Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Evolutionary Creation

In World Magazine's November 29, 2014, issue, writer Daniel James Devine reports on the work of the BioLogos Foundation, whose president, Deb Haarsma,

former chair of Calvin’s physics and astronomy department, says churches that support evolution will be more effective witnesses in a culture that reveres science, and will help college students avoid a crisis of faith when biology professors argue for evolution. The BioLogos website states, “Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago.” 

Thus, BioLogos is, according to Devine, 

now spending now spending $3.6 million (primary funder [sic]: Templeton) on thirty-seven projects in the United States and around the world, with grants ranging from $23,000-$300,000.  According to the BioLogos website, funds go to "projects that explore consonance between evolution and Christian faith."  Projects must not "reject the conclusions of mainstream science (e.g. old Earth, common descent, etc.)."

The Biologos website is worth examining.  On the home page, it quotes N.T. Wright, as follows:

Christians and secularists alike are in danger of treating 'Darwin vs the Bible' as just another battlefront in the polarized 'culture wars'. This grossly misrepresents both science and faith. The BioLogos Foundation not only shows that there is an alternative, but actually models it. God's world and God's word go together in a rich, living harmony.

The site includes an article entitled "Pope Francis view on Evolution, Creation, and Magic" (an interesting progression - or regression) in which the Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, O.P., writes, in part, that

In his speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 27, Pope Francis made several comments on evolution and creation that have generated significant controversy. As a priest and scientist, I would like to make two observations about the Pope’s comments to put them into perspective.

First, the Pope’s proposal that Christian faith is compatible with an evolutionary understanding of life’s history is not as radical as the mainstream media is suggesting. In fact, the Pope’s comments are in continuity with a papal tradition, at least sixty years old, that affirms the legitimacy of evolutionary creation.

Obviously, there are some heavy hitters arrayed on the side of "evolutionary creation."  

My working take on the controversy is that the traditional view of creation is a necessary position in a Reformed Christian theology.  Others, obviously, would disagree, at least if one defines "a Reformed Christian theology" broad enough.  Here are questions that one might ask in exploring this controversy.  Could God make creation, perhaps with important evolutionary aspects, and then set man in it, that is, set a couple in it, Adam and Eve?  I think that one has to answer yes to that question, putting aside the question of what God actually did.  The next question is, Would God proceed in such a way?  This puts us in the position of second guessing God's wisdom, it seems to me.  But I make that comment from the point of view of a traditional Protestant.  From an "objective" point of view, one might answer simply, "Why not?," although I am not sure how far that gets us.  At least that answer doesn't serve to limit God, and it may well be worth exploring.

Then we get to the question, Did God proceed in such a way?  Scripture says that he did, and we rely very heavily on scripture - that is, Scripture we hold to be the very Word of God.

Finally, we get to the question addressed by BioLogos:  Just How did God proceed in the way described by Scripture?  Those who subscribe to evolutionary creation have an alternate view to the plain meaning of the text of Genesis.

I think it is probably worth examining the case for EC.  But just because one is a very bright Christian, even certified bright by academia, various Christian communities, and the market place, does not mean that he or she is without hubris.  I concede that is an ad hominem statement, but knowing how people are - especially people on top of their respective heaps, I have to make it.

I think of one characteristic of God that is not much discussed,  that of his unknowability, although knowable sufficiently through his Word.  The Word applies to his creation in a special way, as he spoke it into existence.  So, of course, science is a worthy study.  But the Word through which he spoke is the Son, and Scripture is the testimony of that.  So, fine, we are to explore the creation side of the How.  But cuidado.

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