How to respond to a skeptic who asks this question?

Hello Everyone!

I was in a conversation the other day with one of my family members who would probably consider himself a skeptic/agnostic but not quite atheist. One of the contentions that he has that is a barrier to him recognizing the validity of the Bible as a document of truth is that, because many Christians have had to “change their interpretation” of the creation story as science advances, the creation story cannot be an accurate account of what happened, claiming that the Big Bang and evolution disprove the possibility that God created the universe. In other words, he claims that religion is dependent on science because as science has advanced, Christians have had to “update” their interpretations of how we came to be. Therefore, he says, Genesis 1 cannot be true because, if it was, it would have given a more plausible account. He questions why God didn’t include a discussion about evolution and the Big Bang if he is the one that led creation.

Now, I’m not sure where many of you fall in your beliefs regarding creation. As I stand today, I see evolution as being a rather good explanation of how we came to be, but I, of course, do not believe that evolution disproves the possible existence of God (I am an evangelical Christian), but rather could have been the mechanism of which God used to drive creation. So, with that in mind, I responded this way:

I first said that the intent of Genesis was not to be a science textbook as it was written within a context. I also responded that prior to Darwin, everyone, not just Christians, had some type of belief about the universe. Many scientists, in fact, did not even consider that the universe had been created, but rather that it just always was there. So, when Darwin came around with his theory of evolution, everyone had to think about changing their minds, or change their interpretations of scripture, not just Christians.

I also laid out this (flawed) analogy because we both have a background in math and statistics.Imagine we have a linear equation where creation is the y-variable (the dependent variable). And imagine that there are an n number of explanatory variables (x-variables) with x1…,xn that represent what led to creation. So the equation would look something like this: y = x1 + x2 + … + xn where y=creation, x1 = God’s sovereign will, x2 = God’s love and power, x3 = evolution, x4 = the Big Bang, and all the way to xn (whatever all of the variables may be). The idea here is that God may have used multiple mechanisms to create the universe and people that neither I nor any scientist understands in its totality. But with each additional scientific discovery, we can either remove an x-variable or add one as a representation of our understanding of how we got here.

How do you think I should have responded to this question? How would you have responded to the contention that the Bible can’t be a true document because Christians allegedly had to adapt their beliefs to new scientific discovery? I don’t find my family member’s argument to hold a lot of weight because I believe science points to God, not away from Him. But I’m curious to what you all think! Thank you!

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Logically, the fact that “Christians allegedly had to adapt their beliefs to new sciencific discovery” says more about Christians than it does about the Bible. The scriptures haven’t changed, it’s people’s interpretations of those scriptures that have. The Genesis text has been pretty much the same for the last couple of thousands of years. There are a couple other points to consider.

  • Genesis 1 claims that there is a God, that God is the creator of the universe, that God is not the same as the creation (as pantheists would say that God is IN the creation), that what God created, God was very satisfied with (“it was good”). What we find is God introducing order into something that was very chaotic in its first phase. We are not provided with the details of the creation process, i.e. HOW God did it. Much of the acrimonious debate on the HOW actually comes down to the interpretation of the meaning of yom translated as “day.”

  • Most of those that believe the Bible, which ever side of the duration of yom debate they’re on, base their belief of the Bible on 2 Timothy 3:16 which tells us that all scripture is “inspired” or “breathed” by God and therefore “true.”. My experience is that this text is most often used without reading the whole sentence. It goes on in vs 17 to explain what the scriptures are for: “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This doesn’t say “so that the man of God can evaluate scientific theories and discoveries.” The Bible was not written to teach cosmology, astronomy, geology, archeaology, biology, environmental science, etc. If anything, it is a manual in “right living” at both the individual and societal level. It is not appropriate, according to Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to use scripture as a hard scientific text.

  • your family member (and even you yourself) may find some relief in reading John Walton’s “The Lost Story of Genesis One.” Walton looks at Genesis 1 within the context of ancient cosmology and creation stories, and proposes that the chapter is not so much about creating things as it is about creating and puting in place functions, or even functional systems. And logically, one would say that it is at this level in fact that one must begin if one must bring order out of chaos. Walton’s propositions (his term) lift the interpretation above the whole issue of how long, and which detailed process, it took to get us where we are today. Theorists today go wild and claim there could be many different kinds of universes. This doesn’t faze me, except to point out that for any universe to survive, even a few seconds, there must be underlying order, especially at the atomic and sub-atomic level. No physics, chemistry, biology, geology or astronomy could work if atoms constantly changed their basic characteristics and behaviour.

  • For me, this is one of the lessons of Genesis 1: there is “order” in God’s creation, not disorder. Things that follows from this are: 1. the very fact that science can study and reveal the “secrets” of the physical world - all of these secrets are at the level of discovering this order - e.g. the laws of gravity, thermo-dynamics, chemical reactions, etc. etc. 2. it follows that there are also equivalent underlying order - or “principles/rules” governing social behaviour since so much of life on earth is “social” (even in the plant kingdom). If these are not followed, there will be disorder - the society will become steadily dysfunctional. History proves this over and over again. The Scriptures reveal the secrets of maintaining sustainable social order. The OT shows us repeatedly in the history of Israel, that God is essential in this social order. The NT reveals how we can/must avail ourselves of the power of God in our personal and collective lives to achieve it, because we can’t do it on our own. Jesus as the core of the community of followers provides the model. Unfortunately, we as individuals and communities are not following the basic premises, nor availing ourselves of the means to do so - in part (in the context of this thread’s subject) because we are letting ourselves be distracted from the essentials and trying to force the scriptures to be something they never were intended to be. (And having the right focus in life is one of the elements of achieving a sustainable, well functioning social order.)

There’s no problem with the scriptures. The problem lies in how we use and apply them.

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Hi @Mohembo! This is really great. I appreciate you taking the time to give that response. I will certainly check out that book by Walton. And I agree that Genesis was never written to serve as a science textbook, although many skeptics and naturalists would like to try to make it as such. Thank you again for taking the time!

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Walton’s book is available for free download in pdf format.
Search for “The Lost World of Genesis One” on the net and you should get to it right away.
Enjoy … but expect to think. He is not dogmatic, but presents “propositions” and does quite a good job in his arguments.

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@Jbegley I am very impressed by your creative application of a mathematical equation to visualize how knowledge of origins advances :clap: :thinking: . I hope that you do not mind if I store it in my personal toolbox :toolbox:.

I agree with @Mohembo, so I will try not to repeat what he said. I would like to add that the Big Bang as currently understood indicates that the Universe began. It does not explain how it began, therefore it does not disprove God’s existence. Your friend must believe either (a) that matter is eternal or (b) that something came into existence out of nothing. He has a very heavy burden of proof for that.

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Absolutely, take it! Thank you for your response. I agree. That is one question that he kept kind of avoiding. I didn’t press him on it because I didn’t want the conversation to get too heated or excited. I definitely need to work on balancing love and grace with apologetics. There is a famous saying, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” There is certainly a rather heavy burden of proof to answer questions (a) and (b) that you mentioned. For us it’s easy because there is zero doubt in my mind that God - serving as the divine creator - is the answer, but it becomes much more difficult for the naturalist!

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Has your family member seen the Cosmological Kalam argument? William Lane Craig’s animated video collection is quite good on some of these topics.

John Lennox points out the logical incoherence of a self-creating universe quite well.

Take, for instance, Hawking’s statement quoted above: “Because there is a law of gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Clearly, he assumes that gravity (or perhaps only the law of gravity?) exists. That is not nothing. So the universe is not created from nothing.

Worse still, the statement “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” is self-contradictory. If I say, “X creates Y,” this presupposes the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. If I say “X creates X,” I presuppose the existence of X in order to account for the existence of X. To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its existence is logically incoherent.
https://www.rzim.org/read/just-thinking-magazine/stephen-hawking-and-god

You might give your family member a copy of his introductory book “Can Science Explain Everything?”. It’s very clear, finishes with a Gospel message and references his much more complete writings in various places for further reading. Definitely my favourite author (Ravi is a close second :slight_smile: ).

this sounds like ‘god of the gaps’ thinking; the more science advances, the more ‘god’ is not necessary; as Lennox points out God is the creator of the whole show, the bits we understand and the bits we do not.

Also you might share this little snippet as well; a quote from Darwin himself (also in the book “Can science explain everything”).

Sometimes, when in conversation with my fellow scientists, I ask them “What do you do science with?”

“My mind,” say some, and others, who hold the view that the mind is the brain, say, “My brain”.
“Tell me about your brain? How does it come to exist?”
“By means of natural, mindless, unguided processes.”
“Why, then, do you trust it?” I ask. “If you thought that your computer was the end product of mindless unguided processes, would you trust it?”
“Not in a million years,” comes the reply.
“You clearly have a problem then.”

After a pregnant pause they sometimes ask me where I got this argument—they find the answer rather surprising: Charles Darwin. He wrote: “…with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”7

Taking the obvious logic of this statement further, Physicist John Polkinghorne says that if you reduce mental events to physics and chemistry you destroy meaning. How?
For thought is replaced by electrochemical neural events. Two such events cannot confront each other in rational discourse. They are neither right nor wrong—they simply happen. The world of rational discourse disappears into the absurd chatter of firing synapses. Quite frankly that can’t be right and none of us believe it to be so.8 Polkinghorne is a Christian, but some well-known atheists see the problem as well.
https://www.solas-cpc.org/john-lennox-busts-a-myth-about-religion-faith-and-science/

related article: https://evolutionnews.org/2015/03/why_evolutionar/

the problem gets worse; atheism at it’s core actually removes free will, as we are just determined machines; as Ravi points out in this interesting question/answer.

The best way is to ask questions in one of the 4 areas Ravi speaks on
Origin, Meaning, Morality, Destiny: the answer to these questions makes up our worldview.

just a few thoughts - hopefully a little helpful… :slight_smile:

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Hi @matthew.western! This is a lot of great information. I will look further into the the link to the Steven Hawking discussion you included as well as the videos and the article from Evolution News. That is a good point about the idea of free will vs. determinism. I don’t see how the naturalist worldview could produce a system of free will. Thank you again, I really appreciate you taking the time to share and point me to some additional resources!

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Here is another thought to throw into the mix. What the atheists posit these days is the theory of the multiverse, which says there are actually an infinite number of universes out there and thereby the odds that one could support life is one. This theory came into existence in the last 20 years or so as science kept finding things that brought clarity to the extremely fine tuning of THIS universe. The odds of this universe coming into existence by coincidence with this level of tuning kept getting closer and closer to zero as more discoveries were made. All the discoveries pointed to a Creator.

Take a look at the Anthropic Principal for more details on this.

I don’t believe Christians had to change their interpretation of the Bible at all. The Bible is unclear on exactly how this happened because that is not its intent, but it was ALWAYS clear that God created the universe, implying it had a beginning. The mechanism God used (the Big Bang) seems more clear now as we have advanced in our understanding of science, but this understanding only reinforces what the Bible has always said.

In fact exactly the opposite occurred. Atheists had to keep inventing more and more theories to counter scientific discoveries that refuted their long-held position that the universe was always here. This continues to this day. The more advanced ones hide behind Quantum Mechanics to justify these theories, but they are, in fact, nothing but theories obviously concocted to try to excuse the fact that this universe was so obviously created.

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A central feature of the Genesis account is that God brought order out of chaos. That order consists of all those things that science studies. Science could not study the material world if there were no consistent natural “laws.” In fact science depends on predictability/replicability. Scientists love mathematics. Mathematics can be used to study the physical world, because mathematics itself is made up of logic, which in turn is based on a set of consistent “rules.”

For all I know, there could be multiple universes. But none of them would last without basic underlying “laws” that work consistently. This is order, rather than chaos. A mathematics friend of mine argues that probability (chance) is actually a measure of our ignorance of all of the parameters (the rules) governing the workings of the physical/material world. The more we learn of these natural “laws” the more accurate our predictions of phsycial processes. When we know “everything” nothing will be left to “chance.”

But where does the “order” come from? It must be “informed.” Where is that information stored?

If “thought” is independent of energy/materia (electrochemical neural events) then “mind” can (and does) exist independent of the universe. It is not illogical, surely, to think that “mind” holds the information required for providing order to the universe - and its creation. The physical universe displays/holds information in its ‘substance’ and processes (and therefore scientists can study it). That doesn’t mean that the physical universe created that information.

Or am I totally bananas?

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some great thoughts.

More than bringing order out of chaos; God is eternal, by definition is uncreated. He created the universe ‘Ex nihilo’ ; from absolute nothing. He is the uncaused cause of our universe.

When he created, He also brought into existence the laws of nature (order), upon which the physical universe relies. Now I’m not sure whether He created these laws first, then the physical universe second, or whether they came into being simultaneously; one requiring the other.

yes, indeed; but it’s pure speculation and entirely impossible to verify. Interesting how an atheist who refuses to acknowledge the spiritual dimension; is quite willing to come up with alternative theories about every other possible dimension - saying that all of them exist; except a spiritual one.

coming up with a multiverse theory; machine that spits out universes; doesn’t solve anything; it just pushes the problem of first cause back a step. As the Cosmological Kalam short video above mentions; what caused the multiverse (or universe creating machine) to come into existence?; it would have to be more complex than the current universe in which we live to produce it.

Is this friend of yours a Christian or is he coming from another worldview position? To try and understand the logic of this (I might have it wrong)

  • chance is a measure of the unknown rules
  • the more rules and laws we know and discover, then less ‘chance’ is involved as an explanation for why a thing does something
  • more knowledge gives greater predictions
  • when we know everything, nothing will be left to chance

If this is being used to explain away God; This doesn’t answer the question of Agent-Creator; and seems to lean towards ‘god of the gaps’ thinking; the more we learn the less we need ‘god’ to fill the gaps in our knowledge. Except that God created the whole show; the bits we understand and the bits we dont.

Rational Explanation
The next thing we need to realise is that a scientific explanation of something is not necessarily the only rational explanation that is possible. There can be multiple explanations that are equally true at the same time.
Suppose you ask: Why is this water boiling? I may say that heat energy from the gas flame is being conducted through the copper base of the kettle and is agitating the molecules of the water to such an extent that the water is boiling. Or, I may say that the water is boiling because I would like a cup of tea. We see at once that both of these explanations are equally rational—they each make perfect sense—but they are very different. The first is scientific and the second is personal, involving my intentions, will and desire. What is also obvious is that the two explanations do not conflict or even compete. They complement each other.

What is more, both are necessary for a full explanation of what is going on. Also, the explanation in terms of personal agency is arguably the more important—people had enjoyed drinking tea for millennia before they knew anything about thermodynamics! Aristotle pointed all of this out centuries ago when he distinguished between a material cause (the kettle, water, gas and so on) and the final cause (my desire for a stimulating beverage).

Similarly, in order to explain an automobile engine, we might mention the physics of internal combustion, or we might talk about Henry Ford. Both are rational explanations. And both are necessary for a comprehensive explanation. Scaling up this illustration to the size of the cosmos, we may say that God no more competes with science as an explanation of the universe than Henry Ford competes with science as an explanation of the motor car. God is an Agent-Creator explanation of the universe; he is not a scientific explanation. Aristotle, were he alive today, would be surprised to find just how many people appear unable to see the difference.

After all, to cite a delightful analogy used by novelist Dorothy Sayers:
The same dozen tones are materially sufficient to account for Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and the noise the cat makes by walking on the keys. But the cat’s performance neither proves nor disproves the existence of Beethoven.[19]

Stephen Hawking claimed that God is not necessary to explain why the universe exists in the first place—why there is something rather than nothing. He believed that science could supply the answer. He wrote: Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.[20]
This statement looks scientific, and it was certainly written by a scientist. But not only is it not scientific; it is not even rational, as some rudimentary logic will show.

Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? . The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.

Lennox continues and explains three flaws.
The first flaw: Self-contradiction
The second flaw: Laws do not create
The third flaw: Self-creation is incoherent

This might be an interesting video on the immateriality of information. Lennox is my favourite author and speaker (as you might have gathered :slight_smile: ).

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Yes, he is a believer.

no, in my/his argument, more knowledge gives better / more accurate predictions.
And it sould allow a wider range of predictions.

However, to be fair, I should mention that we got onto this question when discussing pre-destination or better, determism; and how it might be possible to reconcile free will (or true ‘choice’) with full knowledge-type determinism.

I enjoyed the 5 minutes of Lennox. Thanks.

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ah ok, so because God has made the universe ordered, governed by laws, the more we learn about these laws, the better predictions we can make. Makes perfect sense, but I doubt that mankind will reach a state of knowing everything; to be able to eliminate chance.

ah yes, I like these kind of discussions too, but quickly run out of intellectual capacity in this area. :slight_smile: The question is; is God’s foreknowledge causative. I don’t think so. As Lennox points out in his book ‘Determined to Believe’; just because I can see a car in the distance driving towards a cliff (which the driver of the car cannot see), I know it’s going to go over the cliff. My ‘foreknowledge’ of the accident doesn’t cause it to happen.

I’m most at ease with the middle ground position of molinism; God is both sovereign over events of history and man has free will. one could ask of theistic determinism; “If God, in eternity past pre-determined an individual’s salvation and destiny; (How) will God justly judge and cast into hell a person for not believing what they were incapable of believing?”.

however on the flip side of that; man cannot just approach God on his own terms and timing; God initiates with an invitation of salvation and man can respond with free will (or not). Eph 2:8:9

I remember while doing the ‘Determined to Believe’ book study; SeanO, who led the study, shared an interesting post stating that there is probably areas of knowledge that are fenced off from humanity. Some interesting thoughts.

interesting to ponder…

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Agreed. God created the universe which resulted in chaos. God then ordered the chaos and created laws applied to the chaos, creating an orderly expansion of the universe. God gave mankind the mental capacity to understand some of the laws He created.

The singular purpose of the multiple universe theory is to try to refute the fact that this universe did not get here by coincidence. The laws you mention are a case in point. They did not materialize out of nothing.

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I start by admitting that God’s thoughts and ways are far beyond my capacity to understand. Is it impertinent to try? I don’t know, but … we do believe God had purpose in His creation; He had a plan and a goal. We see in Genesis that He can operate on the basis of “he spoke … and it was so.” But He doesn’t have to. So bring free will into the picture: my imagination takes me to a multidimentional GO game, in which the pieces have the possibility to move themselves, influenced by two players “God” and “the Enemy.” The pieces are also influenced by the pieces surrounding them. God’s goal is to win the game. He has foreknowledge of every possble move and combination of moves. The Enemy does not - he can only think in the short term and only a few moves ahead, and is entirely oriented to disrupting and confounding what he can see of God’s moves, and the choices actually made by the pieces.

Because of His foreknowledge, God has been able to work out “alternative scenarios” for every move the pieces themselve make, in responding to the enticements of both Big Players and any “group dynamic” among the pieces themselves. So no matter what the Enemy succeeds in doing, and whatever the individual pieces do, God is able to triumph in the end. God has foreknowledge of pieces that will respond positively to His wishes. He “calls” all the pieces - they are part of the “game” so He doesn’t ignore any of them - but, sure enough, those he foresaw would respond positively, do … and He continues with His next moves. In GO each piece has two sides, each with one of either colour - black or white. In certain circumstances, they are flipped over. In my imaginary game, it is the pieces themselves that choose to be one or the other colour, depending on whose “call” they respond to, and how they allow surrounding pieces to influence them. It’s not a perfect or total analogy, but for me it is a partial answer to how predestination and free can intersect.

But this is a little off-topic in this thread.

Yes, it is ALWAYS God that takes the initiative.

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I would not use quite this tone in talking with him about this topic, but here is my first draft response which would need to be toned down quite a bit. Also, you might want to buckle up, because it got a bit long.

Umm…that is a rather absurd statement. Have interpretations of Genesis changed in light of scientific discoveries…of course. Scientific theories have ALSO changed or been discarded in light of new discoveries. We discard old ideas of how things work all the time when we discover new evidence. To NOT do so would be idiotic.

Scientists believed that the universe has always existed completely unchanged (no need of an eternally-existing creator if the stuff has always existed). Then they discovered the red shift of distant galaxies which showed that the universe is expanding. Okay, so now we have a big bang. Then they decided that gravity would slow the expansion and eventually bring everything back together into a big crunch. So now the universe has always existed, but it’s been going through these bang/crunch cycles forever. Then they discovered that the expansion of the universe isn’t slowing down, but it’s actually speeding up as it is being fueled by “dark energy” (that sounds SO much better than “energy about which we know next to nothing” - don’t ya think?). So now the big bang is a 1-off, and the universe has a beginning. Oh wait…M-theory to the rescue. You see, there are these energy “branes” floating around in the 11th dimension & every time they collide with each other, they create new big bangs & hence new universes to form the multi-verse. Do we have any proof they exist? No. Can we ever get any proof of their existence? None of the universes ever actually interact with each other in any way, so no. So now the “branes” are eternally-existent.

Perhaps you see a theme here. They need something material to have always existed. This is because there are only 2 possibilities for the origin of the universe. Either there is an eternal uncaused cause, or there is an infinite line of causes. The 2nd option has 2 rather LARGE problems:

  1. There is no point to studying cosmology as there is no final answer. Every time you peel back the curtain, you find another curtain. You can’t get to the bottom of a bottomless pit.

  2. As Ravi has pointed out, if you have an infinite line of causes, we could not exist at this moment of finite space & time. You can’t cross infinity, so we could not have crossed the infinite past to arrive here. Hence we don’t exist.

So there HAS to be an uncaused cause that has always been & is the source of everything else that has followed. They say “it” is some kind of material & call it “branes,” some version of string theory (there are 5 last I looked), or the singularity (you know…the really tiny point that preceded the big bang at which all the laws of physics as we currently understand them completely break down). I say “it” is actually an intelligent, creative, relatable person which the Bible calls God.

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As a lifelong YECist, I view the question from an entirely different perspective – though one that I think can perfectly agree with the OEC view of evidence while coming to a different conclusion.

First, to dovetail off the Intentional Creation vs Spontaneous Creation discussion, I think it’s important to recognize that if there is an intentional third party behind Creation (which I think we can all agree is the case), then predictability goes out the window. There are certain cause-and-effects that one can derive from the evidence, but they are entirely contingent on a presumption of how much of an effect our First Mover had.

Example. If you walk into a room and find a grandfather clock with its pendulum swinging, you’ve got a lot of evidence at your disposal. You can measure the weight of the pendulum, the speed of the swing, and the length of the arch of the pendulum – particularly in comparison to the longest possible arch. From this, you can figure how long the pendulum could possibly have been swinging. What you cannot determine is how long the pendulum HAS been swinging, because one thing you cannot account for is the amount of force the Swinger transferred to the pendulum. Whether it had been swinging for a couple days (maximum transfer of force), a couple hours (moderate), or a couple minutes (minimal), the evidence that you are able to gather would still be the same.

Similarly, when we look at the evidence for Creation, we can measure how long a radioactive isotope COULD HAVE been decaying, but because that radioactive isotope has an Intentional Creator, we cannot measure how long it HAS been decaying, simply because we don’t know at what stage of decay the isotope was created.

There’s evidence for this dynamic in scripture, in the creation of Adam. If you take a literal view of Genesis, you could look at Adam at 30 seconds old and he would nevertheless look 30 YEARS old, because that’s the stage of life that he had been created in.

What’s more, you can glean a purpose for him being created at that stage – because it’s only as a mature adult that he could actually be self-sustaining. He couldn’t have been created as an embryo or an infant or a child or even an adolescent, because each of those stages would’ve required a nurturer of some kind to raise him… a nurturer that did not exist, as Adam was (according to a literal view of Genesis) the first human. Applying this First-Mover reasoning to the Genesis account, it seems to me that the order of Creation laid out in Genesis is the most logically sound order possible.

He starts with absolute nonexistence, and in the first verses of Genesis 1, He creates “the heavens” – dimension (length, width, height, time, etc), without which nothing physical can exist.

Then He creates “the earth” – matter, which fills dimension, but lacking cohesion doesn’t do much else.

Then He creates “light” – the energy by which to organize that matter. Following that, He creates the various states of matter – liquid (water), gas (firmament), solid (land), and so on.

Each successive creation in Genesis 1 is (by all scientific law) dependent upon the previous creation, finally building to the point where, upon all of this foundational creation, He creates a being capable of enjoying relationship with Him.

And then He stops.

If I were to build a self-sustaining universe out of absolute nothing with an ultimate goal in mind, I can’t imagine that I’d build it in any other sequence. What’s more, this order is agreeable to the scientific evidence that we have. We can measure the evidence for each and every step, and come up with an idea of how long it MIGHT have been going, but because we cannot account for how much force (in age, momentum, or decay, or what have you) our First Mover, God, gave to a given creation, we cannot determine how long it HAS been going.

Finally, bring all this back to the original question – how can the Bible be a true document if it describes Creation in some way other than what the science books say? I submit that the writers of those science books make presumptions based on a faith-position that they hold.This isotope has a maximum possible decay of so many years, so it MUST have been decaying for that many years. It takes light this long to go from source to destination, so the light MUST have been traveling for that long. These are all conclusions based on the presumption that nothing was created “already in progress”.

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Looks like you have already gave some great responses, and received a lot of good insight and ideas from others on this thread, as well. I agree with the core of your response, that the Bible is not a science textbook. As others have, I would also highly recommend John Lennox’s book, “Can Science Explain Everything”

To add a little more color to one of the points that was raised:

The Big Bang theory was actually first proposed by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, so is not inconsistent with faith. I forget exactly where I heard this (perhaps from John Lennox, Francis Collins, or William Lane Craig), but I heard that some atheist scientists resisted the Big Bang Theory, because they knew the idea could be used to promote creationism. I found this article explaining the debate:

Many atheist scientists were repulsed by the Big Bang’s creationist overtones. According to [Sir Fred] Hoyle, it was cosmic chutzpah of the worst kind: “The reason why scientists like the ‘big bang’ is because they are overshadowed by the Book of Genesis.” In contrast, the Steady State model was the rightful heir to the Copernican principle. It combined the banality of space with humanity’s mediocrity in time. Thanks to Hoyle, humanity had humility.

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You’re probably already overloaded with answers to your excellent question than you ever thought possible. Perhaps you could allow for one more? Haha!

Solomon wrote, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Prov. 25:2 ESV. We are familiar with Solomon being a prolific writer of songs and proverbs. What is less commonly known is that much of the wisdom God thought worthy of imparting to Solomon had to do with several fields of biology. He may very well have been the first science professor in that he taught extensively on many areas of biology, including botany, ornithology, herpetology, ichthyology and more (1 Kings 4:33). He counseled lazy people to study ants (Prov. 6:6-9) implying he also knew some entomology (my field of study). So it would seem our Great Creator intends for – even delights in – His children discovering the wonders of the world that He has made.

God told Job (ch. 38-42) to consider meteorological events, astronomy, deep space as well as several types of mammals (horses, goats, donkeys), birds (ostriches, hawks and eagles) and the super mysterious “behemoth” (dinosaur??) and “leviathan” and that, by doing so, all these things would tell Job something of Himself. Jesus encouraged bird-watching as a way of learning some things about God and of ourselves. (Highly recommend John Stott’s “The Birds, Our Teachers”). Good science will do that.

Now consider the question of Darwinian evolution’s compatibility with Christianity. The Bible tells us that the struggle for existence and death was caused by human sin (Genesis 3, Romans 5, etc). However, Darwinian evolution states that animals were suffering, dying, killing each other way before the dawn of H.sapiens, i.e., death before humans. To solve this potential conflict, many try excluding animal death from the equation. This would then allow for the idea that God created by means of evolution. But what follows from this are some very serious philosophical and theological dilemmas.

Alfred Tennyson described the current state of nature as “red in tooth and claw.” Darwin could not “persuade” himself that the parasitoid behavior of female Ichneumonidae was compatible with a “beneficent” God. And Dawkins observed that the staggering numbers of animals dying of thirst, starvation, disease and being devoured alive (from within and without) was proof of a universe without purpose and indicative of a “pitiless indifference.”
If we are to accept Darwinian evolution as a creative means, then it must be understood what that implies: God made the natural world in this violent and pitiless state and called it all “very good.” We then have the philosophical dilemma described above. It would seem that God is a bit sadistic, quite pitiless and, indeed, not at all beneficent. This is in stark contrast to a God who provides instructions in the Levitical law to leave provisioning for wild animals (Ex. 23:Lev. 25:7), Who cares for sparrows and to Whom all creatures look to for their food (Ps. 104) and Who wants us to study nature to learn about HIM.

God describes carnivorous activity as “harming” and “destroying” behaviors that are abolished on His holy mountain (Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25) Why would He abolish such behavior that He Himself had instituted? Furthermore, verses like Hosea 4:1-3 place the blame squarely on the shoulders of people when it says that sins of humanity such as cursing, lying, murder, etc. are THE REASON why the beasts of the field, birds of the air and fish of the sea are DYING.

Additional theological ramifications are that if the penalty for sin is not physical death (as the Bible teaches), then we have to explain the purpose behind the physical death of Jesus who is purported to be taking on the penalty for sin.

If you made it this far, yay! I know this was a lot, but I do hope it helps clear some things up for you and your family member.

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