A Class Act

I would like to bring a new opportunity to your attention. Over the years I have posted on a number of books by Denis Lamoureux. I first became acquainted with Denis and his work through Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution, a book I blogged through seven years ago. This is an excellent book, and one that helped shape the way I think about many of the issues at the intersection of science and Scripture. He also contributed to Four Views on Adam, and most recently published Evolution, Nature and Scripture Say Yes!. I put up a number of posts on this book earlier this year. One of the highlights of the March BioLogos conference Christ and Creation held in Houston TX was the opportunity to finally meet Denis in person – we had occasionally exchanged e-mails over the previous seven years.

Denis Lamoureux’s book Evolution, Nature and Scripture Say Yes! builds on his strong background in biology and theology. Denis has a Ph.D. in theology and a Ph.D. in biology, evolutionary biology. He began his studies with the aim to refute the evolutionists but has built his career showing that Christianity and evolutionary biology are not inherently in conflict. Denis is currently Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta.

Denis now has a course available through Coursera, an open online course available free – or with more accountability and a certificate, for a fee of $49. A brief, 16 minute, introduction to Denis and his course is provided in this video:

You can find his Coursera course at this link: Science & Religion 101.

Denis is always interesting, he knows his material, and has spent many years teaching on this subject at Alberta. If you are interested, give it a look. It is sure to be interesting.

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

You may also comment on A Class Act at Jesus Creed.

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Is de Novo Adam a Non-Negotiable?

Creation of AdamI am at a conference in DC all week – deep into science and thus little time for writing. Instead I would like to point to two recent thought-provoking posts at BioLogos.

The first is a response to a recent video posted by The Gospel Coalition: Keller, Moore, and Duncan on the Non-Negotiable Beliefs About Creation.

Deb Haarsma provides a response (Essentials of Creation: A Response to The Gospel Coalition). The video makes many good points, and these should be appreciated. However, the claim is also made that the de novo creation of Adam is a non-negotiable. It is connected both to the gospel message and to racial justice and equality. Having read David Livingstone’s work in Adam’s Ancestors and Dealing With Darwin. Christians have found it possible to rationalize almost any racist position with or without Adam. Bottom line: belief in the de novo creation of Adam is not a immunization against racism. Making this connection simply draws attention away from the more important issues. Non-negotiable issues are centered on biblical teachings about human identity and vocation as the image of God and the need for salvation. Deb has more to say and both the video and her response are worth a look.

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

You may also comment on Is de Novo Adam a Non-Negotiable? at Jesus Creed.

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Paul’s Adam

The final chapter of the new book Adam and the Genome by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight looks carefully at the the way at Paul uses Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. As this is really the core issue for many Christians, we will spread the discussion out over two posts.

Scot starts the chapter with a brief discussion of the role that Science, particularly evolutionary biology, can play in loss of faith. If a person has tightly connected faith with a particular biblical teaching on Genesis and on original sin it can appear that the only two options are (1) dismiss evolutionary biology and much of modern science as a misguided fraud or (2) dismiss orthodox Christian faith as a misguided fraud. Scot provides the example of a man named Kenneth who “chose science because the understanding of the Bible was in his view demonstrably wrong.” (p. 173) In fact, he was “disturbed by the flippant disregard and disdain on the part of many creationists for the patient investigation and analysis that have led most scientists in the past century to accept evolution.” (p. 172)

If the Bible clearly teaches a young earth creation, global flood, woman from side of man and Augustinian Original Sin, then we must make this hard choice, and in my opinion Kenneth made the right one. This particular teaching and interpretation of scripture is demonstrably inconsistent with observations of the world around us. The imaginative extrapolations required to make observations fit the interpretation are mind-blowing. Joel Duff, a professor of biology at Akron, does an excellent job of digging into these on his blog Naturalis Historia.

However, it is not at all clear that the young earth interpretation is the only faithful interpretation of Scripture. Thus, the science compels us to dig deeper into Scripture and into the context within which it was written. This isn’t a new situation. As Kyle Greenwood described in his book Scripture and Cosmology, we walk in the footsteps of those who came before us. The earth is a spheroid with people populating most of the surface, the solar system is sun-centered, not earth centered, neither of which represent the most “literal” interpretation of Scripture. It is also not clear that the interpretation of Adam as the sole male progenitor of the entire human race some 6000 years ago is the only faithful interpretation of Scripture.

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Wisdom of This World

Oftentimes when discussing issues of science and faith, or other issues that challenge the conventional thinking of the Christian faith, someone will up and quote or paraphrase Paul from his letters to the Corinthians.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? (1 Cor. 1:18-20)

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (1 Cor. 3:18-20)

The implication when this is brought into the conversation is, implicitly or explicitly, that we should forsake the wisdom of this world – the questions raised by philosophy, psychology, science, archaeology – and have faith in the wisdom of God and in his Holy Word, the “plain” reading of scripture. To accept an old earth and evolution or to question the historicity of Adam, Noah, Babel, Job, or Jonah is to succumb to the wisdom of the world, forsaking the wisdom of God (it is usually fine to turn the Song of Songs into an allegory though). To question the reality of Hell, eternal conscious torment, or the exclusivity of salvation is to succumb to the wisdom of this world.

In the 1 Cor. 23 Paul notes that Christ crucified is “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks” (1. Cor. 1:23). I have at times heard people claim that this view of Christ crucified as “foolishness” explains the resistance to so-called “biblical” views of creation be they young earth, old earth progressive creation, or intelligent design.

Does this stumbling block have anything to do with our approach to science?

Without discussing the specifics of the age of the earth, evolution, the historicity of Adam or the concept of Hell, I would like to look at this more closely today and pose a more fundamental question as well.

What is the wisdom of the world?

By the way – there is a link to an intriguing “scientific” study of greed and entitlement below. One that merely confirms, perhaps, the wisdom of God.

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Posted in Wisdom

Connecting Jesus, Beginnings, and Science

How can we start productive conversations on science and Christian faith?

Are there any good study guides for small groups or college fellowships?

Can we open the conversation without advocating for a particular approach?

I recently received a copy of a new resource written by David and Kate Vosburg: Jesus, Beginnings, and Science.

David is a chemist, a Professor of Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont CA. His background and ongoing research is in the area of organic synthesis, his college website notes that he and his students “seek make medicinally useful molecules in new ways.” Among other things they focus on biomimetic and/or enviornmentally friendly (“green”) pathways. David has also been actively involved in campus fellowships. Among other things, he wrote a study guide (available free here) for the BioLogos film From the Dust and had great success using this resource as a way to open conversations with both Christian and non-Christian students.

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Posted in Bible, Creation, Resources for Discussion | Tagged ,

The Fear of the Lord

Tremper Longman III has a new book out, The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom. The role of wisdom in Israelite and Jewish thought is a fascinating topic. This theme may change the way we view some passages of the Old Testament as well as their application to the New Testament. In the prologue Longman writes “This book intends to explore wisdom in the Bible. We will focus on the OT, Israel’s wisdom. Ultimately, however, our study is a work of Christian biblical theology; thus, we will continue by examining how the NT appropriates the wisdom of the OT.” (p. xiv)

I will be digging into this book on occasion but, in line with a running theme on this blog, I would like to start by jumping straight to chapter six and considering the role of wisdom in Genesis 3, the story of the serpent, the woman, and the man (adam). The story starts with the serpent accosting the woman and convincing her to eat from the forbidden tree. In Genesis 2 the man was told “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The woman knew this for she responded to the serpent acknowledging that this was a forbidden tree. (Gen 3:2-3) The story continues:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

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Posted in Adam, Bible | Tagged

Faith in Science

I had the opportunity a week ago to join a group of colleagues for breakfast with Tom McLeish. It was a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion. Later that day I ordered copies of Tom’s book Faith and Wisdom in Science (2014) along with his more recent Let There Be Science: Why God Loves Science, and Science Needs God (2017). Tom is Professor of Physics at Durham University. He is a theoretical physicist specializing in soft condensed matter – polymer physics. You can read more about his science and other pursuits at his University website here. He also has an occasional blog coupled with his books on science and faith: Faith and Wisdom in Science. I had not seen his books before (rather surprising given the range of my reading in this area) but they are definitely worth reading and reviewing.

In Faith and Wisdom in Science Tom picks up on a biblical theme that has impressed me as well. The book of Job is probably the most useful biblical resource for understanding creation, faith and science. The wisdom hymn in chapter 28 and God’s speeches in 38-41 are particularly significant. But Job will come later. Today I will look at Tom’s opening framework for faith and science.

What words or images are conjured up by the idea of science? Are the ideas positive or negative?

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