Fwd: Re: BIBLE

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Tue Apr 12 2005 - 08:04:40 EDT

I meant to sent this to the whole list.


>>> Ted Davis 4/11/2005 10:18:20 PM >>>
Dear Bill,

These are excellent questions, and I do not believe you will find any
single answer that will be fully satisfactory. (This is in itself one of
the reasons why most conservative Christians do not accept evolution,
whether or not they accept an old earth and universe.) Some modern
theologians (an obvious example would be Arthur Peacocke) simply do not
accept the doctrine of the Fall in any sense at all--not only do they reject
it historically, they also reject the theological truth it conveys, namely
that we are all sinners in alienation from our creator and redeemer. A
number of Christian scientists and theologians have used evolution (which
they have equated with a nebulous idea of progress that is interpreted
specifically as moral perfectability) as justification for rejecting
original sin and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus.

There are however some Christian evolutionisits who are orthodox in their
acceptance of the Fall--either they actually hold to an historical fall, or
else they interpret the Fall as a true description of a universal human bent
to selfishnessness and rebellion against God. (I would place certain
neo-orthodox theologians in this camp and some others also.) To see an
interesting example of one such thinker, I recommend the essay on "Evolution
and Original Sin," by philosopher of religion/philosopher of science Robin
Collins, in Keith Miller's volume "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation."
You won't find this online anywhere, you'll have to buy or borrow a copy of
the book. But I do think you will find this essay helpful.

IMO, the issue you are raising--the evolution of human nature and its
relationship to morality--is the single hardest theological issue to
struggle with in terms of evolution. I am not convinced that we have yet
found a good answer, and I am sympathetic with those who reject evolution
itself rather than accept an answer that seems unsatisfactory theologically.
 Altruism has long interested the evolutionary biologists, and also the
theologians; the very liberal religious thinker Ralph Wendall Burhoe
(founding editor of Zygon) saw this as the cutting edge issue for
religion/science conversation as long as 50 years ago. His close friend,
Harvard geologist Kirtley Mather, wrote an essay on "The Natural History of
Righteousness" that I will be looking at closely over the next year or two.
I doubt I'll be happy with what I read.

The closest I can get to a view I would accept, is that of Harry Emerson
Fosdick, who wrote many years ago, "Origins prove nothing in the realm of
values." An a priori rejection of sociobiology and evolutionary ethics, to
be sure, and a flat rejection rather than an argument. But Thomas Henry
Huxley pretty much said the same thing, and sometimes belief cannot argue
with unbelief; it can only preach to it.

I wish you well as you explore this one,


>>> wgreen8@god4science.com 04/11/05 9:00 PM >>>
Dear members of the ASA,

I've been doing some reading on the ASA site site and thought you all might

be able to help me with this issue. If God created man via evolution, then

it would seem that much of what we call our sin nature is the result of our

evolutionary heritage. Lust and greed are displayed by animals. It is
possible that tendencies toward unselfishness and altruism may have also
evolved along with societies, since these qualities are more compatible
civilized living than lust and greed. The Romans 7 struggle that we have
within ourselves between our sin nature and what we Christians call our
nature" would seem to be explained by these two opposing "instincts," both

inherited from our ancestors.

This would seem to do away with the Biblical notion of sin and
and replace them both with instincts that arose from evolutionary

Is it possible that this view of sin and the Biblical view are compatible?

Thanks for your input.


Bill Green
Received on Tue Apr 12 08:06:39 2005

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