Cradle Mountain Tasmania 26 December 2009. It was cold and the park was nearly empty when our little family arrived early in the morning as part of a two-week caravanning holiday. When we went on a ranger led walk we were by ourselves. The ranger was very chatty and informative, he pointed out the wide range of species unique to Tasmania and the local area, noting the linkages but differences to mainland species which was consistent with the geological evidence for the splitting of Tasmania off from mainland Australian 10,000 years ago. Looking around at the beautiful scene it was obvious that firstly his explanation of the facts (right or wrong) contradicted my understanding of creation and secondly that my understanding of creation didn’t match the evident facts. Not one to leave questions and challenges unanswered, I had to look harder at the subject. Initially, my faith was highly destabilised by the contradiction of my understanding of God’s Word in relation to Creation and my understanding of the physical evidence for what God had done. In my words, what I understood God said to be saying and the fingerprints of what He apparently did appeared to conflict.
I had to go back and reconsider what I knew, or thought I knew, about the physical facts around us – the fingerprints of God. I also had to go back and examine what I thought I knew about God’s Word in some passages. We are encouraged to prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and to hear all the argument/facts before rushing to conclusions (Prov 18:13). I have given enthusiastic and (with hindsight) embarrassingly ill-considered and poorly researched lectures against evolution. I hope readers can suspend judgment better than I have in the past. After much exploration of alternatives, evolutionary creationism (EC) appears to me to be the most likely reality – the way God brought about the creation we see around us today. Why do I say EC and not Theistic Evolution? Because I believe God was intimately involved and used evolution as part of the creative miracle.
Precisely how God created I don’t know. The level and frequency of angelic involvement in the processes I don’t know. I believe the Big Bang was the work of God as was the commencement of life. The extent of evolution and angelic involvement from there? Significant but I’m not certain of the full extent. At some level, I believe evolution is a path and tool God used and the literal 6-day model presented in Genesis – while within God’s power – is a poetic hymn of praise and statement of His power and purpose rather than a literal description of what He did in 144 hours about 6,000 years ago. The level of information within the DNA, the improbability of life and the fine tuning of our universe point to the hand of God, just an enormous amount of evidence points to His use of evolution and long periods of time. The precise details we will discover in the Kingdom.
There is a tremendous amount of evidence which challenges our traditional understanding of Genesis 1. My overriding hope is that as a community we will find a way to accommodate alternative views on the subject in view of the difficulties. This document predominantly explores the passages relevant to creation to assess whether Scripture really excludes the possibility of EC.
A critical thing to bear in mind is some of the expositions I come to may be different to the precise current mainstream position. However, they are usually not outside the historical boundaries of what many brethren have thought (except they didn’t accept EC obviously). I attempt to set out these areas of overlap latter. This is perhaps of interest, but the key focus must be on what Scripture does and doesn’t say when we approach it consistently.
As we are generally not scientists, we tend to lean to a focus on understanding God’s Word. I agree with this approach. Even though the record of what God did will agree to what God said, it is only what He said which can make us wise unto salvation (2Tim 3:15-17). However, this doesn’t mean a Biblical exposition which flies in the face of the evidence of God’s handiwork should not be questioned on the basis of observable facts. At very least such an exposition should be re-examined to determine whether it is a right dividing of God’s Word.
I will not and cannot debate that God could create the world in 6 days. The witness of His power in the resurrection and His operations with Israel leave no doubt our God is capable of anything. It is not a question of what He could do – just what He did. Do I believe science has the answers or the Bible should be subject to the latest scientific whim? By no means. Scripture contains the words of life – where-else could we go for that?