Friday, August 15, 2008

carmel is smrtr than me

last night we were talking about genesis and she suggested i frame the week on evolution this way:

assuming that everything we find threatening about evolution were proven 100% true, would it still be possible to be a christian?

after all, once upon a time we thought it was heresy that the earth was round; similarly, we also thought it was heresy that the earth may rotate around the sun...and, in this case, there are even scriptures to "prove" that the sun rotates around the earth.

for example:
Joshua 10:12-13:

"Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up
the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight
of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the
valley of Ajalon.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had
avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book
of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted
not to go down about a whole day."
Additional biblical "proof" for a moving Sun was seen in Ecclesiastes
1:5, where it is said:

"The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his
place where he arose."

so, you see, once upon a time it was assumed that scriptural metaphors were actually cosmological facts...and we're all a little embarrassed by it because we now know how mislead our earlier scholars were.

at any rate, carmel's suggestion was that we sidestep this whole question completely and simply begin with the assumption that IF it were all proven true THEN WE CAN HAVE CONFIDENCE that our best theologians would indeed find a way - a biblically honest, intellectually credible, god-honoring, jesus-loving way - to reconcile scripture with scientific reality.

so maybe a good title for that week would be: how to be a christian once evolutionary theory becomes fact

or: god after darwin

or: creation centered spirituality

furthermore, we probably need to acknowledge that - even IF all our 'worst' fears come true - there will be other, problematic, issues that arise out of this scientific discourse.

and it's these problems that most excite me because they provide the framework for brand new theology to be done...we'll be answering questions that ultimately will become the centerpiece of intellectual spirituality but that currently few people are asking (many thanks to john haught for illuminating us all in this regard)

for example: if evolution is simply god's way of creation, then how do we account for the inherent cruelty in natural selection? if it's the strongest that survive, how can we reconcile the fact that god made it that way, and then describes himself in scripture as the god of justice who upholds the weak?

also: evolution has so many dead ends, works with incredible randomness, and invites a remarkable amount of chaos into it's process. many evolutionary stages lead to immediate death and the extinction of species because the changes to their biology make them less adaptable to their environment, not do we reconcile the 'perfect' god who 'orders' the world with a god who seems like he's playing biological dice and simply experimenting with the inhabitants of earth lab?

and: what about the imago dei? if it should be proven that we are the descendants of apes...does that mean that they, too, bear the image of god? or, that we are somehow less special in god's eyes than scripture seems to indicate? where does this idea of the image come from, anyway, and why is it so important?

ahhh...i am electrified by these questions...when we hit this one topic in this one week we'll likely spend much of our time answering these kinds of questions rather than squabbling about my poor grasp of biology.

until then...
drink coffee. eat meat. be merry always.

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