Thursday, April 21, 2011

5 Billion Years, Seven Days, or Yesterday

Last Thursday I talked about Galileo and why I never out of hand disregard a scientific discovery. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about the craziness that is the Evolution versus Creationism debate.

There are a lot nuances to this debate that I don't think most people even consider, but I'm going to divide up our conversation into three topics: 1) Traditional Seven Day Creationism, 2) the Universe is 5 Billion Years Old, and 3) the World was Created Yesterday. In this post, I'm just going to talk about the first of those topics. The other topics will follow next week.

1) Traditional Seven Day Creationism
I do not disbelieve in the Seven Day creation. I think that's an important point to make. If I get to heaven and God says, "You know what Mandy? You were meant to take that very literally and the universe was actually created in seven 24 hour periods (give or take the little bit that adds up to leap year)", I won't be surprised. Now the scientists out there might cry out and say, "How can you possibly believe this is true? All scientific evidence points directly to the universe being much older!"

The apparent age of the universe is a good point that I feel like people don't discuss enough when it comes to this debate. Yes, the universe seems very old. The scientists are not lying when they say measurements point to the universe being old (I'm pretty sure I covered that in the Galileo post but I just wanted to remind everyone). So if the universe seems to be 5 billion years old how can it really be..uh...much less than that. (I'm not sure what the agreed upon age of the world is by the traditionalist view, but its less than 5 billion).

Well that's actually pretty easy to answer if you think about it. The Bible is pretty clear that Adam was created as a man. Not a baby, not a child or teen, but a full grown man. So I'm willing to bet he would seem in every sense to be grown up.

Let me put it in another way. God creates a whole bunch of trees at creation. Do you think He created a whole bunch of saplings? Or do you think He created trees at varying stages of the life cycle (so that an entire generation wouldn't die off at the same time)? So if I went up to one of these freshly made but old seeming trees right after God created them, and cut through the trunk to see the tree rings, do you think it would look like there were no tree rings or God would really have made the tree be 20 years old and have the appropriate yearly rings? So if a scientists saw those rings he would swear the tree was 20 years old, when it reality it was literally created 5 seconds ago.

So the universe seeming old doesn't have to be contrary to a seven day Creation. God is smart, and He's certainly smarter than we are. If He wants the universe to seem 5 billion years old than its because we people need it to be that old to survive in it. It's like God fastforwarding through all that pesky other stuff (or skipping right over it) to create a world that's the exact right age we need to survive. I fully believe God is capable of doing something like that.

Now I feel I should note here that some people believe in a more of "seven distinct stages of creation". This sort of merges into the 5 billion year old, evolution universe, but it doesn't have to. I fully believe God is perfectly capable of creating our universe and all the life in it in 7 nanoseconds. How do I rationalize this with the Bible which clearly states days? Well, God is outside of time, so I don't think He would need to feel constrained by a period of time He had not necessarily yet created. He could if He wanted to--I don't doubt that--but I don't think He had to. However, I also think if God had said to Moses (the usual person believed to have written Genesis), "It took be one nanosecond to create all the animals in the world", Moses' mind might have exploded. Sure, God could have explained to Moses and make him understand. Completely possible and within God's power. However, then Moses would have to explain to everyone else and that's just a hassle. God could have been just talking in terms He knew people would understand.....

Thus we segue into a discussion of evolution and the possibility of Creation taking much much longer. However, that is a post for next Tuesday.

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