I find it interesting how with recent “gospel coalitions” across the country, the interpretation of Genesis 1 has been set on the sidelines as an unimportant issue. But here, I will posit a number of reasons on why it is an important issue, even an issue that touches on the heart of the gospel.
First, this debate highlights the meaning of words. Do words actually mean something? Is it right or even intellectually honest to equivocate on words and change meanings as we run down a line of reasoning? Or is God’s Word clear in its most basic sense? What does the word ‘incarnation’ mean to you? Remember, we live in an age of re-definitions.
Second, there is a lot of philosophy that comes to bear on the intellectual level of this discussion. Higher criticism of the 1800s and 1900s has done a lot of speculative deconstruction of the Old Testament. Many interpretations of Genesis 1 are based on 200 year old theories. I’m always wary of the words ‘it is not possible’, when much of the science done has been done in our century, not when the words were written. Scientists who pretend that philosophy has no impact on their science, need to study the philosophy of science.
Third, the science behind much of this debate pretends to do what only history can do. Science looks at the data, but once you start writing stories, you have left the data and entered into the world of philosophy and literature. Evolution is only a story posited as an eikos mythos (likely story) for the data.
Fourth, the terms ‘faith & science’ can be a real red herring. I’ve realized that the more I study this, there is a false dichotomy between the two that has been wielded on me by people much smarter than I am. Science studies the appearances, faith sees what is unseen, or it sees the reality behind the appearances. And of course, it makes sense of everything.
The Bible is God’s Word, and it shapes our thinking, rather than our thinking shaping Scripture. We should be alert to the various ways that we impose our own thinking on Scripture, and be slow to jump the boat just because someone who holds our view isn’t so bright. However, in our interpretation, we must consider how Scripture interprets itself. When we start to do our own thing, this will have implications on the gospel.