Scripture, Evolution and the Problem of Science, Part 5

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February 26, 2010 Tags: Lives of Faith

Today's entry was written by Kenton Sparks. 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.

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.

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Charlie - #5391

February 26th 2010

Kenton,

You said Fred thought “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.”

I agree that the evolutionary process (and science in general) is overwhelming in that it is beyond complex yet structured so simply.  How does this convince him of divine intervention?  Is this biological system irreducibly complex for him?


Charlie - #5393

February 26th 2010

Also, with respect to the title of this article, what is the problem with science?


Glen Davidson - #5395

February 26th 2010

It’s weird, because there does seem to be some scope for biological evolution (though I’m not clear that Fred’s admiration of evolution stops at the biological kind) having a religious nature.  Of course, it generally does not, no matter how often its opponents claim that it does.

I wonder, however, if Fred’s conception of evolution and its complexity would actually favor any particular sort of religion.  ID and other forms of creationism seem to be driven especially by the way in which they derive from, and recursively support, Abrahamic religions, and especially Christianity.

Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p


John VanZwieten - #5403

February 26th 2010

Charlie,

It might be best to let Frederik speak for himself on how he became convinced.  Here’s a link to his blog: http://frederickturnerpoet.com/

Glen,

It seems Fred’s conceptions could lead to any theistic, or even deistic religion.  Maybe his blog says more about why he chose Christianity from among the options.


Gregory Arago - #5425

February 26th 2010

You are being romantic, Kenton! <3

“You see, Fred was converted to the faith by … evolution!” - K.S.

This is a hyperbole, if I’ve ever read one - exaggeration for effect, not to be taken literally!!!

One can neither be ‘converted’ by creation nor evolution. One is converted by God!

“[Fred] became convinced that the complexity of the cosmos could not be the work of blind chance.” - K.S.

That sounds like a non-evolutionary conclusion, doesn’t it? Ask 95% of evolutionists this sam question about blind chance.

If you want to call ‘evolution’ “the miracle of nature,” Kenton, then you should first go to visit a biology laboratory or field team and tell them that. See what their reaction will be!

Btw, thanks for telling this story. I’ve looked at the link John sent and even started reading one of Fred’s books. He holds an interesting perspective, indeed! 8)


pds - #5741

March 3rd 2010

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.

Seems like he was struck by the evidence of design in nature.  With respect to evolution, it sounds like he was struck by the suggestion of design in the evolutionary process and perhaps the origin of evolutionary processes.


Jeff - #36942

October 27th 2010

I noted this under part 4 but feel it needs repeating. The very frustrating part of this whole series is that, while I am in general agreement with the perspectives of the author, he really does not incorporate Scripture into the discussion (in spite of the title).

This is the real issue. There are so many questions that abound and a significant percentage of evangelicals could care less about what Calvin or Augustine thought. They are interested in what Jesus and Paul had to say. I have some response to those who invoke them into the discussion, based on their references to Genesis 1-9 but it would be of value to see Mr. Sparks and others deal with these as well as Paul’s view of Adam.

The work on the Genesis / ancient cultural side of the equation - particularly as it relates to Genesis 1 - has been worked through numerous times over the past 8-10 years through the work of Seely and others.

While this series was interesting, it added only a little to those discussions.

It’s really dealing with Jesus & Paul that is at the crux now and that I see little of on this site.


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