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My last post was about a white paper by Bruce Waltke which looked at a list of “barriers” that block evangelical Christians from considering the possibility evolution is something God designed and used to create life on earth. The paper was part of a workshop held by the BioLogos Foundation. Darrel Falk gave a similar paper, but his purported to look at barriers affecting the other side of the equation, at barriers that keep the “typical agnostic scientist” from considering the possibility God did create life, as the Bible claims, by designing and using evolution to accomplish it.

I looked forward to Falk’s paper since I had once been one of those “agnostic scientists” myself. I could never put God and evolution in the same sentence – except to say one abolished the other. And that argument – that one abolishes the other – was one I often used in even earlier years when, as an out and out “hostile atheist”, I was proselytizing my Christian students away from their faith. After a decade or so of that I changed from atheist to agnostic, and a decade later to Christian. Along the way I heard them all, and the five “barriers” Falk talks about were real and pretty prevalent. But among those and all the others, one loomed especially large, for me and my friends and colleagues. Falk rightly made it #1 on his list. It outweighs all the others together.

Falk, like Waltke, gives a list. His number #1: “The story of Adam and Eve must viewed as history”. As I said, he’s right on target. This is the big barrier, the stumbling block for most every scientist, academic, and high-school grad. But, curiously, it was also my weapon of choice for ending the faith of my Christian students. If someone has trouble attributing creation to God, as described in the first two chapters of the Bible, they will have trouble in believing in God himself, not to mention the Bible and Christianity. And no part of Genesis is harder to swallow for a modern kid, or scholar, or scientist of any stripe, than “the story of Adam and Eve”. The rest of Genesis 1 & 2 is small potatoes by comparison.

Falk starts with an anecdote about a young woman, a student of his, presumably to give us a sense of how a barrier works and the impact it can make. The young lady had grown up a Christian. She was on fire for her faith, going on missions, teaching Bible classes, and all. She went off to college. She came home an embittered atheist, decrying how the church and biblical teachings had put her in a bubble – a bubble of ignorance about the real world, about science and the real truth, a bubble of “fairy tales”.

Falk uses her sad report to question whether we Christians teach things that are not really the truth and in doing so, create barriers between Christians and the world and, I guess, scientific doctrine and scientists. I think he gets into a little trouble there. His example is almost the reverse of his thesis. The bubble, here, enveloped the young lady in Christianity and was popped by the scientists. The barrier was, in effect, the other way around, keeping her from science, not scientists from Christian doctrine. The barrier looks more like a lance in their hands! That was how it worked for me in my atheist days, a weapon more than a shield. The barrier(s), as he reviews them, seem to do Christians more harm than scientists. That’s a problem Falk doesn’t really address. Still, I think he’s generally right about the barriers keeping scientists from accepting God, and evolution as something He invented.

From the information Falk gives us, we can’t really tell what popped the girl’s bubble of faith. (I do like his metaphor, it’s like the isolation bubbles used for immune-compromised patients, right?) But I can guess, from my own decades of first hand experience, and might infer from Falk’s rating it “#1” on his list, that it was the “Adam and Eve story”.

So what does Falk say we should do about it? What’s the reason it’s a problem and how might we solve it? This is where he and I part company. Falk’s solutions only make things worse. To use an old idiom, he throws the baby out with the bath. At least to fix one problem we tend to have, nowadays, in our trusting and believing what the Bible says, he puts the rest in jeopardy. Gets on that “slippery slope” we always hear about, taking an easy out that makes it all the easier to give it all away, throw it all away in the face of the adversities of a modern, and increasingly skeptical and hostile world.

Falk has a couple of problems, very common to all of us who run into what he calls “barriers”, which most commonly are just believability questions modern science and modern culture bring up in the course of the world moving on, growing more sophisticated. We’re constantly being challenged with “whose report are you going to believe?”

Falk’s first problem is that, at least here in Genesis, he’s ready to believe the world and the scientists are right when conflict or contradiction arises between them and the Bible. That’s pretty common, of course. Scientists have done a great job building their case – across the board, in fact, for all the sciences (it’s the very nature and methodology of science) – especially for evolution and genetics and all the biological/medical sciences that support it, that belie the Adam and Eve account.

I can’t blame him. I couldn’t help but accept what science has to say and plainly show that contradicts “Adam and Eve” either, certainly as I read it in any Bible version I can find. And I’ve never known any scientific colleague, fellow academic or more educated person who could. They mostly join Falk in finding some way to disregard or rationalize that little bit of Scripture away. So I certainly can’t fault Falk for throwing Adam and Eve under the bus like he does. His way is to declare that it wasn’t intended to be factual or truthful, to be “historical”, but should only be taken as “allegorical”.

Unfortunately, once we start throwing the Bible, or little parts of it, out, we’re on that slippery slope. And that shows in the last century or so, especially in our losing “culture war” with science over evolution. While, as I just said, scientists are ever building their case for their side, we aren’t. Not to say Intelligent Design” isn’t a good try, at least, but the real high ground of our position is the Bible, and aside from our almost childish protestations “is too!”, we’ve done very very little to match what science has so successfully been doing.

We shouldn’t be so ready to give up, to plead the Bible’s authority away. Don’t cop the plea saying, “it was never intended to be a scientific text” – of course it wasn’t to be a science text, but it should be scientifically testable, and verifiable; the archaeologists are doing a magnificent job practically sweeping the old critics away. Don’t take a passage – Adam and Eve – clearly intended to be every bit as much “historical” as the rest of the creation account of Genesis is, and plead it out as “merely allegorical”.

Instead, do like the sciences do. Go back through your data, Reexamine the fossils and artifacts and archives, see if there’s anything there. See if we’ve missed anything. Scientists constantly find errors, new understanding, even the basis of new theories in their past work being reevaluated in light of today’s contradictions and latest revelations. That’s how they build and strengthen their case. But we, in Genesis 1 and 2, just simply take what we got 400 years ago. What King James’ scholars said Genesis said!

Suppose Genesis’ “Adam and Eve story” read like this:

Genesis 2:20 And the Man (Adam) proclaimed names for all the beasts of the land and every flying creature in the air, to every living thing on the land, but there was not there any appropriate partner for the Man (Adam).
Genesis 2:21 The Lord God caused a trance to come over the Man (Adam), and He brought to the chamber where he slept, a chosen female, and He delivered her for the purposes of the flesh.
Genesis 2:22 The Lord God established the family in that chamber, where He brought for marriage a woman from among men and ushered her in unto the Man (Adam).
Genesis 2:23 And Adam joyfully declared, “At last, this is bone of my bones and kindred of my kind. She shall be renowned among women for she was chosen for marriage from among the women.
Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man be set free of his father and his mother and he shall be joined together with his wife and they shall be one flesh.”

Well, it’s my contention that it does! Not allegory, but another bit of history of our relationship with God, just as Genesis intends. Not an allegory about the way and meaning God’s people should mate and marry, but a record of the way He wanted it. And an explanation of how it is different than mating and coupling of the creatures of the secular world (which evolution produced?): “[among] all the beasts of the land … there was not any appropriate partner [until] He brought … a chosen female (surely, spirit-filled – reborn – just as Adam was).” Not outrageous in the face of modern knowledge, and science, but fully compatible. Not something anyone would be embarrassed about, but proud of – proud of what God gave us and not the rest of His creatures.

Isn’t that a better way to go, to take away the bubble, and disarm the atheists and agnostics?

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