Can we believe Genesis?


  • Question from BH, United Kingdom

    Dear Freelance Theologist,

    Our daughter is studying Darwin and the theory of Evolution in her biology lessons in School. How can I give her a biblical perspective, bearing in mind she is 11 years old?

    The area of creation and evolution is a tricky one and, without an exhausting trawl through the current scientific world, most Christians feel a bit out of their depth on this one. On the one hand, evolution seems opposed to Christian doctrine, on the other nobody wants to be thought of as an ignorant fundamentalist.

    There are some scientists and organisations that doggedly debate the evolutionary issue, most of these can be found on the web using Google. They tend to call themselves ‘Creation Science/Scientists’ or ‘Creationists’.

    Briefly some of their arguments would be summed up as follows:
    1) Evolution, as a theory, has a number of gaps and flaws that are conveniently skipped over (the ‘missing link’ between humans and apes continually eludes fossil-hunters for example).
    2) Evolution has, for many years, relied on hoaxes (like Piltdown Man) or redundant myths (like human foetuses growing through evolutionary stages) as ‘proof’.
    3) The time-scale involved does not allow for a complicated world to occur by random chance.
    4) Thermodynamics introduces us to the concept of entropy – everything decays – which kind of stumps the idea of life forms becoming more complicated over time.
    5) Evolution does not satisfactorily explain the development of creatures capable of abstract thought, imagination and innovation. If the race truly ‘goes to the swift’, then the dreamers should have been eaten long ago.

    Creation is a key element in Christian doctrine because it affirms God’s sovereignty over this world. The ‘Fall of Man’ may be an allegory, but it explains how evil can exist in a world made by a good God. The creative aspect of human beings is easily explained if humans bear the likeness of a creator God.

    There are some Christians who believe that God may have used evolutionary processes in his creative acts (‘theistic evolution’), while others reject evolution in it’s entirety and argue for six literal days composed of twenty-four hours. Whether this literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis is the best use of Scripture is open to debate. Genesis was not written as a scientific paper, it was written to underline a theological truth – God is the one responsible for this world and everything in it should recognise that sovereignty.

    There is an old saying that Genesis is not about ‘how the world was made’; rather it is about ‘why the world was made’. This is perhaps a bit glib, but even so it contains some truth, which will probably make a good starting point for your daughter to consider.

    I hope that answers your question BH. Thank you for contributing to freelance theology. If anyone would like to make a point about creation or evolution, email the freelance theologian using the button on the sidebar.

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