I’ve posted a couple of articles on Old Testament exegesis recently. But while disciplined and systematic study of the Biblical text is vitally important, I’m always conscious of the dangers of it becoming just an intellectual exercise. That’s one of the reasons this blog is called Head Heart Hand. It is to emphasize that while God usually begins by addressing the head, what is understood with the head must impact our hearts (our emotions, feelings, desires, etc), and ultimately be outworked in practical ways in our lives (our “hands”).

I was reminded of this when I read Learn from Darwin by Jon Bloom at Desiring God Ministries. Jon explains how though the young Charles Darwin considered entering the ministry, he eventually turned to the study of beetles, plants and rock formations.

He spent the rest of his life intensely observing things, reducing them to their component parts and theorizing where they came from and why they behaved as they did…


…all that time in his laboratory abstracting theories from facts had conditioned his mind to analyze to such a degree that he could no longer enjoy beauty just for what it was.

Darwin himself mourned that, “The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

John Bloom concludes, “Too much dissection robbed him of delight.”

Let’s beware of that result when exegeting Scripture, and make sure that all our dissection leads to delight.

  • Charlie Elberson

    This is SO powerful, David. I’ve always struggled with Darwin (and not because of evolution) but for the reasons you expressed so well. There’s a big difference between dissecting and discerning. Maybe it’s about motivation. We dissect something to know the extents and limits of our own ability to control it – like when a child takes apart a toy just to see if they can. In the end, it’s an empty gesture with the hollowness of heart that comes with it. But when we disassemble something in order to discern God’s hand – as we do when we do when we explore nature or unpack a rich Bible passage it becomes a glory-filled process of revelation, with the swelling fullness of heart that brings joy. I see no sin or disconnection from God in Darwin’s act of trying to discover the workings of living creation. But he stopped at merely depicting the mechanics of it without revealing the miraculous energy that fuels it. Turning one’s back on one’s Creator robs the world of joy.

  • David Murray

    Thanks for expanding this thought so helpfully, Charlie.