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Can the creation accounts in Genesis be harmonised with a scientific account of origins?

This is a contentious area for Christians. Before getting started, it’s important that we note the following:

Firstly, as Denis Alexander points out, “All Christians are, by definition, creationists” (Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? 15). This means that, in the church, any debate between Christians is not over whether God is or isn’t the creator; the debate is over the particular mechanism that he uses to create.

Secondly, in Grace Church we’re convinced that there is room for a range of opinion on this topic. We believe that this is a secondary, not a primary, issue. We do not have a “party line” that we insist members agree on. The elders would never dream of using the pulpit to say, ” This is what you should believe on this issue.”

Nevertheless, there are principles that we would wish to commend to anyone wanting to think through this topic. Key among them is the issue of humility. See, for example, how Tim Keller concludes his excellent article on biologos (included below):

“Christians who are seeking to correlate Scripture and science must be a “bigger tent” than either the anti-scientific religionists or the anti-religious scientists. Even though in this paper I argue for the importance of belief in a literal Adam and Eve, I have shown here that there are several ways to hold that and still believe in God using [evolutionary biological processes].

“When Derek Kidner concluded his account of human origins, he said that his view was an ‘exploratory suggestion…only tentative, and it is a personal view. It invites correction and a better synthesis.’ That is the right attitude for all of us working in this area.”

Getting started

Before launching into a detailed examination of different views on Genesis and Science, it's helpful to consider a couple of questions: How can we ensure that we're reading Genesis correctly? How should I respond to the fact that others in Grace Church may see these issues differently to me? These are the questions that these resources are intended to address.

Harmonising Genesis and Evolutionary Science

Here you'll find a handout developed by Andrew Sampson for his teaching on this topic. It includes a summary of Keller's article, Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople, as well as five different models on how believers have understood the story of Adam and Eve that come from Denis Alexander. You can also find a link to Tim Keller's article on the Biologos website.

Did Darwin Kill God?

A one-hour documentary made for the BBC several years ago. Cunningham covers a huge amount of ground: young-earth creationism; scientific atheism; how Genesis has been interpreted through church history; intelligent design; evolutionary creationism, etc.

Rescuing Darwin

A helpful report commissioned by the Theos thinktank. Available for £5.00 from the Theos website.

Has Science Killed God?

An illustrated lecture that Andrew Sampson delivered to secondary school pupils in 2013 (please remember that he's giving a personal view rather speaking on behalf of Grace Church). You'll also find a short video made by Andrew for our Scientists in Congregations project.

Andrew Wilson on Genesis and Science

For those who want to go deeper, here are the sessions on Genesis from the THINK 2016 by Andrew Wilson (tutor for the Advance Theology Course). There's a lot of content here, so you'll want to keep your finger poised over the fast forward button. Also included is Wilson's article in which he explores ten different models that attempt to reconcile Genesis and science (compared to Denis Alexander's five that you'll find outlined on Andrew Sampson's teaching handout elsewhere on this page).

Tom Wright on Genesis

Tom Wright is one of the UK's leading biblical scholars. In this short podcast, he covers a huge amount of ground, including whether Genesis should be interpreted literally, whether we can believe in human evolution and historicity of Adam and Eve. The song he sings at the end with renowned geneticist Francis Collins is a treat, too!

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