Scripture, Evolution and the Problem of Science, Part 5
Part 5: Conclusion: A Testimony
I met Frederick Turner at a professional meeting on the subject of Octavian’s political strategies in the Roman Empire. I was particularly impressed with the breadth and insight of Fred’s contributions to the dialogue and made it a point to get in some personal, one-on-one time learning more about him. I soon learned that he was the son of Victor Turner, a very famous scholar (now deceased) whose name would be familiar to anyone versed in anthropology and ritual studies. I also learned that Fred himself was an epic poet … yes, you heard me right … an epic poet. At present he holds a chair in humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Knowing something of his family background, and having deduced from the conversation that he was deeply committed to evolutionary theory, I was a bit surprised to learn that he was a confessing Christian. Dizzyingly intelligent and always witty, it was a particular thrill to hear the story of his conversion to faith. And as you might guess, it was not the usual evangelical conversion tale. You see, Fred was converted to the faith by … evolution!
Fred found again and again, in his face-to-face experience with nature, the cosmos and human beings, that the natural order as a whole seemed to be an impressive miracle. There was nothing, anywhere, that was not amazing, fascinating and interesting. While this experience set the stage for his conversion, the final blow came when he studied evolutionary biology at Oxford. The intricacy and beauty of the evolutionary process simply overwhelmed his mind and senses. So at last, having considered the matter, he became convinced that the complexity of the cosmos could not be the work of blind chance. Rather, the cosmos was the work of God.
Fred is not an evangelical. He is a serious, confessing Catholic who came to faith after receiving the “word” of creation as testimony that pointed the human heart to God. Biblically speaking, this is precisely what we should expect. The miracle of nature is potent evidence that God is there.
Kenton Sparks is professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University and author of several books, including his latest God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship , in which he argues that evangelical biblical scholarship has largely failed in not appropriating critical scholarship as it should.