Some random thoughts on the creation / evolution debate and Christianity
A few rational thoughts leaving aside faith and belief for a moment.
If you accept (or believe) one viewpoint to start with, you won’t accept the other unless something changes. Firstly, is this true? If it is, it works both ways, of course, and it is no surprise in a fallen world that there are many weird theories and rumours and options – the Bible tells us this will happen. the fact that something is ‘weird and wacky’ (perhaps not to everyone) doesn’t make it wrong necessarily. Current science is often stated as fact (or at least part fact) – until new science superceeds it or adds to it, or takes away from it.
Man doesn’t know everything – infact, most of the time, in the exciting world that we live, and the way we are, new discoveries only create more questions to answer – another sign that there is something more to all this – a bigger picture some of which we can’t yet see. The world was flat until science ‘prooved’ that it was round – however, even now, there are people who still believe the earth is flat – even I would agree that they are misguided!
Creation vs Evolution
The account of creation in the beginning of Genesis and indeed the first few books of the Bible are of course actually very short covering the critical information that man needs to know in relation to God to understand better his place in the world and why. This is indeed profound from books that were written long, long before the kind of ‘factual’ science we have and indeed are taught today (which still only produces more questions than answers (and that is another thing I love about science!)).
So, its a given not all the detail is included! True enough, science today can perhaps sometimes even help to fill in some of the gaps of understanding depending on your viewpoint (the evolution theory, however, is not necessarily one of them!) Perhaps creation rather then evolution is more of a possibility and more plausible perhaps than many would give credit. Evolution sounds good and is easy to understand for many – but that doesn’t make it right – but it does make it convenient.
Why are dinosaurs mentioned in the title of these musings? I have heard it said ‘Dinosaurs and humans were created together and lived together in perfect harmony’
Well we all know dinosaurs are ‘proved’ in science by the existence of fossil remains, so we can’t shy away from the question of dinosaurs.
In terms of the statement, I don’t see this directly in terms of dinosaurs indicated in the Bible (though it might have been the case in the beginning, if the dinosaurs were created at that time in the garden of eden – we don’t know, there isn’t enough detail recorded to know this for sure), and neither do I see evidence for dinosaurs and humans created together and living in perfect harmony today for obvious reasons. For one thing, the big dinosaurs have died out – according to science millions of years ago, yet man remains (this is open to the possibility of dating techniques still not being necessarily wholly accurate) though even if absolute proof is found, Christians understand from the Bible that God’s time and our time (as we understand it) through our limited and ever-expanding knowledge of time via science and the resulting units we have decided to break time down into to help us to make more sense of it.
Adaptation is not necessarily evolution nor at odds with Christianity unlike evolution.
Adaptation, therefore, can bring factual science closer to Christianity without conflict, and there is nothing wrong with this. Getting back to the statement ‘dinosaurs and humans were created together’. Does the adaptive issue often talked about fit any better? Perhaps they may have been creatures that were created initially (rather than evolving, and not in the image of God in the same way that humans were) before the flood – worth remembering, however, Noah saved one pair of every type of living thing according to the detail in the account of Noah so perhaps its more likely the dinosaurs died out after the flood for some reason.
It is difficult to say away from the question of dinosaurs completely as archeology proves the existence of bones – it doesn’t prove how they got there. Some folks jokingly suggest that God put them in the ground to give us more things to discover and help satisfy the need for us to puzzle over things and look for answers – but they don’t serve any other purpose!
Seriously, though, very few complete skeletons have been found. Many theories about how the dinosaurs looked, from what I understand, has been proposed from many different fragments. Could it be possible many of these guesses are incorrect? We don’t know. The Bible can’t help us here – the issue was not important enough to record the detail in the Bible (that’s my view, anyway!) We’re growing up in an environment where technology can even bring these proposed creatures ‘alive’ through computers which makes them all the more real.
Add to that the fantasy world of computer games etc where man is using his (in my opinion) God-given gift of creativity to create even more weird and amazing creatures in the virtual world, and its easy to see how we can all so easily find ourselves believing it all without really thinking about it too much (a different case of belief and faith without question / reason perhaps?!)
Evolution vs Adaptation
I think adaptation is plausible – and crosses to what some people’s understanding of evolution actually is. Adaptation is possible as a scientific concept to be compatible with Christianity because it is not definitive like evolution vs creation is – though there is still time-scale issues! Evolution and creation are opposed in that you can only have one option from the two – either man was created instantly in form and function without evolving, by God as the Bible says, or evolved over millions of years going through many phases as evolution says.
Christianity says that man was created miraculously in the image of God – instantly, not starting off from as as near as makes no difference nothing and going through several alternative transformations until (just as miraculously) really by chance – remembering science says we wouldn’t be here if it were not for the fact that the earth is pretty much exactly the right distance from the sun, and even that it is necessary for the moon to be pretty much exactly where it is too etc etc – arriving at what we have today in terms of supporting life and human form.
I’m personally happy going with creation – but then I would be – given that I’m happy to believe without all the ‘i’s dotted and the ‘t’s dashed (this is part of my faith and trust in God!) – having thought it through – the fact that all this happening by chance is in many ways less plausible than the orderly notion of a creator God. Many scientists it seems agree that there appears to be order even in the ‘chaos’. But I can think on behalf of those who are pro-evolution theories and of course, there are many arguments you could really use if you wanted to.
Again, because there is not enough detail, we could spend a life-time on debating these things especially as new discoveries raise more questions, but it is interesting that the Bible effectively tells us as we read on through it that knowing the answer to the questions of the dinosaurs and even creation vs evolution isn’t the most important issue relative to where we all are today and relative to our relationship to God, and Jesus (assuming you believe there’s even a possibility God exists – thats another topic!)
Many, many people that believed in all kinds of spiritual things until Jesus caused them to change and brought understanding – there are many writings that document his actual existence – not all ‘religious’ scriptures either – to substantiate it. Because here, we are talking about one of the bigger questions, the fact remains there is not an answer so definitive so as not to allow free-will and choice – therefore again this makes it easier than one might think to be able to accept creation over evolution, even though I am interested in the science of it all aswell – it is not enough to pursuade me categorically that it is the only right way – more to the point the right way at all.
Add back into all this the un-logical, un-scientific spiritual dimension – which is not so easily defined because it involves such things as faith, hope, love – such things which in many ways to man and to science remain partially hidden.
God is interested in it all (for me, he created it, and upholds it!), but the Bible reveals that humans stand apart from the rest of creation. IMHO science doesn’t (and may never) adequately cover love, free-will, hope, faith, spirituality etc – not tangible, often irrational things which can cause the ‘rule book’ to be re-written at a moments notice).
In the same way, it follows that mankind – if truely made in the image of God who created all things IMHO – will ‘naturally’ be interested in science and also other people, and even the birds in the air – and it seems this is proved time and again just even because man keeps asking and wanting to answer the ever continuing big questions before him in the amazing, miraculous, wonderful, colourful, awesome universe which surrounds him.
If you have any thoughts on this subject, you could start a new topic in the UK Christian Forums for discussion.
Some links to other Christian websites with information possibly related Creationism and Evolution debate (none of these sites sourced in the writing of the above article):
Answers in Genesis – “We focus particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most-attacked book of the Bible.” – an example of a site very in favour of literal creation issues