Bob and Steve, here. With Stephen Hawking’s passing there have been no small amount of press about his theories of the creation of the universe. So we’ve been thinking about the universe, and life. What is it? Where did it come from? Where is it going? Are its best days behind us, or does it show promise for the future?
Where did it all come from? The book of Genesis tells us that life, the universe and everything (we’re not sure about sporks) was created by God. So, that settles that. “Not so fast!” the New Atheists say! What about the whole 7-day business? And isn’t most of the world feeling pretty good and satisfied with evolution?
Let’s start with the 7 days of creation vs the scientific estimate of a 15 billion year-old Earth. First of all, 7 days and 15 billion years really aren’t that far apart – cosmologically speaking. We think a lot of the confusion may just be a matter of units and conversion factors. Recall the NASA Mars probe that went poof! Why? Unit conversions – imperial and metric. Gets ‘em every time. Probably the same thing with the Bible. Who’s to say what units the ancients were working with when they were laying down Genesis on the old papyrus? More likely than not the conversion to days would have involved fortnights and cubic light years or something like that. Then there’s the issue of experiential time versus actual time. Seven days can feel like 15 billion years if you spend them watching Ishtar or CSPAN.
Second, the Church never claimed that Genesis is a historical accounting of things, let alone a scientific accounting of things. It’s a theological accounting of things. God created everything (again, the spork caveat), and man is at the top of the heap.
Well, what about the evolution of life? The New Atheists love this one. “What about the fossil record1?” they howl. “What does that do to your superstitious mumbo jumbo about men from dirt and women from ribs?” they chortle! “There goes all that business about original sin” they hoot! Well, not so fast. The Church has no problem with evolution of the body. If God wanted to try out a few alpha and beta test versions before fusing precious souls to physical bodies, so be it. Frankly, we’re not convinced that the current version is “fully baked.” It does shed light on whether God is an engineer or a realist. An engineer would never have shipped products like us with all of our bugs. A realist certainly would with the confidence that they’ll fix it in the next release (aka Heaven).
It got us thinking to call Heaven’s tech support and get their take on all of this. So call we did.
HTS: Thank you for your call. Your call is very important to us. Luckily we’re infinite and can answer all calls simultaneously in all languages. We’ll be with you in a fraction of a jiffy.
US: Very cool.
HTS: Hello, how can we help you?
US: We’re trying to get straightened out on the source of life, where it’s headed, whether there are franchise opportunities, that sort of thing.
US: Hellooooo? Anyone there?
US: Hellooooo? Can you hear us? Did we get disconnected? It’s all silent??
HTS: Of course it’s silent. We’re very big on silence. You know … Elijah? First Kings?
US: Oh, come on! Silence? That’s all? If we wanted silence we could have called Microsoft.
Back to evolution, if you want to send a New Atheist into paroxysms, ask him where the first life came from. Even the simplest cells are mind-bogglingly complex. How many molecules have to be in just the right combination, in just the right place, doing just the right thing to cause cellular respiration? Don’t even get us started about the replication of DNA! How did that incomprehensibly well-tuned organization of thousands of bits of space-stuff just “happen”? If the New Atheist doesn’t believe God ordained it then they’re left with two options: (1) they cling hopelessly to a theory so astronomically improbable that it’s akin to a volcano erupting and forming an exact replica of the Eifel Tower, rivets and all – it’s so absurd you might as well say a Giant Spaghetti Monster flew down from the sky and created life. We actually can’t recall what the second option is, but it probably has something to do with sporks.
1 For our younger readers, the fossil record does not refer to the long-playing “LP” 33 ⅓ record. It refers to the much older 78 rpm record.