I just got finished with George Murphy’s scholarly essay (murphy_scholarly_essay) that he wrote for BioLogos, and that is being used as the basis for a multi-series guest post on the BioLogos blog, Science and the Sacred. I introduced the series a few days ago ( and I encourage you to read the installments as they come over at BioLogos. )
As a whole, I really enjoyed the scholarly essay. Murphy places his focus on the Cross, and uses that to frame his overall theology and how he discusses the interaction of science and theology. I am intrigued by his thoughts and look forward to reading more of his work. In addition, like Polkinghorne, I appreciate the inherent desire I see within him to explain the experience that we have of Christ and the Cross and how this may lead to different interpretations… and we may not be able to say who is right and who is wrong. I love that. Attempt to explain what we experience and discuss the various interpretations in hopes that the discussion will lead us to a greater understanding of God and our faith. Too much time is spent on saying the other’s position is wrong in issues of science and faith. I like that he doesn’t do that.
That being said, I had a couple of issues with the article that I would either like clarification on or I would ask why they were included in the article in the 1st place. Again, it must be stated that I have not read all of Murphy’s work so it’s possible in his other writings that the clarification would be present and I would better understand the issues I see in the present article. I will only mention two here.
First, Murphy speaks of God being hidden and concealed in His works (introduction, p. 1). I would respond by saying that all of God’s works must not be hidden because otherwise what would the basis be for our understanding of who God is? Surely, most of His works are hidden, but not all. This is likely a minor issue that would be clarified in Murphy’s other writings.
The other issue that I will mention has to do more with the focus of the essay. Murphy believes that the correct interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3 is in line with that of the Eastern tradition. Briefly, instead of Adam and Even being created in a perfect state, falling, and then transmitting this original sin to the rest of humanity (Western tradition), rather, Adam and Eve were like children who were immature and expected to grow, and that their disobedience had much less drastic consequences. This resulted in separation from God, but not an abrupt one-time historical “fall” but instead a gradual “falling away”. He and I agree that this is likely to jive better with evolution, but we must remember that we don’t just throw away theologial traditions for science. We better have a better theological interpretation in mind.
Anyway, the issue that I had is that Murphy still describes this “separation” from God with historical flavor in a way that sounds as though there was a time when we weren’t separated. My question is… when was that time? It’s difficult to consider “doing away” with a classical Western fall but I don’t think it worthwhile to take 9 of the 10 steps and stop. If an alternative is to be posited, it’s got to be thorough and not still cling to the language of our older interpretation. As such, I look forward to Murphy’s and others’ thoughts in this area as they continue to articulate Genesis 2 and 3 in light of evolution and the cross. There’s an audience with eyes and ears perked…