Tuesday, November 20, 2012

“God Did It: He Guided an Unguided Process”

Christianity Today (CT) columnist Carolyn Arends assures us and her 14 year-old son that believing in evolution is okay. It’s just what everyone else is doing:

  • A significant number of Hebrew scholars who affirm the authority of Scripture argue that the biblical creation accounts simply are not concerned with the science of creation at all, having been written long before the dawn of enlightenment empiricism. (CT, November 2012, 66)
The fact that Genesis was “written long before the dawn of enlightenment empiricism” has absolutely nothing to say about the intention of Scripture, Moses or God. Even if Moses did write before “the dawn of enlightenment empiricism,” it certainly doesn’t mean that he had little interest in facts or what the eye sees. Instead, a much better indication regarding the concerns of Scripture is what Scripture says about its own concerns.

Meanwhile, drawing from these Hebrew scholars, Arends claims:

  • It’s not inconsistent to read Genesis 1 and 2 as an (inspired) ancient Near Eastern cosmology that poetically declares Yahweh to be the Creator, while reading the Gospels as (inspired) first-century, biographical-historical eyewitness accounts of events.
This raises several questions. How is it possible to regard Genesis 1 and 2 as “inspired,” and therefore authoritative, while it affirms the distorted cosmology of the ancient Near East? If this is the case, how can any of us be smart enough to separate the underlying essential spiritual messages from the errant packaging? How can we tell which is which?

Fortunately the Gospels can shed light on these questions. Jesus argued:

  • "Haven't you read…that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' (Gen. 1:26-27) and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' (Gen. 2:24)? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)
While Arends claims that her Hebrew scholars claim that Genesis is “not concerned with the science of creation at all,” it seems that Jesus has an entirely different take. He didn’t regard that account as mere poetry, albeit inspired. He and the NT writers never expressed any concern that what Moses had written had been seduced by ancient Near Eastern cosmology. Instead, they were convinced that it was the product of God in its entirety.

Instead, Jesus regarded the Genesis accounts as bedrock history about the physical creation. God had historically created Adam and Eve and historically joined them together as one.

If instead the evolutionary narrative is correct, Adam would have had many potential sexual partners from which to choose. And besides, these proto-humans would have had no trouble at all joining themselves together. God would hardly have needed to make them as one.

Not only that, according to evolutionary orthodoxy, they would have been trying to impregnate as many “helpmates” as they could possibly catch and retain for themselves.

However, if this is the case, and Jesus’ historical interpretation is consequently mistaken, then there is no rationale for not divorcing. Nor is there any rationale to believe what Genesis teaches about the advent of sin and death.

Arends admits that this introduces problems in defending God’s ways. Indeed, if the Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest actually represents God’s perfect generative plan, this innovation throws the entire Bible out-of-kilter. Who then could blame Cain for killing his naïve and less well-adapted brother!

Arends cryptically admits that inviting Darwin into our marriage bed invites an array of interpretive problems. Why then has she finalized such a problematic marriage? She articulates a reason that many others have expressed. Refusing Darwin entrance would set us at odds with the university community – the prevailing educated culture - create conflict, and eventually lead to the rejection of the faith:

  • Couldn’t that lead them to leave the church, when cognitive dissonance between the empirical data and what we’re asking them to believe becomes too great?

However, if we follow this reasoning, then we should prepare our 14 year-olds to accept every other politically correct doctrine being pushed in the university, lest there might arise conflict, which might cause the youth to leave the church. Therefore, prepare him to accept abortion, sexual permissiveness, moral relativity, multiculturalism and the like. In fact, those who have removed any objection to evolution usually also remove any objection to the other politically correct values of our day. Thus theistic evolutionists become almost indistinguishable from their atheistic cousins, with the exception that they continue to maintain that, somehow, “God did it.” Somehow, God guided an unguided process.

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