A Mediating Voice
In today’s video from director Ryan Pettey, theologian Dr. Chris Tilling discusses the need for a mediating voice in the science and faith discussion. He begins by noting that the way the “literalness” of Scripture is framed in much of the evolutionist/creationist debate "is a modern concern," and traces this framing to two sources: the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. Martin Luther rightly rebelled against some of the fanciful interpretations of the Bible in his time by trying to get back to the single meaning of Scripture as he saw it. This focus on a singular meaning of Scripture became coupled with the Enlightenment emphasis on scientific rigor and foundationalism–seeking a "certain truth" that one can build upon–leading to the modern emphasis on the literalness of scripture.
The problem, however, is that not all Scripture wants to be read literally, and to do so is to bypass some of the truth contained in it. Both creationists and New Atheists, then, bring similar presuppositions to the text. Tilling points to a third group that wants to be more sensitive to how we import meaning into the Biblical text. He calls this group “a mediating voice”, one that can listen to the arguments of the New Atheists without being frightened and also listen to the good in the creationist account, particularly God’s role as Creator of the heavens and earth and his plan for redemption through Jesus.
Sadly, he says, this is the same voice that too often becomes lost in the polarized atmosphere of the contemporary science and faith dialogue.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Chris Tilling is Tutor in New Testament Studies and teaches across the whole at St. Mellitus College. He studied at St Andrew’s University and London School of Theology and has completed a doctorate under Max Turner in Pauline Christology. He has written several articles on aspects of New Testament studies, and has translated many others from German into English. Additionally, he is the author of a popular theology blog site entitled Chrisendom.