If We Are To View Creation Scientifically, Should We View End Times Scientifically?

(Steve Mitchell) #1

My apologies for being the new guy and already jumping into my second topic!

I have always been very open to the idea of interpreting the creation account through a scientific lens. One stumbling block for me, however, has been the potential impact that approach has on understanding our future.

Is there a consensus within the Evolutionary Creationism community on the end times? When scripture speaks of the new Heavens and new Earth, should we see that as something that will have a scientific explanation? Could the resurrection of the dead be something that the medical community is able to achieve in 1000 years?

Again, these questions began to crop up for me when I realized that I while I tended to think that the Creation account was in harmony with science, I still view the return of Christ as something that will be undoubtedly supernatural.

(Shawn T Murphy) #2

Dear Steve,
I have found a very straightforward explanation of the Bible in relationship to what we know scientifically, but I am a minority voice on this Forum. This worldview places Genesis 4 around 200k years ago and the end of the world when the sun’s size increases to put an end to life, about 3 billion years from now. If your interested, let me know.
Best Wishes, Shawn

(Phil) #3

I doubt there is a lot of consensus, but personally, my views have been influenced a lot by N. T. Wright in his Surprised by Scripture, which in markedly different than the view popular in the US of dispensational pre-millennialist. I suppose I have come to be more of a partial preterist, though do not really have strong feelings, content to view it as mystery. I like Wright’s and Scott McKnight’s view that we live in the kingdom of God in the here and now. My pragmatism is such that I feel that end times theology is not too interesting, as when that truck crosses the center line, your end times have come.

(Christy Hemphill) #4

Not to keep throwing book titles at you (LOL, that’s basically what we do around here), but N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope delves into eschatology in a really interesting and biblically faithful way that pulls together the original creation, the ongoing redemption of creation, and the final culmination of the new creation. He portrays it as two overlapping realities (The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of earth). The Kingdom of God has been “breaking in” to our reality, in a unique way at the Incarnation and in a game-changing way at the Resurrection. At the return of Christ, the two Kingdoms will be fully united and God’s reality will be established on earth, making earth heaven.

I don’t think anything in evolutionary creationism attempts to explain away or scientifically understand the dawning of God’s Kingdom in our world. It is something beyond the tools of science.

(Phil) #5

I meant to reference Surprised by Hope also. Surprised by Scripture is on my reading stack.

(Tim) #6

The return of Christ as “supernatural” is the human interpretation of the event from a human perspective. The event has nothing to do with nature nor is it a natural event. Adding the word “super” does not make the event natural.

Such events do bring the Spiritual God, the God who created the natural universe, into the natural, making it a natural event. But it can only be viewed as natural until it happens.

Automobiles are natural phenomenon, so the analogy is poor. 1000 years ago they would have been considered supernatural. Beyond the scope of natural as understood by humans living 1000 years ago. They are not supernatural to us. So in essence they were always natural, just not an actuality yet.

God was not ever, nor will be natural, except the time Jesus spent on earth. So technically a return would be natural, as it has already been an actuality.

The term supernatural does not cover the spiritual, and God’s work at the end of time, will bring a new natural, and the current natural will no longer exist.

Did the author of Revelation actually see the future played out, or a replication of the event played out in his mind? If the Lake of fire is the sun before it goes supernova or creates a black hole, is that a scientific description?

(Steve Mitchell) #7

If we go down that path, could the same be argued for the resurrection of Christ? Is there a possibility it would have a “natural” explanation as well?


American Dispensationalism is foreign to the entire history of the Church. This misreading of Revelation is comparable to the fundamentalist reading of Genesis. On a personal note, this realization is one of the things that really helped me to see how a fundamentalist reading of Genesis is a misunderstanding of the text. As a Lutheran, I reject the fundamentalist approach to Revelation and still hold it to be the inspired Word of God (though antilegoumena).

(Quinn) #9

Though I am Charismatic-Pentecostal in some theological background I tend to stick to my conservative Protestant Methodist view of the ends times and understand Revelation and other apocalyptic scriptures from the Historicist point of view and also understanding in a literal premillennial return of Jesus Christ our Lord. The Early Church had no concept of what mainstream evangelical Christians seem to promote. I tend to see Bible prophecy as a ever moving living book that tells of events from past, present to the soon to be future. I’m sure a few things of the end times can be understood from a scientific point of view but other events are supernatural and thus cannot be understood with human natural science.

(Tim) #10

I am not sure how the path of pure natural phenomenon can be an issue. I would think that is the easiest path for humans to follow. Everything about the crucifixion itself was totally natural, except for one point. That was the ability of Jesus to end life by giving it directly to God, and claiming he had finished the task that God told him to do. The resurrection would have to be spiritual, because it is beyond the natural.

(Mitchell W McKain) #11

Science depends on objective observation. But there are things on which that fails spectacularly. Life, as in living it, is one of those things because it requires the exact opposite, subjective participation. But the future is another one. The objectivity of science is founded on procedures anyone can follow to get the same result, no matter what they believe. But what you believe is part of the process of human perception and action. For example, take a claim like “we will win the our football game against East High.” Is that something that could ever be independent of what you believe? Believing such a thing is part of winning the game. Life is like that and so is the future. Objective observation has nothing to do it and subjective participation is everything.

This is why I have such a problem with eschatology in general. Trying to read the future in the Bible? Why would you want to do such a thing? I say, take your lesson from the book of Jonah. And when God says he is going to destroy the city of Ninevah, what they did is repent and made the prophet Jonah look like a fool. You want a rational eschatology, then I give you one. The world is in all kinds of danger and trouble and it can all come crashing down on us any time, so stop sitting on the sidelines watching and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

(Tim) #12

The book of Jonah is like science. You cannot do the exact test over again to get a different result. But for reasons of argument, if Jonah had obeyed, and skipped the ride in the fish, preached to Ninevah, they stoned him, end of non-story. God destroyed Ninevah, and we would never have the book of Jonah at all. We would have obedience, but a totally different outcome, and we would never have even known it happened. While it is true that Nineveh was spared, and the Assyrians eventually sacked the Hebrews. The reasons the northern kingdom was attacked was because of their own punishment. They could have repented themselves. The Babylonians could have taken both kingdoms at the same time. Jonah was just a complainer who had a prophetic calling, but hated his job. Jonah made himself look like a fool at every turn.

(Mark D.) #13

That is my impression too. What evolution does is examine the change in life over time on the earth. It is an appropriate subject for scientific research since there is a fossil record as well as observations which can be made in the laboratory. Many would like to also know how life began but efforts to reproduce the crossing of the inorganic/organic threshold have resisted duplication so far. Everyone officially associated with this website, though not all of us hangers on, seemingly believe that the true beginning of life on earth was divinely directed and/or guided.

But end times, if such there will ever be, are at this point hypothetical. There would seem to be nothing to investigate scientifically until and unless it happens. My impression is that there is not perfect agreement across all of Christianity regarding how end times is to be understood theologically.

(Shawn T Murphy) #14

Dear Mark, I would like to disagree with your comment here. Science has does a good job of framing the useful life of the planet Earth. they have shown that near zero probability of a life ending event and demonstrated Earth’s resilience to extinction level events. Nothing in the past has stopped the progress of life on this planet. Looking forward, the Earth has a useful life of around 3 billion years until the sun becomes too hot to support intelligent life.

Now, an enlightened philosopher would ask: What does the next 3 billion years look like? Does it make sense that this will all end in 1,000 years without all of humanity having the chance to reach enlightenment? What will the next mass extinction events look like and how do they fit into the plan of enlightenment and reconciliation?

(Mark D.) #15

Science could very well have a big role to play in delaying our demise. Of course, looking at how receptive much of the general public has been to the findings regarding global warming, it is an entirely different question what practical difference that will make. Deciding what to do is inherently a political question.

But I understood the OP as specifically looking at “end days” in a biblical sense. I don’t see any role for science there.

(Shawn T Murphy) #16

Science gives me optimism! For the past 444 million years life has nearly been destroyed about every 66 million years. Even if this most recent global warming causes an 80% extinction, man will survive to flourish in the next 66 million years, and the ones after that. That is what history has shown.

Revelations says the 1/3 of the stars of heaven fell, so far only 100+ billion have incarnated on earth as a human. There are billions of trillions left…

(Mark D.) #17

Thank you for sharing your optimism. I hope you are right. Maybe I underestimate us but I can’t help thinking the rat, the pigeon and the flea are better bets. :wink:

(Tim) #18

It is not science or Biblical, that stars are incarnated as humans. The first part, I think you are missing the point that until telescopes planets were called stars. At one point they were wondering stars. Is the reference in Revelations referring to just a bunch of single stars, a bunch of galaxies of multiple stars, or just the planets in this solar system? Falling is not literal, it is figurative. Actual stars falling somewhere is physically impossible. Nor are stars, spiritual. Stars are physical in a physical universe.

The second part, what is wrong in the notion that a third of the planets were destroyed in this solar system, and if there were any inhabitants they came to earth? The only habitable planet left. Humanity sorta lost the right to control the earth in a spiritual manner. Satan was never stripped of it’s spiritual connection with God. Jesus conversed with Satan before starting his earthly ministry. Not to get permission. But to show that Satan had no power over him. When the Hebrews were fighting for possession of Canaan there was a spiritual battle going on above them at the same time. Presumably between Satan and God and those fighting with Satan and those fighting for God. I think this is the same spiritual fight the vedic writings are talking about. Humanity has been aware of the spiritual since Noah left the arc. Humans are not to have contact with the spiritual. That they are not allowed, does not negate the ability to do so. Nor is God threatened by such actions. Such endeavors are not part of God’s plan. God’s plan is God’s alone, not God’s creation’s plan of their own choosing.

So beings coming into both the spiritual and physical aspect of the earth at any given point of time actually happened. That humans are the result is not a given. Humans were created at the same time as Satan and it’s kind. Not out in the stars. But part of the solar system, because planets back then were called stars. The separation of the heavens, include the earth’s atmosphere and the “motions” of the planets; it does not skip those two physical aspects and jump to the stars. It seems to me the stars would be the third heavens. The atmosphere and solar system being the first and second.

(Shawn T Murphy) #19

The spiritual interpretation of Early Christians was that “1/3 of the stars of Heaven” was 1/3 of the inhabitants of Heaven, with Lucifer as their leader, two other archangels and ten Elders following. This all happened before the Big Bang, so it all happened in the spiritual realm.

(Tom Larkin) #20

The main purpose of the Book of Jonah, I feel, is to demonstrate in the Old testament that God is not just the God of Israel, but the God of the gentiles as well.