Graham – I know as Christians we’re encouraged to believe what the bible tells us about the formation of the world, even though it often flies in the face of modern science and research. Thousands of years ago, most people were illiterate as well as superstitious, not to mention how many revered their religious or pagan leaders – and even witches!
During the seven days of Creation, God made light, the sky, dry land and plants, water, sky and land animals and people. On the seventh day he rested. It was God’s act of bringing the universe into being.
I understand that the purpose of Creation was to provide a place for the sons and daughters of God to dwell in mortality and prove themselves worthy, through keeping the Ten Commandments, to return to the presence of God when they die.
I also understand that there is a strong argument put forward by scientists and non-believers that the world was formed through evolution based on facts learned through experiments and observations.
Therefore, Creation and Evolution is a very real dichotomy for many people which leads to conflict in belief. Thanks Pixabay
Graham – I know that many of the most famous and influential Christian scholars and leaders from the last 150 years, including C. S. Lewis and Billy Graham, also believed that evolution was compatible with the Christian faith. Are you able to explain how these two completely different approaches can work together to make sense of how the world was born? Is Christianity not just having faith that what the bible tells us is true, even though there are very few documents or fact-based evidence to prove this? I know this is one of the toughest questions in the world to answer but I would really like to know your perspective on this from a theological viewpoint.
Rev Graham replies:
In the Beginning
Thank you, Carol, for asking me one of the toughest questions in the world to answer!!! In a very simple reply, from a theological point of view, Creation cannot be proved or disapproved. As we grow and seek to understand the world we live in, each one of us will endeavour to find some form of starting point which enables us to conclude how we have come into existence, who we are accountable to and if that includes a God or divine who rules and sustains the earth, what sort of relationship do we cultivate with such a God or no god?
Every society which has and does exist on earth has some form of Creation story or a view as to how life and the earth was formed and how it is sustained. As a Christian, we find two separate accounts with their own distinct purpose. 1) In Genesis 1 – 2 v1-4a it gives thanks to God for his specific ordering of Creation in the space of seven days which included a day of rest for God. 2) In the second account from Genesis 2: 4b – 25 it differs from the first account giving greater attention to the place of humanity within Creation and how God wants them to care for His world. God sets limits upon human freedom which is broken in Genesis 3 and causes a breach in the relationship between the Creator and the Created. It is only in and through the life of Jesus Christ that we are able to experience reconciliation with God which brings a renewed and fully restored relationship here on earth and one day to be fully experienced in eternity.
The purpose and place of a Christian Creation story lies in the fact that the Creator wants a living relationship with its Created, who offers love and devotion, obedience, reverence and worship and shares such love and care for all within society and for Mother earth. Such a relationship gives to the believer a sense of order, identity, purpose and a living presence, which produces peace and understanding.
Science has its say
The theory of the Big Bang and other models outline the origins of the universe. The theory purports that around 13.8 billion years ago all the matter and energy we see around us in the universe was compacted into a dense, infinite and tiny ball known as a singularity. It expanded in time at a rapid rate and with lots of energy, until temperatures were low enough to allow the formation of sub-atomic particles and later simple atoms. Further in time gravity caused clouds of such elements to coalesce so forming the first stars and galaxies.
Through various core nuclear reactions the stars produced more complex elements and, if they died, the seed from them produced other stars such as our Sun which would produce its own solar system of planets from the debris that was within the wider cosmos. Such a model is not conclusive in itself but provides some coherent explanation of how the universe is today and has been in the past. As a Christian, we do not have to dismiss it outright but respect its findings although may disagree with its conclusions in regards to God as Creator.
Thanks Rostislav pexels.com
Science in general has not come to a clear and undisputed view on the origin of life on earth which is viewed as happening around 3.8 billion years ago. There is a general agreement that all living creatures at the present and those from the past have derived from single-celled organisms. No two organisms are the same or identical which allows for differences to take place and exist when faced with environmental changes such as the Ice Age Charles Darwin said in the mid-19th century that new species could emerge over time which have evolved during changes and pressure and known as ‘natural selection’ which is the basis for all the earth’s plant and animal forms. Darwin’s evolution is a process of descent with modification from a few species.
As such views became popular, it was normal in a way for many people to believe that the biblical Creation story should be dismissed as faith and science seemed to clash as supported by hard line Christians and atheists. It can be argued that the growth of modern science has grown from faith and encouraged many to explore more the structures and laws at work in the universe which can be likened to the quote by the German astronomer Johann Kepler ‘to think God’s thoughts after him’. But not all scientists would agree with such as sentiment. So much of what we take for granted today has come from the fruit of scientific research and development and in many ways shapes our thinking and inadvertently takes us away from the simplicity of God’s creative powers at work in sustaining and evolving life.
Choices to Live By
Throughout the ancient and modern world there has always been those who have no faith and those who have a deep faith. If we choose to believe that everyone and everything in the universe has been created by an Almighty God, then we have to consider what form of relationship and ethics we are expected to have and how that works in practice.
God has always required human obedience and a sense of sacrifice in giving up self-interest for the pursuit of God’s best and to offer worship, personal love and appreciation and a practical care for the earth and world community. Depending on one’s starting point, it will determine a person’s code of ethics for earthly living.
In such a personal relationship as outlined with scripture, we are able to find identity, self-worth and understanding. We know where we have come from and are able to enjoy life on earth and to be at peace, which follows into that time when we enter into God’s eternal presence.
Thanks Julie pexels.com
For those who favour scientific data and facts, there is no complete conclusion but it allows the person to be detached from a Creator and so be free to live an independent life with other human beings. If people choose not to acknowledge God as Creator and one who sustains the earth then, in a measure, they become their own god in that people have a freedom to act and think how they feel with or not with any cooperation of neighbours, friends and family around us. We are only accountable to our own views, opinions and actions.
The Evolving of Creation
At a popular level, many regard scientific truth as the only truth to be recognised because it has value and meaning and it has been observed, measured and tested. Such truth seems to be based on hard, visible data and facts compared with Holy Scripture, personal opinion or religious superstition. Such a conclusion follows that it is only the claims of truth that can be seen as valid, compared with the claims of religious faith which are estimated as invalid or even non-sensical.
Creation is a sovereign act of God who, before the very foundation of this world and out of nothing, created the current universe. In Christian praise and worship we often go to the Psalms such as Psalm 104 and other scriptures which help us to reflect upon the creative works of God. It does not give us a detailed scientific understanding of how life began but it conveys a story of a loving God having created a perfect paradise with animals and humans all living together in harmony.
As I conclude this very brief answer to your question, Carol, there is always the sense that the more we think about life and creation then there is a realisation that there is more that we do not know in relation to theory and fact. Knowledge over words produces a spirit of anti-faith and belief in any creator God past, present or future. God as Creator does not have to be fully understood but rather to be enjoyed in a living and personal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Philosophy seeks knowledge, compared with God’s word and wisdom which brings mystery and presence. Knowledge does not form a relationship. God has given us science and, as Christians, we have to give thanks for science. For many people there is a possibility that faith and science produce a Creation that evolves over time and the two bring us nearer to the source of all being and an appreciation of all the wonders of science and its inventions.
Thanks to Creation, Big Bang and Evolution Christianity.org
Is God relevant to our life and modern times?