[Exodus 20:8-11] ” “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
If 1 day=1 million years, are the Jews supposed to do no work for 1 million years? We must use Scripture (Exodus 20) to interpret Scripture (Genesis 1).
I got this quote from the Bible, from a rather religious friend of mine who seemed to be defending Creationism. OK, rather, he was trying to defend the Bible as a whole. In a whim, I began writing a 1300-word long essay in response to him. I wasn’t mad or anything – I’ve given up debating over issues of religion and faith – but I did managed to find myself defining my views with regards to this “Evolution-Creationism Conflict” (which in my humble opinion, isn’t valid, as described in my post).
Here was the response I wrote:
I knew this was going to come: a quotation from the Bible.
Since I started learning about evolution, I’ve been inspecting the book of Genesis far more closely than any other of the books in the Bible. It has been a great source of personal dilemma for me, as I try to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable two. As a Catholic/Christian, I felt that these were important issues to consider because they would inevitably affect the way I experienced the Christian faith.
Before I throw in my two cents worth on the issue – one which many Christians have been unable to accept – I want to pose a couple of questions for you to consider first before understanding my POV:
1. Think about the origin of the Bible. (and if you are thinking “the Word of the Lord”, no I am not referring to that. I am referring to the historical construction of the Bible used in churches around the world today)
2. Tell me about the book of Genesis. When was it written? Who wrote it? Was it written entirely out of its own, or were elements of it borrowed from anywhere else? In short, what is the history behind Genesis?
3. Two things: first, do you accept the theory of evolution? (like I said before, it is fine if you don’t) Second, if you don’t accept it, do you accept the theory of creation as depicted in the Bible? (if you are quoting Scripture, I am assuming that you are a creationist. Correct me if I am wrong)
Now, I shall explain my take on the matter:
1. I personally don’t believe in the Creation theory. I have to get this clear first of all. Especially when there is an alternative argument in this present day that is offering a more rigorous explanation for observations of natural phenomena, backed with evidences that are becoming more and more reliable with every passing day.
2. With regards to Scripture – especially for segments pertaining to the early days in the Old Testament – I personally don’t believe that all events took place literally i.e. I don’t buy the idea of the world created in 518,400 seconds. Sure, the creation of the world as we (Christians) know it took place in 6 days, but the Bible makes no mention of what context the word “days” was used in. God said “Let there be light” in the first day of Creation, but what makes you think that the author of the book of Genesis intended for the “day” to be taken literally? What if it had been a figure of speech to denote the sequential construction of the universe, where “day” refers to a step in a staircase rather than an absolute length? That is the problem I’ve had with Genesis – we don’t know what is literal, and what is not – and I don’t believe it is appropriate for us to appreciate the significance of this text with our modern day mindset without proper understanding of how it was written back then.
3. The Bible is the Word of God. I don’t deny that. But what many people don’t realize is that the Word of God does not imply that it is the absolute, literal word of God. What I am trying to say here, is that to interpret the Bible word for word in its literal context is about as foolish as interpreting the creation of lightning by the striking of the hammer of the Norse god Thor. Or the interpretation of any other form of mythology for that matter. Of course, I can’t stop anyone believing that Zeus actually is the king of the Greek gods, and likewise I cannot stop a Christian believing that God parted the Red Sea for Moses and his people, but what I can do is to show what is g
4. Which brings me to what you have mentioned: even via interpretation of the Scripture, we can’t just do it any-o-how. Look what happened when you tried to equate 1 day = 1 million years. It just doesn’t work. The argument is reduced into absurdity, and we don’t like that – Christian or otherwise. There is a systematic process that allows each of us to explore the spiritual world within our souls, to reflect upon the words of Christ, trying to fathom what exactly does He want of us. There is so much more to God than just the text within a book mashed together by the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, and we get there by establishing our personal insight, our view of the Bible through religious reflection and thought. This is something that we can’t do by simply lifting text from the Gospels, or quoting the letters of the Apostles.
I could go on and on, but I think I will just lose you, and it would just degenerate into a frivolous rant. So, I shall just end off with my final point about the matter:
I may not buy the Creation theory in its entirety, but I believe that the words of Genesis do have its merits, and it is becoming more and more intertwined with science than we can ever imagine.
Let me explain further: In the beginning, there was darkness. The void (in Genesis, there were mentions of earth and waters, but I doubt that it literally referred to the planet Earth and H2O). First, there was light (the Big Bang), and darkness (space-time). The next couple of days depicted the creation of the sky, ground and water (the formation of the planet Earth, which ironically started off as a fiery planet with no atmosphere, and water flooded the entire planet before dry land emerged). Plants emerged on land before animals – again, also chronologically accurate, and humans were the last to be created – also consistent with the evolutionary timeline. The only disagreements I can see are: (1) The 6-day timeline, and (2) The intelligent design of God that made everything “perfect, all at once”.
I have already disputed point (1) as explained above. As for point (2), I must say that now it boils down pretty much to my personal belief, that EVOLUTION and CREATIONISM are NOT contradictory of each other. In fact, it is my suspicion (I use the word “suspicion” because I am still not completely certain about my belief) that evolution was a mechanism created by God – like every cosmological constant in our Universe – that governs the creation of the diverse range of flora and fauna that we see today. I understand that this does not tie in with the idea of “God making everything perfect”. But what if this “perfection”, is actually referring to the undying desire of the survival of every species, that every plant and animal has the power to continually adapt (via means of natural selection) to ensure the survival of its kind?
The Bible tells us that God created all the plants and animals. If you think about it, if God had designed this theory we call evolution, every plant and animal that we see today would also be a result of God’s creation. In fact, more plants and animals are continually evolving into being at this moment!
It may sound strange and everything, and the reason is because this is something I have thought about on my own – without the teachings of the church. Whether this makes me less of a believer in God, I don’t know. But from what I’ve witnessed so far, there is no harm in accepting evolution and harmonizing it with the ideas of God’s creation as depicted in the book of Genesis.
Now, if you are still with me, I would just like to say a word of thank you for having survived my 1300-word long essay. Till this day, I regularly return to revisit this topic every now and then. Interestingly, I am hoping to take a class on Christianity here in Brown – secular in nature – and I’m hoping it would offer me more insight into the topic we have discussed today.
Let me know what you guys think.