Evolution Religion

“Evolution Sunday” — Can 10,000 clergymen be wrong? — It’s happened before

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Movement hopes to bridge the gap between evolution and creationism
By Steve Eighinger

Herald-Whig Staff Writer
January 21, 2006

More than 10,000 pastors nationwide have signed “The Clergy Letter” of support for Evolution Sunday Feb. 12, a day designed to bring attention to a movement that believes there is a way to bridge the gap between the theory of evolution and creation theology.

At least two local pastors are known to have signed the letter, the Rev. Wally Carlson of Melrose Chapel United Methodist Church and the Rev. Bob Morwell of Union United Methodist Church.

“Evolution can only go so far, and that is where faith comes in,” Carlson said. “No one really knows what is in that gray area in between the two.”

Carlson said there are members of the Melrose Chapel congregation on both sides of the debate, and that does not present a problem.

“There are people on both sides of this who are so narrow-minded in their vision they can’t see any truth from another direction,” Carlson said.

Morwell said he has addressed the subject via previous sermons in the past.

“(This movement) is an effort to enlist the help of clergy who do not find belief in evolution incompatible with the Christian faith,” Morwell said.

Michael Zimmerman, dean of the college of letters and sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, coordinates a Web site devoted to this subject. On the site, it says 10,183 pastors had signed the Clergy Letter as of Wednesday, and that 303 congregations from 47 states have signed up to take part in some sort of Evolution Sunday dialogue.

“Together, participating religious leaders will be making the statement that religion and science are not adversaries,” Dean writes. “And, together, they will be elevating the quality of the national debate on this topic.”

There are 12 churches of varying denominations in Illinois taking part. None are near Quincy, with most located in the northern and northwest parts of the state.

Both Carlson and Morwell will be out of town that day and said no formal program or discussion is planned at either of their churches.

“Whenever we think we know all of the answers, we’re wrong,” Carlson said. “Because we don’t.”

For information on Evolution Sunday, go to www.uwosh.edu /colleges/cols/clergy_project.htm on the Web.

21 Replies to ““Evolution Sunday” — Can 10,000 clergymen be wrong? — It’s happened before

  1. 1
    Shane says:

    It’s always darkest before the dawn…

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    Intimidation is rampant. What are they all afraid of that they want to compromise their beliefs in order to accomodate a so-called scientific position that’s nothing but a huge hoax perpetuated by atheists in the academy and the judiciary?

  3. 3
    TomG says:

    Misinformation is also rampant. How many of these do you suppose have studied it thoroughly enough to take a leadership stance on the issue?

  4. 4
    Bombadill says:

    TomG hits the nail on the head.

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    “How many of these do you suppose have studied it thoroughly enough to take a leadership stance on the issue?”

    The same percentage that didn’t study it enough any time in the past 150 years. The difference is that 10,000 of them didn’t sign onto a program to reconcile Darwinian evolution and the Protestant church any other time in the past 150 years.

    Or am I missing something?

    So what exactly caused them to sign onto this if not intimidation? Specifically I think they’re afraid of being labeled uneducated throwbacks to a premodern era. Maybe they should send Richard Dawkins a bouquet of flowers and an invitation to be a keynote speaker where he can say to them things like this

    It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

  6. 6
    DaveScot says:

    Here’s a clickable link to the letter project

    http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/.....roject.htm

  7. 7
    Boesman says:

    DaveScot,

    “Intimidation is rampant. What are they all afraid of that they want to compromise their beliefs in order to accomodate a so-called scientific position that’s nothing but a huge hoax perpetuated by atheists in the academy and the judiciary?”

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think that focusing on religious/non-religious nature of NDE, or the religious/non-religious nature of those who offer support to NDE is the best strategy.

    I say this because, sadly, the ID movement has failed to adopt a consistent position on exactly this point. One day people are told that Darwinism is inherently atheistic/anti-religious, the next day they are fed the line that it is now religious because some clergy endorsed it (same can be said about the lawsuit against that university website).

    This is confusing the public at large, and counter-productive because it makes the movement seem opportunistic and inconsistent. It also tends to draw focus on the ID movement’s own apparent religious motivations -something we really don’t need to have attention drawn to.

    NDE has *some* religious support; this is, politically and strategically speaking, no different from the fact that ID has the *real* religious support. There will always be dissenters, and IMO, ignoring them is the best strategy. It may be painful at first, but denying them the debate will be worth it in the long wrong. Let them shout all they want, I say -but no volume of shouting will ever silence the true voice of ID as science, and this is what will count in the final analysis.

    In my opinion, it would be far more productive for us to keep the focus on the science and leave the politics in Dover.

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:

    Ignoring politics will assuredly leave us in defeat. If it weren’t for the Darwinian apologists (ab)using the judicial system to censor the people’s desire to teach the controversy we’d have already won the right to be heard. The battle in science is over. If the Darwinist’s had the overwhelming evidence they thought in support of unguided evolution there wouldn’t be 80% of the population today STILL believing it was guided. They’ve had exclusivity in biology classes teaching the Darwinian narrative of unguided evolution for at least 2 generations now to the exclusion of all else. And it hasn’t put a significant dent in the number of people that don’t believe it was unguided.

    Failing to win by using scientific arguments they’ve been using the courts to protect the Darwinian narrative claiming that even criticism of it is a violation of the establishment clause. And that’s been working for decades to protect their story. Now, with the Supreme Court finally being shifted from a majority sympathetic to human secularism to one sympathetic with the God fearing majority in this great nation, the same God fearing majority that came together to change the makeup of the Supreme Court, they Darwinian apologists are on a campaign to convince to convince the religious community that an atheistic theory of evolution is somehow compatible with Christian theology.

    And the stink of it is that with 10,000 signatures from Protestant clergy on the Evolution Sunday paper it looks like this new strategy is successful. What these clergy need isn’t a science education (well they probably do but that’s not going to happen) they need to be told they are abandoning their principles to atheists like Richard Dawkins and the National Academy of Science which should be renamed the National Academy of Atheists in the interest of truth in advertising.

    I don’t mind atheists as long as they aren’t trying to force their faith in a godless universe down the throats of others in the public domain without equal time given to the vast majority who don’t believe in a godless universe. It’s all about using politics to provide a level playing field. On a level playing field the Darwinian narrative apologists don’t stand a chance.

  9. 9
    DonaldM says:

    Do we know who is behind this “movement”?

    Secondly, if evolution is ‘just science’, then why do they need any letter of support from theologians?

    It seems evolution and religion are compatible after all, as long as one has the ‘right’ religion or at least interprets his/her religion the “right” way.

  10. 10
    TomG says:

    I agree with Dave in comment 8, and though I sympathize with Boesman’s Comment 7 about the confusion of strategies, our best approach is to speak forthrightly and clearly. ID and religion share some overlapping interests, yet they can certainly be distinguished conceptually. If we don’t do the conceptual work, ID opponents will do it for us and get it wrong. If we duck the issue they’ll do it all the more.

    Nobody’s expecting that our explanations will be heard, understood, or accepted by everyone in the short term. It could be years. We need to be consistent, clear, and patient.

  11. 11
    Red Reader says:

    Just a few days ago, Dr. D posted the article by E.O. Wison in which Wilson said “Religious conservatives risk a loss in credibility by signing on to intelligent design in the absence of a testable theory or positive evidence.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/678
    ….

    My comment (#7 there) was that Wilson’s intent was to “sway somebody politically with FEAR.” I didn’t know who, but I didn’t think Wilson’s target was “religious conservatives”. Conservatives base their faith on much more than what “the experts” say.

    I said I thought Wilson’s real target was “people who aren’t sure of their faith but whose livlihood or social standing depends on the appearance of “religious credentials” (such as some professional clergy or some politicians)”.

    Lo and behold, four days later we have news of “the Clergy letter”.

    These are people who deserve to be pitied. They are people who “desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts….” They are people who are “afraid”.

    Unfortunately, it appears they know neither science nor faith.

    Sad.

  12. 12
    Boesman says:

    DaveScot said:

    “Ignoring politics will assuredly leave us in defeat. If it weren’t for the Darwinian apologists (ab)using the judicial system to censor the people’s desire to teach the controversy we’d have already won the right to be heard.”

    Patience. It always takes time for judicial system to ‘come around’ to the correct orientation. Push the science, but not a wave of political rhetoric.

    “The battle in science is over. If the Darwinist’s had the overwhelming evidence they thought in support of unguided evolution there wouldn’t be 80% of the population today STILL believing it was guided.”

    Dave, I hate to break this to you so suddenly, but the majority of the public is scientifically illiterate. Pick a date before the enlightenment, and you will find some wacky public consensus on range of issues; everything from demons causing illness, and assorted gods orchestrating storms and earthquakes.

    “They’ve had exclusivity in biology classes teaching the Darwinian narrative of unguided evolution for at least 2 generations now to the exclusion of all else. And it hasn’t put a significant dent in the number of people that don’t believe it was unguided.”

    Dave, I’m confused again. I thought that you accepted biological evolution (sans abiogenesis, of course) in as far as it explains the diversity of life? Do you not agree with me that the purpose of ID is to explain what NDE can’t explain, not to replace it?

    “Failing to win by using scientific arguments they’ve been using the courts to protect the Darwinian narrative claiming that even criticism of it is a violation of the establishment clause. And that’s been working for decades to protect their story.”

    I don’t buy this. It’s a conspiracy theory and it makes no sense. The establishment clause does nothing to stop or inhibit ID from proving and advocating itself scientifically. ID does not require legal protection in order to make its scientific case.

    “Now, with the Supreme Court finally being shifted from a majority sympathetic to human secularism to one sympathetic with the God fearing majority in this great nation, the same God fearing majority that came together to change the makeup of the Supreme Court, they Darwinian apologists are on a campaign to convince to convince the religious community that an atheistic theory of evolution is somehow compatible with Christian theology.”

    I respect your view that “atheistic theory of evolution” is incompatible with “Christian theology”, but I don’t see how it affects the course ID should take or how it should be promoted. Politics can only take you so far and relying on the make-up of any judicial system to advance ID is a risky strategy at best. Dover went against ID for all the ‘right’ reasons. It was a wakeup call that our strategy has be tighter. The days of prominent people making religious statements linked to scientific ID need to come to end. They are tempting in order to gain a short term boost, but they are limited in universal appeal (yes, even to some Christians) and tend to come back to bite those who uttered them.

    “And the stink of it is that with 10,000 signatures from Protestant clergy on the Evolution Sunday paper it looks like this new strategy is successful. What these clergy need isn’t a science education (well they probably do but that’s not going to happen) they need to be told they are abandoning their principles to atheists like Richard Dawkins and the National Academy of Science which should be renamed the National Academy of Atheists in the interest of truth in advertising.”

    What does it matter who they signed up to support? The Church/Clergy are not a recognised scientific authority and have in fact made a series of spectacular blunders when attempting to dictate on scientific issues. Some clergy support evolution, some don’t -it doesn’t affect ID as science because we know from past experience that religious opinion is not a sound basis for scientific endevour.

    Regarding NAS, again, I see this as just another pointless conspiracy theory which most rational people will see through in an instant. It has a certain appeal to the average fundamentalist, but only serves to harm the ID movement in the long term.

    The fact is that NAS has a long distinguished history in science. The mission of the ID movement should be to make an effective scientific appeal to the NAS. This may be a long way off, but patience is the key. The NAS aren’t going to disband for the sake of ID; we need to make our case to them on scientific terms, forge a partnership with them and then prepare to make the case for teaching ID in public schools.

    I understand that attacking the NAS now is inviting because we can make them out to be the ‘bad guys’ and bullies, but this is not a sound long term strategy, because ultimately, we need them on our side in order to promote the cause above the current political manoeuvring and advocating that seems to be the norm at present.

    “I don’t mind atheists as long as they aren’t trying to force their faith in a godless universe down the throats of others in the public domain without equal time given to the vast majority who don’t believe in a godless universe. It’s all about using politics to provide a level playing field. On a level playing field the Darwinian narrative apologists don’t stand a chance.”

    Well, I addressed the ‘public opinion’ issue earlier, but again I don’t understand why the ‘public opinion’, majority or not, should be considered scientifically authoritative in any way, shape or form -especially not if it is founded in religious doctrine (as you appear to be alluding to).

    I see the scientific ‘playing field’ as being level. Nothing is holding back ID research. Forget about ‘teach the controversy’ -let’s make a beta textbook, something we can show to the world and taste of what is to cascade from the fountain of ID research. We can include Dembski’s math; with comparative examples of CSI and non-CSI, backed up with solid examples of Behe’s irreducible complexity etc etc. It may not sound like much now, but consider that this is the ID equivalent to and evolution text from 150+ years ago. This is something I consider to be scientifically marketable (and potentially profitable!) and a darned sight better than ‘Pandas’.

    I’m convinced that Dover was both a definite sign that the ID movement had the wrong overall strategy, and a sign that we simply need to be more patient. History has taught us that good science will always prevail in the end and ID is good science.

  13. 13
    jaredl says:

    History has not taught us that good science will always prevail in the end. Such an assessment must logically be had only at the end of history.

    But here’s a repost of an argument I developed in another context:

    Darwinism logically entails, at best, hard agnosticism. Why? If Darwinian mechanisms can, in principle, generate the complex specified information (CSI) present in biological structures, then they also can, in principle, account for information gotten through the biological structures (eyes, ears, brains, so on). If God can be known, it is only through CSI. But Darwinism can, in principle (according to its proponents), account for CSI in biological structures. Hence, any information we think we have about anything, including religion, may indeed just be a subjective product of the Darwinian mechanism, and there is no principled way to treat firsthand experience of the divine as an experiential datum of anything beyond the material universe as opposed to explaning such an experience as hallucination or other epistemically subjective occurence if one is also a Darwinist. Therefore, for the Darwinist, knowledge of God is unassertible.

  14. 14
    chaosengineer says:

    “Darwinism logically entails, at best, hard agnosticism. Why? If Darwinian mechanisms can, in principle, generate the complex specified information (CSI) present in biological structures, then they also can, in principle, account for information gotten through the biological structures (eyes, ears, brains, so on).”

    That’s only true if you subscribe to Materialist philosophy. Under Dualism, God can communicate directly with the human soul without using matter as an intermediary. If you’ve got a personal relationship with God, then you’re not going to be a hard agnostic, even if you believe that Evolution is the tool that God used to create mankind.

    But if you take a Materialist position, then even proof of Intelligent Design won’t work as proof of God. Because your material body is finite, so there’s no way to tell the difference between an infinite God and a finite-but-unimaginably-powerful being who’s pretending to be God. In that case you’ve got no choice but to be a hard agnostic.

  15. 15
    Bob Morwell says:

    Dave Scot & Shane:

    Speaking as one of the people quoted in the article, I can say that I am not afraid of anything that either the Darwinian or Intelligent Design advocates have to say, and if anything, the little “initimdation” I have felt on this issue has come more from those proclaiming a religious viewpoint than from those who don’t.

    I do not see evolution as a hoax, nor do I consider the biblical story to be science. I see the Genesis accounts as dealing with something other than science, and that is spiritual truth which is often presented in the form of parables.

    As literal accounts of what happened at the beginning of the universe, the earth, or life…the biblical account simply falls apart when compared with mountains of physical evidence. In the same way, hanging the “truth” of the parables on whether there was literally a Good Samaritan or Prodigal Son is utterly pointless.

    Out of curiosity, I Googled my name and this site popped up. It’s the first I learned that you and others were speculating on the motivations and sincerity of my faith. Since no one here made any attempt to contact me for such details, it is interesting to see what assumptions you make about me. (Actually, I have studied this issue a great deal.)

    You may choose to assume that I have “compromised my beliefs” but you have made no more effort to know about them than to spin broad assumptions based on a few brief paragraphs. Thoughtful faith requires more effort than that.

    I am a believer in the concept of Intelligent Design. I believe that God created, and loves, the world and has shaped the development of life and intelligence, though I may see God acting in far more subtle ways than you do. One of the problems with this debate is that both sides tend to define the other in ways that are conveniently over simplified, because it serves to help them “win” their arguments. It’s a fundamentally dishonest approach, but all too common in our society. It’s a tactic to win debates, not discern truth.

    I am certainly no atheist in this matter, and I won’t be sending or getting any flowers from Richard Dawkins.

    So Jesus dying on the cross to earn our salvation… is that a parable too that shouldn’t be taken literally? What demarcation criteria do you use to separate parable from literal? -ds

  16. 16
    Bob Morwell says:

    A fair question, though it comes close to an apples and oranges situation.

    There is an enormous body of evidence in many different scientific fields to indicate that a literal reading of the creation stories does not represent what actually took place.

    There is no such massive body of evidence to indicate that Jesus’ death on the cross is a parable without historic basis. Even though the accounts do not agree on exactly what happened. John, for instance says that one thief spoke respectfully to Jesus, while Mark says they both taunted him. That is a contradiction. But such discrepancies are common in descriptions of extraordinary and stressful events.

    The Kennedy assassination was witnessed by hundreds and recorded on film and look at all the varying opinions about what happened.

    But the Gospels agree that he was crucifed, and not even the enemies of the Jesus and the early Christian movement contested that claim.

    Now let’s look at Genesis…

    1:6 describes a “firmament” seprating the waters above from the waters below. The Hebrew word used is most commonly translated as a solid arch or dome. The root comes from the word which means beaten metal.

    There is certainly no denying that most ancient people believed the sky was a solid dome, and I’ve seen nothing to indicate that the Jewish people believed otherwise.

    The dome kept out, not interstellar vacuum, of which they had no knowledge or concept, but the “waters above.”

    They believed that rain occured when portals in the dome were opened.

    I seriously doubt that is your belief.

    The Genesis worldview does not conform to direct, clear observation and repeated experience.

    There are numerous other problems with it, but I have a real job to get to and real needs to try to address.

    Our understanding of truth has to be informed and tempered by real observation and experience. Based on those observations, I cannot and do not take Gensis’ creation accounts literally.

    But I do not see truth is being limited to literalism.

    What you seem to be saying is that when a preponderance of science conflicts with a biblical account then the biblical account becomes a parable. Science trumps scripture in other words. Well, there’s a preponderance of scientific evidence that when someone has their skin nearly flayed off, they are crucified, and run through the abdomen with a spear, and left for dead for 3 days they don’t mysteriously heal in those 72 hours and come back to life. Can you explain to me why science trumps some bible stories and not others? My take is that Christianity couldn’t survive the resurrection being turned into a parable but since Genesis is so far removed from the salvation theme that Genesis can be safely abandoned to metaphor. So you basically let science trump what you can afford to lose and protect what you can’t afford to lose. You really don’t lose any sleep over this? Shame on you for signing that petition. -ds

  17. 17
    Gandalf says:

    Bob Morwell, you have committed two fallacies in your post: first, the etymological fallacy, and second, the straw man fallacy.

    Here you go:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

    Thus, “I do not see truth is being limited to literalism” is a straw man based on the assumptions in your etymological fallacy as well as a misunderstanding of how to interpret literature, including ancient Biblical texts, which comes in many genres and includes many deliberately written figures of speech.

    Using your methods of analysis, you could equally criticize someone who says “the sun came up” as being a flat-earther. The question is “what did the author really mean?” and your methods of analysis give very little insight into that question.

  18. 18
    Bob Morwell says:

    Gee, I’m up against a wizard! ;->

    You claim that I have engaged in an etymological fallacy, without explaining why you believe this particular case involves one. There are biblical linguists who do see this as a legitimate issue. And while it may be convenient to simply write them off as “liberals” or “unbelievers”, such ad hominem arguments are hardly worthy of honest debate.

    Are there other linguists who take your side? Yes. I don’t deny or discount that. But I just point out that they do not represent a unanimous point of view.

    And, none of this changes the fact that the Genesis account describes a world that is surrounded by water, not space. Waters that preceded even the existence of the stars and the earth. You may argue that this is another “figure of speech” but that is an interpretation on your part and not what the text says.

    It was a widespread and common assumption among the ancients to believe the sky was a solid dome over a flat earth. Why do you assume that they did not interpret the Genesis account in this way?

    And, it’s worth pointing out that the Church threatened to burn Galileo based on its insistence that the universe was terracentric and the sun did, indeed come up because it circuited around the earth. Otherwise, Joshua could not have commanded it to “stand still.” You and I may still use that language, but we know it is inaccurate, and we wouldn’t insist that people who believe otherwise disbelieve the Scriptures. One era’s figure of speech was another’s divinely immutable truth.

    I do not consider this a “straw man.” It demonstrates a pre-scientific weltaunschaung (as long as we’re tossing around polysyllabics) with which God had to contend when dealing with the writers of Scripture. How does the Lord transmit scientific truth…such as the quantum physics of stellar formation…to nomadic shepherds whose understanding of scientific principles was less sophisticated than those of the average modern seven year old?

    The use of narrative imagery that was understandable to people of that era makes sense. The truly, and I believe divinely, inspired genius of the narrative is that it deals with themes and questions which are not bound to that particular time and culture. The point of the narrative is one that supercedes scientific verification. The point is that the universe and all that is in it were created by God and organized in a way that works with wondrous and glorious complexity. A point on which, I daresay, we both agree. The issue is the mechanism for achieving this and whether the Bible describes it in a literal or symbolic manner.

    There are a plethora of other problems with the text, if taken literally. I completely agree that the Scriptures contain a wide and dazzling array of different genres of literature and “figures of speech.”

    But if I am to be asked how I discern what is parable and what is not, then I also have the right to ask, “How do you determine what is a figure of speech and what is not?” The writers themselves didn’t really footnote such items.

    In the final analysis, I don’t think that the world will be won over to Christ by attempts to cast the Scriptures as hard science. Arguments and debates have done little in this regard, either.

    The convincing truth is not a scientific one. It is the lived experience of God’s redeeming grace, as evidenced in the deeds and words of those who have faith that God has been revealed in Jesus.

    Myself, I really don’t care that much whether you interpret the Scripture exactly as I do. That would be a narcissistic approach. Do you realize how profoundly, passionately, and relentlessly God loves you, and does that love inspire you to love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly with your God?

    I don’t need to interpret Scripture as you do when it comes to evolution, in order to proclaim Jesus as my Lord. You don’t need to interpet Scripture as I do, when it comes to evolution in order to proclaim Jesus as your Lord. I don’t deny that your faith is real and sincere. I consider it a miracle of grace that we can both call Jesus “Lord.”

    The difference is that I have met others who judge mine as neither real or sincere because I disagree with them. Fortunately, they don’t make the final judgment…not even if they’re wizards!

  19. 19
    Bob Morwell says:

    ds:

    I sleep quite well, thanks for asking.

    I don’t happen to believe that the Resurrection is a parable, for the following reasons: 1) A number of people were cited as witnesses. Genesis’ author(s) make no claim to have “been there” as the events in the first two chapters unfolded. 2) Even though the most or all of the Gospel authors did not personally witness the events of that day, they lived at a time when those witnesses were available and known to the church. 3) While proclaiming that Jesus lived on as a revered and powerful memory or as a purely spiritual presence might have bought them some difficulty with the Roman and Jewish authorities, claiming that Jesus had literally overcome death earned them persecution and execution. There is no evidence in biblical or extra-biblical sources, that any of the people who claimed to meet the Risen Christ ever recanted their stories under duress. 4) The claim that the first witnesses were women makes the story credible, simply because it created a credibility problem for the early church, given that a woman’s words was not accepted in court. If the church leaders had felt safe tweaking the story to make men the first witnesses, but they kept this far more inconvenient version , presumably because they were convinced it was the factual one. 5) There were all sorts of messianic wannabes in that time. A number of them ended up dead. None had movements that insisted their leaders had later been raised to new life. 6) While some people are troubled by the fact that none of the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection entirely agree with any of the others, I find that kind of reassuring. It shows the confusion generated by genuine shock and surprise rather than the careful calculation of conspiracy. The differing accounts mean we can’t know exactly what happened…but the JFK assassination was witnessed by hundreds and caught on film and look at how many different theories there are about that surprising incident. Yet, there is no doubt that Kennedy was killed.

    As for Genesis, the “science” I have seen that tries to prove the Genesis is literally true has been just lousy. I would have been glad to have it otherwise. But I cannot honestly bring myself to swallow it.

    You ask why I believe science trumps some Bible stories? The people who threatened to burn Galileo asked similar questions. He responded, “The Bible explains the way to heaven, not heaven’s ways.”

    That is admittedly an oversimplification. But it touches on my belief that the Scriptures are not a science text, because that isn’t their primary focus or interest.

    I believe that God did indeed create the universe, but the means used for doing so are not described in a literal sense in Genesis. Genesis does address issues that science cannot adequately address (ie. What is the meaning of the universe and of life?) These are the profound questions which we must ask and answers in all times and all lives. These stories brilliantly present answers in ways that are understandable to ancient shepherds with no scientific training, and to people who are steeped in quantum physics. That is true inspiration.

    Should I assume that if you had heard his case, you would have ordered Galileo to stop saying the earth orbits the sun? If not, why not? The Scriptures never say otherwise.

    I’m sure his prosecutors told him he should be ashamed of writing such things.

    Are you saying that you only believe in miracles that have been directly witnessed by men? If so then how do you know there’s a God and angels since no one has witnessed them directly as they did the resurrection? Is Mary really a virgin – did someone witness her not having sex? Are Adam and Eve real people? Where in the line of descent from Adam and Eve do you figure it goes from parable to actual people? Did Noah exist and was there a global flood? How did Noah get unique animals from Austrailia and how did they get back there after the flood? Help me out here. Perhaps you have a list of things in the old and new testament with a checkmark after the things that really happened and the things that didn’t. This would help me an awful lot as I just don’t know where or how to begin separating it for myself. -ds

  20. 20
    crandaddy says:

    All this discussion of Biblical hermeneutics is good stuff and would make outstanding fodder for a theological debate; however, the big question that concerns us is this: Do purposeless material mechanisms offer an adequate explanation of what we see in nature? It’s important to understand that a person can believe that the Bible is complete nonsense from cover to cover and still think that the answer is no.

  21. 21
    Bob Morwell says:

    ds:
    Sorry it took me a while to respond. I was busy with other pressing issues.

    I don’t know that there is a God. Neither do you.

    I believe there is a God. I have a faith that has caused me to dedicate my life to the proposition that exists and cares about us. In fact, I have risked my life and safety in the service of that proposition. But I do not confuse knowing with believing.

    I also believe that God is the God of Jesus. Do I know that? It would be arrogant of me to claim such absolute knowledge. But it is my belief.

    In science, such beliefs are known as theories. A theory is a working proposition, but not a claim to absolute certainty. It is always subject to question and test, because we can never assume our knowledge is absolute. I’ve npoticed that many of the worst crimes in history have been perpetrated by people who were convinced they knew God existed and exactly what God wanted. When people start talking about what they know about God, I get nervous.

    Some theories have enormous amounts of evidence to undergird them. Others have less.

    Are Adam and Eve real people? If you mean two people in a primeval garden. No, I don’t think so. But I believe they are every one of us. They are every person who starts out innocent, but who decides at some point to trade his or her innocence for what they think will be godlike power (Eat it and you will become like God). This is not just about some ancient sin, it is the same sin we all commit. It is the first sin we all commit. We set ourselves on a self-centered course when we are too young and dumb to realize the consequences. It is compounded by our refusal to take responsibility for ourselves (“The woman made me eat the fruit, the serpent made me eat it.”)

    I don’t worry about the mechanics of how Noah gathered or disbursed the animals. (How would you answer those questions?)I think that’s a total diversion from what is important about the story. I don’t even worry about how many animals he took (Gen 6:20 vs. 7:1-2). If the event happened in history, the real issue is, “What does that mean for us today? Why has this story been preserved?” If it is a parable, the same questions apply.

    I can give you a modern Ark story. The Polish city of Nowa Huta was intended to be a model of the enlightened Communist city, devoid of any church. But the workers insisted that they wanted one. The governement agreed, but would give them no help and often did whatever it could to hinder the construction. But, eventually the church was built. It was built in the shape of an ark…a vessel of hope for the faithful who felt storm-tossed on a hostile sea. The bishop who started and oversaw the church was a young man named Karol Wojtyla, who of course became John Paul II. That church became one of the centers of Solidarity and helped end Communism in Poland and throughout Europe.

    The truth of the Noah story is that the Ark still sails where people hold to faith and hope in the midst of danger and disaster. And it has brought them to a new world. I don’t need someone to find it in the ice of Ararat to believe that. If they do, it will make a nice relic. But the important truth will be at work in the work already.

    Right now, I am working to help build homes to be sent to the Gulf Coast. For someone there, they will be arks.

    Events like this form part of the evidence that indicates God is real to me. The biblical witness helps me see this. It becomes true again and again.

    As for whether or not Mary was a virgin, I ascribe as much importance to that question as did the New Testament itself. I see no reason to deny it, but no reason to insist that believing in it is essential to one’s salvation. Jesus didn’t. I have never met anyone who said, “Oh gosh, she was a virgin? Well then he must be divine!” Most people come to the belief he is divine and find that reason to believe in the virgin birth. Frankly, I can’t say I care about Mary’s virginity, either way. It is not the hook upon which I hang my faith. That comes from what he continues to do in people’s lives, and I see that all the time.

    That gives me reason to believe.

    No, I don’t have a notebook with checkmarks. Life isn’t that simple. I could ask how you manage to ignore what I see as obvious and glaring inconsistencies that make a literal reading of the Scriptures untenable, and how you dismiss vast bodies of scientific evidence. I doubt you have a checklist for that, either.

    I doubt you will like this answer. But, you have already rendered your judgment of me. You seem to believe that because I think differently than you that I have no real faith. I only assume that you think differently than I, and I do not presume to judge your sincerity or salvation.

    Feel free to wag your finger at me and tell me how ashamed I should be. Whatever makes you feel righteous, or even superior. It is not your judgment which concerns me.

    I have tried to answer the questions asked of me, but none of mine were ever addressed. So, perhaps this is not the most useful way to spend my time.

    Instead, I will now focus on building those homes in the name of the Risen Christ and commend you to God’s loving care, with a prayer that God will use us both in ways that advance the kingdom and demonstrate grace.

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