Thursday, July 10, 2014

Christianity and Science and Fiction

It does not bother me a bit that Christians have differing views on creation. I know Young Earth Creationists, Old Earth (Gap Theory) Creationists, Intelligent Design advocates, and Theistic Evolutionists. All of them deserve a fair hearing and rather than fuss with each other, they ought to seriously consider each others claims. Most of all, if we examine each of their arguments they have interesting things to say.

But that is not what this post is about. I want to say, first of all, I am not going to pick on theistic evolutionists today, but rather criticize what some them have said about related matters. It seems that, for some of them, their scientific views are determining, to a large degree, their doctrine.

I responded to a post on the Jesus Creed blog about Adam and Eve as "special creations". It may now be common terminology, but not too long ago it was taken for granted that Adam and Eve were historical figures, created from dust and a rib, falling into sin, bringing a flood of corruption and death into the world. And, of course, they are the parents of all mankind.

Now we are told that the hypothesis of evolution will not allow us to be descended from a single set of humans. We would have to come out of a large set of prehuman apelike creatures. (I am truly trying to not sound mocking as I write this.) Hence, the discussion on the blog has been about whether or not Adam was a historical figure or a fictional one made up to teach a spiritual truth.

I asserted that Adam was indeed a historical figure and that any other view was unbiblical. You might imagine that I got an immediate response. I did. In fact, both Scot McKnight and RJS who wrote the piece had objections to what I said. Scot pointed out that the Bible contains both history and fiction (parables, etc) that teach spiritual truth. RJS said that we need to focus on the fact that the Big Story of the Bible is not about Adam but about Jesus.

I simply pointed out the fact that the Bible does not treat the story of Adam as fiction, but is part of the historical narrative of Genesis. There is an introduction (Genesis 1:1 - 2:3) followed by ten narrative sections beginning with the story of Adam and Eve. They insist on treating the first eleven chapters of Genesis as fiction and the rest as history. Why? Each of these sections begins similarly ("These are the generations of ...") followed by historical narrative. Same genre.

I noted as well that Paul treated Adam as a historical figure as does Luke. Luke shows that Jesus is a descendant of Adam! Jesus, while not mentioning Adam, does mention his son Abel. He said that His generation would be held liable for the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah. Jesus seems to think that Abel was a real, not fictional, person. The author of Hebrews used Abel as an example of faith. It is clear that Luke, Paul, the author of Hebrews and Jesus all thought of these OT characters as real historical people. That does not matter to some who put science above the Bible. One even said that he did not think that Gen 2-3 was about Adam. If that is not a revealing statement, I don't know what is.

Here is what I think is even worse than saying that Jesus did not know that Abel was not a historical person (or that if He did He indicated otherwise). They think that there was not a Fall of Man at all. They think that God created us as we are today - sinful creatures destined to die. Sin is built into us by God. Why would they say such a thing? Because their scientific idea tells them that it could be no other way. Death, as they say, is simply a part of life and the way that God created us. It is not the result of sin.

So there goes the doctrine of original sin right out the window. It's not because they have carefully examined the Bible and found that it teaches otherwise. No, it's because their scientific belief (that's what it really is) tells them what they must believe.

They now have no desire to reconcile apparent contradictions in the Bible. To them the historical portions of Scripture are unreliable. They act as if they are the first to notice differences in the gospels. It is now easy for them to treat the Bible as less than the inerrant, infallible Word of God. I do not think that God takes that lightly. I do not. It is not just another opinion to me. It is borderline heresy.

They do not want us to focus on "irrelevant" details but on the big picture, the Big Story, of the Bible. I want to focus on that, too, but I will not compromise the Word to satisfy my need to reconcile scientific claims with the Bible. I will not let even scientific extrapolation (that's what it is) determine my theology or my view of the Bible.

Even if we can agree that the most important thing is the Big Story of the Bible, as they say, and holding to the faith of the creeds, I think we need to remember that, according to the old saying, "God is in the details".

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. How Jesus viewed creation and a literal Adam and Eve is vital.