Creation / Evolution 1: Why it matters

This is the first part on my mini-series Creation, Evolution and Evangelicalism.

I thought I’d start off by answering the question, “Why does it matter?” Why should we bother discussing issues of evolution – is there any difference in whether you believe in a literal 6-day creation or evolution? Well, in some ways I think the answer is “no”, in that – I don’t think it’s a salvation issue. On the other hand, I do believe it is a huge apologetic issue.

If people’s perception of Christianity is that it is at odds with science – that’s going to work as a huge barrier to many people from entering into the faith. My science / faith view is that the book of God’s word and the book of God’s works are never in conflict: God created or wrote both the Bible and nature. This is how science originally started – the early ‘natural philosophers’ believed that by doing experiments and finding out how the world worked, they were finding out about the mind of God, so to speak: a Christian worldview underpins the modern scientific endeavour.

So, I believe primarily the issue with creation and evolution is one of evangelism: it is not our job to make the gospel more offensive. If the Bible is not in conflict with science, we shouldn’t teach that it is. I could be overstating the case here, but it is my belief that people only hear “science has disproved religion” in the media so often because the creationist movement has set it up that way.

Of course, it’s not just a matter of apologetics, it’s a matter of truth. Perhaps I should have put this first, but still! 6-day creationism and evolution cannot both be true. If we’re getting the teaching of the Bible’s creation narratives a bit wrong, then it’s actually our duty as Christians to fix that and get it right.

So I hope this lays out why I believe it’s an important debate to have, and why it matters what we believe. In my next post (a teaser? On this blog? Surely not!) I will examine the reasons why I believe 6-day creationism to be false. Stay tuned. (Or, subscribe to this blog. Or, check back soon. Staying ‘tuned’ to a blog probably isn’t really a good metaphor.)


8 responses to “Creation / Evolution 1: Why it matters”

  1. One of my favorite parts of Inherit the Wind was when they point out that bible says the sun was created on the 4th day. If you have no way of timekeeping, the first day could have been any length at all, not just a 24 hour day.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes, that’s right, it seems strange to me to insist that Genesis 1 be taken literally when I don’t think it makes sense to be taken literally!

      Still, there we go. I hope to engage with a few more of these kinds of issues in a subsequent post.

  2. It is often noted, and I agree, that the first few chapters of Genesis are some of the most talked about chapters in the Bible and yet are some of most poorly understood by Christians. The text is really not known, most Christians know the big ideas that come from Genesis but have really never set down to really meditate on those passages much less asked themselves questions about original audience and looked at the original Hebrew words. The fact that 2000 years of exegesis of this passage has resulted in many theologians that have scratched their heads and said it is very difficult should cause us to pause before proclaiming that it can be so easily understood today. Time and time again I find that when Christians make a good faith effort to read/examine these texts they become far less dogmatic about questions like the age of the earth and even evolution to some extent.

    1. Thanks for your helpful comment. I agree that it’s not a passage that can be taken simplistically! I think the Answers in Genesis line of “the natural reading of the passage is…” just doesn’t work.

  3. the word of me avatar
    the word of me

    Compare the book of Genesis with what we know to be true in science…

    From all the archaeological finds of the last 100 years, and the findings of DNA science in the last 15 or 20 years, we now understand that there was no Adam and Eve as described in the book of Genesis. In fact we know that modern man descended from pre-humans about 200,000 years ago and on the African continent.

    We have literally hundreds of thousands of skeletons, bones, artifacts, pottery, cave paintings, DNA evidence, etc. testifying to humans very long habitation of the earth. At no point in our human history is there any indication of magic or supernatural events happening.

    The whole of the book of Genesis is demonstrably a work of fiction…none of the things or events happened. Christians need to look elsewhere for their creation science, real science has dis-proven the Bible myths

    1. You seem to have missed the point of my post.

      I’m arguing that science and Genesis need not be in conflict, even given the archaeological evidence. In fact, as I understand it there’s plenty of evidence to back up the Bible’s version of history (e.g. you can go to the British Museum and see the Edict of Cyrus).

      Your statement “the whole book of Genesis is demonstrably a work of fiction” is patently false.

  4. the word of me avatar
    the word of me

    Hello Phill, good to ‘talk’ with you.

    I’m very sorry I didn’t understand your point…I thought I did, as I am arguing that science and Genesis in fact do conflict with each other.

    Genesis describes the beginning of the earth, humans, and the universe and we know that that description is wrong in many ways. Science says that the earth was created (by natural forces) around 4.5 billion years ago (in a universe that was already 10+- billion years old) and life on earth began around 2.5 billion years ago. Humans (modern Homo-sapiens) came along 200,000 +- years ago.

    We already know that we interbred successfully with Neanderthals and consequently carry some of their DNA today, so I’m thinking (as are some scientists) that we are definitely related to the pre-humans that were roaming around Africa a few million years ago…the Neanderthals were, why not us?

    So, what I think the science is telling us is the very beginning of Genesis is dead wrong. The earth and the universe and mankind were created at widely different times. All life on earth has a common ancestor. You cannot use the ‘day-age’ theory wherein 1 day in ‘creation time’ equals thousands or millions of years because of the plants vs. sun dichotomy and the day of rest part demanding a regular 24 hour ‘day’.

    Now I do know that Christian apologists have taken these diverse parts (Bible & science) and squished and mangled things so there is a ‘kinda’ almost fit…but, I believe that the science stands on its own in describing the beginning of things and the Biblical story is just a foundational myth, a story told around the campfire many many years ago.

    This is just a small part of what is known to be false about the Genesis story from the Bible. I am hesitant to go further and fall outside your original guidelines of what you wanted to investigate in this post.

    The 4 or 5 main myths of Genesis are falsifiable by the sciences that pertain to the stories.

    Exodus as well. 🙂

    1. Hi

      I think you did misunderstand my post, because my argument was (or at least, will be) you don’t need to understand Genesis in the literal way in which you describe. Well, not the creation narrative at least.

      You are basically using the Bible in the same way that some ‘fundamentalist’ Christians would use it, then saying: “Well, that didn’t happen, therefore it’s clearly wrong.” I think that usage of the Bible is invalid, hence your point does not stand. In other words, as I see it your theology is all wrong. You’ve set up a straw man and have argued against it.

      In terms of archaeological evidence, you are right that I don’t want to investigate that here. Suffice it to say that I’ve not seen any major evidence which contradicts events in the Bible. e.g., I once watched a debate where Christopher Hitchens claimed that archaeological evidence had totally disproved the Israelites being at Mount Sinai. I was curious, so I Googled it, and all I could find was a couple of Jewish archaelogists saying it might well have happened in a certain timeframe.

      There is so much evidence which *does* support the Bible I think it’s totally invalid to claim that archaeology has disproved it.

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