Hot Potato: creation and evolution.
Genesis 1:1-2:7. WBC 24 April 05pm
THE LOST CHAPTER OF GENESIS: Adam was hanging around the garden of Eden feeling very lonely. So, God asked him, "What’s wrong with you?" Adam said he didn’t have anyone to talk to. God said that He was going to make Adam a companion and that it would be a woman. He said, "This pretty lady will gather food for you, she will cook for you, and when you discover clothing, she will wash it for you. She will always agree with every decision you make and she will not nag you, and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you’ve had a disagreement. She will praise you! She will bear your children. and she will never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will NEVER have a headache and will freely give you love and passion whenever you need it. Adam asked God, "What will a woman like this cost?" God replied, "An arm and a leg." Adam then asked........ "What can I get for a rib?" Of course the rest is history.................
I want to start with nailing my colours to the mast on a couple of things, tonight:
- one: I am grossly inadequately prepared for this. Mainly because I have been busy sharing Jesus with people (Alpha!)
o also: because what you… we… need tonight is NOT loads and loads of info! I could never give enough. Also- just gets you going round in circles (but in the same camp!)
o Christians make their choices and use knowledge to reinforce their camp position
o Though I am a scientist & a theologian- doesn’t make me qualified as an authority on THIS subject. (though so many claim to be)
- Two: I am undeniably, immovably, a creationist
… in the sense that I believe God is the one who created all this. The Source. The Reason. The Order. The Purpose. He is all those things.
All Christians are. (creationists)
Not all Christians are of the same opinion as to how He did it.
But, in fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that (for US, Christians)- these things… and arguing about them are (IN ONE SENSE)… a distraction
- (in another sense they can be v impt. And I’ll cover that)
What proportion of the Bible is given over to the creation story? The one folks argue over as pretext for one stance or another?
- 1 Chapter!
How much is given over to Jesus?
- THIS much (flump family Bible on table)
Interestingly enough- most (all?) unbelievers aren’t interested in these arguments. Theological/scientific gymnastics… or one particular stance
- they want to know ’does it work’?
- what about relationships? Morals? Global responsibility (now that IS there!)
o they are horrified that the world is falling to bits and Christians are arguing over how it might have STARTED
An older minister recently told me he spent the first fifteen years of his ministry answering the question "Did God create the heavens and the earth?" only to realize the people were really asking, "Why did God create me?"
SOURCE: Fenton, G. Your Ministry’s Next Chapter. The Pastor’s Soul Series; Library of Leadership Development. Vol. 8 Page 24). Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, Minn, 1999.
This is particularly true of under 40s, now. The post-modern generation.
- they know that at the moment we don’t have black and white answers to many things
And the truth is- when people meet Jesus… experience Him… all their questions are answered
- like Thomas. Didn’t need the scientific proof. To ’touch’
So- I’m only interested in this debate as much as it affects people coming to faith in Jesus
- I’m not interested in it as a quest for a ’nail it all down, make me feel secure or that I am like omniscient God’
I accepted long ago- "by faith (and evidence!) I know God did it all and this (Bible) tells me all I need to know for my spiritual life. It is spiritual truth. My authority, benchmark, foundation"
But I’ve never seen it as a scientific textbook. My guideline for scientific research.
- or something that only has one way of conveying that spiritual truth: in historic literalism
o it has history, poetry, letters, stories and all kinds of things to convey the truths that make the Christian faith
" read it in only ONE way if you must (and if you can’t do anything else, that’s the best way)… but realise:
" you HAVE to understand what it meant to the people who first read it. Context
" the Jews never saw Gen 1 as literal. Rather story, that MAY have been historical
SEEKERS: LOOKING FOR A REASON TO BELIEVE
But for some this is a big issue. Some ’seekers’, I mean
- hence it is important to US, and needs to be addressed
But you find it’s not an issue on only one side. In my experience I have found many who say
- "I want to believe in a God, actually, and Christianity: but if I do, do I have to become like so and so who belies the world is 6,000 years old? If so- I can’t!"
o and they have been SO relieved to hear that there are many Christians (me being one) who believe, undeniably, that the earth is old (4Bn) and the universe older (15Bn+)… and that God is probably a whole lot bigger than we ever imagined
- and a few (my cousin being one): "what a relief! I can believe in God and take the Bible literally! Science’s formula for how it happened currently has SO many holes"
o and so they find faith, too
Do you see? (but actual truth is most choose their stance on this after they have entered a certain stream)
So- the creation/evolution thing need not be a stumbling block to people finding faith! At all! (our arguing over it may be!)
In fact: it’s a very good tool to argue FOR faith. However it happened it can’t have happened by chance!
- "I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world." Albert Einstein
Roms 1:20 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
That God exists is evident from the order of the world
- this is ’general revelation’. About His power and existence. (nothing about Jesus, or Him being love. Good
o Abraham Lincoln said "I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heaven and say there is no God.")
- need more to know WHAT He’s like. That He’s our God:
o = ’specific revelation’. We find that in God coming to earth to SHOW US. Jesus!
o Again- it all comes back to Jesus!
Thought you might appreciate this, particularly as the election draws near:
A surgeon, an engineer, and a politician were debating which of their professions was the best and the discussion turned to which was the oldest.
The surgeon said, "Eve was made from Adam’s rib, and that, of course, was a surgical procedure. Obviously, surgery is the oldest profession."
The engineer countered with, "Yes, but before that, order was created out of chaos, and that most certainly was an engineering job."
The politician smiled and said triumphantly, "Aha! And just who do you think created the chaos?"
Order in the Church! 1 Corinthians 14:26-14:40 by A. Todd Coget on www.sermoncentral.com
Who started it all?
In his book, Beside Still Waters: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt, Award-winning journalist Gregg Easterbrook, writes:
If the Big Bang had been slightly less violent, the expansion of the universe would have been less rapid, and would … have collapsed back on itself. If the explosion had been slightly more violent, the universe might have dispersed into a soup too thin to aggregate into stars. The odds against us were - this is just the right word - astronomical. The ratio of matter and energy to the volume of space at the Big Bang must have been within about one quadrillionth of 1 percent of ideal.
Life is so improbable it must somehow be favoured by something. By some First Cause, "to which," said Aquinas, "everyone gives the name of God."
Contributed by Mary Lewis on www.sermoncentral.com
The current theory IS that it all came into being with a big bang (sounds like a creative act to me! Can just imagine God saying ’let it be’
- suddenly all this matter flies out everywhere
- Einstein’s theory of relativity says there is a huge amount of energy in just a little matter.
o So- where did this energy come from that forged the matter of the universe?
-> "Great in power, great in glory,
Great in mercy, King of heaven.
Great in battle, great in wonder,
Great in Zion, King over all the earth."
The "I AM". The source of ALL power!
There was a group of scientists and they were all sitting around discussing which one of them was going to go to God and tell Him that they didn’t need him anymore. Finally, one of the scientists volunteered and went to go tell God he was no longer needed...
So the scientist says to God : "God, you know, a bunch of us have been thinking and I’ve come to tell you that we really don’t need you anymore. I mean, we’ve been coming up with great theories and ideas, we’ve cloned sheep, and we’re on the verge of cloning humans. So as you can see, we really don’t need you."
God nods understandingly and says: " I see. Well, no hard feelings. But before you go let’s have a contest. What d’ya think?"
The scientist says: "Sure I’m all for it. What kind of contest?"
God: " A man-making contest."
The scientist: "Sure! No problem" The scientist bends down and picks up a handful of dirt and says: "Okay, I’m ready!"
And God says: "No, no. You go get your own dirt."
CREATION: THE LITERALIST STANCE
There are all kinds of offshoots and variations of this (any of these)
- but there are educated Christians who believe God did it in 7 days
o (they’re the thick ones!)
- there are others who believe God did it in SIX and then rested
And God could have. No problem.
The advantage of this stance is
- historically most in the west, scientific, have thought this until relatively recently.
- Can be understood by anyone and all
- There’s no room for putting the Bible anywhere else than it should be: in authority
But, as I’ve explained, a good understanding of the Bible doesn’t hold that it only has one kind of literature answering my 21C Q’s
And the disadvantage is- you’re in danger of being at odds with scientific truth
(particularly on the age of the earth, which is the biggest issue, not how God created mankind. There are 2 stories/perspectives on that in Gen, anyway!)
Now- please don’t worry if you can’ follow me on this one… or get distracted from the straightforward clarity of what I’ve said so far… as I close and throw in the big hunkie that really is the important issue BEHIND these theories.
CREATION: THE BROADER STANCE
And this is where I’m at
- that God did it, over a lot longer period..
- that maybe the days are epochs (as it does fit an order)… or maybe it’s not scientific at all
- that probably some form of evolution is CURRENTLY the best shot at how it happened
o but there came a point where God breathed His Spirit into ’man’ and he became special, sentient. Responsible
o and that people ’fell’. We fall. And need to return and be saved
The advantage of this stance is you are not in danger of fearing science and excommunicating Copernicus (which they tried to do but he died) and accusing Galileo of heresy (which they did!)
The disadvantage is you really have to think much deeper about things, and the creation stories… and the REAL issue for Christians
- it’s not whether Robin shares ape ancestry or not (!)
- it’s whether, why an dif there was the worst kind of suffering before ’people’ were around. ’Nature red in tooth and claw’- before humankind ’fell’
o some would say ’it doesn’t matter, as that’s animals and so there was no sentient suffering’
o but the disturbing nature of the universe WAS around before ’Adam fell’ by this theory… and that might cause some to say that suffering was part of the universe God designed… it’s FABRIC… rather than the FALL
" and this defaces the nature of God. Charges Him with evil
And THAT’S the real issue in the creation/evolution argument… and that’s why some say they have to be literalists and 6 day-ers and believe that dinosaurs came after ’man’
- else it makes God out to be nasty
But- back to God’s story again. What does the Bible actually say?
- that evil WAS around before ’Adam fell’! It was there… on the earth…. in the garden, even
o that’s what the snake means. Evil: separate from God…. But already there. Nature red in tooth and claw
" we now know that this is Satan, and that (after war in heaven) he had been cast down to earth- a now less than perfect place
- but Adam (man), Eve (living) are protected from it until they fall to its influence… and are kicked out of their protected environment….
…. And the world falls still further.
But GOD is good. Creator. The maker. The Master
- scientists are just trying to find out the ’method’
So- let’s pray and then have some respectful conversation!