“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth ” – these thrilling and dynamic words open the Christian bible and set the universe and the world in motion. For centuries scholars have analyzed and debated the meaning and methodologies surrounding God’s creation. The first chapter of Genesis presents God’s creative acts to form first the universe and then the earth, its atmospheres, vegetation, creatures and finally man. It is a seven event process described by Moses as “days” and yet our modern day calendar begins with the creation of Adam on the “sixth biblical day ” as day one of our modern calendar. Could it be that God’s creative acts prior to the arrival of man cover a wider span of time than those “days” following the arrival of man? Our most learned scholars and scientist argue and are convinced that “Cosmic time” – God’s time frame is very different from our earthly time scale. It is amazing to read how scientists have learned about the universe, galaxies, planets and trillions of stars. In the last few decades science has progressed into interplanetary travel to prove we know how to compute distances between certain planets, their ages and accurate measurements of temperatures existing on stars located “light years” away from the earth. A light year is the distance light travels in one year at 186,000 miles per second.
As we enjoy and trust all of the marvelous scientific discoveries of a modern age – electricity, nuclear energy, jet propulsion and life saving medicines, to name a few, would it not seem reasonable to trust the research, analysis and conclusions of our best scientific minds on matters of cosmic time frames? And the thrilling part of it all is God created and allowed modern science to evolve and become known in his wonderful world. Should we not believe it’s “Science and God” rather than “Science or God?”
For centuries the best religious minds and the best scientific minds have been bitterly at odds over interpretations of God’s purpose and deeper meanings behind the Genesis report of “beginnings”. It would seem almost impossible to reconcile a historical religious faith with developing scientific facts. One is a statement of belief based on traditional biblical interpretation and the other is about the discovery of new scientific facts. It would help if both sides were more open and flexible in examining the changing pools of scientific information while still holding firmly to an unswerving belief that God did create the heavens and the earth! Science is not about understanding God’s purposes while religion is not about knowledge gained from the natural sciences – biology, geology, cosmology , chemistry, anthropology and archeology. And yet God has blessed us with all of these marvelous abilities to understand and “subdue” his world.
History of Science
We need to be reminded that for centuries the best religious minds believed that the earth was the center of the universe. Then along came a Polish scientist Nicholas Copernicus who proved that the earth revolved around the sun and was not the center of the solar system. While the most knowledgeable minds knew Copernicus was correct, the church held tight to its original position for centuries before finally changing. On the other side, science for centuries inherited a bad reputation because many of the earlier scientist were atheists who refused to acknowledge the existence of any God in the processes of creation. There are still a few scientists who do not believe in God.
But progress toward reconciliation has been made particularly in the last fifty years. More and more scientists have joined the ranks of Christians who have always believed through faith that God created all things.
In the mid 1800’s a famous English scientists Charles Darwin presented his “Theory of Evolution” through several well read books that essentially postulate that life evolved by random chance and a process of natural selection. The scientific community was turned upside down for over one hundred years as many scientists joined the ranks of Darwinism. However, as more and more fossils were uncovered all over the world, it has finally been concluded by the majority of modern scientists that the fossil record supports a continuous and transitional evolution of fish to reptiles to birds to animals to mammals to humans.
Creationist and Time
It has been proven and accepted by the vast majority of the formal scientific community that the physical earth is very old. Not only do we have the original geological “Carbon Dating” but many more sophisticated methods to prove that the physical universe and later the earth are billions of years old. However, this matter of “Dating” has proved to be one of the greatest sources of disagreement and debate between many religious groups and the scientific community. There is a substantial group of Christian believers known collectively as Creationist that insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis and a belief that the earth was created in six – twenty four hour days. They strongly believe that all of the vast geological upheavals were caused by the deluge flood described by the story of Noah and his Ark. They are well organized and supported by a number of educated scientists who have concluded that the earth was created in six days and have then proceeded to seek out scientific evidence to support their claims. Unfortunately, they form a closed organization that always agrees on the same conclusion no matter the scientific evidence.
How Real Science Works
Contrary to the Creationist the vast majority of the true scientific community work a little differently. True natural scientists perform research, accumulate data, draw conclusions and present their findings to open forums of their peers world wide who examine the research, data and conclusions and analyze and debate the cases one by one. From these open forums come new ideas, agreements and disagreements that produces additional questions and more refined research. It is through the openness and scrutiny of the full scientific community that most scientific truths are formulated. Scientific creationist do not participate in professional forums in the evaluation of research performed by members of the universal scientific community. They feel that they are always right and their conclusions are not open to debate or scrutiny. They are well meaning religious fundamentalist disguised as scientists. Their hearts and minds are sincere but their vision appears to be limited. To them any interpretation of scripture other than a literal interpretation is blasphemy. How sad is this conclusion.
The bible has been analyzed and reinterpreted down through the ages by the best minds of each era. Taken literally, the Bible contains many inconsistent or contradiction of facts. And yet the revelation of God’s Word has served every generation very well even as new revelations are disclosed by God. Surely, God has not finished revealing his wisdom and plan for the whole world. And surely, each new revelation shall strengthen our faith in God not diminish it!
One of the greatest testimonies for an old world is the Grand Canyon. Geologist have plotted sedimentary formations hundreds of feet thick with ages that far exceed any possibility that this magnificent structure could have ever been created by a single flood or even several floods. A careful study of the geology of this area reveals multiple strata each of which are estimated to be millions of years in age. One can theorize or speculate about certain fossils disclosed in soil and rock formations several billions years in age but geological data (physical finds) produce facts not theories or speculations.
While the fossil records are very “gap ridden” – (fossils are missing from certain geological ages), the record clearly shows from thousands of fossils collected from hundreds of digs across the world that life suddenly exploded on to the geological scene about 500 million years ago. It would seem that God chose to introduce all kinds of vegetation, animals and even upright creatures on to this earth within one geological time period. In terms of geological time, where the universe is estimated to be 14 billion years old and the earth about 3 billion years old, this happened relatively late in geological time. The case for a supreme architect is strengthened by this and many more later events.
The Emergence of Hominids
Even later, say one million years ago, fossils of upright creatures have been unearthed – many being found in east Africa. Many archeologists have spent their entire lives unearthing, evaluating and dating these finds. In Europe similar upright creatures, typically named “Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal Man” have been discovered that lived several hundred thousand years ago. The evidence of human like traits such as gathering in tribes (groups), the making of stone tools and weapons, caring for families, burying their dead and paintings on the walls of caves suggests these creatures (generally known as hominids) lived almost as humans. These are facts not theories.
Now some may try to explain away the facts disclosed by artifacts and fossils. They may argue that God planted these fossils, relics and paintings in the world for some reason. Well, anything is possible with God. However, such an act would imply God would be seeking to deceive man. Can any true Christian believe our God of love and redemption would try to deceive? This is not my God. How about you?
But maybe they were not yet human – for to be fully human requires one to have a spirituality – a soul – a sense of responsibility that only human beings possess. The Hebrews called it the “neshama”. Until God breathed the “neshama” into his created creatures – fully developed humans did not exist. Since we generally assume symbolic Adam was a full grown young man from his creation, could it be that he had attained the age of accountability – twenty one when God made him into a full human being? Could it be possible that prior to this divine act, Adam was only a well-evolved hominid? This rationale is totally compatible with the biblical account of Adam’s creation, which was estimated to have occurred between 4 and 5 thousand years before Christ.
The world is physically old but humanity is relatively young. There are still many unanswered questions and mysteries regarding God’s creation. But there is no reason why mankind cannot believe in God, his revelations as written in the Bible and still probe further into the unknown in an effort to discover more and strengthen our faith at the same time.
Thanks again for taking time to read my blog. I appreciate your comments.