Beginning and the end part 1: Creation and evolution
It is likely that the two most controversial subjects in Christian theology include the origin of the universe/human life and the end times. It is common for people holding strong positions within these subjects to see opposing views as unChristian.
This is the first part of two posts that share some thoughts on both creation and the end times.
My understanding of how human life originated has evolved over the years (pun intended). I grew up in a liberal main-line church. Nothing much was said about creation or evolution. I would have guessed that the Bible had nothing to say on the subject.
I made a personal commitment of faith in my early twenties after some time as an atheist. I began attending a conservative evangelical church that had very strong feelings about creation and evolution. It was made clear that only a “literal” reading of Genesis 1-2 was acceptable. God created the Earth (and the universe) in six twenty-four days and all this took place 6-10,000 years ago. Evolution was a lie of Satan (Some even suggested that Satan buried dinosaur bones to test our faith).
I remember those early days of reading the Bible. I had no problem believing in the miracles of Jesus or his bodily resurrection. But every time I read Genesis 1-2, I struggled with what I knew from science and what the text seemed to be saying.
When I started in seminary, I was in for another shock. A number of my professors, while still highly valuing the Bible, believed in evolution. I told some of my friends about this and they explained what was happening. My professors simply were not Christians, no matter what they may have believed about Jesus.
The truth is that there is not just one position, even within evangelical Christianity, about the age of the universe and the origins of life.
There are Young Earth Creationists, who believe that the Earth is 6-10,000 years old and that God created everything over six days as described in Genesis. They accept that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.
There are Old Earth Creationists, who believe the universe and the Earth are billions of years old. They believe that dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago and that God created humanity (with a real Adam) much more recently, although not as recent as Young Earth Creationists.
There are Theistic Evolutionists (also known as Evolutionary Creationists), who believe in something very similar to the traditional Darwinian explanation of life. The difference is that they believe that God was responsible for this. This does not mean that God was tinkering along the way but that he created a world that include evolutionary forces that would lead to where we are now at.
Unfortunately, there is some very harsh feelings between the camps. There are accusations of unfaithfulness to the Bible and/or science.
I have no desire to fight for one position over another. I do believe in a big bang billions of years ago and an old earth. I’m agnostic on the subject of macro-evolution. I can see how God could have used it but have not read enough on the subject to make an informed conclusion.
Where I take my stand is that I believe that God is the source of all life. There was a beginning to the universe and God was the one who brought it into existence. It was God who created the first life on Earth. Even more, it was God who redeemed humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is time for Christians to stop fighting among ourselves and to major on the majors. When I’m asked about the age of the Earth, I tell people it is at least forty-eight years old and beyond that I can’t be certain. I then turn the conversation back to Jesus where it belongs.
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