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Atlanta, 9 September 2015

Today is the final installment of the Evolution mini-series, after the customary review of last week's offering. In the meantime, let me express how happy I am that the material is proving useful all over the world. For example, I received one grateful email from China, where state atheism has been drummed into several generations of citizens. Naturally, restricted access to truth only breeds curiosity -- and spiritual hunger!
Recap: Evolution & Genesis
Since last week's article had 19 points, please pardon me for restating only a handful at this time.
  1. A scientific theory (like the theory of evolution or the theory of gravity) is a robust explanation making sense of the data. Since "theory" does not mean "guess," calling evolution "only a theory" is misleading.
  2. By 1800 the entire geological column, with its unvarying succession of levels and fossils, had been worked out, with the implication that the world was unspeakably ancient. The conclusion had been reached not by skeptics, but by Bible believers. And Darwin's early fans included many Christians -- at long last there was an explanation for what they'd observed.
  3. Contrary to common claims, Gen 1 doesn't depict God creating all kinds directly (see 1:11 and 24). Nor does Gen 1 present creation in the order found in God's Book of Works, Nature (where animals preceded plants). Nor is the scientific explanation hopelessly at odds with the lofty, divine depiction of the creation of humans in Gen 1, since the Bible also says we are made of dirt (Gen 2:7). Finally, fiat creation need not be instantaneous, as illustrated in Isa 44:21, where God creates Israel through a process spanning centuries. The notion that it is beneath God to act slowly is flawed.
  4. Some critics state, "Evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics." Yet the charge is bogus, since the earth isn't a closed system; it continuously receives inputs of energy (like sunlight) and mass (like meteors), which feed and drive a number of processes (like photosynthesis). In fact, new species are continually developing on the planet. Scientific American, Nature, and other journals can alert us to the new discoveries.
  5. The fact that Hitler and others appealed to evolution to justify inhuman choices is irrelevant to whether evolution is true. Nor does the "slippery slope" argument hold water. The slope becomes slippery only when people have been told that if evolution is true, there's no god.

Good answers

Below are claims a skeptic might make -- and possible responses the believer might make in return.
(Below is only one reply; the others are at the website.)

1. In portraying a 6-day creation 6000 years ago, Genesis is hopelessly confused.
The Bible doesn't say how old the world is, or commit us to a single creation account. The 6000-year notion is only an interpretation -- an incorrect one -- foisted onto the biblical material. Further, the Bible presents creation in different ways through multiple images (e.g. Gen 1:1-2:4a; Gen 2:4b-22; Psalm 89:9-11; Prov 8:22-31). Gen 1 utilizes a sabbatical framework. The point is the Lord's providence: he provided environments, in days 1, 2, and 3, for the creations that would inhabit them, in days 4, 5, and 6, respectively. Humans are the crowning creation, and then comes the Sabbath. Such a portrayal, rejecting the creation myths of contemporary peoples, was written to keep God's people faithful -- especially as they were in exile in Babylon. Genesis tells us about God. It does so in terms intelligible to the people living in the time in which it was written. (That's why there are a solid dome -- "firmament" -- over a flat and circular earth, sun and stars circling the earth, floodgates in heaven, and so on.)

Just as a first-grade teacher simplifies and accommodates her/his lesson so that 6-year-olds will understand, so the Lord spoke to humans in terms they could understand. As in the incarnation, he comes down to our level. Like the incarnate Word, the written word aims for intelligibility more than technical knowledge. Statements that could be viewed as scientific (we considered Ecc 1:5 in an earlier lesson) are usually incidental. The Bible makes no scientific affirmations -- but many theological ones.

2. Countless eons to create stars and planets and life -- and millions of species already extinct! Why the waste? .....
3. I've been told I can't accept the Big Bang and evolution and still be a Christian. When Christians try to convince me, they get the science all wrong. I'm not sure I want to follow a God who's opposed to rational thought....
4. If Christianity is true, then why is science at odds with the Bible? .....
Read the entire article.

Science enables us to marvel at the creativity, power, wisdom, and providence of our God. Many passages direct us to God's Book of Works (Psalm 8, 19, 104, 111; Rom 1; and more.) So science not only makes life easier to live; it humbles us and motivates us to ask the big existential questions (What is the meaning of life? Who am I? How should I relate to others? etc).

Yet science is neutral with respect to faith. You can't prove God by science. While some scientists might unfairly rule out the supernatural, science cannot do this. It can only measure the natural world, not the supernatural one. In the words of Austrian physicist and Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrodinger, "[Science] puts all our experience in magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart... it knows nothing of beautiful or ugly, good or bad, God and eternity."
Keep the conversation going...
We have returned from the evangelism conference in Greenville, South Carolina. The presentation "Loosening the Bible Belt" went over well. It was especially good to reconnect with old friends. I was able also to sell quite a few books -- covering our travel expenses. Interestingly, in Greenville many brothers and sisters asked me about the Paradigm Series, which advocates an organic method of evangelism. The series has generated interest worldwide -- and not a little chatter. (Every day I receive comments and questions.) Jamie Robbins (Jacksonville) has now recorded class 9, and the series will end 13 Sept with Q&A. However, to keep the conversation going, at month-end Jamie and I are offering a free Paradigm Shift webinar. (Space is limited, so register soon.)

And thanks for your support!
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