Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bruce Waltke's latest paper on barriers preventing the acceptance of evolution theory

The BioLogos Foundation has uploaded Waltke's essay on their website:

The paper—one of seven that will be discussed at our upcoming November workshop—looks at eleven barriers keeping evangelical theologians from accepting evolutions as a valid means of creation. Waltke’s research includes survey responses from presidents and faculty from leading evangelical seminaries, as well as what their responses can tell us about the apparent gap between science and faith among evangelicals.

One of the points in Waltke's survey is whether do you think that "The creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2, when interpreted by the grammatico-historical method... cannot be harmonized with creation by the process of evolution" is true. Waltke found that 44% (out of 200++ evangelical professors) thinks that this reading of Genesis 1 is a barrier to accept evolution theory. He then proposed how one can appreciate the creation account in Genesis better,

"The first barrier can be lowered, I suggest, by recognizing the two levels of literature: the historical story level and the interpretive, creative plot level. On the story level the accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 are historical; on the plot level they are creative representations of the historical reality. To help students understand the distinction between story and plot I bring to class a half glass of water. When asked whether the glass is full or half full, students hesitate to answer the obvious—it must be a trick—but when called upon to vote, they almost unanimously vote for its being half-full. I respond that it is full: full of gas, visible and invisible. I then ask them to paint a picture of invisible gas, whereupon they realize the need for creativity. I suggest representing the invisible reality by putting the water in the top half of the glass. I then ask them to paint the invisible abstraction that both the visible and invisible gases are necessary to sustain life. To paint this invisible truth I suggest adding a goldfish to the top half of the glass and a canary to the bottom. They now realize my creative, finished painting is based on ostensive reality, not on mythical fiction, and the additional creative element expresses truth beyond the historical reality. Similarly, the accounts of creation are based on real history, but presented creatively, using the form of ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies." (Emphasis mine, page 8).

Previously I have consulted Waltke's commentary on Genesis in my essay on interpreting Genesis 1. It is a well written with substance and surprisingly easy to read (I used to have the impression that Waltke's writing is difficult to read).

Click here to download Waltke's paper.

1 comment:

reasonable said...

In short, Bruce Waltke seems to be saying that we should not interpret the details in Genesis creation accounts as depicting the details of "what actually happened".

Genesis creation accounts are created out of creative imaginations based on certain truths believed by the author(s), so the challenge is to understand what those truth-claims are, and then evaluate if those truth-claims are all true, partly mistaken or fully mistaken.