I found a magazine from a couple of years ago kicking around the other day, and a question from an advertisement on the back cover caught my attention:
“How important is it whether you believe in a literal six-day creation or an evolutionary past that stretches back billions of years?”
Before I get into this, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I believe in God. I believe that God created the universe, and I believe that God created life. But whether God created everything in the literal six days as described in the Bible, that I’m not so sure about. But, the thing that interests me with the “question” from the magazine is the “either/or” nature of it. The question is stated as though you can either believe in a literal six-day creation or you can believe in an evolutionary past that stretches back billions of years and that there is no other option. I’m not buying that.
Sometimes, “either/or” questions can be fun. I had a friend that used to ask me, “Do you pack your lunch or ride the bus to school?” I would typically be caught off guard and hesitate for a second. The truth is I could pack a lunch and ride the bus to school — it wasn’t strictly an “either/or” situation. In retrospect, I suppose that I could’ve answered my friend with a “yes” or “no” and maybe that would’ve caused him to hesitate! Sigh… Why do I always think of these things when it’s too late?
Now, I understand that not all Christians hold to the black or white, either/or view on the creation of the universe or the origins of life. The magazine that I was looking at is from the Institute for Creation Research, and they obviously believe in the six-day creation theory as described in Genesis. I am not going to argue with their science — if they can prove that the universe is only 6000 years old, great (not sure how they can prove that though). On the other side of the coin, I certainly can’t say that I believe in evolution as an explanation of the origin of man: there are too many holes in the theory and too little fossil evidence. What I object to with the “question” they posed was the implied assumption that the only viable alternatives are the literal six-day creation model or an evolutionary past – there are alternative beliefs about the origin of life and the origin of earth that may ultimately prove to be just as valid… or maybe even… (gasp)… true!
Have you ever seen someone frame an argument by asking an either/or question in such a way that the only viable answers are those that the questioner wants to defend or prove false? The debater states an “either/or” where the only alternatives are what he believes to be true and what he can prove to be false. If you side with him, you’re right. If you take the alternative, he can shoot you down. There are no other alternatives, and you can be left with two options that you don’t necessarily buy into. (Where is Monty Hall when we need him? “Let’s see what’s behind Door #3!”)
The problem with this “either/or” type of framework is that it limits the possibilities we consider. Have you ever considered this scenario: what if God created the universe billions of years ago, but he didn’t create life on planet Earth until some thousands of years ago? (This is referred to as the Gap Theory – there is a gap between the first “days” of creation and the “days” where God created living creatures on earth.) How about this one – God created the universe billions of years ago, and he created a first wave of life on earth at some point in time (think dinosaurs), then came back to the “sandbox” and created man at a later point. Ever heard that one thrown out? Is that because evolutionists want to deny that God had a hand in creation, or is it because Christians don’t want to rock the “six days” boat by suggesting the timeline wasn’t literal?
The truth is, none of us is exactly sure how God created the earth, or how life got here. We’ve all got an idea in our head based on Scripture/faith or scientific evidence or some combination of the two, but none of us were there, so we don’t know for sure how it happened. In actuality, there is only one “truth” about the origin of the universe – we may not know how, but there’s only one method via which the universe came into existence. (Can you imagine if the universe came into existence through a contest where 5 “creators” drew up proposals and the one with the best combination of price and design got to build the project? That probably wouldn’t work, and the universe certainly wouldn’t be done yet!) However the universe got here, it got here, and we can only strive to discover how that happened. Being shackled with an “either/or” alternative limits our viewpoint on the possibilities.
Judeo-Christian/monothiests: if you believe that God created the universe in the literal six 24-hour day creation model, that’s fine – I’m not trying to make you change your mind. However, be aware that you could be limiting your perspective on God’s awesome creation. And, try not to act condescending towards others that don’t believe in the literal six day model – that tends to make us look narrow minded and foolish to the world.
Non-”Creationists”: if you believe that all of creation came into being at random and life is an unexpected consequence of who knows what, you should probably brush up on your math skills and look at the probability of “random” events coming to pass. Put it this way: it’s more likely to pick winning lottery numbers 5 times in a row that it is for DNA to randomly form. Think about it…..
As for me, my best guess is that God created the universe a long time ago, but it’s also possible he created the universe in six days… I don’t really know for sure. And I’m okay with that. Just don’t tell me that I’m less of a Christian because I’m okay with that!
How about if we do a small poll – I’ll give you some options and you can reply to my blog. Realize going in, most of my friends (aka, the handful of people that might actually read my blog) are Christians, so that could slant the results. But, I am curious to see what people think. So, here are your options:
A: God created the universe and life on earth in the literal six 24-hour days as described in Genesis.
B: God created it all, but the universe is old. The timing in the Genesis story is not literal, 24-hour days.
C: The universe is billions of years old, and life on earth came about through evolution.
D: I have no idea!!!!!
E: None of the above (after everything I said in the above blog, I better give this as an option!)
F: God created, but I have no idea if the universe is “young” or “old” (I added this alternative for those that can’t decide between A & B)
Let me know what you think. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic again someday…. (Yes, this is the kind of stuff I sit around and think about. I know… you used to wonder if I was weird, and now I’ve confirmed it!)