That’s a good question...(faith and science edition)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Perhaps the most significant life lesson I’ve learned in my young adulthood is that knowing all the answers isn’t as important as asking good questions. So every now and then I like to use Fridays to 1) link to other bloggers and writers who have asked compelling questions during the week and 2) open the floor for you to share whatever questions you’ve been wrestling with lately.

Today I’ll link to some of the folks I met at the BioLogos Foundation conference last week in an effort to address some of the questions you posed to help me pass as an intellectual at the event. 

  •  Jen asked, “How does the concept of "randomness" in natural selection plausibly fit into a creation scenario? How can randomness be seen as purposeful?”

This is apparently a really hot topic right now. At the conference I met Dr. Kathryn Applegate, who has spent a lot of time thinking about this issue and who looks way too young to have developed computer vision algorithms to measure the remodeling activity of the cell’s cytoskeleton.  

Kathryn has written three really great pieces on the subject: “Understanding Randomness,” “That’s Random” and “Adaptive Immunity.” In addition, check out this question on the BioLogos site: “Does the presence of chance in natural processes conflict with belief in God’s sovereignty?

  • Aubree said, “My biggest hang-up [with macro-evolution and biblical interpretation] is its implications on Jesus’ death. The Bible says that there was no death before Adam and Eve sinned. It was through their sin that death (imperfection) entered the world – and Jesus on the cross rectified that, once again bringing humanity access to God. Believing in macro-evolution the way Darwin has described it, says that death was around long before people were.”

I made a point of asking about this at the conference, and theologian Peter Enns offered a brief response, noting that central to this debate is Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 in which Paul draws his famous parallel between Jesus and Adam.  Enns suspects that Paul indeed thought of Adam as an historical figure, but argues that this is not the point of his letters. Paul, addressing the big debate of the day, is simply trying to make the point that Jews and Gentiles are on the same footing, that sin and death are universal conditions of humanity.  To make this point, Paul understandably chooses a figure like Adam.

This is a rather sloppy and incomplete explanation of Enns’ position. If you have a few minutes, check out this fantastic (and surprisingly readable!) five-part series, entitled “Paul’s Adam”: Part 1Part 2,Part 3Part 4Part 5.

I haven’t forgotten the rest of your questions, and will continue to try to address them over the next few weeks and months.

In the meantime, check out these cool people I met at BioLogos: Dennis Venema (who strikes me as being both smart and wise), Steve Matheson (who knows how to make just about any conversation more interesting), and Justin Topp (who instantly felt like a friend). You may also want to read this short chapterentitled "A Christian Perspective on Biology" written by Dennis and Richard Paulton. It's an accessible introduction to some important topics.


What questions are you asking this week—on your blog, at your dinner table, in your head, in your heart? (They don't have to be about faith and science. Feel free to include links!)

(Photo by Dom Dada)

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