Mohler: Bible not subject to modern science
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
October 04, 2011

Mohler: Bible not subject to modern science

Mohler: Bible not subject to modern science
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
October 04, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If believers allow modern science to tell

them what they can theologically affirm, the logic does not end with a

discussion of whether there is a historical Adam, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said on

NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” Sept. 22.

“It continues throughout the entirety of the body of Christian truth. And that

is a disastrous route,” Mohler said. “And frankly, you’re either going to

accept (or reject) that the Bible gives us the authoritative word concerning

the entirety of our understanding of things relative to who we are as human

beings, what God did in creating the world and what God did for us in Christ.

“If the Bible is not the authoritative source for that and instead has to be

corrected by modern science, then the Bible is just there for our manipulation,

and quite frankly, the gospel is there for constant renegotiation,” Mohler

said. “It ends up being another gospel, the very thing the Apostle Paul warned


Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was part of a

30-minute discussion that included Daniel Harlow, a religion professor at

Calvin College, on the continuing debate over the existence of a historical

Adam and Eve as the first parents of all humanity and as the solitary first

human pair.

Harlow argued against a literal interpretation of the creation account in

Genesis, contending that the literary genre of early Genesis is divinely

inspired story, not documentary history. Also, he believes Adam and Eve are not

central to biblical theology.

“If Adam and Eve were central to biblical teaching, it would be a surprise to

learn that they are not mentioned in the entire Old Testament after Genesis

Chapter 3 and 4,” Harlow said on NPR.

“If Adam and Eve are at the heart of the Christian faith, then Jesus and the

apostles missed that memo. If you read the Gospels and read the Book of Acts,

which purports to give the apostolic preaching of the gospel, Adam, Eve and the

serpent are not there.

“What is central to the Christian faith is the life, the saving death and the

resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Harlow said. “So we don’t need a historical

couple tricked by a talking snake for the truth claims of Christianity to be

true. What we need simply is a recognition of the reality of human sinfulness,

that human beings are in the grip of sin, and that we need a savior because of


Mohler, in his comments, said Adam is “a very important part of how the Bible

explains the gospel. In particular, the Apostle Paul twice grounds the story of

the gospel in the linkage between Christ as the second Adam, understandable in

terms of why He came and what He did for us, with reference to the first Adam.

“And the Apostle Paul, by the way, is not just telling us about biblical

theology here and helping us to understand the gospel. He is also telling us

how to interpret the Old Testament,” Mohler said. “And I think it’s a very

important issue here that we recognize that what’s at stake in this discussion

is not just, as important as it is, the historicity of the first several

chapters of Genesis or the historicity of Adam and the fall.

“Those are absolutely, I believe, vital to orthodox

Christianity, but also to the question as to whether or not the apostles get to

tell us how we interpret the Old Testament. And I believe that’s a very

important issue.”

Mohler said the argument against the historicity of Adam did not emerge until “all

of a sudden, a person said science has a privileged word to say.” Furthermore,

the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of the

Gospel story, yet there is no scientific basis for making that argument.

“Modern science, in terms of its naturalism and materialism,

generally rules completely out of order even the question of supernatural

events,” Mohler said.

Harlow said at times human understanding of what the Bible intends to teach

needs to be revised.

“Let’s be clear: The Bible is not an authority on scientific

matters. It was written in a pre-scientific age. It’s not a science textbook.

There’s a lot more knowledge about the world to be had,” Harlow said, adding

that the gospel accounts of the resurrection “are fundamentally different in

the type of literature they are from the early chapters of Genesis.”

Mohler said Christians have nothing to fear from legitimate science, but

scientism and naturalism do pose a problem.

“I’m perfectly willing for science to tell me what the

scientists are working on and how they believe the world is working. I cannot

draw my conclusions about the Bible, about the gospel, from them,” Mohler said.

“Instead, I have to say, ‘All right, I know they have their say. I respect


“I believe that at the end of the day, there will be no

final conflict between Christian truth revealed in the scriptures and true science.

But in the meantime, it’s just not fair to say you have two different realms

that don’t overlap. It’s not just a how and a who. The claims of modern science

go far beyond merely a how, and the claims of the scripture go far beyond

merely a who,” Mohler said.

When the host asked Mohler whether students at Southern Seminary should be

exposed to the line of thinking proposed by Harlow and other scholars, Mohler

said, “Oh, absolutely, the controversy needs to be taught. And quite frankly,

no one can be a well-educated and an intelligent person in the modern world

without understanding the theory of evolution and its implications.”

Mohler said the arguments being made by the central proponents of evolutionary

theory are not new.

“What is new … is the fact that we’re now down to what I think is the key

issue of our understanding. And that is, even given all the controversies that

had been taking place amongst evangelicals over Genesis in times past, are we

now at a place where it’s going to be legitimate to say that there was no fall,

that there was no Adam, there was no Eve?” Mohler said.

“That is where the implications of this thought have taken us. And this is

where the dividing line is going to happen. There is a serious and deep,

perhaps irresolvable, divide between the scholars who would stand with

Professor Harlow and those who would stand with me.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. To access

the audio and transcript of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” segment on human

origins, visit http://www.npr.org/2011/09/22/140710361/christians-divided-over-science-of-human-origins.)