Concluding Observations of an Old Earth Creationist
Joshua, thank you for the opportunity to take part in this conversation. It seems to me that if evolutionary creationists want to make EC more palatable, if not more attractive, to conservative evangelicals, then they would need to present evolutionary models that are compatible with a high view of Scripture. There are very good theological reasons for opposing the decoupling of Gen 1-11 from history—and this is not, I repeat, is not a slippery slope argument. OEC proponents such as @jack.collins and Fuz Rana are not merely being stubborn. The Bible, for all the diversity and variety within the canon, must be taken as a whole. One cannot dehistoricize the beginning without affecting all the other parts. The quest for the historical Jesus serves as a good analogy here. A few conservative scholars (Pannenberg, for example), want to deny the historicity of Christ’s virgin birth while affirming his resurrection. Most scholars (both on the left and the right) just scratch their heads at this approach.
So what might EC proponents do? Possibly three things, of which Jeff Schloss is trying to do the first two and you are attempting to do the third.
1. Emphasize how evolution is compatible with teleology. Most popular Darwinists (both historical and current) have been infamously anti-teleological. One doesn’t have to embrace some of the more ham-handed versions of design in order to affirm purpose and intent. Perhaps more attention should be given to biological fine-tuning.
2. Emphasize the importance of altruism and cooperation in evolution. Again, popular Darwinists often trumpet selfishness and cruel indifference as the primary features of evolution. Think of the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The first hominid creature to fashion a weapon out of bone was the one who survived to reproduce. Perhaps more attention should be given to the role of cooperation and community.
3. Present models that are plausibly compatible with an affirmation of the doctrine of inerrancy. On the biblical/theological side, this appears to be what John Walton is attempting to do. Your proposal intends to do the same from the scientific side of the discussion.
Darwinism undermined the traditional doctrine of creation in the areas of God’s providence, Creation’s goodness, and Scripture as reliable revelation. The three suggestions I outline above are intended to address each area respectively. Some within the EC community understand the concerns of conservative evangelicals. Others, quite honestly, seem to see the controversy as an opportunity to move evangelical theology to the left. OEC proponents, by and large, have no desire to be merely recalcitrant and obscurantist. We desire to identify correctly the essential features of our common faith and then hold to them faithfully. Show how an inerrantist can reasonably embrace evolution, and I think many will go wherever the science leads. Can it be done? We’ll see. There’s still a lot of work ahead.