Why Must the Church Come to Accept Evolution?

Bookmark and Share

March 24, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's video features Bruce Waltke. 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.

Update on April 2, 2010: This video has been removed from our site on at least a temporary basis. For a full explanation, click here.

In this video conversation Bruce Waltke discusses the danger the Church will face if it does not engage with the world around it, in particular with the issue of evolution, which many evangelicals still reject.

Waltke cautions, “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.”

We are at a unique moment in history where “everything is coming together,” says Waltke, and conversations—like those initiated by BioLogos—are positive developments. “I see this as part of the growth of the church,” he says. “We are much more mature by this dialogue that we are having. This is how we come to the unity of the faith—by wrestling with these issues.”

Waltke points out that to deny scientific reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world. For us as Christians, this would serve as our spiritual death because we would not be loving God with all of our minds. It would also be our spiritual death in witness to the world because we would not be seen as credible.

While Christians may still disagree with one another on some issues, Waltke emphasizes that it is important that we are really interacting in a serious way—and trusting God as truth. Testing these things but holding fast to that which is good will bring greater understanding and unity among Christians.

If we don’t do that, Waltke cautions, we are going to die. If we refuse to engage with the greater cultural/scientific dialogue, we may end up marginalized and that would be a great tragedy for the Church.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Bruce Waltke is a world-renowned Old Testament scholar, Biblical translator and expositor. He served on the translation committee of both the New American Standard Bible and New International Version -- two of the most popular modern translations of the Bible produced in the twentieth century. Waltke is a professor emeritus of Old Testament studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia and a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society.


View the archived discussion of this post

This article is now closed for new comments. The archived comments are shown below.

Loading...
Page 5 of 8   « 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »
Bilbo - #7842

March 26th 2010

Hi Dick,

Or we have a God who makes sure his purposes (and designs) are fulfilled, but for reasons we do not understand, also allows bad things to happen, such as earthquakes and harmful genetic mutations.


pds - #7843

March 26th 2010

Dick,

We are talking about origins.  Design + evolution is the best explanation.

It seems that God used both.  He designed/created it all good; people sinned; bad stuff followed, like sickness, death, etc. 

Why do you think “evolution” solves the problem of evil in the world?  God created it all no matter what, and is all powerful no matter what.  The problem is the same no matter how you slice the pie between design and evolution.


Bilbo - #7844

March 26th 2010

Hi pds,

The problem with human sin causing sickness and death is that if the earth is old, and animal life was around a lot longer than humans, then sickness and death was around before humans—at least for animals.  So either we need to adopt Dembski’s retroactive theodicy—human sin worked backwards in time, or some other cause for sickness and death.


Gregory Arago - #7849

March 26th 2010

Low blow, Bilbo.

You wrote:
“From Gregory’s strong hostile reaction to me and from Prof. Beckwith’s obviously bad philosophy,  I suspect that TEs and ECs have their own fears that they are afraid to confront.”

You know that I am neither TE nor EC, so please don’t pretend otherwise. There was nothing hostile, but only friendly criticism. I asked if you call yourself an IDist, and you’ve yet to respond. But ‘labels’ are not the major issue here.

In contrast to a professional philosopher you claim philosophical expertise that ‘design’ needn’t admit of an ‘identifiable designer.’ You don’t deny that there must have been a d/Designer in order for ‘design’ to have occured. But the ‘IDM-ID’ that you sometimes defend doesn’t speak a lick about ‘designing’ as a process.

Thus, I find little power in your explanations or pseudo-philosophies.


Gregory Arago - #7850

March 26th 2010

“Design + evolution is the best explanation.  / It seems that God used both.  He designed/created it all good…” - pds

So then, what are the differences or similarities between ‘design + evolution’ and ‘creation + evolution’? You write ‘designed/created’ as if ‘design’ and ‘creation’ are synonyms. Are you really suggesting this?


Gregory Arago - #7851

March 26th 2010

Sorry Bilbo. I just read in another thread, where you wrote:

“Yes I do call myself an IDist.” #7638

So, now we know you do accept this label, while Mike Gene apparently does not - i.e. he distances himself from the IDM.

(Please excuse the delay, while I was away in another city)

An old earth, common descent, science *can* study nature without invoving ‘design’. What do you see in the ‘culture war’ and ‘naturalism’  perspectives.

“the short answer for my “fetish” would be the nanotechnological marvel we call the cell.” - Bilbo

Yes, this is the fetish with ‘molecular machines’, right, the nice, electronic-age analogy? If you’ll excuse the rub here, I’m now far more concerned with organisms than with mechanisms.

What is the source for your ‘ethics’, Bilbo?


Dick Fischer - #7852

March 26th 2010

To “pds,” you wrote:

“Why do you think “evolution” solves the problem of evil in the world?”

An abundance of evidence points to biological evolution with descent of all living beings from common ancestors by natural means.  I didn’t say it was intended to solve a problem.  The problem of evil in the world is a theological question.  Satan is a spirit being operating outside the natural world undetectable as God is undetectable through any scientific methods.

What ID tries to do is catch God in action to provide a kind of proof that he exists.  When Christ was asked why he spoke in parables his answer was to both reveal and conceal.  When the children of Isreal were wandering in the desert they were led by a cloud of smoke by day and fire by night.  Amongst an entire body of believers concealment was unnecessary.  It appears that today God prefers to remain concealed to world where many reject him.  I respect that.


Bilbo - #7856

March 27th 2010

Hi Dick,

I agree that for the most part God prefers to remain hidden, though I think he gives enough hints of His presence for those willing to see.  At Francis Beckwith’s thread I gave a list of agnostic or atheist biologists who would resort to any incredible explanation rather than acknowledge that God created the first cells.  Apparently we must pretend that these “scientists” are being reasonable and make peace with them.  Otherwise they will label us a “cult.”


Bilbo - #7858

March 27th 2010

Gregory,

No molecular machines, no organism.  Source of my ethics?  God’s nature.  IDists believe that there is evidence of design, but insufficient evidence to establish who the designer is.  Since I already believe in God, it seems most likely that He is the designer.


Kendalf - #7859

March 27th 2010

Hi Rick,
Re: #7749
“I believe that the resurrection of Jesus, can be simply taken on faith that it actually did occur.  Although you make a good point, in that most secular scientists would scoff at such a claim.  However, science cannot disprove this event.”

Can you explain for me what is the distinction between accepting by faith Jesus’ resurrection versus accepting by faith that God interceded directly at various points in the process of Creation, or that Adam and Eve were actual, historical individuals, or even that the Earth is no more than several thousand years old? I’m still not seeing the criterion that allows you to believe one scientifically unprovable event but not another.

“It seems to me that one of the errors in our thinking is the idea that science is THE authority on everything, and that the physical dimension is the only dimension of our existence.  Perhaps this is true, but people of faith hold to the possibility/hope of a dimension not currently describable by the tools of science.”

I am fully in agreement with you here. But would you therefore grant that someone who takes a Creationist (ie “interventionist”) perspective is thereby entitled to their beliefs by the same token?


Kendalf - #7860

March 27th 2010

Rick #7750

“In my experience, people outside faith are open to hear of our personal spiritual experience so long as we do not make claims that cannot be substantiated. For an extreme example. Can I claim with an expectation of credibility that the resurrection (a physical phenomenon) is an non-negotiable fact?  I don’t think so.  It is my belief, by faith.  I think people can respect and even appreciate/embrace this type of faith.”

I have to admit I’m terribly confused about what you are saying here. You first say that people are open to hear about our faith so long as we do not make unsubstantiated claims. And my impression from you is that Jesus’ resurrection is an unsubstantiated claim (from your statement that there is “no scientific proof of the resurrection”). But then you say that people can respect and even embrace this type of faith, even if we make as incredible a claim as the resurrection of Jesus? Or are you saying that Jesus’ resurrection is an example of the kind of claim that we should not make, because it cannot be substantiated?


Dick Fischer - #7863

March 27th 2010

Hi Bilbo, you wrote:

“I agree that for the most part God prefers to remain hidden, though I think he gives enough hints of His presence for those willing to see.”

I absolutely agree.  And I believe that if one makes an honest search to find him they will be rewarded.  I have been priviedged to see God in action a few times in my life leaving me no excuse but to believe and to proclaim him.  I do volunteer work for the Smithsonian as a tour guide in their newly opened Human Origins Exhibit and it gives me great opportunities to dispell the myth that to believe in biological evolution is to have no belief in God.


Bilbo - #7867

March 27th 2010

I think it’s great that you can dispel that myth, Dick.  But if God chooses to offer stronger evidence, such as the inner workings of the cell, that scientists are at a loss to explain, who
are we to say to God, “Hey!  You’re supposed to remain hidden!”  And when scientists are willing to accept any absurd explanation instead of God, we’re just supposed to play along as if they’re being reasonable.


Richard Colling - #7875

March 27th 2010

Hi Rick,
Can you explain for me the distinction between accepting by faith Jesus’ resurrection vs. accepting by faith that God interceded directly at various points in process of Creation, or that Adam and Eve were actual, historical individuals, or Earth no more than several thousand years old? I’m still not seeing the criterion that allows you to believe one scientifically unprovable event but not another.

Sure: no problem.
Believing Jesus’  resurrection (one physical event) does not require belief all physical phenomena be extra-natural.  There is no compelling scientific evidence (pro or con) of Jesus’ resurrection.  There is, however, compelling evidence that the earth is old, not young,  and that life’s development is gradual, not the result of “special’ (extra-natural) intercession events during the history of earth. 

Would you desire/require that this evidence/proof be disregarded?  Or are you trying to convince that the resurrection is false, and the faith should be abandoned? 

I mean this with all sincerity: If this ‘all or nothing’  proposition regarding divine intervention is the requirement for a believer, then faith is the likely loser. Surely this is not what you want is it?  I don’t.
Rick


Richard Colling - #7877

March 27th 2010

Kendalf - #7859

Hi Rick,

“It seems to me that one of the errors in our thinking is the idea that science is THE authority on everything, and that the physical dimension is the only dimension of our existence.  Perhaps this is true, but people of faith hold to the possibility/hope of a dimension not currently describable by the tools of science.”

I am fully in agreement with you here. But would you therefore grant that someone who takes a Creationist (ie “interventionist”) perspective is thereby entitled to their beliefs by the same token?

—-
Sure Kendalf, 
Anyone can believe whatever they desire, but this does not necessarily make the believed premise true.  When speaking of the physical world, that which we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, science is the accepted, and to my knowledge, only means of “knowing”. 

But Jesus’ words in scripture call us to believe in a reality that extends beyond (not instead of) our physical world.  This I am eager to pursue as a seeker.  We must, in my opinion, get past the either/or arguments that divorce God from his creation, and seek the spiritual elements that make religious faith impervious to the rigors/challenges of science.
Rick


Bob R. - #7898

March 27th 2010

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th) - #7790 – It is a faith position because it requires a beginning axiom. I submit to you that the article you referred us to says the same thing about scientism.

“For scientific inquiry itself rests on a number of philosophical assumptions: that there is an objective world external to the minds of scientists; that this world is governed by causal regularities; that the human intellect can uncover and accurately describe these regularities; and so forth. Since science presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle.” (http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1174)

I am just saying that the playing field is level because both science & religion require axiomatic beginnings.

#7795 “Thus the world fundamentally requires God to exist & function. Once you realize these radically different Theistic concepts it all falls into place.”

I embrace your bias as well, but it is an axiomatical bias – namely “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” I don’t think you are suggesting that you can make an argument for Classic Theism w/o a beginning pre-supposition. Are you? We can argue about the credibility of axiom, but it is there nevertheless.


Kendalf - #7917

March 28th 2010

Rick, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

In response to your earlier question, my course of study has been physics->theology->philosophy. Hence my deep interest in the science/faith discussion. As a scientist, I certainly am not arguing that evidence/data be disregarded. But as a philosopher of science, I see that at times the same data can be reasonably interpreted in different ways. My position is that certain current evidences can be interpreted in a manner that does not exclude the possibility of direct divine intervention in the course of the history of the earth. To what extent this interaction goes, I am still seeking.

If I am understanding you, your criterion is that b/c Jesus’ resurrection was a one-time supernatural event, it is outside the reach of science to exclude from belief.

But if my position was that God supernaturally brought about the origin of life, or uniquely created the first human beings, it seems that these one time interventions would also not be excluded by your criterion, as the scientific record following these events would be no different than if such intervention had not occurred.


Dick Fischer - #7934

March 28th 2010

Hi Bilbo, you wrote:

“I think it’s great that you can dispel that myth, Dick.  But if God chooses to offer stronger evidence, such as the inner workings of the cell, that scientists are at a loss to explain, who
are we to say to God, “Hey!  You’re supposed to remain hidden!”

There will always be new things science can’t explain, at least temporarily, but that’s what makes science exciting.  New vistas to explore.  But the “God did it” explanation is a science stopper.  It was thought God caused disease until Louis Pasteur discovered bacteria.  If we jump in everytime and invoke God whenever an immediate scientific explanation is lacking we just have egg on our face when scientists find the answer.

Leave hard-working scientists alone.  Let them wallow along and let them make new discoveries without interference.  As for me and my house we will honor the Lord.


Richard Colling - #7951

March 28th 2010

Kendalf,

I think I understand you, and I appreciate the friendly dialogue.  I think your reasoning breaks down when the evidence is critically evaluated in toto. By that I mean that the genetic and other records of life would dispel your proposed interventions.  But everyone has the right to see it as they wish.
I respect your candor and honesty.

Rick


Gregory Arago - #7953

March 28th 2010

“When speaking of the physical world, that which we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, science is the accepted, and to my knowledge, only means of “knowing”.” - Richard Colling

Just curious, Rick, given this high appraisal of ‘(physical) science’, what other ‘means of knowing’ are available in your list of major knowledge categories to go alongside of science?

@ Kendalf (7859):
Do you consider it possible for someone who accepts divine interventions to *not* be a Creationist? What I mean to ask is: why did you write “Creationist (i.e. ‘interventionist’)”?


Page 5 of 8   « 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »