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On Answering Answers in Genesis’s Question

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April 6, 2011 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. 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.

On Answering  Answers in Genesis’s Question

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has entitled a recent blog, “Do two Nazarene professors endorse the idea that rejecting Christianity is more viable than believing Paul in the New Testament?” Mr. Ham raised the question, referring to Dr. Karl Giberson and myself, and then proceeded to discuss a scholarly article written one year ago by BioLogos Senior Fellow, Dr. Peter Enns. He never came back to address the lead question of his blog. Since he didn’t, let me answer his question here: “No, absolutely not. It is hard for me to imagine a question about my beliefs which I could more emphatically deny.”

I do, however, fully stand by this essay entitled "On Adopting a BioLogos Faith Statement." Also, to learn more, consider reading this blog entitled "On Putting Our Hands to the Plow and Not Looking Back."

What about Adam and what about Paul’s view of Adam? Please read this excellent BioLogos paper by Denis Alexander, and watch this BioLogos video by N.T. Wright, and this one by Daniel Harrell.

The Chair of The BioLogos Foundation’s Board of Directors, Dr. Randy Scott, and I have issued this official statement regarding BioLogos’s position on biblical inerrancy, Adam, the Fall, and whether Paul was wrong about Adam. We at BioLogos continue to stand firmly behind this statement.

I also encourage you watch this N.T. Wright BioLogos video on interpreting Scripture literally.

Finally, from our annual Theology of Celebration workshop held last November, the following summary statement emerged. The attendees included some of evangelicalism’s most respected individuals.

Science and Faith

We affirm historic Christianity as articulated in the classic ecumenical creeds. Beyond the original creation, God continues to act in the natural world by sustaining it and by providentially guiding it toward the goal of a restored and consummated creation. In contrast to Deism, Biologos affirms God’s direct involvement in human history, including singular acts such as the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, as well as ongoing acts such as answers to prayer and acts of salvation and personal transformation.

We also affirm the value of science, which eloquently describes the glory of God’s creation. We stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom faith and science are mutually hospitable, and we see no necessary conflict between the Bible and the findings of science. We reject, however, the unspoken philosophical presuppositions of scientism, the belief that science is the sole source of all knowledge. In recent years voices have emerged who seek to undermine religious faith as intellectually disreputable, in part because of its alleged dissonance with science. Some go further, characterizing religion as a “mind virus” or a cultural evil. While many of their ideas are not new, these voices are often identified as the New Atheists, and scientism undergirds their thinking.

In contrast to scientism, we deny that the material world constitutes the whole of reality and that science is our only path to truth. For all its fruitfulness, science is not an all-inclusive source of knowledge; scientism fails to recognize its limitations in fully understanding reality, including such matters as beauty, history, love, justice, friendship, and indeed science itself.

We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.

Accounts of Origins

We affirm without reservation both the authority of the Bible and the integrity of science, accepting each of the “Two Books” (the Word and Works of God) as God’s revelations to humankind. Specifically, we affirm the central truth of the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve in revealing the character of God, the character of human beings, and the inherent goodness of the material creation.

We acknowledge the challenge of providing an account of origins that does full justice both to science and to the biblical record. Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution. We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.

Last week I wrote a blog entitled, Ken Ham, BioLogos, and Calvary’s Love. In that essay I wrote that both we at BioLogos and Mr. Ham at Answers in Genesis have made mistakes in how we have worded things. I wish that Mr. Ham would have titled yesterday’s blog a little differently, but then again sometimes I have wished that I would have titled a blog a little differently too. We all make errors. However, there is one paragraph from my blog of last week that I will especially stand firm on. I doubt I have ever expressed my sentiment and wishes more clearly than I did when I wrote this:

Please pray for Mr. Ham and his ministry during these days. Pray that on matters surrounding this highly divisive issue of how best to seek harmony between God’s two books we might all draw closer to God and to each other. Pray that Mr. Ham’s great fear—that BioLogos will damage the integrity of Scripture as the fully inspired Word of God—will never be realized. We understand his fear and sympathize with his concerns. Please pray that we at BioLogos might always seek the wisdom which is from above, and that we not give into the temptation to advocate a compromise purely for the sake of appearing wise.

Please keep praying. I especially ask you to pray that Mr. Ham will let his readers know about this blog—the one that really answers the question that he posed. That, to me, seems only fair.


Darrel Falk is former president of The BioLogos Foundation. He transitioned into Christian higher education 25 years ago and has given numerous talks about the relationship between science and faith at many universities and seminaries. He is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.


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Jon Garvey - #57324

April 8th 2011

John, I completely agree with your point here.

But to be fair to Nedbrek, writers on Biologos like George Murphy have attributed the onset of sin to “selfish” behaviours developed through evolutionary mechanisms, and it would seem from my long debate with him that such behaviours as those seen in the great apes were those he had in mind.

Apart from George’s series, I can’t think of much that has been written in articles here to relate the “logos” to the “bio” aspects of the matter, that is either to explain the origin of sin in evolutionary terms, or to distinguish it from evolution clearly.

If I’m right about that omission, then it’s not surprising if Nedbrek tries to fill the gap.

To clarify my own position on the detail: even if we were descended from chimps, I don’t think animal psychology studies show the chimps’ “warfare” to be premeditated. Neither do I think animals can commit murder. Neither (which is Nedbrek’s greater concern) do I believe that such behaviours constitute “sin” and therefore threaten theodicy in the “pre fall” world.


nedbrek - #57727

April 12th 2011

Hi Jon, actually, I think you are probably right that animals cannot sin.

However, this makes the problem worse!  Because the animals behave exactly as God intends (or God is not powerful enough to make animals as He pleases).

It is a “proclamation” problem.  Animals say something about God.


Jon Garvey - #57732

April 12th 2011

Nebrek, my reply on the movies thread covers this. What animals say about God is that he does not treat them as people.


nedbrek - #57820

April 12th 2011

Perhaps you can grade my cladistics homework!

Would you agree that the common ancestor between men and chimps (who is not a man) would express sinful behavior?


Trevor K. - #57345

April 8th 2011

“and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of
life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process.”

One should of course remember that the explanation derived from the physical evidence is highly dependent on the assumptions one makes. Especially so in the case of historical events like the origin and development of life. So in this case it’s really up in the air as to what is the best explanation for life as it is today. One can only appeal to one’s most basic beliefs and in this case the supporters of Biologos hold strongly to the basic belief that the scientific interpretations of mankind [based on atheistic naturalism and uniformitarianism] supercedes that of a clear straightforward interpretation of the bible.
Biologians clearly believe that evolutionary “science”  has authority over the words of the bible and so the  bible needs to be re-interpreted to be in line with that authority.
This much is patently clear. And unfortunately also patently wrong - if one professes to be a Christian who believes in the word of God. There is just no getting away from it.


Jordan - #57362

April 8th 2011

Hi Trevor,

#57345—“One should of course remember that the explanation derived from the physical evidence is highly dependent on the assumptions one makes.”

I hear anti-evolutionary creationists say this a lot, but I don’t understand it. I mean, the notion that life is patterned after a nested hierarchy is an observable fact, not an assumption. And the only explanation that PREDICTS such a pattern is descent with modification. That also isn’t an assumption—it’s mathematically verifiable. On the other hand, the idea that God miraculously ‘poofed’ the nested hierarchy into existence without using an evolutionary scenario is an assumption, and isn’t a testable one at that.
What assumptions do you think under-gird the notion that descent with modification is the only predictor we have concerning the existence of the nested hierarchy of life? 

“Biologians clearly believe that evolutionary “science”  has authority over the words of the bible and so the  bible needs to be re-interpreted to be in line with that authority.
This much is patently clear. And unfortunately also patently wrong - if one professes to be a Christian who believes in the word of God. There is just no getting away from it.”

If you think that, then you clearly haven’t taken the time to read the work of the Bible scholars on staff here at Biologos. I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. There’s often more than one way to interpret Scripture, and choosing one interpretation over another doesn’t make one a non-believer in the Bible.

Jimpithecus - #57370

April 8th 2011

Humans are described as practicing “serial monogamy.”  Just a thought.


The Singular Observer - #57395

April 8th 2011

Maybe one could argue, in common with St Paul, that sin entered when the law entered: sin is disobedience. Once we knowingly did wrong, sin entered - I believe this is the author of Genesis intetn with Adam & Eve’s realisation of their nakedness. The power of sin is the Law.

Hopefully that helps people who struggle with the idea of how sin entered the world if the world evolved slowly.

Also, sin resulted in death - but contextually seen, we are talking about spiritual death.

No real conflict.


Smith - #57397

April 8th 2011

test


nedbrek - #57446

April 8th 2011

Ah-ah-a, John!  I’m doing my cladistics homework, hopefully you will be kind enough to grade it for me

Our taxa shall be (3): H. sapiens (man), P. troglodyte (chimp), and the unnamed most recent common ancestor (who I will call Ugg).

That makes man the ingroup, and chimps the outgroup.

From page 9 of my Intro packet: “Thus, any character that the outgroup displays must be a plesiomorphy, and any character that the outgroup lacks must be an apomorphy.”

Now chimps display sinful behaviors.  Thus, our ancestor (Ugg) also displayed those behaviors (plesiomorphy).


Jimpithecus - #57948

April 13th 2011

How is it that chimps practice sinful behaviors when they have no law?


Jon Garvey - #57956

April 13th 2011

Quite Right Jim - Romans 5.13 applies (and they’ve not even read that, for the most part!).


nedbrek - #58006

April 14th 2011

I mentioned in 57727 that I’m pretty sure animals do not sin.


nedbrek - #57447

April 8th 2011

Jimpithecus (57370) “Humans are described as practicing “serial monogamy.”  Just a thought.”

Exactly Jim (although it is usually called “serial polygamy”

Monogamy is an alien imposition by “the man” trying to keep everybody down.


Jimpithecus - #57949

April 13th 2011

Monogamy is not an alien imposition.  It is also practiced by orang-utans.


nedbrek - #58005

April 14th 2011

But orangutans are not our closest cousins.  This would mean that impulses toward both monogamy and polyamory come from a common ancestor (so - neither is normative nor can polygamy be called “evil” from the evolutionary standpoint).


Roger A. Sawtelle - #57557

April 9th 2011

Jon Garvey wrote:

I for one would be bemused if people took one of your posts which, apparently, contradicted another one and elevated it as representing the “real” Roger. One would normally hope them to understand the total you by your total output.

Jon, thank you for your comment, however consistency is not the issue.  Yes, no doubt at times I have failed to express myself clearly, and no doubt some people are confused because I do not follow some party line.  However I hope that I have been consistent in saying that there is only one Word of God and it is Jesus Christ. 

Mr. Ham and BioLogos have also been consistent as far as I can see and they say that the Bible is the Word of God, even though the Bible is clear on this issue, which is the point I was making.  Now is seems clear to me why Mr.Ham trakes this stand, because he maintains that the Bible is the absolute Truth or the Word of God.  

On the other hand it just happens that I have had some dialogue with the people at BioLogos on this issue.  What I gathered from this discussion is that the person I spoke with agreed that I had a good theological point, but the board did not think that it was important enough to change its position.  No doubt it is difficult to go against tradition and to risk the wrath of evangelicals who strongly maintain that the Bible is the Word of God.

Which is more important, Human tradition or Biblical truth?  I guess that is up to everyone to determine for themselves.  It seems to me that we are never going to get any kind of resolution unless we base our ideas on Biblical truth, which neither side is willing to do.  What do you think?             
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Jon Garvey - #57590

April 10th 2011

Roger, my example of inconsistency in your posts was purely hypothetical, though any of us can be quote-mined by people who want to bring us into (or exclude us from) their camp. For us, it matters little if someone cherry picks our position to match their own. Regarding the message of the Living God it is potentially a life and death issue.

But we’re back to the old chestnut of who decides what is human tradition and what is Biblical truth. For example, commenting on your exchange with Nedbrek about sin and God’s anger, my approach is to to assume that both “God so loved the world” and “the wrath of God rests upon him”, coming from the same human hand guided by the same Spirit, together constitute “Biblical truth” (I simplify, of course, for the sake of clarity - it’s the whole Bible that does so) and need to be accorded equal authority, if not necessarily equal weight, in formulating ones theology (aka “human tradition”).

Similarly I would not want my Logos theology to be in any sense divorced from my Son-of-God theology, my Son-of-David theology, my Divine-Image theology, my Lamb-of-God theology, my Suffering-Servant theology, my Rider-on-a-White-Horse theology, my High-Priest theology or any of the other multifaceted aspects of Christ in the Bible that need to be taken together to keep me from the danger of becoming sectarian.


S. Scott Mapes - #57749

April 12th 2011

#57557 - Hey, Roger.  The only Answers in Genesis conference I ever attended was in 1999 at Steubenville, OH, so my memory may be a bit inaccurate.  But I believe that Ken Ham does prefer the Word of God in the KJV—which was one of the last major English translations completed before the residual effects of “scientism” and “historicism” began to set in.  And as a member of the denomination targeted tangentially in AIG’s last missive, I am guided by the theological and biblical vision of John Wesley—who, incidentally, disagreed with the KJV translators as many as 10,000 times on points of translation.  With these compexities in mind, we can declare with confidence that the Bible (in any translation, with few exceptions) speaks clearly regarding salvation and living the godly life.  In other matters with which the Bible is not primarily concernhed, a great difference of opinion may exist.  This would include matters of science or pseudo-science that AIG appears to want to speak dogmatically.     


Roger A. Sawtelle - #58016

April 14th 2011

Scott,

I am not sure of the meaning of your statement.  What I was refering to was the use of the capitalized Word in offical statements (found on their websites) by both Mr. Ham and Biologos to refer to the Bible and how this indicates a confusion between the Bible and Jesus, the Logos.
 
I understand that things like capitalization are not always present in the original text, but I think that Bible is clear on this, there is only one Word of God, and He is Jesus Christ, To misunderstand this a serious problem, because nothing, even the Bible is close to equal with God.     


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