The Reason for God — interview excerpt

One of the best new books on apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) is The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. I haven’t read it yet, but it has received good reviews from theologically conservative reviewers.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview of Timothy Keller from First Things which touches on evolution and the age of the Earth:

In The Reason for God, you make a very brief argument for the validity of evolution within a limited sphere. It would seem to me that apologists for the faith must address this issue at some point. But doing so can call into question the historicity of the Fall and the very need for a savior. How do you talk about evolution without confusing people?

Oh, it’s a little confusing, but actually I’m just in the same place where the Catholics are, as far as I can tell. The Catholic Church has always been able to hold on to a belief in a historical Fall—it really happened, it’s not just representative of the fact that the human race has kind of gone bad in various ways. At the same time, if you say, “There is no God and everything happened by evolution,” naturalistic evolution—then you have “theistic evolution”: God just started things years ago and everything has come into being through the process of evolution. You have young-Earth six-day creationism, which is “God created everything in six 24-hour days.” To me, all three of those positions have perhaps insurmountable difficulties.

The fact is, the one that most people consider the most conservative, which is the young-Earth, six-day creation, has all kinds of problems with the text, as we know. If it’s really true, then you have problems of contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2. I don’t like the JEPD theory. I don’t like the theory that these are two somewhat contradictory creation stories that some editor stuck together—some pretty stupid editor stuck together. I think therefore you’ve got a problem with how long are the days before the sun shows up in the fourth day. You have problems really reading the Bible in a straightforward way with a young-Earth, six 24-hour day theory. You’ve got some problems with the theistic evolution, because then you have to ask yourself, “Was there no Adam and Eve? Was there no Fall?” So here’s what I like—the messy approach, which is I think there was an Adam and Eve. I think there was a real Fall. I think that happened. I also think that there also was a very long process probably, you know, that the earth probably is very old, and there was some kind of process of natural selection that God guided and used, and maybe intervened in. And that’s just the messy part. I’m not a scientist. I’m not going to go beyond that.

I do know that I say in the book, “This is an absolute red herring—to get mired in this before you look at the certainties of the faith. Because the fact is that real orthodox believers with a high view of Scripture are all over the map on this. I can line up ten really smart people in all those different buckets, which I’ll call “theistic evolution,” “young-Earth creationism,” and let’s call it “progressive creationism” or “semi-theistic evolution.” There are all these different views. And when you see a lot of smart people disagreeing on this stuff, well . . .

How could there have been death before Adam and Eve fell? The answer is, I don’t know. But all I know is, didn’t animals eat bugs? Didn’t bugs eat plants? There must have been death. In other words, when you realize, “Oh wait, this is really complicated,” then you realize, “I don’t have to figure this out before I figure out is Jesus Christ raised from the dead.”

Over the years—it’s not bad, but I’ve gotten sort of hit from both sides.

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “The Reason for God — interview excerpt

  1. Mike the Geologist

    Kevin: this is exactly where I am, in a messy thought process that I can’t quite resolve. It is difficult to talk with fellow believers about this without being labeled a “heretic” or a “liberal”. I appreciate your blog and check it frequently, even if I comment infrequently. Have you seen the Gordon J. Glover video series on Science and Christian Education I have a friend at church who is the science teacher at a local fairly large Christian school who I am trying to engage in a discussion of these issues. I would be interested in your opinion of the Glover series.


  2. Kenny

    I’m actually pretty open. I’ve long been an advocate of an old Earth and an old universe. I’ve read stuff by Ross and others. I’m open to theistic evolution, in the sense that I think it’s possible, not that I’m leaning that way. I actually appreciate that there are many views on this. I plan on reading Collins’ book soon, “The Language of God” — it’s at my local library. I also like to read things from the ID movement.

    I love the discussion, but I kinda hate the debate. There’s too much demonizing going on. Orthodoxy is important, but I think I’d prefer to keep my view of what orthodoxy is kinda simple (eg the ancient church creeds).

    I have to admit though… I find YEC to be kinda out there. :) So I tend to stick to progressive creationism, OEC, ID… and am interested in the arguments from TE.


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