Thankyou to those who have sent in such interesting and thought provoking comments to my last post. Here is my two-cents worth…
The Catholic Church and some varieties of Protestant Churches (non-evangelical ones) have moved officially towards accepting the Theory of Evolution as the process God used to create life on the Earth. I would note that even if this turned out to be true, it would still have no effect whatsoever on either the accuracy of the Bible or on our Christian faith, for as Tony points out, the Old Testament has been interpreted allegorically since the time of Origen in the 3rd century BC.
However, there remain some fatally serious problems with the Theory of Macro Evolution as an explanation for life on earth. Among these are:
1. How did life begin?
2. How can huge chunks of very organised information be spliced into an existing genome by mere chance?
3. How can incredibly complex systems, such as the mammalian eye or the clotting cascade in the blood, evolve gradually when in fact the absence of any one component of that system renders the whole system useless? (This is the basic premise of the “Intelligent Design” movement.)
And there are others. A recent court case in the USA ruled that Intelligent Design was not science. I believe that ruling was flawed, though, since the case was not really about whether ID is science or not, but about whether it should be allowed to be taught in Science classes in schools. Clearly, there is a much deeper political agenda involved in the second form of the question, since there is a strong backlash against the “Christian Right” raging in the US at the moment. Most people saw this as just one more way that the Christian Right was trying to impose its standards on the very government of the land, and fought bitterly because of that reason. I read the judgment (you can google it easily) and it seems to me quite biased, though framed in perfect legalese of course.
Atheists in the US have made quite a fuss over this judgement, which they see as some kind of proof that ID is fantasy. Personally, I would not go to a Judge to tell me whether God created the world. Why should he know anymore about it than anyone else? As someone pointed out to me recently, scientists have no more knowledge of philosophy or the laws of logic than anyone else, yet those like Dawkins present themselves as being authorities on questions of religion, which are not scientific question at all, but philosophical ones.
There are different forms of Creationism, and yes, our Church does not subscribe to the literal form that says the world was created in six 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago. I would firstly note that any dogmatic assertions about the creation are not to be trusted – none of us was there! And the only One who was there did not give us a modern scientific account of events, but an account intended to help us understand who we owe our existence to. Anything beyond the actual words of the Bible is interpretation, and you will find good interpretation and bad interpretation, but it is in the end, on this matter, nothing more than interpretation.
Personally, I have no trouble fitting any current scientific theory into what Genesis tells us. There are some discarded theories that I would have certainly had trouble with, such as the Steady State Theory of the universe, that said that the universe has no beginning and no end, but that it has simply existed forever. This would be in direct contradiction to what Genesis plainly tells us: “In the beginning, God created…” The fact that scientists were literally forced by the facts to accept that the universe did have a beginning (rather than existing forever) is to me one of the greatest vindications of the truth of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole.
All comments welcomed!