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Getting to the Biblical Side of Evolutionary Creationism?

Steve Martin lists ten books that have been written since 2003 (and pretty much none before that) on evolutionary creationism, starting with my favorite, Richard Colling’s Random Designer.

The good news is that there are so many new books looking at evangelical Christianity and evolutionary theory from a positive perspective. The bad news is that it is all coming from scientists.

This comes as slightly surprising news to me since my own journey from young earth creationism to theistic evolution started from a change in my understanding of the Biblical materials, a change that resulted from things I learned form conservative professors in Biblical studies classes. They may not have intended the result, but it happened.

But on thinking about it further, I’m wondering if the problem if the problem is not in how much about Biblical studies actually gets taught in churches, to lay members. Many of those involved in Biblical studies have no problem with evolutionary theory, but it is simply not their major area of interest. They don’t feel like discussing it because they don’t have time.

I do it because I’m a popularizer and am not working professionally in the same field for which I trained. But one runs the risk, or more likely the certainty, of saying very embarrassing things from time to time, because one lacks training in many of the fields. I feel very uncomfortable when I write a post that discusses the science in any sort of detailed way, because it is very hard for me to do.

Teaching Biblical studies broadly in the pew would be a very difficult thing, especially in American protestantism because we don’t exactly do Biblical studies in the same way as we profess. There is a large amount of tradition and experience in the way we apply the Biblical text, and one doesn’t get truly consistent results. What I mean by that is that the road to doctrine is not quite as direct as many of us would like to believe. It’s difficult to get people to take Genesis 1-2 figuratively if you want them to take Leviticus 18 literally, for example, if for no other reason than that the categories “literal” and “figurative” don’t directly apply in any case. They are dangerous oversimplifications.

Of course, not being evangelical, I have my own perspective on this, but I would say that any hermeneutic that allows Genesis 1-2 to work with evolution will also allow a certain freedom with reading the rest of scripture. I think this is a good thing, and that the same freedom is necessary, if for no other purpose than to read Leviticus 18 in a more humane manner, or to realize that while genocide may have been a common goal in the ancient near east, fortunately not very efficiently accomplished, it is not an eternal principle.

On the more liberal side, I would commend the work of John Haught in relating theology to evolution, but for evangelicals, I agree there will be more work.

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