Bill Nye in Alabama- And The Issue of Evolution
Disclosure: This post is not meant to offend anyone's religious beliefs- I respect all religions of the world and find them to be incredibly similar and beautiful- this is simply expressed from a Christian/Catholic upbringing. With Bill Nye coming to the University of Alabama to talk about evolution, a lot of people have been heard saying they won't go because they dont believe in evolution because of the biblical account of Genesis. First of all, let me say this: I was born, raised, and firmly chose the Catholic Church- which is a Christian denomination known sometimes for its traditionalism. When I say these things, I do not mean to offend anyone. But can we please discuss evolution and creationism?
Why cant the two prove each other?
To begin, I want to share with you one of the most interesting, absolutely mind-blowing documentaries I have ever seen in my life. Stephen Hawking's three-part series "Into the Universe" had a third episode called "The Story of Everything" about the Big Bang Theory, which a lot of Christians detest. Well, y'all, Genesis only goes back so far- this is the stuff that happened before. And if you watch the third episode all the way to the end, you'll see exactly why I believe science and religion not only can prove each other, but are almost necessary together. Basically, it talks about the creation of the earth and how scientifically, one theory suggests that in the beginning of time one tiny atom was in imbalance out of a billion- and because of that tiny imbalance that had about a trillionth of a chance of happening, the Earth was created. Accident? Or grand design? Here's what I mean-I want to take the book of Genesis, the story of God's creation of the Earth, and talk to you about why I believe Science and Religion can go hand-in-hand. Let's go line by line, and talk about one of the most pressing issues of our day: Creationism vs. Evolutionism. All Bible quotes are from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1 unless noted. Anyway, on to the beginning of time: "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (verse 2). We actually have NASA proof that in the beginning of the Earth's life, around 4.4 billion years ago, the earth was indeed covered in water before the water receded, allowing land forms to be exposed. During the waterworld era, any oxygen produced by photosynthesising bacteria would have been quickly used up through reactions with decaying organic matter in the oceans. So, there was no oxygen, which, as you know, is necessary to sustain life. “'And God said, 'Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.' So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault 'sky'" (verses 6-8). We have proof that at the time of the Earth's creation, the atmosphere contained almost no oxygen- and therefore would have been toxic to humans and animals. Then, as stated in the hyperlink above, around 2.45 billion years ago, oxygen creating organisms allowed oxygen to enter the earth's atmosphere, essentially creating the atmosphere that we know today. "'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. God called the dry ground 'land,' and the gathered waters he called 'seas.' And God saw that it was good" (verses 9-10). So here's the scientific version: the earth at first was covered in hot magma- which cooled, got covered in water (hence the water world mentioned above), and then this water started to give way to allow land to emerge. Interestingly close to the story of creationism no? “'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good" (verses 11-12). 480 million years ago, this happened. "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good" (verses 14-18). Now this is where we first start to see some inconsistencies in the timing. Science states that the earth is actually quite a bit younger than the stars- and the sun, my friends, is a star which was created far before the earth. However, the moon did come after the creation of the earth. So how do I interpret this? If youre a historical Bible buff, you know that the Book of Genesis was written by Moses- but was it? We actually are starting to teach, in seminaries, that it was not in fact Moses. Read more about it here. This means that as a compilation of books by several humans, there's a lot of wiggle room. I know some people take the Bible very literally. But if it were meant to be taken so literally, why did Jesus of all people speak in parables? Humans are just that- human. We were unfortunately afflicted with original sin and though God inspired the words that these people wrote, a lot of people have touched them since. The Bible was written by humans- assembled by humans. This leaves a lot of room for error- a lot of room for mixed up things, and a lot of, well, human-ness. "And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth'" (verses 20-22). "And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good" (verses 24-25). Okay. Come on. This chart shows you how species on earth were introduced- first in water, then on land.
Let's take a momentary break from the serious debate here. God decided it was good. Why isn't that good enough for us? Why do we care how God got us here if we're here? Can we all agree on one thing? It's good. It's really good. However it happened, this is the one thing that is repeated all the time. It was good. It was REALLY good. You and I are here, alive, able to breathe and given a beautiful life. That's some good stuff right there. Now you may be thinking "okay that's consistent- but Genesis describes all of this happening in 7 days. That's the problem." Yes, yes it does. But God is the Alpha and the Omega- he has no beginning and no end. So why would His timeline be something that humans can comprehend? Some people take the Bible very literally- if you do, I can't help you. But if you, like me, believe that the Bible was written in parables written simply enough for humans to understand (keep in mind, in Moses' day, we didn't even have a word for 'billions of years'- so the word 'day' is something we can comprehend). But here's the most complicated part: "God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (verse 27). For this statement, we must analyze- does God have a body? Or did God make us in His spiritual image? We always refer to God as a human because that's all we can comprehend. We, as humans, have a hard time accepting that there is only so much that God wants us to know. What He wants us to know, he gives us the knowledge and evidence to discover. If religion and science actually worked together instead of determining that everything they do contradicts each other, maybe we could get even closer to the truth of what God is trying to tell us. Who's to say that when God placed the first, primitive humans on the planet, that he didn't plan for them to evolve? Hello- Adam and Eve? We have proof that animals have evolved. Why, then, is it so hard for us to imagine humans evolving? Now, in the words of one of my friends, I do not believe that we evolved from Curious George. If that were so, the primate genes would not still exist- and we wouldn't have those big, hairy, fascinating creatures that look a lot like us. But whose to say that the human genome did not evolve from a little hairier, a little less elegant version? Not a monkey- but a more primitive form of human with the same spirit as God has, and as we have today? What do you think?