It will appear after this post that it would seem Dan was using a labeling-gun with no glue. For our tags continue to fall off as it would appear so far that nobody believes that the whole of the cosmos was created in six twenty-four hour periods.
I might start off by adding, in concert with the others that I am not a scientist, physicist, mathematician nor even an able theologian and so I suppose that in this regard my post will bring no finality to the conversation either. But I do hope to bring some epistemological light to this nihilistic darkness.
I will start by stating what it is I do believe, not necessarily why I believe it or how I came to believe it. In light of other Near Eastern evidence it would appear that the Genesis creation stories are not merely a statement or revelation about ‘what happened’ nor even just about what God (here I believe the name used is Elohim) is like or His design for creation; that is developed more fully in later tradition. Rather it is a statement that God will brook no rivals. Marduk needs slayed dragons in order to shape the world, Israel’s God creates by speaking. God calms the waters of chaos and does not struggle to calm them as do other gods. And all this likely created as early Hebrew tribes are being oppressed by a kingdom who by all traditional accounts stands in judgement of their God. He who’s kingdom is ruling has the God who is ruling. Not so say the ancient Hebrews.
Because this is what I believe is being communicated I do not find a ‘belief in science’ in conflict with this story or with our testimony as Christians. Yet that does not mean that my position is that God as Creator is a sort of ‘theological’ or ‘spiritual’ truth unrelated in any way to ‘the facts on the ground.’ Perhaps the ‘Big Bang’ occured, but where did the matter come from? How about the physical laws that command the matter to behave in said way as to predicate and demand a Big Bang? And so I believe in Creation Ex Nihilio even though Gen 1-2 does not necessarily demand that it be so. If one should wish to say that this position is a bare and childish ‘statement of faith’ then they are welcome to. As the phenomenon was not observable, testable nor repeatable I would argue that both ‘creationists’ and ‘scientists’ are on even footing. (But this split is itself a line created by the thinking of ‘Modernity,’ reality, thankfully, is much more complex than ‘science vs religion’).
I am actually an enthusiastic supporter of Evolution. Perhaps not taken to a crude extreme, but I have found it to be a theory that makes a lot of sense of what we can discern about how life progresses. I think it makes sense of this physical world, but also of free will, of the fall, and subsequent and progressive ‘recreation’ of a creation gone amiss. In the same way that we humans can ‘guide’ or ‘manipulate’ the life around us (for instance by selective breeding and even advanced gene manipulation, cloning, etc…) so God would act upon and guide creation by ‘natural’ means. Humanity is the apex of creation, the product of millions of years of careful and tender care and growth. I used to say that to suggest that God took millions of years to create would be to not give God His place or to limit His power. In reality that was simply my own prejudice. I judged that length of time meant weakness, but it need not be so. Therefore there is no mystical ‘supernature’ whereby God does magic tricks, but He acts as He also sustains and heals by the same manner. By allowing for infinite possibilities, and endowing His creation with freedom there is the potential for a ‘falling’ whereby free agents act against the perfect wisdom of their Source and so fall into disrepair. (As I recall there is a story about how God is going to restore His creation, but that is another essay)
There seems to me to be way too much concern with why we believe what we do. Or how we came to believe what we do. Or even a mourning over the inability to discern things ‘objectively’ and so what we really do is just pick a worldview, as if it were a supermarket and one simply just happens to like oranges to apples. Here are a few quotes to this extent:
“Thus, (while fully admitting I’m inescapably tied to my own worldview) I’ve made a decision to believe in a creator who has a purpose for his creation”
“Because no matter what criteria you’re using to discern the origin of the Universe, you will inevitably encounter the same limitation: your own point of view.”
“From this place of preference we choose which evidence to accept”
“I am not opposed to the existence of an intelligent God figure, in fact I am strongly in favor of inclusion of this character to the equation. However, this predisposition for me is based on desire more than conclusion and as such I find it difficult to choose a specific divine representation.”
“My personal affinity is for a theory which aligns itself with man’s current knowledge while still leaving room for an intelligent designer.”
I greatly appreciate conversing with people so honest as to critique themselves with such veracity. Both essays have been a pleasure to read and great to mull over. If I am discerning their argument I would put it as follows:
1-Nobody can have ‘objective’ or ’empirical’ ‘proof’ of a particular interpretation of Origins or really any worldview at all
2-We all interpret reality through our cultural history, our life experience and/or preferences
3-In lieu of this inability to make a comprehensive and unhindered decision, at the end of the day what we really do is pick an interpretation on the basis of personal desire or as Jeremy puts it, “this predisposition for me is based on desire more than conclusion.”
I would argue that this line of reasoning is a Non Sequitur. That is to say I believe not that we cannot know something objectively, but rather that there is no such thing as objective knowledge. Not just that it is unattainable, but that it does not itself exist. All knowledge involves the object which communicates to another object, which interprets the stimuli as it is able to do so. When I see a tree I am actually seeing light, put out, or reflected off of it. The tree is not itself light, but I can only discern it by light or by running into it. When I read an essay or hear a lecture the communicant uses different words, rhymes, rhythms, grammatical structures, tenor, tones, pauses, etc… to communicate. I cannot discern mere words because words do not stand alone, they are only discernable via context and delivery and even then one can misunderstand the original intent.
And so when one might say, because I cannot objectively prove a worldview I must resort to matters of taste or even of reasoning and/or argument. Because there is no objective knowledge there is not even knowledge of why we prefer one thing to another. One cannot say: “I like this so I will choose it.” One can only say “I am predisposed to believe this for what reason I know not why.”
And so I do not offer my testimony that
- I believe in one God the Father Almighty,
- Maker of heaven and earth,
- And of all things visible and invisible
with reservation knowing that I have no ‘proof’ in an empirical sense. I offer it with confidence, being convinced of it’s truth not knowing why it is that I do believe it. In a way, by uttering it, I create the worldview itself, to be accepted or rejected by others for what reason they themselves do not know. This is frighteningly the closest I have ever gotten to Calivinism (Irresistable Grace)