Dr. Denis Alexander, head of the Templeton-funded Faraday Institute of Science and Religion at St. Edmunds College, Cambridge, is interviewed by the BBC on how he comports science with his evangelical Christianity. In the 30-minute interview, Alexander, a molecular biologist, explains his background, his transformation to Christianity, and his beliefs. They include his acceptance of the divinity and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of the efficacy of prayer.
He also draws the usual distinction between science as answering the “how questions” and religion as answering “why questions.” But (at around 17:00) he draws a number of parallels between the scientific and religious searches for truth:
- They’re both looking for coherence.
- Scientific hypothesis are based on data, and so are religious beliefs, which, he says, are heavily reliant on evidence (e.g., the fine-tuning of the universe). At 17:40, he claims that if the stories in the Bible about Jesus aren’t true, and there’s no afterlife, then Christian faith collapses.
But he still sees the stories of Genesis as one of “figurative language,” not meant to be a “scientific textbook” (he refers to Augustine as holding this view, ignoring the many other church fathers who didn’t). Genesis, he claims, is meant to show us the “purpose of mankind”, which is:
The purpose of humankind is to know God, to worship Him, and to be good stewards of the planet that God has put into our charge, that we’ve made such a huge mess of.
AT 19:20, he explains to the interviewer, Joan Bakewell, why he considers the Bible to be “scientific evidence.” It’s bizarre: it’s because the Bible had the “amazing insight” that there was only one God and that he was a “god of love” (Alexander doesn’t explain how he knows these claims were true). Bakewell calls him out by asking why such a god would sacrifice his son. Alexander explain that Jesus was God’s “sacrificial lamb,” apparently to save us all.
As for the disparity in the different accounts of the Resurrection in the different gospels of the Bible (Bakewell asks him tough questions), Alexander replies, “The accounts we have of the Resurrection are exactly what you’d expect of eyewitness accounts. And I would myself be very suspicious if they were very coherent, and matched up, and so on. . ” And then he claims that these accounts are not contradictory. It’s a Biblical Rashomon!
At the end, he’s asked whether he thinks that Christianity is the one true faith, and after a bit of waffling about the Abrahamic faiths, he basically says yes, because they have Jebus, and there’s “honest disagreement” with faiths like Islam.
Make your own judgment; I find it remarkable that a trained scientist can find so much hard evidence in a book that by his own admission is largely metaphorical. As always, Genesis is a metaphor but the story of Jesus and his resurrection is non-negotiable truth.