Even Evolutionists Know: There is No Reconciling Evolution with Christianity

Last week, Dr. Darrel Falk announced his upcoming resignation as President of BioLogos. Dr. Falk became President of BioLogos after Dr. Francis Collins stepped down to take the position of Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Falk’s resignation follows the departures of Dr. Karl Giberson, formerly Executive Vice-President of BioLogos, and former Senior Fellow Dr. Peter Enns.

What is interesting is Dr. Jerry Coyne’s take on Dr. Falk’s resignation and on the purpose of BioLogos. Dr. Coyne writes at the blog, Why Evolution is True, and is a professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. Here’s what Dr. Coyne had to say:

Do have a look at Falk’s account of BioLogos‘s “accomplishments,” none of which actually include converting science-averse evangelical Christians to evolution. They’ve had workshops, meetings, and a big website for three years, as well as tons of funding from the Templeton Foundation and, I suspect, wealthy evangelicals. But they have no record of actually doing what they set out to do: reconciling science with evangelical Christianity.

The reason is palpably clear of course: those “ways of knowing” are incompatible. But Falk seems cluelessly puzzled by BioLogos‘s failure:

But as thankful as I am for that support, no straddling ought to be required. Science studies God’s creation, which places it on sacred ground, not foreign territory. And if it is sacred ground, then Christians ought to be right there providing tours of the landscape, not out on the fringes looking in. True, there are sections of the science landscape that need to be redeemed from the scientism Richard Dawkins and others use to surface-mine and subtly rearrange the terrain for their own philosophical purposes, but the fact that they have been able to do this may be partly due to our near-absence from the territory. We have been far too hesitant to enter this world, and sometimes it seems we have simply preferred to cast stones from the outside.

Elaine Eklund has shown that Evangelicals are fourteen-fold under-represented among the scientists at the nation’s leading universities. Is this a result of what Mark Noll (almost twenty years ago) described as a scandal—“the scandal of the evangelical mind?” Could it be that the territory seems foreign because we have stayed away and failed to adequately understand how science works and why it is such a dependable way of revealing truth about the physical and biological world that God has created?

Oh for crying out loud! Evangelicals and other hyper-religious people are underrepresented in science because it threatens their faith. It’s not an inadequate understanding of how science works, but a realization that the findings of science, if taken seriously, make the idea of a god superfluous. And, in the end, this is why all efforts like those of BioLogos will fail.

I probably don’t agree with much of what Dr. Coyne believes, but I think he’s absolutely correct about one thing: evolution and Christianity are completely incompatible. If BioLogos exists to make Christianity palatable for evolutionists, it doesn’t appear that they have removed the offense of the Gospel for those committed to an atheistic, evolutionary worldview. I hope that more Christians will realize that compromising Scripture to gain acceptance is dangerous and ultimately unsuccessful.

Declaration on Special Creation of Adam and Eve

The Session of Midway Presbyterian (PCA) of Powder Springs, GA met this week and voted to adopt a “Declaration on the Special Creation of Adam and Eve for Session/Presbytery.” The session gave their reason for making a declaration at this time:

Since in our present time there are attempts to redefine the teaching on the miraculous and direct creation of Adam and Eve, which would lead us back to a spirit of slavery instead of urging us to stand in the liberty that Christ brings (Gal. 5:1), we wish to joyfully reaffirm the biblical, historical, and confessional teaching, and also warn about the erroneous nature of this teaching which will be injurious to the peace, purity, and progress of the church—even to the gospel itself (1 Cor. 15:1, 20-22, 45-50).

Here is an excerpt from their declaration:

1. Affirms and preaches that the Scriptures (cf. Genesis 1-3; Romans 5:12-19; and 1 Corinthians 15:20-22) teach that Adam and Eve are as historical individuals as any of us, were immediately created by God through his direct and miraculous intervention, that God formed Adam, the first man, from the dust of the ground, and made Eve directly from Adam without the need of lengthy time nor a naturalistic process to create Adam and Eve in original righteousness and holiness (cf. also the actions of the 28th PCA GA [2000], 184, 200-201).

2. Denies that Genesis 2:7 or other Scriptures teach that Adam and Eve are the products of evolution from lower forms of life or previous species, or that God acted upon a group of humans or hominids from which he set apart the first couple (cf. Mt. 19:4).

They conclude by inviting other sessions or presbyteries to adopt the declaration. I hope that many other sessions and presbyteries will follow Midway’s example. It may seem like a small step, but it is an important one.

You can read the full declaration at the Aquila Report.

PCA General Assembly Votes NOT to Make a Statement on Adam and Eve

Today at the 40th General Assembly of the PCA, the majority of the commissioners voted not to make any statements regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve. Don Clements at The Aquila Report wrote a summary of the day’s actions:

Three Presbyteries had submitted overtures concerned with the topic of Theistic Evolution and the historicity of Adam and Eve.

Overture 10 from Rocky Mountain Presbytery asked that the General Assembly go on record (known as making an ‘in thesi’ statement that would reject all evolutionary views of Adam’s origins. Overture 29 from Savannah River Presbytery asked for a similar statement.

But Overture 26 from Potomac Presbytery asked for something different. They felt that the PCA had clearly stated their position on these topics, most especially in Larger Catechism Question 17, and anyone who wanted to know what the PCA’s position was could simply read the following statement from that answer:

“After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal soul; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures; yet subject to fall”

A minority of the committee brought to the floor their position defending the adopting of an ‘in thesi’ statement, staying that is was needed since there were a number of people and/or institutions that were claiming to uphold the Westminster Standards (i.e. LCQ 17) yet, at the same time, were claiming that Theistic Evolution or views that Adam and Eve were not truly newly created was within the bounds of understanding of the Standards.

When the votes were taken, the assembly voted by a 60-40% margin to approve the Potomac Overture and not make a statement.

While I appreciate the sentiment of the majority report that the PCA already has statements affirming the historicity of Adam, those who believe that there is not a significant group of theistic evolutionists within the PCA are kidding themselves. It was particularly telling that despite the many assurances by those in favor of the majority report one man spoke to say that he believed the minority report went beyond the Scriptures in what it affirmed about Adam. He said that Genesis 2:7 states that God created Adam from the dust, but not how. He thought there should be more latitude in interpretation there.

That is exactly why we need to address the issue of Adam and evolutionary origins.

PCA Seminar Speaker: No Difference Between Adam Specially Created from the Dust and a Hominid Adopted by God and Given a Soul

This morning at the 40th General Assembly of the PCA, Dr. Gregg Davidson gave a seminar on the age of the earth. Thanks to a couple of my friends who were able to be there, I have had the opportunity to listen to what Dr. Davidson had to say. According to some who were there, the seminar was full, and Dr. Davidson seemed a little nervous.

Dr. Ligon Duncan opened the session by discussing the Creation Study Report and the boundaries that were set in that report. While the report allows for a diversity of opinions on the meaning of the creation days, some issues, like the special and direct creation of Adam, are considered of “vital importance to our Reformed testimony.”

After this introduction, Dr. Davidson began by explaining that Dr. Ken Wolgemuth was not able to attend because he had been called away by his job to Saudi Arabia. Dr. Davidson laughed and said that Dr. Wolgemuth’s schedule changed before the issue of the seminar “went nuclear” on the blogosphere. He went on to promise that nothing that he said would be outside the boundaries set by the Creation Study Report. He also reminded everyone that the scope of the seminar was the age of the earth and not evolution. Anyone who was interested in his views on evolution were directed to his book, When Faith and Science Collide.

Before Dr. Davidson got into explaining the scientific evidence for an old earth, he took a few minutes to lay out his own Christian beliefs, including the inerrancy of Scripture and the death and resurrection of Christ. He was careful to emphasize his belief in an historical Adam and Eve and the doctrine of original sin.

The majority of his presentation was very similar to the material that he lays out in his book. He stated his belief that science can be useful in deciding between two plausible interpretations of Scripture. He gave the example of Galileo and whether the sun orbits the earth or the earth orbits the sun. This was an example of a time that the increasing evidence of science helped to show which interpretation of Scripture was best.

Dr. Davidson explained that his purpose in the seminar was to equip the pastors and elders so that they can better minister to their congregations. According to Dr. Davidson, there are many in the church who are taught that the evidence for an old earth is weak and that to be faithful to Christ one must hold to a young earth. This can become a stumbling block to the faith for many, especially young believers, who grow up and are then challenged when they discover that the evidence for an old earth is very strong. The evidence that Dr. Davidson presented in the seminar is designed to help prevent this potential crisis of faith.

In the same way as he does in his book, Dr. Davidson then addressed the problems that he sees in reading Genesis 1 and 2 in a straight-forward, literal way. These problems include the apparent differences in the two chapters on the order of creation and the problems with having light before the sun. Dr. Davidson used the parable of the mustard seed to give an example of a passage of Scripture that is completely true even though the statements about nature are not. Jesus says that the mustard seed is the smallest seed and that seeds have to die. According to Dr. Davidson, this is not technically accurate as there are many seeds smaller than the mustard seed and that seeds don’t actually die when they germinate. Using this passage, Dr. Davidson explained that Genesis 1 and 2 are best understood as completely true, but not as scientifically accurate statements.

Dr. Davidson then explained a handful of scientific evidences for an old earth. All were pretty straight forward and clearly outlined. He also explained why the most common Young Earth Creationist interpretations do not fit the evidence. In closing, he explained that his intention was not to change Young Earth Creationists into Old Earth Creationists. His desire was to have those who hold to a young earth at least understand that those who hold to an old earth do so for plausible reasons. He repeated his desire to remove a stumbling block to the faith that requires a belief in a young earth.

The audience was allowed to submit questions for Dr. Davidson to answer. The questions were challenging ones both scientifically and theologically. The most interesting questions were the last two. First, Dr. Davidson was asked about his belief in an historical Adam. The question asked if he believed Adam was specially and directly created by God from the dust or if Adam was a hominid adopted by God. Before answering, Dr. Davidson said that he hoped his answer to this question would not cause people to write off the evidence he had given in the seminar. His answer was that he doesn’t see a difference between Adam specially created by God from the dust and Adam as a hominid adopted by God and given a soul. Either way, according to him, Adam is the first human and the father of mankind. He pointed out that the wording of Genesis is that Adam was created by God from the dust of the earth and that science would say that Adam was created from the dust of the earth.

The last question asked was whether or not the session at Dr. Davidson’s church allows him to teach old earth. Dr. Davidson said that he is not currently under discipline and that he has never asked or been asked to teach on the subject.

PCA Committee Prefers Not to Take a Stand on Historical Adam

The 40th General Assembly of the PCA has begun today. While the main business of the GA won’t get started until tomorrow evening, some of the committees have started meeting. One of the committees, the Overtures Committee, voted today on the various overtures submitted by different presbyteries on the issue of Adam and evolutionary origins of man.

Two presbyteries, Rocky Mountain and Savannah River, sent overtures asking the GA to reaffirm the old PC(US) statement on the historicity of Adam. That statement says:

That Adam and Eve were created, body and soul, by immediate acts of Almighty power, thereby preserving a perfect race unity;

That Adam’s body was directly fashioned by Almighty God, without any natural animal parentage of any kind, out of matter previously created from nothing.

Potomac Presbytery also sent an overture on the issue of the origins of Adam. Their overture asked the GA not to make any statement on Adam and evolution.

In a rather discouraging turn of events, the Overture Committee voted today to reject the overtures from Rocky Mountain and Savannah River. If I understand the process correctly, the GA will have the opportunity to vote to accept or reject the recommendation by the Overture Committee. Please join me in praying that the elders of our denomination will stand for the truth and vote to reject this recommendation.

Dr. Ron Choong and Project Timothy: The Bible You Thought You Knew

In the last year or so, Dr. Ron Choong has become known for his views on the historical Adam. Last week, Pastor Wes White posted an update on Dr. Choong and Metro New York Presbytery’s decision not to investigate based on his view of Adam as a group of hominids adopted by God. In researching Dr. Choong’s publications, I discovered that he is the founder of an organization, the Academy for Christian Thought (ACT).

According to their website, ACT was founded by the Rev. Dr. Ron Choong, an ordained minister in the PCA, to be a “research and educational non-profit organization in New York City.” Their goal is:

to engage the urgent issues of our times and persistent questions of all ages. We encourage interdisciplinary engagement with every field of human inquiry to better understand the impact of history, philosophy, culture and the natural sciences on the Christian faith. We seek to articulate an enriched worldview with integrity and foster a climate of inquiry within a sanctuary of doubt we call a theological safe space (TSS).

Their mission includes providing a theological safe space (TSS) to develop apologetics that “engage the natural sciences and world religions for fruitful dialogues,” to “foster a missional church climate in a global secular culture,” to “bridge the academy to the church,” and to develop discipleship programs that “commit to making the discipleship of the mind and body a priority.”

They go on to explain how they seek to develop such discipleship programs:

We develop globally relevant and conceptually holistic discipleship programs. In the sciences, we inquire into methodologies to distinguish science from scientism and evolution from evolutionism. …  In biblical theology, we teach a method of interpretation that engages other religious convictions and scientific inferences while remaining faithful to the confessional integrity of the Bible as a trustworthy, divinely inspired writing of fallible, human effort.

ACT confesses a belief “in the divine inspiration and entire trustworthiness of the Scriptures.” What is interesting is that infallibility and inerrancy are not used to describe their view of the Scriptures.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York, a sponsor of ACT, has hosted ACT seminars and lists ACT as a valuable resource. Dr. Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer, is one of three pastors on ACT’s Board of Reference.

One of ACT’s programs for discipleship is called Project Timothy (PT):

PT is a program of ACT – a ministry that encourages interdisciplinary engagements with every field of human inquiry for a fruitful understanding of Christian belief. PT provides a climate of inquiry within a sanctuary of doubt that we call a theological safe space (TSS) – to engage the Global Secular Culture. … PT teaches a method to make sense of the Bible by considering what the writer of each book intended to say, what the original readers and hearers would have understood and how we today might understand the texts for ourselves.

Project Timothy seminar materials are available for download through ACT’s online store. All of the following quotes are taken from Ron Choong’s The Bible You Thought You Knew: Volume 1 (New York: Academy for Christian Thought Publications, 2011).

Project Timothy’s The Bible You Thought You Knew opens with some thoughts about the goals and aims of Project Timothy:

TTT [Thinking Things Through] in a TSS [Theological Safe Space]: Are our beliefs consistent with each other, are they philosophically coherent, and are they scientifically convergent? While neither philosophy nor science leads to God, they are helpful tools to keeping a check on our prejudices and biases. We are wonderfully capable of convincing ourselves that our thoughts are true because we wish them to be so. If we are indeed committed to thinking things through, we need a safe place to do that thinking without fear of being denigrated or misrepresented. … In a TSS, we can question one’s view without questioning their motives or character. And we can change a view we once took for granted if it is no longer defensible in a holistic confessional Christian worldview (viii-ix).

And,

PT [Project Timothy] provides a TSS [Theological Safe Space] to question assumptions about the scriptures. This strengthens our beliefs and equips us to responsibly proclaim the Gospel (x).

Dr. Choong goes on to describe the approach Project Timothy takes with the Scriptures and science:

Since the question of biblical reliability cannot be affirmed by its historicity, literary, or theological components, we pay attention to these characteristics of the Scriptures to get within hearing distance of the writers’ intent. Thus you will find lapses in historical and scientific accuracy as we increase our modern accuracy of historical and scientific knowledge. Even doctrinal articulation of theological points need to be revised in each generation to account for our greater understanding of the world we live in (xiii).

And,

Biblical knowledge is an older source that is limited to disclosure (divine revelation) rather than discovery (human investigation). So science is an extremely helpful check on our interpretation of the Bible. By looking for convergence between our conclusions and what our minds can discover about the creation of God, we can compose a more comprehensive image of reality (xv).

While Project Timothy’s seminars cover all of the Old and New Testament books, this overview will look mainly at how Dr. Choong applies the above ideas to Genesis.

According to Dr. Choong, Genesis was written around the 6th century BC as the Jewish people were returning from their Babylonian exile (1). As such, it was not written by Moses, although Moses may be the author of some parts (3-4). The purpose of Genesis 1-11 was to provide a polemic against the Babylonian gods, not to explain the “how” or “in what order” of creation:

The final form of these primeval accounts described in Genesis 1-11 was completed during the postexilic period, later than most of the Pentateuch, to tell us about God who created everything including all of the “gods” worshipped by the Babylonians. They were not intended to tell us how the universe was made, how life originated from inorganic matter, or exactly how human beings first came about. Rather, they were intended to counter other Ancient Near Eastern creation accounts (1).

What does this mean for modern Christians and the meaning of Genesis?

The Christian should read Genesis 1-11 with the assurance that we worship the creator of all that exist, and not be troubled by working out the mechanics of creation itself, because the Bible is silent on this matter. Any theological reflection that engages literature, history, philosophy, and science will always result in provisional insights, none of which should form litmus tests of faith (1).

Dr. Choong believes that the Torah was written backwards starting with Exodus, then Genesis 12-50, and finally Genesis 1-11. Because it was written to combat other ANE creation accounts, we should not read it as historical or scientific:

The story of Israel actually begins with the exodus event, recorded in the book of Exodus. It was in the Sinai desert that different tribes of former Egyptian slaves formed the People of God YHWH. … The stories of Genesis 12-50 were told as a prologue to the exodus event and later, the accounts of Genesis 1-11 were told to link the formation of Israel to the very formation of creation itself. Every people group may trace their lineage back to the origins of creation, life and humanity, and Genesis 1-11 is Israel’s account. This account is theological rather than strictly historical. Thus, although it possesses dimensions of history and science, Genesis 1-11 is not historical or scientific and cannot be judged as such (2).

Why does Dr. Choong believe that Genesis 1-11 is not meant to teach us about the origins of the universe and life? He explains that:

Genesis 1 refers not to the origins of the material universe, but to how those pre-existing materials are now designed to function by God. The correct translation of Genesis 1:1 is “When God began creating” (15).

So, if Genesis 1-11 is not historical or scientific, what is it?

The first 11 chapters are primeval histories, not chronological ones. They are mythological. This does not mean they are untrue, but that they refer to events before there were human witnesses. They are therefore unverifiable and unfalsifiable. … The first five of these then stories up till the account of Shem, are not intended to be understood literally or even historically(12-13).

Dr. Choong believes that differences in the order of creation as told in Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that multiple perspectives on creation are given and, therefore, that Genesis 1 and 2 cannot be taken literally:

The religion-science debate is rooted in Genesis 1, which describes the creation of the world in a poetic fashion and employs a seven-day week framework. This seven-day chronology has sometimes been interpreted literally by religious persons opposed to scientific theories such as biological evolution and natural selection, so that the data from fossil records, geology, dinosaurs, and the like, must somehow fit into the seven days of the Genesis 1 creation account.

Genesis 2, on the other hand, discusses the creation of humans and then animals in an order that reverses that of Genesis 1. This makes any simple harmonization of the two accounts untenable. These two versions of creation cannot be reconciled at the level of logical order or sequencing. The narrators of Genesis 1 and Genesis 1 were different persons who lived centuries apart from one another. (13).

Dr. Choong notes that most modern people look to science instead of the Bible to answer such questions as the origin and development of life, but that this was not always so:

Most people, whether religious or not, look to the realm of science for hard data about the environment and cosmology. Prior to the modern period and the rise of the natural sciences, people tended to be more simple or naïve about such things and tended to think (if they thought about it much at all) about the origin of the world in religious and theological terms (Footnote 39, 13).

Given that Dr. Choong believes that Genesis 1-11 is silent on the “mechanics of creation itself,” what does he believe about the compatibility of evolution and Christianity?

Does the process of evolution undermine God’s Glory as Creator? Not at all (6).

And,

Is the six-day creation account central to the Bible? Probably not. … The entire creation v. evolution controversy is based on a false dichotomy. (6-7).

What about Adam? Dr. Choong recognizes that many Christians insist on the historicity of Adam, but he sees some flexibility in the interpretation:

The OT description of the origin of humanity (adam) surely arises from an actual historical event. That much is evident. But whether the figure of biblical Adam represents a pre-existing group of people or a specially created modern-looking like human who was not born (hence, with no navel) and whether Eve refers to a single female crafted from a single rib, ought not divide the Church. There is sufficient grace in theological space to allow for variance in interpretation, as long as they remain provisional and open to review as we learn more and more about ourselves. Thus, we note the inconsistent use of the Hebrew word “adam” in the Bible and cannot say with certainty whether a first human couple was specially created with no biological link to other life forms (7).

Dr. Choong believes that:

Sometime in the distant past, God chose one hominid branch to receive the “image of God,” the potential to relate to God in love (7).

And that:

Such a convergent explanation of what the biblical writers were trying to convey is an example of a responsible apologetic that is at once faithful to the authority of the inspired Bible and accounts for the empirical findings of human discovery. … Did God create one male and one female from which to populate the Earth? Perhaps, and perhaps not. We will never really know. But the Hebrew word “adam” means humanity (7).

Since Adam’s name is also the Hebrew word for “humanity,” Dr. Choong sees biblical support for his view that the historical Adam of Genesis was a group of people and not a single individual:

Is there any reason to think that the biblical Adam was a single person? Yes. Genesis 5:5 refers to the exact age that Adam died, suggesting that Adam was a particular male who was never born but emerged as an adult with no navel and no childhood. Where it gets tricky is whether he also contributed one of his ribs to form Eve. These contrasting hints allow some theological space for a difference of opinion. … Finally, did Paul himself not refer to Adam as a first particular human? Most Christians use Romans 5:12 to infer that the Pauline Adam must be a singular adult male who was the second sinner (8).

According to Dr. Choong, Paul’s use of Adam is not as clear cut as it might seem to be. The real issue is not anthropology but soteriology. In other words, what matters in Paul’s use of Adam are the issues of sin and salvation:

The reality of sin is central to Christianity. The reason Jesus died on the cross is because of sin, so if the first humans did not sin, it makes the Cross redundant. … A literal reading of Paul suggests that sin entered the world through a single human being, and through another, all will be justified. This would describe universal sin accompanied by universal salvation or universalism – something Paul himself would reject outright. … So whatever Paul meant, he could not have meant this phrase literally (8).

Dr. Choong goes on to explain that the doctrine of original sin (a sin nature inherited from Adam as a result of the Fall) is also not found in Paul’s writings despite what many have believed:

While most of the Church Fathers saw that Adam was punished for his sin with sinful desires, Paul himself said no such thing. In fact, to our surprise, Paul in Romans specifically introduced the doctrine that Adam’s punishment was an expected outcome of his created humanity rather than something he did wrong. …

Elsewhere, Paul uses sin to describe behavior as in the teaching that sin was not caused by Adam and Eve but is a term that describes the defiant behavior of Adam and Eve. In this interpretation, Adam and Eve were made loaded with sinful desires already – not that Adam sought out sinful desires. This use of the word sin as behavior finds great convergence with the biological nature of human imperfection, despite our having been made good. But when Paul personified the word sin, his notion of a pre-Adamic existence of sin meant that Adam could not be blamed for any existence of sin per se (8-9).

According to Dr. Choong, therefore, Adam and Eve did not gain a sin nature through the Fall that they then passed on to their descendants. They were made with sinful desires:

If we think that there was perfect morality before Adam and Eve were ejected from Eden, we cannot explain why in their perfect state of moral goodness, they both disobeyed God – how can perfect goodness turn bad? (38)

Because Paul uses personification to explain sin, Dr. Choong believes that Paul’s use of “Adam” may also be a personification of sorts:

Paul expressed the word [sin] to mean at least three different things: a person, a causal agent that may or may not be personified, and a primeval state of the human condition that we inherited. Thus we conclude that Paul in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 did not intend to declare the doctrine that Adam of Genesis was a single progenitor of humanity who was never born, and biologically gave rise to Eve who was crafted from one of his ribs, thus losing a rib in the process (10).

So, what conclusion does Dr. Choong come to regarding Adam and Eve?

What we can say is that Adam and Eve were certainly historical figures. What we cannot say for sure is how many of them there were. Pure literalists suggest two – a male named Adam and a female made out of Adam’s rib named Eve. Although genetic markers suggest a much larger pool of first humans, science along cannot be trusted for a dogmatic statement of faith, so we ought not to rely on biology to determine a biblical interpretation. But the undisputed point that leans towards the origins of humans as a community rather than as a single couple is neither historical nor scientific, but purely scriptural – the Hebrew meaning of Adam is humanity (10).

Dr. Choong also applies his hermeneutic approach to other parts of the Torah. For example, the account of Noah and the flood isn’t an historical account of a family of eight that survive a worldwide flood with lots of animals:

There were already flood stories in the Ancient Near East. So an adoption of such a story would effectively make the point (16).

In fact, according to Dr. Choong, it’s dangerous to attempt to read Noah’s story literally:

The account of Noah’s Ark was not meant to explain the origin of spectral optics that formed the first rainbow, or to showcase ancient naval architecture capable of surviving a global flood. This would reduce biblical theology to the natural sciences. The rainbow is symbolic of a war bow (as in bow and arrow). … The fate of Noah’s three sons does not imply that all Africans are doomed from the beginning because Ham saw his father’s nakedness. … A literal reading of Ham (dark-skinned) led to the justification of African slavery by some in the Christian Church in the West. … Hence, to take a literal-historical reading of Noah’s story would reduce biblical theology to racism, sociology, and pop psychology (12).

The account of the Tower of Babel is also not meant to be read literally, but rather, symbolically:

The Tower of Babel does not explain the origin of human languages or prohibits skyscrapers. That would reduce biblical theology to evolutionary biology and structural engineering. Rather, it uses the mighty towers called ziggurats (“to build on a raised area”) found all over the Ancient near east to make a point about human hubris and lack of respect for the almighty God (12).

Dr. Choong warns that a literal reading of Scripture can cause great harm:

Always consider the medium used to convey the biblical message. Taking many biblical accounts literally wholesale is not a harmless act of naivete. It can actually be dangerous in creating bad theology to fuel racism, sexism and a host of social ills that are morally repugnant (15).

To summarize what Dr. Choong is teaching through Project Timothy’s The Bible You Thought You Knew, Moses didn’t write Genesis, Genesis was written as a polemic against the Babylonian gods, Genesis does not teach ex nihilo creation, Genesis does not speak to how the universe began or where humans came from, Adam is best understood as a group of hominids adopted by God to be imago dei, Adam and Eve were not created with perfect morality, Paul’s Adam wasn’t necessarily the singular progenitor of the human race, Noah’s flood was an adopted ANE story retold for Israel’s purposes, the Tower of Babel doesn’t explain the origin of languages, and interpreting the Bible literally can be dangerous.

When Faith and Science Collide: A Review of Dr. Gregg Davidson’s Book

At the PCA’s upcoming General Assembly, Dr. Gregg Davidson and Dr. Ken Wolgemuth of Solid Rock Lectures will be giving a seminar on what the science has to say on the age of the earth, “The PCA Creation Study Committee a Dozen Years Later: What Does Science Say Now?” Dr. Davidson and Dr. Wolgemuth are particularly concerned that relying on Young Earth Creationism has led to the acceptance of bad science and bad theology in our denomination. They are especially concerned about the negative impact denying the scientific consensus will have on our witness.

Questions were raised about whether or not Dr. Davidson and Dr. Wolgemuth were just interested in the age of the earth, or if they are also proponents of evolution. Some quotes from the Solid Rock Lectures seem to indicate that this is likely, but many were hesitant to be to quick to judge. In doing some research, I discovered that Dr. Davidson, a member and teacher of a PCA church in Mississippi, has written a book on how to reconcile evolutionary science and Christianity.

Dr. Davidson’s book, When Faith and Science Collide: A Biblical Approach to Evaluating Evolution and the Age of the Earth (Oxford, MS: Malius Press, 2009)Q, was written to give “a simple three-step approach for examining scripture and science any time the two appear to clash” (back cover). According to the back cover:

The approach honors scripture first, and addresses the strength of scientific evidence only after satisfying scriptural constraints. When applied to evolution and the age of the earth, the result reveals far more harmony than discord (back cover).

So from the cover of the book, it appears that Dr. Davidson sees “far more harmony than discord” between evolution and Christianity.

Dr. Davidson opens the book with the story of Carl the Scientist. Carl is not a believer but is curious about the Bible and faith. In the course of his research into the Bible he talks with Doug the Young Earth Creationist (YEC). Doug tells him that Genesis must be a literal account of creation and shares a YEC book with him that refutes evolution. Carl is dismayed by the bad science utilized by the YEC proponents. He decides that the god of Christianity must not be a god of truth (11-12).

Dr. Davidson goes on to explain the core thesis of his book:

It is my conviction that much of the clash between the Bible and modern science is not only unnecessary, but harmful to the cause of Christ (13).

As for his own beliefs, Dr. Davidson professes a belief in the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, authoritative word of God and also in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, and original sin (14). He also believes that:

The study of God’s natural creation, by virtue of its reflection of its Creator, will occasionally prove useful in discerning the best interpretation of scripture when more than one interpretation is plausible (14).

So, in the most obvious example, science can help us determine which interpretation of Genesis and the creation week is the most plausible. Dr. Davidson gives a hint here as to which interpretation he prefers:

It is my conviction that good science and good theology will never rest permanently at odds with one another. Apparent contradictions may arise, but ultimately God’s natural revelation (the material universe) will be found in agreement with his special revelation (scripture). There is a growing body of people who share this conviction who have been convinced that the scientific evidence for evolution and an old earth is unassailable (14).

Dr. Davidson next lays out his framework for evaluating science and Scripture. Each apparent conflict should be examined using three basic questions:

Question 1: Does the infallibility of scripture rest on a literal interpretation of the verses in question?
Question 2: Does the science conflict with the intended message of the scripture?
Question 3: Is the science credible? (22-23)

He spends some time, then, considering whether or not Genesis 1 and 2 must be taken literally. His answer is “no,” based on several problems he sees in the text itself (40-41). For example, Genesis 1 says that God created in six days, but Genesis 2:4 says “in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” So, if we read Genesis literally we must believe simultaneously that God created everything in six days and also in just one day (40).

He also mentions some apparent inconsistencies in the order of creation given in Genesis 1 and 2: Genesis 1 says animals were created before man, but Genesis 2 seems to say that man was created before the animals. And, how can there be light on Day 1 before the sun is created on Day 4?

For those that suggest that God was the source of the light before the sun, Dr. Davidson says:

This is not a defensible argument, however, for it requires that God was dark prior to Day 1, and not omnipresent thereafter. Morning and evening without a sun would only be possible if God first turned himself on, and then fixed his position on one side of the earth(42).

Dr. Davidson seems to be unaware of the Biblical scholars who have written on these issues since well before Darwin and evolution appeared on the scene. John Calvin addresses the issue of light before the sun in his commentary on Genesis:

It did not, however, happen from inconsideration or by accident, that the light preceded the sun and the moon. To nothing are we more prone than to tie down the power of God to those instruments the agency of which he employs. The sun and moon supply us with light. And, according to our notions we so include this power to give light in them, that if they were taken away from the world, it would seem impossible for any light to remain. Therefore the Lord, by the very first order of creation, bears witness that he holds in his hand the light, which he is able to impart to us without the sun and moon.

Dr. Davidson also suggests that to hold to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is to believe that since God finished creating on Day 6, then God cannot be the one who causes the Himalayas to grow or babies to grow in their mothers’ wombs:

Adherence to a literal interpretation of Genesis 2:2 requires that God is not the author of these events [land formed by lava spills in Hawaii and growth in height of Himalayas] since he has rested from his creative efforts. Indeed, even you and I are not to be considered his creative handiwork (43).

If God finished creating on Day 6, then he also can’t be the one who made thorns and thistles appear after the Fall, by Dr. Davidson’s reasoning. Although, he offers a possible solution to this problem. Thorns and thistles must have existed outside of the Garden of Eden:

The Garden was a place of protection from an apparently less desirable existence outside. This is evident from the fact that the Garden had boundaries (why boundaries if all the earth was perfect for human habitation?), and an angel was placed at the entrance after the curse to ensure they would not reenter (Gen 3:24). If thorns and thistles already existed outside the Garden, man was blessed with their absence until cast out. The curse was not the creation of thorns, but the exposure to thorns (44-45).

Dr. Davidson concludes by answering his first question: Does the infallibility of scripture rest on a literal interpretation of the verses in question?

[O]ne cannot reasonably maintain a strict literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 and hold to an infallible view of scripture. The use of seven days in the creation account must be interpreted in a manner similar to the interpretation of the three sets of 14 generations in Matthew. A central message is conveyed through the identification of real people or events, and is illustrated with a memory tool where creation is divided into six days of work and ending in rest (46).

Having concluded that the infallibility of scripture is best supported by a non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, Dr. Davidson moves on to address his second question: Does the science conflict with the intended message of the scripture? This is not about the credibility of the scientific claims, but rather whether “current scientific understanding fits or clashes with scripture’s intended meaning” (51).

Each scientific claim is compared with relevant Scripture verses and then a synthesis is suggested. Dr. Davidson starts with the origin of the universe. The Bible teaches that God created everything from nothing. Standard cosmology, the study of the origins of the universe, teaches that before the “Big Bang,” the pre-universe condition was a void. The synthesis, according to Dr. Davidson, is that standard cosmology is “remarkably Biblical” (53). There was nothing, and then there was something.

What about the origin of life? According to Dr. Davidson, the Bible teaches that God commanded the earth to bring forth life (Gen 1:12, 24). Science teaches that “life began on earth roughly 3.5 billion years ago” (54). While scientists aren’t sure exactly how this happened, they are certain that the non-living material on the earth gave rise to life in process that took billions of years and gradually moved from single cell organisms to humans (56). Dr. Davidson believes that there is an easy synthesis here:

According to Genesis, God commanded the earth to give rise to life. According to science, the earth gave rise to life. The parallel statements of creation are remarkable … (57).

Moving on to the origin of man, it might seem more difficult to achieve a reasonable synthesis between Scripture and evolutionary scientific claims, but Dr. Davidson sees no material conflict:

Materially, the Biblical account of man’s creation is no different from the creation of other life on earth. To create all life prior to man, God “commanded the earth to bring forth.” To create Adam, God “formed man from the dust of the ground.” According to scientific accounts, man was formed from the same earth-dust as all other creatures (61).

To those who find a conflict in the evolutionary scientific claim that man evolved from the apes, Dr. Davidson suggests first, that maybe we have an “inflated sense of self-worth:

Our first reaction may be that man is not like the animals. Man is unique and must have been specially created even if nothing else was. The concept that man might share a common origin with other life forms is an affront to our dignity and sense of value. One must ask, however, if the indignation comes from an understanding of Biblical truth, or simply from an inflated sense of self worth (62).

And second, that maybe we don’t understand God’s character:

But would God really create in such a prolonged manner, making small changes from one generation to the next and spinning off myriads of life forms, many destined for extinction? Is this consistent with God’s character? … If our creative nature is truly a reflection of God’s nature, then it is entirely consistent that God would start with a lump of clay (earth materials), and begin to form and shape life through myriad generations until he arrived at what he was ultimately after. This in no way suggests that all forms prior to man were mistakes or castoffs (62-63).

Referencing God’s selection of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, Dr. Davidson sees no problem with the theory that Adam was simply one hominid out of many that God selected to be the first human:

The idea of God choosing one individual out of many is also consistent with what scripture tells us of God’s character. … It is thus at least within God’s character to chose one hominid from among many to endow with a soul and initiate the human race. …

[I]t is conceivable that the Eve and Adam of scripture are genuinely mitochondrial Eve and her mate, selected by God from a population of hominids and endowed with a soul (63-64,65).

Dr. Davidson next considers death and the Fall. Evolutionary science teaches that death and decay must have existed from the very beginning of time. What does the Bible teach? According to Dr. Davidson, the Bible teaches that spiritual death came as a result of Adam’s fall (68), but that physical death could have existed from the start outside of the Garden:

It makes more sense that material death existed from the start, but initially outside of man’s experience. … [T]he description of Adam and Eve’s stay and eviction from the Garden of Eden suggests that life outside the Garden had always been more harsh than life inside. … Thorns, thistles, and material death may have always existed beyond the Garden’s borders (70).

He also believes that creation was not necessarily without death and pain from the start:

Romans 8 does not say that the creation was subjected to futility by sin, but by God, perhaps from the very start of creation. The implication is not that God created the world flawed, but that it was created, from the very start, with a yearning to see the Messiah (emphasis original, 68).

And,

The idea that heaven is a return to creation as it was prior to sin is a human concept, not an undisputed scriptural concept. If Isaiah says the wolf and lion will eat grass and straw in heaven, it does not necessarily follow that they did so at the start of creation (69).

And he warns that:

It is presumptuous to dismiss material death before sin with the claim that God would not call such a world “good.” God’s ways are not our ways (71).

One of the common objections to a literal interpretation of Genesis comes when considering Cain. Who was Cain afraid of if there were only a few people around? According to Dr. Davidson, the Bible teaches that Cain was only one of three humans in existence after the death of Abel (76). Science teaches that there were other non-human hominids, Neanderthals, around during the first days of mankind (76). Dr. Davidson speculates that Neanderthals might be what Cain was afraid of, and that Neanderthals might also be the “sons of God” who intermarried with the “daughters of men” and gave rise to the Nephilim (79):

If it is unsettling to think of God choosing one hominid from among a population to endow with a soul, it will likely be more so to consider that the children of Adam and Eve may have interacted with a species that looked and behaved in ways we would consider human, but were not human. The only response that can be offered is that God often operates in ways that mystify us. When we think we have God figured out, we will inevitably find we have been presumptuous (76).

For those who would suggest that Cain was afraid of his own family, Dr. Davidson does not believe that answer to be in sync with what the Bible teaches:

At the time of Cain’s banishment, he was the second [sic] child of the first humans in existence. Who else was there to fear? The most common explanation is that Adam and Eve had other children that populated the area into which Cain was to wander. … Indeed, Genesis 5:4 does say that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters, but there is a serious timing problem. The first three sons of Adam and Eve are explicitly named. Cain and Abel were the first two, followed by Seth after the murder of Abel (77).

Dr. Davidson also believes Noah’s flood to have been local or regional, but not global:

In the Flood story of Genesis, the literal occurrence of an immense flood and the rescue of Noah and his family are not in question. The question is whether the description of the flood covering the whole earth must literally mean the entire planet, or if it can mean the entire area of human habitation and experience: the known earth (82).

And why does Dr. Davidson believe that the flood was not global? Because he believes there is no “convincing evidence” that the flood was global:

Though much evidence exists for floods of immense proportions in different places around the globe at different times during the history of the earth, no convincing evidence has been found that the entire world was immersed at one particular time (82).

Finally, Dr. Davidson addresses the age of the earth. Science teaches that the earth is billions of years old. Dr. Davidson believes that the Bible is mostly silent on the age of the earth. He believes that the genealogies in Genesis do not give an approximate age of 6,000 years because there are gaps:

The likelihood that names were skipped in the lineage from Adam to Moses means that the ages included can only be used to set a minimum age on the creation (emphasis original, 85).

According to Dr. Davidson, the Bible only teaches that the earth is at least 6,000 years old (85).

Dr. Davidson’s answer to his question, “Does the science conflict with the intended message of the scripture?” is “No.”

Before he moves on to his third question, Dr. Davidson pauses to explain that there is no reason for a Christian to deny evolution. Some may be tempted to argue that evolution gives a different answer than the Bible as to “how” and “in what order” God created, but Dr. Davidson does not believe that this is the case:

Many argue that God has already answered the question of “how” and “in what order,” therefore any attempt to find natural explanations is evidence of a commitment to materialism, a direct denial of God. If the only plausible interpretation of the days of creation in Genesis was a literal one, this might be a fair claim. If the message of the creation days is authorship rather than process, however, then the search for natural explanations is nothing worse than an effort to see the details of God’s handiwork (88).

Since evolution, then, is just “an effort to see the details of God’s handiwork”, then there is no conflict between evolutionary science and Christianity:

As a science, evolution is merely the name given to a study seeking to fit pieces of the life-history puzzle together in the most sensible way. … Rather than defining evolution as Darwinism, evolution should be defined as the name man has given to the study of what God’s creativity looks like. God does not guide, mimic, prod, or adjust evolution as if it is an independent force that God must rein in. God creates. Evolution is merely the physical, chemical, and biological description of what that creation looks like (90-91).

In the next section, Dr. Davidson addresses his final question: Is the science credible? His objective in this chapter is to:

provide simple, concise overviews of both the development and current evidence for scientific claims most relevant to Creation in language that non-scientists can grasp (97).

In order to be brief, here are some of the scientific claims that Dr. Davidson believes are credible: the “Big Bang” theory (99), the age of the earth is roughly 13.7 billion years old (107), the fossil record shows the obvious progression of life forms from simple to more complex (132), the Flood cannot explain the fossil record (132), and the common descent of man from animals (142).

Dr. Davidson explains that despite common misperceptions that transitional fossils are rare or even non-existent many transitional fossils are now accepted by science:

Transitional forms are now recognized for a large number of evolutionary pathways representing both large scale changes (e.g. amphibian to reptile; land mammal to marine mammal) and small scale changes (e.g. leaf eating mammal to grass eating mammal) (148).

And,

The general evolutionary pathway leading from reptiles to mammals, however, comes through clearly (151).

These transitional fossils also prove the common descent of man from apes:

It may come as surprise even to those who accept human evolution that there are now fossil remains from over 5000 different individual creatures that exhibit features intermediate between modern humans and ancient apes. … Well over a dozen different hominid species have now been identified that represent a broad spectrum of transitional forms (156-157).

Dr. Davidson is careful to explain, though, that his belief in the evolutionary development of life does not come from a belief in materialism, that all that exists is what is seen, but from the scientific evidence:

The belief that life originated from non-living materials is not derived exclusively from a commitment to materialism (recall that scripture tells us that the earth brought forth life at God’s command). Rather, the belief rises from the observation that the earth contains a distinct record of life forms through time that starts with very simple single-celled organisms that did not even have a cell nucleus. Give this record, it is logical that there may have been some natural, God-instituted processes at work that could have produced these first cells (152).

Having answered all three of his initial questions and determined that there is no conflict between evolutionary science and Christianity that he can see, Dr. Davidson moves on to why Young Earth Creationism is both bad science and bad theology:

Young earth proponents start with the presupposed truth that the days in Genesis 1 were intended as a literal rendering of the creation events. As such, evolution must be false and the earth must be young. All examination of evidence must demonstrate this position. Two types of people emerge from this starting point. One type honestly argues scriptural or scientific evidence, though in my opinion make mistakes based on a faulty understanding of both scripture and science. … There is a second type that is more disturbing. To this group, the truth of special creation is of such importance that the truthfulness of arguments used in its support can be justifiably twisted if it leads toward belief in the ultimate truth of creation. The loose affiliation shared by these people make up the membership of a creationist cult, where the God of creation has been replaced by worship of creation events rather than the Creator. All is done in the name of Christ, but employing methods grossly inconsistent with Christian character (emphasis original, 165).

Dr. Davidson then lays out the ways in which Young Earth Creationists (YEC) employ misleading arguments:

The purpose is to demonstrate the different ways in which information is presented to make something true sound ridiculous, or something false sound quite plausible (166).

First, he argues that YEC proponents misuse terms in order to make evolution “appear weak or indefensible” (166). For example, when creationists confuse evolution with Darwinism, they wrongly suggest, according to Dr. Davidson, that evolution denies the existence of God:

This example promulgates the false assertion that creation and evolution are inherently opposite worldviews between which one must choose. … If God created through a series of generations, evolution is simply the name scientists have given to the study of God’s workmanship (167).

Dr. Davidson believes that it is also misleading for creationists to say that evolution can’t be proven by science since we can’t test what happened in the past (167). He explains that there are many hypotheses related to evolution that are testable by scientific study, including the hypothesis that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees:

Hypothesis: Humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, human and chimpanzees share a more distant common ancestor with gorillas, and all apes and humans share an even more distant common ancestor with monkeys. If true, DNA markers consistent with common ancestry should be more prevalent between humans and chimps than between chimps and monkeys (171).

After explaining the advances in the study and comparison of human and chimpanzee DNA, Dr. Davidson concludes:

Result: The greatest similarity (number of similar disabled sequences located in the same positions) is found between humans and chimps, less between humans/chimps and gorillas, and least between apes and monkeys. … The result of this test offers strong support for shared biological ancestry with the rest of God’s creation (172).

Other ways in which Dr. Davidson believes YEC proponents twist the truth include: misapplication of scientific laws or principles (175), use of half truths (180), misuse of probability calculations (194), and playing games with fossils (198). According to Dr. Davidson:

Life obviously changed in a step-wise fashion over time, but the complexity of the developmental pathway and the incomplete nature of the fossil record means it will not always be possible to firmly establish exact lineages between ancient and modern organisms (emphasis original, 199).

If life didn’t begin this way, then God must have deceived evolutionary scientists:

If God truly created as young-earth proponents insist, we are left with the conclusion that God must have intentionally created in such a way that the story told in the earth’s layers would appear different than what actually happened. Yet God assures us in Romans 1 that his character is evident in his creation (206).

Dr. Davidson concludes his book with what he believes the consequences will be if the church doesn’t accept evolution:

If the best interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is consistent with what modern science now tells us about the age of the universe and the adaptive development of life over time, what could be the consequence of rejecting it? At the very least, there are three (233).

One consequence will be a failure to recognize and be awed by the magnificence of God’s creativity when we see it. With each new fossil discovery, we should be captivated by and enjoy the incredible artistry manifest in the ability to bring life from non-life, and to create new creatures from old. … Instead, each new find is met with reactions that may range from disinterest to disdain (233-234).

As each new scientific discovery is revealed that fits the evolutionary model, there will be a growing sense that God’s creation does not adequately reflect his authorship. God appears to be allowing his natural creation to tell a very convincing story that is entirely wrong. This cannot help but influence our view of God’s character. We will be forced to rationalize the the righteousness of a God who designed his natural creation to intentionally lead astray all but those willing to deny the story it yields (234).

The third consequence is the most sobering. When talking with questioning materialists, we will unwittingly become an obstacle to their path to faith. They will be looking at God’s workmanship while denying the Creator, and we will insist that to acknowledge the Creator they must deny his workmanship! Can there be a more ineffectual witness? How much better to simply open the door to show how the very work they see carries the signature of its author (234).

In conclusion, Dr. Davidson sees no conflict between evolutionary science and Christianity. He accepts the scientific claims for the origin of the universe, the age of the universe, the evolutionary origins and development of life, and the common descent of man from animals. He believes very strongly that YEC represents both bad science and bad theology. According to him, it is not merely another equally valid way to interpret the Scripture and the scientific evidence, but rather a “stumbling block to the faith” and a “failure to recognize and be awed by the magnificence of God’s creativity.” The logical conclusion of Dr. Davidson’s arguments is that there is no room for YEC in evangelical churches.

BioLogos’ “Vision for Change”

In March, Dr. Tim Keller hosted BioLogos’ third Theology of Celebration workshop at the Harvard Club in New York City. Unlike the previous workshops, this workship did not conclude with a statement but with an “urgent desire to bring about change.” What needs to change? The sentiment at the workshop was that the church is in danger because so many pastors believe or even accept the possibility that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Apparently, young earth creationism is the new “great evangelical disaster.”

While BioLogos states that they value “gracious dialogue with those who hold other views,” in their articles and interviews, they often seem quite dismissive or even hostile towards those who disagree, especially proponents of Young Earth Creation (YEC) and Intelligent Design (ID). They are especially distressed that despite all the “evidence” in favor of evolution so many evangelicals are still clinging to literalistic interpretations of Genesis.

BioLogos defines Young Earth Creationists (YEC) as denying “the revelation of God in nature and the gift of science.” Dr. Karl Giberson, formerly VP of BioLogos, believes that Young Earth Creationists represent an “intellectually impoverished parallel culture” that drives the “best and brightest evangelicals out of the church”:

Survey results recently reported by Christianity Today clarify once again the sober truth that evangelicals are not making much progress in accepting well-established mainstream scientific ideas about origins. Particularly disturbing is the finding that only 27 percent of evangelical pastors “strongly disagree” with the statement that the earth is 6,000 years old. A higher number “strongly agree” that the earth is just 6,000 years old, a conclusion refuted by mountains of evidence. Seven in 10 evangelical pastors “strongly disagree” that “God used evolution to create people.” …

The dismissive and even hostile approach to science taken by evangelical leaders like Ken Ham accounts for the Barna finding above. In the name of protecting Christianity from a secularism perceived as corrosive to the faith, the creationists are unwittingly driving the best and brightest evangelicals out of the church — or at least into the arms of the compromising Episcopalians, whom they despise. What remains after their exodus is an even more intellectually impoverished parallel culture, with even fewer resources to think about complex issues.

According to BioLogos, it’s not just the YEC that deny “science.” In an interview between Dr. Karl Giberson and Dr. Francis Collins, they dismiss the idea that proponents of Intelligent Design are conducting research:

Karl Giberson: What do you think of this project that the Discovery Institute has launched, with a laboratory where they want to do genuine scientific research, with their own in-house scientists? That’s a very strange development.

Francis Collins: It is very hard for me to imagine what they will do. Science by its very nature ought to be unfettered by any particular perspective on what these right answers are supposed to be. And yet here you are setting up this scientific circumstance that has as its goal to support intelligent design theory. That is counter to the way that science has to be conducted. And furthermore, as everybody has pointed out, intelligent design has this major fundamental flaw. It has no predictive value that anyone can discern. And it has no scientific strategy to demonstrate the correctness of its position because it’s implying divine supernatural intervention, which by definition science isn’t really able to establish. It’s the wrong set of tools.

So, rather than viewing those who disagree as “partners in the conversation,” proponents of YEC and ID are seen as barriers to the BioLogos goal of harmonizing evolutionary science and Christianity. As Dr. Falk wrote:

Should we try to convince all of the non-scientifically inclined evangelicals to cease believing that Adam and Eve are the first human beings? That would almost certainly be futile at this time—there is no point in trying. Besides it could harm their faith. What the church can, and in my opinion must do, however, is to make it clear that there are two ways in which evangelicals view this story. One is historical, the other, allegorical. To publicly acknowledge that and to make it clear that the latter view does not in any way disengage an evangelical from their faith would be of considerable significance. Let’s allow both views to co-exist in evangelicalism for now. I am convinced that we can eliminate the barrier by simply admitting that there are many deeply committed Christians who believe that many elements of the story of Adam and Eve is not historical. I think we need to tell our children that at a young age and I think we need to show them why there are committed Christians on both sides. It also would be good to show them why the historicity of Adam and Eve is not foundational to faith. (emphasis added)

Dr. Tim Keller, host of the most recent BioLogos Theology of Celebration workshop, said that it’s “the job of pastors” to develop a BioLogos narrative to combat YEC:

Few Christian colleges or seminaries teach young earth creationism (YEC), participants noted during discussion groups. But less formal, grassroots educational initiatives, often centered on homeschooling, have won over the majority of evangelicals. “We have arguments, but they have a narrative,” noted Tim Keller. Both young earth creationists and atheistic evolutionists tell a story tapping into an existing cultural narrative of decline. To develop a Biologos narrative is “the job of pastors,” Keller said.

Along those lines, BioLogos has recently announced a new grants program, Vision for Change, to focus on ways pastors and other church leaders can help their congregations learn to accept the “truth of evolution”:

As our regular readers well know, the majority of evangelical Christians reject one of the most well-established of scientific theories—evolution. Evolution lies at the heart of many scientific disciplines; it is as fundamental to biology as 2 + 2 = 4 is to mathematics or as E = mc2 is to physics. If these basic truths were found to be false, entire disciplines would collapse. To the majority of Evangelicals, however, an anti-evolutionary view of origins is equally fundamental. In their view, it affects how we read Scripture and understand the Gospel itself—the very heart of our identity as Christians. If evolution were found to be true, it would be disturbing indeed.

While Christian scholars and scientists have actively worked on evolutionary creation and related topics for decades, their work has mostly failed to leave the ivory tower, creating a vacuum in the church. Well-meaning public figures have moved into the vacuum to proclaim that much is at stake if Christians ever yield to mainstream science. These figures preach that scriptural authority, Christian theology, and Christian morals and values will all collapse if believers accommodate their thinking to the discoveries of “man’s historical science.”

It’s time for things to change.

Why is it time for things to change? Because BioLogos believes that if the church doesn’t begin to accept evolution as fact and work to reconcile this “truth” with the Bible, then the church will lose its relevance and impact on the culture. It may even drive believers from the church. In light of the March meeting in NYC and these other statements, it appears very clearly that Biologos has an agenda. Dr. Falk sums it up this way:

We in the BioLogos community urge the Church not to surrender the evangelicalism tent to American fundamentalism. There is far too much at stake. …

We’ll exist within the tent together for awhile. Eventually, I think even the fundamentalists will come to see that they need to allow science books in their library and fundamentalism will undergo its own evolution.

Biologos may want to dialogue for a while, but what they really want is to enshrine evolution as a new dogma for evangelicals.

BioLogos Conference: Hosted by Dr. Tim Keller

I guess that answers the question about whether or not he supports them. From the BioLogos newsletter:

On March 20–22, 2012, noted evangelical pastor Dr. Timothy Keller hosted the meetings at the Harvard Club in New York City. That in itself has symbolic significance. Harvard University was founded on principles firmly grounded in the Word of God in its pursuit of truth. But since then, Harvard has lost its way. Some wonder if a segment of the church is now in danger of losing its way too.

A statement emerged from each of the first two “Theology of Celebration” meetings, which were held in November 2009 and November 2010. The third meeting, held in March 2012, showed that the conversation has reached a new level of maturity. Given data that was presented at the meeting—which convincingly showed that almost half of America’s protestant pastors hold or strongly lean toward a belief in a universe less than 10,000 years old—there was a deep concern for the church not only in America, but also worldwide. This time, leading evangelical Christians left with not so much a statement as an urgent desire to bring about change. The church of the coming decades cannot divorce itself from matters about which there is scientific certainty.

“Enns seems much surer of evolution than Scripture”

Over at The Aquila Report, Dr. Donald Crowe has an excellent review of Dr. Peter Enns’ book The Evolution of Adam. After giving a brief summary of the book, Dr. Crowe begins to interact with the various claims Dr. Enns makes in his book. (For a longer summary of Dr. Enns’ book, please click here.)

Enns does not so freely use the word “myth” in this book as compared to his previous work. But a non-historical untrue story is a myth by another name. The apostolic testimony is that they did NOT follow cunningly devised fables [Greek muthos = myth]. He seems to chide his former colleagues at Westminster Seminary by reference to those who “insist that all those other [pagan] writings are clearly ahistorical while Genesis is somehow presenting history.” He calls this a weak position of faith. He may have a point here, if he would move them toward a greater trust in the Word of God, but he does not. He believes consistency demands that Westminster and every other Christian concede much more to the evolutionary view. The history of compromise in the Christian church is a tragic one. One compromise leads to another until there is no firm foundation upon which to stand. The Church is large part simply drew new lines in the sand while beating a hasty retreat. The tides of time washed each line away. Enns has drawn the last line at the resurrection of Christ, the next stop is the abandonment of the faith altogether. But it could be a renewed by the grace of God to a trust in the authority of Scripture from the very first verse to the last.

Usually, his references to creationists are condescending and misrepresentative. Creationists do not believe that the earth is flat, that it was created just as its looks now [for example, the Flood made massive changes], or that the earth is a fixed point over which the sun actually rises and sets. Nor do we believe the Bible teaches these things, however much we may speculate about the personal views of the writers. He correctly states the conviction that God created the world in relatively recent history, but seems to lump that together with a belief in a flat earth. But the recent creation is derived from the inspired chronology of Scripture, the flat earth is not. There is no evidence that he has read any serious work on the creationist view. Not being able to fairly state what creationists actually believe and being unwilling to inform oneself of their literature might be seen as a weakness in one’s case.

So many things are simply asserted based on a presupposition that evolution is true that it would take a book larger than the one he wrote to give biblical replies. But biblical replies have been written, it is just that most evolutionists do not bother to inform themselves of them. Every Christian should be informed on the biblical doctrine of creation and be equipped to defend the faith.

I had the experience in seminary of having a German liberal who told pretty much the same tales about the OT, making most of the same assertions. He was, as far as I could tell, totally unaware of conservative works on the OT. It is hard to understand until you know that the “liberal club” like the “evolutionary club” thinks they are above reading such things, they read only each other. Conservative writings, no matter how scholarly, are dismissed with a snicker. “Scholarly consensus” to them means they surveyed the “club’ members and all agreed with the liberal view. Sadly, from reading this book one would never know there were any other views.

Tragically, Enns seems much surer of evolution than of Scripture. That is a sad and unnecessary condition for a Christian. He mentions in passing something about the ultimately divine origin of the Bible, but it is left very vague. I had to wonder, “Where is the view of Scripture held by Christ and the apostles? “ Wouldn’t that be the Christian view? Jesus affirmed the Scriptures of the Old Testament, certainty including Genesis. He was a ‘jot and tittle’ believer where Scripture is concerned. Jesus has been accused of being a “fundamentalist” by some liberals. Paul believed that All Scripture was God-breathed. Enns can dismiss Paul as an ancient child of his times, but does not touch on Christ who had the same views. We should be aware that the originators and promoters of the evolutionary worldview—those same people who allegedly force us to mythologize Genesis—also tell us that the resurrection of Christ is mythical. This should lead us to doubt their conclusions on Genesis!

Dr. Crowe goes on to discuss how evolutionary science and Christianity are truly different worldviews:

Everyone has the same observable evidence. The difference in worldview and ultimate standard shapes the way we interpret or make sense of the evidence.

What is our ultimate authority? Do we have the view of Scripture held by Christ and the apostles? For example when Peter spoke of Scripture as follows: “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; (Acts 1:16, NKJ) Or Paul’s declaration, “All Scripture is God-breathed,” or the statements of Jesus affirming the Old Testament as well as His own authority. The Scripture cannot be broken; it is enduring truth down to the jot and tittle. The God-breathed revealed word is the ultimate authority, the standard by which all human statements are evaluated. If we judge Scripture by a human standard, the Bible is no longer our ultimate authority. Autonomy has raised its ugly head.

Or, is Scripture just the attempt of a downtrodden post exilic people to reconnect with their identity by their ancient primitive non-historical stories modeled after pagan mythology? Can Jesus escape these charges hurled at Moses and Paul? Whatever view of ‘inspiration’ Dr. Enns may have does not seem to involve much of divine influence or preservation from error. The book is rather short on positive affirmations, except for affirming evolution. By God’s grace, our eyes can be opened, and we can confidently affirm all that the Scripture teaches. Biblical theology is rooted in history. Real historical events accurately interpreted. The Bible tells what happened and what significance it has. Of course, if it did NOT happen, then it has no significance.

Next, Dr. Crowe addresses various misconceptions about what “science” is and how Christians interact with it:

What is ‘science’? In a Christian worldview, science is a God-glorifying endeavor as we explore God’s creation and marvel at his power, wisdom and purpose. When we look at the creation through the clarifying lens of Scripture, every observation leads to the glory of God. We have a God-given standard by which to interpretation everything we see and everything that happens. Modern science was begun by Christians desiring to think God’s thoughts after Him and learn more of Him by studying His works. Things observed are rightly understood by the standard of God’s revelation.

An evolutionary worldview rules out any consideration of the Creator. They define ‘science’ as naturalistic, thus excluding from the start the right answer! But what if God really did create the heavens and the earth? Would it be legitimate to rule out the truth and consider only wrong answers? Has ‘science’ no interest in what really happened? Let’s say that God did create the heavens and the earth. Then it is true, scientifically true and historically true. In that case the evolutionary presupposition only guarantees that the truth will not be found!

What counts as ‘science’? ‘Science’ has a positive connotation for most people, including me. People think of technological advances like cell phones or MRI, of combating diseases by knowing more of how the body operates, or the engineering and mathematical skills required to send a man to the moon or orbit satellites. But is calculating the acceleration of gravity really in the same category as speculating about the origin of the universe? In a Christian worldview, with Scripture as our ultimate authority, we learn so much from Geology about the extensive catastrophic changes brought about by the Flood. Careful observations and measurements, consistent experimental results and technical and medical advances—all these give us a positive response to ‘science.’

But evolutionists do a ‘bait and switch,’ trading on the positive achievements of real science. Another ‘bait and switch’ tactic is in defining ‘evolution’ as merely ‘change over time.’ Once this obvious fact is acknowledged, evolution becomes “the development of higher life form, including man, from single celled creatures, the origin of life from non-life, of intelligence from non-intelligence, and many other unacceptable conclusions. In the name of ‘science’ they exclude God from their thinking, as true “Romans One”[i] men, and begin telling their just so stories. Rejecting Genesis 1 as “religion” or worse, they explain the origin of the universe by “The Tale of the Amazing Exploding Speck.” According to this Epicurean-like story, long, long ago and far, far away, a tiny speck no larger than the head of a pin had been just floating around in dark frigid space for millions and billions of years [not that there were really “years” then]. With no outside forces in existence, it of itself exploded into the entire universe we see today. The billions of stars, whole galaxies, and all our solar system with the Sun, the earth and all the planets were packed into the amazing exploding speck. The unimaginably massive material mass of the universe fit into a pinhead! The pieces gradually assembled themselves into stars, planets, moons, and earth.

Why does this qualify as ‘science”? Why does this explanation of the origin of life– that claims extraterrestrial aliens visited earth and left a few spores behind—qualify as science? It is more like a deliberately chosen presupposition, a God-excluding worldview, a philosophy of life.

It is not ‘science versus religion.’ We all have the same evidence to observe. The difference is in how we interpret that evidence. How do we account for it? Should I use the God-breathed record from the omniscient Creator as my standard of evaluation and interpretation? Or should I rely on a philosophy which was designed to exclude all consideration of God? But what if God is the right answer? Should I rule out the right answer because of philosophical preference? Won’t that simply guarantee that I would reach a false conclusion?

Dr. Crowe concludes:

I cannot think of anyone to whom I would recommend this book. I understand that many Christians struggle with the conflict between what they have learned from the Bible and what they have been taught for 12-16 years in compulsory attendance at government run schools. These schools systematically exclude any serious study of God from history or science; anyone even suggesting such a possibility or criticizing the established religiously held belief in evolution will be silenced or dismissed.

I had these kinds of questions as a new convert in high school. I learned that many Christians had devised ‘interpretations’ that allowed for a kind of synthesis of the evolutionary worldview with the Christian-biblical worldview. These were ultimately unsatisfactory. By God’s grace I was shown a better way. The answer I found was not an acceptance of evolution as truth, but a confidence in the Word of God and a new way of looking at life. It is far better that we present to the world an antithesis to their worldview, rather than attempt a synthesis. …

So what is our ultimate standard? Is it the God-breathed record of the omniscient Creator or the current cultural consensus of speculation among evolutionists, the leading originators and promoters of which are anti-Christian “Romans One” men?

If we allow Dawkins and friends to force us to mythologize Genesis, then every miraculous work recorded in the Bible, and to regard Paul as merely an ancient culture-bound man with mistaken opinions—how will we defend the resurrection of Christ? After all, the same crowd that demands Genesis be mythologized, also thinks the same about the resurrection.

(Before we hop on the evolution “bus,” we ought to find out who is driving and where they are headed.) We may praise God that there is a better way.

Let us cease the pathetic, unrealizable quest for academic respect from the Romans one crowd. Instead we must as Christians answer this call: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5, NKJ).

You can read the whole of the article here.