As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
At Synod this year I met a couple over lunch who told me they were devotees of the Creation Research Institute (CRI). CRI is an organization that advocates for a scientific understanding of a literal six-day creation that happened six to ten thousand years ago.
As we talked, I politely disagreed with them but told them I respected their convictions, which were obviously very important to them.
I’ve been thinking about that conversation. To me, as difficult as it might be, it’s a conversation we need to have in our congregations. Christianity is a faith that is based in history, fact, and reality. It’s not just some heavenly, other-worldly religion. God really visited this planet and is deeply involved in human history.
So when we talk about the Bible, we need to take into account the facts of history and reality as we know it. That means that proven and well-supported scientific findings need to be factored in on our biblical understanding. Not to do so places our faith outside of reality and is therefore dangerous.
Christians like those in CRI know that. Therefore, they support their belief in the literal creation account with their own scientific facts. For example, they contend that the worldwide flood caused the geological formations that make the planet look much older than it is. The problem is that very, very few scientists, even Christian ones, think that CRI’s “science” has any legitimacy.
We need to talk about this because most of our children and young people will, at some point, discover the science of the earth’s origins, its age, and its evolutionary patterns. Will they then have to decide between the Bible and well-documented scientific findings, or, to put it another way, between faith and the real world?
While I was at Faith Alive we received a generous grant from Biologos, an organization founded by evangelical scientist Francis Collins (now head of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Genome Project). The grant was to produce a video companion to Faith Alive’s book Origins, a balanced look at the various views Christians have regarding issues of creation and science. (You can download the video free at http://origins.faithaliveresources.org/.)
If Christianity is about the real world of our God who is at work in history, we cannot afford ignorance of science. As the Belgic Confessions states, God reveals himself in “two books” (Art. 2): in the Bible and in the wonders of creation around us. Science is one of the tools by which we read the book of creation. We need to spend the time and effort to sift through the evidence and interpret the biblical texts in both books.