Why I’m Blogging on Biblical Faith and Evolution

My first blog post for BioLogos, entitled Why Christians Don’t Need to Be Threatened by Evolution, has been getting lots of comments, not only on the BioLogos website, but also on my Facebook page, and on other Facebook pages which have shared the post.

I added a comment to one of these pages, where the discussion was becoming a bit heated. This is what I posted:

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Perhaps I should make it clear that my BioLogos blogs are not written to try and convince anyone who is adamantly opposed to my views. I have been both a philosopher and a teacher for long enough to know that two people with adamantly divergent positions who simply want to win an argument can’t have a genuine conversation.

I am writing for those who want a genuine conversation, where all conversation partners respect the others. I’m especially addressing those who both trust the Bible as the source of revelation and who also want to take science seriously. Among such persons are those like myself who wonder about some points of seeming tension between what we take the Bible to be saying and what science seems to be saying.

So my blog postings are not apologetics for a particular position. They are meant to help those who want to think with me on these issues. If you’re not open to the conversation, there is no need to read on.

I have to admit that I find grandstanding and absolutist claims to be right quite unhelpful. Of course we all think we are right (unless we have some genuine perplexity about an issue). The question is can we listen (genuinely listen) to another point of view, including why the person holds that point of view?

So if you really want to think with me about, for example, how the understanding of God’s creation of the cosmos (heaven and earth) in Genesis 1 and other biblical texts relates to the scientific picture of a very ancient and immensely large universe, click on The Ancient Universe and the Cosmic Temple,  which will take you directly to the post on the BioLogos website.

Registering for the Genesis and Evolution Conference in the Buffalo Area (September 18-19, 2015)

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.

My previous blog post gave more information on the speakers, including their bios and a tentative schedule for the conference.

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.

Genesis Recast: The War with Science is Over

The end of the semester has been particularly busy, so it’s been a while since my last blog post. I’m planning on doing a number of posts in June, but until then I can announce some upcoming events.

Conference in Western New York on Evolution and the Bible

The event I want to focus on here is a major conference being planned for western New York state addressing how the biblical accounts of creation might be compatible with contemporary evolutionary accounts of the cosmos and humanity.

The conference, entitled “Genesis Recast: The War with Science is Over,” is scheduled for September 18-19, 2015 (Friday evening and Saturday) at The Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY.

Jim Walton of The Third Choice

The conference is organized by Jim Walton (brother of Old Testament scholar John Walton); he will host the conference and introduce the speakers. After having been involved in pastoral ministry in Buffalo, NY for over twenty years, Jim became Founder/ President of The 3rd Choice, an apologetics/ evangelistic/ discipleship website designed to engage people in conversation about matters of faith.

The rationale for the conference is that Genesis 1-2 is a huge obstacle to faith in our country right now. Millions of students are turning away from faith because of “science,” and they think that the early chapters of Genesis have been proven to be fictional. Millions of Christian students are struggling to reconcile Genesis 1-2 with contemporary science, and it’s an unnecessary tension. This conference intends to help change the conversation.

Keynote Speaker John Walton

The keynote speaker is Dr. John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He will give two talks, Friday night and Saturday morning, which will focus on the material from his books The Lost World of Genesis One (IVP Academic, 2009) and The Lost World of Adam and Eve (IVP Academic, 2015).

John Walton’s interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is informed by contemporary biblical studies and how creation accounts functioned in the ancient Near East. His approach has been immensely significant in helping evangelical Christians understand Genesis 1 and 2 better, which does not predispose us either for or against evolutionary science; that needs to be studied on its own merits. Walton has just completed a world lecture tour, to a very positive response on the part of the attendees.

Other Speakers on the New Testament, Science, and the Church

Walton’s presentation on Saturday morning will be followed by Dr. Craig Evans (a well-respected New Testament scholar from Acadia Divinity College, in Nova Scotia), Dr. Steve Schaffner (a scientist working in the area of genetics at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT), and Skye Jethani (a pastor, consultant, and executive editor of Leadership Journal).

You can find short Bios of the speakers here and longer bios here.

This is the tentative schedule for the conference.

Conference Sponsors and Registration

The event is being co-sponsored by The Chapel at Crosspoint, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Ambassadors at the University of Buffalo, and the Biologos Foundation.

Because the organizers/ sponsors are very excited about the conference and its potential for raising awareness of the compatibility of biblical faith and contemporary science in the entire Western NY area and possibly beyond (Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio), they are keeping the cost of attendance ridiculously low for an event of this caliber, in the hope that many students, professors, pastors, and others can attend.

The cost for registration is $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and only $10 for students.

I will post information on how to register as it becomes available.

Tell your friends about this event, and let’s pack the auditorium.

See a follow-up post on the conference here.