Then God said, Let’s make human beings; let’s make them like us. They can take care of the fish and the birds and all of the animals for us. God blessed them: Have children, fill the earth and bring it under your control.
Creation and/or Evolution How should we read Genesis 1 & 2 in light of current scientific theory?
Creation and/or Evolution Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, & Evolution by Deborah B. Haarsma and Loren D. Haarsma (www.faithaliveresources.org/origins) What questions does this topic raise for you? We will identify and analyze the different approaches to the topic Perspectives on an Evolving Creation , Keith B. Miller ed. Eerdmans Pub.
Creation and/or Evolution Session 1: God’s Word and God’s World Session 2: Interpretations of Genesis 1 & 2 Session 3: Evidences of Evolution Session 4: Intelligent Design Session 5: Human Origins (Who were Adam and Eve anyway?) Session 6: Human Origins, cont. Emergent Complexities
Nature Scripture Science Culture, Worldview, etc. Theology, Church tradition Worldview Biblical Interpretation Potential Conflict No conflict
Principles of Biblical Interpretation 1. Each passage should be interpreted in light of the rest of the Bible. Progressive revelation— progressive understanding— narrative advance 2. Attention must be paid to the genre of the text: poetry, proverb, narrative (history, epic, legend, anecdote, fable, myth…)
Principles of Biblical Interpretation 3. How did the original author and the intended audience understand the text? The Holy Spirit had no intention to teach astronomy; and in proposing instruction meant to be common to the simplest and most uneducated person He made use by Moses…of the popular language…. Calvin
Principles of Scientific Interpretation Observation Hypothesis Prediction Testing Theory: a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence (e.g. heliocentric theory, theory of relativity)
Criteria for Good Scientific Theory: Explanatory power of large amounts of data Predictive power (testable expectations) Fruitfulness (ability to generate new questions and new directions of research) Aesthetics (beauty, simplicity, symmetry) The reason evolutionary theory is a powerful theory is that it makes sense of an incredible variety of observations and continues to generate fruitful and testable hypotheses.
When Science and Biblical Interpretation Clash Science - a handmaiden to theology Science - an equal partner with theology Copernicus : from geo- to heliocentrism He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. …The sun knows when to go down. -Psalm 104: 5, 19 The sun stopped in the middle of the sky… -Joshua 10:13
When Science and Biblical Interpretation Clash Science - superior to theology Materialism is absolute, we cannot allow a divine foot in the door. -Richard Lewontin The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. –Richard Dawkins
Humans have the ability to study nature and to understand, at least in part, how it functions. Events in the natural world work by natural cause and effect Humans are God’s image-bearers in this world. Thanks to the abilities God has given us, we can understand, at least in part, how the world works. There are no nature spirits, no capricious gods, no fate. There is only one God who rules the world in a faithful, consistent manner.
Natural phenomena are repeatable; they are regular across space and time. Observations and experi-ments are necessary to build and test scientific models that correctly describe natural phenomena. God has established natural laws and faithful covenants with the physical universe. Humans are limited and sinful. Our scientific models based on logic and deduction must be tested by careful experimen-tation & observation.
The (CRCNA) wishes to honor its commitment to the freedom of exegesis by not imposing upon its members an authorized interpretation of specific passages in Scripture, insisting only that such exegetical freedom be carried on within the limits of the analogy of Scripture and the confessional guidelines of the creeds .
The (CRCNA) wishes also to respect the freedom of science by not canonizing certain hypotheses, models, or paradigms proposed by the sciences while rejecting others, insisting only that all such theorizing be subject to the teaching of Scripture and the confessions. - Acts of Synod , CRCNA, 1991
If the Lord has willed that we (Christians) be helped in physics, dialectic, mathematics, and other like disciplines, by the work and ministry of the ungodly, let us use this assistance. For if we neglect God’s gift freely offered in these arts, we ought to suffer just punishment for our sloth. -John Calvin, Institutes .. 2.2.16