8/11/2011 | Share this article:By Glenn ~
I am not a church member of any denomination. I write as an individual, based on nearly 50 years of research and experience as a former member of evangelical churches.
To write down every scripture in this essay would waste space and time (I think the reader may understand this). One tip to readers and any Bible student, is to read the whole context and come to their own intelligent conclusion.
This series of essays is a result of my mediations and prayers over many years; the reader may find them interesting, stimulating, hopefully not offensive, but above all honest. They are not unique ideas, intended to be dogmatic or a part of any known doctrine, and the reader is free to appreciate, disagree, argue or whatever. All I ask is the essays are read with an open mind just to consider that maybe there is something that will trigger change to acquire a deeper understand in the quiet and stillness of the mind.
“Is it for man who disputes with the Almighty to be stubborn? Should he who argues with God answer back?” Job 40:1
The ideas of Darwin and development of science are considered by many to have disproved the notion of God as a creator, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.
Many people are of the opinion that to believe in Evolution Theory is a basis of atheism; proclaiming that life spontaneously evolved without any divine origin or intervention and that Evolution Theory nullifies the Bible and assumes there is no God or divine plan.
A colleague of mine many years ago said that if evolution was part of God’s divine plan we would find it in the Bible somewhere, and that Christ would have known about this, but writers of the New Testament and the Gospels, made no allusion to it. He argued it was a plot from the devil to deceive people and gave humankind the licence to show blatant disregard of moral standards and respect of life. He quoted Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler as prime examples and a product of evolutionary ideas, murdering millions of people. He believes that Evolution Theory and many in the science community through the media, are engendering an attitude in young people that is disrespectful, rude, bad mannered, selfish and self-centred, with little or no regard for conscience. He believes:
- The increase in violent crime and murder was evidence of a Godless society.
- That belief in evolution gave people the licence to be immoral, dishonest and live with an air of irresponsibility.
- That evolution theory claims to disprove the existence of God, and therefore no one to answer to, so why bother, get what you can, honour the eleventh commandment (thou shallt not get caught), and get by best you can out of life.
Many Christians see evolution as a threat, a rival to God, and believe that evolution theory is the basis for atheism because some atheist scientists believe life beganspontaneously without the need a creator; and maintain that there is no need for the Bible or scripture, and that the Bible particularly has been produced by people over millenniums and misled millions, inspiring beliefs that have caused misery and loss of millions of lives.
I argue this is not the case.
I propose that Evolution Theory should not be an issue, and makes not an ounce of difference to the Divine Plan leading to the Christ. Nor does it diminish one’s faith or make void the overall message of the Bible; but the reverse is true. That God is a God of progressive revelation, and Evolution Theory and development is part of God’s plan. That one can be a Christian and accept Evolution Theory without compromising faith and hope in the Kingdom of God.
en, I have grown, changed, progressed ; but stange perhaps I now, more than ever, believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. But I have never personally really accepted that the Genesis account of the creation is intended to be a scientific description of creation, or that the Earth was created in six 24 hour long days. Genesis 2:4 in the creation account says: “these are the generations of the heavens and the Earth when they were created”; and Genesis chapter three Adam was told by God ‘in the day you eat you shall surely die’.
Adam lived for 930 years according to the Bible – so how long is a day? This, to me, suggests an indeterminate period of time, over thousands if not millions of years, eons of time, before humans appeared. I believed that God made human beings in His own image, who appeared about 6000 years ago as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and that they were a special creation of God. I believed that God created animals and plants ‘according to their various kinds’ (Gen 1:24), with the ability to produce, to procreate variations, ‘according to their kinds’. For example God made a pair of cats, and from this original cat, all variety of cats came as response to diet, environmental and climatic change; and over thousand of years a wide variation in size and shape arrived as the ‘cat’ species – lions, tigers, cheaters, jaguar, ocelot and others. The same for dogs, cattle, sheep and fish, grass, from the smallest variety from bamboo grass to bamboo trees. At the time this made sense. I did not consider this variation to be evolution, since cross breeding between kinds produced hybrids like a tiger and lion, from which we get a ligon or tigon, sheep and a goat, geep or shoat, which are usually sterile because they are hybrids and had reached the limit of their species.
At the time it seemed to make sense and was sufficient. I read Darwin’s Origin of the species but struggled to understand the mechanism of change, as did Darwin himself, without bringing in an intelligent designer (ID).
I had to read The Origin privately because I knew that my friends in the church would disapprove. I was half convinced but I felt I was betraying myself, God and my friends. Belonging to a religious-social group gives a large variety of friends, good, sincere people, so when we step out of line by looking at other ideas, saying ‘you know I think Darwin was OK and maybe he was partly right’- that would be dynamite! I would lose lifetime friends and others who would cold-shoulder me, so there was tendency to keep quiet.
At the time (1960s), I knew little or nothing of DNA, but saw new developments in science and their application as part of the revelation of God’s will and wonder of creation. By the early 70s I was married with children and mortgage and a student science teacher at university. My priorities had changed and I had less time to consider the creation/evolution debate, as I studied the Physical Sciences; but really I wanted to study Geology and the Life Sciences but shyed away from Evolution Theory, (childhood conditioning runs deep).
I could never really see what difference it would make anyway to believe in evolution; how did God make a sparrow for example? I don’t know, I just believed He did it, and the Bible does not say. Will we ever know the details? Will we ever understand fully? I feel now it is time redress the situation; being able to see both banks from the centre of the river; I believe I have a rare incite into the debate from both a religious and secular position.
I ask the reader to read this essay with an open mind. It is not intended to convert someone to another faith or persuade anyone from following their religious devotion.
I feel the time has come to address the religious and scientific dogma that has accrued much literature over many years which in my view fails to address the real issues. In this essay I ask the question: Why do some Christian individuals and groups feel so threatened by Evolution Theory?
‘A little science estranges a man from God; a lot of science brings him back.’ Sir Francis Bacon
The advocates of Evolution Theory
I see two kinds of evolutionsts:
- Evolutionists (sg) – spontaneous generation
- Evolutionist (c) - creationist
I stand in camp 2.
- Believers are ‘time happy’ and free with millions and billions of years, since this gives plenty of time for sg theory to happen, and it is essential to their belief. Comments like ‘give or take a few million years’, but it is difficult to argue with, since it is debated among scientists themselves about the age of the earth and life. An understanding of isotopes and radioactive half-life is necessary in order to understand how rocks are aged/dated. There may be developments in the future leading to more accurate dating; but this is a matter I will leave for another essay.
- I am still a creationist, but believe Darwin discovered the mode of creation; the general process of how creation happened. We respect science for all that it has done for modern world; development of medicines and modern appliances that make our life easier. But science is not always right and can be challenged.
The Bible itself, the word of God gives testament to time:
‘Before the mountains were born, from everlasting to everlasting though art God’(Psalm 90:2 )
Scientists are not the enemy. We owe a great deal to science and scientists who help us enfold the wonders of creation (Isa 40:12-18)
The Divine Plan to save and establish Humanity
The understanding of God, comes with time as humanity grows in knowledge and wisdom, ‘secret and hidden’.
“…yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak of God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our Glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But, as it is written: ‘what no eye has seen nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Cor 2:6 – 9)
Life is planned, ‘that which already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by’ (Ecc 3:15)
‘he sealeth up the hand of every man so every man may know his work’ (Job 37:7) (AV)
Humans will never understand everything. As far as we know only human beings can conceive time and see overall plans and developments; and history shows a relatively slow process, which is not easy to see at a glance: “He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecc 3:11)
If we go to an art gallery and see huge painting on the wall and go so close as touch it with our nose, we will see only brush strokes and some colours; if we then move a few inches way we will see more, but not much more; if we progressively move backwards we eventually see the whole picture, plants, animals, waterfalls, people, and it all starts to make sense, and we see the skill of the artist and what she is trying to convey. So it is with God’s Divine Plan – we need to look at the whole picture. As of now we can only see the course of history and how that plan has developed so far.
In order to explain phenomena scientists begin by building models; the models are not perfect, and very often change and sometimes completely abandoned, and re-made as they evolve. Understanding the structure of the atom is an example Thomson’s plum pudding model and the work of Neils Bohr in the 1940s all have contributed to a better model.
Christians do not have to accept without question the ages of bones, for instance, presented as being 65 million years old or more; but nevertheless, they are probably thousands of years old anyway. The ageing of fossil bones is still debatable even among scientists. Other evidence shows there has been a huge passage of time – mountain building for example, which is still in process today and will continue, because ‘the Earth abides forever’ (Ecc 1:4).
Use of the word evolve.
Evolve means develop, change. Plans evolve, businesses evolve; designs evolve, our relationship God evolves as we begin to understand Him through Scripture.Evolve means development and change, and change is the key to survival as we can se in the animal world – those animals that fail to evolve, or change, or adapt to the environment, go extinct. How many changes have been made to the Volks Wagon automobile since its introduction in 1936? Many; and its still around today! The design has evolved, changed, adapted. So why should not life evolve, change, devolop?
Intelligent Design (ID)
Computers have evolved from their early beginnings, as calculators (Charles Babbage early 19th century), to the present time, where we can all have a sophisticated machine in our homes, the desk and lap top, to communicate across the world. Computers are intelligent; whether they can be conscious and make moral decisions is another debate, but computers are now used widely in design. We can design and build a transport plane for example, and fly it; build buildings and bridges that are earthquake proof and test them using computer animations, without using materials, and wasting time in building experimental models; and computers produce more accurate results. Computers are an evidence of ID, but the eternal question ‘who made God?’ remains elusive, but who knows - science is getting there eventually.
1. When I was a young man in the 1960s, I confided in an elderly member of the Church Elder, and expressed, my doubts about the origin of life. We had just come out of church and listened to the pastor deliver a sermon about science and the Bible; saying how it can be shown that the Bible contains information that only modern science have recently discovered giving some fine examples. What puzzled me is how Christian special creationists (as I was back then), could cherry pick ideas that suited their belief from science, and ignore other relevant science-based facts that contradicted their belief. I have never really doubted the existence of God as a creator, but my confusion and conflict between what I believed and what modern science was saying, I was supposed to believe without question.
2. I asked what he thought about dinosaurs. I simply said that dinosaurs, ammonites and other prehistoric creatures must have existed, and long before humans appeared, and it was reasonable to believe that for one reason or another they had become extinct; that the fossil record was undeniable – bones and shells of ancient creatures were virtually everywhere. This was a forbidden subject and not many church members were prepared to discuss this. I was amazed by his answer as he confided in me. He said that these bones and dinosaur footprints must have been deliberately put there by the devil to mislead loyal and faithful Christians. I thought what a logistical nightmare of a job that would be, because some fossils are found thousands of feet up in mountains like the Andes. But since I believed the devil was a superhuman, fallen angel with great power, maybe it was easy for him and his angels to do this (The Devil and fallen Angels). He also said that before the great flood of Noah, people and animals ate fruit and vegetation, so before the flood there were no carnivores; but after the flood Noah was given permission by God to eat meat (Gen 9:2-5). He continued to say that carnivores like birds of prey all had to be upgraded, beaks and talons changed to eating meat. So I asked: ’then there must be fossils of eagles that do not have sharp beaks and talons, and their digestive processes and metabolism was changed too?’ His reply? ‘you’re pushing it son! You have a problem your faith!’ But it still did not make sense and I was far from satisfied.
3. The bones of dinosaurs are stone. A bone is made of living tissue whether it is mammalian or reptile or bird. So how is that the bones become stone/rock? Some dinosaurs were buried under the ground under layers of silt that became rock as it was laid down, layer on layer of silt and mud which became solid rock/cliffs. Under great pressure of the rocks there was little or no free oxygen and so the living tissues in the bones was not able to decay easily as they would normally as a process of oxidation. As time passed and bones cells broke down, the space was filled with molecules like silicates, which fitted into the space where the cells were. Eventually all the cells and organic material was replaced, leaving a perfect replica of the bone – a fossil; this process is called premineralisation1. OK, I thought, but how long would it take? Are all bones of Mammoths which went extinct about 10 000 years ago, fossils? No. but some of their bones are much older and still not fossils, so dinosaur fossils must hundreds of thousand, if not millions of years old. That is the way I reasoned. But I could not still relate this to my beliefs that the Earth took 42 000 years to create, over six periods of time each 7 thousand years (as my church believed). I wondered why the Bible record seemed to be a blank, and I was in conflict between the voice of my indoctrination and common sense, and puzzled as to so many of my Church friends were disturbed by the findings of science, and reluctant to discuss it.
1. Readers may be interested in reading the website about Premineralisation – the process of how bones and living things can be turned into rock; dinosaur bones may be not so oldhttp://creation.com/dinosaur-
4. Who are we, from a boxed and limited understanding, seeing only part of the picture, to tell God what He can do, and not do? “Is it for man who disputes with the Almighty to be stubborn? Should he who argues with God answer back?” (Job 40:1) Who are we to determine or know what God reveals, He ‘who veils understanding in secrecy?’(Job 38: 36; 2 Cor 3: 15 - 18): Who are we to say when or how that unveiling will take place?
5. For many Christians who accept the Bible as the word of God, and that Christ came to save us from our sins, strive to live a Godly life, that is sufficient for them. They may feel it is not necessary to go into details of what one believes precisely, or whether it is supported in scripture. Others are more demanding, scrutinizing the meaning of words in the original language of usually Hebrew and Koine Greek, the main languages in which the Bible was written. But often, passages of scripture seem to go neglected. One observation I have made over the years is that Christians tend to read more parts of the Bible than others. We all have our favourite passages and scriptures which we read more often than not: the Psalms, the Gospels, maybe Isaiah and Proverbs occasionally, and rarely quoted passages are maybe taken from the book of Job, which is not so easy to read, full of metaphor and expressive writing. Nevertheless, the Bible is an inspired record of real life experience. Try reading the less trodden parts of the Bible with a different perspective, and see the part of the picture that was revealed back then.
6. The question is often asked: ‘do you believe the Bible as the word of God?’ and we may reply ‘yes indeed’. But there is another inevitable question that arises, ‘which interpretation of the Bible do you mean?’ the Bible as is the Koran and other sacred writings are wide open to interpretation. This occurs in other areas of life too, in science, interpreting experimental results, and need I say, in Civil and Criminal Law.
7. Many evangelical and similar denominations overcome this problem by claiming they have prayed for God’s help and The Holy Spirit has revealed to them the true meaning because as Peter in his epistle said, ‘Interpretation belongs to God’. So with this alleged special dispensation, they form their own church – a new sect and print their literature.
This gives way to so many sects and denominations, all claiming to have The Truth.
8. All sorts of ideas can be supported from the Bible: the doctrine of the Trinity, God is three-in-one, even though the word Trinity does not appear in scripture; that the devil and satan of scripture is not a fallen angel symbolises death and sin, others believe the devil is a real spirit creature ruling the world; some believe that Ezekiel and Daniel encountered UFOs and even that God sent ancient aliens to the Earth and inspired the prophets. So many claim to be rooted in scripture. In truth almost any charismatic character can claim they are prophets of God, or have special dispensation from God to disseminate their truth to the chosen e.g David Koresh, Texas 1993. So where do I stand in all this?
9. I am certainly no prophet and have no higher authority to dispense any truth. I think each one of us can listen to that ‘still small voice inside’, the voice of God above the storm of life, as did Elijah in the wilderness (1Kings 19:12), I have found that over the years when I read the Bible that God is speaking to me personally,as I believe He does to us all, if we are prepared to listen carefully. Bible interpretation is subjective and has many shades of meaning/interpretation, suggesting thatGod deals with individuals and not necessarily groups of Churches. I have struggled with the creation/evolution debate from my youth until now, and for many years in my prayers and meditations.
Now in my mid sixties, a retired high school teacher, I have time and reflect on all this. This essay is a result of that struggle.
10. I think it is reasonable to conclude that we are all indoctrinated or conditioned in some way, regardless of whether we are believers of not. Indoctrination is not always bad and we could argue that we indoctrinate our children about traffic on the roads because one day it may their lives – it’s survival. But often we can find ourselves trapped in belief systems by early conditioning, in a sort of boxed thinking and we need to think outside the box in order to grow and develop a better under understanding about ourselves, and God.
If evolution was a part of God’s divine plan it would be in the Bible
11. Starting in the book of Genesis, we see a report of the creation; to a modern scientists it may seem naïve and inaccurate, but it was not written for modern scientists. When we read scripture we must consider the culture and language setting. Genesis was actually written centuries after, some believe my Moses. This does not mean it is void, embellished, inaccurate, or it would not be a part if the inspired word of God. The Bible is a book for all ages, seasons and times, and as time passes we are amazed to see the developments that have happened over millenniums, but still the Bible remains relevant. Every emotion, joy, trial, hero/heroin, tragedy and even comedy is expressed in the Bible, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ (Ecc 1:9 ).
12. We read of God’s dealings with humanity using angels, directing the destiny of nations and political developments (see Books of Isaiah and Daniel). But does it all end there with Bible history, or does it continue today? Can we not consider that God, through angels is working his will, especially in this day, this age/eon?
13. Managing change is what it all about. The divine plan to reveal God’s saving mechanism. The Christ was hidden for centuries, ‘but now it has been revealed’ – so things change, evolve and the Bible is a history of change, ‘for every season there is time….a time to break down and a time to build up’; for change is growth, and unless we adapt changes we stagnate as did the Scribes and Pharisees in the first century. So it would not be unreasonable to suggest that changes are taking place NOW and God is revealing, lifting the veil, on what was once hidden, “who put wisdom in the depths of darkness and veiled understanding in secrecy?”( Job38:36). Some things are not ready to understood until the time is right, and God reveals his confidential matter to his people (Amos 3:7); when the time is right God will reveal it, ‘seal up the book…. it is for the time appointed’, Daniel was told (Dan12) . It’s all timing and it must be still going on to the next stage of His divine plan – leading to the Kingdom of God under the ruler ship of Christ.
The God of surprises:
14. God is full of surprises some examples are:
- Sarah, Abraham’s wife is pregnant at 90 years old
- Jacob is blessed as the first born of Isaac
- Samuel anoints David a most unlikely candidate for the future king of Israel.
- Mary the mother of Jesus must have been very surprised to see the Archangel Gabriel!
- Saint Paul, an ardent persecutor of Christians, plays a major role in establishing the church
- Joseph and brethren, united, back together in Egypt – how could they have known this would happen?
15. Change can be seen in so many ways throughout the Bible – Christ made void the Law of Moses and brought a New Covenant, all part of the divine plan (Jer 31:31), and another surprise, non-Jews, Gentiles can be saved - a surprise to the Jews anyway. Paul must have been surprised on the road to Damascus! And there are so many stories where God’s will was revealed as part of change. God is most certainly a God of progressive revelation. But there is always the archetype ‘Scribe and Pharisees’, boxed in their rigid beliefs and traditions. Jesus said to them, ‘you make the word of God invalid because of your tradition’, so stubborn and resistant to change, who lost it all in AD 70 when Jerusalem fell and was raised to the ground by the Romans.
16. Many believe that Evolution is not mentioned in the Bible, so it must not be part of God’s Divine Plan; but there is no direct mention made in the Bible of kidney machines, plasma TVs, mobile phones, laptops, gigabytes, or many other modern conveniences we have in this age. Each age (eon) has its own agenda and changes, ‘but the word of God is alive’ and is forever (1 Peter 1:25), (Heb 4:12).
Genesis tells of the creation story but it does not explain ‘HOW’ God created, say a sparrow, for example. I don’t know. Do you? How long did it take? I don’t know, because the Bible does not say, because it is not necessary to know at the time.
17. “And God said let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures and birds fly above the Erath and across the dome of the sky” (Gen 1:20-25), but how? When God created life, each time He saw and said, ‘and look it was good’. But, would not God, in all His majesty and great wisdom, use the most efficient, most effective way of producing life? Since God is from ‘everlasting to everlasting ’, (Psalm90:2; 93:2), time is not an issue; why could God not create a single living cell, and from that one cell produce an infinite variety of life, over eons? Does that not make sense? What an amazing, brilliant idea!
18. Until the mid twentieth century, when DNA was discovered, as the blue print plans for life, scientists could only theorise about how that mechanism of changeworked. Now we know that if we change the DNA we change the physical form of the animal – What a brilliant example of special creation! We are now living in the next age (eon) of enlightenment, the advancement of science, the communication revolution (internet and visual media, social networking), where ‘many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase…’ (Daniel 12:3). Many readers will object and say:’ but this passage does not mean this! It means…….’, and resort to established teachings of their church, which are many and varied. But I urge readers to see the Bible from a different perspective.
Can a regular fruit fly glow in the dark? No. But if genes from a luminous jellyfish are spliced into the fruit fly’s DNA sequence – yes it can! Scientists can produce a fruit fly that glows in the dark, but this would not be a good survival mechanism, which is probably why we do not see this in nature! It seems that organic evolution has acquired a midwife – science.
But why are we not told of this in Scripture? We are if we read the Bible sensibly without pre-conceived ideas. Because now we are in the right age or eon; but in other times passed in other eons it was not necessary to know this, ‘not yet the appointed time’– until now; individuals and the whole of humanity is evolving, growing, changing. Paul said to the Romans:
19. ‘When I was a babe, I ate as babe, but now I am a man I can eat solid food’ (Rom 13:11). As the human creation grows and matures God will spring His surprise! And we may not like it. Paul continues to show how, with the passage of time we get another incite into the wisdom of God.: “…yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak of God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our Glory.
None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had ‘they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory’. But, as it is written: ‘what no eye has seen nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him’” and the writer of Proverbs says: ‘but the path of the just is like a shining sun, that shines ever brighter into the perfect day’ (Prov. 4:18) and Peter in his second epistle says: ‘and so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts’ (2 Peter 1:19)
20. I believe evolution is the new wisdom of this age, the new revelation from God. We can’t even begin to see the majesty and glory of the Heavenly Father. We can’t even imagine what God has planned. But we box God into a bubble of our own understanding and limit our perspective and limit God’s love. Oh no, that can’t be! No, No that is way outside anything I am prepared to accept! Are we scribes and Pharisees making the word of God invalid because of our tradition and expected belief from another age? Are we old wineskins, cracked and worn and unable to hold new wine? (Matt9: 17; Luke5:37)
21. Change is observable throughout History. In the dark ages and into the medieval period, when a ball rolled down a slope they believed an angel was pushing it. It took Galileo and Newton over a century to show that rolling and falling objects were caused to move by gravitational force, and the rate of rolling or falling could be calculated; that there are other planets similar to Earth, all brought to us through the study of Physics and Astronomy. Galileo almost lost is life because he claimed that matter, including the moon and planets behaved due to natural laws God created. Nicolas Copernicus (a Polish monk) proved conclusively, that the solar system was heliocentric (the Earth moving and around the sun) and not geocentric (the sun moving around the Earth), yet demanded that his work was not revealed until he had died, in fear of death by execution! But change happens;the Vatican now have their own astronomers and observatories – change, thank goodness for that. It took all this time! Change happens, change has to happen or we will not progress, because change is growth. We have to see the bigger picture. We must not confine God, and limit his abilities in our own minds and imaginations.
22. God is far wider bigger than we can ever imagine, who reveals Himself in His own age/ eon, and His love is infinite. Who are we to tell God what he can do and not do? “Is it for man who disputes with the Almighty to be stubborn? Should he who argues with God answer back?” (Job 40:1). “who put wisdom in the depths of darkness and veiled understanding in secrecy?” (Job38:36)
It is difficult for human beings to see the enormous tracks of time to observe the changes in life-forms. Evolution of bacteria and viruses is much quicker and is observable over a just a few years.
23. Answers are coming through science in its ‘appointed time’, in this age (eon)
In Job chapter 38, God is admonishing Job; it is a remarkable chapter and giving a unique incite in to the ways of God:
- “tell me this, which is the way to the home of light, and where does Darkness dwell (vs19, 20); 17th and 18th Century, Isaac Newton and Thomas Young
- “have you visited the storehouses of snow, or seen the arsenal where hail is stored, which I have kept ready for the day of calamity for the war and hour of battle’ (vs 22).19th and 20th century: geological sciences, the ice ages; greenhouse effect, melting snow, and the flood of Noah’s day).
- “of what paths is heat spread abroad or the east wind dispersed world wide..” (Job v 24-38 and Job 28:23-28) (development in understanding thermodynamics, meteorology, how hurricanes are formed, climatology, rising sea levels, 20th and 21st century)
- “can you bind the cluster of Pleiades or loose Orion’s belt? (v 31 -33); the development of astronomy, invention of the telescope by Galileo and Newton through; 17th and 18th Century and Hubble telescope in the late 20th Century
- “can you hunt prey for the lioness and satisfy the appetite of the young lion…..” (vs 39-41) and the whole of chapter 39, the development of the life sciences, biology, ecology in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- And from Isaiah and Psalms: ‘by your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might’ (Psalm 65:6; Isa chapt 40 ) modern geology, plate tectonics and mountain building.
24. Can a leopard change its spots (Jer. 3:23), no, but science can. Can we give the chicken teeth instead of a beak, and change other characteristics? No, but science can. NOW we can, by identifying and arranging the genes (sections of the DNA), to be switched on (or off) - because we are now in a different age (eon), where God is revealing himself and the picture becomes clearer.
For everything there is a season; as with Daniel, ‘the understanding is for the time appointed’, and everything has its time, ‘a time to tear down and a time to mend down’ (Ecc 3:7).
25. This leads to another important question: why do some Christians feel so threatened by Evolution Theory? The idea of evolution is amazing, only God could think of that. I think the answer to that question is that some scientists give the impression that life can happen on its own and so dispense with the traditional notion that God as the source of life. But as science begins to unravel the mystery of life – scientists find even more complex and mysterious problems to solve. The writer of Ecclesiastes said: “He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end”. Scientist will never unravel the mystery of God.
26. The problem has been created by some scientists, who INFER, rather audaciously, that if life evolved from a living cell, made of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen and other elements (protein molecules), and given enough time, the elements will come together and with the right pulse of energy at the right time, life will form, and conclude there is no God or designer is necessary. But science is nowhere near replicating life in a test tube; whenever they think they have solved the problem, another problem arises. And so Evolution theory, it is believed, is the basis of atheism, and that anyone accepting the theory as a belief must be an atheist and reject the Bible as God’s word and the moral infrastructure found in the scriptures. Not so.
27. To the prophet Isaiah, God said: ‘to whom then will you liken me, whom set up as my equal? Ask the Holy One. Lift up your eyes to the heavens; consider who created these, led out by the hosts, one by one, and summoned each by name. Through his great power and might (energy), not one (stars) is missing’ (Isa 40:13-18 and 26..whole chapter).
28. Scientists are men, and not all scientists are atheists. Science and religion are both searching for the truth and therefore God. Would we like to live in a world without the enlightenment of science? All the comforts it can bring to improve the quality of our lives. Science is neutral, it is neither good nor bad, it is how we choose to use science that matters – science and scientists are not the enemy. According to the Bible in-born sin is the enemy, our own tendency to follow selfish desires - that is what Christians are fighting against. It is most human to resist change. Accepting new ideas is always fraught with frustration and difficulties. Examples:
- The adoption of a denary system of numbers (1-9) – Arabic numbers due to bias against Islam
- The adoption of the heliocentric as opposed to the geocentric solar system
- The printing press
- The Bible in the common vernacular language
- The Industrial revolution – the age of machines
- Modern medicine and Pasteur’s Germ Theory
- Modern astronomy and multiple worlds
- Einstein and Newton and Young’s model of light
And so many other innovations……………
In the animal kingdom those that survive are those who prepared to adapt to change.
29. “no man puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wine will be ruined but new wine is put into new wineskins and both are preserved ‘(Luke 5:37, 38). Old wineskins are dried, they have lost their flexibility, crack easily, they are no longer soft, waterproof containers. New wine is still fermenting and releasing CO2 gas which expands the old leather and the skin bursts. New wineskins are soft and flexible.
30. In the first century AD the time the old Covenant with the Jews was ending, and a new one was about to be made (Jer 31: 31). Fasting* and many other Jewish traditions will pass away. The old Jewish system represented by the Scribes and Pharisees, was old, dried, warped, rigid, like an old wineskin – they were unable to accommodate such a huge change; we could say that the new wineskin was new covenant and the formation of the Christian Church – able to flex and accommodate change (*will can still fast of course, if we choose to)
31. The constant in the universe is energy. The law of conservation states that that matter, material, we can touch, see, can neither be created or destroyed, but can be changed from one form to another. So matter can become energy and energy can become matter. We have probably seen Einstein’s equation, E = mc2; it is estimated there is enough energy in a single cup of water (matter) to supply power to a city like Chicago for a whole year, if only we knew how to harness all that matter and change it to energy. That’s amazing!
32. Scientists in recent years have discovered that there is not enough energy in a swirling Galaxy to hold it together. When the galaxy is simulated/modelled on super computers, it flies apart! So they concluded that there must be something else that enables the galaxies to be stable. Ninety per cent of the gravitational energy to hold a galaxy stable is missing! So there must be matter there, somewhere, that emits no light at all, so we cannot see it! When they added more matter to the model it worked! Scientists call this Dark Matter. It is no longer a theory – most of the universe is Dark Matter and where there is matter there is energy (Dark Energy in this case). Suppose it was possible for a person, who speaks perfect 6th Century BC Hebrew, to go back in time and sit with the prophet Daniel and say: ‘Hi Daniel, how nice to meet you. I have just learned about Dark Matter, wow, it’s amazing, let me explain, it’s everywhere, does not emit light, so we cant see it, passes right through you, and you cant feel it or touch it … let me explain….’ How do you think Daniel would respond? In two ways: he could say, ‘what’s the big deal? It’s God, God is everywhere!’ Or, he would not have the slightest clue of what you are talking because he lived in a different age (eon), and it was not ‘the appointed time’ for such to be revealed. God reveals himself through the ages (eons) when the time is right, and now that has come – but it’s never anything anybody could have imagined. Let us hope that we are as new wineskins, soft and subtle, able to expand and contract, to contain ‘new wine’ new ideas, as God reveals his plan, ‘at the time appointed’.
33. We should speak the truth and not be afraid of what we find as the God of surprises reveals Himself. Paul said, we ‘see though a glass darkly’ (1 Cor 11:12 ); we may never understand God’s creation from it beginning’ but we know that ‘all things work together for good, for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.’ (Rom 8:28)
34. The finite mind of man can never understand the infinite mind of God. (Ecc 1:8). If an angel came down and explained how the God created the world we would not understand anyway; neither does the Bible give details of how God created the world. The Genesis account is sufficient as it was written for that time; but as this age unfolds, we may get a better understanding of ourselves, made in the image of God, and eventually draw nearer to God Himself, as the divine plan unfolds. I am a creationist; I don’t know how God created an ant; I don’t think it matters, it is not an issue whether God created the universe in all its splendour through evolution or by other means.
35. Imagine you have prepared a banquet and invited your friends. The table is spread with a variety of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, meats and bread of all kinds and your friends are about come to this meal ‘fit for kings’; and suddenly in the corner of the room you see an ant making its busy way to the table- and you panic! The fear wells up inside you because you are afraid the ant will consume all the food before your friends come. Those Christians who feel threatened by science and evolution theory should be asking serious questions about their own faith, ‘ye of little faith’…. ‘ for without faith it is impossible to please Him’ (Heb 11:6).
36. If we have a firm faith in the promises in Scripture and coming of the Kingdom through Christ, nothing will destroy that faith, ‘neither height nor depth can separate us from God’s love’. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). That is what faith is, but faith is not blind belief, and can easily be warped and abused, as is evident among some Christian and non-Christian fundamentalists groups across the world.
37. As a youth, in my church, I was forbidden from reading other religious and some secular literature, and never really allowed to ask certain questions – only questions that were acceptable. I was forced to accept the answers, threatened and snubbed if I did not accept, and accused of opening my mind to the devil. I listened to endless lectures about humility, meekness and modesty, and, like politicians who talk at length, they often or never really answered the question. I was accused of lacking faith - so I lied, I agreed with them and kept my own counsel.
38. How nice it would be to be born into a religion that gives cut and dried answers to everything, live your life then go to Heaven to be with God like a good Christian soul. But would it be nice? In my life I moved along from the devout fundamentalist Christian to the arrogant and staunch atheist and into the realms of agnosticism, eastern religious philosophy, including meditation, and back to Christianity. I have since learned that faith begins with DOUBT, because when we doubt we ask questions, and as those questions are answered over many years sometimes, our faith is strengthened. When we stop asking questions, and worse,refuse to look at other points of view, we cannot grow, we cannot move forward, we cannot evolve and change, and we become stagnant.
Some the most fascinating thought provoking recent books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed is: The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins and The End of Faith, Sam Harris.
39. Both Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have produced good honest and relevant arguments, and any reasonable, God-loving person would have to admit they are on the whole correct, and due credit must be given. But we don’t have to accept spontaneous generation theory. But how has this affected my faith? I have expanded my mind, changed my outlook and views on the world, but my faith is stronger than ever – I have grown. They express a point of view, just as this essay is a point of view. I don’t have to agree with everything they say! I don’t have to join an evolution- born- again group and pledge my loyalty. I say, well done, and move on, unthreatened.
I think we should remember that science and religion both search for truth and scientist are human, and children of God, whether they like it or not, and as they write, they learn and grow.
40. I am saying this: that to accept evolution as a mode of creation used by God to bring about the marvellous variety of life on Earth, should not be an issue to a Christian. Evolution, or no evolution, there will always be people who challenge God for one reason or another, and that is their choice, but our faith will endure as God reveals himself through the ages.
41.The writer of Ecclesiastes says: “that which is, already has been; that which has to be already is; and God seeks out what has gone by”. (Ecc 3:15). No man or science can diminish or threaten God, ever. If we choose to accept that God used the process of evolution to produce the wonderful variety and forms of life on Earth, it should not make one iota or ounce of difference to our faith, but increase our awe and wonder of what He has done. We are still slaves to sin and death; if we travel to Mars tomorrow in a rocket, we will take the baggage of sin and death, with us and never escape God: “If I go to the ends of the earth and bottom of the sea, thou art there” (see Psalm 139: 6 -9). Evolution theory should not be an issue. Scientists and proud men who deny God will never be a threat to God or to Christians.
42. If evolution is true and the Bible does not teach the existence of a person devil, fallen angel, and the end times are misunderstood, as has been so often the case, then the credibility of thousands of evangelical churches is seriously challenged. So what are fundamentalist Church leaders actually challenging or defending by opposing evolution? I am not a psychologist but I guess it is fear of lack of control over church members, loss of income, loss of power, and stubborn human pride because they believe they are ‘chosen’. Jesus spoke of the religious powers of the day, those dried up and cracked wineskins: “…..do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our father’, for I say to you that God is able to raise up children of Abraham from these stones” (Luke 3:8)
43. And finally: does it matter what we believe? If what we believe and practice is harmful to others, yes. But regardless of what we believe, it is how we live our lives that really matters; living a good meaningful Christian life is what is really important, not academic prowess and clever argumentation, which is no use if we don’t have real Agape love (1 Cor 13:1). The prophet Micah said: “He hath shewed thee O man what is good, and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God”. (6:8); and there are only two commandments, love God and love your neighbour - it’s as simple as that. ‘Oh the depth of the riches of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out. For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or has become His counsellor?...’(Rom 11:33)
GH July 2011 ©
Filed Under: Letters