Monday, February 25, 2013

Creation or Evolution?

Oh Rock, tell me how old you are!

The basic choice set up by the meeting I attended last night was: Creation or Evolution. In a discussion with some of the other attendees in the church foyer after, I suggested that it should have been called “young-earth vs. ancient-world,” with which the bulk of the presenter’s points dealt.

               Let me say at the outset that I personally interpret much of the Old Testament and considerable parts of the New as being best understood (and in many cases intended to be understood) as allegory, parable or metaphor, illustrative of the human condition as understood at the time of writing. And so, watching for 1 ½ hours the painful shoe-horning of the history of the universe into 6,000 years by a representative of Creation Ministries Canada found me to be one of numerous skeptics in the room.

               The thesis is this: if the Genesis account of creation is not understood as a factual history, then the rest of the Bible with its primary sequence (creation, the fall, Christ and redemption, eternal bliss or exile) falls apart because it all hinges on the entire human race inheriting Adam’s sin (Eve was not mentioned). Without that, there is no need for Christ and the gospels become redundant.

               A secondary thesis presented (among others) was that the loss of youth to the church is caused primarily by their inability to navigate the conundrum presented by apparent conflicts between higher education and their childhood faith and to counter this, we need to give them clear guidelines to reinforce that evolution/ancient-worlds interpretation of history is just one view and that the historical/ Biblical is a different and just-as-valid interpretation.

               The event was housed in a Mennonite Church, hosted by a member of that church and, quite unfortunately, did not offer any disclaimer so that an audience member could easily have deduced that the congregation endorsed the views presented. This was not the case; the congregation is as diverse on this issue as is the rest of the Christian world and the venue was granted for use to the organizers as an expression of grace, not as an endorsement, or so I was led to believe.

Another unfortunate part of the package was a 15-minute sales pitch from the pulpit for magazines, books and videos supporting the young-earth argument. I maintain that being approached with a Bible in one hand and a merchandise catalogue in the other is reasonable occasion for skepticism.

A third cause for puzzlement was the structure of the question period: 20 or so questions were posted on a screen and the audience had only to call out a number to solicit an answer. One question was, “Who was Cain’s wife?” (Number 14?), and the answer, “Simple! Cain married his sister, which was OK because there were no genetic mutations yet, so marrying a relative was no cause for concern.” I had questions, but they weren’t necessarily those on the screen.

There will always be conflicting interpretations of what is read, let alone what is heard and seen. That’s the way humans are. The useful question is probably not, “Who’s right and who’s wrong?” it’s probably “What is instructive and edifying and what is not.” It’s my feeling that Creation Ministries Canada and other causes that proof-text their ways through scriptures have often allowed themselves to be diverted down paths that neither edify nor instruct. Had the principals (in Creation Ministries Canada) been educated in the literary arts and the history and workings of language through the ages, this particular diversion need never have existed to muddy the theological water in a time when the commitment to be Christ’s  influence for peace, joy and justice in the 21st Century is in such great demand.  

As for ordinary folk in the pews who feel torn this way and that by such questions and the voices of conviction on both sides, take heart that Christ’s wish for you is not that you should be ripped apart by what you can and cannot convince yourself to believe, but by trusting the message of the one who came to set us free, not  bind us with better chains. 
Commit to the two condensations of the law given by Christ, namely to Love the Lord your God as much as you are able and to love your neighbour as you long to be loved.

A less controversial path to the essence of the Gospel..


  1. Thank-you George for your wisdom.
    Ric Driediger

  2. George, having been the organizer (together with my family) of the event you critique, I prepared a well documented response to your comments but just haven't felt right sending it until today, albeit totally revised and simplified.

    The opening statement of the Bible, Genesis 1 says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". Later, Exodus 20 starts off, "And God spake all these words, saying ..... (vs. 11) For in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, and hallowed it." George, either one takes God's word for it as to how the earth was made or one takes the "PhD's" word for it. The only problem is, the "PhD" wasn't there.

    Directly, I have only heard positive responses (many!) to the event attended by well over 200 people. I encourage you and others in disagreement to check "" and other similar organizations such as "Institute for Creation Research" and "Answers in Genesis" and truly see what many PhD creation scientists have to say.

    Thanks for attending the event!!

    Ron Derksen