October 21, 2020

Sundays with Michael Spencer: July 19, 2015


The Creation of Man, Chagall

Note from CM: I know we just posted a portion of what Michael Spencer had to say about Young Earth Creationism last Sunday, but another disturbing situation was reported this past week, which shows me that we need to keep beating this drum at Internet Monk.

Deborah Haarsma at Biologos writes about Jim Stump’s resignation from Bethel College because the school, which is affiliated with the Missionary Church, decided to change its position and require those who teach at the college to affirm their statement, “We believe that the first man, Adam, was created by an immediate act of God and not by a process of evolution.” Haarsma’s article is, in my view, very generous to the school even though she expresses disappointment in the decision itself. I would not have been so gracious, I’m afraid. Evangelicals never fail to amaze me with their ability to take silly stands and fight unnecessary battles. As a resident of Indiana, I’m also embarrassed that a Christian denomination based in our state has chosen to represent an obscurantist perspective that, in my view, has no reasonable basis either in the Bible nor in science.

So, we’ll hear more from Michael on the subject today, and probably more from me in days to come.

• • •

My own experience with creationists indicates that maintaining a view of scripture that includes scientifically valid propositions about the age of the earth, the origin of species and the nature of geology/astronomy and physics is just as important as any Biblical statement about Jesus or the Gospel. Use of the Genesis account of creation and the fall anywhere in the Biblical narrative means that all the propositions, theories, explanations and extrapolations of the young earth creationists are assumed to be true, Biblical and the standard test for orthodoxy.

I could cite any number of blog comments that indicate a complete “domino” theory: Inerrancy = young earth creationism = orthodoxy = the Gospel. It’s not much trouble to find advocates of this view who will say departure from the “truth” of Hamm’s version of creationism equals abandonment of the Bible, the Gospel, the truth and righteousness.

As one sending Christian students off to colleges and universities, this is depressing. While advocates of ID are valiantly working to make a case for intelligent design, the advocates of YEC continue to make fideism and acceptance of the entire YEC canon a cardinal tenet of being a Biblical Christian. The shape of their resistance to debate and discussion appears to be increasingly unethical and incompatible with a Christian witness and intellectual integrity.

Contrast this with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on these same subjects. (Catholic Answers has a good article, but the Catechism is the crucial statement to read.)

I’ve blogged my own position in the YEC debate in the past, and gotten all the expected reaction. Saying that the Bible is about Jesus, God’s Final Word of salvation, and not about geology and astrophysics is still a minority view.

We must develop a way to talk about scripture that does not create this situation. The rise of Ken Hamm’s approach to Genesis has been largely blessed by the culture warriors whose influence in evangelicalism ties every available issue together, making those who would doubt YEC to be honorary pro-abortion activist Democrats in favor of gay marriage.

Clearly, we need to hear voices like Conrad Hyers who rescue our use of the Bible from the claims of the creationists. The false dichotomies, death-or-surrender tactics and propagandizing techniques of one segment of evangelicalism is making it more and more difficult to bring the intelligent, bright young people of our churches with us into serious discipleship. This is not an issue that will be solved by preachers throwing Bibles around in protest of the insidious errands of anti-Christian educators. If the YEC approach wins the day in evangelicalism, the movement will lose. It will lose thousands and thousands of young minds, who will go where the relationship of science and scripture is less hazardous.


  1. The compact that science makes with reality is to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Even if it leads you somewhere you don’t want to go. You may of course opt out at any point but when you do so you are no longer doing science.

    We have mapped the human genome. Evolution is real and it is genetically impossible that the human race could ever have been reduced down to or sprung up from two single individuals.

    The question is how highly we value the search for truth. Do we value it enough to accept it even when it means abandoning our cherished dogmas?

    • David Cornwell says

      Yes!. My reply to you is just below.

    • I would tend to agree with you. This is what I wonder about. The lineage that was put forth in the Bible to Jesus. For me in Jesus we are all created. You might say there is no science behind that and I would say exactly. Why? Have scientist purposely turned their eyes on just the natural. Yet they find these things in natural light happening. All kinds of things. I am not yec or whatever the fads are and don’t really care. You say genetically we couldn’t have started from two people. I don’t believe you. Does that make it true or not true. Truthfully I don’t believe you is true. Man is so depraved he would mate with anything. Totally depraved…might be going a bit to far but for some of our species it isn’t and this far from our origins. Wow.

      I have to wonder why we, science totally ignores the accounts of the gospels or the times someone who is for no other reason a miracle gets up and walks away from death. A shrug of the shoulders and business as usual. I watched a show and forget what it was called where an intelligent rather large black man hosted it and to be sure he was gracious. There seems to be a very fine line to gracious and he apparently was the one dancing on it. Our pride in what we have discovered should only makes us more humble in what we actually don’t know and might never know this side of our existence.

      Still all in all making a man resign for his job because of such things seems like something a good person wouldn’t do. Maybe our Lord will be gracious and find him something that will bring joy to his heart.

      • oops wasn’t going to post that and hit the wrong key. Just to be sure I am not cutting down those whose calling is to look into the natural. I wish we had some very level headed people looking into the spiritual as well. Maybe just maybe we could all meet there.

      • How could it be this side of eternity. Such a paradox could exist. That the one in whom all things were created actually came from that which he created and always was in a being that always existed and didn’t need for anything else but chose in grace to bring us forth out of two special people in Christ Jesus.

    • Scientists say a man can not be raised from the dead. Should we also accept this “indisputable” scientific “fact”?

      • Of course. The resurrection of Jesus Christ wouldn’t mean much if we didn’t.

        • Exactly. And we also accept that God put those indisputable scientific facts in place for a reason.

          Just so he could break it one day, lol.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > And we also accept that God put those indisputable scientific facts in place for a reason.

            Life is even easier if we throw that unnecessary statement out with the trash. Perhaps the speed of light is just that, the speed of light? Or terminal velocity is what it is? Just the plumbing, outside the point of the story. Ascribing meaning to every last little thing is exhausting.

            What are the ‘spiritual’ connotations of the density or rate of flow of gasses in the Horsehead Nebula? Can that be ‘reconciled’ with Leviticus somehow?

            It is worse than silly. If they have a reason, it is perfectly reasonable to think it probable that reason has nothing to do with me.

          • but but but God can do anything! He’s totally unconstained by anything but the limits of our imagination, so we can make him able to do anything!

            Or something along those lines. You make a very good point!

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > unconstained by anything but the limits of our imagination

            The limits of our imagination prove to be very severe limits; history is a long testimony to this.

        • It’s not just so much as it is a “scientific fact” so much as what our faith teaches is the theological truth behind it. Death is not “natural,” even if it works itself out in nature, any more than existence itself is “natural.” It has a nature, but it is the way it is because the Word has caused it. Creation is the work of the Word, and death is a result of the curse, theologically. We can examine it through observation, and benefit our lives greatly from what we learn, but the Bible is primarily concerned with the doctrine behind the observable phenomena.

          The resurrection of Christ wasn’t significant simply because it was a supernatural act. It was significant because it trampled down death and overcame the curse, opening life eternal for all who believe.

      • And thus is one of the main, if not single, lynchpins about Jesus. Do you accept by faith that he was raised from the dead and promises to do the same to those who believe in him? That’s Christianity. There’s really no other claim of resurrection like his in the Bible, even if there are other stories throughout history of similar events. It had to be a miracle, a one time only thing (so far) that goes against indisputable scientific fact (which was put in place by the same God who resurrected, ironically).

        So…there it is.

      • Absolutely. Unless Jesus’s resurrection was miraculous, we wouldn’t be able to recognize it as carrying the significance it does. A miracle is only a miracle because it is contrary to natural law. You cannot have the resurrection of Jesus without the impossibility of resurrection. This is why the gospel accounts, especially Luke’s, make sure to make the point that he was definitely, absolutely, recognizably by experts, dead.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Scientists say a man can not be raised from the dead. Should we also accept this “indisputable” scientific “fact”?

        Standard YEC reflex response to stimulus.
        Type 42-B, without the outboard motor.

        Stimulus –> Response
        Stimulus –> Response
        Stimulus –> Response

  2. David Cornwell says

    Very well said. Thanks.

  3. I’ve come to view many of these “truths” as modern day Shibboleths. They are quick way to separate “us” from “them” in conversations. And then tacitly dismiss all of “them.”

    There are many modern equivalents:
    – Complementarian or Egalitarian
    – Female Ordination or Male-only Ordination
    – Gay marriage or Traditional marriage
    – Pro-Life or Pro-Abortion

    The list is nearly endless.

    • Rick I do see what you’re saying and the problem that exists is the same from the other side.

      I said to my Lord once walking the mountain and crying out to Him. It would be easier for me to hang on a cross and get this over with. He said He already did that to me in a whisper and I’m not asking you too I am asking you to live your life out with me in this love. That’s your cross. I said it’s so heavy at times and I don’t even like people that much. You I love. I’ll try for you. Boy the amount of times I have skinned my knees in this walk.

      Lately I just want to go home I’m tired. I had nothing he gave me a mansion. I had an old work van barely running and no insurance and they took my tags. I have 3 dually pickups now. Nothing really great but I like driving all 3 especially the 25 year old one. I had no money in my bank account. I had drank myself nearly to death at 47 just 8 years ago. I had heard his voice at 15 and knew he loved me but I was failing miserably. I had tried and remain sober for a long period before this. He has always kept his promise to me. He has never stopped loving me. I believe Him. I believe the woman yesterday you can’t sew a new cloth on to the old cloth of grace that always was. I say to him no disrespect and I am grateful for all you have done and I am living this dream here but it isn’t the stuff it’s You. I really love you. I know it’s not perfect but for now it’s the best I can do…please help me.

      I will keep trying till this end here and not to long from now no one will remember my name. God really loves us. If someone remembers this then peace my friend.

    • We hold these Shibboleths to be self-evident…

      I’m learning to not care about them at all. Tough going but seems fruitful.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’ve come to view many of these “truths” as modern day Shibboleths. They are quick way to separate “us” from “them” in conversations. And then…

      “…DIE, HERETIC!!!!!!”

  4. Scientists say a man can not be raised from the dead. Should we also accept this “indisputable” scientific “fact”?

    • The point is not about “what scientists say,” John. The point is that the interpretation of Genesis doesn’t hold up.

      • Maybe you mean some people’s interpretation of Genesis doesn’t hold up. I am certain you don’t mean God’s interpretation of it.

        • Read the first comment and see if a box exists. Is it something like the same box we put over our own God sometimes. Even if it leads you to someplace you don’t want to go. Hmmmmm….kettle and pot or something…Oh the heck with it.

        • Reminds me of 1 Cor 13:12.

      • Right. But the theological problem is using science as a selective magisterium. It’s a similar err to those who use a literalistic reading selectively. We must allow the Scripture to speak for themselves, before we allow science to draw a box around them and dictate what they can or can not say. Science can speak to our interpretation, but we must be careful that it does not overturn what the Scriptures say about themselves. The rule of faith, the idea that since all the Scripture are true, they are the primary interpreter of themselves, gets left behind when science begins pontificating on dogma.

        And if you think about it, science pontificating on dogma is a very silly thing to begin with. When science begins to go down this path, it is embracing its own undoing.

        • But Miguel, no one is talking here about “using science as a selective magisterium.” I have as much problem with the Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coynes of the world as I do with Ken Ham and Bethel College.

          • Rick Ro. says

            Yep. Dawkins’ beliefs have become as much “bad religion” as Ham’s beliefs. Rigid, arrogant, militant.

          • Well, Dawkins would certainly be a “pontifical scientist” as well, but a little different than I meant by that.

            I was using “magisterium” in the sense of the final authoritative word on Biblical interpretation. The temptation is to draw a box around what we know from science, and then decide that the Bible can’t mean anything outside of this box. But then we make exceptions: The resurrection, the virgin birth. Credal stuff. And then from there some of the miracles become suspect. The exorcisms were probably just mentally unstable people. The sun certainly never stood still. And it gets to a point where we become very skeptical of the text and begin to assume that larger quantities of the narratives are mythological than any generation previous to us. Depending on your branch of modern rationalism, from mainline liberalism to slightly left-of-center Evangelicalism, this line of reasoning begins to assume the writers of Scripture certainly had very little clue what they were talking about, and the Spirit as the inspirer begins to look more and more incompetent. Because there’s no way the text can mean what it actually says. We know better. (Case in point, such rationalism is what gave rise to the Zwinglian understanding of the Lord’s Supper.)

            The problem here, on both sides, is science and theology working as enemies. The fundamentalist looks at his interpretation of scripture, and says that no matter what, any science that contradicts this is wrong. The more rationalistic theologian looks at the current scientific consensus and then concludes that any correct interpretation of Scripture must be in full harmony with it (and this IS anachronistic). Both lead to significant inconsistencies that result in either the denial of science, or the straight-jacketing of the Biblical text.

            It is better to let both disciplines speak for themselves, and find a way to reconcile two different angles on truth, than it is to pit them against each other in this way. The theologian has no transference of expertise to make authoritative scientific declarations, and the scientist has no authority to dictate the confines of what either religion or philosophy can believe. The scientific method is beholden to logic anyways, so it ought to take a more humble approach when it presumes to critique matters philosophical.

            • Miguel, I don’t think we can keep these things quite so separate. Human knowledge grows. More ancient cultures described events differently and with different presuppositions about the nature of life and the world than we do today. I don’t think it can be so easily said that what the Bible said happened is, in every instance, what we would have said happened if we were to write it today. That’s not because science is more of an authority than scripture, but because life and knowledge and people and ways of describing reality have changed. This doesn’t mean the writers of scripture were incompetent, just people of their times. In some of the stories they may indeed have had more insight into the true reality of the matter than we do. But it doesn’t mean we automatically have to defend every “miracle” or description of supernatural phenomena as literally taking place in the way we would say it today. And I haven’t even mentioned genre or purpose in including such things. For example, how many trees have been killed to create tomes defending the great fish in Jonah, when it is entirely possible that we are dealing with a fictional “short story” written to make a point?

              The resurrection, IMO, is the one great supernatural event we can count on. But if you read the NT “evidence” for this, you see that it is defended as empirical, witnessed fact. I happen to think that many of Jesus’ miracles are defensible in this fashion as well, because of the nature of the Gospels as eyewitness accounts (though certainly theologically shaped).

              But when it comes to a lot of other texts in scripture, I think it requires extremely careful reading and understanding, recognizing that we are dealing with ancient literature.

              How does this affect my view of inspiration? I think for centuries, the human element of the writing, compiling, editing, and canonizing of scripture has been downplayed in favor of divine inspiration. Taking the human element into account is very threatening to people, but for me it has exponentially increased my appreciation for the Bible and for the great mystery of how God speaks through it and leads people to Jesus. I am perfectly happy to see it as a divine book passed down and written by people, and filled with human characteristics (including the aforementioned ancient perspectives on “miracles”). This has little to do with accepting the “authority” of science as it is to recognize that human knowledge has grown and developed and I happen to look at things much differently than my forbears could have imagined.

          • But the Bible wasn’t written today. Surely we should not be so speculative as to build our theology on how we think it would have been.

            I’m with you that I’m sure we don’t have to take a literal historic approach to every story in the book. But we need a more nuanced criteria for discerning which is which than simply that which isn’t scientifically plausible. Genre is definitely far more important here.

            The resurrection is treated very specifically like a factual event by the rest of scripture. Jonah doesn’t quite have that pedigree. But on the sliding scale, the fall of man isn’t quite down there with Jonah.

            Yes, ancient literature is very difficult to understand. Which is why I believe the scientific method is not the missing hermeneutical key. Given how late it developed, I don’t want to embrace a hermeneutic that would make my theology more right than that of Christ and the apostles. We have to strive to understand it as they understood it then, and be very skeptical of any methods which would rather conform its meaning to how we think today.

            The human vs. divine elements of inspiration are indeed a mysterious tension, one that we ought not try to squash by excessive over-formulation. But we have to be careful not to emphasize the human aspect to the point that it takes away the divine by introducing non-truth into the equation. There’s a fine line between “primitive perspective” and simply being wrong.

            We don’t have the text as it would have been written today. We have it as it was written then, and we need to let it say what they actually meant. The authors were an unscientific people, and we need to let them be right on their own terms. I think what is more important than arguing whether something like Jonah actually happened is to look at how the rest of the scriptures treats it, and see if the other authors viewed it as history, parable, or myth. The fact that it is impossible for fish to swallow and vomit up men like that may be a clue, but it is not the deciding factor.

        • Miguel I have to say you always amaze me with the way you think and the way you put things. I always look forward to reading your posting. Simply incredible along with so many here. What Dana wrote at the bottom here now also. Thank you much

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Scientists say a man can not be raised from the dead. Should we also accept this “indisputable” scientific “fact”?

      Repeat of Above.

      Standard YEC reflex response to stimulus.
      Type 42-B, without the outboard motor.

      Stimulus –> Response
      Stimulus –> Response
      Stimulus –> Response

  5. Evangelicals never fail to amaze me with their ability to take silly stands and fight unnecessary battles.
    I echo what rick said above. Reminds me of Fort Minor: It’s not about the salary
    It’s all about reality and making some noise
    Making the story – making sure his clique stays up

    • Yes I totally agree making a stand to fight????What???I stand here fighting for the ability to love the way A fully Human Man did 2000 years ago and to tell the truth I am so far from it sometimes I want to quit. Maybe I just will quit and leave grace do the work because I am tired. Still this something inside that has hurt me my whole life in the inhumanity of man to man and the hope that I have in this fully Human Man. I can’t, I just can’t stop trying.

      How do we look around and see all we see and say it is an accident with purpose. it is either an accident without purpose or it has purpose. If there is no God there is no purpose. 80 years of this shit isn’t a purpose.

      • w, I think you just hit upon the next Rick Warren series gold-mine: “80 years of Shit with a Purpose.”

        • That’s funny

        • Brings a new spin to The Daniel Diet when you’re over 60, I imagine.

          Lots of fiber.

          • Man do I eat a lot of vegetables now

          • Me too…still losing about 2-3 lbs a week, got a ways to go.

            I haven’t had a proper maxed out deadlift in months. Had to heal my neck up, and now summer weather saps so much energy…

          • Did you mention powerlifting before, Stuart? I’ve tacked quite a bit on my lifts over the winter. Recently maxed my dead at 585; doing power shrugs with 635 and kroc rows with 150 lb. dumbells. Slowing down now that its summer, though.

          • Dang…well done, that’s super impressive! My goal is to deadlift 350 by the end of the year, I’m maxed at 315 at the moment and I set that I think last August…health has been so up and down. Fell on the ice twice and had a car accident, so severe whiplash that I’m recovering from. Gotta get back up there.

            Never done a power shrug before…or a kroc row, but there may be another name for that. I think we call them something else at my gym…I watched a quick vid on how to do those, and I do something similar by putting my hand on my knee and then kneeling over. I can’t lift it all the way up to my side, but I can pull 36k up and down fairly high 3-4x, 3-4 sets before my feet start lifting the ground and legs shake.

          • That’s cool! Yeah, a power shrug is a barbell shrug off the rack that begins with a power-clean motion. Mark Rippetoe has a good YouTube vid on it. Kroc rows are like one-arm dumbell rows, but they begin and end on the floor, and like the power shrug rely a lot on impulse and power – designed to build strength, not muscle mass. I love power-lifting! I know I’ll never be competitive since I am unwilling to juice, but It is a lot of fun. And since it builds strength faster than size, I have to tailor my clothes less often 😉

      • How do we look around and see all we see and say it is an accident with purpose. it is either an accident without purpose or it has purpose. If there is no God there is no purpose.

        I see how that leads to despair, w. It did for me. But I’m starting to see it differently now. There’s so much beauty and purpose in this world that doesn’t need to be chained to a creator or god. There’s purpose in kindness to fellow man, to working this earth, to eating drinking being merry, to leaving behind a legacy. To make this world a better place for someone else. It’s Ecclesiastes.

        I’ve started reading a book called The Search for God and Guinness. It’s a book written by a Christian that chronicles the history of beer and civilization as well as the founding and history of the makers and creators of Guinness beer.

        I’m only three or four chapters in, and I’m being humbled. Arthur Guinness was a man who lived a very godly life and changed his town, his city, his family, and generations. He may even have changed the world. Yes, he did it all from a Christian worldview, in full service and love to his God, but it’s continued long past him. It shows just how much purpose there is in the world. And how one man’s purpose from God can impact another man’s purpose without God, both to the glory of God.

        If you are in the reading mood, and like a pint, I’d highly recommend the book. Guinness is amazing.

        • Yes I can see what you are saying Stuart. I’m not in despair even though it might look like it. Jesus wept. He knows despair and is acquainted with my sorrows. I don’t need a pint I have always needed an ocean and it would not silence what hurts inside me being here. My consolation and I absolutely hate this word because of consolation prize is that I have hope. Jesus is not my consolation prize. HE isn’t an after thought. My purpose is to beloved and reconciled to the one in perfect harmony through Jesus. This I have had for a long, long time.

          Living here amongst you all is my struggle and I wait for it to be no more. Come with me on a 93 degree day with high humidity and work on a second floor like an attic dripping sweat so bad it is hard to see. Do it for a week or maybe like the past 40 years and every time you get up and down grunt from the pain. I’ve been told it was Adam who made this possible for me. It’s okay I am no stranger to pain it has been with me from birth. I said to him it would be easier to hang on a cross for a day or two or even three. I meant it. They smacked me on the butt and said welcome here. I’ve been saying ever since not what I would choose but I must have somewhere do you think? Really? Kind of asking you’re pretty honest and all. Books are a luxury most of the time anymore.

          I like this second Adam. He told me he would wipe these tears away. Seems like I have helped fill the ocean with them. Some say “you have an intercession spirit”. Yeah. I walk the mountain to help the hurt in my knees and talk to God and pray for you all even though most of the time I could grab you all by the neck and say” what are you thinking”. Hardest thing being able to grab something and physically do something but not being able to because you love this fellow named Jesus. 290 lbs of strength to be able to do some of the hardest things on earth everyday and have to be a teddy bear who loves little furry animals so much he would die for them. It is then and only then I get this Jesus. It is the transferring it to you all that I struggle so much. Thanks for listening Stuart. No really…..sometimes it means a lot you know.

          • w, thank you so much for your posts today. You have a gift for what some people call “keeping it real.”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Evangelicals never fail to amaze me

      I ceased to be amazed a long time ago. It is way past amazing, it is drearily uninventive..

  6. When we eventually know all truth – and we will someday, right? – which will be more surprising: that God created everything in a literal 6 days and there was a real Adam and Eve, or that God created everything over billions of years, and Adam and Eve were figurative creations over time?

    And maybe the better question is: Why should I care if I believe one thing and it turns out to be the other? Why is there so much fear about the question and mystery of creation? Christians should be better than this; the answers to these questions have no bearing on what Jesus did on the cross and in the tomb.

    • Christiane says

      it is strange that people don’t see the wonder in Creation taking place over eons of time, as though ‘miracles’ are instantaneous events always ?

      I look at the way stars generate the elements that make up all matter, even the elements that form the soil, many of which are found in the human body . . . the progression of these elements from ‘the stuff of stars’ to your physical body would, of course, have taken eons to complete . . . but is that any less wondrous than God picking up dirt and forming a human body from it literally?

      we take too much for granted . . . and in such an atmosphere, it is easy for smug know-it-alls to flourish with their ‘the Bible says’ lingo, focusing on a few phrases and ignoring the ones that might make them stop and think and begin to ponder . . .

      the word in German for ‘mystery’ is ‘geheimnisvoll’ which translates literally into ‘full of wonder’;
      and the literal interpretation of sacred Scripture rules out the very wonder and the very awe that draws us towards a faith in the Creator who made us rational beings with the ability to respond to encounters with the natural world with awe and with real thanksgiving for its mysterious beauty 🙂

      • I like your take on things it is truly wondrous at times as much as it is cruel at times. I am not a literal interpreter of the Bible. I do think truth is behind it though even when it doesn’t make sense to us. Which in my case has been most my life.

      • but is that any less wondrous than God picking up dirt and forming a human body from it literally?

        I’d never thought about it like that before, but it really is a view that says God took the simplest act of creation and expanded it into insane complexity. From him molding a man out of dirt, to creating a system that passes DNA down and down and down until it finally becomes…us.

        Or, this perfectly reflects what Scripture is telling us. We used to believe there were gods in rivers and in the storms and whatnot. That God had heavenly storehouses full of snow. And yet, we study creation, and we learn that nope, there’s a system in place, a complexity that is beautiful, seemingly by a form of design. And whether the original authors knew they were writing poetry or not is irrelevant; it clearly is now.

        That makes the Scripture, and this world, and God, seem more beautiful than before. Awe struck. Amazing stuff.

        • Insane complexity is how we see stuff sometimes is it not. Be a person who stands outside it all and knows how exactly everything is made and put together from beginning to end and tell Him it is complex. You read something now and assume. I don’t want to go there.

          God said he is the I am. I’ll go with that and how He is working with me now. What concern is it for me what he did with those before me and how he fit it all together. If I say a prayer now God has to know it because I said it but if I never say it then God can not know it. So I say a loud God bless you Stuart. All of time just woke up and heard that. Now that is amazing stuff no?

      • Thanks, Christiane

    • Exactly… The questions here won’t matter when we see fully. What about those here that cannot see at all. To say we cannot point to an exact place genetically where Jesus himself is linked by birth is kind of what??? Genesis and Adam was an answer to that question. Maybe in a world where we have blinders on to what goes on but Jesus didn’t have those blinders on. Science and thought do have the ability. It is linking the two where all the argument begins here. There it won’t matter. Hey I know let’s all just go there. Oh it won’t be that long. The hand writing’s on the wall.

      Oh do you see a link in Genesis and genetics. I was just wondering.

      • I am sorry I had off work today and it has been a while I’ll keep quiet now.

        • Christiane says

          please don’t ‘keep quiet’ . . . you are enjoyable to read . . . enter into the conversation when you want to . . . I think it’s okay to be relaxed here and be who you are . . . we like you here, W

      • W asked, “do you see a link in Genesis and genetics?” Yes, I do see a link.

        Regardless of the origins of humanity, God is relational; so it stands to reason that He will reveal this aspect of Himself though relationships with His creation. Historical Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, would support this attribute. I believe the genealogies recorded in scripture also hint at the importance of this position.

        First of all, the truth of God was originally communicated from one generation to the next by oral tradition. It is interesting that when we work out the “begats” and the recorded length of each individual’s life, (and if my math is correct) we find it is conceivable that God’s truth could have been passed from Adam to Lamech, the father of Noah; and from Noah to Abram. (I knew my great-grandfather by the way!)

        God chose the family of Abraham not only to retain His truth but through whom He would enter humanity to fulfill His plan of redemption. As such, I suspect that the genealogies are recorded to suggest that there is a genetic perspective to consider with a historic Adam and Eve as well.

        At the fall of man, it is reasonable to suggest that God caused a genetic change to take place (X-, Y- to X+,Y+) so that all subsequent generations would inherit the Adamic sin nature (X+,Y+; X+,X+) But what of Eve? We know from Gen. 3:15 that the “seed of woman” also contributes to God’s plan.

        Is it conceivable that God allowed an allele of Eve’s Matriarchal DNA to remain untainted by sin? (X+,X-) This allele (X-) could be passed from one generation to the next, ultimately residing in the ova (X-) of Mary (X+,X-) This untainted allele, in union with the issue of the Holy Spirit, resulted in the birth of our sinless Savior, Jesus (X-,Y-).

        This postulation not only challenges the notion of Mary’s “immaculate conception,” but also provides a genetic vehicle for sin not to be inherited by Jesus. So yes, I see a genetic link in Genesis that should be considered as we contemplate not only our origins but our promised restoration as well.

        Sadly YEC choses to ignore the historical evidence God has allowed us to discover about “how” our world developed; then they chose to link YEC to faith in the Gospel. Imo, this is akin to tying a millstone around the necks of those who are seeking to know God as He IS.

        Most followers of Jesus will agree that mankind was created to glorify God; and the way He has provided for us to do this is in a love relationship Him. The Genesis account records God’s invitation, mankind’s rejection (and its consequences), as well as God’s plan to reconcile and restore His creation. These themes of God’s redemptive activity are illustrated throughout the biblical record by individuals and people groups that God chose, culminating in the advent of Jesus. And these folks are just like us – in need of a Savior. Praise God He came to rescue us from ourselves! Praise God that He is still in pursuit of our hearts regardless of where we are camping on the issue of origins.

        • Thank you Trish. That was cool if you pardon my old man talk and all

        • A measured post, Trish, so thanks for contributing today. A few thoughts, however:

          A) If the fallenness of man were merely a matter of a DNA mutation, then it suggests that there exists a “non-fallen genome” available to science, at least in principle. This would consist of nothing more than some other, slightly different, arrangement of several billion base pairs. In other words, the species is merely “off” some number of apparently important base pairs, nothing more.

          B) Moreover, we’d presumably someday be able to identify the nature of the mutation and then fix ourselves with various gene therapies. This strikes me as unlikely.

          C) It also suggests that Jesus’ conception was merely a matter of divine cloning of what was already pure. In principal, any surviving Evian mitochondrial DNA in its original form (or a random mutation that just happens to match that original form!) would allow future scientists to clone non-fallen humans without any need for further gene therapy.

          D) The whole notion of original sin being passed down generation to generation is downtown Western theology a la Augustine. Eastern theology just doesn’t think that way.

          Human fallenness, whatever it really is all about, is surely much deeper than some strings of DNA. (My own cloudy view is that it instead is has something to do with the species crossing a mental/social/anthropological threshold of some sort.)

    • The Pascal’s Wager version of theology. No thanks, I’m off that merry go round.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says


        As for “Why is there so much fear about the question and mystery of creation?” Because it is the safest of Armchair Warrior causes, no need to get up, do anything, deal with unpleasant people, get one’s hands dirty…. Just pontification, removed far enough not to get dusty. It is the crusade of choice for the lazy and self-involved.

        • I’m not really sure about this, Adam. You seem to be talking about TEAPOTS (Those Evil Awful People Over There), which could be considered its own form of being an Armchair Warrior. 🙂 Just dismissing them with contempt, without thought or care.

          I live among these people, and they don’t all match the “lazy, self-involved” description. Many are faithful and sincere Christians who, probably, would die for their beliefs. There are many who truly, deeply feel that if the Bible is wrong in any way, then their whole faith falls apart. It’s easy enough to ridicule them, but I know how they feel.

          When I was away at college the first time, I was first exposed to the idea that of course the Genesis stories aren’t true, and no sensible adult would believe them. I wasn’t raised fundamentalist, but I was raised on stories of Noah and Joseph and his brothers, and Abraham, and the whole Genesis gang. I had accepted such stories without questions and without much thought. When my professors told me all that stuff was silly, I immediately accepted *that.* I understood that the Bible was a bunch of fairy tales, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy. Jesus wasn’t born in any manger and there wasn’t any star or wise men or angels or shepherds, and while he probably was indeed quite a preacher, the fact is he was dead and his story was just another story.

          It was a great loss to me. I became a reluctant atheist and remained one through my young adulthood.

          Where I am now in my life, if I could wave a wand or something, and detach all fundamentalists from their belief in the literal inerrancy of the Bible, I wouldn’t wave it. Their beliefs are not mine, but the beliefs give them comfort, hope, and a foundation to stand on, often in the midst of very hard lives. Unless I had something better to offer them — better than the modern liberal view that “The Bible is all very inspiring but don’t ask me about specifics” — I wouldn’t deprive them of what they love now.

          • Robert F says

            I agree in all points with your comment, H. Lee. Well stated.

          • Sounds a little like Paul in a way H. Lee. Eating meats to idols and all. I think I’ll put my wand down and leave it at His feet.

      • I’m not familiar with that Stuart…. Pascal’s. I’ll try and google it

      • Googled it. Just skimmed it, doesn’t make a difference. Good is good and evil is evil and loved is loved. I was made a certain way. Sin does nothing for me. Been there done that, it is simply a toilet. Sometimes I think it’s a sin when a get feeling better when I’m feeling no pain. Been there done that needles in the arm and all. The greatest high this man ever knew and knows of is when He came through me. I look for a time when that is all I know. For two days I didn’t feel any pain. I thought to myself surely there has to be a way to be here all the time. I have experienced it here and there. Good to have spent the day here but I must be off chores and all need done and this is a day off for such things. Peace Stuart and I did miss your commenting. A dead lift awaits you yet. Do it.

        • To reiterate what I meant, Pascals Wager is the idea that we should live as if there is a God, for better to be wrong and have lived a good life than to be right and have lived a bad life.

          I see this idea in theology sometimes. Live as if a certain theology was true, “just in case”. I can’t buy that anymore, because it feels like you’d be living a life. Taking “fake it til you make it” to a weird extreme.

          I’ll get that deadlift back. Screwed my back up with some squats recently, just can’t put the weight on my shoulders and neck without bad consequences, even though I know my legs can handle it. Deadlifts are so much fun in the meantime.

          Try a deficit deadlift, sometime, those are my favorites. Put some 2x4s or thick plates on the ground, then stand on them and pick the bar off of the ground. That little extra difference in height feels so good and has allowed me to do so much more. Still a mystery why that is.

        • Oh the 2 days no pain and the 2 days of such joy. Should have added that. Sorry Lord.

    • Robert F says

      God knows all truth; I doubt that we ever will. It’s not appropriate to our nature, and it’s above our pay grade.

      • Besides, I prefer having limited knowledge; it prevents my brain from blowing apart.

  7. David Morris says

    Hey CM, I think you’re being a little hard on Bethel here. Affirming a historical Adam doesn’t actually endorse YEC at all. For instance, one of my former colleagues, a former editor of the ASA newsletter, affirms both a historical Adam and theistic evolution. It’s really not fair to call insisting on this “obscurantist”. After all, JP2 and B16 both have this as an important dogma, as do many evangelical institutions (e.g. Wheaton, where John Walton works). I’m sad that Prof. Stump had to resign, and I’d rather not mandate that either, but it is a part of many denominations confessions. Back to finishing my dissertation 🙂 David

    • IMO it is an absolutely indefensible stance, in view of the text itself. A metaphorical picture of a divine Potter forming humanity out of clay should not be read literally or to make any kind of “scientific” claim about human origins. Besides, if you read the text in context, “Adam” is not the first human person (“humanity” having been created in chapter 1), and may indeed not be an individual with the name “adam” (the word “adam” simply indicating “one made of earth”).

      To make dogmatic stands based on metaphorical, mythological literature is ludicrous. It’s time for the church to grow up and enter the 17th century.

      • IMO, Chaplain Mike, the indefensible part of Bethel’s behaviour is changing the rules midstream. If a school has no “loyalty oath” for faculty that includes YEC creationism, then it has no honest way to suddenly say, “OK, now we say you have to agree with YEC to keep your jobs.”

        At the *very* least, “grandfather in” the faculty who cannot accept the new provision, and then don’t hire any new people unless they sign it.

        But to do what Bethel did was the academic equivalent of “ethnic cleansing,” though I don’t mean to make light of those words. It’s ugly and dishonorable.

        • good point.

        • Rick Ro. says

          Another problem with what Bethel did – and others, too, who insist on people “signing” documents of faith – is what happens when person’s theology shifts a bit? What is a person to do when they sign the thing saying they believe in a real Adam and Eve, then three years down the road they see a different possibility? Keep the mask firmly in place and pretend? Resign?

          It’s just bad.

          • Pete Enns has written about this extensively, and I’ve seen it in seminary. The bottom line is, that for many conservative evangelical institutions, one simply isn’t allowed to “shift” any meaningful part of their theology. I think the post said it very well – it is intellectually dishonest and at its root unchristian.

      • “It’s time for the church to grow up and enter the 17th century.”

        Excellent point. This was old news at least 200 years before Darwin was born.

  8. Mark Kennedy says

    In true ADD fashion, I’ m reading this as I’m also rereading Newbigin’s Proper Confidence, and came across this quote from Michael Polanyi: “A creed inverted into a science is both blind and deceptive.” While the precritical view of a historical Adam was quite reasonable, having no scientific basis to contradict it, a postcritical historical Adam reading of Genesis inverts the point and makes science the slave of the creed.

    • Rick Ro. says

      That’s excellent, Mark. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Mark, maybe you could help me locate a similar quote by Newbigin on this subject. Something like, “relying on science to prove scripture is an admission that science is more authoritative than scripture.”

      I have a few of Newbigin’s books and in one of them he was always quoting Polanyi, so maybe it was him instead, but I don’t think so.

  9. Dana Ames says

    Here’s a bit from St Gregory of Nyssa, writing long before the scientific revolution (and whose brother St Basil the Great was arguably the most educated man of his day, in literature, rhetoric, law *and* medicine):

    “Let us now resume our consideration of the Divine word, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

    “[…] In what does the greatness of man consist, according to the doctrine of the Church?

    “Not in his likeness to the created world, but in his being in the image of the nature of the Creator.

    “[…] What is it then which we understand concerning these matters?

    “In saying that “God created man” the text indicates, by the indefinite character of the term, all mankind. For was not Adam here named together with the creation, as the history tells us in what follows? Yet the name given to the man created is not the particular, but the general name. Thus we are led by the employment of the general name of our nature to some such view as this—that in the Divine foreknowledge and power all humanity is included in the first creation.

    “…So also I think that the entire plenitude of humanity was included by the God of all, by His power of foreknowledge, as it were in one body, and that this is what the text teaches us which says, “God created man, in the image of God created He him.”

    “For the image is not in part of our nature, nor is the grace in any one of the things found in that nature, but this power extends equally to all the race. And a sign of this is that mind is implanted alike in all: for all have the power of understanding and deliberating, and of all else whereby the Divine nature finds its image in that which was made according to it.

    “The man that was manifested at the first creation of the world, and he that shall be after the consummation of all, are alike: they equally bear in themselves the Divine image. For this reason the whole race was spoken of as one man, namely, that to God’s power nothing is either past or future, but even that which we expect is comprehended, equally with what is at present existing, by the all-sustaining energy. Our whole nature, then, extending from the first to the last, is, so to say, one image of Him Who Is.”

    [Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Making of Man, 16, 1,2,16-18 (slightly adapted). From the blog Enlarging the Heart.]

    The Greek fathers accepted the “literal meaning” of the text, but held that the most important understanding of the text was hidden underneath that “literality”; and the “literal meaning” was the *lowest* form of interpretation. St Gregory is saying that the more important interpretation is that God created all of mankind, and all mankind in the aggregate, as well as each particular human being, bears the image of God, so that the beginnings of humanity point to what it will become as it is fulfilled in its endings (teleology and eschatology). Awesome!


  10. Robert F says

    Science has nothing to say about the meaning of a poem or novel; Jesus Christ is the meaning of scripture, and science has nothing to say about that. Otoh, to insist on a “loyalty oath” to the historicity of Adam and Eve is to put a secondary theological concern in first place, and to displace Jesus Christ from the center. This is a disloyalty to the heart of Christian faith that science would never even attempt; only bad systematic theology could pull this off. It involves a trust in the logical infallibility of the theological corpus of one’s own tradition that borders on a kind of intellectual idolatry. Keep Christ at the center.

  11. Forget about evolution. Just look at the text and ask yourself if it makes sense to take it literally. Faith can’t mean to adhere to logic contrary to reason. At least I hope it doesn’t.

    Stephen Falken: “Uh, uh, General, what you see on these screens up here is a fantasy; a computer-enhanced hallucination. Those blips are not real missiles. They’re phantoms.”
    McKittrick: “Jack, there’s nothing to indicate a simulation at all. Everything is working perfectly!”
    Stephen Falken: “But does it make any sense?”
    (from “War Games”)

    “I, I, I’m driving in circles
    Come to my senses sometimes
    Why, why, why, why start it over?
    Nothing was lost, everthing’s free
    I don’t care how impossible it seems
    …Stop making sense, stop making sense, stop making sense, making sense.”
    (from “Girlfriend is Better” by Talking Heads”)