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Vibrant Dance: “The ‘That’ and ‘How’ of Creation"

After Andy Crouch’s talk, Hugh Ross from Reasons To Believe (reasons.org) gave his testimony, which can be found on his website. (If you were there, you understand the humor in that).

The next plenary session was by Ross Hastings of Regent College (and another chemist by training!) with the also incredibly long title, “The ‘That’ and ‘How’ of Creation:  Pastoral Perspectives on Deepening the Dialogue of Co-pilgrims Seeking the Celestial City.” (I tell you—these titles barely fit in the 140 character Twitter limit and need their own bit.ly!)

In short, his theme was explaining how to approach a theology of Creation. He said, “Christ redeems us to be in Creation.” Therefore, he posited, Christians should be in science and not run away from it. He reminded us that we all agree THAT God created, so let’s have grace in discussing HOW He created.

He suggested two theologies of creation that I will call T1 and T2. T1 is an ‘historic ecclesiastical confessional orthodoxy, and T2 is a reflection on theoretical science in light of T1. Yeah, that was too many polysyllabic seminary words for me too, but fortunately it became more clear as he continued.

He asked what is the “Christian theology of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy,” etc? In other words, looking back at the theological statements made by many of the early scientists like Newton in their manuscripts, how did their understanding of God illuminate their science and vice versa? It has been so long since scientists felt the freedom to do so, that we can say that a Christian theology of science has reverted back to a state of infancy.

Hastings reminded us that the unity and catholicity of the Church is vital. {NB: in this blog, I capitalize “Church” when referring to the Body of Christ, all who have professed a saving faith in Christ’s redemptive acts of the cross and resurrection, not any particular organization, creed, structure, etc.} He also reminded us that all humans have faith commitments in life, even if ‘non-religious.’ I suppose you could say that one’s personal worldview is a fundamental expression of their faith commitments, even if someone would claim not to have a faith of any kind.

He then began a discussion that contrasted the scientific theory of evolution versus the closely partnered philosophy of evolutionism. (See my post “Define Your Terms!”) From that flowed his explanations of T1 and T2.

T1 states “that God created” is a theology of Creation.

T2 refers to “how” God created—the mechanism (whether young-earth, progressive creationism or theistic evolution)

T1 deals with issues such as:
  • The aesthetics of the glory of Creation (that Creation was made beautiful, not merely functional)
  • The distinction between God and Creation being separate entities versus monism (the pantheistic idea that God is part of creation or one with creation instead of a separate other)
  • That Creation was unnecessary, but in fact an act of love by a Being wanting to increase the opportunities for love to be manifest
  • That God is provident over the process of creation
  • Contingent issues of creation (free will being a necessary factor)
  • The doctrine of imago Dei (humans are created in the image of God)
    • This involves three traits
      • Relationality between persons
      • That such persons are rational
      • Therefore, they should be capable of ruling wisely and benevolently over Creation
    • Also, it should allow the rise of human culture via inculturation without enculturation.
    • {Some comments on modernity and postmodernity in this context which I didn’t clarify in my notes}
    • A contrast between epistemology (things we learn through thinking and experience) versus tacit knowledge (things we know implicitly)
    • A foundation for the ethics of science
T2, on the other hand deals with these issues on the front edge of the dialogue on origins:
  • The interplay of various degrees of freedom of creation {I think this refers to multiple issues such as free will, fine tuning arguments and the like}
  • Degree of divine intervention and interaction
  • Arguments via analogy versus unificacy {saying ‘this is like’ versus ‘this is’, I believe}
  • Interpretations of Genesis 1, 2 and other Biblical creation accounts
  • The headship of the human race
  • Death before the fall
  • Priority of the Incarnation over Creation
  • Clarifying inculturation versus enculturation
  • Certainty on the mechanism
  • Mission—how we go about fulfilling the Great Commission in light of the mutual illumination between science with faith
If Crouch’s talk was a primer on the attitude of discussion within the Church on science/faith issues, then Hastings’ was a primer on the ground rules and mechanics of the discussion, defining terms and setting boundaries for the issues. Very well thought out, and as you can tell from the holes in my notes, very information rich. (Audio of the main sessions is available for order at vibrantdance.org if you want to hear any of these talks for yourself. In a few months, they plan to have DVD’s of ALL sessions available so you can see the slides that go with the talks. Hopefully, these reports are whetting your appetite.)

SDG

1 comment:

  1. Do you follow Biologos much? I'm very wary of how RTB reports on modern biological science, especially molecular genetics, see here here, here, and here for examples.

    I'd recommend the following talks/articles from Biologos on genetics;
    Signature in the Synteny
    Signature in the Pseudogenes
    Human Genomics: Vestiges of Eden or Skeletons in the Closet?

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