3.1.4 Scripture, Evolution, and the Problem of Science

Crab on the Galapagos Islands. Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely, 2018.

We can draw three insights from Augustine’s work and approach. First, the problem of apparent conflict between the Bible and science is not a new problem but rather a perennial one, nearly as old as the Christian Bible itself. Secondly, Augustine regarded it as important to let the scientific evidence have a say in how the Bible should be interpreted. He did not assume that the science was wrong simply because it contradicted what he took to be a literal reading of Scripture (Biologos 2010).
Christianity and other scriptural traditions must confront similar questions to Islam when it comes to dealing with contemporary scientific issues and theology. No issue causes as much trouble for Christianity today as evolution. History informs us, however, that whereas today the theory of evolution may be an acute issue, astronomy caused similar problems in the past. This article looks at the approaches taken by St. Augustine and John Calvin. How could these approaches be used today?

Read: Scripture, Evolution and the Problem of Science // Biologos 


Guiding Questions:

  1. How did St. Augustine decide whether to believe a literal interpretation of scripture or an allegorical interpretation?
  2. How did John Calvin approach conflicts between current scientific thought and scripture? What did he think these “errors” reflected?
  3. The author notes that Augustine and Calvin viewed science as “human interpretations of God’s word in nature.” Do you agree or disagree with this portrayal of science?
  4. Should scripture “provide dependable insights on everything in human experience”? What do modern Christian evangelicals believe? Do you see parallels in Islam?
  5. Why does the author believe we should view the Christian Bible’s “Genesis” as a work of theology and ancient scholarship?


Photo: “Galapagos.” Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely, 2018. CC BY-SA 2.0.