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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Evolution and Original Sin: Conclusion

This is the tenth and last installment in a guest-post series discussing George Murphy’s paper Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ, Evolution, and Original Sin. Profuse apologies for the delayed conclusion; the moderator (currently scurrying back onto the stage) was distracted by his day-job for the last 4 weeks.

This ends our series on George Murphy’s very important paper. I for one have found the discussion of great value as I work through the theological implications of evolution; as I’ve said in the past, the origin of sin is (was?) the most difficult challenge for me personally. I found the distinction between “Sin of Origin” and “Original Sin” as discussed in this series very helpful.

A big thanks to all three responders.

  • To David, who while acknowledging that his interaction with science was of deep personal rather than professional interest, showed no hesitation in accepting the challenge. I found his contribution very helpful.
  • To Denis, who brought his characteristically uncompromising style and message to this forum. We need more Evangelicals like this. (For more of the same, check out his recent interview with Canadian Christianity)
  • To Terry, who provided a compelling and succinct critique of George’s paper that, I suspect, resonated with many (most?) of this blog’s readers. Terry agreed to do this (indeed, was the first to volunteer) even though he understood the format of the series was not set up to allow him “equal time” to respond.
Finally, a huge thanks to George for taking the time and energy to discuss his paper in this forum, to allow others to critique it, to respond to reader’s questions, and for continuing the task of making theology relevant. As he indicated in the last post,
“If theology is to have any real value it must help to inform, support and encourage the work of the church in proclaiming the gospel, teaching, pastoral care and action in the world”.
An absolutely crucial point to remember; articulating the continuing coherence of the Christian gospel in a scientific age is important, but if there is no application, what is the point? Thanks George for working towards making the gospel both coherent and relevant.


elbogz said...

It's too bad, no one bloged in the days of Galileo. I'm sure the discussions about a earth that was not the center of the universe, and how biblical descriptions of heaven and earth, simply weren't true. As the blogs grew long and longer, then they have to face the fact that the earth, was just some insignificant planet, in some insignificant galaxy, in a not too special place in the universe. The conversation would be the same as the one we are having today. How do we reconcile a belief in God, a holy book called the bible, and reality?

Each author in this series had to rely on a simple defense of thesis. That is, that the bible is not accurate representation of the world's history. Mr. Murpy's thesis makes the statement

I agree that Genesis 2–3 should not be read as history. Adam and Eve are theological representations of all humans, and I will not try to locate the first parents of the human race in the paleontological record

If the bible is not accurate as to the nature of the earth, and if heaven is not in the clouds, Adam and even were not historical beings, then, the bible is not inerrant. The nature of the earth is revealed to us, right before our eyes. The only way to reconcile that with the bible, is to use some theological tap dance, around the words of the bible. To paraphrase....”the bible was written for stupid people”

How do we know that Jesus was any more or less real than Adam? Because the bible says so? How do we know that there was a Noah? Because the bible says so? Well then, we have to concede that the bible isn't true history, isn't true geography, isn't true astronomically, isn't true biologically, (i'll cut it here but I certainly could go on and on...).

Why have a bible? How much more true could the words of Jesus be, than the story of Noah? We sit here and blog about how this is true and that's not true and the other things not true, but the forth thing is probably true.....

So, please state, what is our belief? In the beginning God created a puddle of goo. That puddle of goo was very good. Within that puddle of goo, organic molecules began to form and over a long period of time, simple life emerged. That life, began to replicate and evolve, and change though random acts of nature and environment. Several times prior to any sort of intelligent being, life was almost wiped from existence, but, adapted and clung to this planet. After about 4 and one half billion years, God said, ya know, I think I'll stick a soul in two of these little wiggly creatures, and if they don't follow my rules, I'll throw them in eternal hell and damn them for ever and ever. I'll make them sacrifice people and animals, and occasionally I'll have them commit genocide on unsuspecting towns, like Jericho. But, if they say the magical words, then they are saved, no matter what they do.

We should get George Carlin to write here too. It's about the same theology.

In summary, you can believe in God and evolution, as long as you don't believe in one of them.

Steve Ranney said...

I looked up the Denis Lamoureux interview, it's interesting that it is part of a 7 part series 'Evolution under Fire?' that other than him, features creationists and ID advocates. They promote the standard creationist or ID views. It makes me wonder what the average person would think reading through a series like this and coming across an alternate view such as Lamoureux puts forth. Nice of the Canadian Christianity website to include him anyway.

Steve Martin said...

Hi Stephen,

Yes it is an interesting series – and I do applaud them for at least including Lamoureux in it. However, it is a little depressing that CC starts the first installment with this highly misleading statement:

“EVOLUTIONARY theory is being increasingly called into question by some scientists and scholars. To reflect this trend, CanadianChristianity.com is presenting a series of interviews with Canadian writers, academics and activists, featuring observations on this ongoing controversy.”

Ah well, at least his “alternative view” may help some Christians to see there is another (much more reliable) side to the story.

Hi Elbogz:
I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. On just one point, there is much reliable historical evidence for Jesus, his words, life, death & I’d even say his resurrection (eg. Check out some of NT Wright’s stuff) – for Adam, well it is not even clear the original Hebrew writers thought of Adam as a historical figure.

Steve Ranney said...

Yes, Phillip Johnson I recall also saying that evolution is under attack and it is just around the corner when it will be rejected by the establishment. Wishing doesn't make it so however.