Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Creation and Evolution

 I am starting this series first, even though it came in second, because I need to secure a copy of Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry for the other series.  I will intersperse the two series. Plus, Advent is approaching and I will have seasonal reflections.  A friend of mine asked me to repeat my posts on the Virgin Birth every Christmas, but I am still debating that–I may simply link to them again.  And, I think I have found my notes on Romans 1 and so can finally finish my series on the biblical basis for a revisionist (welcoming and affirming/fully inclusive) stance on gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons in the church! The long hiatus on that series has, I know, frustrated traditionalists, revisionists, and those still undecided (or–those who know I am a heretic; those who wonder if I have chickened out in standing up for GLBT folk, and those honestly wrestling with the issue! 🙂 ).  I hope to resume that series this weekend while most of my family is out of town.

At any rate, here is an outline of how I think the Creation and Evolution series will go:

  1. Examining biblical creation texts: Gen. 1, Gen. 2, Ps. 8 and maybe some other creation psalms, God’s climatic speech in Job, the prologue to the Gospel of John, and the introduction to 1 John, the Colossians hymn–and maybe a few other passages.  Part of the idea here is to stop people from constructing an entire theology of creation from Gen. 1-2 alone.  The other is to show the theological interests of the biblical writers–they were NOT wrestling with scientific questions.
  2. A discussion of scientific method, the nature of scientific theory and how that differs from other disciplines or forms of explanation.
  3. A look at evolutionary biology before Darwin, Darwin’s contribution, Darwin’s “forgotten Christian defenders,” the evidence of genetics, etc.
  4. Theistic evolution as a theological position–compared and contrasted with “scientific creationism,” and “intelligent design.” Including a discussion of why all 3 positions are theological/philosophical and NONE of them are scientific.
  5. Stronger focus on why ID is not science and should not be taught in science texts or classrooms–but would be perfectly legitimate for discussion in a class on comparative religions or philosophy.
  6. Is there a political agenda behind the ID movement? Or why does this debate matter?

I may finish by reminding folks of the theological themes in the biblical creation texts because they tend to get lost in these kind of debates–and because I would find it fitting to begin and end with close attention to Scripture–read from a non-fundamentalist viewpoint.  I will probably include in this series several good book recommendations–both for beginners in theology and science and those prepared to swim in deeper waters, so to speak.

November 1, 2007 Posted by | progressive faith, science & faith, theology | 6 Comments

Proof That Conservative U.S. Christians Were Once Smarter Than Currently

Chris Tilling has a great quote from B. B. Warfield on evolution:

“I do not think that there is any general statement in the Bible or any part of the account of creation, either as given in Genesis 1 and 2 or elsewhere alluded to, that need be opposed to evolution.” 

Now, let us remember that Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) was a Presbyterian theologian who taught at the “Old” Princeton Theological Seminary and is considered a hero by almost all Protestant fundamentalists and many conservative evangelicals, especially in the U.S.  Warfield was the first to defend the doctrine of “biblical inerrancy” in its modern formulation.  That’s right, THE early champion of inerrancy saw no problem with Darwinian evolutionary biology.  Other early conservative evangelical defenders of evolutionary theory included Charles Hodge (1797-1878), who was Warfield’s teacher, Scottish theologian James Orr (1844-1913), Baptist giant Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836-1921), and even R.A. Torrey, one of the editors of The Fundamentals.  See more of Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders among conservative Christians in the book of the same name. 

If more evangelicals had paid attention to these early leaders on this matter, the ridiculous pseudo-scientific movement of “Intelligent Design” would have been as unnecessary as it is wrongheaded.  (Full disclosure: I live in a state, Kentucky, that has just built a monument to ignorance known as a “Creationism Museum.”  I may die of embarrassment.)

May 21, 2007 Posted by | science & faith, theology | 13 Comments