Re: (post?) [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam)

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Wed Dec 17 2008 - 13:15:19 EST

Bernie -

The whole point of my 2 recent PSCF articles is that the basic teachings of the church about humanity as God's creation, sin, and salvation can be maintained in an evolutionary picture in which humanity does not originate from a single couple. That's what I meant by saying that an "historical Adam" isn't a fundamental issue.

On the question of how to deal with Christians who don't accept an old earth, insist on an historical Adam, &c: I think you're quite unrealistic about how to go about persuading people to consider & accept ideas that go against their established ways of thinking. Nobody is going to go to hell for believing that the world was created in 6 days, let alone 6 long periods of time, or for thinking that everybody is descended from Adam & Eve. The type of conversation I sketched (Yes, I meant "long" rather than "wrong") is likely not to be the last time the person will be confronted with these questions, & having moved a significant step away from YEC she may be ready to move further if she talks with me or someone who holds views similar to mine in the future. OTOH your insistence that she see everything your way & the implication (whether you like it or not) that she's stupid if she doesn't is likely to turn her off permanently. If you just want to win a debate, your approach may be OK. If you actually want to persuade the other person it isn't.

You seem to think that I'm hesitant myself to accept human evolution. I'm not - I think I came around to accepting that early in my college years, maybe 1961. (& it wasn't all that traumatic.) I'm also very much interested in persuading Christians that evolution should be dealt with adequately in the ways they think about the world & their faith - that was the purpose of my first book, published 22 years ago. The question is how to go about doing that. I've had 25 years of pastoral experience, a good deal of it devoted to teaching Christians of various ages about science & theology, & evolution & theology in particular. I have a bit of an idea of priorities & about what works & what doesn't.

Shalom
George
http://home.neo.rr.com/scitheologyglm
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dehler, Bernie
  To: asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 12:35 PM
  Subject: RE: (post?) [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam)

  Hi George- below you say "historical Adam isn't basic one way or the other" (to sin, salvation, etc.). I disagree. There's a lot of theology that flows from these basics- such as the origin of sin and death. You get radical different theological ideas depending on whether Adam evolved or was made unique.

   

  You give a specific example, saying:

  "Suppose I'm trying to convince a YEC that the authority of scripture doesn't depend on 6 day creation & he/she finally says, "I guess each day could have been millions of years wrong (Bernie note: I think you meant "long" not "wrong")." Should I say, "No, that would make the sequence of fossils all wrong, the sun was formed before the earth, &c"? Or "That's one way of thinking of it"? Allowing people a stay in a halfway house is OK.""

  Yes, I think you should have brought up fossil and other evidence, and I think you are doing a disservice by allowing them to continue to think wrongly. If you go all the way, you are at least planting seeds that may later come to fruition. By condoning their wrong thinking, you are giving them some comfort to stay where they are at. We all need that burr under our saddle to keep us growing. I think that's a huge problem with too many pastors still teaching milk in churches. we have milk coming out our noses. Maybe part of the problem is the fear of being rejected by the people in the congregation? Is there a fear that the people can't handle the truth? Can't the truth be taught in love and compassion? What would be wrong in telling the YEC in your example the truth, full-bore, in love and compassion?

   

  Maybe part of the difference between us is that I see no possible scientific way for an alternative to standard evolution in the creation of humans, and you are holding out thinking there is some uncertainty- God may have created humans differently than standard evolution theorizes. In that case, you rightly hold back because you aren't 100% sure, and therefore think it is speculative and peripheral.

   

  I just think that since we now have the DNA decoded, the secret is out, and we Christians have to get the message out- there is no longer any dispute that humans evolved from apelike creatures according to standard evolutionary theory. People like Francis Collins have detailed the DNA argument in their books. Ten years ago this was not the case; we are in a new era now, the "DNA-aware" era.

   

  .Bernie

   

  - - - - HISTORY - - - - - - -

  George said:

  "I knew a lot of my readers would be concerned about the historicity of Adam and I saw no reason to turn them off right away by insisting on a point that isn't essential to my argument. But observe that I still made this concession in a very qualified way. & I was making a concession to others"

   

  Bernie said:
  "I don't understand why you are compelled to give a concession. please explain that. Maybe this point is essential (overall, maybe not to the specific point you are trying to make), because what one believes on this point will affect hermeneutics in general biblical interpretation. You make it sound like it is a reasonable scientific hypothesis that Adam was a unique biological creation. but then also indicate that you don't believe that personally."

   

  George replied:
  "First, the "concession" I make is not "Yes, you're right" but "it's unlikely but you could be right." But why do I make any concession? Because what I want to convince people of is that basic Christian doctrines - creation, sin, salvation - can be held within an evolutionary scenario, & whether or not there was an "historical Adam" isn't basic one way or another. It would be counterproductive for me to give people the impression that they couldn't accept my core argument unless they accepted peripheral matters along with it. Another example. Suppose I'm trying to convince a YEC that the authority of scripture doesn't depend on 6 day creation & he/she finally says, "I guess each day could have been millions of years wrong." Should I say, "No, that would make the sequence of fossils all wrong, the sun was formed before the earth, &c"? Or "That's one way of thinking of it"? Allowing people a stay in a halfway house is OK."

   

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Received on Wed Dec 17 13:16:13 2008

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