14 May 2008

evolutions in life and science

My life has changed and varied a great deal in the past four years. There seems to be a trend though of moving from the conservative to the liberal, not just politically, but in other realms of my life too. I feel I have come to understand a broader understanding of the world, my faith and myself.

A topic I have often pondered about this past year is how evolution and God can fit together. In elementary school and junior high, I was taught both creationism and evolution with a clear emphasis that evolution was silly and wrong. Microevolution was fully supported however. In high school, I was a staunch creationist mostly because of Kent Hogan. My dad brought this video series home from work one day that laid out point by point why creationism was the only way to believe in God. Honestly, looking back on that series, I see it as a scare tactic to get people to believe in conspiracy theories.

Ironically, I've come to believe evolution is true because of my faith. In my Old Testament class I took about a year ago, we talked about the similarities and differences between the Hebrew creation account and the Babylonian creation account, most commonly known as the Enuma elish. In the Enuma elish, the Babylonian gods are at war and the consequences of the war is the birth of the world. There is a six day creation. The world is formed out of the body of the defeated god.

Many biblical scholars believe that the creation story was written while the Israelites were in exile in Babylon. If this were the case, then the creation account could be seen as a retelling of the Babylonian story with Yahweh as the center figure. The Hebrew story could be a way to prove that Yahweh is bigger and better than the multitude of Babylonian gods. It puts humanity in the center of creation as the image of God, the Imago Dei.

An evolutionary understanding of the creation of the world makes sense also because of the nature of God. The God of creationism creates and then he is done. The world is good and fully sufficient to run itself. What does this say about God's involvement in the world? In our lives? Does he create us, mold us, shape us merely at our conception and birth? Does he stand back and watch as we run ourselves into the ground? Into death and destruction? The God of evolution creates everything out of nothing, creatio ex nihilo, then continues to form it and shape it, creatio conitnuata. His role as Almighty Creator actually expands and widens into something rich, deep, and beautiful. It means that God is there with his creation poking and prodding it into something new different and varied. There is growth and change. It is a forward looking future orientated life that doesn't look to what life should've been in the Garden. Also, this does not mean that what God crated in the past is a mistake. The pieces of creation in the past are part of the plan in order to keep moving towards new things. That also doesn't necessarily mean that we are moving towards perfection since that is impossible with the Fall. It means greater advancement, but does not guarentee greater wisdom. Sometime wisdom must evolve with the evolution of the creation in order to be a part of what's new.

I want to know a God who plays an active role in my life. I want a God who willing to create and recreate when I mess up. I need to know God is here and that he is faithful.

Biologically, what would happen in the universe if an entire universe was created in six days? That's absolutely monstrous. And it's not to say that God can handle big, but he created the laws of the world we live in. If a six day creation with a full fledged earth with vegetation and everything were to happen in spite of the natural law, I don't know what would happen. That seems harder to believe in. Time doesn't matter to God, so why should it matter if it was 6 days or 60 billion years?

It was a long slow process to reprogram my brain into an evolutionary standpoint. Creationism still has a bit of a hold on me though, I will admit. It jolts me out of my chair when I have to remind myself that the earth is billions of years old rather than just 6000 years old.

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