Barriers to Traditional Creation Theology with Denis Alexander

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In this video, Denis Alexander addresses the most prominent barriers to accepting a traditional Creation theology. While he acknowledges that the broader culture—including the New Atheists—play a role in this by arguing that a belief in God doesn’t coalesce with scientific thought, perhaps the most significant barrier actually comes from the Christian community itself.

Video Transcription

I think that the barriers are all directions, that whole set of barriers. Some of them come from the Christian community, I think. Again, I don't think the Christian community is really taking seriously the first two chapters of Genesis. They feel they're taking the first few chapters of Genesis very, very seriously, when actually if you look at traditional Christian theology, if you go back to the early church fathers, they never took the early chapters of Genesis in a literalistic way, in this sort of scientific way, as if it's a scientific text or something like that.

And so, I think we need to rediscover how the early church fathers handled the early chapters of Genesis. In a figurative way, they saw it as very basic, foundational truths for the whole of the Christian gospel, and that's very, very important.

They didn't take it in a wooden, literalistic kind of way. And I think that wooden literalism has come about through modernity and through actually the influence of science. In a way, it's a very modernistic understanding of the text, which is quite alien to the original authors. As an example, actually, people are allowing the science to shape their interpretation of text, which is, I think, quite inappropriate.

I don't think scientists should be doing that sort of job. They weren't writing from a scientific background. After all, scientific literature didn't actually exist at the time when the Bible was being written, so to take it as scientific literature, I think, is abusing the text. And the trouble is we actually miss what the inspired author has to say to us.

I think there are barriers coming from a modernistic framing of the Biblical text in a way that's not helpful, but there are other barriers, of course, coming from the atheists, the atheist lobby. We've got new atheists proclaiming very loudly that Darwin is an icon of atheism, and if you believe in evolution you can't also believe in God, and that kind of thing. And I think that's an unnecessary kind of rhetoric really.

We should just simply pull the rug from under that kind of view by pointing out that once you accept a traditional Christian understanding of creation, then all we discover as scientists and all we describe is part of that whole narrative of God's created order. Augustine said, "Nature is what God does." So if we're investigating nature, we can only investigate what God does.

Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

BioLogos continues to show that firm belief in the truth-telling character of Scripture can support, rather than undermine, the best scientific investigations. All who are invested in any aspect of these questions should applaud their good work in transforming science and religion from a war zone to an instructive conversation.

- Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
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