Friday, September 07, 2007

Open to Evolution?

So when we left off a few days ago, I had journeyed from a 10,000 year old world to a 4,000,000,000 year old one (give or take a millenium or two), but still saw the need for God to have been involved in creating the world in a unique sort of way without the process of darwinian evolution. I still had a hang-up about God having to be directly involved for it to be "true" somehow.

Then I read Brian McLaren's book "A New Kind of Christian." At the same time I'm trying to reconcile emerging truths in the scientific world with my literalist biblical upbringing, I'm really discovering this emerging idea of postmodernity within me. I had read several Len Sweet books, studied a tiny bit of postmodern philosophy, and found that the music of postmodernity resonated in a unique harmony with my own soul. A friend recommended McLaren, and in his semi-fictional writing I found words to describe my world. I rediscovered for myself the mystery of God and the mystery that is Truth. Yes, Jesus is "the Way, the Truth and the Life." But while that sounds simple, it is wonderfully and beautifully deep!

If you've not read the "New Kind of Christian" trilogy, I highly recommend them. They are somewhat fictional, although by McLaren's own admission he's not trying to write great fiction. He's trying to fictionally describe his own journey into deconstructing the many human additions to theological (and scientific, and other kinds of) truth. It explores how our own cultures and languages and assumptions and upbringings can blind us to the beauty of truth. Maybe the best example is the word trinity. I am a total Trinitarian--I have long believed and taught that relationship is the greatest thing humans experience because it is the essence of the nature of God himself. But the truth is that "trinity" is a word we made up to describe as close as possible something completely indescribable. We finite humans often do this with truth, and then we decide to draw lines in the sand and live or die by our defining of truth instead of the truth itself.

I have come to think that this is absolutely true of our beliefs on evolution. We drew the line in the sand as evangelicals that evolution cannot be true. We never considered that there are other possible viewpoints that reflect the beauty of Truth, don't compromise on the message of Scripture, and uphold the scientific understandings of our universe. The only thing evolution violates is our construct, our "line in the sand" understanding of the truth of God's creative acts in the world.

The church did this with Copernicus and Galileo centuries ago, with the construct (biblically based and justified) that the Earth was the center of the universe. We now know that church leaders were silly to fight the sun-centered solar system idea on the basis of their biblical understanding. Could we be in the same position with macro-evolution? Have we thrown out the potential for understanding "the language of God" as Francis Collins describes it, because it's in a different language than our evangelical constructs will allow?

I say that we have. And that I don't want to anymore.


Steve Martin said...

Hi Arnie,
Good post. The Mclaren trilogy helped me start on my quest as well. I still call myself a creationist, but an "Evolutionary Creationist".

BTW: Like your book list. Since you have other stuff of his, I definitely recommend Richard Foster's "Streams of Living Water." I think this should be read in tandem with Brian Mclaren's "Generous Orthodoxy" - which I see is already on the list.

Arnie Adkison said...

Steve, thanks for the kudos. I can see the value in "evolutionary creationist" because we are all still very sure that God is the "first cause" of whatever exists, and that he existed prior to the universe. I appreciate the comment.

And thanks for the Foster recommendation. I was given "Celebration of Discipline" by a college minister in 1985, and it's shaped me since. I have read most of his other works, but not "Streams..." I'll have to pick that up. I really like his website,, even though I don't think I have it listed here.