As a preface to this post, please read this one, to understand the position I’m writing from…
Our TA who marked my paper (and gave me an 88%!) said I did a good job researching other people’s opinions, but wasn’t clear enough on what I thought. I actually think I barely scratched the surface of all the different opinions, both educated and not-so-much, on the topic. And to be honest, all the talk bores me — my opinion is simple: God created the world. Moses wrote down his best understanding of how that happened, which both God and tradition revealed to him. His purpose in writing was to set the appropriate outlook and expectations for God’s people. I suspect that creation took longer than 6 literal days — although I believe that if God wanted to do it in 6, He could have. I suspect that God didn’t reveal the story to us literally because God loves science — He desires for His kids to learn about Him through the study of His creative power. And I see importance to the debate in the differentiation between creation (bara) and formation. Only Elohim can create matter from nothing — even ardent evolutionists are at a loss to explain matter where there was none before. Formation, on the other hand, is observable throughout the created world — even today.
I’m not an evolutionist. Human beings are more than the sum of their parts, so I accept a “special creation” or at least special formation, when it comes to human beings. How God did that, or how He formed the rest of the universe? Well, I’ll leave that pursuit to those smarter than me. I suspect God wants to communicate with them on a level I am ill-equipped to perceive. Here’s my summary. You can read the rest of the paper here.
Why were the initial Christian reactions to Darwin’s theory received without prejudice, and even welcomed by some, when now they are maligned as affronts to our religious beliefs? Have we as Christians grown tired of revising our understanding of the Bible, and in the face of scientific progress become stubborn and superstitious? Or has Neo-Darwinism’s scorn for theology backed Christianity into a defensive and reactive position? Are we any different than the church who forced Copernicus into hiding for his theory of heliocentricity? Or is a literal 6 days the final line we must hold in order to defend the inspiration and value of the Bible?
The reality is God directed Moses to write about 6 days, and to describe the creation of mankind in His image. How God did those things, or how long He took to do it is a mystery we’re invited to explore – as He gave us all of creation to explore. “Scriptural statements are not bound by rules as strict as natural events, and God is not less excellently revealed in these events than in the sacred propositions of the Bible.” (Galileo, 1957) and in fact it is in the very exploration of God’s creation (and creative method) that intelligent people find God !
We can’t know, or pretend to know, or argue vehemently that we know how God created the universe when we weren’t there, and He didn’t spell it out for us scientifically. Even the most likely author of the book of Genesis wasn’t present when it happened. What we can know is bara Élohim – God created. Not just formed, but created. And because He made us like Him, we’re allowed to ask “how?”