Bruce Waltke has been taken to task for his recent comments (the video has since been taken down) about how the (evangelical) church will be destined for "cult" status if, in the course of time, all the data points decisively to something akin to the neo-Darwinian synthesis and the church still denies that reality. In short, its destiny is spiritual death, he argues, if it chooses to simply stick its head in the sand.
- Update: See Waltke's even more recent clarification on the BioLogos video.
- Update #2: Waltke resigns from RTS. But he's old; surely the timing is coincidental?
- Update #3: Question answered.
- Update #4: The last? Waltke offers some final thoughts on the brouhaha.
In J.V. Fesko's Last Things First (download the introduction here), he writes, "Many within the Reformed community accept the conclusions of creation science without investigating its presuppositions [founded by a 7th-day Adventist and perpetuated by dispensationalists]" (p. 18). Fesko goes on to discuss "the hallmark hermeneutical principle of dispensationalism" — "strict literalism" (p. 19). What is perplexing to Fesko is "that many within the Reformed community will reject dispensational eschatology but embrace its interpretation of creation. …If one applies a consistently Reformed hermeneutic to the interpretation of Scripture, he must reject [dispensationalist and creation scientist] conclusions. Reformed theology neither embraces the Bible as a textbook of science nor employs an overly literalistic hermeneutic" (pp. 19, 21).
To my mind, this is the fundamental starting point when discussing these issues. In other words, before one asks me, "But what about Gen 1:11, 24 — doesn't the text indicate that each kind of plant or animal will produce its own kind?" I think it's wise to first deal with the foundational hermeneutical principles that Fesko writes about in his introduction. To put it differently, Scripture doesn't speak about material creation because it cannot, but because it does not.
What's more, in my opinion, there's deep misunderstanding about what Gen 1 actually says and the relationship between science and faith.
Dealing with the last point first, science, by its very nature (as is currently understood), must bracket the metaphysical (with apologies to all my presuppositional friends). It cannot explore divine causation, for it concerns itself only with empirical data. Thus it deals with the demonstrable and falsifiable, and not with divine activity (science, therefore, cannot prove or disprove the existence of God).
This is not to suggest that Christians do not stand firmly upon the revelation of divine activity and purpose woven into the very fabric of creation, because every truth unveiled (by scientists, in this instance) is another step in understanding how God has worked or continues to work through the material world and its naturalistic processes.
Regarding what Gen 1 purports to teach, I think a lot of the heat would give way to light, at least in the Reformed world, if folks would be willing to give a shot to what Walton suggests in The Lost World with a bit of Sailhamer thrown in.