The Search for Common Ground on Genesis: Some Final Thoughts on Genesis

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This is the concluding installment of this 10-part series, and so we should probably spend a little time putting all the many and varied pieces together into a comprehensive mosaic.

In this series, I have attempted to explain both the reality of a very ancient creation, as well as the reality of evolution. Indeed, such ideas are not based on fantasy, for there is seemingly compelling evidence that supports such conclusions. We can either ignore this evidence by sticking doggedly to an old formula, or we can, as I have attempted to suggest, develop a synthesis of understanding that flows from both revelation, and the evidences of nature as we find and logically interpret it. What I have attempted to argue is that we can recognize validity in the essence of the Genesis creation account without getting locked into a hopeless defense of that which the evidentiary realities will not support.

There is nothing wrong with taking our traditional understanding of Genesis, and seeking the evidence that supports the narrative. After all this is what presuppositions are all about. But when the clear message being delivered by the evidence is pointing in a direction that conflicts with the traditional narrative, we really have no intellectual choice to do other than allow the evidence to speak to us in the most rational way it can.

One of the first concerns most people have when discussing evolution, or the details of how it all began, is that it has the capacity to remove God from the equation. Yet I have shown this not to be the case. Science cannot explain the cause of the Big Bang, or why it occurred in such a precise way so as to support life, nor can it explain the origin of life in all of its varied forms. The discovery of the DNA digital code has only complicated this issue for naturalistic presuppositions for as noted in a previous installment, the probabilistic resources available in the entire 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang cannot mathematically account for the existence of life.

If we can embrace the “design” element of Genesis, we have taken an important step. Certainly, the general outlines of Genesis can be supported scientifically, which is remarkable considering that it was written in a pre-scientific era, during the period that dates back to the beginning of literacy. If we will stand back and look at the creation account in a more global sense, we find in it a rather sophisticated account of beginnings, the general outlines of which have been largely confirmed by science.

  • The universe, sun, moon, and stars had a beginning
  • A world without form and void
  • A world without land mass
  • Sea life preceding land mammals
  • Mammals preceding humans

These broad concepts that come out of Genesis are not in dispute. However, unless we lend flexibility to our reading and interpretations, we can run into major problems. Astronomer, Hugh Ross, a Christian who embraces the inerrancy of Scripture, recognizes this fact and consequently does a rather creative weaving of a scientifically coherent narrative of Genesis 1. He approaches Scripture from a fundamentalist point of view, yet recognizes that if we are going to take the passages of Genesis seriously, it is necessary to merge our contemporary understandings of the data into our interpretations (1).

Throughout this series I have spoken in terms of the presuppositions of Genesis, and what this means for me is that we take the overall concept seriously, but in doing so that we not get locked into exegetical detail that cannot be supported by the evidence as rationally and empirically interpreted. Some will be unhappy with this approach, but unless we are to throw our God-given reason overboard, we really have no choice.

My Goal for this series has been to foster the atmosphere that seeks common ground. In some of this there will be diverging opinions. However, there is a lot that most of us can agree upon and if we work on this sufficiently, we can succeed. The list below represents roughly the possible points of common ground I have identified throughout this series. These would include the following:

  • That we acknowledge God as Creator in a way that doesn’t deny the observable evidence.
  • That we rediscover an attitude of Present Truth
  • That even if the tools of science do not deliver the message we would like to hear, recognize their validity.
  • That there is more wisdom in being too general than too specific in our enunciated beliefs.
  • That we recognize the distinction between the cosmological and local perspectives of time, and by doing so, debates about the length of creation week, the length of a creation day, or whether it was recent, will disappear.
  • That due to the fine-tuning required in order for the Big Bang Cosmology to have unfolded as it did, it would seem to be supportive of the design argument.
  • That we acknowledge inconvenient facts regarding biological change, and developing new ways of thinking. There is nothing evil about biological change, and it doesn’t have to be understood in a way that obviates the need for a creator.
  • That the probabilistic resources of the universe cannot account for the origin of the DNA digital code, and thus an inference of design arises as the best explanation among multiple working hypotheses.
  • Finally, that we acknowledge the natural order as we find it, where biology modifies and adapts, and where predatory survival dominates, yet recognize that there is a fundamental part of this process that runs contrary to the divine order. We can call this the product of a sinful state.

There is potentially a lot of common ground here, and we should be spending our energies on those points that unite, not those points that divide.
________________________
Jan M. Long, J.D., M.H.A., works for the County of Riverside, California.

Read all the previous articles in this series: The Search for Common Ground on Genesis.

Notes:
1. See generally, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, NavPress Publishing Group (1998).



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