/* ----------------------------------------------- Blogger Template Style Name: Rounders 3 Designer: Douglas Bowman URL: www.stopdesign.com Date: 27 Feb 2004 ----------------------------------------------- */
Google

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Evolution Sunday

February 11th is Evolution Sunday across America. I was invited to submit a commentary at my church and I post it here:

Genesis 1:

1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 6And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. 9And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

Nearly every Christian and Jew has read this account of creation. The verses are among the very first that children hear in their bible study class and they are among the most recognized verses in the bible. They are also verses that can be used to generate tension between Christianity and science.

Today, in thousands of churches across the United States, people will be discussing these verses and the harmonization of science and religion. Dubbed “Evolution Sunday”, the day is meant to help people become familiar with the role of science in religion and the role of religion in science.

Tension between religion and science is nothing new. In 1632, Galileo Galilei delivered a letter to the Catholic Church describing a radical new view of our place in the cosmos. In the spring of 1633 Galileo was delivered to the church for his heretical view of heliocentrism. The church was livid that Galileo would criticize the biblical view of the Earth as the center of the Universe. The Church wrote:

“From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that first, with a sincere heart, and unfeigned faith, you abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church in the form to be prescribed by us. And in order that this your grave and pernicious error and transgression may not remain altogether unpunished, and that you may be more cautious for the future, and an example to others, that they may abstain from similar delinquencies’we ordain that the book of the “Dialogues of Galileo Galilei” be prohibited by public edict.”

Slightly before this, Martin Luther wrote of the cosmos:

“Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters... It is likely that the stars are fastened to the firmament like globes of fire, to shed light at night... We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding."

We would look at the views of geocentricity and the firmament today as downright silly, but in historical context, Galileo had committed a grave sin against God, the Church and the Bible. What has changed since the days of Galileo?

There can be little doubt that modern scientific knowledge has led to improvements in our lifestyle and our understanding of the universe about us. It is also true that now, even in the 21st century, people still feel uncomfortable with the discoveries of modern science and take theological offense to some of the findings of science. Perhaps no scientific discovery seems more insulting to Christian thought than the notion of biological evolution. Ever since Darwin suggested that humankind and apes shared a common ancestry, various factions of the church have taken offense. In the 1920’s John T. Scopes was tried for teaching evolution in Dayton, Tennessee and to this day, certain religious factions hold that evolution is false and the earth is only 6000 years old. In fact, these same “Christian” organizations are also politically active trying to ban/alter books that teach a scientific view that is different from their reading of Genesis---in much the same way that the Catholic Church banned Galileo’s teachings. Others have tried to invent a new science called “Intelligent Design” in an attempt to force science into compliance with a narrow view of the bible. Although it hides behind scientific-sounding verbiage, Intelligent design is a scientifically vacuous political movement. The primary goal is aimed at establishing a theocracy in America and eliminating all scientific thought that is not in concert with the views of its ruling body. This is no different from the actions of the Catholic Church in Galileo’s time.

Why are the findings of science and religion seemingly at odds? If we share a common ancestry with other primates, does that somehow lessen our place in the world? Does it destroy the Christian need for salvation? These are deep questions and “Evolution Sunday” is about exploring the role of Christianity in science and vice-versa. It is my stance that science should not be viewed as a threat to the bible. The acceptance of heliocentrism, while radical at the time, did not result in the whole-scale abandonment of religion. The discovery that the earth was 4.5 billion years old rather than the 6000 years assumed by Archbishop James Ussher, did not cause a mass exodus from the halls of worship. The fact that all organisms on earth share the same essential biochemistry does not lessen our place in the cosmos. If anything, these similarities bind us to all life and help us understand our place in this universe. Science should not be viewed as a threat to Christianity or the bible and science most certainly should not be intimidated by Christianity. Frances Collins, head of the human genome project made this point in a recent interview with Christianity today:

“Yet it seems to be a pretty well kept secret these days that the scientific approach and the spiritual approach are compatible. I think we've allowed for too long extreme voices to dominate the stage in a way that has led many people to assume that's all there is. The thesis of my book is that there is no need for this battle. In fact, it's a destructive battle. And we as a society would be well served to recover that happy middle ground where people have been for most of human history.”

Evolution Sunday is about re-establishing harmony and mutual respect amongst science and religion. It is about the realization that knowledge of our evolutionary history is no more threatening to the Christian faith than is the knowledge that the Earth orbits the Sun.

Best Wishes

Joe Meert

Suggested Reading:

1. Collins, Frances. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

2. Miller, Ken. Finding Darwin’s God: A scientists search for common ground between God and Evolution.

3. Brockman, John. Intelligent thought: Science versus the intelligent design movement.

3 Comments:

At 9:40 PM, Blogger dogscratcher said...

Very nice. I just discovered a relative who seems to be buying into the false dilemma of science/religion, and is seemingly rejecting science because of it. I am going to forward a link to this page, I think you lay things out nicely. DS

 
At 9:54 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

Thank you. It was a tough letter for me to write. I'll be interested in what the people in church have to say (and will blog on their reaction).

Cheers

Joe Meert

 
At 12:27 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

SIXTY - SEVEN SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES
Which Tell Us That It Is The Sun
And Not The Earth That Moves
Genesis 15:12...... "...and when the sun was going down..."
15:17..... "...when the sun went down..."
19:23..... "The sun was risen upon the earth."
28:11..... "...because the sun was set...."
32:31..... "...the sun rose...."
Exodus 17:12..... "...until the going down of the sun...."
22:3...... "...if the sun be risen upon him...."
22:26.... "...the sun goeth down...."
Leviticus 22:7...... "...And when the sun is down...."
Numbers 2:3........ "...toward the rising of the sun...."
Deuteronomy 11:30..... "...the way where the sun goeth down...."
16:6....... "...at the going down of the sun...."
23:11..... "...when the sun is down...."
24:13..... "...when the sun goeth down...."
24:15..... "...neither shall the sun go down...."
Joshua 1:4..... "...the going down of the sun...."
8:29... "...as soon as the sun was down...."
10:12.. "...Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon...."
10:13.. "...and the sun stood still...."
10:27.. "...the time of the going down of the sun...."
12:1.... "...toward the rising of the sun...."
Judges 5:31.... "...as the sun when he goeth down...."
8:13.... "...before the sun was up...."
9:33.... "...as soon as the sun is up...."
14:18.... "...before the sun went down...."
19:14.... "...and the sun went down...."
II Samuel 2:24.... "...the sun went down...."
3:35.... "...till the sun be down...."
23:4..... "...when the sun riseth...."
I Kings 22:36.... "...the going down of the sun...."
I Chronicles 16:30.... "...the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved...."
II Chronicles 18:34.... "...time of the sun going down...."
Job 9:7.... "...commandeth the sun and it riseth not...."
Job 26:7.... "...He hangeth the earth upon nothing...."
Psalm 19:4.... "...tabernacle for the sun...."
19:5 ... "...cometh out to run...."
19:6.... "...goes forth in a circle from one end of heaven to the other...."
50:1.... "...from the rising of the sun...."
93:1.... "...the world also is stablished that it cannot be moved...."
104:19.. "...the sun knoweth his going down...."
104:22.. "...the sun ariseth...."
113:3.... "...from the rising of the sun...."
Ecclesiastes 1:5.... "...The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down
and hasteth to the place where he arose...."
Isaiah 13:10.... "...sun shall be darkened in his going...."
38:8...... "...is gone down on the sundial of Ahaz...."
38:8...... "...so the sun returned...."
41:25.... "...from the rising of the sun...."
45:6...... "...from the rising of the sun...."
59:19.... "...from the rising of the sun...."
60:20.... "...the sun shall no more go down...."
Jeremiah 15:9.... "...her sun is gone down while it was yet day...."
Daniel 6:14.... "...going down of the sun...."
Amos 8:9.... "...cause the sun to go down at noon...."
Jonah 4:8.... "...when the sun did arise...."
Micah 3:6.... "...and the sun shall go down...."
Nahum 3:17.... "...when the sun ariseth...."
Habakkuk 3:11.... "...the sun and moon stood still in their habitation...."
Malachi 1:11.... "...from the rising of the sun...."
Matthew 5:45.... "...for He maketh His sun to rise...."
13:6..... "...and when the sun was up...."
Mark 1:32.... "...when the sun did set...."
4:6...... "...when the sun was up...."
16:2...... "...at the rising of the sun...."
Luke 4:40.... "...when the sun was setting...."
Ephesians 4:26.... "...let not the sun go down upon your wrath...."
James 1:11.... "...for the sun is no sooner risen...."

That is a Total of 67 Verses from the Bible Which Say
that It Is the Sun that Moves and Not the Earth!

Peace Be With You
Patrick

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page