Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Concordism's Counterbalance

If concordism is the position that Biblical references to natural history find realization in modern scientific discovery and knowledge, we may wonder if there is a balancing or opposing view. Some Bible scholars question the literality of many scripture creation passages, seeing mere figures of speech in those texts. We may draw only spiritual truths from those literary devices, they claim. Accomodationists state scriptures reflect the human contexts in which they were created and cannot be viewed as literal accounts.

Accomodationism allows generous leeway in interpreting what scripture actually means. I have stated that scriptural language may indeed utilize linguistic imagery more typical of the culture of the day it was written. Had our modern scientific concepts been injected into the language of the Bible in their pre-scientific era, the result may have been confusing and less than fruitful. But accomodationists commonly go much further, making statements which cast serious doubt on the accuracy of many Bible accounts. They say, for example, that the use of “firmament” (Hebrew raquia) sometimes signifying a hard, domed shell covering a flat earth may suggest other errors in the Bible.

Another term currently used to mold perceptions of scripture was popularized by Peter Enns, reformed evangelical scholar in his 2005 volume Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the problem of the Old Testament. In the context of the book’s thesis, the incarnational model would take account of the dual divine and human aspects of scripture production. In reading the material of Enns, Darrell Falk, Karl Giberson, and others involved in the leadership of BioLogos Forum, it is clear that this view of scripture allows them to make an easy leap to supporting the BioLogos endorsement of theistic evolution: a “molecules to man” evolution, a denial of the literality of Adam and Eve as the first human beings, and an unceasing effort to find naturalistic explanations for mysterious sudden appearances of diverse or novel life forms and other unexplained sudden innovations many view as transcendent creation events. These sudden innovations have been described in detail by secular scientists with no stake in a theological belief system.

BioLogos Forum has cast a broad net to attract a wide range of theistic believers. In particular, they appeal to evangelicals who are disillusioned with traditional creationist positions for one reason or another. Under the BioLogos umbrella, it is completely acceptable to believe in evolution and still find inclusion in the Christian community, even the evangelical Christian community. This appears to be a noble and lofty endeavor. But I do not make this statement without expressing a number of my serious concerns with theistic evolution.

Many of these concerns relate to the embrace of naturalism. Some of my previous posts have dealt with the implications of both philosophical and methodological naturalism. I invite you to review my upcoming posts and previous archived posts on these topics from 2007 and 2008.