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Sunday, 4 May 2008

Factors involved in the shift to Evolutionary Creationism: My Story and Yours

A small but growing number of Evangelicals have embraced an Evolutionary Creationist (EC) view of origins. This is a significant paradigm shift for an Evangelical and can be a difficult and extended process. Since support for EC within the Evangelical community is rare, and direct opposition to EC is prevalent, why do Evangelicals launch into this journey in the first place? And why do they end up holding onto their faith?

Important Factors in the Paradigm Shift

I think there are 6 factors involved in the paradigm shift. The factors in this list do not necessarily occur sequentially, not all are relevant for all Evangelicals making this journey, and the importance of each will vary from one person to the next. However, I believe each is an important part of the process in a majority of cases. These factors include:

1. A realization that some of the “simple” traditional claims aren’t so simple
2. A loss of trust in Evangelical leadership that dogmatically defend untenable ideas.
3. An evaluation of the scientific evidence for evolution
4. A broad examination of biblical hermeneutics and Christian theology
5. The testimony of thoughtful Evangelical Christians who accept the theory of evolution.
6. An explanation of #3 and/or #4 from an EC viewpoint (someone in #5).

For those of us that grew up in an Evangelical community, #1 and #2 are certainly important. Most evangelicals (outside of the fundamentalist fringe) grapple with #1 at some time, usually during or prior to young adulthood. Many also rethink earlier assumptions because of #2. For example, hearing YEC leadership claims that the earth is only 6000 years old in the face of massive & elementary evidence to the contrary. If these leaders are so wrong about the age of the earth (and emphatically dogmatic in their wrongness), could they be just as wrong about evolution?

#3 is the most obvious factor, and certainly important for those in pursuing science in higher education. But I doubt it is the most significant factor in many other cases. #4 is an important factor for those pursuing degrees in theology or biblical studies, and while rethinking some of the rigid traditional hermeneutic methods is necessary for an EC viewpoint, it is hardly sufficient. Anyone who states that the bible provides positive support for evolutionary science is almost certainly twisting scripture.

Key Factors: The Testimony and of other Evolutionary Creationists

I suspect, however, that #5 and #6 are the most significant factors for the majority of Evangelicals that end up in the EC camp. #1 and #2 may be important first steps, but these do not necessarily lead to an EC position on origins. A comprehensive study of #3 and #4 may be sufficient but I suspect very few Evangelicals have the time, energy, and focus to 1) thoroughly investigate the evidence from biology, geology, genetics, paleontology, anthropology and related scientific disciplines and 2) navigate the maze of ANE cultural history, ancient Hebrew linguistics, Christian Theology, Biblical Studies, and OT exegesis. For most of us raised in a black-and-white evolution-is-evil environment, it is only after healthy doses of #5 and #6 that we make that final step into the EC camp with our Evangelical faith unscathed.

My Own Story

How did these factors play out for me personally? #1 and #2 brought me to a certain point, and a smattering of #4 during my university years brought me further along this path. However, I was still stuck in an ignore-the-issue anti-evolutionist position for many years. Interestingly, I did get a healthy dose of #5 working at a Christian camp as a teenager, but I wrote the friend off as both nuts and immature-in-the-faith.

Only recently (as I explained in my introductory post), did I revisit the issue of the interaction of evolutionary science and faith. And when I did revisit it, #6 was the critical factor, particularly Darrel Falk’s book Coming to Peace with Science. It was Falk’s personal story of faith, a story he provided prior to his summary of the evidence for biological evolution, which clinched it for me. I started the book conflicted about evolutionary claims; I finished the book comfortable with an acceptance of evolution. Even though #3 and #4 were still only beginning (and are, even now, works in progress), my paradigm had already shifted – not away from creationism, but towards a much different creationism.

Your Stories

I’m interested in hearing the stories of others who have travelled this journey. In particular, I am interested to know which factors were most important for you. Which ones were key to the shift in your own paradigm? Was it a relatively simple progression, or more disjointed like my own? Were there other factors involved that are not covered in the list above?

48 comments:

Cliff Martin said...

Interesting topic, Steve. I'm hoping for a lot of comments here, because this is an issue of vital interest to me. Three comments ...

1) I believe you are correct in identifying EC evangelicals as those who, in the first place, ask questions, are put off by simplistic trite answers, and struggle to be intellectually honest. Though this trait applies across the board to all matters of theology and general learning, I am coming to see that it is a necessary prerequisite to the paradigm shift required in accepting evolutionary science. I have been frustrated by the fact that so many of my friends are failing to come to the right answers precisely because they have never even allowed themselves to ask the right questions.

2) I have been surprised to discover how many EC people were, five or ten years ago, ardent supporters of YEC. Many of us who now identify ourselves as evolutionists have always been engaged in science (or science-so-called). The irony in my life is that I am staunchly opposed by many YEC friends; yet even these friends will readily admit that I know far more about YEC and its supporting arguments than they do. I still have all the books on my shelves!

3) You also, I believe, correctly identify the intervening step of coming to terms with an ancient universe. I have Hugh Ross to thank for helping me to see that the evidence for a 13 to 14 billion year old universe is incontrovertible. I would venture to say that many E.C. evangelicals came to their understanding via Ross, who ironically does not embrace E.C. (I like Hugh Ross! I fantasize about the moment when Ross looks long and hard at DNA evidence and abandons his Old Earth Creationism in favor of E.C.)

VanceH said...

Steve, for me the primary factors were 1,3,and 4 on your list. I wrote about my transition from ID to EC in 3 parts (driven by jellyfish eyeballs of all things) starting at:

http://meditations-on-an-eyeball.blogspot.com/2006/06/meditations-on-eyeball-part-1-if-i.html

Gordon J. Glover said...

Steve,

Those steps were my exact path. Once I realized how wrong evangelicals were about cosmology, it made want to investigate the case for evolution for myself, since my rejection of it was based on the writings of these same individuals.

Another thing that was critical for me had to do with #2. When you look at the history of the Church's response to science, you realize that questions of physical science have never been solved by exegesis. Those that insisted on settling contemporary issues with appeals to Scripture were most certainly always on the loosing side.

ErinOrtlund said...

For me, as a not very scientific person, I have no less reason to trust the findings of professional biologists than I do of professional chemists, astrophysicists, geologists, etc. And certainly, it's hard to argue with people like Francis Collins and Denis Lamoureux--it's not like they have an atheistic agenda in promoting evolution. People like Richard Dawkins must love it when evangelicals argue that evolution is not compatible with Christianity--I have no desire to help him make his case!

elbogz said...

For example, hearing YEC leadership claims that the earth is only 6000 years old in the face of massive & elementary evidence to the contrary. If these leaders are so wrong about the age of the earth (and emphatically dogmatic in their wrongness), could they be just as wrong about evolution?

The church has been wrong about a lot of things. Flat earth, stars attached to the “firmament” pillars holding up the sky, you could build a tower to heaven, etc…etc…etc. There are a lot of claims the “church” makes. For example let’s start with the Church at Corinth, as described in the book of Corinthians. They believed Jesus would return in there lifetime. When it did not happen it caused a great division. I’ve researched back far as WWI in U.S. church history, every church and every generation said; we were the last one before the apocalypse. I could go on and on, but that’s not really my point.

What do you do, when the church is simply wrong? Evolution is kind of a minor point when you look at issues like heaven and hell and salvation and redemption, and whether God is real or not. Each time we chalk up something the church is wrong about it takes a slice of our faith away. Each time I would find something the church had gotten wrong, it rattled my faith.

A friend of my daughter was over this weekend we were chatting about a movie about life elsewhere in the universe. He stated, well, there is no life elsewhere in the universe, because the bible says so. I left it at that, but thought, how sad. One day this young man is going to find out, no only is there life in the universe, but it’s pretty abundant. Then what happens to his faith?

Where does it all end? We find the missing link? We find the first molecule of life on earth. Do we come to the conclusion that Pierre-Simon Laplace gave to Napoleon when asked where God fit in his understanding of science where he stated, “I am no longer in need of that hypothesis”?

That’s where I’m at. Where does God fit, in the hypothesis?

Jordan said...

A very interesting topic, indeed.
I had always been taught the YEC perspective, growing up in Sunday School. And even though I always had a keen interest in palaeo, I was always reluctant to believe in an old earth or common ancestry, largely because I was taught these things eventually lead to atheism. I was usually pretty quick to defend young earth viewpoints, even though I never understood the evidence at issue.
Eventually, I came to accept the Omphalos position -- which says the earth is young, only God created it to look old (my pastor was happy with that). I didn't hold to it for long, though. My current EC position -- which I think I'm quite comfortable with -- crystalized only after speaking with other ECs online and reading the works of Godfrey & Smith and Lamoureux. I think the distinction between accomodationism and concordism really did it for me.

Gordon J. Glover said...

elbogz,

Just to pile on to what you're saying: in the early Church, the general feeling was that there "were no inhabitants of the opposite side of the earth because the Bible says so".

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipodes#Historical_significance

Sadly, when Magellan discovered native poeple living in South America that had never heard of Adam or Christ, rather than admit the Church was wrong, most Christians simply concluded that indigenous people were not image-bearers since they could not be physically descended from Adam. They were considered "pre-Adamites" and treated like animals.

Steve Martin said...

Hi all thanks for the feedback. It is unclear if #5 & #6 are as important to some of you as to me (only explicit agreement is from Jordan & possibly Erin). It would be interesting to have a statistically accurate survey done on this. But maybe the overall population of EC’s is too small to get results accurate to within 25 percentage points :-).

Cliff: Hugh Ross an EC. That would be amazing … although probably as unlikely as Mike B.’s announcement that John Morris joined RTB (see: http://thecreationofanevolutionist.blogspot.com/2008/04/john-morris-leaves-young-earth.html ), or your even more shocking announcement of Ken Ham’s transition to EC. Oh, wait, that was posted April 1st :-).

Vance: Definitely enjoyed your meditations on the eyeball series. I recommend it to my readers as well.

Erin: Good points. EC testimonies (like for eg. Collins) make both the Dawkinites & Hamites very uncomfortable. They would much rather be fighting each other rather than an enemy who is impervious to their easy strawman arguments.

Jordan: Interesting that you passed through a (short) Omphalos phase. My Omphalos phase lasted about a micro-second. When I first heard this in a YEC lecture, I was absolutely done with YEC forever. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a live lecture that made me as angry as that one.

Gordon: On Magellan & treating people like animals. Wow. Hadn’t seen that argument for racism before. Wow.

Another point you comment raises. I wonder if Ham, Hovind, & Safarti are responsible for more conversions to “evolutionism” or “creationism”? I’m betting their +/- is really, really bad (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plus/minus if you are not a hockey fan). Maybe their coaches should pull them.

Hi Elbogz:
Laplace’s statement is actually somewhat cryptic. If he meant “I do not need to insert God into my scientific equations”, then I would agree with him. I believe there are actually good theological reasons to support Methodological Naturalism (MN) – but not of course Philosophical Naturalism (PN). However, that is another discussion for another day.

The key point (I believe) is that those who say “Intellectual integrity demands faith” (eg. Strobel, McDowell, & yes, even Hugh Ross) are in fact setting a very, very dangerous trap for Christians. God does NOT demand we have faith. God invites us into the faith. Why would his creation be such that it demands rather than invites?

You may want to check out an excellent post on Jesus Creed (see: http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=3743 ) reviewing Tim Keller’s “Reasonable Faith” book. Check out the 5 approaches to Faith and Reason. #4 is the Strobel-McDowell approach. And, I think, one that too many Evangelicals have bought into.

So, the questions you ask are great. But I don’t agree with Laplace’s (potentially) implied conclusion (and maybe yours) that a scientifically undetectable God does not exist, and is not required. We do need God. Not for scientific explanations, but so that we can be whole persons.

Mike L. said...

It's good to know more Evangelicals are refusing to check their brains at the door.

You might enjoy Kenneth Miller's book "Finding Darwin's God". I've mentioned it on my blog.

Peace

Steve said...

1, 4, 3, 6.

(1) I was taught YEC from an early age. My natural tendency has been to recognize that the truth is always more complex than it appears. I always wondered if - feared that - some of the doctrines I was supposed to accept without question were false. I tried extra hard to explore the creationist material throughout high school. I thought Hovind was very entertaining, but I wasn't too sure about some of his simplistic arguments.

(4) Also, I began to see the Bible less as obvious truth, but something needing study and special care in interpretation. After I got to college, I couldn't look at the evidence for evolution until I knew what it would mean for Scripture. Reading Lewis's views helped me out a lot. After recognizing the importance of sound, study-based hermeneutics, I gained an understanding of the importance of audience relevance. Reading ANE history and mythology helped me identify the genre in which Genesis was written.

(3) It wasn't until then that I began to honestly address the scientific evidence, and I found, as I had long suspected, that the creationists had used simplistic arguments against a robust theory whose adherents weren't all atheistic or compromising nutjobs.

(6) Interacting with a large number of very intelligent, very devout Christians arguing against OEC and YEC and seeing the sorts of arguments their opponents offered in return caused me to see the strength of the EC position and give me somewhere to turn to be intellectually honest without having to chunk my vibrant Christian faith.

Anyway, this has been a great thread with excellent feedback. Thanks for sharing, guys!

elbogz said...

Neil deGrasse Tyson has one of the best explanation of Laplace’s statement. I’m sure you’ve seen the video from the Beyond Belief conference. If not watch it all. But his discussion on Laplace begins about 18 minutes into the video

deGrasse Video

It is by far the best slam dunk of ID I’ve ever heard.

Steve Ranney said...

For me the factor '2. A loss of trust in Evangelical leadership that dogmatically defend untenable ideas' I think set the stage for me to alter my thinking. I saw ways that other things were handled and realzed that the leaders are not as scholarly as people may think. Their main job is to maintain the tradition. That was important in sort of giving myself permission to think wild and crazy thoughts.

I then read the book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll, which had a footnote on Ronald Numbers, The Creationists, which I also read. The other book that influenced me at that time was Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth Miller. But Noll's book really gives a great overview of the whole world that is the foundation of the anti-science mentality.

I had not previously been a YEC believer though, I just figured it was a legimate view among other views, but I don't think that any more. Also, once I started thinking about it, I saw how it dominates the church even if it isn't really talked about. It's an unwritten assumption (partly because of a confusion between Darwin's theory and evil 'Darwinist' philosophy).

Pete said...

For me, it is all number 3. When I finally "got it", the nested hierarchy created by the study of comparative morphology, paleontology, biogeography, embryology, and genetics; and within genetics the smoking gun of the same nested hierarchy created by mutations is pseudo-genes and ERVs; after all of that I could no longer deny that common descent was a reality.

I was already old earth. Interestingly, the reason I began to study evolution for myself was because a YEC speaker came to my church, and I could tell his claims about the age of the earth were so absurd I highly suspected his claims about evolution. So I guess a little bit of #2 got me motivated. At the same time, I had countless science books on my shelf (I collect textbooks for fun), and I couldn't quite understand why scientists could be so right in certain fields (mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc), and then such incredible idiots about evolution. What exactly did they know they I didn't (as it turns out, a great deal).

#4 and #5 didn't start until after I had accepted common descent and served to make me feel better (Glover here was one of my first stops on this regard). Alas, a continuation of #2 though has started to make me question everything I believe. That coupled with some JEPD source theory and I am really having a crisis of faith at the moment.

Dan Werner said...

Steve,

For me it was 2,4,5,6.

I grew up in a non-Christian household which probably accounts for why I found old earth creationism more appealing. When I was in college I read Hugh Ross and was glad for a more thorough defense of OEC than I had had in the past. Then my pastor, who was a YEC, ripped some of Ross' biblical arguments (e.g. a day really means a day and not billions of years). At that point I sorted of stayed in limbo not knowing what to believe.

In the meantime, I was introduced to such scholars as NT Wright and Richard Bauckham and received a much more historically based understanding of scripture and it's overall structure. Was also introduced to ways in which the bible could be authoritative without being inerrant.

A few years ago a friend sent me some links to some EC webpages such as Lamereoux's and told how he had recently switched positions. When I read the arguments, especially those pertaining to the ANE context, I was shell-shocked into submission. These were arguments that made total sense. By doing some more rigorous study as well as finally looking more into the scientific issues I was totally convinced.

Dan

Daniel said...

Wow! I'll post more later, but it's nice to see I'm not alone. The steps you listed are *exactly* the steps I went through from being a YEC to a EC. My journey now has me at the point where I'm diving deeply into what the Bible actually is. I'm reading a variety of Bible Scholars from a variety of theological backgrounds.

Thanks for the blog! It such an encouragement!

Tom said...

Nice post, Steve.

Having the internet available to find and build such a community for people on this path is nice. There are now several good books, too, that we can point each other toward.

Factors 1 and 2 are pretty much mandatory for anyone in this process.

I did not have #5.

#3 has made #4 and #6 curiosities and something I do for academics. You see, it was not enough for me to obtain evidence for evolution so that I would be convinced of its existence. It was much, much deeper than that. Evolution really is the foundation of biology. My acceptance of evolution is that life's forms, animals' feelings, and thought processing capabilities grew out of natural selection. From this biological context, I do not see a God at work. Theism and theology therefore became somewhat of a mute point.

The Bible and its historical context are seen through a very different lens for anyone who is on this journey. It is therefore #6 that is where you all stand and where no simple (if any?) solutions exist. Because I have this shared history and my family remains in YEC land, I am interested in discussing the various perspectives that crop up as you all work to make sense of it all.

Steve Ranney said...

>My journey now has me at the point where I'm diving deeply into what the Bible actually is. I'm reading a variety of Bible Scholars from a variety of theological backgrounds.
-- Daniel

Yes, once you get the view that evolution is valid, which makes you have to rethink Adam and Eve and a lot of other things, then you need the hermeneutic to know how to see where the Biblical accounts fit. That is where Sparks and Enns helped me a lot.

Steve said...

Yes, once you get the view that evolution is valid, which makes you have to rethink Adam and Eve and a lot of other things, then you need the hermeneutic to know how to see where the Biblical accounts fit.

Daniel and Steve R (how many Steves are there?!),

This is where it gets interesting. I believe this site has some posts addressing this (as do I on my blog; see this series for starters). I think hermeneutics and an understanding of the nature of the Bible is a more critical factor than teaching someone (3). In fact, I'm fairly certain that, if we took a broad survey, (3) without a proper understanding of or appreciation for (4) leads to a loss - or at least a crisis - of faith, even with a healthy smattering of (5). If we continue teaching our converts and youngsters that the Bible is the magical answer book for everything, rather than a contextually-situated compendium of literature that needs to be translated and is only intended for "doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness," the Bible appears useless.

Just telling them what Genesis is good for is giving them a fish, rather than teaching them to fish, and when they drop a line in other Scriptural waters with the wrong bait and tackle, they'll likely be confused and walk away empty-handed with the impression that the Bible just doesn't have any fish in it.

This is not just for people pursuing degrees in theology. Teaching the basics of how to interpret the Bible is a necessary part of discipleship. Steve M. said in the OP, "...while rethinking some of the rigid traditional hermeneutic methods is necessary for an EC viewpoint, it is hardly sufficient." I respond, sufficient for what? For teaching them to believe ToE? I think that should be completely secondary. As a non-scientist, I accept ToE not primarily because of firsthand knowledge of the scientific evidence for it, but because I understand that the Bible wasn't supposed to speak of these matters, and so I yield to the consensus of those who study these things for a living.

Steve Martin said...

Hi all,
Thanks again for all the feedback. It’s a little uncanny how similar the stories can be; much of what is being recounted resonates even with the untold parts of my own story.

Some thoughts I’ve been having on this that will have to be expanded on at another time (unless someone else wants to run with them now).

It is very dangerous for bad science and bad biblical hermeneutics to be bolted to the gospel. But fixing this can also be very dangerous. (Kind of like trying to remove a tumor intertwined with a vital organ). Those of us that are already comfortable with the EC approach need to be careful how we approach others. First, both science and scripture need to be addressed: a science-only approach invites catastrophe, something Steve D. alludes to. Secondly, we need to be prepared to reconstruct as well as de-construct. For example, when we point out why the “traditional” ways of interpreting scripture are often very new & very wrong, we need to be prepared to give a positive approach as well. Ie. Why we can still trust God’s Word. (Actually, I’ve been thinking that Enns could have done a better job of the reconstruct phase in his book). It is not about showing that we are right. We are not in a debate. It’s about showing that the gospel of Christ is still relevant.

Note: I just finished writing the above & noticed Steve D.’s latest post. Excellent comments Steve. Agree totally.

Elbogz: Thanks for the links. No I haven’t seen this before, but I’ll take a look

Steve R: Noll’s book was extremely important for me as well. He is a guy that definitely does it right.

Dan W, Dan: Welcome. Thanks for your comments.

Tom: Good to hear from you again. I believe that your own story is not uncommon. But, it is one that I hope will become less common. I hope our Evangelical youth that encounter the evidence for biological evolution a) encounter more robust ways of viewing scripture prior to or during their scientific investigations, but more importantly b) realize that the gospel of Christ is not invalidated by a paradigm shift in scientific worldview. I still need to get to that randomness discussion at some time. I know it’s of keen interest to yourself.

Hi Pete:

“I couldn't quite understand why scientists could be so right in certain fields (mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc), and then such incredible idiots about evolution”.
Definitely. I just don’t get the crowd that is fighting “Big Science”. I don’t get them at all.

If you are in your first de-construct phase of biblical interpretation, that can be really tough. (I say “first” because I am continually hitting new de-construct / reconstruct phases – there is even more of this stuff past the JEPD source theory!). Unfortunately, for those of us that like to have everything “intellectually comfortable”, that seems difficult to achieve. And maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. There are points where we need to trust.

Faith is not, as Dawkins nonsensically puts it, “Blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence”. Faith is based on adequate evidence, but also requires an active consent of the will even with incomplete evidence.

I’m not sure if his helps & I’m really not trying to be preachy. Just sharing ideas that have been helpful for me.

Steve said...

Oh, and Pete, if you've got woes with the documentary hypothesis I suggest reading an excellent book called Reading the Old Testament by Lawrence Boadt. He surveys the entire Old Testament assuming, rather than arguing for, the JEDP stance; he treats the text and its meaning so reverently and seriously, I doubt you'll have any trouble after you read it seeing how such literature is still capable of rich theological insight. My heartiest commendation!

Steve Ranney said...

>Just telling them what Genesis is good for is giving them a fish, rather than teaching them to fish, and when they drop a line in other Scriptural waters with the wrong bait and tackle, they'll likely be confused and walk away empty-handed with the impression that the Bible just doesn't have any fish in it. -- Steve

Very eloquent, it reminds me of the movie 'Being There.' That won't make sense unless you have seen the movie.

My scholarly interpretation is, 'if you merely explain Genesis without outlining the fishing tackle of hermeneutical and epistemological context, they will attempt to understand a different fish of a passage using the #9 line of the same paradigm when what is needed is a walleye fly, and come away without the fish of greater understanding.' This is quite true - in fact it is part of a whole rethinking of things like the parallels to other ANE literature like the creation/flood myths, OT laws, which are similar to other laws in the same time frame, and so on.

The rule is if you start reading about this stuff, avoid all adult Sunday School classes, Bible Studies and small groups.

dennis said...

As I was completing my PhD in cell biology at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) I discovered that (a) UBC students are entitled to a Regent College library card and (b) most Regent lectures are taped and available in the library. At the time I attended the church (New Testament / Pauline scholar) Gordon Fee attended, so I started with his material. Much of my work as a Drosophila geneticist was “pushing flies” – so I simply put a tape deck next to my work station. By the time I graduated I had listened to almost everything he ever said at Regent between 1992 and 1999 – courses on Romans, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, etc, etc. Wonderful, amazing stuff.

Along the way Gordon recommend a certain N.T. (Tom) Wright in some of his lectures. Having exhausted the Fee collection, I turned to Regent’s holdings on Wright, including a guest course on Romans he taught at Regent. I was as impressed with Wright as I had been with Fee, so once I finished with the tapes I picked up his Jesus and the Victory of God – which blew me away. I have since read NTPG and I’m working through RSG in the same series. So, I had a healthy dose of #1 and #5 from these two gentlemen.

At this point I was still something of an ID fan – but based on only a surface (mis)understanding of the ID movement. My take on it was that any Christian should be an IDer by definition – not understanding ID for the dishonest anti-evolution movement it was. I had a notion that yes, we can see God’s design in natural processes (a view I still hold) – but I thought that was what the ID movement was about.

This pretty much was where I was at as I took a job at TWU in the fall of 2004. These last four years have been taken up with getting my teaching and research off the ground. The evolution issue was there on the back burner, but I didn’t have the time to read widely enough to form concise opinions. During my undergrad I avoided evolution, and none of my courses integrated it into the course material (to UBC’s shame, actually). Avoiding evolution was easy – I didn’t take the 400-level “Evolution” course.

Last fall I was asked to edit and revise a book chapter entitled “A Christian Perspective on Biology” to be part of a forthcoming edited book with numerous chapters on various academic disciplines. Seizing the opportunity for a publication in the science/faith dialogue (viewed with favour for tenure & promotion at TWU) I accepted the offer just before heading out to the 2007 National Association of Biology Teachers Conference in Atlanta. I laugh now because this timing was certainly by design and not chance! When I left for Atlanta I had never heard of Ken Miller or the Kitzmiller trial, nor the Discovery Institute (except for a vague knowledge that something like it existed), nor Richard Colling, etc. In Atlanta I heard Ken Miller personally, attended a talk given by the Dover teachers, met Richard Colling (he gave me a copy of his book and we chatted briefly, though it wasn’t until coming home that I researched his story). The cherry on top was hearing Francis Collins deliver a keynote address on the HapMap project (how SNP analysis is revolutionizing medical research). To demonstrate just how clueless I was I asked the Dover teachers what they thought of theistic evolutionists – did they view them as friends or foes? They must have thought I was clueless – and responded that Ken Miller was a lead expert witness for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller. Having never heard of Miller, I decided to attend his talk on the Dover case later that day. There he mentioned his book and discussed how his stance differed from ID.

When I got back home I started reading, and reading. I read Collins Language of God, Miller’s book, swaths of the Kitzmiller transcripts, and borrowed a copy of Edge of Evolution from a colleague. I guessed that EoE would have had negative reviews, but I decided not to look for any reviews before reading Behe on my own. I had already read Darwin’s Black Box as a young grad student (along with Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker), and I had enjoyed it. My high expectations of Behe were dashed early and dashed often in EoE. Time and again I found myself shaking my head – was Behe being dishonest or was he really that clueless on how evolution worked? Reading Behe was like marking a term paper: every now and then one gets a paper that has good grammar and writing style, cites lots of references, argues a case well, but (and herein lies the conundrum as a marker) is based on a thesis that is flawed at its core. No, Dr. Behe, simultaneous mutations are not required – there is ample evidence (even in malaria) that sequential point mutations that change binding sites work just fine - you haven’t found some magical barrier to evolution. Reading EoE was the nail in the ID coffin for me – if that’s the best they’ve got, I would distance myself from the movement even if there weren’t other options! Reading Miller and Collins (plus a smattering of primary literature, e.g. the chimp genome papers) clinched the EC/TE view for me. A colleague at TWU also helped out with some ANE / Genesis context resources that I found very helpful.

In hindsight having a lengthy prior exposure to hermeneutics helped a great deal. I agree that addressing evolution is dangerous for some – but mostly those who have already pinned too much of their faith on presumed “evidence.”

I’m looking forward to the upcoming series on Evangelicals & Evolution (especially to hear Colling’s take on the issue of how to teach EC/TE).

Sorry for the length of the comment. Thanks for everyone’s input and for being my TE/EC blogosphere support group!

Steve Martin said...

Hi all,
Just a quick note of clarification before I head out to work. The series Dennis is speaking about is a guest post series I’ll announce in the next week or so - the 7 contributors include Dennis himself as well as Keith Miller, & Colling whom he mentions, and several others that some of you will recognize, including Glover who comments here regularly. I’m really looking forward to this.

Dennis:
Thanks a lot for your comment. That was so good I think we should run it as a post someday … seriously. And speaking of clueless, even though I’ve been conversing with you by email the last while, I did not connect you with the author of the article “Through the Eye of a Needle: The Science, Art, and Stewardship of Pinhole Photography” in the December PSCF. I remember reading that and thinking “Wow, that is different for this journal. And very good””. I also remember saying – hey, an article by a Canadian. I also remember saying, hey, there is a good Dutch name. (My wife is Dutch).

But no, 3 months later, it was all gone in a swirl of unconnected neurons. Senility for sure. Only when I saw your website just now (http://captured-starlight.blogspot.com/) that it clicked (digital instantaneous version, not the slow pinhole version).

PS: No need to worry about spilling the beans on the series .. .it wasn’t really a secret. I just wanted to clarify for those in this thread who may have been confused by your references.

dennis said...

Hi Steve,

Whoops! I thought everyone knew about the upcoming guest posts. Sorry! Mea culpa. I too am very much looking forward to the series. It really helps to connect with others who are dealing with the same issues (and who have been dealing with them longer than I).

Yes, the pinhole thing is a major hobby (as you can tell from my blog). It's a lot less controversial too.

Daniel said...

Well, you were asking for stories, so here's mine:

Grew up in a Christian home. There was no significant push toward YEC from my parents, it was my own position based on my reading of Genesis and limited understanding of science. In 8th grade I used the normal YEC arguments against my biology teacher (thanks Scott Huse).

Many years later (after the Dover trial) I got involved in an online debate. I attempted to use the ol' YEC arguments again, only to get shot down big time. So, I decided I better research the evolution side of the debate in order to better defend my YEC beliefs. During my research I encountered so much bad science on the YEC side, combined with deceitful quote mines, that I nearly gave up the faith. I thought that since I had been lied to about evolution, that maybe I had been lied to about other matters of faith as well.

After much searching, I discovered Richard Colling's book and it helped me to piece together my beliefs again. I've also read "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation", "Finding Darwin's God", and "The Language of God". I have "Coming to Peace with Science" on its way.

I have learned a lot about what science is (and isn't). I am appalled at the ignorance that continues to be propagated in the name of Christianity (e.g. Expelled).

As I stated, I am currently learning more about the Bible, exegesis and hermeneutics. I realize the creation story may be heavily influenced by ANE mythology, but I am still trying to piece together how Adam, Eve, original sin, and death all fit together in an evolutionary framework.

The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. :-)

Pete said...

Steve(s),

You mean there is more then just JEPD!

Evolution didn't bother me so much, though I will admit at brief times I resonante with our friend Tom who has left the faith since the reality of evolution doesn't seem to jive with our story. But JEPD was a different matter. It is not that Moses didn't write it, I don't think the Bible even says that (at least not the narrative), nor that it has multiple authors or even that it was written over a great deal of time. It is that some of the most convincing proof of the theory was the multiple accounts from different authors, sometimes with contradictions. And even that wouldn't be so bad, the gospels themselves are full of such instances; but the OBVIOUS POLEMICS behind the stories, especially for the P source (and their stories leading to commands of centralized worship and ONLY Aaron descendants being allowed to sacrifice). Given all this information, and coupled with my earlier wrestling with the fact that the OT seems a lot like the product of human authors of its time in science, worldview, history; it just plunged me into serious doubts that it wasn't just exactly that. And if the stories contradicted with obvious motives, didn't that mean that they were at least partially, if not greatly fabricated? And if you though questioning the historicity of Noah was hard for me, try adding on Abraham and the exodus.

The real frustrating thing is that I can't really confirm and deny any of this since I can't read Hebrew (and probably will never learn). But since then I have calmed down a bit. Maybe the stories were told separate times and the history is not exact. I have come to terms with that in the past over the gospels, I don't try to reconstruct them with 6 crows of the rooster and two different daughters of Jairus.

And thank you for the recommendation, I will look into it.

Steve wrote:
"The rule is if you start reading about this stuff, avoid all adult Sunday School classes, Bible Studies and small groups."

And there in lies the problem. I LEAD one of those small groups. And am I very much expected to teach and encourage the standard traditional understanding of the Bible and OT history even as I deeply struggle with it myself.

Daniel said...

Pete,

I understand your struggle with leading a small group and knowing about parallels with ANE mythology and other issues in textual criticism. There are times I have to keep my mouth shut in Sunday School.

At times I almost think there is a conspiracy to hide this type of information from the average laymen. However, teaching these things would be a lightning rod for controversy.

Steve Martin said...

Daniel:
Thanks again for your own story.

Re: “The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know”
A little quiz for everyone. A long time participant in the science / faith dialogue recently answered a question on his own journey with this: “I don’t know as much as I used to”. Who was this? (Hint: If you follow Stephen Matheson’s blog (another participant in the upcoming series here), you will probably know the answer).

Pete: Thanks for your frank questions and discussion. I think that I have already come to terms with some of the stuff with which you are wrestling. Other things I probably haven’t even considered yet. But I’ve reached an important conclusion personally: Don’t sweat the “next big challenge”. First, as soon as I solve one, another big one pops up. The objective to “resolve all challenges” is a recipe for insanity. Second, after running through a whole bunch of these, NONE of them (including current & future challenges) seem so scary anymore. Thus, these challenges can be addressed in a more leisurely fashion – there is not the urgency I once felt.

One final thought (maybe I’ve said this here before): 1 Cor 13:12 is not about knowledge of all the whats, hows, whys, and whens of God’s creation (as some Christians have interpreted it). Ie. We may never, even in the eschaton, know the answers to some of these questions. However, Paul promises that then we will really know God. That, for me, puts a lot of this in perspective.

Gordon J. Glover said...

Howard J. Van Till

Pete said...

We need a EC web forum. Following these discussions in the comments sections of multiple blogs is challenging.

Steve Martin,
Your comments were very encouraging. And I do need to calm down. At times I try my best to let my fears and anxieties rest. It really wouldn't be so bad if not for my position in church leadership. If I could work this out myself from the safely of the pew then I would probably not experience so much stress. Within my position it is assumed I believe certain things about the Bible or at least a certain interpretation and Hermanutic that I am not sure I do. Indeed, I don't even know what I believe. No one in my church, spare my pastor, knows I accept common descent. I have been open with my pastor about this and have wanted to be clear that if this is not accessible that I shouldn't be in the position I am. He hasn't really seemed to respond to that. What concerns him is simply innerancy, not one particular interpretation. And yet I fear if the information got out there would be a huge backlash. I don't want to embarrass my family, I don't want to be under the judgment of an elder board that I know has strong personalities. I would just as well be up front now and asked to step down. And that is just the evolution part; never mind the ANE literature or JEPD source (both of which I could hardly defend and the second of which I am not even sure on).

Truth. Why be anxious and stressed just because other people can't accept reality. Common descent is true. And maybe JEPD is true as well. Why is that my fault? Why should I feel the burden of it all? Its unfortunate to lose friends over such issues. And let my doubts rest firmly on this, to pray and depend on God and His Son to deliver me from doubt. For if God is there and God truly loves me surely He would do this very thing.

Steve Martin said...

Gordon: Bingo. You win. Your prize is a spanking new copy of "Beyond the Firmament" .. an excellent introduction to the discussion of faith and science. Have you heard of it?

Pete: re: the EC forum.

First, I would say that in general the internet is a very, very poor replacement for a local church / small group from a spiritual / intellectual / emotional support perspective. So I think it is important for each of us to find local Christians that we can trust to work through some of these issues. That being said, many are in situations (like you) where this is almost impossible.

Most of the EC forums I've seen have been "debating forums" with those that don't subscribe to EC. Not what I'm interested in (and probably not yourself). I believe Mike B. (thecreationofanevolutionist.blogspot.com) & Stephen D. (undeception.com) have talked about an EC webring ... maybe you can bug them about that :-).

Finally, as I've indicated to a few people over the last 8 weeks, I do want to change the format of this blog - & some of those changes may meet some of your requirements. Stay tuned. But it definitely won't be a "EC support group forum".

Steve Ranney said...

Pete, I don't want to lean on you in an unkind manner, but is this a case where the church work is your livelihood or are you a volunteer? I am wondering why you are remaining in that somewhat uncomfortable and untenable position. From my experience of churches, it is possible that the pastor just wants to avoid rocking the boat, plus he doesn't want to lose a body that is fulfilling a function.

But where you are now, there is no way you are going to be able to pursue the truth and find out things.

Of course take all this with a grain of salt, considering I know nothing about the situation.

Kyle said...

For me, #4 was actually the vital and initial point. Importantly, a "broad examination" was actually not necessary, but rather bits and pieces of explanations that showed me that the standard YEC interps weren't the only way to read Genesis 1 were all that was needed. Hugh Ross's Creation and Time was very formative (though now I disagree with him, having become a fully-convinced believer in evolution); the whole "world is 14 billion years old" part of his argument was interesting (though I don't think I become wholly convinced until I took an astronomy class in college), but his citation of Augustine, Origen, and other early Christians (who of course had no reason to justify long periods of time to make room for evolution) who had non-24-hour interpretations of the meaning of the Hebrew word "day" was a complete revelation to me, opening up the possibilities for understanding Genesis 1 as poetic, as a cultural construct, as more a theological statement than a scientific one, i.e., to consider it in the ways that you are doing on this blog (but without any really entrenched study on ANE culture, etc.; I know the highlights, but not really the details). (I should note that #4 is still ongoing, to some extent, since the concepts of the fall, original sin, and total depravity (to the extent that my not-really Calvinist self accepts it) need re-examination once one rejects the idea of a historical Adam.)

Perhaps this isn't surprising coming from someone who eventually ended up in English grad school that the whole ball got started rolling based on an interpretational issue, but I tend to think that if you can get people to budge off of the YEC-supporting ideas of "Bible always a 100% historical text" and "Bible should always be read most 'naturally'" (whatever the heck "naturally" means, and as an English scholar, I'm quite skeptical that there's ever a "most natural" meaning of much of anything) paradigms, you're more than halfway there toward getting them to consider evolution and Big Bang cosmology, and if they consider them honestly, there's a very good chance that the vast piles of evidence will lead in favor of accepting them.

On #5, I find it interesting that I became fully convinced of evolution largely before I knew of any major evangelical Christians who accepted it, but now I like to cling to Kenneth and Keith Miller, Francis Collins, et al, because I hope they are useful to convince others.

Unfortunately, what I wish could work probably wouldn't: I love reading about evolution because I thinking its the most fricking awesome thing about God's creation. I read David Quammen's Song of the Dodo (about island biogeography, but also a good but long primer on many aspects of evolution proper) with joy and wonder at how God's world operates. I only wish there was a way to communicate that to people without being branded a heretic.

Pete said...

"Pete, I don't want to lean on you in an unkind manner, but is this a case where the church work is your livelihood or are you a volunteer?"

The position is volunteer. I am part of a church plant that focuses on these small groups and tries to get everyone involved in both small groups and ministry. Indeed, if you decide to stay at our church you will be serving. There is a limited number of qualified small group leaders, and I committed to a year and would face quite a bit of pressure to stay on if I tried to step back after that (unless that is, they believe I am no longer qualified). My pastor thinks I am a good small group leader (he is in my group) and apparently doesn't think this is cause for me not to lead. Just given my additional struggles and uneasiness that no one else knows; that is part of the stress.

Steve Martin said...

Kyle: Thanks. It is definitely freeing to be able to celebrate the wonder of God's creation. In some ways it parallels our message to those who have never encountered Christ: "Christianity about a bunch of rules? You kidding me? This is freedom!". To our fellow Christians we should say "Science scary? You kidding me? This is God's creation!".
.
Pete: Again, I appreciate your candor. I do agree with Steven R. that sometimes leaving a local Church is necessary. However, I strongly believe this should never be a first option - and probably not a good option in your case. From the sounds of it, you are a very important part of the ministry there. That is an important distinction.
And, from my own anecdotal experience, if every Evangelical Pastor or leader had to resign whenever they had major doubts, we'd lose at least 50% of our leadership on the spot (and maybe 80% of the honest ones!).

Cliff Martin said...

Steve M., I am also looking forward to you guest post series, though I must tell you that when Dennis first mentioned it in his comment, I puzzled briefly, then entertained the hope that somewhere there was a conference being organized on Evangelicals and Evolution. So many of the people who have commented here walk alone within their communities of faith. Assembling together for a conference would be helpful to us, and perhaps raise the profile of the EC movement (do we ECers even qualify to be called a movement??). What would it take?

Steve Ranney said...

>do we ECers even qualify to be called a movement??

Wow, and after we get our movement going, we can litigate to get our views taught in the schools!!! Wait, they are already doing that!

Stephen D said...

do we ECers even qualify to be called a movement??

We're definitely a theological movement (as opposed to a scientific movement), due to all the theological implications of evolution that are practically virgin territory. I think this is the most important stuff to be explored by ECs amongst ourselves whether at a conference or not, so that we have answers to the most important questions that the special creationists immediately ask us, which are usually of a theological rather than a scientific nature. I've just been interacting with a couple SCs and sure enough, quicker than a greased (3), they pull out questions only answerable with more than a lazy (4).

Steve Martin said...

Hi Cliff,
“Assembling together for a conference would be helpful to us”. Within the professional Christian scientific community, there are such things (eg. ASA conferences: see 2007 info for meeting in Edinburgh at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/edinburgh2007/ - some absolutely excellent sessions. Unfortunately the audio on lots of the sessions is very poor). But, even these types of conferences are few and far between.

Stephen D: re: the fact that the salient issue is the theological implications.

Bang on.

All: re: an EC movement.

My own inclination would be to avoid using the term movement. I think one of the most harmful things about ID is that it has become an ID movement. Even if its arguments were good, its tactics and attitude have become so antagonistic that it is harmful to any Christian witness that might have been possible. Not all movements need to be this way, but in general, they seem to be better at building walls than bridges.

IMHO, the key objectives for EC’s should be the following: 1) demonstrate to those considering the claims of Christ that they don’t have to abandon science to follow Christ and 2) showing Christians that that they don’t have to give up their faith to accept the scientific evidence.

And no, I guess I don’t have a better word for movement so maybe my criticism is hollow.

Steve Ranney said...

Pete - regarding JEDP, I assume you read about Peter Enns in an earlier post on this blog. I was just reading an article by him lat night, his “Bible in Context: The Continuing Vitality of Reformed Biblical Scholarship,” Westminster Theological Journal 68 (2006): 203-18. "This article is a slightly revised version of my address at my inauguration as Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Hermeneutics on March 15, 2006." He explains Wellhausen's theory and other surrounding issues from a Reformed perspective. http://peterennsonline.com/articles-and-essays/

James F said...

Dear Steve,

I am delighted to find this blog. As a Roman Catholic, I always accepted an allegorical interpretation of events in Genesis and had no problem accepting evolution as a scientific theory and theistic evolution as a philosophy (although some of my co-religionists have fallen in with the ID movement).

It is, however, extremely helpful for me to understand the path that Evangelicals have taken to embracing EC. I am one of the scientific consultants for the Clergy Letter Project, an open letter of support by Christian clergy for the coexistence of science and religion, especially where evolution is concerned (in fact, one of my “recruits” to the consultant roll has posted here).

Many different Christian faiths are represented at the CLP - I invite you to have a look at evolutionsunday.com and, in particular, I invite clergy members and scientists to join our ever-growing ranks. I firmly believe that all Christians, but Evangelicals in particular, are critical in promoting understanding between science and religion.

Steve Martin said...

Hi James,
Welcome. Yes I am aware of the CLP. And I think it is a very helpful initiative. However, I’m not really sure it is something that is going to be attractive to Evangelicals, even Evangelicals that are supportive of evolution. I discussed this back in January in a post entitled “Promoting a Positive Relationship between Science and Faith in Evangelical Churches”. See: http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2008/01/promoting-positive-relationship-between.html .

Kurt said...

I have grown up in an evangelical environment. I went to youth groups and attended a Christian high school. Although I did not grow up in a traditional or hyper-fundamentalist setting, seeds of fundamentalism have been popularized amongst most in evangelicalism. I grew up learning that it was 'Christian' to believe in a literal 7 day creation or at least some kind of gap theory. For the most part, plain sense of the text was assumed as the best reading of the Bible.

When I was 16 I was called to full time ministry at a summer camp. Since then, God has opened doors that have led me into ministry opportunities and bible education. In college, I was highly involved in a church and was given an internship (I am now a youth pastor). At this time, I was turned on to the emerging church conversation. I began reading McLaren, Bell, Martoia, McManus, and others. I also, began to listen to lectures and messages by these and other individuals (NT Wright!). Well, I have for the past four years of my life been reshaping my understanding of the scriptures and how they influence how I interact with my world. All of this to give you the background to my 'evolutionary journey."

This year, over Christmas break I read the entire series for McLaren's "A New Kind of Christian" for the first time. One of the major themes that stood out to me was the openness to evolution. I had not realized previously that this was up for negotiation. As soon as this issue began to be stirred up within me, I googled the topic and came across this blog. I since have realized that there is no biblical reason that I need to have antagonism toward evolution. Many Christian leaders that I respect seem to hold or at least allude to an open posture toward this issue. In this journey (one of which I am still newly walking) I have realized how we have damaged many people by telling them that they must defend either faith or science. Why do many college freshman walk away from church? Because we have spent 18 years trying to convince them that faith rests on young earth creationism, and without it everything blows up! Unnecessary polarities like these have done more damage than good to the cause of the Gospel!!!! So, for me, my journey has been more spiritual/ theological than scientific. Why fight against something that science continues to affirm? This summer, my reading list includes Collins’ book “The Language of God” which I have perused some already. I am thankful for this blog and for other brave evangelicals who are not afraid that intellectual inquiry will destroy faith!

James F said...

Steve,

Thank you for directing me to your earlier posts. I now have a better understanding of your position and of Evangelicalism in general. I would enthusiastically welcome a statement of support for the EC position written from an Evangelical perspective; indeed, I think the makings of such a formal statement are here in your blog. Do you think there would be enough support for clergy to sign it, possibly with support of scientists as with the CLP, or do you see it as a statement for Evangelical science supporters in general? I look forward to what will develop. Please let me know if can be of any help.

Best regards,

James

Steve Martin said...

Hi Kurt,
Welcome. I’m glad you’ve found this blog helpful. Thanks for your own story.

I’d sort-of forgotten about McClaren’s series. #2 “The Story we find ourselves In” was probably more helpful for me than I’ve realized. I read that in the middle of my own journey.

Collins “The Language of God” is indeed good. I would also recommend Falk’s “Coming to Peace with Science” – that was very helpful for me personally since I could identify so closely with his own story (growing up in conservative Evangelical home, having lots of questions, and having no one really addressing them).

James F:
Thanks for your comments. Briefly, no I don’t think there is enough support within the Evangelical community yet for this kind of statement to take-off, not among Evangelical clergy / church leaders, and not even among Evangelical Theologians. We are at the stage where Evangelical scientists are just starting to speak out. The next stage IMHO, is to get Evangelical theologians to provide their perspective, to articulate a specifically Evangelical theology that is compatible with the findings of modern science. Until this happens, I highly doubt our clergy will support any statement.

We would also need to get pretty broad backing to make this successful, broad backing like the “Evangelical Manifesto” (more politically oriented) that recently came out. See: http://www.anevangelicalmanifesto.com/ for details on this. My hope is that the discussion on this blog might be a catalyst (or one of many catalysts) that prod others to start this initiative. The risk of moving too soon with something like this is that it becomes either a) still-born or b) so divisive that it is counter-productive.

Kurt said...

Steve:

Thanks for your suggestions and encouragement! I hope to be in regular conversation with you on this blog.

Walt Carpenter said...

Steve:

Do you agree with the Chicago Statemen t on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1982)?

Walt

Steve Martin said...

Hi Walt,

There is a lot behind your question. A few comments first:

1. I think the key question you are getting at is this: Can someone who accepts the scientific consensus for biological evolution, also agree that the scriptures are inerrant. A related, although somewhat different question, is whether Gen 1-11 is even intended to be historical narrative. The simple answer is yes, many evolutionary creationists would agree with statements that the scriptures are inerrant, and to the second claim that Gen 1-11 should be interpreted as history. See my post at: http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2007/08/is-genesis-1-11-historical-many.html for some discussion of this.

2. Your question (I think) assumes that a) one must accept inerrancy to be an Evangelical and b) the Chicago statement is the definitive definition of inerrancy. I probably disagree with both b) and even a) (depending on how one defines inerrancy). The NAE & the EFC don’t even mention the word inerrancy in their statements of faith. Check out my definition of an Evangelical post: http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-is-evangelical-am-i-one-why-do-i.html

But that is not what you asked. You asked if I personally subscribe to the Chicago statements. Although depending on the definition of inerrancy, I could agree with the term, the Chicago statement is not what I would use to define my view of inerrancy. Actually, most of the affirmations are fine, but some of the “denials” are not appropriate. In particular, Article XII states:

We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Of course I don't believe that science or history can be used to overturn the teaching of scripture, but the statement above is making a big assumption that Scripture is teaching something historical about creation and the flood. (YECers generally insist that Scripture is teaching a 7 24-hour day creation & a global flood; I don’t think this is what the statements framers insisted though).

A key point is that there is no one Evolutionary Creationists interpretation of scripture (specifically Gen 1-11). For my own thoughts, check out the “Scripture” category on the right.