That is why I have decided to pursue writing for IM on the science and faith issue and Chaplain Mike agrees. We cannot allow this intellectual devastion to continue. We Christians who are scientists MUST begin to speak up.

      • +1

        And the historians, and the geologists, and the linguists, and the literature majors (literatureists?), and the…etc.

        Defeat anti-intellectualism. Do not backpedal to the idea that the illiterate and unlearned can simply pick up a Bible and instantly know everything it says. There’s a way to avoid the ‘ivory tower’ and gatekeeping of old while still maintaining and insisting on proper education and understanding. For all.

        And I would almost say, above all, to not be afraid to tell someone that their *personal* faith and religion IS WRONG, has always been wrong, and will always be wrong. They may choose to continue to practice and cling to their old ways, but it doesn’t change how wrong some things are. Forgive my harsh language.

        Otherwise, reason and all the gifts God gave us to separate us from the animals don’t matter one bit.

        • A written mass produced set of Scriptures is only as good as the education to read and understand it that comes along with it.

          • Really? How often do churches (or mosques) stop would-be converts at the door and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, there: How read up are you on current exegetical theory? What type of hermaneutic do you endorse?”

            I mean, you do understand that the vast majority of believers across all places in history have probably been *illiterate*, right?

            • StuartB says:

              Yeah? And there has always been an educated clergy and laity to come alongside them and help them understand. When they ignore those people, that’s when we have the greatest trouble.

              • Robert F says:

                But educated clergy and laity throughout most of Christian history have been behind more theological, social and political mischief than the unwashed masses ever even aspired to. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the religious witch hunts, the sectarian Christian persecutions and wars of religion were preached and planned by the best minds of the times, educated clergy and laity all.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “So… really, that is saying that society needs the the Bible regardless of if its veracity? That is an intellectually devastating thing to believe; what kind of “faith” does that engender?”

      I remember a very old News of the Weird collection from the Nineties where one of the Weird News items was some philosopher activist interview that stated that since all the old religions are faltering, philosophers and ethicists and intellectuals (like himself) should convene to come up with a new one — a “Noble Lie” for our times that everyone should believe in for the good of society, even knowing it was just made up out of whole cloth. I kept thinking of Citizen Robespierre’s Cult of the Supreme Being during the French Revolution.

      The above quote is just the Christianese version.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The first fear is a fear of being de-legitimized. The second fear is a fear of being subjugated. That is a very practical distinction.

      But some on the Christianese side have slid from the first fear into the second — of being actively subjugated/persecuted/exterminated by a Secular Humanist Society. At that point, survival justifies anything and everything to fight back. And since the other side already has the second fear, the two go synergistic. Kind of like the D-T Fusion and Uranium Fission reactions synergizing each other in the secondary of an exploding thermonuclear bomb.

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > So if you don’t respect that text as designed for an ANE audience

    It needs to be acknowledge how heavy a lift this is for the 21st century western reader – particularly the younger reader – to achieve. Mix it with a strong priesthood-of-the-believer meme and it is quite awkward; a priest of a religion they have little hope of comprehending.

    This strongly reasserts the question as to what the Church’s role is in dealing with scripture; as well as that of a ‘professionally’ educated clergy. Especially true given that many pastors vigorously abdicate their role as educators; insisting that the sermon is not an education vehicle.

    Without a strong role for a quite formal institutionalized church this makes the reading Scripture – at least the old testament – of questionable utility.

    • Again, excellent points. To continue treating the Bible as a literalistic text is to continue to see young people ignore the Bible as relevant to their lives. Evangelical pastors are caught between a legitimate hermeneutic or angering older members of their congregation who provide the bulk of the finances. Doesn’t bode well for Evangelical Christianity in America.

    • >> . . . many pastors vigorously abdicate their role as educators; insisting that the sermon is not an education vehicle.

      Adam, I don’t see where you are getting that from. Especially in the Evangelical world I would think most pastors regard the sermon as pure education, and even in the Liturgical world I would think this would be the majority view. In the Episcopal Church I attend once a month, the priest finishes the reading of the Gospel and the bulletin indicates it is now time for the homily. He asks if there are any questions or comments, and there always are. Sometimes he gets to his own remarks, sometimes the discussion takes up the whole time. In all my years of listening to sermons and homilies, this is the only time I have seen a pastor do this. My question would be, why isn’t everyone doing this? The answer may involve fear.

      Those kids who go to college and “lose their faith” aren’t losing their faith, they are losing their belief system. I am of the opinion that we are on the verge of revelations that are going to knock the wind out of the sails of most tunnel-visioned Christians as well as tunnel-visioned scientists, and possibly even many of the folks who hang out here. Maybe will happen, maybe not. Belief systems are okay if you understand that’s all that they are. Better to understand the foundations that various belief systems are built on and not to confuse the two, like confusing a tulip with the ground it grows out of.

      • Charles, would you care to elaborate on these revelations that are going to knock the wind out of some sails?I’m intrigued. Seriously.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          I’m intrigued, too! I’m always up for some good revelation!

        • >> would you care to elaborate?

          That would be a major distraction here. If you are reading this you have the whole world of information at your fingertips. The last place you are going to find out what is going on behind the scenes is in the mainstream media, which is basically a propaganda tool for the 1% to retain power. If you don’t agree with that revelation, you aren’t going to agree with anything else I might have to say. If you do set out on a quest for truth, expect to toss out 90% of what you run across claiming to be truth and retain a skeptical but open attitude toward the rest as you refine your understanding thru discernment. Skeptical does not mean scoffing, something that our friend J and a few others here have yet to learn. If you e-mailed me, I could give you a place or two to start your search if you could suspend judgement for a time. This isn’t about absolute truth, it’s about relative probabilities and alternative understandings. If you are comfortable living in the world of CNN, better stay in that zone.

          • Which is of course exactly what you would say if you were about to claim that the Queen of England is an alien lizard or that Beyoncé is an android built in a secret research facility In the mountains outside Las Vegas.

            It’s not “tunnel-vision” to require evidence to back up your claims.

            • Rick Ro. says:

              –> “It’s not ‘tunnel-vision’ to require evidence to back up your claims.”

              Conspiracy theorists play the “it’s there for you to find” card all the time.

              Yawn.

            • Ah, the old tinfoil hat rejoinder. Still working after all these years. Leave your target twisting in the wind and indulge yourself in smug self-righteous superiority. Absolutely devastating. Stephen, I’ll sure know better than to ever try pulling the wool over your eyes again. Case closed!

              • Charles you have the easiest job in the world. Produce your evidence and shut us all up.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                >> would you care to elaborate?

                That would be a major distraction here.

                Then let’s hear the major distraction. Remember, we’re just Dumb Sheeple who have to have everything explained to us in detail as we’re shuffled into the abattoirs of the Global Elite.

                Weren’t you the guy who once posted something about all these “signs of the times” you were seeing everywhere and that “something big is about to happen”? And when I tried to pin you down on specifics, you blew me off with “It’s there for you to find — let him who has eyes to see, see”?

                I’ve had a lot of experience with fringe kookarama, from End Time Prophecy to Adamskyite UFOlogy to Coast to Coast AM open phones at 3 Ayem (my current weirdness fix), and they all sound like that. In an age when everyone and their cousin is street-witnessing for their Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory, coming across as as the Mysterious Mystagogue doesn’t help.

      • >> “Especially in the Evangelical world I would think most pastors regard the sermon as pure education, and even in the Liturgical world I would think this would be the majority view..”

        I doubt most pastors view the sermon as pure anything. I’ve had as pastors those who regarded it as primarily exhortation – but they also did some education. I’ve currently got a pastor who primarily educates – but he also does some exhortation. In visting other churches during travel, I’ve usually seen both combined. My experiences are too few for me to generalize as to what most pastors would see as primary.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          I’m with you, grberry. Most pastors I’ve heard are a mix of both education and exhortation; some might be more the former than the latter and others vice versa, but I’ve rarely seen a pastor who was just focused on one. (I did have a pastor once who thought he was great at exhortation, but he was so professorial that he should’ve been in the classroom somewhere.)

        • Yes, GR, I wasn’t taking exhortation into account, probably because I dislike it so much. What I was thinking of was the usual seminary education approach of exposition thru Biblical exegesis, which is maybe mostly a Protestant focus and ought to be called Bible Study. Then there’s inspiration and encouragement and upliftment, which to me seems like it should be part of something called Good News, but rarely is.

  3. Is there anything actually factually true about Scripture? If you’re in the “post evangelical wilderness” what do you actually believe anymore? It would appear that all of Scripture can be explained away thru the prism of our secular society. But that’s not really new.

    My belief? God has always had a remnant who hold tightly that all of Scripture is Holy Spirit breathed and God is not casual about His truths. Truth is there for the reading.

    I see it as an unchanging God vs the ever changing culture and its science.

    I vote with the remnant. I refuse the wilderness.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      “Is there anything actually factually true about Scripture? If you’re in the “post evangelical wilderness” what do you actually believe anymore?” Sure, here’s what I believe: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

      And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

      Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

      And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

      And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

      The problem, Seneca, is not that you are a remnant of faithful Bible Believers, but you believe in one particular interpretation of the Bible in regards to scientific matters– the wrong one.

      • Whoa! Cool move. Played the Nicene Creed card, RC version with a nod via brackets to the EO version. It’s not playing fair to be simultaneously orthodox, equivocal, and post- evangelical. Or is it? Somebody needs to explain the rules of the game, but only if there are any.

    • Sure. Lots of the places, rulers, battles, etc. are factual. The question is, is ALL of Scripture a blunt factual narrative. I doubt even you believe that…

    • Seneca, part of being in the wilderness for me is recognizing that the Bible I’m actually reading is much different than the Bible of evangelicalism, which I studied and taught for most of my adult life.

      No one here is trying to “explain away” scripture, no one is saying scripture is not “true.” Scripture is ancient, scripture is Jewish, scripture has culture-bound elements as well as elements that transcend particular cultures, scripture contains multiple voices that do not always agree with each other but which combine to form a long conversation of faith leading to Christ. What scripture is not is a book that is designed to be used as a science textbook.

      It must be that if God wanted human beings to write his word, he would have them do so in particular times and places and cultures. And that those particular times would have their own ways of expressing certain concepts such as creation. And that those particular ways of expression would reflect the understanding of the natural world that was present at that time and not in our own time, thousands of years later.

      But besides all that, I definitely agree that “Scripture is Holy Spirit breathed and God is not casual about his truths.” I just happen to think that you are missing the points that are being made by a book like Genesis in the context of the entire Torah and Hebrew Bible (which has been an emphasis this week). These scriptures were put together to tell the story of Israel in response to the devastating experience of the Exile, and that must be the starting point of trying to understand them. In that light, the creation stories and Adam and Eve, and everything else takes on a whole new light.

      This is not a battle between those who respect the authority of scripture and those who don’t. This is a difference of how we read the text and interpret it. And interpretation is most definitely not unchanging or consistent, no matter how “tightly held.”

      • Michael Bell says:

        I think what I see in these posts is an interpretation that seems to best fit scripture, and best fit science. Therefore I am quite willing to hold it as my own. If someone shows me an interpretation that has a better fit, then I would be willing to consider that too. An interpretation that says “There is no God”, or an interpretation that says “There is no evolution”, does not fit the data as I observe it.

      • “…no one is saying scripture is not “true.” ”

        I am.

    • Your kind has more power than ever right now. You aren’t a remnant, you’re a nobleman in an empire. So of *course* you would vote for it.

      • Most of us here recognize the fact that cultural evangelicalism isn’t dead yet. That’s why we’re here. 😉

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “I vote with the remnant. I refuse the wilderness.”

      I pray you never find yourself in a place that some folks here have found themselves. I don’t believe anyone here ever wished to enter the wilderness. And I say that from my own wilderness experience.

      • The remnant is akin to staying in your small little childhood village you’ve known all your life.

        The wilderness is a journey out of that village.

        I’d rather arrive in the Big City and live out the rest of my life there. I’d rather live in Babylon or Rome, flat out. (And I suppose that would make the mainline churches my parents grew up in Egypt, before they left for their own wilderness and sadly found a small village to raise me in.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You don’t choose the Wilderness Experience.
        The Wilderness chooses You.
        Just ask Job.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It would appear that all of Scripture can be explained away thru the prism of our secular society. But that’s not really new.

      My belief? God has always had a remnant who hold tightly that all of Scripture is Holy Spirit breathed and God is not casual about His truths. Truth is there for the reading.

      I see it as an unchanging God vs the ever changing culture and its science.

      I vote with the remnant.

      1) Sounds like skirting towards “Two Plus Two Equals Five because SCRIPTURE!” AKA “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

      2) And of course YOU are one of the Faithful Remnant among all the Apostates. The Hyper-Calvinistas, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses not only say the same, but Fear and Tremble.

      3) How are you any different?

  4. Michael Bell says:

    This is why this post, and others like it are so important and meaningful to me:

    “The very purpose of this book is to avoid the “crisis” or “all or nothing” mentality of the evolutionary issue, particularly in regard to Adam and Eve and human origins. Scot has had students come up to him in tears thanking him for saving their faith. They had been told they either buy into six-day creationism and “literal” Bible interpretation or they couldn’t be Christians. As they studied science in college they realized this false dichotomy was forcing them to choose between their love of God and the Bible and their love for science and discovery. Scot’s honest and irenic exposition of the issue gave them a third way out of the dilemma. We do our children a disservice if we don’t follow Scot’s example.”

  5. Boy, Galileo-bashing has gotten real fashionable these past few years, hasn’t it?

    Care to explain:
    1.) What Galileo was factually wrong about

    2.) What, tonally, he did wrong other than make fun of the pope? (Which I should add is an ugly thing for a Catholic to be upset about and a nonsensical thing for anyone else to be upset about)

    3.) Why anything encompassed by point 2 justifies humiliating public recantation on pain of torture and death, followed by lifetime house imprisonment?

    It really seems to me that Galileo was right, factually and morally, but that modern theists need to be able to point to *someone* who did something ‘wrong’ or is a ‘fundamentalist’ on the secular side and Galileo, if you squint real hard, sorta kinda maybe fits the bill so let’s burn him.

    • Michael Bell says:

      Who was bashing Galileo? Certainly not the post.

      • Fourth paragraph:

        “Galileo then is the mirror image with another kind of domination: “A natural phenomena which is placed before our eyes by sense experience or proved by necessary demonstration should not be called into question, let alone condemned, on account of scriptural passages whose words appear to have a different meaning.” “

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          That fits your definition of “bashing”?

          Your reading is what I would describe as a “radical reading of the text”.

          • ‘Galileo then is the mirror image with another kind of domination’

            No, this is wrong. It’s stupid truth-is-always-in-the-middle-ism.

            • Michael Bell says:

              I think what this is saying is that the extremes of don’t question scripture despite what you see in science, or don’t question science despite what you might find in scripture are both wrong. Both can and should be questioned. Where the truth lies is then based on the evidence found.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        LOL. Seriously, where did that comment come from???

        If anything, I think most wilderness-bound or wilderness-recovering Christians – most of the folks here – would side WITH Galileo and how he challenged the literal view of the scriptures.

        • From Mike’s post, right above.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            As others have pointed out, I think you took that comment out of context and inaccurately defined it as “bashing.” I didn’t see it that way at all, which led to my confusion.

    • Yeah, J, normally I’m on board with most of your posts, but I’m not getting the connection on this one.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      1) For one, Galileo’s “proofs” were bogus, especially the tides as evidence. It wasn’t until Kepler & Newton that the mechanism for proof existed.

      2) Galileo was also the arrogant type who tends to make enemies left & right; he’s recorded as bullying other intellectuals/philosophers; maybe he figured Pope Urban (who was friendly to him up to that point) wouldn’t react when he effectively called him an idiot (“Simplicio”) in print. Remember the times (Late Medieval/Early Renaissance) and the place (Italy, land of warring city-states and La Vendetta for affronts to personal Honor).

      3) Wartime rules. This was during the height of the Reformation Wars (specifically the continent-wide destruction of the Thirty Years’ War), and in wartime you stamp out anything that could weaken your Home Front.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Yes J – I think you responded not following the context. Mike wasn’t bashing Galileo at all. He was listing different approaches. In my understanding of his writing anyway.

      • No, he describes Galileo as ‘dominating.’ It’s right there, in the text right above me.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          J, methinks you are looking for a reason to be upset. I wpuld be a bit more charitable in my reading. Maybe the word dominating was a bit strong. But going on to call it “Galileo bashing” is really a bit beyond the pail, don’t you think?

  6. Here is the culprit, flushed out in all his epistemological cunning, in the year 1871, the Floodtide of the Enlightenment, by Dr. Charles Hodge of Princeton University.

    In every department the man of science is assumed to understand the laws by which the facts of experience are determined; so that he not only knows the past, but can predict the future. The astronomer can foretell the relative position of the heavenly bodies for centuries to come. The chemist can tell with certainty what will be the effect of certain chemical combinations. If, therefore, theology be a science, it must include something more than a mere knowledge of facts. It must embrace an exhibition of the internal relation of those facts, one to another, and each to all. It must be able to show that if one be admitted, others cannot be denied.

    The Bible is no more a system of theology, than nature is a system of chemistry or of mechanics. We find in nature the facts which the chemist or the mechanical philosopher has to examine, and from them to ascertain the laws by which they are determined. So the Bible contains the truths which the theologian has to collect, authenticate, arrange, and exhibit in their internal relation to each other. This constitutes the difference between biblical and systematic theology. The office of the former is to ascertain and state the facts of Scripture. The office of the latter is to take those facts, determine their relation to each other and to other cognate truths, as well as to vindicate them and show their harmony and consistency.

    I don’t have unlimited time left for philosophical exercises,but of one thing I am certain – the exercise of reason and the scientific method, whether its raw material be Nature or Scripture, does not result in TRVTH but rather in extremely useful understandings that increase power, which is what the ancient War Monkey has always lusted after since the savanna.

    I’m surprised the Enlightenment didn’t come centuries, or millennia, earlier. That’s the big mystery to me.

    • Robert F says:

      They may not result in TRVTH, but the “exercise of reason and the scientific method are pretty handy at dispatching pretenders to that title.

    • >> I’m surprised the Enlightenment didn’t come centuries, or millennia, earlier.

      Apparently it did, in closely held circumstance. I was baptized and confirmed in the Presbyterian tradition, probably the more conservative of the two, make that more dour, tho back in the fifties everything was conservative if you ignore rock and roll. All I remember is standing and looking around in the midst of this Presbyterian congregation at some point in the service that required standing, and thinking, “If these grim people are Christians, I want no part of this.” I was sixteen or so. It took me another sixteen years to recover.

    • I remember when I first read those words, in my brand-new reprint of Charles Hodge’s *Systematic Theology* (which I had just spent a pretty penny on via CBD). I read those words, and thought, “….Iiiiiiii don’t know about this.” And another stick got pulled out of my Reformed Theology jenga tower…