Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts on Creationism

In a world where a book on how to use my TV has more words than Genesis chapters 1-3, I have a hard time thinking the biblical account is complete enough to understand the mechanisms and nature of creation.   More to the point, I think in the translation of the Hebrew word “yowm” into “day” in the Genesis account is the main thing that is fouling everybody up by immediately limiting our thinking.   If it had been translated into “eon” (a valid translation), then the trouble would have been largely circumvented.   God created the earth in six eons and then he rested.   Sounds pretty reasonable.  

What’s interesting about science is that it has always been after God.  Scientists have always been trying to find him.    First on mountaintops, then in distant lands, in the solar system, in the galaxy, in the universe, in the far reaches of time…   Every step they take pushes the frontier back.    Each step yields greater understanding of our world, but no evidence of God turns up.  It’s enough to make people give up the search, and many do.   The irony is that all things are evidence that god exists and that the scientific means for detecting God lie within ourselves, not out there to be discovered.     What the scientific search for God has taught me is that God truly is a god of faith.    He simply doesn’t allow himself to be known objectively.  We look and look for signs, but He’s so smart that he has hidden himself from detection even in the very laws of nature that govern his own creations.    And yet, he’s also so generous that he has enabled all of his children to meet him personally if they simply live according to his commandments. 

Interesting side note:  Yesterday I was listening to a short lecture on Thomas Aquinas, arguably the most important philosopher of Western civilization and someone who opened the way for the renaissance.    Thomas is described a someone very wise, humble like a child, extremely intelligent, and incredibly prolific- he wrote over 50 volumes.   The most interesting thing about Thomas is what happened at the end of his life (quoted from Wikipedia):

In 1272 Thomas took … time at Naples to work on the third part of the [Summa  Theologiae] while giving lectures on various religious topics. On 6 December 1273 Thomas was celebrating the Mass of St. Nicholas when, according to some, he heard Christ speak to him. Christ asked him what he desired, being pleased with his meritorious life. Thomas replied "Only you Lord. Only you." After this exchange something happened, but Thomas never spoke of it or wrote it down. Because of what he saw, he abandoned his routine and refused to dictate to his socius Reginald of Piperno. When Reginald begged him to get back to work, Thomas replied: "Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me."

Some people compare this to what Paul said in Philiphians 3:8

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ

The book Thomas was working on when he died was The Summa Theologiae, which was his best known and most influential work, even though he never finished it.   It had a tremendous impact on Western thought and Christian religion. Yet, one look into heaven and Thomas couldn’t bear to work on it anymore because his book seemed just useful enough to catch cow turds.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Eric. When discussing creationism vs. evolution with an Evangelical friend, I told him that all I can say for certain is that God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them. I do not try to ascribe specific methods to God, nor limit Him in any other way. Because of this, I have no problem reconciling evolution with religion.

Much of the Evangelical world has allowed the atheists to define the debate on their terms. Thus, whenever any evidence of evolution is unearthed, it is seen as evidence that religion is false. I do not believe that religion and evolution are mutually exclusive.

I believe that Science and Religion have the same goal: the understanding of all things. Sure, they go about it the same way, but as the scientific method is properly applied, I believe that it moves our understanding ever closer to the truth.