horatioalderaan (horatioalderaan) wrote,
horatioalderaan
horatioalderaan

Creation, evolution and Aliens

A friend of mine sent me this question (among others):

[My friend] sees reason and logic in the evolutionary view of the universe, and has trouble reconciling the idea that God created the world in 7 days with the idea that the universe erupted out of the big bang and evolved to this particular point in time the way that the scientists say it did. A related point is how Christianity fits with the idea that it is very probable that there is life in other galaxies - how does this fit in with a “grand narrative” [that] situates humans at the centre and seems to privilege them over the rest of creation.

What follows is my response:

Creation

Christianity does not require us to give up our ability to think, reason, and evaluate evidence. If scientific evidence for the big bang and evolution is convincing, then we have to face up to this and think seriously about it. Yes, some Christians believe in a literal seven-day creation account, but there are also Christians who don’t. Christians disagree on this; they also disagree on whether it is important. The Christians who think it is important, however, are usually concerned about the implications for how we view the bible, not the process itself.

One of the central beliefs of Christianity is that God created everything. Christians will all agree on this, and, if it is true, it has certain implications. It means that God is the owner, and rightful ruler of everything. If he made everything, then he knows best how the whole shebang should run. This is true regardless of what process God used in creation. It also means that he has a claim on you and I. These issues of God’s authority and claims on us are much more important than issues of creation processes.

The issue of creation and evolution becomes important because of how it affects our view of the bible. Put simply, if the bible says that God created the world in seven days, and science says it took millions of years, they can’t both be right, can they? In this simplistic version of things, we must reject either science or the bible. Of course, we don’t need to reject the whole bible. We could just say that the early patriarchs didn’t have science or a sophisticated understanding of the universe, so we can just ignore that bit and move on to the important parts of the bible. The concern here is that if we reject this one part because we think the authors were ignorant, what is to stop us rejecting other parts? Who decides which parts we ignore and which parts are important? It leaves me free to make up whatever I like about God, so why bother with the bible at all?

So, we must ask the question “Is the bible saying that science and evolutionary theory is wrong?” If yes, then we have a problem. Some people, labeled creationists, believe the bible is saying this, so they have rejected modern science (in the fields of cosmology and biology) as flawed and faulty. Others say yes and reject the bible, and hence reject Christianity (at least as we know it). But there are others who say that the Genesis account of creation isn’t trying to tell us about the process of creation, but rather is telling us what God thinks is important for us to know about himself, and us, and our relationships with him and each other.

Others have explained this better than I have, but I will attempt a summary of some of the arguments. The genre in which Genesis is written helps shed light on things. One of the first things you might notice is that there are actually two creation accounts in Genesis, and they appear to contradict one another. This is our first clue as to the key points Genesis is trying to make. For, surely the patriarchs were not stupid. They may not have had a sophisticated view of the stars, galaxies and planets, but they were smart enough to write, and surely were clever enough to spot glaring inconsistencies.

Another clue comes from the fact that the first Genesis account of creation bears some striking similarities to contemporary creation myths—at least in style or genre. However, it also has significant differences. This suggests that the writer was contrasting the God of the Hebrews with the other gods and creation accounts of the time. He was trying to say something about how unique God is and how he views human beings.

Marcus has dealt with this much better than I could, in his talks on Genesis. Suffice to say, that what the bible is trying to get across in Genesis does not rule out the possibility that God used evolutionary process in creation. It is saying something quite different, and accepting scientific theories of creation does not inherently rule God out of existence.

Aliens

The short answer to this question is that the discovery of alien life forms, even intelligent ones, would make very little difference to our belief in God. Even if the intelligent beings came from another planet and tried to tell us that God does not exist, we would have no reason to believe them any more than we must believe what Richard Dawkins says. True, if they came from another planet to visit us they would certainly be very advanced. This would not make them more credible however. The development of technology in our world has not reduced our tendency to lie, cheat, and deceive one little bit. Why should we take technological development as evidence of enlightenment?

However, the question was not so much with what other intelligent beings might tell us, but what that might mean for our position in the created order. Certainly, the bible does place us as God’s masterwork in creating this world. He created us to rule under him; to enjoy and tend to the world he made for us. That does not mean however, that God could not have done something similar on another planet. It would not even make us any less special. When a new baby arrives in a family, it does not (necessarily) make the older siblings less loved.

To my mind, the question of aliens doesn’t make any difference at all. You can find a more thorough article on this at CASE.

Tags: aliens, christianity, creation
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