Monday, 23 November 2009
Out of the Theological closet: I am not a 6 day Creationist.
A bit of background is always helpful I feel. I was, from my GCSEs till my second year of University, a strong 6 Day Creationist. From that period until now my view on this has gradually changed, and I'm sure is going to alter again as new evidence comes for and new ideas are presented. Where I stand at present is, I suppose, as an agnostic. Let me expand a bit further.
As I have already said I was for a long time a solid 6 day-er, mainly due to my views on Genesis. Not helped, as I'm sure everyone can empathise with, by those that taught (on both sides) that evolution kills God. This of course, due to my strong conviction in the truth of Christianity, lead me to take up and defend the position which I was convinced at the time showed God, and attacked that which I believed lead to a him being pushed out the picture, so to speak. I got all the books I could on the subject so that I could have a strong apologetical stance on the issue, which I believe I did. I was a big fan on Ken Ham, Monty White and Answers in Genesis ministries in general. Michael. J. Behe's book, 'Darwins Black Box' became almost Deutero-canonical for me.
So where did it all change? There were 3 real steps:
1) I was actively involved in the Cardiff Christian Union, whilst at university. I found that instead of aiding the God debate, creationism actually destroyed it. I had to make a decision on where to go from here. What I concluded at the time was that even though it was correct it was a red-herring and therefore is to be avoided where possible. What I found was that even when I made a strong case for creationism, the mere mention that I questioned evolution placed me as a nutter not to be listened to. I decided that it was Christ crucified that I was to preach, not God the builder.
2) I looked at the reason for Genesis 1-3. Seriously, I mean why is it there? A nice story for the kids? Why do we need to know the ins and outs of what God made and when? Wouldn't Genesis 1:1 be enough? Then we looked at Genesis as University and I was convinced of it. Genesis very closely resembles Babylonian creation myth: Enuma Elish (EE). Each generation of the gods of the EE myth parallel the days that God creates on. E.g. Generation 1: Apsu (the god of water) and Tiamat (god of chaos and bearer of earth and sky) parallels day 1 of creation (Gen 1:1-2). Now there are various reasons given for this but I believe it to be intentional. Something along the lines of, 'You worship creation as Gods but you are wrong. Our one God created everything, including what you believe to be gods and has in fact placed them under our control'. You will notice that much of Genesis is in poetic prose, and not as history. I believe that it is also to counter-act the theology of pre-determinism found in many pagan theologies. (Genesis 2-3)
3) Due to the points above I attempted to re-evaluate the evidence with an open mind. What I discovered was that the evidence was more tipped towards evolution then I had first accepted. However I was still aware that evidence doesn't lead to much unless interpreted, and that much of the interpretation was indeed biased. Of course we all know of falsified evidence (on both sides I might add) that means that we have to approach with a great deal of scepticism. One only needs to think of the peppered moth incident!
4) I looked at when the 6 day-ers began and the history behind it. What it came down to was that it wasn't even addressed until Darwin (as you might expect) and even then most of Darwin’s supporters were Christians. The idea of creationism as we know it now is an extremely late (1920's American) take on the Bible and is a minority view in the extreme. This period was largely influenced by the documentary "Did Darwin kill God?". You can see it here.
So where does that leave me now? Basically I’m on the fence. I have disregarded 6 day creationism on 2 grounds: 1) That it is an extremely late, extra-biblical concept, and 2) the evidence (and interpretation of it) is stacked against it. So am I an evolutionist in the sense used today? No, because: 1) God is certainly involved in creation. I think that is is very clear from simple observation and the idea that matter comes from nothing is scientifically absurd. It seems obvious that there must be, as Aristotle notes, an 'unmoved mover'. 2) There seems to be much evidence contrary to established evolution. The geographic columns are mixed up, people keep forging evidence which if it is so solid seems absurd, and both carbon and uranium dating are unreliable. None of these of course means that evolution is incorrect but rather that I'm not ready to put all my eggs into that basket yet. Perhaps in time my position will change but for now this is where I stand.
I think the Church of the Nazarene sum it up well when they say:
"The Church of the Nazarene believes in the biblical account of creation (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . .”—Genesis 1:1). We oppose any godless interpretation of the origin of the universe and of humankind. However, the church accepts as valid all scientifically verifiable discoveries in geology and other natural phenomena, for we firmly believe that God is the Creator." (Articles I.1., V. 5.1, VII.)
Till next time!