Back in April I mentioned an upcoming conference in the Buffalo region called “Genesis Recast,” featuring Old Testament scholar John Walton, along with New Testament scholar Craig Evans, scientist Steve Schafner, and director of Mission Advancement for Christianity Today magazine Skye Jethani.
The purpose of the conference is to examine what the Bible says about creation (both of the cosmos and of the human race) in a manner that would free us from thinking that these ancient texts are in conflict with evolutionary science. A close reading of biblical creation accounts in their ancient context (and how later Jewish and Christian readers understood these texts) suggest that they are not attempting to teach science at all, but rather how the cosmos is meant to function, including our role in that functioning.
Indeed, the hyper-focus of many Church people on the Genesis creation accounts as a scientific alternative to evolution inhibits us from being grasped by the immense power of these biblical texts to speak to our contemporary lives and our journey of discipleship.
When we begin to understand the real purpose of biblical creation texts, we are freed up to investigate the evolutionary history of the cosmos and humanity, without thinking that such investigation is a betrayal of orthodox faith. Indeed, the scientific investigation of the development of creation over eons of time can be an awe-filled exercise in which Christians both stretch their minds and are amazed at the wonder of God’s creativity.
It is not an intrinsic contradiction at all to think that our Creator used evolutionary processes (which we are only beginning to understand) in bringing about the complex reality of our world.
The conference, however, is not focused on addressing evolution, although there will be an informative talk on what the fossil record and genetic studies tell us about human evolution.
Rather, the “Genesis Recast” conference is meant to bring the best resources of biblical studies to bear on helping ordinary Christians see the scriptural creation accounts in a new light, one that bears fruit for our ordinary living in God’s world. An important byproduct of this “more excellent way” is that we can begin to envision a relationship between faith and science other than the classic “warfare” model.
To that end there will be a concluding talk on implications of this new way of seeing for the Church today, especially how we can get beyond the infighting among Christians (and between Christians and scientists) on this issue.
The “Genesis Recast” conference will be held September 18-19, 2015 (Friday night and all day Saturday) at The Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY.
Tickets range from $7.00 for students registering in advance (on the website) to $30.00 for non-students registering both for the conference and for lunch with the speakers. You can see the full range of registration options, as well as more information about this important event on the dedicated conference website.
To register in advance (for the best rates), click on this link.