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From the Dust: Expanding the Paradigm

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August 24, 2011 Tags: Science & Worldviews

Today's video features Ryan Pettey. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

This week we feature the next clip from the documentary “From the Dust”, directed by filmmaker Ryan Pettey. It is our sincere hope that, above all else, the film can become a focal point for some of the big questions that inevitably arise at the intersection of science and faith.

To help foster such dialogue, we are once again including several discussion questions with this week’s clip. In the transcript below, you’ll find several prompts that are meant to help viewers dig deeper into the material being presented. Mouse over each highlighted region and a question will appear on the side. We encourage you to watch this video with your friends, your churches, your small groups and Sunday School classes, your pastors -- or anyone else for that matter – and take some time to discuss what is being said (and maybe even what isn’t). You may not all agree, but you will find yourselves engaged in fruitful and spirited conversation. And it is this kind of conversation that will help move the science and faith discussion forward.

Editor's Note: The full documentary is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can order the film here, and learn more about the project here.

"Expanding the Paradigm" Transcript

Dr. Alister McGrath: “I think that one of the questions that arises when thinking about faith and science is whether theology is being forcibly changed simply to accommodate to scientific development. As I look at the long history of Biblical interpretation, I see Christian theologians wrestling with scripture, wanting to make sense of it—sometimes going off in this direction, sometimes in that, but always correcting themselves when they realize, ‘We have gone wrong.’ It is not about forcible revision. Sometimes we have gone wrong, and we need to reexamine questions. Maybe the way we always thought things were isn’t quite right. That is why challenges to our way of thinking actually are to be welcomed. They force us to rethink.”

Reverend Dr. Michael Lloyd: “Changing a worldview or indeed expanding it significantly is quite a painful process. It seems to put a question mark against everything we have previously thought, believed, acted on, felt, and found to be important. Particularly this is true, obviously, of our concept of God.”

Michael Ramsden: “This is difficult for anyone who holds any kind of belief, regardless of its nature, to be willing to be challenged on it. We normally become very defensive. Now, it is inevitable that the paradigm you bring is going to affect how you begin to interpret and arrange certain things. But then, the question that has to come for any person who wants to try to think clearly is the reality of what I am observing and studying has to be able to challenge my paradigm. Either I am going to make everything fit into this paradigm of mine, or I am going to allow the reality of this to inform the way I think about something.”

Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne: “You have to commit yourself to what you believe to be a point of view, but you have to also recognize that you may be mistaken in that point of view—and you have to be open to correction. And people who are seeking to serve the God of truth should welcome truth in whatever sort it comes.”

Reverend Dr. Michael Lloyd: “I don’t think change is about necessarily being better or worse; it is about being appropriate to the situation. Love in the presence of pain takes the form of compassion. Love in the presence of injustice takes the form of anger. Love in the presence of love takes the form of delight. There isn’t a change there…it is all love; it is all consistent, but it takes a different form.”

Reverend Dr. Lincoln Harvey: “God is lively. God is undomesticated. There is wildness to God, and that is unsettling because that says, ‘I am not finished.’”

Reverend Dr. Michael Lloyd: “Every concept of God is inadequate. Every view of God is too small. Every theology is idolatrous, in one sense—that it is an inadequate presentation of who God is—and therefore, periodically, you have to get a bigger one.”

Reverend Dr. David Wenham: “New generations raise new questions which may actually help our understanding to increase. If thinking about modern science is helping us to actually understand the Bible better, I think that is a real possibility and I suspect that is a real gain—and I don’t think that is us giving way to culture, I think that is us understanding what God has given us in God’s revelation better.”

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Ryan Pettey is a filmmaker and the director/editor of Satellite Pictures. He produced the feature length video From the Dust, which examines the question of human physical origins from a theological, historical and social perspective.

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Cal - #64206

August 24th 2011

“Every concept of God is inadequate”

How can be rightly considered if the fullness of deity dwelt bodily in Jesus the Messiah? The very reason I’m confident I know who God is and what He is like it not because I’m dancing about trying to gather clues from here and there. Jesus is the wholeness of God. The demands of the Ancient Israel religion were so specific because, “every theology is idolatry” in a sense. But now we see the mystery of the ages revealed, Christ in us the hope of glory.


eddy - #64208

August 24th 2011

‘‘Love in the presence of pain takes the form of compassion. Love in the
presence of injustice takes the form of anger. Love in the presence of
love takes the form of delight. There isn’t a change there…it is all
love; it is all consistent, but it takes a different form.’‘

That was probably the best line here and it seems true when you come to think about it in a social sense.

 On a related note, we are asked whether acceptance of evolution require us to undergo an inevitable radical revision of relevant biblical texts or basically just gives us a bigger picture of the issues at Genesis. It appears like this is a non question at all—when you ponder about it, it seems like the question itself  requires the Christian first to acknowledge the truth of evolution in its full conventionally packed terms, and then make decision about whether the text in Genesis should be understood alternatively. Now if that is true, what is there to answer? What should we strive to understand accurately in Genesis in the face of  evolution which tell us that there was never a fallen condition on humanity that began with the two people requiring the Son of God to restore? And if we need to revise the understanding of text but still remain with the locus  of the message that is at the heart at of the text itself, evolution does not leave that room to you—evolution simply strikes at the heart of the message itself.


Chip - #64210

August 24th 2011

Does the acceptance of evolution require xians to revise certain biblical passages?  Or, does evolution cause xians to gain a more accurate understanding of the text? 

Or, can a biblical worldview influence one’s understanding or acceptance of evolutionary theory?  Why is it so hard to accept challenges to our way of thinking? 


PNG - #64359

August 30th 2011

“Love in the presence of injustice takes the form of anger.”

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That may be an understandable first response to injustice. But we are told that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. (Karl Marx and V. Lenin should be the poster boys for the truth of that statement.) The long, patient, steadfast response of Wilberforce is more to the point.

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