It is nearly 200 years since Charles Darwin was born (12th February 1809) and there is much media comment on his influence and especially on the relationship between his theory of evolution and religion.
According to a 2001 Gallup poll, about 45% of Americans believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Another 37% believe that “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.” Only 14% believe that “human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.”
In 2006 a MORI poll in the UK had very different results. 48% agreed with the ‘evolution theory’, which “says that human kind has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. God had no part in this process.” 22% agreed with the ‘creationist theory’, which “says that God created human kind pretty much in his / her present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” 17% agreed with the ‘intelligent design’ theory, which “says that certain features of living things are best explained by the intervention of a supernatural being, e.g. God.” 12% did not know.
We cannot say ‘Creationism is true for some but not for others.’ I believe that truth is truth; there is not one truth about our origins for the scientist and another for the theologian. If scientists have got the theory of evolution wrong then scientists will sooner or later discover that and think of something else. If theologians are misinterpreting Genesis then theologians, not scientists, will be the ones to say so. And I think that the creationists have got it wrong.
I don’t have any problems with God’s creative power. God is perfectly able to create a universe within six days, just like that. He is equally able to create it in such a way that, when he finished, it looked as if it were millions of years old, with eroded mountains, fossils in the rocks, radio active elements in advanced stages of decay, and so on. But if that is what he did, no one can blame scientists for believing it is millions of years old. However, it seems to me easier to believe that God started from the beginning.
Nor do I have problems with God working through natural processes. When we pray for our daily bread, we expect to receive it through natural processes, without any ‘interference’ from God. But that does not mean God is not at work. When Jesus said God fed the birds, he didn’t mean that he had a heavenly bird feeder; God works through natural processes. God does not work only through ‘miracles’. Of course, we can never ‘prove’ God is at work; if we could, faith would be unnecessary. (That does not mean faith is unreasonable: there is often plenty of evidence God is at work.)
I believe that creationists are not interpreting Genesis correctly. Genesis was not written as a scientific text book. It was written to reveal truth about God and his activities, in such a way that people of any culture or any time in history can understand it. It is poetic, and orderly, beginning with an earth ‘formless and empty’, then having three days to provide ‘forms’ (light, sea and sky, and land) and three more days to fill them. We see God is the originator of everything by his word of power, that he is good, and that his focus is on human beings ‘created in his image’, able to relate to him. A page or two to set the scene of creation, then the rest of the Bible is about his relationship with us, and his purpose to bring history to a climax with the new creation – a new creation already begun in Jesus Christ and already experienced in part by us who believe in Jesus.
Genesis is a book of origins (that is what the name means); but it is about origins of life with God more than origins of life on earth. It ends looking forward to the promised land. Jesus came to fulfil that hope, in ways the writer could never have imagined.
1) How do you answer those who say science has proved God does not exist?
2) In what ways have you ‘seen the light’?