Origins News Round-up for December 6, 2013
This week’s Origins News Roundup features highlights from a recent conference of evangelical theologians, exciting human fossil finds, tell-tale lice, and a few words from the Pope.
“It’s tempting to think that the church needs to decide quickly which of these [original sin] scenarios is right, and which ones must be wrong. I believe the church is better served by taking its time, holding several different scenarios in tension for a while as we think through the implications of each.”
We need to hear stories from others who have wrestled with evolution and Christian faith. What arguments made them change their views on science? How did they hold fast to their relationship with God? The essays in this series will eventually comprise a book, provisionally titled, “Evolving: Evangelicals Reflect on Evolution.”
As Christians we believe by faith that Christ was both human and divine, and although this paradox can be difficult to comprehend, it is not a stumbling block to our faith nor does it hinder us from having a relationship with him. Similarly, the Bible is both human and divine.
A deep love for scripture, coupled (ironically) with a lifelong struggle with religious doubt, led Robert Boyle to write several important books relating scientific and religious knowledge. We explore aspects of this fascinating interaction.
“For a few moments, it felt like our little church community was surrounded by glory. The wisdom of Christ in the hypothalamus was illumining the wisdom of Christ in the prophets and gospels.”
What can a practicing scientist in the 21st century—even a "bench scientist" like me whose scientific forays are confined to a laboratory—glean from a 19th century wanderer like Thoreau?
In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains.
The conflict does not come from God or nature—we have created the conflict ourselves. Intentionally or not, we often extend science past its natural bounds and use the Bible for questions it does not intend to answer.
As I read The Voyage, I often thought about Darwin’s other famous work, The Origin of Species, and the delight that Darwin clearly took in the natural world. Writing about a tropical forest in Brazil, he found himself at a loss for words, “…it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and devotion, which fill and elevate the mind.”
Considering my own stance on the satisfying harmony of science and faith, you might be surprised to find on my shelves nearly everything written by Richard Dawkins (including “The God Delusion”) and my late friend Christopher Hitchens (including “God Is Not Great”). One must dig deeply into opposing points of view in order to know whether your own position remains defensible. Iron sharpens iron.
How do metaphors impact the dialogue between faith and science? We might start by asking: what are the framing metaphors at work in the current debates? Even using the word “dialogue” here suggests an implicit metaphor that frames my approach to the relationship between faith and science. Imagine substituting “dialogue” with “war;” that would conjure a completely different metaphorical framework.
I was raised in a household of atheists. My parents were card-carrying members of the American Communist Party, and therefore the atheism in my household was quite close to the militant anti-theism of the so-called “new atheists”.
With so many issues to discuss, Christians can easily get the feeling that science is always attacking the faith. It is essential to balance such conversations with positive responses to God’s creation. After all, the primary response to the natural world in the Bible is to praise the God who made it.
Christian theology asserts that humans are spiritual creatures, a unity of body and spirit or “soul,” integrated, not reducible downwards to mere matter or upwards to mere spirit.
Over the next few months, with permission from Yale University Press, BioLogos will offer edited versions of chapters from John Polkinghorne's best books, Belief in God in an Age of Science and Theology in the Context of Science, in order to help readers delve more deeply into some of his most important ideas.
(Needs a summary)
People hold clearly discordant points of view, and it would be dishonest to ignore the conflict. Yet some voices emphasize the dissonance without any note of harmony to put it in context. Too often, science and faith becomes a hostile battle of worldviews, sounding angry, dissonant chords even among fellow Christians. But civil, gracious dialogue is possible.
God shows himself not just in the orderliness of nature, but powerfully, joyously and always surprisingly in its beautiful "non-order" as well.