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Science and Religion in Genesis

PLNU’s various on-campus clubs allow students to connect what they are learning in the classroom to religion. Last Thursday, over 60 students, along with some faculty, joined the Science and Religion Club which held their meeting in Latter Hall. Reverend Brad Kelle, a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at PLNU, was the guest speaker for the evening and shared some of his insight on Genesis and how to make the most sense out of its chapters.

Dr. Kelle began the meeting by saying how Genesis 1 and 2 should be read canonically as the first part of the larger Old Testament story. Noting the importance of discussing science, religion and literature in meaningful ways, Dr. Kelle made sure that the students in the room felt heard.

“I may have had some experiences that can resemble experiences that you guys have had,” said Kelle.

Having been a biblical studies major in college, Dr. Kelle has faced the broader conversations of science and faith and how we often lose sight of the biblical stories themselves. Instead of questioning what Genesis 1 and 2 have to do with science, he insisted on asking what the chapters have to do with in general.

“The Old Testament is the story of God’s mission to restore creation, as well as the calling of God’s people to participate as instruments within that restoration,” said Kelle.

The first two chapters of Genesis were described as the picture of God’s good intentions for creation. This includes the right relationships of mutual blessing and flourishing as well as humanity as the “image of God” and how humanity cares for and guards creation.

“The Bible’s purpose is to be a guide to salvation,” said Kelle. “We go to the Bible for an authoritative word.”

The question of what to say to someone who insists Genesis’ chapters are scientific accounts of the universe origins (or else the Bible’s authority is ruined) was also discussed at the meeting. Dr. Kelle gave three main points on how to address this issue.

First, consider the genre of the biblical creation texts. This involves noting whether it is a myth, narrative, poetry, hymn, etc. The creation story is an origin story, meant to identify people and nations. The creation of the world is not the main focus. Second, consider the function of ancient creation text. Structure as well as community and identity come into play. Third, consider the authority of the Bible’s creation stories in terms of scripture’s inspired functions.

“The event was very thought-provoking,” sophomore Hailey Quiroz said. “Dr. Kelle spoke from a different perspective on faith and science and I really appreciated what he had to share with us.”

Towards the end of the meeting, Dr. Kelle opened up a Q&A portion for students and faculty to have a chance to ask questions or share thoughts. Many questions were asked about science and the Bible’s function as a whole. The idea of work and how we as a people should care for all of God’s creation was also discussed from an environmental perspective.

“My biggest plea is, maybe above all, do justice to the biblical stories,” said Kelle. “Treat them justly and let them be them.”


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Andie Naugler

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