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BioLogos and Reasons to Believe in Dialogue

While I am much more in support of the approach of BioLogos than Reasons to Believe, I’m glad to see that they are discussing. Perhaps laying out the details of each group’s approach may help Christians understand the issues more clearly.

I see very little future, however, for the day-age theory, despite its strong acceptance amongst Christians. I think it’s rather an uphill battle to suggest that the actual intent of the writer of Genesis 1-2 was to portray the days as ages, and fitting geological history into a day-age theory seems to require some selective use of the evidence.

I think the evidence is pretty good that the early Israelites would have heard this primarily as seven literal days. It is the progress of geology and biology, particularly evolutionary biology that makes us think otherwise. My position continues to be that God speaks to a time and culture in words and concepts that are understood by that culture. If we then listen in on their dialogue with God, as we do in reading scripture, we must translate the message into a new cultural context.

Thus I see much more role for theology than for strict exegesis in the reconciliation of Genesis and science, though I believe that the process of reconciliation largely teaches us that such reconciliation is beside the point.

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  1. The day-age view isn’t the usual way of doing old-earth creationism nowadays, though. There are so many more options than just lining each day up with some particular period of time, and the probable way to put 1:1-2:3 and the rest of ch.2 together (if you’re going to do that, and while I know you don’t care, I would prefer to try) is to take the chronological sequence of 1:1-2:3 to be inexact but the events of the rest of ch.2 to be at least chronologically in order, whatever else might be true of them. If ch.1 is arranged sort of half-poetically, as I think most scholars now think, and it doesn’t go chronologically anyway, then there’s no reason for each day to be one chronological period, with the next following it. That allows for plenty of time. Even among those who don’t accept macro-evolution to the point of speciation and common ancestry with animals, there’s room for doing this without doing the day-age thing.

    1. Old Earth Creationism is indeed quite varied. While there are substantial groupings at particular points along the line from young earth creationist to explicitly atheistic evolution, there is a sort of continuum in my view, and when the particular approach to scripture is included there are even more variants.

      I did not intend to dismiss all those alternatives without consideration though I will say that I have yet to see a convincing mapping of Genesis to science.

  2. My position continues to be that God speaks to a time and culture in words and concepts that are understood by that culture.

    Hm. Does that mean if the Bible were being inspired and written today instead of a few thousand years ago, Genesis would be phrased in terms of billions of years of evolution?

  3. That’s what I thought when I read Colling’s book. I’m not sure the attempt succeeds (it’s hard for an atheist to judge what will be successful for Christians), but it appeared to be such an attempt.

    1. I’m not sure it succeeded either, but an even more intractable problem is to define “success.” For Genesis, success has been its acceptance by two major religions as a source of theological truth, not to mention the subgroup that accepts it as scientific truth.

      I think Random Designer unfortunately deteriorated just a bit right at the critical point which was in tying its message to various theological themes. That is not unexpected. It is, after all, written by a biologist who should be better at his own topic.

      Nonetheless, it is the most credible effort I’ve seen.

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