Welcome to Peaceful Science, Brandon. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I’m a biochemist by training and studied enzyme function and pathways that make antibiotics in bacteria so I know a little microbiology too, but my degree is a PhD in Chemistry. I work in the Greater Philadelphia area as an industrial research scientist in biochemistry. Although I started out as a YEC in high school, I came around to the BioLogos camp during college. I like the idea of having a conversation that is honest with what the science says, and I want to integrate that into a logically consistent personal (Reformed) theology and biblical interpretation.
Fun fact: I have met both @swamidass and Richard Lenski.
Welcome, Brandon. We can always use another biochemist around here.
When and how did we meet?
April 2017. I was at the University of Illinois and part of the graduate christian fellowship that David Suryk helps organize. I met you when you reviewed Adam and the Genome and also went to your talk about how a scientist can believe in the resurrection.
That was a really important moment. Did you know I have a book coming out on this now? You were there at the beginning, 2 years ago.
Are you the guy how discussed Maxwell?
Welcome, Brandon. What convinced you that YEC was wrong, if you don’t mind me asking?
I hope you didn’t stare too long at Lenski’s glass eye. It makes him uncomfortable.
No I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. I don’t remember but I probably asked something related to interpretation of Genesis.
I did not know you have a book coming out but I’m sure I’ll hear about it here.
Hi @BJB, nice to see another chemist. I’m a physical chemist by training (laser spectroscopy/reaction dynamics) but have some biochem-envy. I’ve been hanging out with biologists lately here and learning more about population genetics and molecular biology. At some point I’m sure I’m going to have to tackle (re)learning biochemistry.
I really resonate with this, although I lean more towards the Anglican/Wesleyan side of the theological spectrum.
It’s a story that isn’t easily summarized or condensed but I’ll try. There wasn’t one thing, but several things over time that slowly changed my mind. Initially I believed in a young Earth; age was just an appearance. I thought an unbiased scientist could prove this and that dinosaurs weren’t that old because obviously a recent global flood buried them. However, I came to see that invoking the flood for everything doesn’t work and that YEC views were mostly just an attempt to poke holes in established science rather than actually building up their own complete scientific framework.
At the same time, I began to actually comprehend biochemistry and genetics. When combined with geology, paleontology, and cosmology, all these natural sciences wove a consistent and logical framework which led me to rethink what I considered to be the “plain reading” of Genesis 1-3. I realized my mental picture of creation didn’t match the natural laws and working of our universe because I imagined this perfect world without death or natural disaster. However, the basic nature of how our universe and our biology work must allow for such things. This mental picture of Gen 1-3 which I had based on a “literal” or “plain reading” conflicted with facts of nature and biology that were so simple and obvious to me that I could not dispute them. I saw that I had a naïve view of Gen 1-3 but could not do what I considered to be further mental gymnastics to continue being a YEC. I wanted a position that could be consistent and holistic for understanding scientific discoveries and the Bible.
So, I began to re-evaluate my “plain reading” of Gen 1-3. I realized that I had made assumptions in my interpretation and had glossed over some things (e.g. who are the people Cain was afraid) which didn’t fit together as neatly as I thought or seemed to require some “mental gymnastics” for it to be consistent. I also had several Christian professors who demonstrated how to read Gen 1-3 in a way that takes the text seriously, interprets the rest of the Bible with consistency, and maintains the key theological points that I believed.
Ultimately, I was looking for a grand theory that would be able to explain what we see in nature and in God’s word that is consistent and logically satisfying to me. The work of Biologos, John Walton, Dennis Venema, Josh Swamidass, and others has helped shape my views over time. However, it wasn’t that these people proved evolution, but they offered what I considered to be a more consistent and complete version of creation and understanding of the Bible that also fits with what we see in nature.
To this day, I still don’t have everything worked out fully to my satisfaction, but I believe God’s natural laws and processes which were sufficient to create our solar system are also sufficient to create life on Earth without God needing to step in and correct an orbit or insert a gene. As far as Gen 1-3, I don’t think it is meant to give us a snapshot of our creation, but I do believe there are pieces of a true past in there. I’m not sure which pieces those are or how they fit together which is why I’m interested in this dialogue to see how others have addressed the issue so I can further refine my personal view of creation.
Thanks for explaining. This is all good to hear.
For the record, the YEC reading is not the plain reading. It adds quite a bit of inference, breaking for a literal and traditional reading of Genesis. The plan reading of Genesis, for example, teaches the Garden does not extend over the earth, and that there is death outside the garden. Yes, I know that isn’t the YEC reading, but that reading is not based in Scripture, which says something else.