The following plenary lectures were filmed at the Evolution and Christian Faith conference that was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 30-July 2, 2015. Links to all speaker bios and videos on YouTube will be coming soon. Some videos are still being edited and will be posted as soon as they become available.
View the Program Booklet
Adam and the Scientists
At the heart of theological education, whether in a church or a Christian school and among some Christians teaching in public schools, is sensitivity to the context of scientific claims. All scientific and historical claims speak out of and into a specific context, and this applies both to the grand theories in science (like biological evolution) and to theological claims about Adam, Eve, sin and salvation. Paul talked about Adam in a way that made eminent sense to his Jewish and Roman contemporaries and the Book of Genesis made sense in the Ancient Near Eastern world. Teaching students sensitivity to context is vital to their own spiritual formation for being taught something contrary to context jeopardizes both scientific and theological claims. In this presentation I will focus on how the literary, archetypal and historical Adam were understood in the Jewish world.
Investigating What the Bible Claims Concerning Adam and Eve
Given all the debate concerning the relationship between the biblical account of Adam and Eve and the constant flow of new information concerning genetics and the fossil record, it is important for us to take a careful look at the biblical text to evaluate what its claims actually are. Such claims are going to emerge in a close reading of the biblical text as an ancient document, which will be the focus of this paper.
Fuller Theological Seminary
A Moderate Reformed Doctrine of Original Sin
I shall present a moderate Reformed doctrine of original sin. This does not include a doctrine of original guilt (i.e. that I am guilty of someone else's sin). Also, it is a doctrine consistent with more than one story about human origins (i.e. it does not presume monogenism, the notion that we are descended from an aboriginal human pair). Moreover, this doctrine has greater ecumenical promise than some other Protestant accounts of original sin. I shall argue that these are strengths rather than weaknesses of the view.
Leonard J. Vander Zee
Faith Alive Christian Resources
From Stardust to the New Jerusalem: Gospel-Centered Preaching in an Evolving Universe
Standing on the front lines, how do pastors preach and teach the biblical gospel in a way that helps skeptical congregants take a fresh look at their long-held beliefs about creation and human origins? Preaching centered on practical moral and therapeutic application alone does not provide a sufficiently strong foundation for congregations to navigate the depths necessary for such biblical understanding. An answer may lie in a much-needed homiletical application of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture that recovers the early church’s consistent emphasis on the Bible’s narrative arc, centering and interpreting the whole story in the light of Jesus Christ.
CLICK HERE to view the re-recorded version of "The Big Story" featuring Rev. Vander Zee.
The Bible and Biology: How Did We Get Here?
Why has evolution been so controversial among Christians? Does the acceptance of evolution entail the denial of orthodox Christianity? In an illustrated talk featuring numerous cartoon images, Dr. Davis presents some of the reasons why many American Christians have objected to evolution. Then he briefly outlines the main ideas and attitudes associated with two types of antievolutionism that are influential today, scientific creationism and intelligent design. The lecture concludes with some examples of contemporary Christian thinkers who accept biological evolution while upholding the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, touchstones of Christian orthodoxy since the fourth century.
Randomness and other Metaphors in the Theory of Evolution
Popular descriptions of evolution can employ many value-laden metaphors such as survival of the fittest, selfish genes, or random mutations. While these can have precise scientific meanings, they are unfortunately often misappropriated in popular natural (a)theological arguments, used both by religiously motivated anti-evolutionists and metaphysical naturalists, that look at the natural world and then extract theological meaning (or lack of meaning) from it. In this talk I will re-consider some of these metaphors. For example, the word “random” can have overtones such as purposeless. But in science and engineering we often use methods that employ random number generators to precisely calculate well-defined properties. There are many parallels between these methods and the way that evolution works. Technically these are often called "stochastic" methods, so it might have been better if we scientists had used the term stochastic mutations, instead of random mutations, since the former term is scientifically correct but runs less risk of carrying unnecessary metaphysical baggage. Helping people avoid misunderstandings of these metaphors may allow them to better appreciate just how beautiful the science of evolution really is.