For me personally the Bible and philosophical reasoning both point to a Creator and a relatively recent creation. I recognize that people who favor the scientific evidence can read Genesis in ways that differ from the traditional. But the best exegetical work on the Bible points to the idea that the ancients who wrote and read these texts understood them to be pointing to a creator God as the originator of the natural world and that God’s creative activity is fairly rapid and recent. And beyond Genesis, the Bible’s teachings on sin, salvation and resurrection all presuppose a God who actively intervenes in space and time.
Philosophically, I also find it easier to believe that the complexity and beauty of the world we know is the product of a loving and intelligent Designer than that it all is the product of random and chance events over long periods of time. While I am not a scientist, Steven Hawking has been sometimes called the Einstein of the 21st Century. And he has clearly demonstrated that the chances of human life developing on this earth in this universe is something like ten to the five hundredth. That’s one chance in ten followed by 500 zeros. In other words, not much of a chance. That this did not disturb his commitment to atheism makes the admission all the more interesting for me. At the minimum it tells me that scientific certainty on these matters is far from a done deal.
But while the preponderance of scientific evidence is not hostile to the possibility of design, it is very hard to square with the biblical idea of a recent creation of life. Believing, short-age creationist scientists tell me that there is currently no creationist model that is scientifically fruitful in its ability to predict observable outcomes the way microevolution does. We can act as if this is not the case, but it would not be a sound intellectual position. Humility requires honesty. A possible response to this dilemma, however: If God is as great as we believe Him to be, He is capable of doing things in a way that science cannot fully observe or understand. In any case, it seems to me that believers who are honest with the evidence must live with a certain amount of tension. And that is what faith is all about.
“[T]he preponderance of scientific evidence is … very hard to square with the biblical idea of a recent creation of life. Believing, short-age creationist scientists tell me that there is currently no creationist model that is scientifically fruitful in its ability to predict observable outcomes the way microevolution does.”
Those creationist scientists are grossly mistaken. Short-age creationism is perfectly consistent with Darwin’s four main postulates. The only scientifically questionable presupposition that competent creationists should be compelled to dispute is the common descent postulate, which is unobservable on our planet and generates no testable predictions.
And what is your qualification to make that claim?
Only by seeing the Author of Truth as faithful, can one find confidence in what cannot be “proven”. We must realize the infinite capacity of God while falling far short of understanding it. Everything in creation declares His glory and power (Ps 19, Rom 1) and we can only marvel, while realizing the blight of sin upon these ‘great and marvelous” works of the Lord.
So what is the convincing evidence? Isn’t it the promised Peace given through justification(forgiveness) and the life-changing power that follows faith? Perhaps this is why creation is barely mentioned compared to the Gospel appeal and promise of peace/rest throughout God’s word. We observe life following the command to bring forth after it’s kind. We experience daily(in most places) the table prepared before us in the presence of the enemy of souls, proving God is on His throne and overrules the kingdoms of men and power of devils. We enjoy the sun and rain, whether just or unjust, and the air is still breathable in spite of our efforts to ruin it. Seed time and harvest still follow in order as God feeds the life He has brought forth for His pleasure and joy.
Some truths are beyond proving, but those things revealed and experienced will be evidence for faith, which is the “evidence of things not seen”. Yet, the promise is that “the pure in heart shall see…”.
Took some time before addressing this point separately:
When you use the word “tension” in connection to the need to exercise faith where evidence is not concrete, do you use in describing the reasons or temptation to doubt? Does the lack of concrete evidence to support the claim of God that He spoke this world into existence not that long ago, give reason for doubt if all that God has revealed about Himself is considered as well? If our “faith” is held while entertaining doubts, is it faith? Isn’t faith an unshakable trust in the One making the claim, regardless if we can verify the specific claim or not. If we can verify the claim against all objections, it is no longer faith, but sight, and in this case, there could be no more atheists or belief in a random evolution of all life over a very long period of time. But such concrete evidence does not exist. Yet faith will not doubt, not being dependent on specific evidence, except for the evidence that the One making the claim is infallible, and does not lie. This leaves the individual with the need to know God as He may be known doesn’t it? Any who are unwilling to know Him are on their own and will find many reasons to doubt.
As for the evidence of there being something other than a creation as described in scripture, what evidence? I realize that some interpret their observations as such, but I see that same evidence harmonizing with the Bible account of creation. We must realize that God can create a new world, just days in existence, that looks like it has been there forever. But once God is removed from any reckoning(only because some, like doubting Thomas, haven’t seen Him on their terms) then the evidence must be read differently, according to finite human understanding and very limited experience and knowledge (even if some might think they are “genius”). It is impossible to see the evidence correctly apart from acknowledging God and all that He has revealed. Remember: “…none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand”.
If we cannot trust fully the One speaking, then we must doubt anything and everything He speaks.
Is this fair to say?
I guess where I am coming from is being turned off by people who have no clue of the Hebrew of Genesis yet understand 100% all of its implications for modern-day science. Some of these are on the new creation compliance committee and that is scary. I am equally turned off by atheist scientists who know everything and mock everyone else.
I have translated Genesis from the Hebrew and what it does not say about scientific issues is much greater than what it does day. At the same time, faith takes the best evidence you have and trusts the God who gave that evidence. So the tension is between being sure enough to stake your life on something and still humble enough to listen to others and relisten to Scripture. I guess not everyone can handle that.
Following the entrance of sin in this world, the gospel and God’s law were out of necessity on the front burner, and the science of creation becomes irrelevant if one does not have faith in God. So with faith being the greater need of man(Heb 11:6, Luke 18:8), God may not have wished to reveal more than needed to lessen the distractions from the most important matters. I’m not familiar with some of the issues you pointed out, so the tension is still not that clear in my understanding, and I’m ok with that for now.
Personally I do not believe that there are any true atheists. The Bible makes clear that God is known from His works, even by all who deny His existence. In short: they know. Doesn’t this reveal why God has made the Gospel of Christ the central and foremost subject of all scripture? There is no convincing anyone who rejects clear evidence, so why distract everyone else when the proof isn’t needed? Such revelations would only become more to argue over.
So this greater silence on scientific issues in Genesis is reasonable, and all that God does reveal will always strengthen faith when received. Obedience brings understanding and wisdom to the soul. Likewise, it is simple to understand the effect of disobedience which always blinds the soul to even the most evident truths. The “law”(Towrah) of God is perfect, and will meet the need of every soul who does not reject it.