Creationism – Postscript
Thank you to the people who wrote comments to me following the Creationist blog post I wrote last week. I have not yet read through the links etc that you sent to me. By God’s grace I will definitely do this, and soon, that is within this week. However I must state that I am the kind of person to aggressively pursue viewpoints that are different from mine, so that I can rigorously examine my own opinions. I have been doing that regarding creationism/evolution for the past few years, so I believe that I would have come across most arguments/”evidence” for evolution, and I don’t believe that I will now find anything drastically new to radically alter my mindset. However, all the same I will read the information contained in the links.
Because the topic of evolution/creationism is so controversial even among Christians, I don’t necessarily want to keep “going on about it”. However these thoughts occurred to me just last night, (as my mind stubbornly remained awake as I was trying to go to sleep!) I think that in a way these particular thoughts answer better the reason why I choose to believe the way that I do. I know that in this I probably differ from many other Christians, and in fact I probably differ from many other Creationists!
What I believe:
Firstly God is big! My goodness, He is immense. We know that relative to us the universe is unspeakably expansive. And yet relative to God the whole universe is tiny. The book of Isaiah says (Isaiah 40v15,17) “Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales…All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless”. Here the Bible is speaking specifically about the world, that is Planet Earth, but I think that the point would hold for the whole universe! My mind cannot even comprehend how great the universe is. For us humans, looking out onto the universe, even the universe itself is so far beyond our understanding that we struggle to imagine how anything or anyone could possibly be bigger, or at least I do. And then to think that God is staggeringly greater even than the universe, is beyond my own understanding, frankly. Imagine, for instance, if our world were the size of an atom, and the whole universe were the size of our world – and then God Himself were the size of the universe – except that God is greater than that! Even if we were to raise whole universes to the power of universes – God would be greater than that! (This is supposed to be an analogy – I’m not sure what the size of our world relative to the universe is – I know, I know, I could find out quite easily! However I do know that God’s size cannot be compared to the size of the universe or indeed to anything else.)
God created science.
To repeat the point I first made in the God versus Science post, God created science. That is, He created the rules themselves by which the universe operates. And then He also gave us people the intelligence to examine these rules and to understand the way that they work. This is part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Even animals (who are not made in the image of God) will have a basic understanding of wet and dry, and cold and hot, of up and down, but they clearly have not been able to gain understanding of the rules of science or exploit them in a way that even the most uneducated or primitive of human beings would be able to do.
So then science is a creation of God, like any other of His creations, except that these rules are the tools by which He created the world. The idea that God could be threatened by science is as ludicrous as the idea that I could be threatened by one of my own blog posts which I have written, which I completely control, which I could lightly edit, completely rewrite, or even delete, quite as I wish. The same way that God is unspeakably greater even than the universe is the same way that God is unspeakably greater, even than science. He could completely delete the rules themselves of science, He could rewrite them or He could even delete the rules of science and/or the entire universe itself, just like that.
For us, while we are made in the image of God, we are not bigger than science! We cannot rewrite or delete any scientific rules just like that. Our lives are totally subject to the laws of science. Because God has written the rules of the universe so that our lives are constrained by scientific rules, and because the universe that God has created, that is ordered by science, is so immense, it is easy for us to look at the rules of science and think that they must be all-powerful. Just as it is hard for us to imagine that there could be anyone who is bigger than the universe, much less unspeakably bigger, so it is hard for us to imagine that there could be a power that is greater than science, much less unspeakably greater.
Because God is the all powerful Creator of the world and the universe and science, God and science are not in any way striving for dominion over the created world. The star and the central power of history, creation, and the universe is not science, rather it is God!
God can do anything!
God could work within the rules of science, or He could just utterly reject the rules of science. This is true now, and this was true when He was creating the world. He could have made all the leaves of the trees to be red, or all the waves to be molten gold – even solid gold. He could have made it so that human beings breathe wood, or that we eat diamonds. He could have done this by twisting the existing rules of science, or He could have done it by discarding science altogether. He could have layered the world, so that one layer would be science, then the next fantasy, then one layer of science, then the next fantasy…. He can do anything! This is what it means to be God – He is completely all powerful. Not just within the current rules of science but also outside the limits of science too. The Bible says in Ephesians 3.20 that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask – or even imagine! No matter what convoluted fantasies my mind or yours could possibly make up – God can do immeasurably more than all of them! The same Isaiah passage goes on to ask (Isaiah 40v18) “To whom then will you liken God?…” I believe you could also ask – “or to what will you liken God?” – To science, one of His own creations, which is miniscule compared to Him? Nope, I don’t think so!
So regarding creationism versus evolutionary theory, this then is the point. Because God is all powerful, and He could have made the world in any way that He so pleased, then yes, He certainly had the power to make the world in the way outlined by evolutionary / accepted scientific theory. If He had wanted to, then He could have created the universe with an explosive big bang, then used evolution to create animals and human life over a timescale of billions of years. He perfectly had the power to do that. If He wanted to destroy our existing world, and recreate it according to those terms, then yes, He has the power to do that. However the Bible does not say that this is how He created the world! The Bible says that He created the world in six days! If science is offering its account of how the world was created, and the all-powerful, unfathomably huge, all glorious, unspeakably great Maker of the entire universe is giving His own account, then I am going to go with God’s account. Period! If God Himself is telling me that this is what He has done then I simply don’t care who or what may be giving an alternative viewpoint. This is how I say I may be different from other Creationists. It could be that God bent and twisted a whole load of scientific rules, turned them around and tied a big fat bow in them, so that reading scientific results gives a false understanding. An easy example of this: scientists tell us that the universe must be so many billions of years old, because light travels the distance of a lightyear in the space of year, and the furthest visible stars are billions of lightyears away. So for their light to have already reached us, that light must have been released billions of years ago. But no, not if God created a fully functional universe so that the light of the stars was already shining down on the earth. Isaiah says again (40v22): “He stretches out the heavens like a curtain”. Similarly, mountains and other geological features which science tells us must have taken millions – or billions of years to form, He could have created them fully formed, just like He created the first human beings and other animals as fully-grown adults.
On the other hand it could also be that there are holes in our current scientific understanding, which will be slowly filled in over time, so that scientific thought eventually comes to correspond with Biblical teachings. Either way, it does not concern me in the slightest. I’m going to go with what God says.
Many Christians who are sympathetic to evolutionary/accepted scientific theory choose to regard the teachings of Genesis as allegory. That is, not as literal truth but perhaps as parable. My first problem with this is that to me it appears to be an attempt to contort the teachings of the Bible to make them conform with science. However in my opinion the Bible does not need to conform to science for the simple reason that God is bigger than science! So God can do things that science says are impossible! There are so many things in the Bible which are clearly outrageous under scientific understanding. And they would have been equally outrageous to the people of the Bible! I was recently reading the story of Balaam and the donkey, Numbers 22v21-35 where God caused a donkey to physically open (her) mouth, and start speaking. Are we going to suggest that the people of Bible times did not know that it was utterly implausible for an animal to speak? Obviously they knew that. This as with so many other things in the Bible was a miracle. It does not need to be explicable by science because it was performed by a God who was and remains bigger than science.
My second problem with the allegory interpretation of Genesis is the question of where the allegory starts, and where it ends. For instance the Bible teaches us that the very first people used to live for hundreds of years. After the miraculous flood human lifespans gradually dropped to approach what we would consider normal today. However, even people who are regarded as real by all Christians, who lived many generations after the flood, like Abraham, still had lifespans which we would consider extended. Abraham lived to be 175 years old. Is this also an allegory? And the Bible relates the whole thing as one continuous story. So what point are you going to pick to say “Yes, this is where the allegory ends, and this is where the literal truth starts?” That said, a convincing explanation for all this might be in the links that people have sent me, so I will read them.
Finally, and possibly most conclusively, much of Christian understanding is linked directly to the events of Genesis. The Bible teaches us that sin and death came into the whole world as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. However, if dinosaurs lived and died millions of years before humanity evolved, then death would already have been existing before humanity. Also, if Adam and Eve were not literal people, then how can we conclusively say that all human beings are actually of the same race (as the Bible says – Acts 17v26: From one man He made all nations of men…) and how can you say that we have all inherited the same sinful nature from our parents if we don’t all actually have the same parents and if the Garden of Eden incident did not actually happen? How then did sin enter the world? How then did we lose our initial connection with God? These are interesting questions for which I will be expecting interesting answers.
You will never find God through science! Because God will always be outside science.
Sometimes people say about the people of the Bible “Well we know more about science than they did!” Yes, this is true, we do know more about science than they did. However we don’t know everything. But even if we did know absolutely everything about science God would still be immeasurably greater, God would still be far beyond the reach of science. God is not subject to scientific rules, so we will never be able to find Him by scientific experiments – NEVER! This is why science will NEVER be able to lead us to God. So the way for us to get into contact with God would be exactly the same as it was for the people of the Bible – God Himself would have to make contact with us. He would have to come down to us – and that is what He has done in the Bible. This is why the Bible is valid for all time, regardless of lesser or greater scientific understanding, even if they knew absolutely nothing then, even if we to consider ourselves to know absolutely everything now – the same Bible is still relevant.
Why Creationism will not make it into science textbooks
This is why Creationism will NEVER make it into mainstream science textbooks – because you have to believe first. Because you have to choose first to believe that God is real and then you fit what you see of science into what you believe of God, and you have to leave lots of room for the supernatural power of God. I look around at this world, and I know that there simply must be a God. I’m very happy to believe first. I am very happy to discard all of scientific understanding, if need be, in favour of the power of God.
Science works in the other way. First you have to believe that everything on earth is explicable by science, so that even if God is real His actions have to be in line with what is scientifically measurable and determinable. However, if God is bigger than science then His actions do not have to correspond to what is scientifically provable, do they?
I know that there are lots of my friends who are Christians, who will have been working so hard to convince their scientifically minded friends that Christianity is not incompatible with science. And I do apologise because what I am saying is different. That is, if there is, or appears to be a conflict between God and science, then science will have to be the one to make way.
Anyway, as I say I will read through these links, and if they throw light on any of these questions I will write a blog post to reflect my new understanding 😉
12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Image of Tree by Hattex on Pixabay
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