I saw a number of these headlines today. Maybe you did, too:
“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said.
The National Catholic Register gives more context:
“He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.”
Pope Francis said that “the beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a Supreme Principle who creates out of love.”
“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”
“With regard to man, however, there is a change and something new.”
“When, on the sixth day of the account in Genesis, man is created, God gives the human being another autonomy, an autonomy that is different from that of nature, which is freedom,” Pope Francis said.
When God tells man “to name everything and to go ahead through history,” he stated, “this makes him responsible for creation, so that he might steward it in order to develop it until the end of time.”
The Pope is talking about intelligent design. Here’s what he’s saying:
- The Big Bang theory could be possible, but not without God as the the divine, loving impetus.
- Evolution could be possible, if you presuppose that all of the creatures were created.
- Humans were created on the second day.
- Creation has continued for millennia and will continue, because God gives life to everything.
Just by saying “Humans were created,” the Pope is refuting the macro-evolution idea that humans evolved from apes, which evolved from other mammals, which evolved from the first fish that sprouted legs and walked on land.*
*Do people still think that? I honestly don’t know. I think Creation is not nearly as far-fetched as the mathematically impossible chance of 1) a male and 2) a female mammal both evolving at the 3) same time, in the 4) same place, the male with 5) working sperm and the female with a 6) working womb and 7) mammary glands so that they could reproduce enough to evolve into anything else. Let alone that series of events happening for every consequential mammal for us to get the number of species the earth once had. Anyway, we will be teaching our kids evolution when they are older, and when we do, I will provide them with resources more current than what I was taught in tenth grade biology. Read on.
All this from a speech whose point was supposed to be “Hey people, we need to take care of the earth.” It isn’t new for a Pope to say that the Big Bang and evolution are not incompatible with Christianity. The disturbing thing is the part he said about God not being able to do everything. (Um…what?) But I’m not talking about omnipotence here. I’m talking about evolution and creationism.
It’s not Religion vs. Science. It’s Cosmology.
Old World, Young Earth, Evolution, Big Bang—What should we teach our kids? We’ll teach our kids everything. I’ve already started with Champ. But instead of teaching all of these thing in a science class, we’ll teach them in philosophy class. Science is something observable and testable. We can say that the universe is expanding and that’s science. We can observe microevolution—the changes within species, like the evolution of dog breeds.
We cannot observe the creation of the universe.
We can only think about it and make theories.
The Biblical Account of Creation
When we read or hear the account of creation, we think of it from our worldview. And that’s a world that has seen this:
It’s also a world that knows the earth spins while also going around the sun.
It’s also a world that knows 1 rotation of the earth is 1 day, and 1 trip around the sun is 1 year.
Now forget all that.
Let’s assume that Moses wrote Genesis.
Start picturing Genesis 1 from his point of view, on top of Mt. Sinai.
Like this:Robin Montufar
Let’s read the account of the first few days of Creation, from the New Living Translation, trying to imagine it how it would have been presented to Moses:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
Let me stop you for a second there. What’s the light? Think about that for just a second, while we move on.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” 7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. 8 God called the space “sky.”
And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.
When I read verse nine, I’m picturing the mountains raising up and the waters running off, pooling together to form oceans.
14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.
One day for us is one rotation of the earth around the sun. So what was a day before the sun?
Revelation 22:5 says, when talking about the new Earth, “And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”
God himself was the light. Jesus says, twice in John, “I am the light” (8:12, 9:5). So one creation-day, during at least the first three days of creation, were relative to God’s work, not relative to the 24-hour system we know today.
Time is relative. It is relative to light passing. If we believe that, it’s easy to understand how, once we are in the presence of God, time is irrelevant. God is outside of time. For fellow geeks, Jesus is the One True TimeLord.
Of course God isn’t limited by time. One creation day could be an hour of earth time, or it could be a million years of earth time. That doesn’t change that God created the world. He created the world in six separate units, and then took some time to enjoy it. So we model our days and weeks accordingly.
So why even call it a “day” at all? To put it in terms we understand. Consider God as a man coloring in a globe. He colors in one section, turns the globe, and colors in that section, turns the globe again, and keeps turning the globe until it comes full circle. That’s one “day.” Then he adds detail with a Sharpie. He’ll probably take a lot longer to do that, but by the time he’s done, the globe has made one rotation again. It’s another “day,” it’s just a lot longer.
Time is relative to God. Creation is relative to God.
What about dinosaurs?
I am quite sure that dinosaurs weren’t around in Moses’ day, even if they were around during Noah’s (Creationists debate both ways). God was showing Moses how he created the earth. Dinosaurs were not priority. I can imagine the interchange.
Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals—”
Woah. Hold on. What is THAT?
That…those things. With the long necks. And the other things with the tiny arms and sharp, pointy teeth.
Oh, you like those? Yeah, I made those too.
I’ve never seen them before.
I could fill millions of scrolls with the number of things you’ve never seen, Moses. Focus.
Can we move on now?
And that is what happened.25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.
That sixth day was quite a woozy, wasn’t it? All of the creatures ever made, all in a creation-day’s work. Because once God got on a roll, why would he stop? Once he finally did stop, it was the end of the day.
So when did we start counting days as relevant to the sun, rather than to God’s presence? If not after the day of rest, then probably after the Fall. When humans gained the ability to die, they became subject to time.
And when did the earth’s spin around the sun become constant? When did we start accounting days by 24 hours? Sometime around the time of the Ancient Egyptians. (If you ask an astronomer, he or she will tell you that the earth’s rotation is actually not quite 24 hours.)
This is cosmology—it’s all theory. We are doing a philosophical exercise here. And this is the sort of thing we will do with our children. We will teach them all the theories, teach them to question them all, and then let them decide which they believe. Blind faith isn’t faith—it’s ignorance. Faith is trusting in what you believe, and then leaning on that trust when you come across something you don’t or can’t understand.
So that’s how we’ll approach the Big Bang, evolution (in all its forms, from the most extreme, to variables in genetics among family members), and creation. When the kids get older, they’ll need to research creation stories from other cultures and decide what they mean to them.
Does it matter how old the earth is?
I was reading 1 Timothy today, and it really sums up how I feel about controversial topics like the age of the earth and the specifics of Revelation:
3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 7 They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.
I encourage different interpretations of scripture. We need to see outside of our limited worldview so we can understand the original intent. But at the end of the day, the only thing important for me to teach my children is this:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Apparently I’ll only be posting on this blog when I have something to say about my convictions. I invite you to follow me on Pinterest, since I won’t be updating this blog regularly. Specifically, I have a board titled “What We Believe,” which contains articles on evolution and possible evidence that the earth is younger than is conventionally taught, and other boards “A Full House” and “At Home Classroom” that relate to how we plan on raising our children. Note that I pin quite a range of theories and ideas. We plan on keeping Champ in preschool for another year and then will look for elementary schools for him. Still, every home is a classroom, so whether we homeschool him in the future or not, I like to keep my options open, and I like having inspiration for teachable moments.
Note on comments: We are a Christian family, and this is what we are teaching our children. If you aren’t Christian, if you don’t believe in creation, then you’ll tell your children it’s myth. It’s as simple as that. If the comments on this post are off-topic or harassing, I will turn off the comments.