Two years ago, ASA member Peter Hess participated in a colloquium on Intelligent Design at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. He argued that science can neither discover nor rule out the existence of God. A few days later, in the online discussion sparked by this event, a blogger labeled him the Anti-Christ.Gotta love that Christian tolerance on full display.If he is the Anti-Christ, then there are a whole bunch of us running around. Onward.
“The problem with Biblical literalists is that they are ignorant of exegetical history,” says Peter, “and are generally unaware that an insistence on a woodenly literal understanding of scripture is a relatively recent invention imposed on the Church’s traditional four-fold interpretation. They’re as ignorant of theology as they are of the sciences they presume to critique…The four-fold sense of scripture interpretation (if I understand it correctly) is that scripture should variously be interpreted in a literal sense, where actual events have been recorded, an allegorical sense, where seemingly actual events are not meant in a literal sense but in an allegorical one, a moral sense in that all scripture is good and useful for teaching a Godly way of approaching life, and an anagogical one, in which a truth or event signifies something greater or points us to Heaven. This is yet another area of my theological education that is severely wanting.
“On the other hand, the issue with some scientists who are atheists is that they fail to see that they are actually making a theological claim by declaring that there is nothing to believe in. Scientists who feel they are qualified to comment authoritatively on religious faith because they have apprehended some of the truths of the natural world are putting on a very ill-fitting philosophical hat.”
It is also hard not to read the second part of that quote and think of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and how badly it fared at the review table. Hess, indeed, wonders why Dawkins has been so ignorant of contemporary issues in Christianity. He is so for the same reason that Ken Ham is so abysmally ignorant of basic evolutionary biology and the fossil record. It is much easier to maintain a hostile position to the other side if you perceive them as promulgating lies and misinformation. That honest, thought-provoking scriptural interpretation or education about the natural history of the earth get lost in the process is simply collateral damage.
The entire article is very good and profiles someone who is honestly struggling to find a common ground where all can discuss the issues. This is, or should be, our fervent prayer.
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