Thursday, February 6, 2014

In the Beginning...

"In the beginning, God created..." - Genesis 1:1

The first verse of the Bible begins the greatest story ever told with this simple statement. That statement is sufficient for my faith and hope in the beautiful story of redemption that we are a part of. "Genesis shows that God, by his very nature, is Creator. That He is there before the beginning of the Story."

As a Christian, a believer in the Creator, I struggle writing this post for fear of judgement - that I'll be accused of headed down a slippery slope of atheistic thought.

As a scientist, an explorer of the created world, I struggle writing this post for fear of judgement - that I'll be accused that believing in God is nothing but a fairy tale and inhibits rational thought.

But "it's not as simple as 'A vs B.'"

I'm writing to tear down the false dichotomy, to bridge the gap, to give hope that science and faith are beautifully woven together and are not mutually exclusive.

On Tuesday night, I was one of the ~800,000 tuned in to the live stream* of the "historic evolution/creation debate" between popular science communicator Bill Nye the Science Guy and Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham. I went into it expecting that I would agree with Ham on basic theology (God is Creator, the power of the Gospel message, etc), but would mostly agree with Nye on scientific facts regarding evolution. The difficulty in watching the debate was that the two men were debating different things: theology and science. The two are not mutually exclusive nor do they belong in a debate against each other.

Ken Ham insists that "creationism" is reading the Bible as a literal historical account of our origins. He admitted that there Christians who do not read Genesis as a literal account (24-hour days), but basically says that they are wrong. His view of Genesis is that it is historically valid as a scientific text. This is where I strongly disagree. 

I am a "creationist" in that I believe God created. But nowhere does God's Word claim to explain the scientific laws of nature that were created. The fact is that while the Bible is a "living document" (still applicable to our lives today), it was written by and for peoples who lived in an ancient culture. Would Moses be able to read and understand a scientific textbook about gravity or the speed of light? Would Noah be able to understand the complexities of neurological disorders like autism or muscular dystrophy? Most likely, they wouldn't...most people today don't even fully understand these things. Doesn't it make more sense that the inspired Word of God would be more focused on explaining WHY there is a Creator rather than HOW did He create?

I fully admit that I don't have clear cut answers. It's possible that by a miracle, God created in literal 24-hour days. It's possible that a "day" to God is a mere millisecond, and that millions of years could had passed. I DO believe that God created. I DO believe that he chose to create man in his image - not his literal physical image, but that we have the intellect to know him and seek truth. It is through this gift of intellect that man has continued to seek for truth in our world...and this includes science. 

Bill Nye explained several different scientific points - observable data from our natural world (our created world) that evolutionary principles are fact. Ken Ham asserted that any belief in evolution is a "naturalist" view of the world and that there is no compatibility with a Creator. However, Bill Nye confirmed that there are millions of people who have no problem reconciling** their faith beliefs with scientific discovery, even though he himself takes on an agnostic/atheistic worldview.

I'm an "evolutionist" in that I believe that God has gifted us with the joy of scientific discovery so that we can better understand the universe he created and know him. Current scientific evidence of evolutionary principles is real, is observable, and is NOT a gateway to an atheistic worldview. "If the earth is really billions of years old, then I can trust that God is patient." It's simply awe-inspiring to think of the grand scale in which God works. I can enjoy pursuing scientific discovery through the lens of a Christian worldview and simply learn more about God through the observable world around us.

But none of this really matters. Salvation is not based on if you are a young-earth creationist, old-earth creationist, theistic evolutionist, evolutionist, or whatever made up -ist title you want to give yourself. 

We need to stop promoting a culture of scientific illiteracy and instead choose to pursue scientific discovery with open minds. We need to stop finding ways to divide the body of Christ and instead choose to celebrate the much greater story that started "in the beginning..." 

via - my Career Day talk as a service through our church

*You can still view the archived debate for a while longer. They did not give a time period when it would be taken down, but I believe Answers in Genesis plans to sell DVDs as well.
**Here are several responses from Christian scientists and scholars who are part of the BioLogos Foundation. Also, I wrote a bit about NIH director Francis Collins' book before...a must read for anyone who wants further insight on the evolution/creation dichotomy and that there is #anotherchoice.
***I'm open to explaining/discussing more details on the topic of this post if people want clarification. Comments are open. But only respectful, civil discourse will be allowed.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Mariel! Good stuff. And I definitely agree with you about the false dichotomy.

  2. Excellent article! You've done a very good job of relaying your belief's and why, in a concise and understandable way. I am not a scientist, though I find the field fascinating. I leave that to people like you. And I have a great appreciation for people like you who make it understandable. You do well working in both realms; that of the scientist and the lay-person.

    I do not and cannot accept the premise of young earth. I understand how they arrive at their conclusions. The biggest issue I have with the young earth theory is that it makes God out to be a trickster. "Oh look, that rock looks millions of years old. Hahaha, psych!" No, that flies in the face of a grace-filled, merciful, and loving God. The God who provides a way out of our sin is not going to be a God who plays tricks on us.

    I believe the Bible is God's word, but it is not a text book. Anywhere. A friend of mine calls it "God's love letter" (Dr. Craig Keener). I cannot explain it all, I cannot know it all, I cannot even understand it all, and that is where faith comes in. Faith. I have confidence in what I have hoped for and the promise of what I cannot see (aka understand).

    And I will stop here before I turn this into a blog length response.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I truly appreciate you Mariel.

    ~Lily-thinking thoughts~

  3. Thanks so much for commenting, Jacqui! I truly appreciate your words and your outlook.

    I agree, my understanding of everything is bound to change as the years pass...but that's the beauty of God's story, it always remains constant!!

    We can never know everything (because then we wouldn't need God) but we can know Him!

  4. Thanks so much, Lily! I'm glad you thought my words were understandable. My INTJ brain has a tendency to spill out a jumble of thoughts that no one can understand but me!...Or maybe that's just talking out loud...writing is better, haha ;)

    I completely agree with your statement about faith. Excellent.

  5. Thanks, Angela! Even though I didn't talk much (hey, that was back in the day before I knew what being a introvert really was!) I truly miss our old bible study where discussions like these were, and while we're being honest, I still haven't finished reading Keller's A Reason for God yet ;P