The PostBarthian

Evangelicals and Evolution: Tearing Down The Wall

Evangelicals and Evolution: Tearing Down the Wall

The brick line between my feet in this photo is the location
where the Berlin Wall once stood and divided east and west Germany.

According to a famous Gallup poll, 42-47% of Americans believe in young-earth creationism (YEC), which the poll describes as the belief that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so". The results of this annual poll has remained relatively unchanged for over three decades. According to an analysis of this poll by Biologos, the bad news is that Americans are as strongly opposed to animal evolution as they are to human evolution, but the good news is that "nearly half of Evangelicals see science as working in collaboration with religion." The prognosis is that roughly half of American Evangelicals reject the scientific consensus on evolution and exhibit science denialism.

Why are American Evangelicals so opposed to evolution in particular and science in general? The question is difficult to answer. It's possible that people are misinformed and do not understand how evolution works. Evolution denial may be due to the prevalence of Christian Fundamentalism with its firm Biblical Literalism and Biblical Inerrancy that has mislead many Evangelicals into believing a false dilemma between religious faith and science. I don't wish to rehearse the immorality of science denialism here and now, but the benefits of science are everywhere in modern society. (Many excellent books have been published on the phenomena of American Fundamentalism and I defer to George Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture and Mark A. Noll's Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind.)  

The reasons for American Evangelical's disdain for evolution is manifold, however, for those who wrongly believe that Scripture prohibits its acceptance, I've assembled the following reasons why scripture is not opposed to evolution.

The Gallup poll were difficult to believe, so I ran a twitter poll, and the results are consistent with it:



Fifteen Reasons Why Evangelicals
May Embrace Evolution


1. Biblical Cosmology is Ancient Near East cosmology and cannot be translated into modern cosmology

The oldest parts of the Biblical Creation Narratives (such as Genesis ch. 2) originate from the Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East (ANE). The signposts of ANE Cosmology such as the "firmament" (and yes, it is a solid barrier) and the "deep" or "depths", appear not only in the pre-history of Genesis (ch. 1-11), but also throughout the Psalms, Job and the rest of the bible (c.f. Exo 20:4; Psa 19:1; Psa 42:7).

The Bible's ANE cosmology demonstrates that it is an ancient document that originated from antiquity, but this ancient cosmology is in complete opposition to how we know the universe is constructed today. It may come as a surprise that Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that Genesis contains the scientific naivete of the ancient world in his commentary on Genesis 1:6-10:

"Here we have before us the ancient world picture in all its scientific naïveté. While it would not be advisable to be too mocking and self-assured, in view of the rapid changes in our own knowledge of nature, undoubtedly in this passage the biblical author stands exposed with all the limitations caused by the age in which he lived. The heavens and the seas were not formed in the way he says: we would not escape a very bad conscience if we committed ourselves to any such statement."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Creation and Temptation. London: S. C. M., 1966. 30. Print.


Ancient "Babylonian map of World" (c. 500 BCE)

The Ancient Near East (ANE) cosmological model has been deciphered from archaeological discoveries such as the Babylonian Map of the World (depicted in the margin), and the creation and flood myths found inscribed on cuneiform tablets and steles. The most famous examples from the ANE creation myths is the Babylonian Enûma Eliš (Enuma Elish).

Peter Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament has a very helpful chapter, "The Old Testament and Ancient Near East Literature" that contains an excellent summary of the OT's dependency on ANE literature and how this doesn't set aside the OT's inspiration. Peter Enns explains the problem as follows:

". . . what standards can we reasonably expect of the Bible, seeing that it is an ancient Near East document and not a modern one. Are teh early stories in the Old Testament to be judged on the basis of standards of modern historical inquiry and scientific percision, things that ancient peoples were not at all aware? Is it not likely that GOd would have allowed his word to come to the ancient Israelites according to the standards they understood, or are modern standards of truth and error so universal that we should expect premodern cultures to have understood them? The former position is, I feel, better suited for solving the problem. The latter is often an implicit assumption of modern thinkingers, both conservative and liberal Christians, but it is somewhat myopic and should be called into question. What the Bible is must be understood in light of the culture context in which it was given."

Peter Enns

Enns, Peter. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005. 41. Print.

To demonstrate that Genesis is an ANE document, consider how the two Creation narratives in Genesis exhibits striking similarities to the Babylonian Creation Myth (Enuma Elish). The author Genesis utilized this or very similar ANE Creation Myths, and critiqued them and repurposed them in order to reveal what that author wished to communicate through the received text of Genesis as we know it today. Even though the author of Genesis was critical of his sources, his revelation was still in the vehicle of ANE cosmology and his audience were ancient people who only knew ANE cosmology, and none of this revelation contained scientific knowledge. Karl Barth makes the following statement to explain the relationship between these two Creation tales:

"What we read in Gen 1 and 2 are genuine histories of creation. If there is a connexion with the Babylonian myth or its older sources, it is a critical connexion. Everything is so different that the only choice is either to see in the Jewish rendering a complete caricature of the Babylonian, or in the Babylonian a complete caricature of the Jewish, according to the standpoint adopted."

Karl Barth

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. 3.1, Sections 40-42: The Doctrine of Creation, Study Edition 13London: T & T Clark, 2010. [89]. Print.

2. The three-decker cosmology of the Ancient Near East has vanished from the world



The three-tiered universe has vanished from the world. No American Evangelical believes that we could take a space ship to heaven. No one believes that God is literally 'up there' or 'out there' in the sky like was once believed in ANE cosmology. As if God was hiding on the dark side of the moon! Space is an infinite abyss, taking decades for the fastest satellites to reach the Solar Systems's known bounds. American Evangelicals cheered when New Horizons flew by the heart-faced dwarf-planet Pluto, and when the Martian rovers photographed the surface of Mars, and when the collision of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet collided with Jupiter.

In the ANE, people imagined a three-decker cosmos: the Earth was a flat disc encased between a subterranean ocean and a celestial ocean. The subterranean ocean was a chaotic abyss below the surface of the Earth (c.f. "depths" or "deep") from which the fountains of the Earth sprang. The celestial ocean along with the sun, moon and stars were suspended in the sky above the Earth by a solid barrier (c.f. "firmament"). Heaven was identified with the tier above, and Hell with the tier below the disc of the Earth.

Bishop J.A.T. Robinson explains this problem this way:

". . . the whole conception of a God 'out there', which has served us so well since the collapse of the three-decker universe, is itself becoming more of a hindrance than a help. In a previous age there came a moment when the three-decker likewise proved an embarrassment, even as a piece of mental furniture. But in this case there was a considerable interval between the time when it ceased to be taken literally as a model of the universe and the time when it ceased to perform a useful function as a metaphor. "

Bishop John Robinson

Robinson, John A. T. Honest to God. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963. 16. Print.

3. Those who reject evolution today may prove to be modern versions of the people who condemned Galileo.

I've met many American Evangelicals who affirm the Ascension as a literal bodily ascent, but none who believe that Jesus ascended like superman and flew to a particular part of the universe where Heaven is located. These Evangelicals are willing to reject evolution, but none have condemned Galileo. How can this be? Maybe there is cognitive dissonance at play, where Jesus is imagined to travel into the sky until he's out of site, and then something magical happens once he is beyond view in the sky above such that Jesus goes to the Father in a puff of smoke but not to a specific location in the Solar System or somewhere far off in the uncharted Universe? What was the destination of Jesus' ascension? Jesus ascended as the creed says, but not like superhero comic books. Karl Barth provides us with this answer to the Ascension destination dilemma:

"There is no sense in trying to visualize the ascension as a literal event, like going up in a balloon. The achievements of Christian art in this field are amongst its worst perpetrations. But of course this is no reason why they should be used to make the whole things ridiculous. The point of the story is not that when Jesus left His disciples He visibly embarked upon a wonderful journey into space, but that when He left them He entered the side of the created world which was provisionally inaccessible and incomprehensible, that before their eyes He ceased to be[sic] before their eyes. This does not mean, however, that He ceased to be a creature, man."

Karl Barth

Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics Study Edition 16. Ed. T. F. Torrance and G.W. Bromiley. III.2 The Doctrine of Creation. Trans. G. W. Bromiley. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 17-8. Print. [p453-4]

The problem may be due to unwillingness to admit that the Biblical Cosmology is ANE Cosmology, as if the location of heaven had coordinates in the sky that one could fly to. Or it may be due to those who imagine that Biblical Cosmology is revealing a cosmology that is more advanced that modern cosmology, despite all the textual and archaeological evidence to the contrary. Are we to read Genesis in the same way as SEIT scours the sky for higher intelligence? Those who wish to assert the bible's cosmology against modern cosmology should be reminded that the Church has a track record of getting cosmology dreadfully wrong. And, when we are on the wrong side of cosmology, like in the Galileo affair, it is a huge setback for the Christian Christ. Those who reject evolution today may prove to be modern versions of the people who condemned Galileo.

4. The New Testament also affirms ANE cosmology

"Johannes op Patmos Jeroen Bosch" by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) - Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

"Johannes op Patmos Jeroen Bosch" by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516)

The New Testament shares the ANE cosmology of the Old Testament. Rudolf Bultmann summarizes the NT understanding of the world well in his famous introduction of his essay New Testament and Mythology:

"The cosmology of the New Testament is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three-storied structure, with the earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beings--the angels. The underworld is hell, the place of torment. Even the earth is more than the scene of natural, everyday events, of the trivial and common task. It is the scene of the supernatural activity of God and his angels on the one hand, and of Satan and his demons on the other. These supernatural forces intervene in the course of nature, and in all men think and will and do. Miracles are by no means rare."

Rudolf Bultmann

Bultmann, Rudolf, Hans Werner Bartsch, and Reginald H. Fuller. Kerygma and Myth; a Theological Debate. "New Testament and Myth." New York: Harper & Row, 1961. 1. Print.

Bultmann is right about NT cosmology. The hallmarks of ANE cosmology are everywhere in the NT. The NT authors speaks often of the "four corners of the earth", or "the ends of the earth", that's consistent with the ANE model of the earth being a flat disk (cf. Mark 13:27; Romans 10:18; and Acts 1:8). They also describes a three storied world (cf. Phil 2:10; Rev 5:3,13). God is located in heaven above, where believers were be "caught up" (cf. 1 thess 4:17; 2 Cor 12:4; Rev 12:5). Hell is in the abyss below the earth. It also speaks of "ascending" or "descending" (cf. 1 Thess 4:16) between the tiers (John 3:13; 6:61f; Eph 4:9f.). Paul speaks of being caught up into heaven (cf. 2 Cor 12:2). Jesus' ascension is described as ascending like superman, and flying through space to heaven above (Acts 1:2,9-11). The NT, like the OT, does not present a competing cosmology to modern science, and it was right for the NT authors to use it to communicate to their audiences, but it is wrong for people today to use it to oppose modern science.

5. Martin Luther and John Calvin used the Bible to condemn Copernicus and Heliocentricism.

The greatest Protestant Reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, both condemned Copernicus for teaching that the earth orbits the sun (heliocentricism), and wrongly used the bible to defend the Sun, Moon, and stars orbit the Earth (geocentricism). (Later Protestant Reformers, including Melanchthon, repeated this error too). Eventually, their Protestant successors quietly replaced their Geocentricism with Heliocentricism, and then continued to use the Bible to confront science.

The greated argument for Young-Earth Creationism is Calvin's Doctrine of Creation in his Institutes of the Christian Religion I.xiv. This is the bedrock of Young-Earth Creationism, and contains the most famous and best arguments for six calendar-day Creationism. No matter how convincing Calvin's Doctrine of Creation appears to be, it must not be forgotten that the same John Calvin and Martin Luther also were dreadfully wrong on the structure of the cosmos. Here follows are example quotations from Luther and Calvin to demonstrates this point.

Luther called Copernicus a "fool" and condemned Heliocentricism in his Table Talk. Unfortunately, all the popular English translations of Table Talk admit to deleting Luther's geocentric statements. However, this famous quotation is frequently cited to prove Luther had cosmology wrong, and wrongly used the bible to do so.

"There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth."

Martin Luther

Luther, Martin. Table Talk. Ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Theodore G. Tappert, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 54. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1967. Print. Luther's Works.


Martin Luther

Some have said this statement from Table Talk is not reliable because it was recorded by his students over dinner conversations. It's the most famous statement, but not the only example of his believe that the sun, moon, stars, orbited the earth in the dense of fog of the firmament. Here's a quote form his Commentary on Genesis:

"This is indeed is a miraculous work of the divine Majesty that the sun runs its course so accurately and definitively and yet nowhere in the sky departs from the line along which it runs, not even by the breadth of a finger. The wonderful expanse of heavy fog Moses calls the firmament. In this subtle matter the sun and other planets have their course and movement. But who is the Master who can make this soft and tenuous substance so firm and permanent? It is certainly not nature, which cannot do this even in much smaller matters. So it must be the work of Him who spoke to the heavens and this tenuous substance, 'Let there be a firmament!' By this command He renders all things firm, and omnipotently upholds them."

Martin Luther

Luther, Martin. Luther's Commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1958. 16. Print.

John Calvin

Also John Calvin repeats the same error as Luther. (See here or more on John Calvin's rejection of Copernicus and Heliocentricism):

"those dreamers who have a spirit of bitterness and contradiction, who reprove everything and prevent the order of nature. We will see some who are so deranged, not only in religion but who in all things reveal their monstrous nature, that they will say that the sun does not move, and that it is the earth which shifts and turns."

John Calvin

John Calvin, "Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:19-24", Calvini Opera Selecta, Corpus Refomatorum, Vol 49, 677, trans. by Robert White in "Calvin and Copernicus: the Problem Reconsidered", Calvin Theological Journal 15 (1980), p233-243, at 236-237

6. The bible accommodates revelation to the understanding of the primitive man to which it was original revealed in ancient times


Saturn's moon, Titan, is larger than the Earth's moon and has an atmosphere too.

And John Calvin agrees as well, that Genesis is astronomically incorrect and that it presupposes ANE cosmology because its intent was to accomodate the Doctrine of Creation to what the common man understood about the ancient world:

"Moses makes two great luminaries; but astronomers prove, by conclusive reasons that the star of Saturn, which on account of its great distance, appears the least of all, is greater than the moon. Here lies the difference; Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend."

John Calvin

Calvin, John. Trans. John King. Calvin's Commentaries. Genesis Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003. 86. Print. [Gen 1:16]

Many today would be benefited by following Calvin's doctrine of accommodation. Sadly, there are times where Calvin regresses to concordant interpretations of Genesis, such as when he attempts to recast the celestrial oceans of ANE cosmology as the clouds of storm systems (and I believe this is more respectible than the vapor canopy myths of Morris and Whitcomb). Genesis assumes the ANE cosmological module, and reveals the Doctrine of Creation through it in a way that ancient people would understand. It does not reveal scientific knowledge of the cosmos. This is reaffirmed by how the three-decker cosmos is related to the three levels of Noah's ark and other temple imagery such as the courts of the temple in Jerusalem.

7. The Bible does not reveal Scientific Knowledge.

The Scientific Method is a recent development of the modern era in comparison to the Bible that originated two millennia ago. It's an anachronism to expect to receive a competing scientific system from the bible that could be used to oppose any current scientific consensus. This means that the bible was written to people who couldn't understand them in paradigms that wouldnt be understood for many millennia. I've mentioned "concordant" interpretations, and by this, I am referring to anyone who wishes to harmonize the cosmology of Genesis 1 and 2 with modern cosmology. Reading the bible as such demonstrates a misunderstanding of the Bible's intention to speak to its intended audience in a way that that audience would understands. It also presents an anti-science propoganda that is maybe pathological detrimental when consistently applied to a modern societies dependent on science and technology for the necessities of life.

"Some Christians approach the text of Genesis as if it has modern science embedded in it or it dictates what modern science should look like. This approach to the text of Genesis 1 is called "concordism," as it seeks to give a modern scientific explanation for the details of the text. This represents one attempt to "translate" the culture and text for the modern reader. The problem is, we cannot translate their cosmology to our cosmology, nor should we. If we accept Genesis 1 as ancient cosmology, then we need to interpret it as ancient cosmology rather than translate it into modern cosmology. If we try to  turn it into modern cosmology, we are making the text say something it never said. It is not just a case of adding meaning (as more information has become available) it is a case of changing meaning. Since we view the text as authoritative, it is dangerous thing to change the meaning of the text into something it never intended to say."

John H. Walton

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009. 16-17. Print.

p.s. John H. Walton affirms "Biblical Inerrancy" too!  And, this same sentiment is expressed in plain terms in Karl Barth's letter to his niece:

"one can as little compare the biblical creation story with a scientific theory like that of evolution as one can compare, shall we say, an organ and a vacuum-cleaner — that there can be as little question of harmony between them as of contradiction? The creation story is a witness to the beginning or becoming of all reality distinct from God in the light of God’s later acts and words relating to his people Israel — naturally in the form of a saga or poem. The theory of evolution is an attempt to explain the same reality in its inner nexus — naturally in the form of a scientific hypothesis. The creation story deals only with the becoming of all things, and therefore with the revelation of God, which is inaccessible to science as such. The theory of evolution deals with that which has become, as it appear to human observation and research and as it invites human interpretation. Thus one’s attitude to the creation story and the theory of evolution can take the form of an either/or only if one shuts oneself off completely either from faith in God’s revelation or from the mind (or opportunity) for scientific understanding."

Karl Barth

Barth, Karl., Geoffrey Bromily (trans.), Karl Barth Letters: 1961-1968, #181 (p. 184)

8. All the early church fathers interpreted Genesis 1-2 allegorically

Has the Church always opposed science? No! Did the great early Church fathers use biblical literalism to oppose the science of their day? No! Basil the Great, Jerome, Irenaeus, and Origen interpreted Genesis allegorically. Augustine wrote a book called "The Literal Meaning of Genesis" that was anything but literal! Here's one example:

Now who is there, pray, possessed of understanding, that will regard the statement as appropriate . . . that the first day, and the second, and the third, in which also both evening and morning are mentioned, existed without sun, and moon, and stars—the first day even without a sky?  And who is found so ignorant as to suppose that God, as if He had been a husbandman, planted trees in paradise, in Eden towards the east, and a tree of life in it, i.e., a visible and palpable tree of wood, so that anyone eating of it with bodily teeth should obtain life, and, eating again of another tree, should come to the knowledge of good and evil?  No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree, is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it. . . . The same style of Scriptural narrative occurs abundantly in the Gospels, as when the devil is said to have placed Jesus on a lofty mountain, that he might show Him from thence all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.  How could it literally come to pass, either that Jesus should be led up by the devil into a high mountain, or that the latter should show him all the kingdoms of the world (as if they were lyiing beneath his bodily eyes, and adjacent to one mountain), i.e., the king­doms of the Persians, and Scythians, and Indians?)


Origen, First Principles, Book IV. 16 (Greek)

Origen's quote is not uniquely his own, but is consistent with all the early Church's allegorical and christological method to interpreting the scriptures.

9. Genesis is not eye-witness reporting

This may be a sub-point, but an important one, that Genesis is not an eye-witness report like a police report that contains nothing but brute facts. Scholars say that Genesis 1-11 is in the genre of pre-history, and it is entirely anachronistic to read it as if it were reporting modern scientific data. It's a gross error to read the pre-history of Genesis 1-11 as if it could be reproduced in a science lab. Genesis is heavily laden with symbolic phrases, such as how "Methuselah" means "man of the dart" and how Noah's flood occurred the same year that Methuselah died. To read the pre-history of Genesis 1-11 like an eye-witness report, is to set aside all the symbolic meaning that has been revealed in these Scriptures!

Karl Rahner expresses this very well, especially in the following quote from Homisation:

"Negatively it can probably be said quite simply that the account of creation in all its parts is not an 'eye-witness report' of what happened, by someone who was there, whether it be God or Adam who is thought of as the reporter. Or, to express it in more learned fashion, the account of creation does not depict the event which it reports with the actual observable features of its occurrence. Consequently it is not the report of someone who is describing and is in a position to describe a visible event of an historical kind because he was present and saw how it happened. If that were the case, then the figurative trappings and modes of expression which are present would be meaningless there. Nor would a reader expect them, if the occurrence to be reported had its own actual observable historical and therefore at all times intelligible and communicable features and provided the reporter were present at the event. Nor are the figurative modes of expression simply to explained as didactic devices designed to assist a primitive hearer's comprehension, for even to him much could have been differently said without prejudice to his understanding."

Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner, Homisation: The Official Teaching of The Church on Man in Relation to the Scientific Theory of Evolution, pg 34-35

10. A literal reading of Genesis 1-2 makes it impossible to understand

Seventh Day of Creation (from the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle)

Seventh Day of Creation (1493 Nuremberg Chronicle)

Genesis contains two Creation narratives, and a strictly literal reading of these two accounts makes them impossible to harmonize. The first narrative is Genesis 1:1-2:3 and contains the famous six days of Creation, and the second narrative is considered to be the older account by scholars for the cruder vocabulary and use of the divine name "Yahweh" is Genesis 2:4-25.

The first narrative is more poetic in its presentation and has symbolic redundancies (such as triads), and the second narrative follows are more natural botanical order. The conservative Reformed theologian, Meredith Kline, in his essay, Because It Has Not Rained, explains that a strictly natural read of these accounts according to twenty-four-hour days results in a "ludicrous" interpretation of these two Genesis accounts, and asserts that anyone who entertains such a reading exhibits a "strange blindness".

The results, indeed, approach the ludicrous when it is attempted to synchronize Gen. 2:5 with Genesis 1 interpreted in terms of a week of twenty-four-hour days. On that interpretation, vegetation was created on what we may call "Tuesday". Therefore, the vegetationless situation described in Gen. 2:5 cannot be located later than "Tuesday" morning. Neither can it be located earlier than that for Gen. 2:5 assumes the existence of dry land which does not appear until the "third day". Besides, would it not have been droll to attribute the lack of vegetation to the lack of water either on "Sunday" when the earth itself was quite unfashioned or on "Monday" when there was nothing but water to be seen? Hence the twenty-four-hour day theorist must think of the Almighty as hesitant to put in the plants on "Tuesday" morning because it would not rain until later in the day! (It must of course be supposed that it did rain, or at least that some supply of water was provided, before "Tuesday" was over, for by the end of the day the earth was abounding with that vegetation which according to Gen. 2:5 had hitherto been lacking for want of water.)

How can a serious exegete fail to see that such a reconstruction of a "Tuesday morning" in a literal creation week is completely foreign to the historical perspectives of Gen. 2:5? It is a strange blindness that questions the orthodoxy of all who reject the traditional twenty-four-hour day theory when the truth is that endorsement of that theory is incompatible with belief in the self-consistency of the Scriptures.

Meredith Kline

Meredith Kline, Because It Has Not Rained

11. What genre is Genesis 1-2? The answer is Saga!

Lascaux Cave Paintings

Lascaux Cave Paintings (circa 17,500 BCE).

What genre of literature is Genesis 1 & 2? Is it Myth? Legend? Eye-witness report? Objective history? Karl Barth says that the best answer is "saga", because saga makes Genesis make sense in its historical milieu. Saga roots the narrative in historical events, but doesnt not restrict the Scriptures and prevent them from communication more than purely brute facts like a police report. These pre-history Scriptures present history and an interpreation of history, that is commonly described by the two German words for history: historiche and gistechte

Karl Barth defines "saga" as follows:

"I am using saga in the sense of an intuitive and poetic picture of a pre-historical reality of history which is enacted once and for all within the confines of time and space. Legend and anecdote are to be regarded as a degenerate form of saga: legend as the depiction in saga form of a concrete individual personality; and anecdote as the sudden illumination in saga form either of a personality of this kind or of a concretely historical situation. If the concept of myth proves inadequate—as is still to be shown—it is obvious that the only concept to describe the biblical history of creation is that of saga."

Karl Barth

Barth, Karl. "Church Dogmatics Study Edition 21" Ed. T. F. Torrance and G.W. Bromiley. III.1 The Doctrine of Creation. Trans. G. W. Bromiley. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 81. Print.

12. A century ago, America's greatest theologians embraced evolution including B. B. Warfield and Charles Hodge

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield's breeding of horses lead him to affirm evolution

The late 18th century and early 19th century was a time when science was embraced by the Church and a time when people believed that everything that could be known would be known (another belief that is abandoned today!) This is exemplified by the embracing of evolution by America's greatest late 19th and early 20th century theologians including "the lion of Princeton" B.B. Warfield and "the Guardian of Orthodoxy" Charles Hodge. The foundation of American Evangelicalism today was build on the foundation of these two men's works, which affirmed evolution! So American Evangelicals disdain for evolution and science has only arisen due to controversies in the last hundred or so years after the sunset of these great American Evangelical luminaries!

B.B. Warfield is the father of Biblical Inerrancy: the very doctrine that prohibits many American Evangelicals today from embracing evolution! If Warfield had not written The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, then there may not have been any controversy over Biblical Inerrancy today, because there would be no such thing as "inerrancy." If inerrancy is a road block for any American Evangelical today, then they must be reminded that the founder of this American made pseudo-dilemma, B.B. Warfield, was also the most famous advocate of evolution, over a hundred years before the scientific consensus of evolution was established! Read this quotation by Warfield on Evolution:

"It should scarcely be passed without remark that Calvin's doctrine of creation is, if we have understood it aright, for all except the souls of men, an evolutionary one. The 'indigested mass', including the 'promise and potency' of all that was yet to be, was called into being by the simple fiat of God. But all that has come into being since - except the souls of men alone - has arisen as a modification of this original world-stuff by means of the interaction of its intrinsic forces. Not these forces apart from God, of course: Calvin is a high theist, that is, supernaturalist, in his ontology of the universe and in his conception of the whole movement of the universe. To him God is the prima causa omnium and that not merely in the sense that all things ultimately - in the world-stuff - owe their existence to God; but in the sense that all the modifications of the world-stuff have taken place under the directly upholding and governing hand of God, and find their account ultimately in His will. But they find their account proximately in 'second causes'; and this is not only evolutionism but pure evolutionism."

B.B. Warfield

B.B. Warfield, "Calvin's Doctrine of Creation"

Mark A. Noll and David Livingstone has compiled all of Warfield's writings on evolution into an indispensable volume: B.B. Warfield: Evolution, Science and Scripture: Selected Writings, which also contains Warfield's essay on Calvin's Doctrine of CreationAnd if you think that Warfield is an anomaly, remember that Charles Hodge affirmed evolution as well!  Why is this important? It demonstrates that the Reformed Church has been on the right track with its doctrine of providence, and how providence is a foundational basis for the patience process of God by which his "mediate Creation" (as Warfield described it) came into being.

Charles Hodge

Charles Hodge also affirmed evolution

If Warfield is not sufficient proof, then know that the same is true for Charles Hodge, "The Guardian of American Orthodoxy". Hodge said this:

"This of course does not imply that the sacred writers were infallible except for the special purpose for which they were employed. They were not imbued with plenary knowledge. As to matters of science, philosophy, and history, they stood on the same level with their contemporaries. They were infallible only as teachers, and when acting as spokesmen of God. Their inspiration no more made them astronomers than it made them agriculturists. Isaiah was infallible in his predictions, although he shared with his countrymen the views then prevalent as to the mechanism of the universe."

Charles Hodge

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p165.

13. The Church is not against Evolution: Protestants and Catholics agree!

The Reformed Church is not the only one to embrace the science of evolution. The Catholic Church is famous for condemning Galileo, but she is not against evolution today! The famous provost for the new Atheists and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins in an unusual charming moment, has explained this situation well in a very good book on Evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth (despite some occasional and annoying jibjabs at Christians):

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has no problem with evolution nor does the Pope (give or take the odd wobble over the precise paleontological junction when the human soul was injected), nor do educated priests and professors of theology. . . . Bishops and theologians who have attended to evidence for evolution have given up the struggle against it. . . . But, grudgingly in some case, happily in others, thoughtful and rational churchmen and women accept the evidence for evolution. What we must not do is complacently assume that, because bishops and educated clergy accept evolution, so do theri congregations. More than 40 per cent of Americans deny that humans evolved from other animals, and think that we . . . were created within the last 10,000 years."

Richard Dawkins

Dawkins, Richard. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. United Kingdom: Free,, Transworld, 2009. 6. Print.

The Catholic position on evolution is the most intriguing to me, because they are the historical church in the West, and all Protestants have descended from Catholics, so we share the same family tree. The Catholic Church is open to a moderate theory of evolution, according to Karl Rahner, and as defined by Humani Generis. The point of controversy for Catholics is whether the body may have developed according to an evolutionary process and the soul was a uniquely created. In Hominisation, Karl Rahner explores the evolutionary questions, and he also has an amazing essay on Monogenism vs Polygenism in his Theological Investigations, Vol. 1. In this quotation, Rahner answers whehther Catholics may affirm evolutionary science:

Display at the Natural History Museum in NYC comparing a human child to a chimpanzee

Display at the Natural History Museum in NYC comparing a human child to a chimpanzee

"Although a moderate theory of evolution is not objected to by the teaching Church at the present time, it does not follow that the theological question is thereby settled and that the whole matter henceforward is a purely scientific one. The immediate creation of the spiritual soul and the substantial unity of man's nature in body and spirit are, of course, Catholic dogmas. Consequently the Christian can only hold a moderate theory of evolution quatenus nempe de humani corporis origine inquirit (in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body), as Humani Generis says (Denzinger 2327). The term moderate evolution might therefore be applied to a theory which simply inquires into the biological reality of man in accordance with the formal object of the biological sciences as defined by their methods and which affirms a real genetic connection between that human biological reality and the animal kingdom, but which also in accordance with the fundamental methodological principles of those sciences, cannot and does not attempt to assert that it has made a statement adequate to the whole reality of man and to the origin of this whole reality."

Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner, Homanisation

14. Historical Adam is an Evangelical Controversy, not a Scriptural Fact

The so-called Historical Adam is a controversy of similar proportions to evolution for American Evangelicals. This controversy could be entirely dismantled if we were to admit that "we all are Adam". Whomever Adam was is obscured by the light of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Adam refers to all people, and specifically to Jesus who is the redeemer of all. So all the controversies surrounding the so-called historical Adam may be safely set aside and treated in a similar manner to the question of how many angels may dance on the head of a pin. (Maybe if the theologians of ancient past had avoided such secondary debates when the raiders were coming, then the Hagia Sophia might have never become a mosque or museum.) Karl Barth has provided us great relief to this controversy in his scriptural explanation of the Historical Adam:

The Bible gives to this history and to all men in this sense the general title of Adam. Adam is mentioned relatively seldom both in the Old Testament and the New. There are only two passages which treat of him explicitly: Gen 2-3 and Rom 5:12-21 (to which we might add 1 Cor 15:22,45). The meaning of Adam is simply man, and as the bearer of this name which denotes the being and essence of all other men, Adam appears in the Genesis story as the man who owes his existence directly to the creative will and Word and act of God without any human intervention, the man who is to that extent the first man. . . . It is the name of Adam the transgressor which God gives to world-history as a whole. The name of Adam sums up this history as the history of the mankind which God has given up, given up to its pride on account of its pride. . . . It is continually like it. With innumerable variations it constantly repeats it. It constantly re-enacts the little scene in the garden of Eden. There never was a golden age. There is no point in looking back to one. The first man was immediately the first sinner.

Karl Barth

Barth, Karl. Trans. G. W. Bromiley. Church Dogmatics: IV.1 The Doctrine of Reconciliation. Ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance. Vol. 22. London: T & T Clark, 2009. [507-08]. Print. Study Edition.

For those concerned with whether the scriptures allow for mankind to have originated with a single pair (monogenism) or from a group of hominids (polygenism), I highly recommend as a starting point Karl Rahner's essay on "Theological Reflections on Monogenism" in his Theological Investigations, Vol. 1. (Rahner sided with monogenism in this essay, but it is commonly believed that he embraced polygenism later in life). Peter Enns also has an excellent book, The Evolution of Adam, that is equally helpful (and a bit more accessible than Rahner's essay).

15. Evolution ends the human being's godlike position on the Earth

One last helpful point from Moltmann's Ethics of Hope is how evolution de-god's man. Man is no longer a demiurge over the Earth, he has originated from the earth and his life depends on the earth. This is very similar to the opening of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, when he is debating which comes first, the Knowledge of God or Man, and Calvin makes the excellent observation that after man is blinded by looking up for God, he then looks down at the earth, and this allows him to see himself in relationship to God. So our knowledge of God is incomplete without our realization that he has made us from the dust of the ground. Moltmann makes this point in his recent book, The Ethics of Hope:

“If Darwin is right and human beings and apes have a common ancestry, this means the end of the human being’s godlike position. As the Bible says, he is formed of the earth and can fulfil his specific human tasks only within the community of creation. Since we have come to realize that it is the religious-scientific anthropocentricism of modern times which has brought us to the present ecological crisis of nature and human civilization, we no longer see Darwin’s evolutionary theory as an attack on Christian anthropology, but begin to understand that the human being belongs to the same family as other living things on this fruitful earth. That is ultimately also the substance of the covenant with Noah, with which creation begins afresh after the Flood. It is a covenant ‘with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature’ (Gen. 9.9–10). So all living creatures are God’s covenant partners and our covenant partners too.”

Jürgen Moltmann

Moltmann, Jürgen. Ethics of Hope. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012. 324. Print


Oh, how many controversies might have been avoided, if the bible had been printed with the New Testament before the Old Testament, and if then the Gospel of John might have been the first book of the New Testament. This would have caused Christians everywhere to read John 1 instead of Genesis 1, and I wonder if this alone would have made the world a different place for American Evangelicals who are opposed to evolution specifically and science in general. On the contrary to those who say that Genesis 1 and 2 is the hinge by which the entire bible swings, I respond that such an attitude makes Genesis 1 and 2 a hingeless door that prevents anyone from proceeding through it and further into the bible!

As a final ecumenical word, if the argument that has been presented here is convincing to you, I encourage you to love our American Evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ who do not agree. Raymond E. Brown once gave some excellent advice on how to counteract Christian Fundamentalism, and here is one last quote I leave you with as you go in grace and peace:

"Do not attack fundamentalists as if they were fools or ignorant. Often, biblical literalism is an attitude of self-defensiveness for even extremely intelligent people who have been trapped. They want to preserve their faith in God, and this seems to them the only way. They will understand your attacks on them as an attack on their faith. There can be fundamentalists very well-informed in biblical archaeology and languages. They will have developed apologetic arguments against any nonliteral positions. For example, if one is against evolution, one can argue that God created the world with fossils already in it and, therefore, that the fossil proof for evolution can be dismissed!"

Raymond E. Brown

Brown, Raymond E. 101 Questions and Answers on the Bible. New York: Paulist, 1990. 46-48. Print.

(Note: All images in this post are either from Wikipedia, or from my personal collection.)

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Posted by Wyatt

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  1. Wyatt,

    It’s interesting how you conflate evolution and science, as if they are one in the same. That stacks the deck in your favor but is really petitio principii. You doing this does not really open up space for real and genuine critical discussion, it actually shuts it down, and makes it appear that you are appealing to the people.

  2. Thanks for reading Bobby, I actually make a distinction between evolution and science throughout the post. Namely that not all science is evolution, it is one part of it. The opening paragraph links to biologos positive assessment of evangelicals and science. It seems evangelicals are particularly against only certain fields of science. This is why I mentioned evangelicals who cheered for space expeditions.

    • Wyatt,

      That notwithstanding, you are still claiming that evangelicals in general reject certain fields of science because they reject macro-evolution as a viable theory. And that’s my point: evangelicals don’t reject particular parts of science, per se, instead they dispute the theory that macro-evolution, based upon the evidence, should even count as a result of the science and the scientific method.

      • The poll indicated that 40-50% of evangelicals reject the scientific consensus on evolution. They is also a strong rejection of climate science as well. This post is addressing scriptural objections to evolution. Minority reports on science on this subject is beyond the scope here because I’m mostly concerned with those evangelicals who reject this field of science entirely. I suppose those who affirm a minority opinion within the field of evolutionary science escape the criticism of this blog

  3. Here is an attempt at a very quick, scatter-brained response…

    You make many assumptions in this post. First, you assume the author of Genesis is being critical of certain sources you suppose him/her to have. While making comparisons to other ANE literature can be interesting, one should not make the next leap and assume that the author of Genesis had access to that literature and was even engaging or critiquing it. I agree with Barth’s second perspective here, “Everything is so different that the only choice is either to see in the Jewish rendering a complete caricature of the Babylonian, or in the Babylonian a complete caricature of the Jewish, according to the standpoint adopted.”

    Also, you make the claim that the firmament was a “solid dome.” That is simply incorrect. I know that the popular opinion taught in most seminaries today is that the Israelites believed in snow-globe cosmology. But the story in Genesis clearly says that the birds flew *in* the firmament. The firmament is the atmosphere. Also, to assume the Israelites believed in a flat earth would be a mistake. Nowhere does the Bible say they believed the earth was flat.

    Your points on #2 are moot. In fact, there is a strong sense in which we still believe God is “out there”, it’s called the doctrine of transcendence. There’s no reason to disbelieve that the third heavens still compose the last sphere in the cosmos. Read the works of the brilliant philosopher and physicist, Wolfgant Smith, who teaches at MIT and UCLA to see that ancient cosmological viewpoints still have much validity in what they teach us.

    Point #3. For one, there actually are plenty of evangelicals who have condemned Galileo. The modern geocentrism movement is in a renaissance. Guys like Dr. Wolfgang Smith (Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia and professor at MIT and UCLA), Dr. Robert Bennett (Ph.D. in physics from Stevens Institute of Technology), Dr. Gerdous Bouw (Ph.D. in astronomy from Case Western), Dr. Russell Arndts (Ph.D. in chemistry from LSU), and others.

    Regardless of the whole Galileo issue and geocentrism, the Genesis narratives do not give a location for the highest heaven. They just say that God created them. So once again you point is a straw-man and moot.

    Point #4. Jesus links the “four corners of the earth” with the compass points. Your argument for a flat, disk shaped earth is once again very shaky. Jesus did ascend as it was recorded in Acts. If you liken it to “Superman” you must just be trying to make fun. I don’t think that’s wise. That’s my opinion.

    Point #5. Luther and Calvin could very well have been right in their arguments. Geocentrism has not been conclusively disproven. One man has even written a 2,200 page dissertation on the subject that deals with 100s of questions in depth on the physics and science behind a Neo-Tychonic geocentric system. Many modern Machian physicists see how the math could work. Wolfgang Smith has applauded the math of Robert Bennett in his efforts at helping the modern geocentric movement.

    For all the fun you make of Luther and Calvin, you must know that they, like almost all the church fathers, and probably even the authors of Scripture, believed in a *spherical* earth.

    Point #6. Genesis does not assume the ANE cosmological module. *You* assume they assume it.

    Point #7. Genesis is ancient cosmology, but it still is giving scientific truth. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Point #8. THIS IS BY FAR YOUR WORST AND MOST MISLEADING POINT. The fact is that all the church fathers (even Origen and Augustine!) believed that the earth was less than 10,000 years old. I can give you quotes from all of them. Plus, though many read the text allegorically they also read it literally too. Just read John Chrysostom’s commentary on Genesis or Ephrem the Syrian’s on Genesis or even Basil the Great. This point is misleading and it is one of the biggest lies propagated by modern theologians and seminary professors today. I recommend everyone to read Seraphim Rose’s book *Genesis, Creation, and Early Man*. He clearly and decisively refutes this point.

    Point #9. God could have very well told Adam what happened when he created the world in six days (just as He wrote with his finger on Sinai) and Adam could have passed that story all the way down to Joseph. In fact it would only have to go through like five transmissions. This statement is false, “To read the pre-history of Genesis 1-11 like an eye-witness report, is to set aside all the symbolic meaning that has been revealed in these Scriptures!” No. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and.

    Point #10. I don’t care how many modern theologians say Genesis 1-2 are impossible to harmonize. Theologians have been harmonizing them just fine for 2,000 years. James B. Jordan does a very fine job refuting Meredith Kline.

    Point #11. The proper genre is history. Jesus treats it as history. Paul treats it as history. Only moderns who think it is in conflict with science don’t treat it as history.

    Point #12. I’m guessing you are not a big fan of Hodge and Warfield. I do know that you have said fairly kind things of Bavinck and Kuyper (prominent evangelicals who lived around the same time as as these guys). Both of them were staunchly against evolution.

    Point #13. The pontifical academy of sciences is made up of many atheists. I don’t care what some modern Popes have said. Many traditional Catholics are staunchly against evolution. Just read *The Teilhardian Heresy* and many other Catholic books.

    Point #14. The historical Adam is a tradition-wide fact that has been embraced for the whole history of the church except some in the modern period.

    Point #15. Actually I would argue that evolution leads people to embrace a godlike posture. If we have been evolving for four million years then we are still in the beginning of our evolutionary progress. We will soon become super humans who will go out an colonize the universe. We will become like God ascending the highest heavens and creating an inter-gallactic community.

    Okay. I’m done. I have a lot more thoughts and I could oppose you more on each point, but I’d rather just leave it simple like this.

    • Josh, thanks for reading my blog and giving such a detailed comment in response! The post addresses people who already assume geocentricism is incorrect cosmology. I see that you have some doubts about whether the sun rotates around the earth. I’ll defer you to astronomers to argue that point, because it is beyond the scope of this post. -Wyatt

      • Thanks. I wouldn’t mind you giving at least a little response to what I said about Point #8. Maybe you just haven’t read many of the Patristic commentaries on Genesis? Have you read Chrysostom or Ambrose?

        • Josh, the early church fathers went hog wild with the allegorical method, and yes I’ve read them. I even quoted basil et al. In point #8. Even if you were right about these fathers, I’d expect them to share the cosmological knowledge of their time. So I’d expect them to believe something that was inferior to what was only later discovered. The bible doesn’t reveal the true age or construct of the universe or else they wouldn’t have believed such an imprecision.

          • The fathers used the allegorical method just like Paul did. There are multiple senses of Scripture. Just because they used the allegorical method does not mean they didn’t firmly hold to the literal reading of the text. In fact, with very few exceptions, almost all did. Basil believed in a six (24 hour) day creation. Ambrose did too. Chrysostom did too. The list goes on. Here are a few quotes. One of the finest poets and allegorists of the early church, Ephraim the Syrian, said, “No one should think that the Creation of Six Days is an allegory; it is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in the course of six days, was created in a single instant.” Even the most mystical fathers understand the text as literal history even if they also engage in allegorical readings. Macarius the Great shows the common understanding (that the literal and allegorical readings are not in conflict), “That Paradise was closed and that a Cherubim was commanded to prevent man from entering it by a flaming sword: of this we believe that *in visible fashion it was indeed just as it is written, and at the same time* we find that this occurs mystically in every soul.” St. Bede the Venerable says in his commentary on Genesis, “But one must carefully contemplate lest he would so weigh down this study with the allegorical sense that he would then forsake the plainly faithful account of history with his allegorical approach.” Athanasius, Cyril, Ambrose, the Capadocians, and others, were adamant on demanding that the text be read as history and as six literal 24-hour(-ish) days. The orthodox fathers combated people who only wanted to use allegory (people who were usually Gnostics, Valentinians, etc). As far as your point of them sharing “the cosmological knowledge of their time”, it is clear that they believed the earth was *spherical*, not a flat snow-globe like you have assumed they and the biblical author held to. The Bible does reveal the true age of the universe. It gives the age of the first six days of creation and then gives us the genealogies of man from the first created man on Day 6. Even Origen and Augustine believed this. Augustine devoted a whole section in *City of God* to this which he titled “Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past” (City of God, Book XII, Chapter 10). In that section he says “reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.”

  4. Great post, Wyatt!

    I like how you saved the best for last (Moltmann;). Also, Raymond Brown’s advice is a word we need to remember. I love these two guys!

  5. First of all, I have enjoyed your article. I share your disappointment about the science denial and aversion that seems so prevalent in some Christian quarters.

    In your point #3, you use the term [sic] presumably in relation to Barth’s phrase “ceased to be” rather than to the phrase “ceased to be before their eyes.” The force of “be” is not to suggest his annihilation but that he disappeared from view. He was no longer before their eyes, but that does not mean he was no longer. Another way of putting it, to remove the ambiguity that you have spotted, would be “ceased to be present before their eyes.” As the verb “to be” is intimately linked with existence, and presence, I can understand your unease. However, it seems to me quite proper, even if not as explicit as I have made it here.

  6. I would say that I do not think opposition by Americans is not the result of fundamentalism, since I doubt that fundamentalism is that high of a percent of the population. The reason is that so often, those who promote evolution do so in a way that tells a meta-story that says something like, “See, science proves atheism.” You rightly point out that many philosophers and theologians have shown one does not have to travel this path. However, today, when people refer to Darwinism, it has become code. The same is true for the big bang theory. When science stays to description of the world scientists see, we find a modest approach to science. However, science becomes arrogant and totalitarian when it seeks to make larger philosophical and theological points.

    • I believe fundamentalism is a factor, or atleast this one tenant of the many fundamentalism tenants. I made the point in the introduction that it’s difficult to say what is the true root problem that’s setting up a wall. George Marsdens book is good at analyzing fundamentalism influence on American culture. I agree that there is a terminology problem too where Darwinism is synonymous with Atheistic Materialism, but he if that term was set aside I don’t think it would change the poll results at this time. Unfortunately, I believe that these American evangelicals have wrongly identity evolutionary biology with atheistic materialism. I don’t know what got us here for sure, but for those people who think scripture is the barrier, I hope this post helps tear down that wall that divides

  7. You provided a lot of great quotes from theologians past and present. Thanks for that! There’s a number of books I’d like to read that you quoted from or referred to. I’m one of those former young earth creationist evangelicals who has come around to accept evolution (now I’m an Episcopalian). I’m still figuring out how to read and understand the Bible as I re-orient myself. I especially liked points 14 and 15 as I go forward. Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks Andy! And also thank you for sharing your story. I’ve had a similar change of direction as well. I’m Presbyterian but have great respect for Episcopalians too. Hope you are able to read atleast one of the books quoted because they are all excellent.

      • My wife gave me Peter Enns’s Inspiration and Incarnation for Christmas, so I’ll get to that one soon. I want to finish James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible first, though. It’s been an eye-opening journey so far. It’s been nice to find others like you who are traveling the same journey of faith.

  8. @Wyatt, Good list and good quotes and references. Thanks for putting it together.

    @Andy, Peter Enns’s “Inspiration and Incarnation” is a good start. Other good books on how to read and understand the Bible and what it says about creation and evolution would include:
    Peter Enns’s “The Bible Tells Me So”
    Adam Hamilton’s “Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today”
    Christian Smith’s “The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evaangelical Reading of Scripture”
    Johnny V. Miller & John M. Soden’s “In the Beginning… We Misunderstood: Interpreting Genesis 1 in Its Original Context.” and
    Peter Enns’s “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Doess and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins”

    If you would like book recommendations on the spicific subject of Christianity and biological evolution, I can recommend recent works of some Christian writers mostly with professional training in biology (plus theology in some cases), such as:
    Denis Alexander’s “Creation or Evolution: Do we have to Choose?” 2008
    Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson (Eds.), “Reading Genesis after Darwin” 2009
    R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble (Eds.), “Darwin, Creation and the Fall: Theological Challenges”, 2009
    Simon Conway Morris’s “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe,” 2003
    Darrel Falk’s “Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology” 2004
    Karl Giberson’s “Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution” 2008 (a little light on the
    theological implications)
    Stephen J. Godfrey & Christopher R. Smith’s “Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology, and
    Biblical Interpretation” 2005
    Denis Lamoureux’s “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution”, 2008
    Keith Miller (Ed.), “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation”, 2003 (a great all-round introduction)
    Kenneth R. Miller’s, “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God
    and Evolution,” 1999 and
    Michael S. Northcott and R. J. Berry (Eds.), “Theology after Darwin,” 2009.

  9. Thanks Wyatt, a great read. I shared biblical cosmology diagram on Facebook, a good outline I thought. I appreciated the quotes, and laughed at the albeit possibly aprocrypal Luther’s take on Copernicus. I actually had a thought of compiling a similar list some time in the future but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Here are some further points I thought of. (a) It’s basic and I’m sure assumed throughout the post but I always make a point of driving home that there is significant evidence for evolution and numerous polls show upwards of 98% of American actual scientists accept it as fact. Those who reject it seem to do so for a priori religious reasons, or for other worrying reasons!! (b) I think you touched on this when speaking about the Catholic Church’s position, but for me it’s important to know that the acceptance of something as fact does not mean an end of questioning. Animal suffering, for example, or the naturalisation of suffering in general is something which I still find hard to accept about the theory of evolution but it doesn’t put me off accepting that which is scientifically established. The conversation continues! (c) Anti-science in the church should be fought on all fronts. Rejecting the theory of evolution sets a dismal precedent for the future. I suppose this is similar to Moltmann’s praxis-orientated point at #15. When I see the rise of popularity of the anti-vaccination movement or popular opposition to the science of climate change, and everything in between!, I wonder what connections the evangelical opposition to evolution has with such as these, which are harmful, and potentially even more so.

    • This comment is an great appendix to this post. Thanks for sharing and I whole heartedly agree. I hope you get around to writing one of your own posts on it too. If you do please let me know! Also, great point about 99% acceptance. I could have made that more clear when I said “scientific consensus” but I was trying to keep the scope of this blog down since its already a bit long.

  10. Oh and didn’t Augustine say something about it (not rejecting evolution specifically, but something pertaining to his time) hurting mission, as those outside the church don’t see the gospel because they get distracted by bad science? There are just too many reasons for the church not to change in this area.

    • This would have made a great point too. I tried to address science denialism as a sociological pathology and getting to it’s unethical implications. It would have made the post too long and deserves a post of its own. This is where I think YEC becomes dangerous.

      • Not believing evolution has nothing to do with science denialism. There are plenty of theists and atheists who don’t believe in evolution on purely scientific grounds not taking biblical creationism into account. Take David Berlinsky for one. Those who reject *macro*-evolution, reject it on the basis of science. I don’t know of any YECist, who doesn’t believe in macroevolution, who would say they deny science. I’m also curious as to what you mean by those believing in YEC being unethical. I’d love to hear you unpack that one. I generally see unethical implications arising from those who think we’ve evolved. They tend to have a much higher percentage of people who are pro-choice and who don’t respect life in general as much. So please, tell me what you mean by “unethical” YECists.

  11. Evolution is origins for athiests.
    Stop the spin.

  12. Do you have any recommendations for good books on the ‘other side?’ The best I’ve found is ‘Should Christians embrace evolution?’ with various academics and good preachers contributing. It is very weak, but I’m wondering if there is anything better?

  13. We may be seeing an attempt to hide the obvious in this presentatiion. This is an “alternative view” for Christians who accept the belief that God is the God of science and gives us evidence of what He has done that is non-contradictory.

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