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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

God's role in creation: Part I - Myths

Earlier this month, many of us witnessed the debate between Bill Nye (representing Evolution) and Ken Ham (representing Creation). Indeed, the question is almost always portrayed as such (either one or the other). The Fundamentalist view of the Genesis accounts of creation is almost always presented as the basis or starting point for the discussion (as if this was the only valid interpretation of the Christian side of the argument).
However, there are many Christians who support the notion of God as Creator, but don't support the Ham interpretation of Scripture. In fact, many of us in that camp found ourselves in better agreement with Mr. Nye than with Mr. Ham!
If we are determined to look at the Genesis creation stories as literal accounts of the process of creation, then we are setting ourselves up for real problems with logic and science. Consider these facts about a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of Creation:
1) Light and the designation of the time period known as one day (being relatively equal parts of light and darkness) is created (Genesis 1:3-5) before the sun (Genesis 1:14-19). Hence, there appears to be no understanding on the part of the author of this passage that the earth's rotation on its axis while orbiting the sun is the source of night and day.
2) We are told that God made the firmament (sky) to "divide the waters from the waters." (Genesis 1:6-7) Hence, there appears to be no understanding of the hydrologic cycle that governs the continuous turn over of water on this planet (water evaporates into the atmosphere from lakes, seas, oceans and rivers and condenses there and falls in the form of rain and snow back to the earth where it returns to the rivers, lakes, seas and oceans).
3) We are told that God created plant life on the surface of the earth (Genesis 1:11-13) prior to the creation of the sun (Genesis 1:14-17). Hence, there appears to be no understanding that the sun is necessary for plant photosynthesis to occur.
4) We are told that "God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night" (Genesis 1:16), and that "God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth" (Genesis 1:17). Once again, there appears to be absolutely no understanding that the earth is orbiting the sun and the moon is orbiting the earth. Moreover, the author of these passages appears to not make any distinction between the atmosphere surrounding the earth and space.
5) We are told that all marine and avian life is created on the fifth day (Genesis 1:20-23), and that all other animal life (including humans) was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:24-26). This is obviously not consistent with the fossil record (our knowledge of the past) or our knowledge of how animal and plant populations within ecosystems currently work on this planet (what we can clearly observe in the present).
6) The second chapter of Genesis presents us with even more challenges to logic and science than the first. We are told that a mist spewed out of the ground and watered the earth - no rain (Genesis 2:6). If we are indeed intended to understand everything literally, then we are also confronted with the presence of two mysterious trees - one referred to as the tree of life and the other as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). Unlike the account in the first chapter that informs us that the male and female of the human kind were created simultaneously (Genesis 1:26-28), we are told that God created the man first and that the woman was created as an afterthought later (Genesis 2:7, 18-23).
7) Finally, faced once again with an insistence by Ham and his supporters on a literal understanding of these scriptures, we are presented with a snake that speaks to the woman and convinces her to disobey God's clear instructions to the couple (which eventually results in their expulsion from the garden). (Genesis 3)
Are we quite sure that we Christians want to leave this matter in the hands of Ken Ham and his associates? Of course, we could just tie a dark cloth over our eyes and poke our fingers in our ears and pretend these things don't exist!

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