Wednesday, Oct 31, 2018. Recently I had a discussion with my daughter on the creation accounts of the bible. Does the bible contradict evolution? Is it possible to reconcile the biblical accounts and the scientific understanding of how the world came into being? My first reply was: what is your question? And my daughter explained a little more: she wanted to know if there are sincere contradictions between the different views?
I am a Scientist …
Of course, I know the whole discussion - between different streams of teaching in the Christian churches and different views in the scientific community. But let us first have a look into the beginning of the bible, then discuss what we find. It starts with the first creation day:
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1, 1)
The first important observation: the bible looks at the beginning of everything that is from the perspective of God. God is in action, he is creating, it is his deed. The whole creation is an act of God, it is God's work! God's spirit is there. It is interesting, God is described here as spirit, a description which is consistent throughout the Old and New Testament.
The second important observation: the bible tells the story of creation in a framework of space and time. That could be different. But it puts it into a temporal evolution. The earth is without form at the beginning, darkness at the face of the earth. Then, God is creating light. He is creating it by his word: “let there be light”.
In the middle of Science …
Today, we have found that light is an electromagnetic wave, it is part of the visible spectrum, which is reaching the surface of the earth and for which our eyes are sensitive. With the beginning of the bible we move right into this science, we are in the middle of science, of discovery, of evolution!
I do not see any contradiction here, in the beginning of the first creation account, to any modern scientific description of our earth or the physical world. I see, on the contrary, a lot of similarity! How long are creation days? It is not clear to me, but it points to a development taking place in space and time!
And it is absolutely amazing, that this old creation account, is telling this story in a very clear and matter-of-fact like way. It was written about 2000 years ago (not necessarily in final form, which might have been fixed later). But think about it! While Greek mythology was still strongly developing, the biblical accounts read more like a modern scientific summary.
The only difference between the biblical creation accounts and modern science views is the fact that they see God at work. Science tries to find the evolution as result of a random process guided by selection. It is heavily debated, at the same time, whether our scientific models could really explain that - when you deal with the curse of dimensionality in Markov Chain Monte Carlo models, you might find it difficult to explain evolution even when you give it billions of years. Here, science leaves more open questions than we are usually aware of.
I find the biblical story as absolutely convincing and amazing. It is a fascinating summary, written long before science, giving us an evolutionary insight into our world as we find it. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts