This guest post is from Jimmy Carnes, Discovery’s Worship Arts Director. Jimmy is a highly talented musician and also a gifted careful thinker who has a passion for God and for science. His article is long and well worth the time to dig in. As with our other longer blogs, you’ll need to click “read more” to….you know….read more.
Here’s an excerpt of this blog article to whet your appetite:
The particular theory I am fascinated with is one proposed by Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an MIT alumni and professor with a dual doctorate in nuclear science and oceanography. Schroeder compares peer reviewed modern science and ancient commentary in order to reconcile the six-day creation story with 14 billion years.
And here is the whole post:
The three questions below are so closely related, that I will address them all in one post.
1.What are your views on Evolution and geologic time? How does it relate/clash with The Word?
2. How do your reconcile creation in Genesis w/science (old earth). Such a different time line.
3. How do we handle disagreements among Christians about the age of the Earth?
A: Those who have given the great debate of “Science vs. Religion” considerable thought would likely find themselves in one of a few different camps. Some believe that science and the Bible are forever at odds and cannot be reconciled. They would generally believe that one must choose to either believe in science or the Bible, but not both. Others would say that you can believe in both, but are divided in their reasons and explanations. I fall somewhere in the second category, with one distinction; I think that science and the Bible are both great resources that answer very different questions. Science by definition is the study of things that are observable, and therefore, is not a great place to go looking for answers to philosophical questions. The Old Testament of the Bible, though full of historical information, is primarily intended to help us know and relate to an invisible God. Personally, I go to science for help on understanding “how?” and the Bible for understanding “why?”
That being said, it would seem that the Bible and modern science have very different things to say about the same topic. In the realm of science, fossils of microorganisms called stromatolites have been dated to be around 3.45 billion years old. Radiometric age measurements on earth’s rocks consistently show dates of over 3.8 billion years. The Hubble telescope has allowed us to measure the expansion rate of the universe, and scientist’s best estimates place the beginning of the universe at nearly 14 billion years ago.
Astronomy, genetics, linguistics, geology, plate tectonics, and archeology all show evidence of a very old earth.
The Bible never specifically gives the age of our earth and the universe, but James Ussher, a 17th century Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland) is famous for his meticulous research that uses the Bible’s genealogy and recorded history to mark the date of creation to be just over 6,000 years ago. Some young earth creationists have stretched that number to around 10,000 years using a myriad of different methods, putting creation and the flood beyond the oldest trees and Egyptian pyramids. In either case, new earth creationists believe that creation took place in six 24-hour, sequential days.
Old earth creationist have come up with theories such as the Day-Age Theory, Gap Theory, and Punctuated 24-hour Theory in an attempt to make sense of the six days of the Biblical creation story in light of scientific discoveries. The particular theory I am fascinated with is one proposed by Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an MIT alumni and professor with a dual doctorate in nuclear science and oceanography. Schroeder compares peer reviewed modern science and ancient commentary in order to reconcile the six-day creation story with 14 billion years. I would be remiss to attempt to explain his theory in a few sentences, but I would say that I found his book, “The Science of God,” to be quite a fascinating read. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in comparing the Bible’s timeline of creation with modern science.
Schroeder’s book has a bit to say on the topic of evolution as well, but it is by no means the only theory out there. Scientists are still looking for the fossils that Charles Darwin hoped would fill the gaps in his theory of Evolution, but I personally wouldn’t find issue with their discovery. The Bible only uses 31 sentences to explain the creation story, and I don’t find the idea of God working through the physical laws of the universe unnerving. I believe that God created the laws that govern this universe, and find that the ability for an organism to adapt and flourish only further points to an intelligent creator.
At this point in the discussion, it’s important to note that all of us have bias. Our worldview is largely based on our life experiences, built upon daily with new information and perspectives, and becomes interwoven into our identity. Topics like these usually elicit quite a bit of emotion because the implications of the answers tend to attack our worldview. Other’s opinions can feel like personal attacks and pierce deeply if they don’t line up with our own. Many people have devoted their entire lifetime to the research of very specific fields of science, and scholars have done the same with the Bible. The fact of the matter is that both sides are quite complex, and it is usually a relatively shallow understanding of one side or the other that leads to much of the science vs. religion debate. Dr. Eric Smith, an Old Testament scholar, and president of Pillar Seminary, gave a message at Discovery on October 5th about the Biblical perspective of creation vs. science. I highly recommend listening to the podcast, (www.discovery-church.org/media/sermons-2/) as he gives deeply credentialed insight into the context of the Biblical creation story and the culture of the time period it was recorded.
Anyone who knows me well would attest that I’m a very logical person. I’m quite analytical, and tend to obsess over details. My wife would be the first to confirm that I don’t like leaving debates unfinished. I love science, I love the Bible, and I thoroughly enjoy discussions about how the Bible and science appear to relate and clash, but I’m happy to let the two live in tension. This isn’t because I’m scared of tough questions. It’s because I believe there are even bigger questions to dig into; questions that have massive ramifications.
For the skeptic who is investigating the claims of the Bible, it’s common to start reading Genesis and find issue with the opening pages that tell the creation story. There are plenty of resources to pursue in order to gain a greater perspective on the topic, but I would encourage you to start your search by skipping straight to the pages that tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth. The claims of a Jewish Rabbi who was executed by the Roman government around 2000 years ago are far and away more outrageous than any issues you will find throughout the rest of the Bible.
For the Christian, everything hinges around this Rabbi. Did a man who claimed to be God truly die and then rise from the dead so that we could be considered righteous in the eyes of the Creator and Sustainer of all things? Have we been made in the image of God and created for eternity? Does loving your enemy, self-sacrifice, and serving others really lead to a life of joy and fulfillment? I believe that these are the bigger questions, and the Bible has much to say about them. The message is clear, even at an introductory level, but continues to contain wisdom to an inexhaustible level of study. There is an invitation within the pages of the Bible that offers an experience beyond the limits of our imagination. It’s a counter-culture, perspective changing, and almost unbelievable invitation. It’s a journey that will change your life, and it’s is open to everyone.
References for further interest:
“The Science of God” by Dr. Gerald Schroeder.
There are countless websites on the topic, the ones below either site references for further study, or attempt to present the topic in an objective manner.