Sunday Quote

Sunday Quote!- Trading Off the Bible for Science?

afos-mrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Trading Off the Bible for Science?

Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin was one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read recently. The range of essays offered was excellent. Even when I disagreed, I was challenged.

One area that was fairly interesting was the discussion Hans Madueme offered of an interplay between the Bible and science:

There is a trade-off between what is biblically plausible and what is scientifically plausible. To the degree that the doctrine of the fall reflects the biblical story, to the same degree is it inversely faithful to the evolutionary story. (238, cited below)

I think the language of “trade-off” here might be viewed as a rhetorical flourish. The next phrase is equally weighted to seemingly back-load a specific reading of the story of the fall into what is “plausible” over and against that which is “scientifically plausible.” Although I think there may be something of a trade-off in some sense, in order for this qupte to be true there would have to be an inherent inverse relationship between evolution and the Bible. This may, in fact, be the case, but there are a number of steps that need to be proven before one can get to that point.

More intriguing, perhaps, is the notion that we could recast this “trade-off” between exactly how much science we want to read into the Bible and how biblically plausible we are. I would argue that the more we insist that the Bible is explicitly revealing specifics of exact empirical science, the more we do damage to the text. This is a position that does not see science and the Bible as in complete opposition to each other, nor does it see the Bible as scientifically inaccurate or as “non overlapping magisteria.” Instead, where the Bible speaks to scientific issues–if anywhere–those are affirmed. Where it doesn’t, we should not insist that it does.

What do you think? Is there really a trade-off between science and the Bible? If so, in what way?


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Hans Madueme, “The Most Vulnerable Part of the Whole Christian Account: Original Sin and Modern Science” in Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin edited Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014).


adam, fall, original sin 238


About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


4 thoughts on “Sunday Quote!- Trading Off the Bible for Science?

  1. There is a trade-off between what is biblically plausible and what is scientifically plausible. To the degree that the doctrine of the fall reflects the biblical story, to the same degree is it inversely faithful to the evolutionary story. (238, cited below)

    I am in the middle of watching Christian Smith’s How American Youth (Mis)Understand Science and Religion, a lecture presented at the “Pastoral Issues in Science and Human Dignity” symposium at University of Notre Dame, February 12–14, 2014. Based on his research done on the “National Study of Youth and Religion”, he notes (~7m, data at 14m) that the vast majority of youth today believe in the conflict thesis, the war between religion and science, despite the fact that it is almost entirely propaganda. Maybe Hans Madueme has unwittingly accepted it as well?

    Contrast the above “warfare” model to what was known in 1910; the following is from Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter Between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought:

    The burden of Wright’s contribution to the seventh volume of The Fundamentals was to discriminate between evolution as a scientific theory of species transmutation and evolutionism as a metaphysical worldview. The word evolution, he noted, “has come into much deserved disrepute by the injection into it of erroneous and harmful theological and philosophical implications. The widely current doctrine of evolution which we are now compelled to combat is one which practically eliminates God from the whole creative process and relegates mankind to the tender mercies of a mechanical universe the wheels of whose machines are left to move on without any immediate Divine direction.” Clearly Wright’s dissatisfaction with evolutionary theory centered less on exegetical questions about the early Genesis narratives than on the materialistic reductionism that had shorn natural history of any teleological element. (148)

    How about we stop forgetting history (necessarily, the consequence of that is wandering off into myths), and stop doing terrible philosophy?

    Posted by labreuer | February 22, 2015, 11:03 AM

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