Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where is your proof?

My brother is a huge fan of the radio show Coast to Coast. He listens to all the programs from science to conspiracy theories. He is also a dedicated Christian. The other day, we were both eating dinner at our parent’s house and he down downloaded a radio broadcast from Coast to Coast. He told me that he had just listened to a scientist named Dr. David Darling with whom he was very impressed. The scientist had given a two hour talk about gravity and the reason the universe is expanding at such a rapid rate instead of pulling together as you would expect due to the nature of gravity. He stated that there was a thing called dark energy that was in opposition to gravity that causes the universe to expand. (I am just repeating what Jason told me, I really have no clue, but it would be neat to learn more) After the two hour presentation, he gave a chance for callers to call in and ask questions. In the midst of this very intellectual presentation and very intelligent questions, a guy nick-named JC called in to ask this question, “Where’s your proof?”

The question itself is centered on a comment that JC thought he heard from the scientist (or as he calls him, know-it-all) that the earth was 1 million years old. In actuality, the scientist corrects him and says that the earth is 4.6 billion years old, but humanity has been around for a million years. Of course, as I figured, JC told the scientist that his proof for the number of years humanity had existed came from the Holy King James Bible.

If you want to listen to the entire exchange between JC and the scientist, you can click on the link below.

It is quite funny to hear what JC says when he finds out that this particular scientist believes in God and goes to church. (Although he apparently does not arrive early enough for JC) The real issue for me, of several, is the relationship between science and religion. It seems that we have made these two fields of study oppose one another instead of allowing them to support each other.

I have to acknowledge up front that I do not know all there is to know about evolution or the big bang theory. I could not argue for one side or the other from a scientific standpoint. However, I do know something about the Biblical creation accounts in Genesis. (Notice, accounts is plural) Some people do not know that there are actually two different creation accounts in Genesis. The first one is in Genesis 1:1-2:4 and the other is found in Genesis 2:5-25.

There are some notable differences in the accounts. (1) In the first account the name for God in Hebrew is elohim which is the more generic form of God. In the second account the Hebrew word is yahweh which is the personal God of the Hebrew people. (2) It then follows that the first story seems to point to God’s transcendence while the second shows God as being personal. (3) Notice the differences in order. In the first story everything has been created before God creates male and female. In the second one, while there was no wild thing on earth, God shaped man from the soil of the ground. Man, or adam which in Hebrew means human, is then given the freedom to name the animals.

What do we make of these things from Genesis? I think the stories in Genesis are not given to give us a detailed account of how God created. Rather, they are there to remind us about the God who created us and to tell us about the world he created us to live in. The stories are theological in purpose and they explain the realities of the world we live in. When I go to the creation accounts, I am not trying to prove the scientist wrong, rather I am trying to find an answer to a question that science can never answer. I am trying to understand “why” I am here and learn about the God who created me. No matter what science learns, it will always need religion and it will always be lacking without God. As Chirstians, I hope we can encourage science to learn while I hope science will allow religion to help us understand our purpose.