Small-t truth among Baptists

Submitted by Ken Watts on Mon, 10/15/2007 - 14:18

Matt Young, at The Panda's Thumb, reviews Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology and Biblical Interpretation, by Stephen J. Godfrey and Christopher R. Smith. Both began as anti-evolution creationists, and both ended up accepting evolution. Both experienced this as a journey—which reminds me in some ways of my own journey, though I came out in a different place.


From Matt Young's review:

Godfrey presents further evidence that convinced him that God had not created every species from scratch. Perhaps God had decided to use natural processes for creating species. Why not? The Bible, as Godfrey notes, says that God sends rain upon the face of the earth. Yet no one rejects the science of meteorology or argues that rain is not the result of evaporation and condensation. No one demands that “Biblical meteorology” be given equal time in science classes. Considerations such as these have convinced Godfrey that evolution is no more antireligious than meteorology; both are equally naturalistic explanations of observed facts.

Smith is a Baptist minister with a Ph.D. in theology. He and Godfrey are brothers-in-law and provided each other with positive feedback. Smith’s story, related in the second half of the book, is similar to Godfrey’s, except that Smith became a creationist while in high school. Smith’s trace fossils were a course in Old Testament hermeneutics, in which he was exposed to refutations of day-age theory and gap theory. His professor further introduced him to the idea that the opening chapters of Genesis are poetry, because they include purposeful repetition of vowel and consonant sounds (alliteration and assonance), and display the “rhyming thoughts” characteristic of Hebrew poetry. [read the review]

Those of you who have been following "An Unbeliever Explains Creation" will recognize some themes from Smith's journey, as described in the quote above.

Though I am no longer a believer, I came to where I am by a route something like Smith's and Godfrey's. The wholesale discounting of religious believers, as though they universally lacked intelligence, makes no sense to me. 

There are, of course, many religious people who check their brains at the church door, just as there are many atheists who believe what they believe based on prejudice or the authority of their teachers. But a true spiritual journey involves the whole person, including the whole of their mind, and a willingness to question what they currently believe.

What really matters is the ability to recognize truth, even as a believer in Truth.

It sometimes disturbs me a little that the Out Campaign chose to display a capital "A".