I’d like to try to sketch out some categories for beliefs regarding the origins of the universe, life and humans. Here nearly everyone is a Christian or comes from that tradition, as do I. So my categories involving a roll for God in creation reflect that tradition. I’d like to ask two basic questions which I think can be answered by all, theist and non-theist alike.
The first question I have concerns how fundamental to your belief system is the question of creation? If you found out your beliefs regarding physical, life or human origins was incorrect, would that undermine your most core beliefs, or only peripheral ones?
Personally I don’t think a creation story is central for why god belief has been so compelling to so many human societies for as far back as we have any record. And if it turned out, contrary to what I believe, that some form of intentionality was in play in the origins of the universe and life, that wouldn’t much affect my core beliefs. Frankly it puzzles me why Christians place so much importance on this. I would have thought the resurrection or man’s proper relation to God would be more fundamental.
My second question concerns how much if at all (and in which direction) your beliefs regarding origins have changed in your lifetime. So I am going to suggest a scale extending from completely literal to more progressively/allegorical to non-existent.
1 - Young earth creation: plants first, then sunlight, then fish and sea life, then land animals with humans last.
2 - The definition of “day” isn’t pegged to anything but still, in whatever order, in the beginning every single atom was God-made and so was every category of life
3 - Progressive creation: in the beginning God created the universe and life and set evolution in motion. The earth is old and evolution is part of God’s plan but at points along the way God has interceded to keep things on track toward His plan. At some point God interceded to give mankind (evolved from apes) his image, meaning conscious awareness and moral responsibility.
4 - Belief that, barring errors, everything science can discover about origins is true and all of it is a record of how God has brought about creation and that our minds are an important achievement in that design. but theology not science is where you will find God’s plan for man and just what participation He desires from his image bearers.
5 - It is possible that intentionality somehow emerges in the universe itself and at some point shapes its own development including ours. Whatever that is could be called God. [This might be the agnostic option.]
6 - Belief that physical origins and that of life is entirely undirected by any intentionality.
So, for me personally in my life, I have gone up two steps in the less literal direction. As a kid who grew up around religion but not carefully groomed by any one of them, I would say I started at a 4 and am now at a 6. I think the story of our creation as conscious beings takes place in the emergence of consciousness after the universe and life began and evolved (on their own is my best guess but I admit I have no justification at all for that). That is where our human origins lie and where you might find that which supports belief in gods, whatever it may be.