Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wading into Deep Waters

First, I want to define some terms.

Creationism – the belief that God created the world.

Evolution – the belief that from a single event the word evolved to its current complex state.

Intelligent Design – “something” directed/planned our world/universe, it is not a series of random acts

Typically this isn’t a topic I’d discuss with strangers. Nor with family or good friends. I believe we all ascribed to certain beliefs because we’ve thought them out. I find it hard to believe anyone would say, “I believe X although I have nothing to base my belief on.” The building blocks of that belief may not be very strong, or stand up to scrutiny by others, but the individual “feels” they’ve developed a “reasonable” belief from experiences or authorities they trust.

I find it weird when my different worlds collide. Currently on OKC there is a raging debate about Creationism, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. Last spring, on the advice of a columnist who I greatly admire, I read a book by Bill Bryson called, “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. Now in my Sunday School class we’re having a three part discussion on these very topics. Week one was an outline of a book, “A Case for Creation" written by Ian Campbell, this week the Sr. Minister visited with the class and added his support the origin of Earth as a direct result, of God's hands at work. Next week we have a geneticist from State coming to class and he’ll share how his discipline reinforces his belief in God. Three of different sources – all compelling me to examine my beliefs.

I’m a simple person, with a very “layman’s” knowledge of theology and science. By no means an expert in either. And as I read all the commentary about these three different theories, I think, “I don’t get it! Why all the drama?”

This is the way I described it in class today. A long time ago – people viewed the land they walked or sailed on as flat. They came to this conclusion because their senses told them “this looks flat”. For them, ‘flat’ implied an edge or end. So they ascribed far away places as “the end of the world”. Time passed, they became more sophisticated observers and developed better tools for exploration and examination. Out of this more highly developed investigation, the idea emerged that perhaps our earth was a globe. After all, when a ship appeared on the horizon, it wasn’t the full ship that appeared, but first the crows nest, followed by the rest of the mast, then sails – and finally the deck and bulk of the ship.

Does that mean we can’t trust anything established when the world was thought to be flat? To me it does not. To me it implies that people observed their world and came up with the best possible explanation. Over time that explanation was proven wrong. Okay – so we moved on!

I don’t understand why I must EXCLUSIVELY choose all the components of just one of the theories of how our world came into existence. I believe at some time we’ll find out each of the three has components which will be revealed as the truth.

The whole time I read Bill Bryson’s book I kept thinking, “My world, my universe, is so complex, so completely interwoven and interdependent upon everything else happening just at the right time and the right way, how can I help but think it was thoughtfully designed?

Then I flip to my Bible. It says God created it all – and then tries to explain how. And in light of what we know TODAY, it doesn’t hold up – as far as factual theory. Okay – so big deal. We have different ways of describing things, because we’ve learned more. But how can you fault people for creating false theories, when nothing else existed previously? So what if the language of the time ascribe creation to seven days. Maybe it was a metaphor – maybe they really believed God could do it in seven literal days. Either way, it doesn’t render all of their other observations instantly obsolete. Proverbs 19:20, is still true, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Just as I don’t think the Bible is literal, science has proven there are problems with the concepts of evolution both the macro and micro theories. Some of the suppositions work, and some clearly don’t. Mutation occurs within a species, but new species haven’t evolved from disparate origins.

For this reason, I like the way Rico Suave explains Intelligent Design. He says, …ID is based completely on hard sciences (mathematics, probability, paleontology, and others) … The intelligent designer alluded to by the theory of Intelligent Design could be anything ... Instead, the focus is on patterns in nature and events in the fossil record which are suggestive of deliberate design by an intelligent force.

I think science supports the existence of God. The more we dissect the complexities of the universe, the more compelled I am to believe “something” deliberate put the pieces together. I am willing to let the scientists discover what they will – and not worry about it compromising my faith, or rendering it obsolete.

1 comment:

peter said...

As early as grade school - before it was ever a matter of news and politics - i was always of the opinion that evolution and all of science dovetail perfectly with god and intelligent design, and that most Christians are just too dumbly literal to make the beautiful connection you made in this post.

God is capable of anything, including anything in the domain of science. God could have easily made the entire universe with all the evolution in place just so we could enjoy his intelligent design a little bit more. God most certainly could have put the dinosaur bones in the ground for us to find just in the name of advancing our science, which is beneficial to our life and health.

I mean, God could have re-made the entire planet yesterday (complete with its fossil history) just for the purpose of making clovers green instead of the purple they had been previously AND WE WOULDN'T EVEN KNOW IT. Because she's god.

As a child i was endlessly amused at how the Christians who taught me were of such a literal mind about Adam & Eve that they couldn't see God's greater plan past the details of the story. It stopped being amusing when in the very next breath they departed from the literalism of loving everyone to tear down those of different faiths and sexual preferences.

Ever since i witness that negativity - that lack of imagination - i made up my own little corner of spirituality to agnosticate inside, never to return to mainstream religion. And, though you exist in the mainstream, it would seem you might inhabit a portion of my corner as well ;)