Shuck and Jive

Friday, May 04, 2007

Science and Christianity

The printable flier is on-line for the Dr. Patricia A. Williams workshop and worship on the weekend of May 19-20. I am very excited about having Dr. Williams come to the Tricities. She is a Quaker and has just published a new book on Quakerism. For the next couple of weeks, I am going to skim her books and offer some thoughts about them. If you are in the area that weekend, it will be well worth the time to participate in her workshops.

In 2001 Fortress Press published, Doing Without Adam and Eve: Sociobiology and Original Sin. Here is the table of contents and the introduction from her website:

Part 1: The Demise Of Adam And Eve
1: Science, Scripture, and Doctrine

2: Tests of Truth

3: The Fall

4: Original Sin

5: The Demise of Adam and Eve

6: Scripture and Truth

Part 2: The Unification of Science and Christianity

7: The Theory of Evolution

8: The Sociobiological Consilience

9: Original Sin and Sociobiology

10: The Problem of Evil

11: The Atonement

This is from her introduction:

The purpose of this book is to unite Christianity with science. By Christianity, I mean classical, orthodox Christian doctrine. The book assumes that six beliefs are essential to classical Christianity. First is the existence of one God. Second is the resurrection of Jesus, without which Paul says Christian faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:17a). Third is the fullness of God in Jesus, classically expressed in the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, fully divine, fully human, without which Christ’s atonement is impossible. The fourth doctrine is the Trinity, emphasizing the sovereignty of God, the exaltation and living presence of Jesus, and the continuous action of God in the world through the Holy Spirit. The fifth lists God’s attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and creativity, by which we know that there can be nothing greater than God and there is no other creator of the universe. Sixth is the moral law Jesus summarizes in commending love of neighbor.

By science, I mean mainstream, standard science, all of it. This book defends the theory of evolution and the evolution of modern human beings from nonhuman ancestors. In doing so, it embraces modern geology. It also describes sociobiology and its application to human psychology. Therefore, it accepts modern genetics. Finally, it explains modern cosmology, the theory that the universe began some 12 billion years ago in the Big Bang and evolved through time to become the universe we now inhabit. Along with modern cosmology, the book accepts modern physics and chemistry.

To unite classical Christianity and modern science, I focus on the Christian doctrine of original sin, because it is amenable to scientific analysis. In its classical formulation, original sin is a doctrine about human origins and human nature, both now subjects of science. Bringing science into Christianity through the doctrine of original sin effects a natural union between science and Christianity. Science offers Christianity a new way to reformulate ancient Christian doctrines—original sin, the atonement, and an answer to the problem of evil.

I am impressed that she is uniting classical orthodox Christianity with science. She is not writing from the point of view that orthodoxy is not helpful, but seeks to unite orthodoxy and science.

Tonight I am participating in a retreat for long-range planning for Holston Camp. I hope to have some refresher time during breaks to read over this book and comment on it over the weekend.

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