Jobs in Jeopardy for Christian Scholars Who Believe in Evolution

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By Fionna Agomuoh, Christian Post Contributor
August 9, 2011|12:20 pm

The notion of whether or not there is a historical Adam and Eve has been an ongoing debate within the Christian world. Many scholars are finding that their beliefs are costing them their jobs.

More and more conservative scholars are concluding that due to overwhelming scientific evidence, they no longer subscribe to the Genesis 2:7 tale of God creating Adam from dust, breathing life into him, and extracting from him a rib in order to create Eve. They feel that religious doctrine must be updated in order to accommodate what are being called facts that can no longer be avoided.

"Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost," Professor John Schneider told NPR. "So Christians, I think, have a challenge, have a job on their hands to reformulate some of their tradition about human beginnings."

Schneider taught theology at Christian Reformed School Calvin College for 25 years until he was forced to resign after writing a paper that questioned the historical Adam.

Scholars who continue to believe that the creation story is not only religious doctrine but also historical fact say that supporting evolution unravels the confines of religion and deems it unnecessary.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary states that Genesis taken literally explains the need for religion, the need for a savior, and the need for Jesus to die on the cross.

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Referencing Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, Mohler notes that the Apostle Paul explained that Jesus' death atones for Adam's original sin.

"Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul's description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament," he said.

Scholars like Schneider, however believe that there is plenty of room for science and religion to coexist.

Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University suggests that if the bible is read, not literally, but as an aggregation of poetry, allegory and history, God can be seen in nature and evolution.

"There's nothing to be scared of here," Venema said. "There is nothing to be alarmed about. It's actually an opportunity to have an increasingly accurate understanding of the world - and from a Christian perspective, that's an increasingly accurate understanding of how God brought us into existence."

Venema's position at Trinity Western University has remained secure but many have not been so lucky.

Daniel Harlow, a religion professor at Calvin College, was investigated by the school after writing a paper with the same premise as Schneider's, proposing that there is no historical Adam.

Karl Giberson was a professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College until he was dismissed due to his support of evolution. Giberson co-authored the book Language of Science and Faith with president of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, who is also known for progressive views on science and religion.

 

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