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Waltke Resigns at Seminary Over Evolution

I came across this story on The Huffington Post the other day and I was surprised for two reasons: 1) A religious scholar endorsing evolution, and 2) that he had to resign from his position at a seminary to “save face”.

Admittedly, I’m not overly surprised by Bruce Waltke’s affirmation that biblical scripture and evolution can coexist, so I’m obviously more surprised by the latter. Unfortunately, for many who hold this belief who also serve at schools of theology, they face this “closet” experience.

I do hold his statement regarding Christianity’s likeness to a cult if it continues down the path of evolution-bashing. It takes one in deep denial about the way the world works to refute the claims of evolution, but to most Christians, it seems relatively easy. However, if you compare evolution to other situations not mentioned in the Bible, there are many things that we have evidence for that shouldn’t be correct, but doesn’t create such a heated debate (e.g., dinosaurs living with humans).

I applaud Waltke for his willingness to break the mold… even though the immense pressure of the establishment forced his hand. We all know that it wouldn’t do the budging.

As a side note on evolution, Discovery Channel’s Life miniseries that has recently aired mentions evolution quite a bit. After doing a brief search, I cannot find any controversy surrounding the use of this word and its application to the animals and plants filmed for this series from sources outside the Discovery organization.

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8 Responses to “Waltke Resigns at Seminary Over Evolution”

  • Lawrence Patihis:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It is a shame that Watke appears to have been fired, although the story reports he immediately found another position.
    Some religions in the past have remained viable by gradually accepting new knowledge, so perhaps it is in their interest to find a way for faith and evolution to coexist.

    Also, there are some opportunity costs involved in denying evolution: for just one of many examples it could get in the way of child who loves dinosaurs going on to have a career in paleontology. And this also applies to many other sciences and related private-sector careers.

    Perhaps outside the protective confines of some religious organisations, evolutionary theory is more accepted, hence the Life series you mentioned in your post.

    As I understand it, evolution is considered to be a theory in one sense of the word, but also an observable fact if you define it as “the change in gene frequencies from one generation to another.” For a discussion on evolution being a theory and a fact, see: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

  • Yes, there’s a lengthy history of religious groups being fine with evolution… but many still exist out there. There’s a few odd little ‘independent’ churches in my town. I remember the deputy of the local Catholic school saying that the independent ‘Christian’ school were right odd and they had no real way of dealing with the over fundamentalist attitudes that even dictated the kind of teaching they did in non-science subjects like English Literature.
    I guess like Lawrence says, the best way to deal with it is vote with your feet if you’re an employee and make it public as to why you leave. :/

  • jk:

    The entire Roman Catholic Church endorses evolution. If you are surprised by a religious scholar endorsing evolution, you clearly need to do more research before opining on these subjects.

  • Just a minor detail. The Old Testament Scholar you are discussing is Dr. Bruce Waltke not Watke — he has an “l” in his name. Just thought you would want to know. Thanks.

  • Thanks for that correction. I didn’t catch the ‘l’ next to the ‘t’ at all!

  • James reen:

    As illustrated by Bruce Waltke, there is a pressing need within Christianity for a credible explanation of Genesis, one that respects the biblical text (1) yet allows for extensive time (backed by solid evidence) and (2) rejects evolution (random, undirected change) as a powerful constructive mechanism. Millions of years are not a cure for the severe limitations of random change.
    I have just finished reading The Real Genesis Creation Story: A Credible Translation and Explanation at Last by J. Gene White. Of all the books I have read on the subject that attempt to explain Genesis, this is the most comprehensive, lucid and logical. Based on solid scientific evidence and his in depth analysis of the Hebrew text, he appears to have a translation and explanation of Genesis Chapter 1 and 2 that finally makes sense. Without giving away the main thesis of the book, I will say that he does not focus on redefining the terms, “day, create, make, heaven or earth.” He does not treat any verses as metaphorical, mythological or untrue. He does not view evolution as a powerful constructive force. His book can be ordered from the publisher’s website [link removed by administrator].

    • I am curious about what the “solid scientific evidence” you refer to supports. As you write it, it seems that you are saying that he has evidence that his specific translation is accurate, but I don’t want to assume. If, however, you are referring to evidence for an interpretation of the text itself as a factual account, I don’t understand why that needs to be supported with evidence. Most religions, including Christianity, suggest that faith (belief without evidence) is an important test of one’s commitment to God. Evidence, if it existed, would erode faith.