Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kansas, creation, and science

Since not that many people actually read and study the Bible, they don't actually know that there are two different creation stories -- one in Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 and another in Genesis 2:4 - 25.

Some folks of a particular persuasion try to paper over the differences, and at least one translation of the Bible actually combines the two into a single story. While I don't agree with the theology of the Worldwide Church of God, this article on their website provides one of the best analyses that I have seen of Genesis and the creation stories. Michael Morrison, the author, says:
The Bible is not meant to be a scientific textbook. Nor is it designed to reveal secrets about primordial history that have no relevance to salvation. The Bible does not answer the questions that science asks. Nor does science address all the issues the creation account does. The two approaches are different tools for different jobs, and if people perceive conflicts between the two, it is because they are trying to force a tool to do a job it wasn’t designed to do.

However, many people think that science and Christianity conflict. They think they have to choose between science on one hand and belief in a six-day creation on the other. This is unfortunate, because there shouldn’t be any conflict. We can have faith in God and believe facts.
This is exactly the mistake that the Kansas State Board of Education made today with their 6-4 decision to approve new standards that (1) redefine science to include supernatural causes and (2) give credibility to a non-existent scientific controversy about evolutionary theory. Morrison anticipated just this sort of action when he said:
Faith should be built on the correct foundation, not on an overly specific interpretation when other interpretations make better sense. Belief in God can legitimately be combined with a nonliteral view of Genesis 1. Christians do not need to feel that faith requires a 6,000-year-old-earth theory, a six-day creation theory, a "gap" theory or any other theory that attempts to squeeze scientific precision out of the biblical creation account. Such theories may, in the long run, do faith more harm than good, if they cause people to reject the Bible.
For those on both sides of this issue, I highly recommend Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller, a devout Catholic and a professor of biology at Brown University. Miller clearly and irrefutably rebuts every "theory" of creation science through a systematic and even-handed examination of the evidence. He also shows how creation science is bankrupt of ideas, both as science and as an expression of Christian faith.

Ultimately, the question is not how human beings came about, but how we use our gift of life. For me, it doesn't matter if humans evolved from something else. Humanity is still set apart, something special. As humans, our consciences tell us right from wrong. We feel love and compassion. We have minds that can discover and understand new ideas and concepts. As a result, we and we alone are responsible for our actions, and we must answer to God for the choices we make.

Finally, I just don't understand those who want to use the coercive power of the state to indoctrinate our students with a warped and cartoonish view of our Creator. Our God is an awesome and powerful God, and He doesn't need any help from the Kansas State Board of Education.

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