Genesis and the big bang
Young Earth - Old Earth, what does it matter?
Science and the Bible can be harmonized
The Bible and Science in Conflict
Understanding Genesis Chapter 1
Scriptural Evidence for Long Days
The Origin of the Universe
The Creation / Evolution Controversy Part 1
The Creation / Evolution Controversy Part 2
The Creation / Evolution Controversy Part 3
The Creation / Evolution Controversy Part 4
Entropy, the Fall, and Adam
The Tree Of Life
What I learned at an Answers in Genesis Conference
What's Wrong With This Picture?
Science finds a purpose for the appendix
Flat Earth - A lesson to all of us
Why are young people leaving the church?
Why Does God Hate Me?
Links to the World and Beyond
The Physical Evidence - in agreement with Scripture
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? Prov 8:1
Part 3 - in this creation evolution series.
I hope through this study you have seen that theology and science do not have to be opposing views. They are compatible with one another. You do not have to sacrifice the truth or integrity of either field of study. You do not need to check your brains at the door to worship God, and your faith does not render invalid all intellectual pursuits. The Bible instructs us to test everything and hold on to the good. This implies spiritual discernment and mental reasoning working together.
I also hope you recognize that for a collection of books written thousands of years ago the Bible continues to be relevant. The Bible's ability to convey truth when compared to the evidence of nature is, well - supernatural. The writers worked under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to express truth in such a marvelous way that it grows with our understanding. A word of Caution - our understanding and our traditions are not to be worshipped. The Bible is to be read, studied and applied in the life of the believer. The Bible is the Holy Scripture, but the recipient of our worship is God Almighty. Our traditions, interpretations, and theories change with time. God does not.
So, what have we learned thus far? The basic framework of creation presented in the Bible fits very nicely with current scientific understanding of the beginnings. The Bible sets some specific limits, but otherwise appears neutral regarding change with time of plants and animals. It is the limits that we will discuss in this section of the creation evolution controversy.
But first there are a couple statements I have heard in the theology and science debate that should be addressed before moving on.
If God created the universe then who created God?
This is an interesting question that is best answered with a question. Why must the Creator be subject to the limitations of the creation? Obviously He does not. The Bible tells us that God is eternal, without beginning or end. He has always existed. This makes no sense from our limited understanding until we accept time and space are not part of God's limitations. God created both of them in the beginning. God is not a part of our universe. He exists outside of our ability to measure and detect.
Recently physicists working on the initial moment of the big bang have concluded that we live in a universe of at least 10 dimensions. We can only detect 4 of these dimensions directly through personal experience - height, width, depth, and time. In his book "Beyond the Cosmos", Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe draws some interesting conclusions from this new knowledge. Roughly paraphrased he states that since these 10 dimensions are mathematically a part of our universe they must also have come into existence at the moment of the creation event. The cause of the big bang must exist outside of the universe. Therefore the Creator must dwell in a minimum of 11 dimensions and probably more. So, if one or more of these extra dimensions were an additional time dimension, the Creator would be free of the time restraints that limit us. He would truly be without a beginning or end. He would be capable of omnipresence and omniscience, and the ability to create our universe makes Him omnipotent. Translated this means He is an Awesome God!
Our limitations are not God's limitations. As such God is not physically perceivable unless He purposely discloses Himself. Fortunately He has done just that. The creation declares His glory, He has given us His word, and His Spirit witnesses to our spirit His existence. God simply says about Himself, I am that I am. We try to define and limit Him but God simply is.
Science says nothing about the existence or non-existence of God
This statement sounds logical even scientific. Well of course science doesn't say anything about the existence or non-existence of God, because science is man's attempt to explain the origin and working of all that is in the universe by natural means. You can't find evidence of God if you exclude Him from the equation. What is really being said is that naturalism can or will explain everything, God may exist but He is not necessary. So it would seem the atheist gets to remain secure in her scientific comfort zone with this statement. Gaps, holes, and improbabilities do not mean or even suggest God because every problem must have a natural solution. Even what we do know, at least in part - the physical laws of the cosmos and of nature - are never seen as having significance beyond themselves.
Honest science readily admits it can never prove anything as absolutely true. Science does not claim to prove; rather it offers a best guess explanation based on the evidence. This method has proven to be very effective. Our knowledge and technology have greatly benefited from science. Because theories are tested against the evidence, science is fluid, changing with new discoveries. Where naturalism adherents misuse science is when they fail to differentiate between what has been tested and found true in all cases and that which is not observed, but is assumed true because it is the current naturalistic best fit of the evidence.
Evolution defined as change with time is observably true - you are not identical to your parents. Thus naturalism can claim evolution is a fact at this observable level. It becomes theory once you move beyond this point. That man and apes have a common physical ancestor might be true. It is suggested by the evidence but not observed so while it may be true it cannot be considered fact. That all life on earth is descended from a common ancestor is accepted in most evolution circles but it is theory not fact. The theories by which descent with modification from a common ancestor might have occurred continues to be the subject of very heated debates. That the first life on earth originated by natural chemical reactions is so speculative at this point as to seem extremely unlikely, and yet here we are (more on this later). Abiogenesis is theory not fact. I am not arguing from incredulity, and I am not demanding a God of the gaps approach. What I am saying is that once you move beyond direct observation, truth becomes belief. You willfully choose to interpret the evidence in a certain manner. This is the essence of faith - a belief in what you cannot prove based on what you know to be true. The Bible offers an explanation beyond naturalism for the evidence. I willfully choose to believe the Bible offers the correct interpretation.
Now let's begin our look at the physical evidence:
Heralded as the deathblow to creationism by evolutionists. Usually claimed as non-existent by creationists or at least a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Many, maybe most Christians are unaware of observed speciation and if confronted with the evidence are ill equipped to deal with this knowledge. The reason is two-fold. First most of us have been taught from childhood that all macroevolution is in direct opposition to the Bible and Christianity. Second, anyone with even a casual knowledge of Scripture knows that it says on the seventh day God ceased from His work and rested. Most of us have been lead to believe there are only two choices, we can believe the Bible or we can believe science. In truth, there is no reason we must compromise either the Bible or science.
Biologists have directly observed and documented various cases where the breeding of a controlled or isolated population has resulted in the inability of the subject to breed with the original population. Hence observed macroevolution. The traditional creationist explanation has been to claim this represents a normal expression of the natural variability that was always present in the DNA, so nothing new has been created. This is similar to the peppered moths that everyone remembers from their high school biology textbook. The white ones get eaten so the dark ones become dominant. Personally, I think this defense is a cop out, as it does not really deal with the fact that a new species exists.
A second defense traditionally used by creationists comes closer to the truth, but is far too limiting. The evidence is acknowledged, but the resulting species is claimed to be of the same Biblical kind as the original organism; flies remain flies, bacteria remain bacteria, etc. Of course this infuriates the evolutionist who then demands a definition of a "kind". The debate usually deteriorates from there.
The creationist solution here is that the Biblical kind is synonymous with the folk method of classifying a species. Everyone knows a fly when they see one. The fact that it may be one of dozens of species is irrelevant. This solution is workable only if creationists accept the Bible contains no serious scientific concepts. Not likely.
Naturalism advocates are generally quick to state that the Bible is not a science book. So why do they expect a scientific explanation for kind? In fact, they often don't. They usually want to derail the creationist argument and replace it with their own view of reality - the scientific natural cause reality.
The Bible is a collection of books focusing on God's dealing with, and love for mankind. It also details God's plan to restore man to His image through the cross. The Bible also mentions some scientific concepts such as the beginning of time and matter, and the existence of extra dimensions. The Bible should be taken seriously, and yet for many evolutionists it cannot be as long as this stumbling block remains.
The observed speciation conflict is resolved when we realize the problem is in our faulty expectations. As was mentioned in part 2, we expect that God said "tree" and poof, there was a fully formed mighty oak tree, and we expect when the Creator rests from His work, He just kicks back on His throne and works no more. We expect this but it is not what God has done. If God really ceased working the clouds would no longer form, the stars would stop shining, even the very atoms they are made of would fly apart. All the essence of matter, space, and time would cease to exist because He holds everything together. He continues to work and create today:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psa 139:13-14 NIV)
If He still creates today how can the Bible say God rested from His work? Blame tradition for this seeming paradox. The problem exists because we have let our fear convince us the Bible says something that it does not. Any new species is still God's doing, even if we think we know the process by which it came about. God is the one that made the process function, as God is the one who instituted and holds all the natural laws together. There are kinds mentioned in Genesis, but the making of kinds is not what God rested from on the seventh day. Scripture does accurately record that God rested from His work of creating while some new species do exist. Confused? Let's dig deeper.
The subject of Biblical kinds has caused much division. This argument is not just between naturalism and creationists, but even sets believer against believer. In the Old Testament kinds are mentioned many times, often when listing the clean and unclean animals. Kind appears to represent roughly what taxonomy would classify as a genus - a grouping of similar species - basically corresponding to the folk kind mentioned earlier. So far so good. The problem is tradition maintains these kinds have been set by God with no drifting over the lines allowed, while science claims life evolved from single celled organisms into the variety of life we see today.
Much time and effort have been exerted by theology and science defending their respective positions. The arguments of one side sound convincing until you hear the opposing view and then it seems correct. So which is right? I have studied this issue from both sides, only to discover I may never know for certain how God created the world around me. My current understanding of Scripture convinces me there are limits to the variation of life on earth, and that it is impossible to exceed these limitations without the direct intervention of God. At the same time I cannot close my eyes, as many have, to the physical evidence.
Now I admit that so far I have been far harder on the Christian traditions than I have to the science communities' theories. As Don Stoner points out in his book, "A New Look At An Old Earth", we need to remove the beam in our own eye before dealing with the speck in the evolutionist's eye. Whether what follows is correct or not, our tradition has placed too tight a grip on what these limits are and our science in it's zeal for a natural cause explanation has failed to recognize any limitations.
Personal viewpoint ahead - next two paragraphs - please keep reading!
My quest for answers has led me to an acceptance of progressive creationism. This gets my nod of approval for rightly acknowledging God as the Creator, something science by its' own limitations can neither admit nor deny. Progressive creationism fully accepts the physical evidence for an old earth, but parts company with mainstream science when it comes to evolution. The fossil record clearly shows life has changed with time. But stasis, not change is the observed pattern for creatures once they are introduced into the fossil record. The ability of natural selection to produce novel organs or a change in body plan is only suggested by the fossil record. It has not been proven.
Evolutionists are certain transitional fossils prove evolution. These fossils do exist, but it cannot be proved they are ancestral links between two groups of creatures. They may be. If so, that they represent an intentional genetic bridge used by God to transform one type creature into another is as valid a theory as evolution, and I think it makes more sense. My understanding of Scripture has led me to conclude that the major leaps in the development of life occurred abruptly, and by the direct intervention of God. Natural selection, environmental pressures, and mutations do explain changes on a limited basis - observed speciation - but even this is totally by the will of God. For more on progressive creation check out the links page.
Now that I have stated my personal viewpoint, let's deal with the tough questions. What if I am wrong? What if gradualism could be proven irrefutably? Would this mean Genesis is not the living word of God? Absolutely Not! The trustworthiness of Genesis is not dependent on these theories. Determining which theory is correct will not greatly enhance our understanding of Genesis, since it is not about species and kinds. So what is Genesis talking about? If there are limitations where are they? And just what work did God rest from on day 7?
The correct placing of limits is at the level of division listed in the creation days of Genesis chapter one. Repeat after me, "this is not at the folk kind". To see this will require a closer look at Scripture. The following found in the New Testament was written by the Apostle Paul. It is part of his teaching on the resurrection of the dead in Christ, but it also sheds some light on the subject at hand:When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. (1 Cor 15:37-39 NIV)
In order to grasp what is being said in Genesis chapter one, we need to understand what Paul means when he says all flesh is not the same. The genetic code of a lion makes it physically different than a tiger and yet we see from observed speciation it is possible they had a common ancestor. They may not be of the same species, but they are very similar. Notice in the passage above the divisions listed are not nearly as limiting as lion kind and tiger kind, or even a broader grouping like the cat kind.
Paul mentions plants (seed) plus four different divisions of flesh; man, animal, bird, and fish. Genesis follows this same pattern with plants on day 3, fish and birds on day 5, then on day 6 animals followed by man. These are God's creation limits. There are creatures that don't immediately seem to fit into any of these categories, insects for instance. A cricket is not a gill breathing fish, and it is hard to imagine it is to be grouped with animals such as the tiger. So where do insects fit in? It seems we may have misunderstood what makes one type of flesh different from another and therefore we miss the point Genesis is making.
God is not concerned in Genesis with detailing and limiting the species that He creates and makes. If He were, chapter one would be a lot longer than 31 verses. In fact, only 12 of these verses relate directly to living things, and of these, only 8 are concerned with the actual creating and making of them. Not very many verses to have caused all this fuss. Most of the chapter is concerned with the creating and ordering of the cosmos and the preparation of the earth to sustain life.
The one theme consistently presented is that God is the Creator and maker of all that exists in the universe. God is the author of time, space, matter, and life. Rather than limiting the species, Scripture is declaring God's sovereignty over all things. It is an expression of the ordering of the developing relationship God has planned for His creation. The establishing of the limits creation will have with its surroundings and ultimately with Him. Obviously a sparrow relates to the world in a different manner than does a fern, just as man relates differently to God than does a horse. This is the Biblical difference that separates one type of flesh from another.
One final item. It is not necessary for God to have created all the species of each type of flesh on the day it is mentioned in Genesis. In fact, that is not what He did. Remember - observed speciation. On each of the creation days the important point to grasp is God has created a new limit. Just as God has ordered the natural laws of the universe, like gravity or the strong nuclear force, to behave in a certain manner so He has ordered the way life progresses. We cannot change the laws of physics, and no amount of evolution can overcome God's limits. God rested from His work of creating limits on day 7. He will once again create limits when this day-age ends.
Summarizing, the creation is subject to the limitations placed on it by God. These limitations have some physical characteristics but actually concern the relationship of the creation to the Creator. Using 1 Cor 15:37-39 as a pattern, the relationships can be broken down into five limitations: plants, fish, birds, animals, and man.
We will examine each of these in part 4 -
The Physical Evidence continued - limits and the flesh of life
God, Genesis and the big bang
Copyright © 1998 by Kevin Sluder
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