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THEOLOGY > Man > Question of Evolution > Approach 


In every discipline the philosophy undergirding the discipline is as important as the facts associated with the discipline, for it is by the philosophy that the facts are interpreted. Principles of interpretation supersede details of information.

This is to affirm that the perspective by which facts and information are assimilated and synthesized is of decisive and profound significance. Facts do not interpret themselves; they must be interpreted. And for there to be an interpretation there must be some criteria or point of view by which the interpretation is accomplished—this point of view is the philosophy undergirding the discipline.

To illustrate, Jesus Christ died on the cross. If this sentence is accepted as historical fact, then the meaning of this event must be given—the fact must be interpreted. At least two questions are of vital significance: Who died? and Why? The answers given to these questions will establish the meaning of the historical fact. Consider the following possibilities:

* a man named Jesus died for crimes;
* an innocent man named Jesus died for supposed crimes;
* a man who thought himself God died for blasphemy against the Jewish religion;
* a good man died as a martyr for his teachings;
* a man with a political agenda was crushed by the Roman authorities;
* a man with an eschatological agenda was frustrated by the Roman authorities;
* a man who was God and man died as an example for others to imitate;
* a man who was God and man died as a sacrifice to demonstrate the price of sin;
* a man who was God and man died as a sacrifice to atone God for the sins of all men;
* a man who was God and man died as a sacrifice to atone God for the sins of the elect.

From the above it is obvious that a fact is not self-interpreting; the historical must be given meaning.

In regards to the Anthropology of the Scriptures, there is the record in Genesis of the creation of man by God. Questions come to mind, and some of them arise from doubt and some from belief: is the account symbolic or historical; is man’s appearance the result of chance or God; can creation and evolution be synthesized; does evolution remove the need for God; is theistic evolution a possibility; what about the issue of the age of the cosmos; is the cosmos of recent date or has there been an indeterminate period for reality; was there a single first man; did the woman come after the man; and how could anyone really know what happened? Should origins even be discussed since there can be no definitive knowledge? What is the purpose of man? Is there a destiny for man? Is there life after death?

Many other such questions could be raised. It is obvious that the statement, “God created man,” must be explained and interpreted.

It is also obvious that the interpretation will reflect one’s basic philosophy or worldview. On the one hand, the believer will affirm God as part of the interpretation; on the other hand, the atheist or humanist, will reject God as part of the interpretation.

Interpretations are not obvious; they are conditioned, conditioned by a person’s commitment to and acceptance of a basic framework whereby the individual approaches the above statement and all related questions. This is to affirm that initial presuppositions before the facts determine interpretations and the conclusions drawn from an investigation of the facts.

In regards to Biblical Anthropology two sets of relationships come into focus; and the understanding attached to these relationships determines one’s basic approach in dealing with the Creation account: Scripture and Science, and Revelation and Reason.

What is the proper relationship between these concepts? Which has primacy and which has a  supporting role? Which is normative and which is dependent? Which is absolute and which is contingent? Can the concepts be given equal value? The answers to these questions determine the interpretation given to the above statement: “God created man.”

No interpreter of facts approaches the facts with a mindset of neutrality; each and every interpreter brings to the discussion a bias, either a good bias or a bad bias, but a decided bias, even an unknown bias. And from this vantage point—this bias, this framework, this worldview—the individual critiques a fact and attributes meaning and significance to the fact or event.

And there are really only two starting points: you begin from the reality and priority of man; or you begin from the reality and priority of God. One’s interpretation of all things is conditioned by one’s embrace of either humanism or Theism (see: Foundations, Starting Point, and Methodology).

With regard to the above concepts and their relationships, the following reflects the approach of humanism versus Theism:

Humanism – science takes priority over Scripture, which is a book of myth and contradictions; and reason takes priority over Revelation (even the possibility of Revelation is generally rejected);

Theism – Scripture, a record of God’s Truth, takes priority over science; and Revelation, the giving of Truth by God, takes priority over reason; reason is the servant of Revelation.

It is obvious how the basic presuppositions—bias, philosophy, or worldview—determines one’s approach to the question of Creation versus evolution, and not only this question but all questions.

For the consistent humanist, reason and science are the only valid means by which to interpret origins or any other aspect of reality. If science cannot research the matter with reason guiding the process, then true knowledge of the subject under consideration is not possible. This means that Revelation is a non-factor, and Scripture is viewed as a collection of mythological religious stories that are without historical value. The point is that man is the interpreter of all things.

For the consistent Theist, all discussions must begin with God and His Revelation or there will be no valid interpretation of man or any other aspect of the created order. Meaning and significance are found in God and not in man. Scripture is God’s Revelation of Himself and His deeds, which include His plan for all of creation; therefore, the Scriptures have normative value and cannot be set aside, but must be primary in the search for legitimate interpretation. The Scriptures have both religious and historical significance. The point is that God is the interpreter of all things.

The approach, philosophy or worldview, that one assumes is foundational. To use a metaphor from Scripture, there are two possible foundations: “the sand” or “the rock” (Matt. 7:24-27); humanism is the sand, Theism is the rock.

By faith one either accepts God’s revelation in Scripture as the inspired infallible rule of doctrine and conduct, or he rejects it as such; he may believe either the Scriptures or the presuppositions and postulates of human reason (J. A. Schep, The Nature of the Resurrection Body).

Return to: Question of Evolution; Next Article: Evolutionist versus Theist 

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