Re: Evolution's Imperative (was Def'n of Science)

Brian D Harper (
Tue, 16 Mar 1999 10:27:46 -0800

Hello once again Vernon.

At 12:30 AM 3/16/99 +0000, Vernon wrote:
>Dear Brian,
>Thanks for your frank response. If I may immediately comment on
>something you said in your penultimate paragraph:
>> I'm not sure what you mean by " face value" but suspect that it
>> means accepting the whole of God's word as understood by Vernon
>> Jenkins.
>I think it a little unfair of you to suggest that I have my own
>'private' interpretation of the scriptures.

OK, this is a fair criticism. I really hadn't meant it that way,
but in looking back at what I wrote I see that that is probably
the most obvious interpretation of my words. Please accept my

Let me try again:

I'm not sure what you mean by " face value" but suspect that it
means accepting the whole of God's word according to a particular
tradition of interpretation that is endorsed by Vernon

Is this better? If not, I'll try again :).

>Believing God to be
>sovereign and completely in control of his creation; believing his
>assessment of man - as delivered particularly by the prophet Jeremiah
>(Jer.17:9) - to be true; I am, with you, committed to accepting
>Galileo's summary:

Good, I'm glad we agree on something.

>"The holy scriptures cannot err and the decrees therein contained are
>absolutely true and inviolable. But ... its expounders and interpreters
>are liable to err in many ways."

>I am therefore perplexed that you should baulk at the three criteria I
>listed as reasonable requirements of one who had received salvation
>through faith.

And I am perplexed that you consider my answer a baulk :).

Let's review. I said that "Saving faith is faith in a person,
not ascribing to a list of beliefs." -- BH

Do you agree?

I also wrote:

"This is not to say that your three items above are not worthy
goals towards which we should strive. But they are not things
that we exchange for salvation." -- BH

If I have baulked, then it is only at the notion that we
exchange a list of beliefs for salvation. I would always "baulk"
on this point because to go there is a heresy of the
worst kind. Do you agree?

>In the light of our discussion so far, perhaps you could
>tell me how you view each of the following three passages:

I'll try.


One of my favorite parables, but I'm afraid you'll have to
help me out some since I can't understand what you're getting

Are you saying that if Abraham had allowed Lazarus to go and
warn the rich man's brothers then the warning would be to
interpret Genesis literally? Or are you suggesting that when
Abraham said that they should listen to Moses and the Prophets
that the key items they should listen for is the order in which
animals were created?

Or perhaps you're just saying that Jesus took Moses and the
Prophets to be the inspired word of God? So do I.


You'll have to help me again at understanding your point.

It seems the key verse in the above is Matt. 24:35

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never
pass away." (NIV)

Amen to this.

>and 2Th.2.

Again, I am at a loss as to your point. But, you asked for my
view on these verses. My view is that they are part of the
inspired word of God which I fully accept.

>Concerning the order of the creation of birds and land animals, you say,
>"Please do not confuse the word of God with the interpretation of men."
>I don't follow. What is there to be interpreted here? Isn't this a
>simple statement of fact that gives the lie to the suggestion that God's
>method of creating was 'evolution'?

Your conviction that this is a simple statement of fact is in
actuality an assumption that you are making regarding the best
means of interpretation.

>Is it reasonable to believe that he
>would contradict himself - and that, in the first chapter of his Book?

No. This is one reason why I do not endorse a literal "at face
value" interpretation of Genesis.

>Another matter that greatly concerns me is the determined manner in
>which members, in general, shut out any consideration of adverse
>supernatural activity in respect of this debate. What of Ephesians
>6:10-18 and the Christian's armour? Do you consider we are immune from
>such attacks in our day, and have no need of these defences?

Of course not.

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University