Historical gardenersPosted: June 20, 2011
Between my recent crash course in “Big History” in a seminary class and reading Wendell Berry’s Life is A Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition, I have been reflecting on two things: my own lack of knowledge in the realm of science (environmental science, earth science, and biology) and the general disregard for science within evangelicalism because of its bias against creationism. Interdisciplinary work is more common in biblical studies within the categories of sociology and rhetoric, etc., but the hard sciences are not common partners for theology or biblical studies.
Ahh, the spat between science and theology. However, this hits a bit more closely to home than does the earth revolving around the sun. Besides the hermeneutical issues surrounding scientific and literal readings of the early chapters of Genesis and the threat that the Bible might not be telling the truth about how things all got started (in addition to laying down some fine theological groundwork for keeping the Sabbath in light of Israel’s history of slavery and exodus), the trouble for many Christians arises when other writers reference Israel’s myths and even construct belief and practice around them.
Just what is riding on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and faith in a historical first couple? I heard someone recently say that a good myth is not just true once, but true over and over again. Does losing a pair of historical gardeners and their slithering nemesis make sin, domination, and broken relationships any less real? Does it weaken Christology if there was not an actual Adam that sinned, or does Jesus still repair the brokenness of creation through his life, death, and resurrection? Does Christianity unravel if our understanding of humanity being made in the image of God does not mean what we think it means?
Christianity Today is actually addressing some of these topics in its latest installment. There are two pieces for further reading. Additionally, there is a great article on Religion Dispatches on the topic as well. What are your thoughts?