Is it possible to simultaneously believe that the Bible is true and that the findings of science are also true?
Esteemed Old Testament scholar Bruce K. Waltke certainly thinks so. Waltke teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary’s Orlando campus. He is well known and well respected in the evangelical community. Well, he was.
According to a recent story in USA Today, Waltke was featured on a Web site promoting the teaching of evolution. The site, a project of the BioLogos Foundation, promotes the idea that science and faith need not be incompatible.
“If the data is overwhelming in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult,” Waltke is quoted as saying. He fears that Christianity will become “some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.”
When seminary officials got wind of Waltke’s endorsement of evolution, things really started to heat up. First, Waltke contacted the BioLogos Foundation and asked to have his segment of the video removed. That was done. But that was not enough. Not long after the issue became public, seminary officials announced that they had accepted Waltke’s resignation.
According to USA Today, Waltke could not be reached for comment, but he did issue a joint statement with the head of BioLogos. In the statement, Waltke makes it clear that he stands behind the comments he made in the video presentation. He also said he wished he could have provided more context, particularly his view that it is possible to believe in evolution and also believe in the “inerrancy of Scripture.”
What you can’t do is trust in the finding of science and hold to a “literal” view of Scripture. The six days of creation described in the Book of Genesis, if taken literally, certainly leave no room for an extended period of life evolving on our planet. The literal statement of Genesis is that everything was created all at once, intact, and in the same form that exists today, and that it happened in one week.
Most biologists believe that life evolved from lower forms to higher forms over an incredible period of time – millions and millions of years. Christian biologists, such as Ken Miller, author of “Finding Darwin’s God,” certainly believe God is the author of life, but that the process God used to bring life into this world was evolution.
Can the Bible be read seriously without being read literally? Biblical scholars like Waltke certainly believe it can. Can people of faith be honest scientists, follow the conclusions of evolution and still remain faithful? Miller and a host of others certainly think so.
The unnecessary conflict between faith and science is wreaking havoc on both faith and science. From textbook battles in public schools, lawsuits over creationism and even faithful biblical scholars losing their teaching posts, it is a conflict with many casualties.
Maybe it’s time call a ceasefire. Take a step back and count to 10. Let’s listen to some reasonable people like Waltke, Miller and other people of faith who also embrace evolution. Let’s give them a chance to explain how they are able to hold these two different views of the world together.
Waltke’s concern that Christianity will become a cult if it continues to distance itself from the real world is a warning to take seriously.
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.