Re: “God’s Two Books”

Dan Johnson
Robert Geho
Wednesday, March 1st 2023
Mar/Apr 2023

September/October 2022

The September/October 2022 issue crackles with provocative thoughts about the relationship between science and religion. Some of them expressly reject an inherent conflict between the two, but some seem to assume the reality of the conflict. As a devoted MR reader, I offer three questions for reflection to the editors and to my fellow readers as we wrestle together through these issues.

First, do Christians need to “take evolutionary theory seriously because they take the book of nature seriously”? Is it possible that evolutionary theory, only having been around for 160 years in its present Darwinian form, needs more time to settle into something with which Christians can negotiate? Whatever Christians may think of evolutionary theory, it is not just theists who have significant logical and philosophical issues with it.

Second, is viewing the Genesis account of creation in light of an accommodative hermeneutic a reliable guide? My understanding has been that orthodoxy views Jesus’ virgin birth, resurrection, walking on water, and other miraculous events as (1) theologically meaningful and (2) as simply having occurred as described. Is it possible that we place the Genesis creation account in a different hermeneutical bucket because of the pressure being brought to bear by evolutionary theory and confusion regarding the subject of origins?

Third, is it true that there is real conflict between Christian thought and science? On the face of it, one doubts that the average Christian feels conflict with most areas of science. We are not forced to fly in airplanes, and hospitals and doctors’ offices are filled with an appropriate proportion of Christians. Perhaps it would be more precise to refer specifically to the potential, and actually quite limited, conflict between religion and the study of origins.

In the spirit of collegiality, let’s make sure we know what, with whom, why, and when we are negotiating, especially where truth hangs in the balance. —Robert Geho

Just a quick note to congratulate you on the fine work on display in the September/October issue. The two lead articles by Ungureanu and Viner were well crafted and presented complex subjects clearly. Viner’s piece stimulated a great deal of thought and discussion on my part. Both pieces raised the question of whether modernism is ultimately compatible with orthodox Christianity.

As C. S. Lewis pointed out, the replacement of a stable Aristotelian natural philosophy with an unstable dynamic natural science of ever-changing hypotheses and theories challenges all forms of natural theology. God’s view of the universe, the reality behind the phenomenon of human experience, becomes unknowable even to the philosopher or scientist. Images are constantly raised up and discarded. Remember “our friend the atom,” described as a miniature solar system? In this setting, I would suggest that the best natural theology is enjoying a walk in the wood rather than contemplating a white board of physics formulas. The second book, nature, is best read with our human senses, not through satellite telescopes and electron microscopes. —Dan Johnson

Wednesday, March 1st 2023

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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