Yesterday I showed the three pastors of my church an article by Andrew J. Wilson, published in Christianity Today magazine in October, 2013, entitled “Where Do We Come From?” Wilson suggests that it is possible to believe in a literal Adam and Eve, as did John Milton, author of the famous poem Paradise Lost, while still believing that the universe was designed and that it came about through the process of evolution.
One pastor commented that the main point of the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis had to do with the issue of obedience. God created our wonderful world and gave us freedom within limits. We have rebelled against God and rejected the limits he has imposed.
Another pastor raised the issue of the sin of Adam and Eve and how the Bible says it led to death. God said in Genesis 2, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” If the earth was created 6,000 years ago and there was no death until Adam and Eve sinned, how could there be fossils of dead animals and plant dating back millions of years?
The third pastor asked about transitional species. If God created plants and animals “according to their kinds,” and if there are no fossils of plants and animals part way from one species to another, how could evolution have occurred?
My pastors and I agree that God created everything. I believe that he did so in a way that fits with what most scientists believe–basically starting with a Big Bang around 14 billion years ago. You might say that another big bang occurred when God entered human history in the Person of Jesus Christ around 2,000 years ago. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead could be compared to a big bang, and when a person gives his heart to Jesus and is forgiven for his or her sins, still another “big bang” happens. This leads to an exciting, expansive adventure of new life guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, producing results that will last for eternity!
My first pastor was right. Genesis is about obedience–not the submissive obedience that stifles curiosity, inquiry and challenge, but the “obedience” of a lamp cord when it discovers it was intended to be plugged into a wall socket.
My second pastor was right: sin leads to death. Adultery creates alienation in a marriage. Deception and betrayal by political leaders leads to a loss of trust and respect. Abusing and neglecting our bodies can result in a loss of muscle tissue, liver function and brain cells. The creation accounts in Genesis make this point, but also look ahead to the redemption that would be offered by Jesus sacrificial death, similar to the protective and covering coats of skins given to Adam and Eve. Dr. Davis Young responds to the surface meaning of the Genesis text by pointing to an ancient lava formation with fossils under it. See his book Christianity and the Age of the Earth.
My third pastor was right in a way. If God “evolved” the earth over a long period of time, there should be transitional fossils. Darrell Falk discusses some of these fossils in his book Coming to Peace with Science, starting around page 102. John H. Walton, in Genesis Unbound, talks about the real meaning of the biblical creation accounts.
Vic Eliason of the VCY Radio Network recently criticized Pat Robertson of TV’s 700 Club for speaking out in support of theistic evolution. Mr. Eliason is passionate about his late date (6,000 years ago) creationist beliefs, just as I was when I held similar beliefs decades ago. The Bible warns us, though, about “zeal without knowledge.” The good news of new life in relationship to Jesus does not depend on adherence to a shallow interpretation of biblical texts.