Thursday, February 23, 2006

In The News (Again)

The Darwinian-Evolution-verses-Intelligent-Design Debate, causing big waves in the American school system and, apparently, in British universities too, has been enjoying a high profile on BBC radio and television lately.

As a Christian, I unashamedly believe that God created the World.

I cannot fully buy-into Darwinian Evolution, not because it challenges the existence and activity of a Creator God, but because its supporters – at least its most vocal and high-profile supporters, who irrationally dismiss the possibility of a Creator out-of-hand – reject the clearly evident scientific principle that scientific knowledge is provisional, and under constant revision. Can you imagine if the community of physicists had said to Einstein, “Sorry, Albert. You can’t go about promulgating your strange ideas – everyone knows that Newtonian theories have answered these matters; they must not be disturbed!” I am bemused by the fervour with which Evolutionists counter-attack Intelligent Design on the basis that the Darwinian school has Fully (or 99% fully) Established Unquestionable Facts. Even if a scientific theory deals with 100% of the evidence, a subsequent theory might deal with the same evidence better.

On the other hand, I cannot fully buy-into the currently proposed theory of Intelligent Design, either. Its proponents clearly have an agenda, and, although as I have said I believe in a Creator God, I’m not sure that I like their agenda – as I understand it, seeking a fight – or their methods – a well-financed propaganda offensive. We might have some common ground, but Intelligent Design does not represent me. I don’t go in for Conspiracy Theories [though the world is undoubtedly full of conspiracies, mostly unconnected, but often overlapping], but I do think ID is part of a[n unconnected, overlapping] bigger Right-wing Fundamentalism at large, particularly in the US, at present; that capitalises on people’s Fear of Unseen Enemies and, ultimately, has a vested-interest in keeping a heightened level of instability in the world.

Traditionally, in this debate, that would leave me the Creationism option. But I don’t fully buy-into that argument, either. Creationists argue that God made the world in six days (in fact, many uninformed Creationists claim God made the world in seven days, which just shows they aren’t familiar with the Genesis account on which the view is built), not very long ago. But, just as Darwinian Evolutionists ignore the provisional nature of scientific understanding, so Creationists ignore the partial nature of what can be known by faith (1 Corinthians 13:9-12), and claim a certainty of scriptural interpretation that I do not view as being certain at all.

As I see it, provisionally and partially, piecing-together evidence throughout the Bible as a whole, Genesis 1 is not concerned with The Beginning [starting with an eternal, uncreated God, there is no Beginning], but is the beginning of our story [you have to begin a story somewhere]. Again as I understand it, Genesis 1 does not tell us about the creation of the world, but of God restoring order to the world after the rebellious angel who came to be known as satan had been thrown down onto the earth from heaven like a meteorite, having challenged the throne of God and lost. This event had catastrophic impact on the earth, burning seas, throwing up dust, blocking out the sun, and killing most forms of life on the planet. Though science does not talk in terms of cosmic battles, it does point to such a deep-impact collision and subsequent world-changing conditions. Into that context – a pre-existent earth, with pre-existent life; created by God, though we are not told when or how – God intervenes to restore order, and give permission to new life. In this sense, it is a new beginning for the earth following the angelic rebellion which pre-figures the new beginning for the earth in Genesis 9 following the human rebellion in Genesis 3. It is a restoring in subsequent stages – the word translated “day” does not require those stages to be 24-hour periods; and we are used to speaking of the dawning of eras – that build up to the right conditions in which humanity can be brought forth and our story begin. [Gregory A Boyd writes on this interpretation in more depth in, the excellent, God At War: The Bible And Spiritual Conflict]

Unlike Darwinian Evolutionists, proponents of Intelligent Design, and Creationists, I do not see irreconcilable differences or mutual exclusivity in their positions. Nor do I see any of the camps as having a robust and consistent position; for example, Evolutionists dismiss the idea that God created man out of earth, while claiming that we are made of the same molecular structure. I guess it astounds me that they should still be going on at each other, hammer and tongs, each entrenched in their own certainty that they are Right – not just factually, but morally – and the other is Wrong. Modernists! Thank God they’ll all be dead in a generation or two…

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