Saturday, October 10, 2009

In The Beginning.....then what?

"In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth"

That is how history of all time opens, and also probably where the confusion begins for us all. I have been pondering Creation lately and how we all got here and what a miracle it all is.....and how much we don't know and probably never will. The question is how much do we REALLY know about how the earth began, how much we can discover and where we can discover it.

For a large number of Christians, the history of the universe begins in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. This is where we read the account of a seven day creation cycle. In the first two chapters we see the creation of light and darkness; sun, moon and stars, land from water, and most importantly man. All this was done with His spoken Word and God the Father said it was all good. Most Christians who hold to a literal 7 day creation would also believe that the earth is anywhere between 6,000-10,000 years old. Of course, the Bible is not meant to be a history book or a scientific textbook, so this being the case, there are many questions that are left unanswered and this creates holes in our story. This brings us to another perspective.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the scientific community. Some may be be atheists, agnostics and some might be people of faith. I am no scientist and I don't pretend to be one so I won't try to impress people with scientific terms or definitions, but from the scientific point of view, there may or may not be a God (intelligent design) and the humanity that we see on the earth, along with the earth we reside on is a matter of chance or a series of events that have evolved over possibly hundreds of millions--or even billions of years; we just happened to be here. Yet there are holes in this approach as well. Was there a design to this whole system we exist in? Is there a purpose to humanity other than just existing and dying?

So the question is: Is there any merging of these two points of view and are they diametrically opposed? I think that the answer is a resounding YES.

"Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."--Pope John Paul II

Let's first look at the facts and the missing links of the account of Creation in Genesis. One of the most important things to remember is that if you are going to read Genesis, you must read it in the context that it was written. Also you must realize that the ancient Hebrews recorded history much differently than what we are used to in the Western world. In other words, Genesis can't be taken at face value. When we in the Western world read a historical document, we are trained to read in a very linear fashion and expect things to flow in an orderly chronological fashion. This is not so with Hebrew history. The writer of Genesis (Moses) and the other ancient authors tend to record history more in an elliptical format. This simply means that they tend to explain what happened more in a conceptual way and then move on to the next concept, without a definite timeline. In addition, there was much more symbolism used than what we are used to seeing in our culture.

Looking at the first chapter of Genesis for example, we see in the very first verse that the earth was already here in existence. This does not mean that God did not create the earth however. As Christians, be believe that the earth and everything we see was created by God "ex nihlo" or out of nothing. What we do see is that at the point were the Genesis account picks up, however, we see the earth was dark, void, without order:

Genesis 1:1-2 (NAB)
1 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Reading further into the first chapter of Genesis, we see that on "Day 1" God separated the light from darkness...and this was the first day. Now do I believe this was a 24 hour day? I don't think so. The reason I say that is due to this fact: What makes a "day" a "day"? The sun. 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night is what defines a day. According to the first chapter of Genesis, the Sun and moon were not even created until day 4. This leads me very much to believe that instead of a series of "24 hour days" as we are used to believing, that the earth and the universe was created in 7 undefined periods of time.

Is this outlook somewhat heretical, or does it somehow detract from the power of a Creator? BY NO MEANS! Whether God took 7 days or 7million years to create our universe, HE still created it. In addition, if you want to hold to a seven day creation, then do so! The most important and undeniable fact of creation is the human creation. We must believe that the human race was created by God through one man and one woman; Creations that were given life by the very breath of God himself. Creatures that were given the abilities that no other creature on earth has: capacities to know right from wrong, to love and most of all to know God.

The fault, however of many Christians is that they tend to blacklist scientific discoveries. If there are carbon tests that say a fossil is millions, or billions of years old it is blacklisted and denied. Science and faith have the ability to work hand in hand and TRUE science will never contradict the faith, but rather enhance our faith by revealing more and more the intricacies of the Father along with the vast attention to detail that he paid to it.

What is true science? True science in it's purest form comes to us as a method to understand what exists in the world that we live. It comes with no predispositions, but with methods and theories to be proven. True science does not exist to prove there is no God, but rather to research and explain what is.

Taking scientific studies on their own outside of faith can be even more deceptive and dangerous. Science without acknowledging the Almighty leads to a humanity without purpose and left to our own devices. Without God there is no right or wrong, good or evil, but whatever we as humans have decided what is good or evil. Without God we are all happenstance amoebas who happened to gain the time and the ability to "evolve" into something greater. It forces us to search back for the "missing link" that ties us to the past rather than acknowledging that we are creatures of an Almighty God that created us for His love and His purpose.

As Christians, let us not be afraid of looking at true is the other wing that leads us to understanding

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