I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
And for a long time, I believed that God the Father had created heaven and earth in six literal days (for the Bible tells me so).
I believed that the world was about six thousand years old, that Adam and Eve were actual historical people, that the Grand Canyon was carved by a global flood, that every word of Genesis was not only true but also accurate in a modern scientific sort of way.
I also believed that anyone who thought otherwise was intentionally ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture (as well as the clear evidence of science) because they had a devious agenda to undermine the authority of God.
I still believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. But I simply don’t care about the Evolution vs. Creationism debate anymore.
I remember sitting in a Ken Ham conference when I was fifteen, maybe sixteen years old. In just a few sentences he’d expose the silliness of those dishonest Evolutionists. Leaping from Genesis to the dinosaurs to the Flood, he deftly dismantled the “theory” of Evolution. After all, it was just a theory – it had never been proven.
I’m twenty-seven years old and have a Bachelor of Science degree from a liberal arts university, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pass a 9th grade science test.
I couldn’t tell you the difference between the Jurassic Era and the Cretaceous Era. All I’ve ever learned of Evolution was the straw man caricatures set up to be cleverly defeated by Creationists. When I was supposedly studying science, I was actually learning pat answers to complex questions, and learning how to make scientific evidence fit a preexisting narrative gleaned from the first few chapters of the Bible.
In contrast to the Scientific Method, most of the “Creation Science” I was taught was founded on pre-existing bias – a literal reading of Genesis. Creationism couldn’t be reconsidered because it was the foundation of our religion, and our religion was the foundation of our entire identity.
There was even a diagram, of the Evolutionists shooting cannonballs at us from their castle of Humanism. We were in a castle built on a foundation of Creationism, and if that foundation crumbled we’d be exposed to the evils of abortion, gay marriage, and pornography.
The diagram made it clear: God’s Word was truth and was inseparable from Creation. Evolution was our enemy. Young Earth Creationism was the foundation upon which Christianity was built. If Creationism crumbled, we would fall into the sea.
The Creation vs. Evolution debate was painted as a battle between good and evil, truth and deception.
I was taught that most people who believed evolution were atheists intent on rationalizing away the existence of God so that they could live lives of immorality without any pesky guilt. The whole point of Evolution was to shrug off God’s rules and substitute “man’s rules”.
(Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that the majority of Americans who believe in human evolution believe it was a process guided by God.)
Interestingly, we’ve seen all this before
Like so many Creationists today, Reformation theologians were convinced that their understanding of Scripture was both doctrinally and scientifically sound. Unable to consider that their interpretations of the Bible might be wrong, they instead characterized new advances in science as a threat to the very authority of God:
“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens … This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.” -Martin Luther
“It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and to acquiesce in it… the earth can be nowhere if not in the centre of the universe.” –Philip Melanchthon, citing the clear teaching of Psalms and Ecclesiastes
“Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” -Abraham Calovius, Lutheran Theologian (c. 1650)
I can’t read those quotes now without hearing the words of Creationists, of that Ken Ham seminar when I was sixteen years old. Indeed, if you replace “Copernicus” with “Darwin”, any of those quotes could easily be found in the Creationist books I read growing up.
But unlike the castles in that cartoon version of Christianity, my faith is not built on a foundation of Young Earth Creationism.
Just like those who believed the earth was the center of the universe, we must be willing to face the reality that scientific advances may sometimes disrupt our understanding of Scripture. We then have two options: we can push our heads further into the sand and refuse to consider any data that challenges our interpretation of the Bible, or we can return to Scripture and consider that perhaps we were wrong.
We must beware of “thinking Biblically”. We must avoid characterizing our interpretation of Scripture as “God’s truth”, avoid suggesting that any disagreement is an assault on Scripture itself.
Those who truly have a high view of Scripture understand nuance and context and genre. They recognize where the Bible doesn’t attempt to answer all our questions; they don’t force it to speak to issues where it is silent. A high view of Scripture respects the grand narrative of redemption – it doesn’t demand that ancient poetry be debated and dissected to fit a modern scientific interpretation.
Perhaps God spoke the world into existence in one short week just a few thousand years ago. Or perhaps his strong hands gently guided processes of Evolution over millions of years. I don’t know. I don’t believe the answer to that question is in Genesis. Like the revolution of the earth around the sun, I don’t believe it’s a question that the Bible seeks to answer.
Rather, Genesis shows that God, by his very nature, is Creator. That He is there before the beginning of the Story. That without God, we wouldn’t have any of this. In the beginning God created, whether the beginning was a few thousand years ago or a hundred billion years ago.
I still believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And now, that’s enough for me.
[ image: PublicResourceOrg ]
published February 4, 2014
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