Edited Transcript:

Jeff Schloss: My pastor thought the world was 6,000 years old. On the other hand, I read C.S. Lewis. He did not seem to care about the age of the earth. I have to say, I am very grateful that I had the exciting freedom to just ask these questions and to follow the scientific evidence and the Biblical interpretative evidence where they led. So I dealt with the age of the earth and evolutionary theory. I never felt my faith depended on the answers to those questions. In closing, I would like to say I do not think yours does either … One of the reasons we are here is not to persuade you of a particular answer to these questions, but whether you are a Christian or you are not a Christian, to encourage the open exploration of these issues.

Joshua Swamidass: So did you come to a point of view on those questions, in terms of how to think about them? A final landing place?

Jeff Schloss: Well, I am still working on a number of questions, but I believe that on a number of the issues we will be discussing tonight, I felt the scriptures gave me freedom to follow the scientific data where it led on most of those issues.

Joshua Swamidass: So that sounds like one way to resolve this, to take the view that what is in Genesis gives us freedom. We do not have to believe there is one way this creation happens. That is an attractive solution because it does not challenge a lot of things we hear in science class. Is that really consistent with Genesis? Is it really possible, for example, to believe in Genesis as God’s word and to believe in evolution? Tremper?

Tremper Longman: I am not a scientist, nor the son of a scientist, and I would very well display my ignorance in that area. But in answer to your question, Josh, I do think that Genesis is consistent with evolution. It does not teach evolution, obviously. This gets to your issue of giving us freedom. I would argue that Genesis 1 and 2, and the rest of the Bible, tells us an awful lot about God. Genesis 1 and 2 most graphically, or most dramatically, that God is the creator of everything and everybody, but it does not tell us how God created the cosmos or human beings.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman says the purpose of Genesis 1 and 2 is to dramatically tell us that God is the creator of everything and everyone, not to give a scientific account of the process of creation. Do you agree that the primary message of Genesis 1 and 2 is about God being the creator of the universe?
  2. What does it mean for the Bible to give the “exciting freedom” for scientists to follow the scientific evidence where it leads?
  3. Does the fact that notable Christians like C.S. Lewis, modern scientists like Jeff Schloss, and contemporary Biblical scholars like Tremper Longman see Genesis as compatible with evolution support or challenge your own view?
  4. If Genesis is consistent with evolution, does that effectively reconcile the Bible with science or might other problems remain?