Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A Conversation with Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight, a New Testament professor at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and co-author of Adam and the Genome, with Dennis Venema, recently was interviewed and said that it was a BioLogos conference and the evidence he was told there that changed how he viewed the first three chapters of Genesis.  Baptist News Global has the scoop:
“The number one reason young people walk away from the faith is the conflict of their interpretation of Scripture with their interpretation of science,” he said. “Let it be emphasized that we are dealing here with the interpretation of Scripture, not necessarily Scripture’s truest meaning. And, yes, we are dealing with a theoretical construct called evolution.” McKnight said many people on both sides regard science and faith as “implacable enemies.”

“Some scientists think we are fools for believing in the Bible and therefore in Jesus,” he said, “while for some conservative theologians and pastors and bloggers, scientists are materialists, atheists, and those who think they are Christian and evolutionist are oblivious to the slippery slide they are halfway down.”

McKnight said the question he hears most often when discussing Gen. 1-3 is “do you believe in a historical Adam?” It’s a question “loaded with theological meaning,” he said, including belief that Adam and Eve were real people who had a “biological and procreative relationship with every human being who has ever lived” and that all people living today possess a share of their DNA.
I am about three-quarters of the way through the book and it is worth the read. He is one of a growing chorus of people (notably John Walton also) who are raising the concern that people are walking away from the faith because they get to college and encounter grounded science that conflicts with the non-grounded creationism they were taught in high school or home school.

It is clear that McKnight has read Walton, however.  Here is how he puts it:
McKnight said he doesn’t like the terms “myth,” “fable” and “legend” when applied to Genesis, so he uses “theological narrative.”

“I read the text as a theological narrative about God as creator, about humans assigned by God to a vocation in God’s cosmic temple on God’s sacred time, and I see the tragedy of humans who refuse to do what God said,” he said.
This perspective is absorbed from Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One, another book I am piecing through, which is considerably denser than Adam and the Genome but worthwhile, nonetheless. 

1 comment:

  1. I've only recently started reading your blog, so please excuse me for commenting on a non-recent post.

    Full disclosure: I'm a Pagan, that is to say, a polytheist. (To be be concise, a moderate Indo-European Reconstructionist.) I was, however, raised Christian, and my wife of 36 years, as well as most of my family are devout Christians, and I went to a Christian college. I therefore have a good knowledge of Christianity, and warm feelings toward it. I didn't so much reject Christianity as adopt Paganism. I've been a Pagan since the early 1970s and am quite comfortable with it.

    So why am I reading and commenting on this site? I have a fascination about both evolution and Young Earth Creationism, the former because it is so elegant and obviously correct, and the latter because I believe it to be dangerous, especially to America. I've therefore educated myself in both fields, and think I have something to contribute.

    As for this post, I have a few comments. First, although I can understand someone objecting to part of their religion as a "myth," like with "theory," there's a difference the everyday meaning of the word and the technical one. In the everyday sense, a myth is a story that's false. It's exactly the opposite in the technical sense, in which a myth is a story that is True, that has some sort of significant meaning. I like to say that a myth is a story which is true whether it happened or not. Of course, as a Pagan, myths are vital to my religion. So Christians shouldn't be hesitant to call bible stories "myths," as long as they're specific as to its meaning.

    Regarding Adam and Eve, if you will excuse a comment from a non-Christian, I think that the story only has significance is it's seen as the sort of myth that didn't happen. If we see it as an historical event, then we have to confront the question of why their descendants should be punished by having a sin nature because of something their ancestors did. But if it's a myth, then it describes the nature of each of us; even if were to know God as intimately as Adam and Eve are said to, we would still sin out of our own pride. So theologically, a non-historical Adam and Eve are far superior to a historical one.