Monday, September 1, 2008

If Age is Not the Issue...

"A great many problems in the debate between theology and geology can be resolved if we reject theistic evolution and biblical neo-catastrophism... by rejecting theistic evolution we reject faulty theology... [and] by rejecting neo-catastrophism we reject faulty science." Davis A Young

Less than 200 years ago, Christians were well-represented and respected in scientific circles, and 50 years ago were well on the way to recovering from the fall-out from the publication of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and “Descent of Man” nearly 100 years earlier. However, within the last 40 years Young Earth Creationists have jettisoned the notion of a flat earth, but resurrected many of their old unscientific or pseudo-scientific ideas (and invented some new ones), thereby presenting many with a stumbling block on their potential journey to faith.

So it is that many are handed an easy, ready-made, excuse for failing to consider the implications of the facts of the life, words, acts, death, and empty tomb of Jesus; by the strict, and unnecessarily literal, interpretation of some parts of the Bible.

In addition to realising that “age is not the issue”, it is important to appreciate the fact that the Bible is not a scientific or historical textbook. Furthermore, no single part of it should be used in isolation as a means of defending or denouncing any particular world-view, or in defiance of observed reality. The Bible should be rightly considered as a divinely-inspired work, comprised of 66 different books, written over thousands of years, and penned by a variety of different human authors: It is comprised of many different literary styles; allegorical stories, morality tales, poems, songs, letters, diaries, prophecies, as well as the documentary-style texts. Therefore Christians can claim, with considerable justification, that the Bible should be viewed as “a history of revelation and a revelation of history”.

However, the Bible does not set out to define How things are, but rather Why they are: Some things are within the domain of scientific endeavour, and others are not. In amongst the text of every part of the Bible you can find seeds of truth (if you are willing to look and/or able to see). Possibly the most famous example is to be found in the very first sentence of the Bible: “In the beginning God created…” But there are also passages in the Bible that point to the following:

that everything on the surface of the Earth originates from interstellar dust in space - "...for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14);

that the Earth was at first just covered in water - "...the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters." (Genesis 1:2); and

that the first land emerged from beneath the waves in the form of volcanic islands - "...[God] set the earth on its foundations... [He] covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains, but at [His] rebuke the waters fled..." (Psalm 104:5-7).

In these respects (and many others) it was truly “way ahead of its time”. Therefore, I believe that the statement...“In the beginning God created…” still confronts cosmologists today with the same truth and potency it did when first perceived some 5000 years ago.

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