Monday, July 20, 2009

Genesis Confusion - What Can We Really Know?

Christianity Today published an interview last week with Francis Collins, the former director of the Human Genome Project, who also recently launched the BioLogos Foundation, which "promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives."  Collins gave a personal account of his attempt to harmonize faith and science in his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, published in 2006.  Karl Giberson (who became Executive Vice President at the request of Collins  in 2008) conducted the interview. There's certainly a lot one can say regarding this article.  (By the way, if you are interested in a solid, Biblical response to the theory of evolution, I'd highly recommend listening to John MacArthur's talk on Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe from the opening of the 2009 Shepherd's Conference.)  But what stunned me in the interview was the pejorative tone used by Mr. Gilberson - sanctioned apparently by the editors over at CT.   For example, what is one to think of the introduction to this question posed by Mr. Gilberson (on page 4 of the website)?

"One of my theologian friends once said, in great frustration over this issue, "I wish they had never put the Bible in the hands of ordinary people." It seems to me that we need to take more seriously the teaching ministry of the church. We encourage people to read the Bible on their own, but certain misunderstandings are bound to emerge with that approach. Young people are going to read Genesis and think of Adam and Eve as real biological parents of the human race..."
What a shocker, Karl.  Imagine that people might read the Bible and actually believe what it says.  What has happened to CT - and the Evangelical movement that it seems to represent?  Has the idea of creationism really become that unpalatable?  Not surprisingly, Collins reviews favorably Dr. John Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One:  Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, in which Walton advances his theory that Genesis 1 isn't about creation at all (not withstanding Genesis 1:1), but rather a description of the functional ordering (as opposed to material creation) of the Earth, in a pattern recognizable to the ancient middle-eastern culture. 

I guess I'm just too simple minded.  The point of much of this seems to be to make the Bible obscure... why anyone is seeking to apply scientific law to a miraculous event seems to be a category error to my limited way of thinking.  I remember sitting in a class listening this theory once, and hearing from a good friend and younger Christian afterwards who said this:  "Wow!  He's smart.  I'll never understand the Bible!"

Maybe that's what some are aiming at these days - and one wonders what the Reformers would have thought of the re-institution of the Magisterium... and counter to the Reformation principles we're remembering following a half-millennium since Calvin's birth.  There was a time when we recognized the supremacy of theology over the other sciences; now, folks like Collins seem to assume it's subordination to science!

For those of you who don't accept the historicity of Genesis 1 and 2, here's a question:  Why not?  Have you considered the following?

  • If you believe in evolution as the origin of humanity, when did "the fall" happen?  
  • Evolution, by the way, requires death - in the process of natural selection.  Where did "death" come from prior to the fall of man (who, under the theory, is the product of evolution)?
  • Is it not possible for God to have operated outside of the laws of science in creation - and why do you insist on judging the account of creation by something that may not even be applicable?'
  • If you don't believe Genesis 1 and 2, just when do you start believing the text?  What other chapters would you have us not believe?
Perhaps most importantly, for people who don't believe in God's miraculous intervention in creation (and, as a result, don't accept Adam's headship and representative status for the human race), how do you explain man's sinful condition? 

So many questions... and here's mine:  Why not just take God at his word, and believe Him?


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