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Denis Alexander is a molecular biologist and director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He is the author of several books on the harmony of science and Christian faith. In Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?, he argues that the choice between creation or evolution is a false dichotomy. Throughout the book, the implied answer is no, we do not have to choose. Evolution is the only option for those who take scientific investigation seriously and for Christians who want to honor God in their study of His creation.

Alexander’s authority in the field of biology is put to good use, as three chapters of the book are devoted to explaining the theory and process of evolution. There are several pages of illustrations and figures as he talks about specific examples in the history of life. He is also fair to Young-Earth Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents by using a total of four chapters to bring up many of their major objections and defend the theory against them. Since the book targets Christians, there is no doubt that many of his readers will hold these views, so it is critical that he address them well. He answers each objection and shows that many of them are based on a misunderstanding of the evolutionary process. However, at the end of these chapters, his writing comes across a little bitter toward them, asking rhetorical questions and challenging the godliness of YECs’ stewardship over their resources.1 Although I sympathize with his feelings, I worry that this cynical tone might turn YECs and ID proponents away, rather than warm them up to theistic evolution.

In addition to these scientific considerations, Alexander spends nearly half the book carefully considering Scripture and theology. He has more to offer here than Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God, which left many theological questions open. Alexander seems to have a basic knowledge of the Hebrew language and a strong understanding of Christian theology. He spends two chapters on the biblical doctrine of creation, two on Adam and Eve, and one chapter each on the topics of death, the Fall, and evil. All of these are important considerations in the Christian doctrines of creation and sin, and Alexander approaches them from a theistic evolutionist’s perspective. He presents five models for interpreting the events of Genesis chapters 1-3. I won’t go into detail on these models except for his favored model C. It is the view that “God in his grace chose a couple of Neolithic farmers in the Near East, or maybe a community of farmers, to whom he chose to reveal himself in a special way, calling them into fellowship with himself – so that they might know him as a personal God.” 2 This view sees Adam and Eve as historical individuals, resulting from the process of evolution, whom God chooses to be the “federal head of the whole of humanity alive at that time.” 3 Up to this point, human beings would likely have developed language, culture, and perhaps even religion.4 But they would be morally neutral until they were in a relationship with God. I appreciate this view, because I have been convicted by other theologians, such as Timothy Keller, who affirm an historical Adam and Eve along with theistic evolution.5 This view, therefore, preserves the biblical idea of Adam as our covenantal representative, or “federal head,” as Alexander calls it.

Though he favors this view, he reminds us that it is just a working model. He considers it the best option available at the moment, but if something better came along, he “will readily discard C and adopt the new one.” 6 Because models such as these are fairly loose by nature, many questions are always hanging around. For example, one question that I have is how does C.S. Lewis’ idea of the moral law fit into model C? According to Lewis, we all have consciences which ring out in protest when we do something immoral, or when someone harms us. It helps us discern right from wrong, and by it, we know that we are guilty.7 This is the moral law that Francis Collins found appealing and which persuaded him to consider Christianity.8 Collins suggests that the moral law was given to us when we were given souls, perhaps when God breathed life into Adam in Genesis 2.9 Alexander, on the other hand, argues that this passage only refers to God bringing Adam to life, making him a “living being.” 10 He doesn’t talk about it explicitly, but Alexander conveys the impression that the moral law would have developed in us by means of evolution, which is evidenced by traces of ancient religion, like the carved animals and figurines made out of ivory or stone.11 In his model C, the only thing that changed when God chose Adam and Eve was that He began a relationship with them. This means that the moral law was already present, illuminating them to God’s moral will before they even knew Him.

Collins presents evidence that evolution does not account for our sense of morality.12 However, I want to take Alexander’s humility and not express certainty about it. Who knows what we may discover? I also think Alexander’s exegesis of Genesis 2 is better. Nonetheless, I am inclined to lean toward Collins’ position that our Moral Law entered into us only when God established a relationship with Adam and Eve. It makes sense that human beings would begin to feel convicted about sin only after God had established a relationship, not beforehand, when they were morally neutral. My question about Model C, then, is how this fits in with all of the other human beings on the earth. Did they receive the moral law at the same time as Adam and Eve? Or after the Fall? There is a lot to consider, all while maintaining established truths, like Adam and Eve being the covenantal representatives of the race, and so on. Some who read this book may be frustrated that there are not concrete answers, but such is the nature of the theological discussion right now. It would be wrong to say that we know for sure, and we should be suspicious of those who say they are.

In any case, Alexander’s book is a great contribution to the discussion, and I highly recommend it. I especially invite YECs and ID proponents who are interested in learning more about theistic evolution to read this work. Alexander is a faithful guide through a murky controversy, and his book sets the foundation for further reading and research.

Notes

1. Denis Alexander, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (UK: Monarch Books, 2008), 353.

2. Alexander, 236.

3. Alexander, 236.

4. Alexander, 231.

5. Timothy Keller, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople,” Biologos Foundation, accessed December 18, 2012, http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf.

6. Alexander, 243.

7. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 1952), 7.

8. Francis Collins, The Language of God (New York: Free Press, 2006), 22.

9. Collins, 207.

10. Alexander, 195.

11. Alexander, 226.

12. Collins, 28-29.

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The BioLogos Forum has posted these articles by Dr. Timothy Keller, discussing the relationship between science and faith. You can find links to the original article at the top of each section. In writing this post, I want to highlight for myself, in particular, the order in which he addresses each topic. With so much to ask and say about this debate, how does one go about it systematically? What is most important? What should be a priority in the dialogue?

All of the ideas listed below are my paraphrases of Keller’s thoughts, summing up his ideas. My own ideas are in green.

Part 1 – Overview of the tension – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

What’s the Problem?

In this debate, so many voices say evolution and Scripture are irreconcilable. Richard Dawkins (atheist) says evolution means God is not in charge of creation. Ken Ham (Christian, Young-Earth Creationist) says evolution goes directly against a clear reading of Scripture.

Some aren’t so sure that they are irreconcilable. Peter van Inwagen (Christian philosopher) says that even if belief in God was a product of evolution, it still would not take away the reality of God Himself. In fact, it would be an ingenious way for God to install a universal search for Him in all of humanity. Science cannot prove or disprove Him.

Pastors and People

There are four main difficulties presented by evolution for orthodox Protestants.

1. Biblical authority – By accepting evolution, aren’t we letting science affect our understanding of Scripture instead of vice versa?

2. Confusion of biology and philosophy – Doesn’t believing evolution lead to a “Grand Theory of Everything” that answers life’s great “why” questions?

3. Historicity of Adam and Eve – As Christians believing evolution, don’t we have to believe Adam and Eve and the fall are merely symbolic? What about Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15?

4. Problem of evil – If death and suffering were in the world before the fall, as evolution has it, how do we reconcile this with Scripture (Genesis 3) and the idea of a good God who created a good world that human beings messed up?

Part 2 – Difficulty #1 – Biblical authority – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Question: If God used evolution, then we can’t take Genesis 1 literally, and if we can’t, then how can we take any of the Bible literally? It undermines the Bible’s authority.

Answer: To respect the authority of the Bible writers, take them as they want to be taken. Sometimes they want to be taken literally; sometimes they don’t. Listen to them; don’t impose our thinking and agenda on them.

Genre and authorial intent

Just because one part of the Bible is taken literally doesn’t mean all parts are. Ask whether the author wants to be taken literally or not. Judges 5 is Hebrew poetry of Judges 4’s historical prose narrative. Luke 1.1 makes it clear that Luke wants his account to be taken literally. Accounts like Genesis 1 and Ecclesiastes aren’t clear – there will always be debate about them.

Genre and Genesis 1

What genre is Genesis 1? Edward Young (Hebrew expert, six literal days interpretation) admits Genesis 1 has “exalted semi-poetical language” but it’s not straight poetry. There is no parallelism, like Exodus 15.

C. John Collins (analogous days interpretation) says the genre of Genesis 1 is “exalted prose narrative.” By calling it prose narrative, we acknowledge it’s making truth claims about the world in which we live. By calling it exalted, we recognize not to impose a literalistic hermeneutic on it.

In Keller’s view, the strongest argument that the author doesn’t intend a literalistic interpretation is the lack of natural order in the creative acts of Genesis 1 and 2. There is light before the sources of light are created. There is vegetation before there is atmosphere and before rain. Genesis 2.5 implies that God followed a natural order. There were no plants because God had not caused it to rain…. Genesis 1.11 also implies that God used a natural order in His creation. “Let the earth sprout vegetation…”

Keller thinks Genesis 2 can be read literally, but not Genesis 1. Thus, Genesis 1 does not teach a six 24-hour day creation. Maybe Genesis 1 is to Genesis 2 as Judges 5 is to Judges 4.

Part 3 – Difficulty #2 – Confusion of biology and philosophy – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Question: If biological evolution is true, does that mean we are just animals driven by our genes, and everything about us can be explained by natural selection?

Answer: No, belief in evolution as a biological process is not the same as belief in evolution as a worldview.

The New Atheists insist that naturalism automatically flows from belief in biological evolution. Because of this, many Christians don’t know how to differentiate between evolutionary biological processes (EBP) and the Grand Theory of Everything (GTE). They likely hold on tightly to Young-Earth Creationism because of this.

Christians who believe in EBP as an account of origins ought to teach or explain how this differs from GTE and come together with other Christians to fight it. If you argue for EBP, you must bring up and put great emphasis on arguing against GTE. See David Atkinson’s quote in the original article.

Part 4 – Difficulty #3 & 4 – Historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Many say we should read Genesis 2 – 11 in light of other creation myths of the ancient Near East, that the biblical authors were “men of their time,” sharing ideas with other cultures. If we did this, we would read these chapters as holding general truth principles, but not as describing actual historical events.

Many ancient writers used symbolic/figurative language. Psalm 139.13: God “knit me together in my mother’s womb” – definitely figurative. Genesis 2.7: God “formed Adam from the dust of the ground” – likely figurative (compare Job 10.8-9).

Kenneth Kitchen (Christian Egyptologist) says Near Eastern societies didn’t “historicize” myths, but rather “mythologized” history. “They celebrated actual historical events and people in mythological terms.” We can conclude that Genesis 2 – 11 are “high” accounts of actual events.

Paul the apostle thought Adam and Eve and the Fall were historical. When you refuse to take him literally when he clearly wants you to, you have “moved away from the traditional understanding of Biblical authority.”

Part 5 – Difficulty #3 & 4 – Historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

Some think you can believe that Adam and Eve were symbolic, along with the Fall, of some original group of human beings. Keller thinks this is too simplistic. (I agree. Consider the above points.)

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul makes the point that, as Christians, we are in a covenant relationship with Christ. We get credit for what He did. This is what Paul means when he says we are “in Christ.” In the same sentence, (v. 22) he says we are similarly “in Adam.” Adam was a “covenantal” representative for the whole human race; what he did (in history) is laid to our account.

If you don’t believe what Paul believes about Adam, that he and his actions were historical, then you deny the core of Paul’s teaching. Paul’s whole argument, that both sin and grace work “covenantally,” falls apart.

This traditional view of the historicity of Adam, Eve, and the Fall, is foundational to the doctrine of original sin (including, I would say, total depravity) and equal sinfulness of the entire human race.

Part 6 – Difficulty # 3 & 4 – Historicity of Adam and Eve and the Fall – Click here for Dr. Keller’s article

This is Derek Kidner’s model of how Adam and Even can fit into an evolutionary origins account of humanity.

Job 10.8-9 makes Genesis 2.7 likely that Adam is also a product of EBP. God breathed into him the spirit of life, endowing him with the image of God. Eve was created special from Adam, followed by God breathing life into all of Adam’s collaterals (the other human beings on the planet at the time.)

Adam would still be seen as the “head” of all of these other people, and they would inherit original sin along with the rest of us (through solidarity, the “oneness” of the covenant relationship, not heredity). These people would answer the questions of Cain’s wife and the city he builds in Genesis 4, along with Genesis 2.20 and Adam’s search for a wife.

There are several factors that imply the world was not perfectly good before the Fall. The darkness and chaos of Genesis 1.2, Satan’s presence in the garden, the need for humans to work (Gen 1.28) and eat (Gen 2.9) meant that the original creation was not perfect. When Romans 8 says that nature groans under the weight of corruption, it would mean that it is disintegrating as a result of humans not being good stewards (because of their hate for God.) The Fall primarily brought spiritual death to human beings.

Still, perhaps Adam and Eve were given conditional immortality as a foretaste of heaven.

There are many other models of how Adam and Eve could fit into the evolutionary account of origins. Keller’s main argument is that he wants us to be “bigger tents” than the anti-scientific religious community and the anti-religious scientific community. He argues that belief in a historical Adam and Eve is extremely important, but that there are several ways to hold this view while also holding a belief in evolutionary biological processes.

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Introduction

Richard Dawkins (2006), in The God Delusion, makes the claim that “God almost certainly does not exist” (p. 189). He argues that we have enough scientific and philosophical understanding to reject belief in God, that it is a delusion. We can be “happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled” atheists (p. 23). He writes this book in the hope that religious folk who pick it up “will be atheists when they put it down” (p. 28). In addition to deeming religion a delusion, he also suggests that it is the cause of many problems in the world and that we should strive to educate ourselves out of it. I write this review to analyze Dawkins’ arguments from a Christian perspective.

Dawkins makes the point that religion has traditionally carried out four roles for humanity: explanation, exhortation, consolation, and inspiration (p. 389). Most of Dawkins’ book deals with explanation (how we and our universe have come to exist) and exhortation (how we ought to behave.)  My review responds to his arguments involving our explanation, as it most interests me and is what I am most knowledgeable about. Although I have objections to Dawkins’ other points, such as that the Bible is not a reliable document, that evolution explains our thirst for God and our sense of morality, I will not address them here.

Explanation: How we and our universe have come to exist

Biological life looks designed. Giraffes have long necks to reach food in the treetops. Monkeys have opposable thumbs to grip tree branches. Bats send out ultrasound signals to locate their prey in absolute darkness. Historically, this apparent design in nature was an argument for God’s existence. If something looks designed, it must have a designer. William Paley was one of the main proponents of this natural theology (Giberson, 2008, p. 22).  The leading scientists of his day, Charles Darwin among them, were influenced by this idea.

Since science offered no explanation of how all of the plants and animals of the Earth had come to exist, most leading scientists were believers in God who designed them. Darwin himself had a belief in God and saw the world through the lens of natural theology (p. 22).

Likewise, the universe looks designed and fine-tuned to allow life to exist. It had a beginning about 13.7 billion years ago, say cosmologists, in an event called the Big Bang. The rate of expansion of the universe allowed galaxies to form (too fast and they wouldn’t have, too slow and the universe would have collapsed in on itself). Gravity is of the ideal strength to allow stars to form and maintain long enough lives to let life develop on orbiting planets. The Earth is in a “Goldilocks” zone, a perfect distance from the sun, not too far away nor too close for life to exist. These qualities, and others like them, lead to the idea that the universe is designed for life. And if it is designed, it must have a designer: God.

Dawkins’ view

(1) Evolution makes God unnecessary as the Creator of animal and plant species. Dawkins argues that the theory of evolution explains the diversity and complexity of life so well that God’s role as Creator is diminished. Slow, gradual degrees of change from simple organisms to complex ones, evolving to adapt to environments, produce creatures that look designed. This natural selection is “an ingenious and powerful crane” that explains the diversity and complexity of life better than the God hypothesis (p. 188). We don’t need a supernatural explanation, because we have a natural explanation.

(2) God is too complex to be a good cause of the universe. As we study the history of life on our planet, we see animals evolve from simple beings to complex beings. Life-forms with a few, basic parts evolve into life-forms with many, intricate parts. Likewise, a universe with basic beginnings of particles and forces has organized itself into a universe of galaxy clusters, binary star systems, and planets hospitable to life. Everything that we see has a cause, and the cause is simple.

Therefore, says Dawkins, when we move back to the beginning of the universe, we should expect to find a simple explanation for it. God is not this explanation, he says, because God is complex. To look at the design of the universe and say that there must be a God who started it creates a bigger problem than it solves. God is a super-intelligent mind able to invent worlds, breathe life into matter, listen to millions of prayers simultaneously, etc. That is a complex being. Complex beings require an explanation. But who designed God? Where did He come from? The existence of such a complex, supernatural being is more improbable than the universe He attempts to explain, says Dawkins (p. 138).

(3) There are probably natural explanations of the origin of life and of the universe. Dawkins thinks it more likely that there is a natural explanation for the cause of the life, rather than a complex, supernatural one. Although it has not been discovered yet, a chemical process of life-forms materializing out of the contents of a primordial soup is certainly plausible. It would be a rare occurrence, but consider the vastness of the universe. There are so many planets. A billion billion is Dawkins’ conservative estimate, that is 1 with 18 zeroes after it. Even if one in a billion planets had the right properties to initiate life, that would still leave us with one billion hospitable planets. Out of these one billion with the right conditions, it’s not so inconceivable that life actually forms and sustains itself on at least one or two of them (p. 165). In fact, we know it’s conceivable, because, here we are!

Likewise, our life-friendly universe is not so unbelievable when looking at it from this perspective of probabilities (deemed the “Anthropic Principle”). Dawkins likes Martin Rees’ suggestion that our universe is one of many inside a sort of multiverse, “co-existing like bubbles of foam” (p. 173). Out of an enormously vast number of universes, each with its own set of natural laws, it is not so unlikely that one or two would end up with laws that are favorable to life. In fact, we know it’s likely because we are in one.

The multiverse would be simple. It would be huge, yes. But it would only be governed by the four natural laws that our own universe is governed by. This is a more plausible explanation and is easier to believe in than a complex God (p. 189).

My view

(1) Evolution does not make God unnecessary as the Creator of animal and plant species. God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe. He started it and He keeps it going. Our existence and that of the universe is radically dependent upon Him. “[All of reality] is in existence only so long as God creates and sustains it…. Were He to withdraw His creative power, the universe would be annihilated in the blink of an eye.” (Craig, 2010). God, however, is the only completely independent being in the universe. His existence depends on no one and nothing. He is self-existent (Craig, 2010).

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25, English Standard Version).

Even if we have laws of physics and scientific explanations for natural phenomena, it is God who determined them from the beginning. He controls everything that goes on inside the universe. Sometimes He uses supernatural intervention to defy the laws of nature, what we would call miracles: raising the dead, healing the blind, etc.

Most of the time He controls it without intervening. In this sense, God is in and behind everything that goes on, but it looks completely natural. Natural events occur because He intends them to: either He wants them to happen or He permits them to happen. Their existence is radically dependent on God’s sustaining power.

So when human scientists discover natural explanations for things, they are discovering how God has set up the universe to function. They are watching God do His work. The implication of this is that every natural phenomenon will have a natural cause, but it is a cause that God began and upholds. The fact that there is a natural explanation does not deny God’s role.

John Walton (2009), an Old Testament scholar at Wheaton College, puts it nicely when it comes to the relationship between the natural and supernatural. He says “I can affirm with the psalmist that God ‘knit me together in my mother’s womb’ without denying the premises of embryology” (p. 140).

Now, back to evolution. The theory of evolution offers a natural explanation for the diversity and complexity of plant and animal species. Dawkins would say that since we have this natural explanation, we don’t need God as an explanation anymore. This view misunderstands God’s role.

God works in and behind the evolution of species throughout time. He intended for a variety of plants and animals to come into being, and they did (Genesis 1:11-12; 20-21; 24-27). Thus, God is a necessary explanation of the origin of animal and plant species. The theory of evolution is a human attempt to explain how God carried it out.

(2) God’s nature makes Him a good explanation as the cause of the universe. Dawkins says that if God created the universe, then we’re left with the problem of God’s origin. Who designed Him? Where did He come from? However, these questions misunderstand God’s nature.

If He created the universe, that is, space, matter, and time, then He must exist outside of it. Therefore, He is timeless, immaterial, and without spatial dimension. His timelessness is what we mean when we say He is eternal. And if He exists outside of time, then the law of cause and effect is not applicable to Him, as it is a physical law, implying change and the passage of time. He does not change. Therefore, theologians are right to say that God is uncaused and does not need an explanation of origin. He always has been, is, and will be.

God, being God, must exist. If we imagine a god who began existing at a certain point, then we are imagining something that, by definition, is not God. Wayne Grudem (1994) affirms this, saying, “All else can pass away in an instant; [God] necessarily exists forever” (p. 162).

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).

Dawkins is also mistaken to assume that just because God can bring forth complex creatures and think profound thoughts, He must be complex in Himself. He repeatedly brings up his fascination in a God who would be able to listen to millions of prayers simultaneously, which supposedly demonstrates His complexity. However, theologians note that, while God has many attributes, they are all unified into one, whole being. God is not composed of parts. If God were a material being, inside of space and time, He would need to be physically and mentally complex indeed, to be able to genuinely listen to and answer each prayer. As He is, all-knowing and powerful, immaterial and timeless, this does not take any effort for Him. Grudem agrees, “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act” (190).

“For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139:1-2).

God’s other attributes, His will, His omnipotence, and His self-sufficiency, easily account for the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and, ultimately, the origin of our species.

(3) Natural explanations of the origin of life and of the universe will still depend on God. That brings us back to Dawkins’ subscription to the multiverse theory and the Anthropic Principle to explain the origin of life on Earth. Dawkins’ use of the theory lets him reject God’s role. We can trust the numbers of the probabilities, he says, which give us confidence in a natural explanation, which we should strive to discover. And if there is a natural explanation, then there is no supernatural explanation. Yet, reminiscent of my point in #1, even if there is a natural explanation, it occurs because God determines and upholds it.

In conclusion, I have argued that God is the primary explanation for the existence of the universe and everything in it. When we adopt scientific explanations to natural phenomena, we merely attempt to explain how God has set up the universe to function. Scientific truth is God’s truth. When we understand science rightly, there will be “no final conflict” between science and Scripture (Schaeffer, as cited in Grudem, p. 275).

“If God is the Creator of all the universe, if God had a specific plan for the arrival of humankind on the scene, and if He had a desire for personal fellowship with humans, into whom He had instilled the Moral Law as a signpost toward Himself, then He can hardly be threatened by the efforts of our puny minds to understand the grandeur of His creation” (Collins, 2006, p. 230).

“We should not fear to investigate scientifically the facts of the created world but should do so eagerly and with complete honesty, confident that when facts are rightly understood, they will always turn out to be consistent with God’s inerrant words in Scripture. Similarly, we should approach the study of Scripture eagerly and with confidence that, when rightly understood, Scripture will never contradict facts in the natural world” (Grudem, p. 275).

“We must not, then, as Christians, assume an attitude of antagonism toward the truths of reason, or the truths of philosophy, or the truths of science, or the truths of history, or the truths of criticism. As children of the light, we must be careful to keep ourselves open to every ray of light. Let us, then, cultivate an attitude of courage as over against the investigations of the day. None should be more zealous in them than we. None should be more quick to discern truth in every field, more hospitable to receive it, more loyal to follow it, whithersoever it leads” (Warfield, as cited in Collins, 2006).

References

Collins, Francis S. (2006). The Language of God. New York: Free Press

Craig, William Lane. (2010, March 10). Doctrine of God [#2]. Defenders Podcast – Series 2. Podcast retrieved from http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/Defenders2_DoctrineofGod2.mp3

Dawkins, Richard. (2006). The God Delusion. Great Britain: Bantam Press.

Giberson, Karl W. (2008). Saving Darwin. New York: HarperOne

Grudem, Wayne. (1994). Systematic Theology. Great Britain: Intervarsity Press & Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Walton, John H. (2009). The Lost World of Genesis One. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic

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The Cosmic Temple Inauguration view:

Genesis is ancient cosmology, inspired by God, written by human beings to Israel, who had an ancient understanding of the world and the universe. It does not update this understanding, but speaks its message with their terminology and science.

In the ancient Near East culture, the fact that God created the material world was such an unquestioned idea that it did not concern them. It was not a priority. They were, however, concerned with what function and purpose He gave to the material world and how. This, to them, was existence. This was creation. Therefore, the Genesis account is not one of material origin. It is one of functional origin.

The cosmos are God’s temple, created for Him to rest in: to dwell in and carry out His authority. The creation of a temple involves the setting up of its functions and the entrance of God’s presence. The seven days of Genesis 1 refer to this inauguration.</div>

  • The Hebrew word translated “create” (bara) concerns assigning functions.
  • The account begins in verse 2 with no functions, rather than no material.
  • The first three days pertain to the three major functions of life: time, weather, food.
  • Days four to six pertain to functionaries in the cosmos being assigned their roles and spheres.
  • The recurring comment that “it is good” refers to functionality (relative to people.)
  • The temple aspect is evident in the climax of day seven when God rests – an activity in a temple.

<div style=”text-indent: 20px;”>Even though Genesis is not an account of material origin, it is still biblical and theologically correct to believe Him the originator of all material. Genesis is simply not this account. (See Colossians 1.16-17, Hebrews 1.2, 11.3 for material origin.)

As the Bible does not give a scientific account of material origin, the Christian is free to follow the evidence where it leads. They should be leaders in their fields of biology, cosmology, anthropology, paleontology, etc. to give sound and biblical interpretation of it.

Science cannot prove or disprove God. Although as Christians, we believe that God is in and behind every natural law, creating and sustaining our world, we would be bad scientists and bad Christians to say that the evidence proved this. Likewise, although atheists believe that there is nothing behind the natural laws, they would be bad scientists to say that the evidence proved it.

References

The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton

The Language of God by Francis Collins

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