In Part One, I provided a critique of Dr. Denis Lamoreaux’s version of theistic evolution, called Evolutionary Creation, where God created the universe and all life through an ordained, sustained, and design-reflecting evolutionary process. Here in Part II, I’ll examine another tool he uses to make it work- Biblical Accommodation.
Biblical Accommodation, as Dr. Lamoreaux describes it, is where the Holy Spirit descended to the level of ancient humans and used their ideas- including science- to reveal, as effectively as possible, an inerrant message of faith. For evidence, Lamoreaux points to Biblical parables to show how Jesus accommodated his audience by stooping down to their level and speaking to their beliefs and intellectual category set.
I agree there is an inerrant message of faith instilled in Jesus’ parables, but he also spoke truth and didn’t resort to mythology. He certainly used the common language of the day, and sometimes spoke figuratively to fulfill Scripture, but none of this implies these people were incapable of comprehending novel or complex concepts. On the contrary, Jesus knew people would understand him if he spoke plainly.
In my opinion, Dr. Lamoreaux is treating the people of Jesus’ day with contempt. Apparently, Lamoreaux considers himself much more highly evolved than these people, allowing him to understand scientific concepts as complex as evolution, while they couldn’t.
Thus, I find the concept of accommodation deeply flawed. While those living at Jesus’ time weren’t educated into today’s modern academic paradigm, they weren’t stupid. Jesus didn’t have to dumb-down his message like an adult teaching a child about a complex, difficult or awkward subject by skirting the issue and replacing it with something more manageable.
If God really did use evolution as his mode of creation, he could have explained it to Moses, and the Israelites would have understood. After all, the ancient Greeks already believed in evolutionary ideas and the concept of millions of years. Anaximander, Democritus, Epicurus, Plato, Lactantius are but a few examples. For some reason, however, Dr. Lamoreaux seems to think he is far more evolved, possessing the intellectual faculties necessary to understand complex scientific concepts like evolution. This smacks of prejudice and arrogance.
When I hear the term ‘accommodation’, it sounds like, even though God could have truthfully explained human origins in a way people could understand, he provided a false narrative to reveal an ‘inerrant’ spiritual truth, and we’re expected to dismiss any reference to the physical world. This makes no logical sense because it implies that God couldn’t have revealed spiritual truth to our ancestors without lying or deceiving them.
Dr. Lamoreaux refers to Adam as an “ancient near-eastern understanding of human origins.” I’m not sure exactly what he means, but it implies that God was engaging in mythology, even though the Bible speaks against mythology (1 Tim 1:3-4, 1 Tim 4:7, 2 Tim 4:3-4), so I reject his assessment.
I agree with Dr. Lamoreaux when he contends that the Bible isn’t a science book. Good. It doesn’t need to be. However, it does record a true, accurate history. And when it does, science is impacted. For example, when the Bible describes, in detail, a world-wide flood, such a flood would affect the geology of the land, producing layer upon layer of sediment, leaving some organisms fossilized. And when the Bible says God commanded birds to reproduce after their kind, that command has a profound impact on science, whether Lamoreaux likes it or not. Further, science text books become outdated, changing year-after-year when new information contradicts previous versions. Consider, would you really want your child learning from the same science text books you used when you were in school? I hope not. The Bible, on the other hand, is inerrant and doesn’t change based on new discoveries by fallible people.
Dr. Lamoreaux tells us that God, thankfully, gave us another book to open, and that is the great book of his works. He says God gave us minds to open that book, and we should go and “do the science”. I find this idea troubling because it gives man authority over the Bible. It also assumes scientists don’t make mistakes- especially big ones, like the age of the earth and evolution. Yet we have many examples of scientists being wrong quite often. The danger is, science becomes god, while the Bible becomes subservient. Lamoreaux is practicing scientism, elevating man and his intellect over God’s word. He has effectively rejected the Bible’s claims about the physical world, so he has no responsibility to accept anything the Bible says about it; he is justified to reinterpret the Bible, regardless of scientific limitations.
To be clear, the Bible does not suggest there’s a Great Book of God’s Works. This is a man-made concept invented for a heretical purpose, and invites people to put their faith in science over God’s word. We’re free to gain knowledge and understanding of God’s creation, but it should not be treated as inerrant.
Dr. Lamoreaux contends that God could have used natural processes to create all forms of life. But so what? There’s a lot of things God could have done that he didn’t. Let’s deal with the reality of what he said he did. The Bible reveals God’s supernatural creation in Genesis, so let’s believe it.
Dr. Lamoreaux says the Bible doesn’t tell us “exactly” how humans came about- as if that admission gives us license to invent our own story of human origins. The Bible, however, tells us enough. God created man in his image and formed him “from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). That’s good detail. On the contrary, even evolutionists can’t tell us “exactly” how humans came about. They have many mysteries to solve, so his argument is disingenuous and hypocritical.
To his credit, Lamoreaux does reject atheistic evolution, denying that we evolved through blind chance. But I don’t see much difference between atheistic evolution and evolutionary creation. Is it possible to distinguish between them? No. As Lamoreaux explains, he tells his atheist friend that God is behind evolution, while his friend says otherwise. Stalemate.
The Bible says that people were made in the image of God, but Lamoreaux claims this is a spiritual reality, and not physical. After all, he says, “At what stage of embryological human life are we in the image of God?”
Touché! The answer to his question, obviously, cannot be determined by science. But does that mean we’re free to deny any physical aspect to being made in the image of God? No. I think the answer to his question is entirely up to God. He’s the one knitting us together in our mother’s womb, so let him determine at what stage we’re made in his image- even if it occurs at conception. I think Lamoreaux’s question is intended to cast doubt on what it means to be made in the image of God so that human evolution from an ape-like ancestor is a non-issue. But if being made in the image of God is a physical reality, then he has dug himself into a big hole.
Lamoreaux says we cannot mix modern science with old science because it would be categorically inappropriate to do so. Oh, really? How convenient; he gets to make up his own rules. So then, we must choose between modern science and ancient science. But what if ancient science is more true than modern science? Will he defer? I thought science was science, regardless of classification. Seriously, it’s not that we need to mix science, but apply critical thinking. Applying a Biblical worldview helps too!
Interestingly, he claims we’re almost identical to chimpanzees in the flesh, and asks, “Can’t you see that we’re more than flesh? Chimps aren’t close to us.” While I agree we’re “more than flesh”, there are plenty of studies showing we’re nowhere near identical to chimps.
Lamoreaux takes issue with what he calls “Scientific Concordism”, the assumption that God revealed scientific facts in the Bible thousands of years before their discovery by modern science. He thinks this is problematic. But it’s only problematic if one puts their trust in science over Scripture. Instead of reinterpreting the Bible, he should reinterpret his conclusions and use science as a tool, not a god.
He says the Christian tradition of conflating Adam with the “Message of Faith” is wrong because it gives ancient science the status of inerrancy. But he doesn’t seem to realize he’s doing the same with modern science. I would suggest that Scripture’s inerrancy is the reason why we accept the Bible’s claims about the physical world as true.
Lamoreaux states the Bible has set a precedence for us to use the science of our day, even though he says the Holy Spirit only used ancient science as a vessel. This is hypocritical. He’s applying two different standards. It doesn’t matter at what point in history science is done, it should never override Scripture.
After studying his video lecture, I see no compelling reason to doubt a literal six-day creation in favor of evolution. Scripture does not leave room for evolution, and is very clear there was an historical Adam and Eve who are responsible for sin and death.
Once we understand the limitations of science and apply critical thinking, it becomes apparent the Bible’s account of our origins is the one true account of history.