Archive for theistic evolution–seeking harmony between science and faith

Posted in Evolution, religion, science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by airtightnoodle

Those that have read “The Language of God” by Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, will be familiar with the term “biologos”.  This is a word Collins coined to describe his perspective on evolution/science and religion as he is uncomfortable with the term “theistic evolution”. 

While I do own the aforementioned book and believe it is valuable (though more so for those of a religious persuasion that have difficulty accepting modern scientific truth), I don’t necessarily believe it was well-written.  I do applaud Collins for creating this new BioLogos Foundation, however, and hope the writing on this site will be an improvement.  The mission of the foundation, as stated on their website, is:

We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.

The BioLogos Foundation promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives.

This is certainly a mission I can agree with and support, thus far.

One part of the website addresses commonly asked questions regarding faith, science, and their compatability.  For example, one of the questions addressed on the site is, “How was the Genesis creation story interpreted before Darwin?” 

I have not browsed the site in its entirety, but it is one I have bookmarked with the intent of investigating further in the near future.  I encourage others to go check it out as well.



Venting about judging

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2008 by airtightnoodle

So often one reads (or hears first-hand) cutting remarks against Christians. These usually deal with how judgmental Christians can be, how they should stop proselytizing and mind their own business, how hypocritical they are, etc.

Of course, sadly, Christians often bring this on themselves. Christians CAN be judgmental. Christians CAN be nosey and hypocritical. Why should this come as any surprise? We’re humans. We’re sinful. We’re not perfect.

That being the case, I’m still a little irked at some of the comments I’ve received since starting this blog, either via the blog itself or via email (how some of these people have even gotten my email address, I’m just not sure).

I’ve been referred to as an atheist, a former “Christian” (yes, once even in quotes–insinuating maybe I wasn’t really a TRUE Christian before and definitely insinuating I’m not a Christian NOW), etc. I’ve been told I don’t know what creationists teach, what intelligent design really means, that evolution is of the devil, etc.

I haven’t had anyone tell me they are praying for me and/or my lost soul yet, though. When I do I might celebrate, because I think that probably counts as some sort of milestone.

Have any of these people taken the time to look at some of my past posts or taken the time to ask me personally just exactly what my religious beliefs are? If so, surely these people would have seen this (emphasis added in bold):

To sum up some of my beliefs (some of which are not static, mind you), I’m a conservative Christian with a degree in Biology who sees no problem in using and accepting current scientific theories (as in, evolution) and adhering to a system of faith. As a high school Biology teacher, I also have a strong interest in the state of education in America, especially regarding the teaching of science.

To quote Servant from Servant’s Thoughts:

I also take the Bible very seriously and believe everything it says. I also don’t doubt God. I affirm the Nicene Creed and hold to what most would consider to be an orthodox Christian belief. I am a card carrying, Sunday attending, Bible reading, praying, crispy Christian. The devil has not taken over my mind.

The same applies to me.

Now, I am as guilty of being judgmental as the next person. But personally, I’ve just had it up to here this week with some comments on my blog, other blogs, email, family members, etc., and thus I feel the need to vent. Stop judging someone’s standing with the Lord based on something that really has nothing to do with what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus and I are A-ok with each other at the moment; at least, we are as ok as Him and the next Christian.

I may not agree with you on how God created. I may not agree with you on the sacraments. I may not agree with you about praying to saints, when someone should be baptized, what speaking in tongues really refers to, when or if the rapture will occur, etc. If my viewpoints on those issues differ from yours and you choose to conclude that I can’t possibly be a Christian, then go ahead. The Father knows where I stand, and that is what is ultimately important. But keep this in mind: that sort of attitude when displayed toward non-believers will only serve to push them further away from Christianity. And what a shame that is.

Ok.  Venting done.  🙂

Interesting article about theistic evolution and contradictions

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , on June 24, 2008 by airtightnoodle

I came across this interesting article at The Panda’s Thumb entitled “Being a Theistic Evolutionist without contradiction”. Go read it now.

The comments are fun to read as well.

Should the creation account in Genesis be read literally?

Posted in Genesis with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2008 by airtightnoodle

A little bit of background info may be necessary to explain some of the beliefs I’m already bringing with me to the table.

  1.  I was raised in the Lutheran Church.  Some may not know that there are divisions in the Lutheran church here in America.  I belonged to what is called the Missouri Synod (more conservative in general than the one you usually hear about in the papers, the ELCA–evangelical Lutheran church of America).
  2. The church I grew up largely regards (and I still do) apocalyptic literature as symbolic and figurative (though this is a whole ‘nother debate).  See this link for an LCMS explanation.
  3. The church seems to usually regard the creation account in Genesis as literal (but see the links here for an explanation from the LCMS).
  4. Former president of the LCMS A. Barry seemed to be a proponent of Intelligent Design.
  5. In Revelation and other apocalyptic literature, numbers are used in very symbolic ways (7 often being a number symbolizing completeness).  My question, as a child and teenager, was basically, “Why are the numbers considered to be symbolic in Revelation but not in Genesis?”
  6. The LCMS’s response to this question was as follows:

<<It is the nature of apocalyptic literature (like the book of Revelation) to use numbers, strange creatures, events described in unusual ways, etc. to provide a message to believers who are able to understand the “true meaning” behind the cryptic stories and symbols.  One of the messages of Revelation is that God’s will will be done in spite of all opposition.  He is in charge. He reigns. It is a message of comfort for the one who trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior and King.

The book of Genesis, on the other hand, does not contain the characteristics of apocalyptic literature.  It is written as historical literature. There is nothing in the book of Genesis itself (or in Genesis 1-3 in particular) that suggests that we are to take what is written here as anything other than a literal, historical account of how God created the world.  That does not mean, however, that the literal “seven days” of Genesis 1-2 may not also have an additional “figurative” or “prophetic” significance.  The number seven often signifies “wholeness” or “completion,” and it seems clear from Scripture that God chose to create the world in seven days both to highlight the “completeness” of his work of creation and to point forward to the final “completion” of his plan of salvation in heaven.  In this connection, it is interesting to note that the writer to the Hebrews refers to God’s resting on the seventh day and then refers to the fact that there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:1-11). That “sabbath rest” is eternal life in heaven, won for us by the life, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.>>

Maybe I’m just picky, but that was never good enough for me.  Why is all of Genesis supposed to be read as a historical, step-by-step account?  I can see the argument for much of the book.  However, man was not around (according to science OR the Old Testament) to actually see the Earth being created.  Man, in Genesis, is not created until day 6.  Naturally that means whoever wrote the account (Moses, according to most believers) was relying on information from elsewhere.  (Most would say that ultimately that information came from God.) 

Something about the argument from my church just didn’t sit well with me.  It bothered me for years.

Then I realized that being non-literal doesn’t make it non-historical (woo!  look at all those negatives).  Also, something can be non-chronological and still be historical.

Is it possible that Genesis does describe events that actually happened in a logical but non-chronological way?

I believe so.

Enter the framework interpretation (ironically, something pointed out in the footnotes of my old handy-dandy Lutheran NIV Study Bible…basically the same as the NIV Study Bible published by Zondervan with more “Lutheran-esque” notes tossed in here and there). 

Genesis 1:2 describes two problems: the earth was both formless and empty.  The following verses describe (historically but not chronologically) how those two problems are solved.

The first three days produce form by separating light from dark, sky from sea (waters above and below), and land and sea.  The next three days fill these forms: creating the sun and moon, birds and fish, land animals and plants.

To sum up:

Days of Forming

Days of Filling

Day 1–light and darkness

Day 4–sun, moon

Day 2–sky and sea

Day 5–sky and sea animals

Day 3–land and sea, plants created

Day 6–land and sea animals, humans, plants used for food

Logical, but not chronological.

This framework stresses the orderliness and completeness of God’s creative work. 

A similar approach has been called “the worldview approach” (an excellent thought-provoking read).  This interpretation points out that many ancient cultures wrote in a similar manner; for example, the number seven was also important to the Mesopotamians.  It was customary to divide six days of work into 3 pairs.  Hence the framework as seen above (two parallel triads of days) is not suprising.  The author of Genesis was simply writing in the prose-narrative style of his day.

A slightly different framework interpretation describes the first three “triads” (first three days) as representing “creation kingdoms” and the next three represent the “creature kings” that rule those kingdoms.  When read in this way, it makes the seventh day that much more climactical, as this reading shows with clarity that it is God who is the ultimate King in control of the Universe.  All of the created kingdoms and kings are subordinate to God, who takes his rest as the Creator King, on the 7th (Sabbath) day.  The one true God is depicted as sovereign and transcendent over ALL OTHER THINGS.  This would have combatted the competing worldviews of the day (polytheistic, pantheistic, etc) quite effectively.

 By not reading the creation account as a literal, chronological narrative, one solves the problem of the two seemingly-conflicting stories in Genesis 1 and 2.  There is also no conflict with science; the framework interpretation quite easily fits what science teaches about the age of the earth.  A literal 24-hour interpretation clearly goes against science. 

If God is the author of both the Word and nature, then we should expect there to be no conflict between the two when properly interpreted.

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