There are so many aspects of God, the Bible, and its teachings to understand. As such, there are always things that can divide us, and more worrisome, always things that can convince us that the only people who can be brothers and sisters in Christ are those who agree with us on the specifics of a particular issue. Right and wrong do matter. Unity in Christ also matters. But if we are not careful, unity in Christ is only seen as possible if everyone comes and stands squarely with us on every issue. Unity in Christ while disagreeing and still searching for answers on particular issues can be seen as an impossibility, and as a result, conversations can be closed off before they have even begun.
One conversation we have been developing is in regard to our shared belief in God as creator, despite that fact that there are a number of views about how God may actually have completed His act of creation. The first steps of our search led us to one conclusion: science has no explanation for the original existence of matter. A belief in a creator is difficult to understand, and for many it’s difficult to accept. But a belief in either the eternal or spontaneous existence of matter goes against every scientific principal, and despite a world that screams otherwise we are led by evidence and reason to creationism as the only logical remaining explanation for our existence. But with so many different views of creationism, where do we go from here?
Some men and women, seeking to reconcile the vast range of scientific findings that seem to point to a very old earth and universe with the creation accounts of the Bible see Genesis as an allegorical account that makes it clear that all creation is from God, but that leaves open the possibility that God in fact initiated, and perhaps oversaw, a process that unfolded over billions of years.
Others begin with Genesis 1:1 and believe that an extraordinary amount of time passed between this verse and Genesis 1:2, time that is simply not described or discussed because it was seen as unnecessary to do so since the point of Genesis was about God and His desired relationship with His people.
Others believe that time’s passing is not nearly as fixed as our everyday experience dictates, basing thoughts on Einstein’s theory of relativity to consider that time at the beginning of creation would have moved much more slowly than it does today and that this explains the way the account in Genesis unfolds.
Others simply see the “days” of creation as long indefinite periods of time, and while the accounts are literal, the amount of time transpiring is intended to indicate that a period of time passed, and not a literal day.
Within various views there is either a belief that God allowed what is described as the process of evolution to unfold culminating in our current existence, that He allowed this process to unfold but still created a literal Adam and Eve to serve as the founding representatives of humanity, or that He created a literal Adam and Eve without an evolutionary process having taken place.
At one obvious end of the continuum are the young earth creationists, who believe the creation account of Genesis is literal, and that the timeline for the age of earth we can count from the genealogies of the Bible is also literal. Their viewpoint is that scientific evidence of earth’s much older age is a result of world-wide Biblical catastrophes, and that when these events are appropriately taken into account the evidence in fact points in a different direction than how it is traditionally interpreted.
This is a brief and admittedly inadequate summary of an extraordinarily complex set of viewpoints. If you want to point out things I’ve missed or that warrant further discussion, I’m open and eager for your comments. But for the moment, let’s consider on one thing: every one of these viewpoints reflects a profound degree of thought and searching for an understanding of God and creation. Every one reflects a deep respect for the Biblical account and a desire to understand how it relates to the world we live in. Every one reflects a grasp of the tension between what science has helped us understand and what science has no answers for. And every one leads to a worship and following of the God who created the universe.
Unfortunately, within every one of these groups there are also those who see their conclusions as so obviously correct that they not only believe that those who disagree with them are wrong, but that they are ignorant and willfully wrong. Of course these views of creation are not all correct. They can’t be. And it is certainly worth the deliberation, study, and investigation to learn as much as possible about the truth of our existence. In the meanwhile, if we are ever to find the answers it is likely to be the result of vigorous and healthy conversation. Not debate, where we each begin with a chosen point of view and try to prove it at all costs so much as dialogue where we agonize and search together for the most accurate view possible. For that to happen, we should see each other for what we are – fellow believers on an incredible search together for answers to the most profound of all questions; how did all of this happen and what does it mean about who we are?
If you want to follow the conversation on a regular basis just sign up at the left or at the bottom of this page to follow this blog. If you want to take part, I welcome your thoughts, your challenging questions, or your additional perspectives. Regardless, I look forward to continuing the journey together.