On Being Right or Wrong
“We should be slow to accuse another of discarding the authority of Scripture, and therefore denouncing them, just because they interpret Scripture differently than we do.”
One of the primary concerns about evolution that I encounter is the question of “randomness” – by which most folks mean something to the effect that evolution is an unpredictable, uncontrolled process – that as such could not be used by God as a purposeful mechanism to bring about his aims.
From a Judeo-Christian perspective, all of these curiosities dovetail into a profoundly meaningful explanation: Being made in God’s image helps to explain our creative and investigative skills, particularly when we consider that God has specially engineered this universe to reveal himself to human beings.
It is important to know what we should not expect from the Bible. But my fear is that we leave it at that and neglect the role that the Bible plays in the lives of Christians here and now.
For Augustine, the literal sense of scripture is not a scientific narrative of physical reality, but a liturgical and poetic narrative of God’s awesome power at the dawn of history. This is a vital thread in the story of how to read Genesis.
The great irony lies here: these partisans are actually leading good-hearted people to reject their faith, precisely because these partisans have convinced these good-hearted people that they must accept a false dichotomy.
Learning about science has taught me humility about my Bible reading and it has pushed me to think again, to read again, to ask again, and to wonder all over again what the Bible was saying when it was written and how the Bible was heard to its original hearers (so far as the evidence permits us to know such things).
Children’s books are more than stories. They can become familiar narratives children listen to over and over. So it’s worth asking - Are the books we’re reading doing a good job of portraying God and His Creation?
Conflicts occur when people argue one worldview against another. They may be arguing Atheism versus Monotheism, then pull out science as a weapon saying, "science proves I'm right because of this or that..." In my view, science is rather more limited than this. Science has a lot of interesting resonances with the big questions, and can inform them, but I don’t believe it can answer them.
When read in this way, the Genesis stories may be seen as one of the greatest-ever revolutions in human understanding. Genesis used the literary forms of the day to introduce its readers to a rational God who cares for people – and whose faithfulness made science possible. Genesis is expressly about theology, not science.
“There are clues in a text as to how the text should be written, so with Genesis, the rhythmic nature of Genesis 1 and 2, the almost poetic, and hymnic, function that it would have played in the liturgy of the earliest Jewish lives… it seems to me that there are clues here that it should be read in a theological way.”