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Adventist Origins of Young Earth Creationism

Many evangelicals believe that Young Earth Creationism is the only authentic, biblical way for Christians to understand origins, and that until the advent of Darwin's theory of evolution, it was the only view held by Christians. However, in this excerpt from Saving Darwin, Karl Giberson explains that Young Earth Creationism's origins are surprisingly recent.

 

How have Christians responded to Darwin’s "Origin of Species"?

Even before Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, many Christians had already accepted an old Earth. One of the first supporters of evolutionary science in America—Harvard biologist Asa Gray—was a devout Christian. Conservative theologian B. B. Warfield also accepted the science of evolution, and both he and Asa Gray rejected the idea that evolution leads to atheism. Even the authors of The Fundamentals, published between 1910 and 1915, accepted an old earth. It wasn’t until a century after Darwin that a large number of evangelicals and fundamentalists began to accept the combination of flood geology and 6-day creation promoted by Seventh-day Adventists.
(Updated on July 10, 2012)

 

How was the Genesis account of creation interpreted before Darwin?

Given the stark difference between evolution and six-day creation, many people assume that Darwin’s theory shook the foundations of the Christian faith. In truth, the literal six-day interpretation of Genesis 1-2 was not the only perspective held by Christians prior to modern science. St. Augustine (354-430), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Wesley (1703-1791), and others supported the idea of Accommodation. In the Accommodation view, Genesis 1-2 was written in a simple allegorical fashion to make it easy for people of that time to understand. In fact, Augustine suggested that the 6 days of Genesis 1 describe a single day of creation. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued that God did not create things in their final state, but created them to have potential to develop as he intended. The views of these and other Christian leaders are consistent with God creating life by means of evolution.

 

Series: On Creating the Cosmos, by Ted Peters (9 entries)

Last year I introduced readers to one of the leading voices about Christianity and science, John Polkinghorne. I also helped BioLogos bring in another leading voice, Robert Russell. This new series introduces a third prominent Christian thinker, Lutheran theologian Ted Peters, Research Professor Emeritus in Systematic Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (http://www.ctns.org/), and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

 

Series: From the Dust (13 entries)

In this series, Ryan Pettey offers several clips from his powerful documentary "From the Dust". This feature-length film is divided up into various sections, each of which wrestles with the difficult problems that arise when reconciling Scripture with the theory of evolution. A light of hope dawns on the science-faith conversation, however, as scientists and theologians engage in honest dialogue about tough issues such as the interpretation of Genesis, the nature of the Fall, and the idea of random design. Their profound insights are sure to enlighten all minds, raise deeper questions, and provoke new thought.

 

Series: Science and the Bible (22 entries)

This ongoing series written by historian Ted Davis begins with a brief synopsis of his personal background, and then goes on to reveal his passion for debunking “the now-common view that the history of science and Christianity is one of ongoing, inevitable conflict.”

 

Surveying George Murphy's Theology of the Cross

If God himself is willing to die, particularly in such a gruesome way, then perhaps we should at least consider the possibility of God allowing the death of other creatures, too. But would this really be compatible with what we know of God through Scripture?

 

Series: Science and the Question of God (6 entries)

Randy Isaac explores whether science can provide insight into the existence of God in this five part post, looking specifically through the lenses of evolution, creationism, and intelligent design. He provides background of each view and a brief history of how people have responded to it. Then, he explains why they each fail “to provide a persuasive answer from science to the question of God.” He concludes with the two-book model in which both science and theology point to God, but do not overlap.

 

Science - Now and Then

A common argument against evolution as science is that science can study only present-day processes. Claims about what happened in the past are just conjecture, since we were not there and thus cannot confirm that processes of the past were the same as those in the present.

 

Saving Darwin

Saving Darwin traces the cultural motivations of the anti-Darwin movement and addresses it in both theological and scientific terms.

 

The Creationists

A chronicle of the scientific creationism movement explains the beliefs of recent creationists and surveys the scientific and religious responses to evolutionary theory. - Google Books

 

What Americans Think and Feel about Evolution

The new Gallup survey shows in broad strokes the challenge we face. But more nuanced surveys find that only 8% of Americans are convinced creationists whose beliefs are dear to them, and only 4% are convinced atheistic evolutionists whose beliefs are dear to them. The vast majority of Americans are not sure of their position and are open to a conversation.

 

A Plea to My Shepherds

... I would exhort these, my fellow conservative evangelical shepherds and thinkers, to set aside all reticence and fear, emerge from anonymity, and storm the forum of discourse, engaging this most pressing matter with vigor, equanimity, and humility. In doing so, know upfront that there will be few handrails to guide; you will not be building upon an extensive precedence of published conservative thought.

 

Denis Alexander on Understanding Creation Theology

In this video Conversation, Denis Alexander asserts that contemporary Christians are not taking the early chapters of Genesis seriously enough.

 

Dissonance and Harmony

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.

 

Series: Confronting Our Fears (6 entries)

In this series, U.S. Navy Commander Mike Beidler shares his own personal journey from accepting young-earth creationism to embracing evolutionary creationism.

 

Series: “And God Saw That It Was Good”: Death and Pain in the Created Order (6 entries)

The tension generated by our understanding of God’s character, as revealed in the Bible, and by the reality of the natural world around us has been the focus of much debate within the Christian church since the first century. This series examines critically several of the proposed solutions to this problem, viewing them from the perspective of a geologist, paleontologist, and orthodox evangelical Christian.

 

Series: Medieval Christianity and the Rise of Modern Science (2 entries)

Historian of science James Hannam writes that the notion of inherent conflict between Christianity and science is a pernicious myth. In fact, by the middle ages, science already had a central place in Christian centers of learning. Indeed, it was a Christian worldview that proved especially compatible with—even necessary for—the rise of modern science. In this two-part essay, Hannam describes the conditions in the West in the medieval period that set the stage for the spectacular advance of science in the centuries to follow.

 

Jesus the Artist

Speaking in parables is indeed similar to an artist’s craft. They create impressions, whole new worlds of meaning intended to turn old worlds on their heads.

 

"Come and See": A Christ-centered Invitation for Science

Classical Christian orthodoxy as expressed in the Creeds begins at the beginning: nature owes its existence to and is sustained by Jesus Christ. One implication is that the best way of finding out about nature is to look at nature.

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