There’a a very interesting post at the Jesus Creed blog which examines claims from John Polkinghorn’s new book about creation.
Polkinghorn, was an eminent Cambridge scientist before he was ordained and was involved in the discovery of quark particles, basically says that he doesn’t think that the creation accounts in Genesis was supposed to be literal scientific accounts of how the world was formed. The fact that there are two of them (Gen 1 and 2) which contain different details is an indicator of this.
Instead, they contain
true myth – with a truth so deep that only story can convey it.
This position resonates with my thinking. I have never been a fan of young earth creationism and see science as sitting alongside faith, complementing not opposing it. The creation stories are then more about explaining truths about God’s relationship with mankind and his creation, and mankind’s relationship with God, the world around, and one other. With this approach you can maintain scientific integrity without having to ignore vast chunks of the bible.
This still leaves questions open to which I don’t yet have adequate answers, such as who were Adam and Eve, and were they real or also metaphorical in order to convey truth. And if they were myth, at what point in the genesis narrative does is start to become historical? (for example, I believe that the flood in Gen 6 happened, so presumably if Adam and Eve were metaphorical, somewhere between Gen 3 and 6 the narrative shifts to being about real people rather than simply illustrative of God’s truth ).
So there are still lots of unanswered questions, but Polkinghorn’s approach is useful to those with a scientific mindset.
Stephen Hawking has been in the news today by saying that creation could have spontaneously begun and therefore doesn’t necessitate the need for a God, even to kick the whole process off. This is being reported as as change in Hawking’s position in the media today as it contradicts what he wrote in A Brief History of Time in 1988, yet in actual fact, as the church mouse points out, it is a position he articulated as far back as 1989. It also doesn’t rule out the place for God in creation and can only be used as an counter to a ‘God of the gaps’ argument.
Elsewhere Hawking comments on the likelihood of aliens existing, saying that it is perfectly rational for them to exist elsewhere. However, we should avoid seeking them out as they may not be very nice:
We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.
I guess he’s noticed that humanity is flawed, given that he wouldn’t want to meet us in a dark alley in outer space. He recognises that we are not the nice friendly approachable beings that we like to think we are, but are greedy, selfish, power-hungry and so many other things:
If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans
If only there was a solution to our flawed humanity. Well, not in Hawking’s world there isn’t.
It’s a strange sensation naming someone. At the birth of our son, we were handed a little big ball of skin and bones who had been gently developing inside his mother. Although we had poured a lot of thought into his name, and we knew when he was born what that name would be, it was still strange naming him. He has to get used to his name, but so do we. Just minutes into his life I was handed my son for a little father-son time, I repeated his name to him and to me – from now on this child will be known as Matthew Joshua.
Everyone else you meet in life comes with a name already attached. “Hello, my name is… such-and-such”, and from that moment on that is what we call them. With Matthew it was different. We were given the responsibility of deciding on his name, and we will teach him what his name is.
In the second chapter of Genesis, Adam is given the responsibility by God of naming the birds and plants and animals. He later names his wife ‘woman’ (Gen 2:23) because she was taken out of man, and ‘Eve’ (3:20) because she will be the mother of all people. Their responsibility is not just to name, but to reproduce and name. This is not quite co-creation, but in God’s goodness he allows people made in his image share in the creativity of creation as they go on creating more ikons of God. Each of these will be named in turn.
Matthew means “Gift from God” from a Hebrew root. His middle name, Joshua, is again from a Hebrew root and means “God is salvation”. Our responsibility to name and reproduce comes as a gift from the source and sustainer of all life.
who in Christ created the heavens and the earth, and saw that it was good,
who in Christ, entered into our broken and fallen world to restore it,
and who in Christ, gives us a spring of water which wells up to eternal life,
perfect in you the image of his glory;
and the blessing of God Almighty
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be amongst you and remain with you always.
Quote by Robert Jeffers, an American Poet who reveals the inadequacy of the term ‘Big Bang’. From God and Science by Rob Frost and David Wilkinson.
There is no way to express that explosion – all that exists roars into flames, the tortured fragments rush away from each other into the sky, new Universes jewel the black breast of night and far off the outer nebulae like charging spearmen again invade emptiness.
Bit of an understatement really…