Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | June 18, 2011

8. Fox in the Hen House! – Evolution Trumps Bible?

Continuing the Fox in the Hen House! series of blog posts exposing heresy about Genesis …

This eighth post of the series continues the analysis of the work of the BioLogos Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies Dr. Peter Enns on Genesis that was begun in the preceding three blog posts (#5, #6, #7). This eighth post critiques Enns’ proposed “synthesis” of evolution and the Bible.

Enns is a former tenured professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary who was removed for his heretical beliefs (more to come on this in a future blog post). He is writing a Bible curriculum for children that is being marketed to homeschoolers. A subsequent blog post in this series will cover Enns’ curriculum in more detail.

Dr. Peter Enns

Enns is associated with the BioLogos Foundation which is committed to the marriage of scientism and Christianity through persuading Christians to accept evolutionism and billions of years for the age of the earth by arguing that Genesis 1-11 is mythical or metaphorical.

Peter Enns’ teaching is fraught with unorthodox, even heretical, positions. To read Enns’ views for yourself, click Peter Enns Articless for links to many articles by Enns on the BioLogos site.

Enns’ Synthesis Essay
Enns lays out his heretical synthesis of evolution and the Bible in an 11-page scholarly essay on the BioLogos website. In this essay,
“Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Bible: Moving Toward a Synthesis” (April 2010),
Enns basically subordinates the teaching of Genesis to current evolutionary views of origins.

Here is BioLogos’ “Introduction to and Summary of Enns’ “Synthesis” paper” (April 3, 2010).

Following is a series of excerpts from Enns’ “synthesis” paper along with my commentary on the excerpts.

“Most Christians understand that, even though the Bible assumes a certain way of looking at the cosmos, from a scientific point of view the Bible is wrong. And that is perfectly fine.” (p 1)

Enns does not hesitate to assert near the beginning of the paper that the Bible is scientifically wrong in what it teaches about the universe. Yet if the Bible is scientifically or historically or ethically or philosophically wrong, then it cannot be the Word of God. The sum of Thy word is truth (Psalm 119:160).

Excerpts from Enns’ paper “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Bible: Moving Toward a Synthesis” continue:

“If evolution is correct, one can no longer accept in any true sense of the word ‘historical’ the instantaneous and special creation of humanity out of dust as described in Genesis. Some might hypothesize that there is a point in the evolutionary chain where humanity was elevated to the status of image bearer of God (Genesis 1:26), and so Bible and science are minimally reconciled. That may very well be true, but the tension still exists, since the proposed scenario is ad hoc and still light years from what the Biblical writers assume. For them, the first human, Adam, was created from a non-living substance, dust. He had no living ancestors to which he was genetically related.” (p 2)

Attempts to reconcile Genesis and evolution are admirable, but invariably lead to serious adjustments in the biblical story. It seems that anyone even minimally interested in having science and Genesis talk to each other need to make some sort of decision—often on the fly—about how Genesis should be read differently. And those decisions, at the end of the day, move us away from a strictly literal/historical reading of Genesis toward something else, which we may call “symbolic” or “metaphorical.” In a nutshell, the issue before us is “How non-literally should we—can we—read Genesis? (p 2)

Enns admits the Biblical writers believed Adam was humanity’s original ancestor, and he agrees that this cannot be correct if evolution is true. Enns see the stark contradiction between the plain truth of Genesis and Scripture and the theory of evolution. Yet he argues Christians should abandon a literal historical understanding of Genesis in favor of symbols and metaphors in order to reconcile Genesis with evolution. He is accepting scientists’ interpretation of the world over the clear record of origins in Genesis.

Enns continues:

Geologists in the eighteenth century came to the conclusion that the earth is many millions of years old, a scenario not envisioned in Genesis. (p 2)

Enns admits Genesis does not teach the earth is millions of years old. At least he does not try to argue the foolishness about there being gaps in the Genesis genealogies.

Enns continues:

“Did Adam’s disobedience cause death or did it not? True, it is possible to understand Genesis 3:19 as referring only to human death, so the record of non-human death is irrelevant, but this reading seems ad hoc.” (p 2)

“If the fundamental historical value of Genesis is called into question, and if therefore there was no first pair created by God and who disobeyed and “fell”—as the argument goes—you are not far from questioning how Jesus’ crucifixion can really be about reversing a fall that never happened.” (p 2,3)

“As the argument goes, for the analogy (ed: Paul’s parallel between Adam and Christ) to have any force, the first Adam must be every bit as much an actual historical figure (not metaphorical, symbolic, mythical, etc.) as the second. The implications can be quickly grasped. Evolution demands that the special creation of the first Adam as described in the Bible is not literally historical. Paul, however, seems to require it. What purpose does the obedience of the second Adam have if not to counter the actual disobedience of the first Adam? If there really was no first Adam, from whom every human is descended, then there is no fall. If there is no fall, there is no true inescapably sinful condition where we are ‘dead’ in sin (e.g., Ephesians 2:1ff.; Colossians 2:13). If we are not dead in sin, there is no need for a Savior. Christianity, for those who track with this line of thinking, seems to need the Adam story to be an essentially accurate literal/historical account of human origins. Hence, evolution can be acceptable in some limited sense (micro-evolution), but when it comes to the origin of humanity (macro-evolution), it is completely out of bounds, for, if macro-evolution is true, then Christianity is false.” (p 3,4)

First, Enns concedes that Genesis teaches all death, both human and animal, started with Adam’s sin. This is significant, because it means that evolution with its countless generations of death purportedly leading up to Adam is impossible.

Second, Enns demonstrates a clear understanding of how the Biblical gospel is necessarily connected to an actual historical act of sin by Adam. Enns agrees that Christianity with this literal understanding of Genesis and Paul is false if evolution is true. Biblical Christianity (i.e., literal Genesis) and evolution are mutually contradictory.

Excerpts from Enns’ paper “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Bible: Moving Toward a Synthesis” continue:

“Which is right—what evolution tells us about human origins or what Paul tells us about Genesis? Deep Christian commitments lead one to read Paul with utmost seriousness, but scientific sensibilities do not allow one to dismiss evolution. This is the conundrum, and, as I see it, there are essentially four options before us:
1. Accept evolution as valid and embodying tremendous explanatory power, and reject Christianity on the whole as untenable;
2. Develop a true scientific model, open to peer review, that supplies Christian theology with a first pair of some sort and so reconcile Christianity and evolution;
3. Rethink the biblical origin story and related passages so as to synthesize Christianity with scientific reality;
4. Accept Paul’s understanding of human origins as scientifically accurate and reject evolution.”

“The second option is somewhat problematic. If one understands the first human pair of Genesis, not on scientific grounds but on theological grounds, as, for example, (1) the progenitors of Israel (not all of humanity) or (2) the first hominids imbued with the image of God (and hence “created”), the impasse with evolution is lessened significantly. Yet, one must admit that this is an ad hoc move to “find an Adam” somewhere on the evolutionary process. It also disrupts significantly Paul’s logic in Romans 5:12-21, where Adam is neither a progenitor of Israel nor a first pair chosen among other hominids to bear the image of God. For Paul, Adam certainly seems to be the first person created from dust, and Eve was formed from him. … This second option maintains some sort of Adam, but, I feel, at the expense of inadequately engaging the hermeneutical issues involved in understanding both Genesis and Paul.
The fourth option is untenable as members of the human race in the twenty-first century. Ignoring the scientific and archaeological evidence is not an option.
The first option, rejecting Christianity, is more viable than the fourth and does not suffer from the ad hoc posture of the second, but it is certainly not the necessary one. Another option remains, the third listed above: synthesis. In my opinion, it is with this third option that our intellectual energies are most profitably expended, and that should be the focus of future theological and hermeneutical work.” (p. 4)

Here Enns presents the issue clearly: which is correct, evolution or the Apostle Paul’s literal use of Genesis? Enns’ response is to reject the authority of Scripture, for he says accepting Paul’s understanding of Genesis is not tenable. Why is it not tenable? Because of what science says. Enns elevates scientific interpretations over the clear words of Scripture. Enns even goes so far as to say that rejecting Christianity is more viable than accepting Paul’s understanding of Genesis. This is heresy.

Enns continues:

“Briefly stated, not only Genesis but the Pentateuch—as well as most of the Old Testament—received their final, canonical form sometime during or after Israel’s exile to Babylon. … (Genesis) functions to speak to how Israel sees herself as God’s people after the exile. In other words, it is not an ‘objective account of origins,’ but an encultured declaration of faith.” (p. 5,6)

This is not a true statement regarding Genesis. Genesis was compiled by Moses around 1400 BC. The Jews highly respected Moses and took great care in copying their Scriptures and preserving them without modifying the text. It’s incorrect to state that Genesis was only solidified over 800 years after Moses wrote it following the Babylonian exile in 586 BC. And who is Enns to say that Genesis is not an objective account of origins? Was he there? An objective historical account is precisely what Genesis consists of.

Enns continues:

“The bottom line is that Paul’s use of the Adam typology is not a straightforward matter, and his ancient assumptions of human origins cannot be expected to direct or influence scientific models of human origins.” (p 7)

“Thinking differently about the nature of the Bible and what it means to read it will allow greater flexibility in how Evangelicals address Genesis and Paul. … Might it be that it is in the very offense of the Bible looking so ‘ancient,’ getting it so ‘wrong,’ that we really see God’s hand at work? Could it be that we see God’s superintendence of the Gospel itself, not despite the ‘messiness’ of the Bible, but precisely in it?” (p. 7,9)

On the contrary, Paul’s words are supposed to direct and influence everything upon which they have a bearing, and as Enns himself has discussed in this same essay, they certainly bear on Adam, origins, sin, and salvation. It’s unmitigated arrogance to assert Paul and the Bible got it wrong.

Excerpts from Enns’ paper “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Bible: Moving Toward a Synthesis” continue:

“The state of scientific knowledge at this moment in history is driving us to ask questions such as these. The challenges presented to Christianity by the various scientific disciplines, most formidably those that pertain to evolutionary theory, cannot be swept aside with the wave of a doctrinal hand. They are here to stay, and we must decide whether to address them and so make adjustments to our understanding of the Bible, or to declare that no force in heaven, on earth, or below the earth can affect what we already know to be the case. That is our choice, and this essay is written for those who adopt the former point of view.” (p 9)

Enns’ position is clearly stated in this conclusion, as well as throughout the essay: People must base their understanding of the Bible on science. Science trumps Scripture. (This is Enns’ position–not mine.)

Enns has it exactly backwards. Science is a shifting quicksand with continually changing opinions and interpretations. One should start with the Bible and interpret scientific work in light of what Scripture teaches–not the other way around.

Enns also mistakes scientific interpretations for scientific knowledge. There is a big difference between facts (knowledge) and explanations or theories about those facts. For example, claiming the Grand Canyon is 600 million years old is an interpretation of the rock layers and fossils (the facts); that claim is not “knowledge” no matter how many people believe it. Enns accepts scientific interpretations as established knowledge. This is wrong.

Instead of interpreting the scientific data in light of the truth revealed by Yahweh in Genesis, Enns perverts the Genesis record to fit an interpretation of the data that is currently popular among scientists, namely evolutionism and billions of years.

Christians should reject Enns’ teaching because it contradicts the Bible.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Read the prequels in this Fox in the Hen House! series of blog posts exposing
heresy about Genesis:
1. Fox in the Hen House! – BioLogos Promotes Heresy
2. Fox in the Hen House! – BioLogos Rejects Inerrancy
3. Fox in the Hen House! – Colleges Compromise on Genesis
4. Fox in the Hen House! – BioLogos Founder Rejects Adam
5. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns Rejects Adam
6. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns Rejects Adam #2
7. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns Rejects Adam #3

Read the sequel:
9. Fox in the Hen House! – Ramifications of Rejecting Adam

©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Saturday June 18, 2011 A.D.

Read my May 2011 newspaper column:
When the Sun Stood Still.

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

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Responses

  1. With regard to the concept of theistic evolution – were God to instigate evolution as a way of bringing about and developing biological life and were He to tweek it in any way whatsoever to guide and therefore determine its biological outcome, He would be violating the whole putative purpose for which He would have instigated it initially, ergo, it would be superflous.

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