On Keeping Religion in Harmony with Science

The new age cannot live on naturalism or on secularism. Life becomes sterile and futile without the depth and power which come from participation in eternal realities. But this new age cannot any more successfully live on religious faiths that are out of harmony with known truth, or that hang loose in the air, cut apart from the fundamental intellectual culture of the age. The hour has struck for the serious business of rediscovering the foundations, and of interpenetrating all life and thought with the truths and realities of a victorious religious faith.
— Rufus Jones (1863-1948), Christian Faith in a New Age [1932], p.42

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8 Responses to On Keeping Religion in Harmony with Science

  1. Mike,

    Of the books you’ve read, which would you recommend for someone trying to understand how scripture and evolution harmonize? Thanks for any help you can provide.

  2. Thomas,

    In all honesty, Scripture and evolution cannot be harmonized. The Bible reflects an ancient science (which is inaccurate according to modern-day scientific discovery) and ancient myths that attempt to “reconstruct” history to help explain the current state of the world, i.e., physical death, toiling the field, legless snakes, child labor with significant pain, etc. The ancients, including the Hebrews, imagined an idyllic state that, according to all paleontological, geological, and anthropological sciences, never existed in history. The Hebrews did, however, understand theological and spiritual present-day realities, such as the universal sinfulness of mankind, and it these truths that are the most important when reading Genesis 1-11.

    That being said, Denis O. Lamoureux’s Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution is THE best book out there that helps the typical Evangelical Christian understand how much ancient science pervades the Scriptures (both Old and New Testaments) and how much of Genesis 1-11 could not have literally taken place. Once the Christian recognizes this, he or she should be open to the scientific data regarding current understanding of human origins and its common descent from lower life forms.

    In short, one has to readjust first his or her concept of what Scripture both is and says. From there, it’s a piece of cake, relatively speaking. There are certainly additional questions (e.g., did Jesus and Paul believe that Adam and Eve were historical people?) that pop up as a result of this new paradigm, but I’m finding very satisfactory answers for them.

  3. Thanks. I’ll have to check out Lamoureaux. By harmony, I did not mean trying to make Genesis 1 somehow fit evolutionary theory. Instead, I was hoping for something that discussed how looking at Genesis 1 as a mythic piece of literature does not conflict with the essentials of Christianity. Also, I have questions about Paul’s view of Adam. Lamoureaux looks like he may be helpful.

  4. Thomas,

    Lamoureux is definitely the best expositor on the subject. Wholeheartedly recommended!

  5. Another Mike B.

    Did you ever read or hear of “Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery Of Harmony Between Modern Science And The Bible” by Gerald Schroeder?

  6. Mike,

    Thanks for directing me to the resources of Gerald Schroeder. I’d never heard of the book before now, so I took a look on Amazon.com to peruse the reviews.

    From what I can tell, prior to Day 6 of the Creation Week, he adopts a scientific condordist approach that is quite similar to the white-hole cosmology/relativity approach proposed by Dr. Humphreys, which has since been discredited.

    Post-Day 6, he continues his concordist approach, i.e., he attempts to find 1-to-1 correspondence between the biblical text and anthropologic and geologic discovery.

    No matter how you slice it, both attempts (pre-Adam and post-Adam concordism), rip the biblical text out of its historical, cultural, and literary context to make it say something that it doesn’t (nor was it ever intended to) say. I find the biblical text speaks much more truth when viewing it from a literary and mythical perspective.

    And then there’s the Intelligent Design argument he uses to explain what appears to be biological evolution resulting from natural processes.

  7. Mike

    Mike,

    Thanks for your response. I’m glad I found your blog. You really seem to be on top of this whole discussion/argument about origins. I’m a Christian and am confused about what is true concerning origins. I think I’ll check out the books you have recommended and will continue to read your blog. I have a lot of catching up to do on your blog! I started from the beginning of it but then just jumped to your recent posts.

    Mike

  8. Mike,

    I’m glad I found your blog. You really seem to be on top of this whole discussion/argument about origins.

    I’d like to think I knew what I was talking about, but I really have no formal training in either theology or science other than a half-dozen electives during my college days. Of course, I fancy myself much more a lay theologian than I do a lay scientist, although I aim to change all that after I retire from military service about 3 years from now. Planning on going back to grad school for a second masters (Theology) and a follow-on doctorate (Science and Religion).

    I have a lot of catching up to do on your blog! I started from the beginning of it but then just jumped to your recent posts.

    Feel free to follow the “Steps of the Journey” series on the upper right side of my blog. Aside from my ongoing review of Denis Lamoureux’s Evolutionary Creation, the rest is just fluff. (But relevant fluff!)

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