"Evolution does not match up with the Bible." - Mrs. Bronson (Science Teacher)
Tom struggled with this phrase. He struggled with the group discussion surrounding Charles Darwin and evolutionary theories. Tom went to church and his class was aware of this. They asked him, "You don't believe in evolution, do you Tom?" or "Sorry, but isn't it kind of ignorant to think the Bible is true when science so clearly contradicts the Bible?"
Tom felt embarrassed and childish when the other students kept insisting science made faith in God irrelevant.
Tom talked with his girlfriend, Jen, who had a strong opinion and she said "You can't believe in both evolution and God. The Bible says God created the world in six days and then rested."
These conversations kept Tom awake at night. He started to wonder, "If I believe in evolution and science, can I still be a Christian."
Often times the media portrays a dichotomy: either the Bible is true or science is true. In fact some churches and ministry organizations teach this. So, what are we "supposed" to believe?
In our discussion last night we talked much about the idea of biblical "genre." We discussed the idea of whether or not every word of the Bible should be taken literally. If Genesis 1-2 is scientific in its genre, there is a major conflict between modern science and Christian faith. If Genesis 1-2 is poetic in genre, there may be less conflict regarding faith and science. Or, it might be that the passage is a poem that describes scientific history, in which case both "sides" of this debate have some merit.
We continued through the discussion with some of the following points:
Understanding "Biblical Interpretation"- Different people read the Bible in different ways. Hermeneutics- is a set of beliefs we use to interpret the Bible. Everyone has a hermeneutic, each a bit different because of our life experiences.
Literal and Figurative Interpretation of the Bible- Literal interpretation of Genesis 1 means the world was created in seven 24-hour periods. Figurative interpretation takes the approach that some stories in the Bible may not be based on real historical events. A figurative interpretation of Genesis 1 might see it as a poetic story of God's creation of the world that was never intended to be scientifically accurate.
Christians Have Different Opinions on Biblical Interpretation- duh!
Context Matters- Even though there are differences between how people read the Bible, almost everyone agrees that not every word in the Bible is literal.
Here are a couple of items to remember when thinking through this topic:
1. God is present and involved in creation.
2. God creates all things and calls them "good."
3. God creates human beings in God's image and calls them "very good."
4. Human beings are given a role in creation: to multiply and to care for the world God made.
5. Genesis 3 expands our understanding by showing humanity's rebellion against God as sin enters the world.
If you are interested in looking at what the ELCA believes about this topic check out the link below. First Lutheran Church finds itself somewhere in the middle of this discussion.
Check here for the ELCA's stances on this topic.