Evidence And Faith

The evidence for God is in the universe around us,
In the oceans, in the mountains, in the skies;
You can see His holy fingerprints in galaxies and atoms;
You need only learn to open up your eyes.
The evidence for God is seen in everything in nature—
This has always been accepted by the wise;
But the evidence that shows there was no Adam, and no Eden,
Only tells us all that, now and then, God lies.

Via NPR, a story today, Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve, reminds us that evangelical christians (let alone all christians) are not a monolithic group. Not all evangelicals, for instance, believe the story of Adam and Eve.

[S]ome conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: “That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.”

Not exactly a radical position to take for those of us who don’t hold the bible as bedrock, but Venema’s position runs counter to central tenets of his church.

And Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century. Another one is John Schneider, who taught theology at Calvin College in Michigan until recently. He says it’s time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence.

Now, it’s one thing to question some parts of the bible. But (as the NPR story makes clear) this particular part is the cornerstone of christianity itself. No original sin, no need for redemption, no reason for Jesus. This is a case where many christian sects make a very particular claim, one which if taken literally (which they do) is falsified by research in genetics.

I’ve known christians who believe that “god wrote two books–the bible and the universe”, and that we can reconcile the two by recognizing myth, story, and parable. But literalism does not have this wiggle room. One or the other “book” must be wrong.

It was easier to be a literalist before evolutionary genetics came along.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    I thought this bit was pretentious:

    “The evolution controversy today is, I think, a Galileo moment,” says Karl Giberson, who authored several books trying to reconcile Christianity and evolution, including The Language of Science and Faith, with Francis Collins.

    Giberson — who taught physics at Eastern Nazarene College until his views became too uncomfortable in Christian academia — says Protestants who question Adam and Eve are akin to Galileo in the 1600s, who defied Catholic Church doctrine by stating that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa.

    Right. Galileo, who was at the forefront of scientific discovery in his day (which after all was the 17th century) is equivalent to evangelical “scholars” who, 150 years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, still think Jesus rode a dinosaur.

    Hopefully someone will soon fill Giberson in on what “Galileo moment” means to skeptics.

  2. Freerefill says

    A man who looked out on the land,
    Could not see the end, it was grand.
    He said, “It is flat,
    And so, that is that.
    Upon turtles and pillars we stand.”

    T’was God holding up our map,
    ‘Till shadows and sticks closed the gap.

    A man who looked out on the sky,
    Saw lights in the night passing by.
    He said, “They are here,
    Surrounding our sphere.
    Around our Earth do they fly.”

    In circles divine did they stay,
    ‘Till Kepler conceded to Brahe.

    A man who looked backwards in time,
    Saw eruptions of matter sublime.
    He said, “‘Tis not odd,
    That something from nothing is God
    But a physical reason is crime.”

    This feat only God could enable,
    ‘Till vacuums we found to de-stable.

    The mysteries of life we are solving,
    And new ones crop up in their stead.
    The beauty of life is evolving,
    But if you want to ‘believe’, go ahead.

  3. laurentweppe says

    Right. Galileo, who was at the forefront of scientific discovery in his day (which after all was the 17th century) is equivalent to evangelical “scholars” who, 150 years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, still think Jesus rode a dinosaur.

    Galileo came 100 years after Copernicus and unless I misread it, this Karl Giberson is not comparing people who still think (or pretend to think) that Jesus rode a dinosaur to Galileo: he’s comparing the religious people who refuse to take the “talking snake turned the world into a shitty place” story literally to Galileo… Which may be too flattering for Galileo: after all, he still abjured his adhesion to heliocentrism, which can be translated as “Ok Guys, you win, I’m going to pretend to believe that Earth is the center of the universe when I am in public, so can you not send me to the dungeon, pretty please?”

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