Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Young Earth, Big Bang

Evolution has become a contentious issue among Christians. The obvious division is between those who think God created people and animals and the Earth about 10,000 to 14,000 years ago and those who think He created the universe through a Big-Bang 14 billion years ago (bya) or so, with life coming about on the Earth sometime around 3.8 to 3.5 bya. This is a pretty big difference, all right. Some of the Young Earth Creationists (whom I affectionately call Yeccies) are concerned with matching their ideas with scienctific discoveries, such as carbon-dating, and others start strictly with Bible readings and let the chips fall where they may.

The other area of contention is between Christians who believe God started the complete design of life at the Big Bang and never needed to intercede since then. Life as we know it therefore came about by the physical and chemical laws placed within the fabric of the Universe. These people are called Theistic Evolutionists. On the other hand, we have those who believe God made the Universe in the same way (Big Bang), but interceded to make life. They believe that life shows a more direct Design that is counter to the laws of physics and chemistry. These are the ones who hold to Intelligent Design Theory (IDT). To confuse things more, not all advocates of IDT are Christian. Some believe in other gods, others think there is another designer. But many are Christian.

It seems we get quite emotional about which motif the Lord chose to create us. There are some key theological issues that are involved. For the Yeccies, the point is that the Bible tells us that death came about by human sin. They take it literally that no one died, including animals, before the sins of Adam and Eve.

Others see possibilities of reconciling this doctrine with evolution, such as human awareness of sin and death coming at some critical time in evolution. Or, some say, animals and plants evolved but God made humans directly and when Adam and Eve sinned they became destined to die.

It is not trivial to seek an answer to these questions, but there are several layers of priorities here, I think. The first is to worship God and praise Him for His creation, no matter how He did it. Another near the top is to respect the opinions of fellow believers in discussing these matters and behave accordingly. Each has his or her own reasons for believing a certain scenario.

Another priority for us is to not presume we know all that God knows or why He does what He does. Isaiah 55 tells us His thoughts are above our thoughts and His ways are above our ways. We humans can only speculate. For example, though some say He has revealed everything about Creation in Genesis 1, a different description appears in Genesis 2. And so it seems not quite as black and white as Yeccies profess.

Whatever else I believe, I believe God can do whatever He wants to do. It is not for us to impose, but to understand what God imposes upon us. He tells us to "Be Holy for I am Holy" (see 1 Peter, Chapter 1). That's the priority.

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