At the age of 6, I loved my family, my dog, my Lord Jesus, awesome flying kicks and Ankylosaurus. At the age of 6, this was considered perfectly normal and no one batted an eyelid.
At the age of 12, I was told I could love four of those five things, but when it came to the God who loves me and amazing ancient creatures, I had to choose.
Why? Because Ankylosaurus lived approximately 60,000,000 years ago, while the Bible “clearly” states that God created the world 6,000 years ago.
And, as the fundamentalists’ claims went, the Bible is inerrant, so if any of it is wrong, it’s all wrong.
In other words, if I’m not
sure that the world and life was created 6,000 years ago without evolution, I shouldn’t believe in Jesus, either. For the next six years I continually wrestled with a young earth worldview in light of so much evidence for an older earth.
At the age of 18, I couldn’t do it anymore. The answers I got from the Christians around me were: “We don’t need evidence – we have faith!” and “Who are you going to believe – scientists or God?”
Well, when the reason to believe God is “we have faith,” while the reason to believe scientists is “we have a large body of facts and data that reasonably point in a certain direction,” it’s quite sensible to feel backed into a corner where a reasonable man just wouldn’t choose God.
And that’s where I lamented being. I didn’t want to reject belief in God, I was pushed – both by the antitheists and the fundamentalists around me – to think I had no reasonable alternative but to reject belief in God. For a short period, I begrudgingly became an atheist.
It was at this point that my grandmother – a creative type like me, and a skeptic of both theism and atheism – was reaching the end of a long battle with cancer.
She had been a humanities teacher when she was younger, and so it should come as no surprise that she had an encyclopedic knowledge of the world from ancient times until the present, and her house was an unofficial library.
At the end of her life my dad and his siblings inherited her house, while my generation inherited her books. After years of being told by antitheists that there is no evidence for God, and by fundamentalists that we don’t need evidence for God, one specific book in grandma’s collection stood out to me: “God: The Evidence” by Patrick Glynn.
Now, I’m not about to say that Glynn’s book is without problems or that the evidence he brings to the table makes a bulletproof case for God. It doesn’t.
But the fact that he brings forth evidence out of Big Bang cosmology (supporting a 14 billion year old cosmos, and implicitly a 4.5 billion year old solar system with life being found more or less when and where scientists suggest) did a couple things.
Firstly, it showed me that evidence of an old earth and cosmos does not distinctly point away from creation, despite what many had told me.
In fact, there are many features of the cosmos that are explained quite well through a theistic framework, with the odds running heavily against them if the cosmos is not designed.
Secondly, it prompted me to investigate further. If the cosmos itself is very likely the product of design, then what about life? It strikes me that despite decades of trying, abiogenesis has not been demonstrated in the lab.
And if it is ever demonstrated, it will most likely be because someone designed an experiment that went just right, the irony of which should be clear.
From there, I encountered the “irreducible complexity” argument. That is, living organisms operate systemically. There are some malleability within the various bodily systems, but there are some very complex systems in the body that, once broken down to a certain point, simply crash.
Like the keystone in a bridge, if you remove anything from the system, the whole thing fails. It is plausible that some of these systems are the result of other systems merging together, but that only moves the problem so that the same questions are raised of the former systems.
It also stretches the limits of plausibility that every system that appears irreducibly complex is the result of multiple simpler systems clicking into place together at the right time and in the right way so as to transition from function to function without catastrophic dysfunction landing between these steps.
This is especially difficult to sustain as plausible when subscribing to the position that evolution happens as the result of tiny copying errors in DNA over time.
Again, none of this is bulletproof. Happy accidents and functional coincidences happen all the time, and at the very edge of a bell curve, the least probable things do happen.
But ultimately it became clear to me that the atheism I had been told was scientifically proven wasn’t anything close to demonstrably true. A worldview held together by all of the least probable things happening without any guiding cause raising their probability is, well, exceedingly improbable.
To me, theism became monumentally more plausible than atheism, and it wasn’t in spite of evolution or Big Bang cosmology, it was through these streams of scientific inquiry.
It was still two more years before I became a full-fledged Christian. After all, looking at evolution in an old earth and seeing signs of a creator doesn’t directly indicate that this creator is a hyper-personal being (as is the case in the Triune God that Christians worship).
Nature itself doesn’t testify to a God who entered into his creation to bear the burden of human iniquity (as Jesus did by becoming a man and suffering public shame and execution on a Roman cross) and was then resurrected from the dead, assuring his followers that they, too, would join him in a future resurrection.
That involved actually reading Scripture, asking honest questions and receiving honest answers, and interrogating the evidence for or against any of the unique Biblical claims about God being true. But having the groundwork that nature points to a creator meant that I was able to come to Scripture open to the possibility that its big claims could be true.
Meanwhile, if the fundamentalists around me had had their way, I’d be stuck stumbling over cosmology and evolution.
Since then, my philosophical positions have evolved 🙂 and my reasons for believing in God are numerous. Consequently, even though Glynn got me started in looking into evidence for God, it is unlikely to impair my belief if further scientific discoveries falsify what was contemporary science at the time of writing.
That’s not to say I’ve become a fideist (one who subscribes to blind faith). Far from it. Rather, the philosophical landscape on the subject of God’s existence goes well and truly beyond Glynn’s writing, and there are other lines of reasoning I personally find far more compelling, all of which are perfectly compatible with evolution.
I now take the stance that the early chapters of Genesis primarily involve God speaking to Ancient Israelites through a worldview that was familiar to them, rather than God upgrading their scientific knowledge.
I agree with John Dickson’s proposition that Genesis critiques various ideas from surrounding cultures, with the 7-day account being a polarized twist on the 7-act Babylonian creation account, Enuma Elish. Likewise, I agree (more or less) with John Walton’s reading that the beginning of Genesis is a temple account, more interested in the consecration of the world as God’s holy space to dwell with people than in absolute material origins.
Bearing in mind that the early church fathers were as divided on how to read Genesis as Christians are today, it appears quite likely that the Bible does not have an official stance on the scientific implications of Genesis.
That being the case, I feel comfortable to let Christ be Christ and let science be science, while knowing that at an essential level everything is created and sustained by God, regardless of how old the world is.
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References Glynn, P. (1997). God: The evidence: The reconciliation of faith and reasons in a postsecular world. Ann Arbor, MI: Forum  Dickson, J.P. (2008). The genesis of everything: An historical account of the Bible’s first chapter. ISCAST, 4. Retrieved from http://www.iscast.org/journal/articles/Dickson_J_2008-03_Genesis_Of_Everything.pdf  Walton, J. (2014, May 9). Origins today: Genesis through ancient eyes [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fR82a-iueWw  De Beer, V. (2010). Genesis, creation and evolution. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/view/de-beer-genesis-creation-and-evolution