There is an excellent organization made up of thoughtful Christian scientists called the American Scientific Affiliation. One of our guest bloggers, Dr. Jon, has been a member of this fine group for a number of years. It is safe to say that just about all of the scientists in this group believe in an Old Earth and the majority would most likely consider themselves theistic evolutionists.
Well over 95% (some would argue, with reason, 99%) of all committed Christian scientists would adhere to these views contrary to what groups like Answers in Genesis might contend. I have reprinted an ASA article in its entirety. I would recommend going to the site (link provided) and read the comments posted there.
I am deeply saddened by the resignation from Reformed Theological Seminary of Dr. Bruce Waltke, renowned evangelical Old Testament scholar. Apparently Dr. Waltke felt compelled to resign from the seminary after he stated on a video clip that he felt if evangelical churches don’t come to terms with data overwhelmingly in favor of the reality of biological evolution, it will face a crisis of not really interacting with the world and “not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of awareness.”
His statements seem to be stating the obvious to many Christians in science. But the fact that the seminary was so upset over these statements that Dr. Waltke felt he had to give up his job over this, because of his desire to honor and protect the seminary, and that the seminary felt compelled to accept his resignation, is extremely disturbing. Whether or not one agrees with Waltke’s views, his sudden departure speaks of fear and defensiveness on the part of evangelical leadership, rather than reasoned and appreciative engagement. Dr. Waltke has written some clarifying statements to reiterate his orthodox views regarding the inerrancy of Scripture and the historical Adam and Eve, and to reaffirm his belief that an evolutionary process of God’s creation is entirely in line with these views. Nevertheless, as of this writing, the outcome for his seminary professorship has not changed.
What message does this send to seminarians trying to understand the full spectrum of beliefs about harmonizing Scriptural interpretation with scientific discovery amongst committed Christian scholars? What message does this send to young Christians in science, or those considering entering the study of science, wanting to explore nature freely? How can scientists and theologians and clergy better understand one another, if there is a real fear of losing one’s job as a penalty for open discussion? What message does this send to non-Christians regarding the Truth-seeking of believers?
And how can Christian institutions retain a confessional faith identity while yet nurturing and encouraging honest and open scholarship and dialogue?"
Dr. Waltke is one of the most respected Old Testament scholars in the evangelical/reformed world. To Dr. Waltke’s undying credit, he claimed that the seminary was reacting to the way the interview was handled by Biologos. Here is the link to The Gospel Coalition’s reprinting of his post on Facebook. What an incredible, humble and Godly man. Praise be to God that another seminary has offered him a position.
Here are my questions and concerns.
1. The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor for an Old Earth and some forms of theistic evolution. It is my prediction that these arguments, like those in the heinous Galileo affair, will soon become moot. The church, throughout the ages, has born the brunt of jokes about Galileo. The church is getting the same reputation now, as Dr. Waltke contends.
Do Christians really want this scenario to reoccur? I brought this question up with a former pastor. He said I was being arrogant when I asked this question. My response to that is that insistence on young earth creationism as theological orthodoxy is, in itself, arrogant. He obviously feels he is far more theologically astute than those in Galileo’s day.
2. Last week, in our series on the T4G conference, TWW predicted that the Reformed crowd would begin to devour each other after they tire of beating up on the rest of us. Well, no time like the present, eh? We said that the only one left standing would be CJ Mahaney because everyone is afraid that he will “degift” them which is the theological equivalent of an Amish shun. Keep it up boys. Such a witness to a lost and weary world!
3. At one church that we know, a non-Christian scientist visited because he was interested in the faith. The church was adamant on their belief in YE creationism. This insistence led that scientist right out the door since he could not give up his scientific understanding and was unwilling to trade what he knew to be true in order to become a Christian.Is the YE crowd really willing to lose all of the scientists (except a few) in order to make this stand? Dr. John Lennox told me that the insistence on YE is harming the spread of the gospel in Europe. Take a look at this you tube video, which clearly demonstrates how this is being perceived.
The Internet Monk site (which is being carried on by some of Michael Spencer’s friends) has the following to say: “Christians have nothing to fear from science. What we should be afraid of is being marginalized, not because of our thoughtful and considerate faith, but because we think it is somehow faithful to refuse to imagine we might be wrong in some of our assumptions or commitments.”
Please visit the site at the following link. You can also see a video of Dr. Waltke, which got this whole witch hunt going.
Newspapers such as USA Today are reporting on this story and Waltke is right. We Christians are looking less and less like a faith and more and more like a cult.
4.Why is there such a fear of science? All truth is God’s truth. Even if we learn, in years to come, that there is evidence for evolution, how does this harm the Scriptures? I do not know of any evangelical scientist who would deny that God created the heavens and the earth and the DNA that links it all together. I know that all such scientists believe, that at a unique point in time, God breathed the breath of life into man and in so doing separated mankind from the animals. It seems to us that those who trust that God is sovereign should be willing to let science show us the intricacies of a marvelous world. Nothing scientists discover will ever disprove Christianity.
5. If any of our readers actually believe that Christian scientists, who reject a young earth scenario (which is by far most of them), are not theologically astute and don't care about Biblical compromise, I would challenge them to actually read the comments at ASA and other groups. However, one YE sort told me that he would never allow an opposing viewpoint to be taught at any church. Enforced ignorance is not the hallmark of the followers who followed the One who is Truth.
We call for Reformed Theological Seminary to reconsider the palling effect of their “acceptance” of Dr. Waltke resignation. There are many fine conservative theologians out there who believe that the Bible does not rule out the possibility of an Old Earth and theistic evolution. If wise Christian scholars believe this to be true, then why can’t the church stop this nonsense and allow for all viewpoints in this matter. I swear, I will scream and upset the other guests at the fine Hampton Inn in which I am staying, if anyone tries to say that this is Biblical compromise and that all of these fine theologians and Christian scientists are closing in on heresy, a tactic of Ken Ham.(When you can’t win on the evidence-attack)! This issue is in no way related to the Resurrection, etc. It isn’t even related to the Creation since all of us believe God created.
And now, for the closing doozy…A pastor I know recently put young earth proponents and philosophical naturalists in the same camp. He used Cinderella’s glass slipper and the two ugly stepsisters for visual effect to show that both camps are trying to force their feet into a shoe that does not fit. In fact, to us, these two camps have quite a bit in common. Both appear angry and rigid. They mutually refuse to look at the intelligent reasoning of alternative viewpoints. Together they both demonstrate little grace and love in their approach.
This is a sad, sad day in the annals of Christian history. We have seen the enemy, and, darn it all, it is us. Break out the gallows, there is a developing storm and it is called theological arrogance and lots of people are willing to die on this hill.