When I was a young person, brought up in a conservative christian environment, I was taught to believe that I had to choose between ignoring science or believing the Bible. Either God created the world in 7 days or that evolution happened as per Darwin. I now think that this is a false dichotomy and harmful to those of us who have faith.
Let me state quite clearly that I believe that God created us, and the whole universe in which we live. But I do not, and cannot, shut my mind to what science has discovered and acknowledge that evolution best describes the HOW of creation but has no answers as to the WHY.
Firstly let us recognise that God is not limited by time. Whether we were created in 13 billion years or 7 days is not relevant and yet the issue has set conservative Christians against scientists for several generations. For me the issue is HOW? What is the process? Creationists think of things coming into being immediately. Science says things took enormous periods of time. But if God is outside of time, what’s the difference?
In the beginning
The writer of the book of Genesis had a revelation and penned one of the most profound statements ever made and this forms the very first verse of the Bible.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”Genesis 1:1 NIV
What follows is a parable which describes how he thought the process may have been sequenced. I think that God reveals certain truths about himself but has given to mankind the ability to ask questions and to find out for ourselves the wonders of the created universe. The story in Genesis was not meant to be taken literally but does describe how God took charge of the creative processes involved.
And God saw that it was good.
“And God saw that it was good.”Genesis 1: 3,9,14,17,21,24,31 NIV
What is clear from the Genesis story is that the creation was an on-going process under God’s creative control and at each stage God was pleased with what he created (even us!). (This is in great contrast with other ancient stories which involved gods murdering other gods and the conclusion that the result was bad and evil.)
As I said before, God gave us the ability to ask questions and to discover the secrets of the universe. But our understanding is a process and is on-going.
- People used to think the world was flat until we discovered it was spherical. (Well almost!)
- We were once firmly convinced that the sun, moon and planets revolved around the earth until Galileo upset the religious world with his discovery that the earth was not the centre of the universe,
- Newton described laws of motion which were qualified by Einstein’s theory of relativity.
- Darwin discovered biological processes which controlled the gradual evolution from species to more advanced species. In the future these processes will no doubt be better understood and refined.
Science can answer the how, the what and the when but it cannot tell us why. So for me evolution can describe how the every living thing came into being – but does not take anything away from the fact God creates, and continues to be creative.
So do I believe in evolution or creation? The answer is YES. I believe that God created everything and is still active creatively, and I accept the findings of science described as evolution which describes the process until it is refined by future discoveries.