…macro evolution as a means to create all life as we know it on earth? Scientists estimate the earth is around 4.5 billion years old, and the universe is around 13 billion. I am recently coming out of a YEC background and still struggling with the length of time aspect of theistic evolution. Why wouldnt God just create the earth and universe all at the same time, and go ahead and create humans ex nihilo, like the YEC position believes? Again, I’m no longer a YEC, but that view at least makes more sense to me. I’m looking for someone to help me with this question. TIA
Good question, Adam. I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in asking what God would/wouldn’t or should/shouldn’t have done, but since I don’t think there’s really any moral issue about how old the earth or universe should or shouldn’t be, then to me it’s more an issue of simply asking: What did God do? He could have done it any way he wanted, and knowing that helps free me up to simply look at the evidence.
Another idea that’s helped me with this, which I think I heard (more or less) from author N. T. Wright, is that evolution and deep time make a lot of sense in light of our spiritual sanctification process. God could have just instantly made all Christians immediately sanctified upon salvation or baptism, and probably a lot of us wish he would have. But that’s not how it works – it’s a process that takes time like anything else, even though we do have the Spirit to guide us. So that helps me remember that instant creation does not have to be the case physically any more than it does spiritually.
Thank you, Laura. That is helpful. I, too, have heard NT Wright speak about this and found his comments helpful as well. Thanks for your reply.
Could it also be that God is creative and loves all things that he creates? How much more has actually been created over these vast amounts of time than are recorded in the Bible? The tiny sample we have in the fossils (as well as everything else that exists) are things we can marvel at in praise of the creativity of God.
I don’t think there is a comprehensive, hard and fast answer, but I find this one (this component) very satisfying and consistent with what God has revealed of himself.
As impatient humans, I think that is a reasonable question, but God is patient, and time is not a problem to be solved for him. Plus, I think the process is something he takes pleasure in. I really don’t worry much about the time it takes for evolution, but wonder how Abraham had faith when he only had one son with Sarah and the covenant promises would come about long after his death. We are an impatient lot…
I really do not think it is consistent with God;s nature to snap his fingers and pop a fully formed creature into existence. That is not exactly knitting us in our mother;s womb.
My biggest objection to this is it requires God to create a history we can see that didn’t happen. Of course He could do so if He pleases (but opens up an objection that God is deceptive), but He could have also simply created everything last Thursday.
Well, one quick answer is that he wasn’t short of time.
It also amplifies the meaning of Psalm 8:4, not only because of the vastness of the size of the universe, but also because of the vastness of its antiquity.
I’ve been pretty keenly aware of God’s sovereignty all of my adult life (and I’m a septuagenarian) and his providential interventions into his children’s lives, but it has only been a relatively few years that I have been more aware that it also extends to the mutations in DNA. So not only does the antiquity of the earth and cosmos glorify him and amplify Psalm 8:4, it also glorifies his sovereignty.
I’m a little reluctant to post this again because regulars have seen it before, and it needs some revision (stylistic, not factual ; - ), but anyway, here ‘tis – it’s about my losing a kidney a few years back: Nephrectomy.
More to the point:
- Why would God give everything the appearance of being 4.5 billion years old if in fact it wasn’t?
- Why would God give everything the appearance of having used macro-evolution if in fact He hadn’t?
- Conversely, why would God expect us to believe that He hadn’t used macro-evolution to create everything if in fact He had?
Basically, your question boils down to, why did God create everything with the appearance that it has?
Here’s the thing. There is such a thing as objective reality. Facts are facts and not opinions. Many things that God has created bear clear, unambiguous and insistent evidence of specific sequences of events having happened at specific times with specific causes and specific effects. And contrary to what YECs claim, the evidence cannot be interpreted in different ways depending on which “lens” you look at it through. There are strict rules that interpretations must follow (basically, the rules of measurement and mathematics) and it is those rules that tell us in no uncertain terms that some interpretations are legitimate and valid while others are not.
Could God have created everything in an instant? I have no doubt that He could. But why would He have created vast swathes of very detailed and self-consistent evidence for 4.5 billion years of events that had never happened?
I don’t think there’s any reason why we should be upset as Christians at the thought of macroevolution. The main reason why people don’t like it isn’t because they think it’s unbiblical, but because they are proud. They don’t like the thought of being related to the animals, because it makes them less important than they like to think they are. But the Bible itself tells us pretty much the same thing in Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 anyway:
I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
Is it possible for an all powerful being to create something independent which makes its own choices and which He doesn’t control? How? And if it is possible then would He? Why would He do such a thing?
We can imagine doing anything in our dreams. Is that all God is doing – like any person can do in their dreams? How is what God does any different? How is reality different from a dream?
He’s a very Zenny Guy Adam. The answer has to be - assuming He exists, and the only justification for that is Jesus not Genesis - because it wouldn’t work, that this is the best of all possible worlds. If He could do better, He would. He can’t. Can not. He has to create nature as if He didn’t.
Scientifically, 4.5 billion years was not that long ago as the length of a year expands with the universe. Years become shorter and shorter the further back we go. Now line the years up end to end, short to long. 4.5 million years of activity, but it wasn’t that long ago using our current measurments.
Only us slow moving turtles see beginnings and ends, here or there as separate.
Not created independent from Him, but through the separation of knowledge manifesting the ability to conceive and misconceive, we are given autonomy vs. pupets.
Naivete is a precious gift for eternity, it keeps eternity fresh. May there always be something new to discover or experience.
Evolution is a great way to create lots of diversity. Thomas Aquinas suggested that great diversity is needed to appropriately display God’s goodness, wisdom, and power in creation; science suggests that it takes a far vaster canvas than Aquinas realized.
In fact, much of Darwin’s work that was ignored was his fascination of interdependence, how many ways one thing is dependent on another. So Darwin was properly examining both sides. Evolutionists were far more selective in their agenda; ignoring much of his work and giving Darwin a bad rep.
A god that cannot create something independent from himself is a god that cannot even do what I can do and is therefore too pathetic for me to revere and worship.
A god that will not create something independent from himself is a god that is too controlling and is thus too lacking in personality for me to revere and worship.
Perhaps the god you are considering is one you would look on like the dirt beneath your feet but I see no reason to call anything like that by the word “God.”
The God I believe in chose love and freedom over power and control to create an independent existence of life which chooses its own way and is thus capable of rejecting His love, greatly disappointing Him. It is a risk I can admire and without it I think would prefer to give my love to a cat.
Well he did separate knowledge and create naivete, yet He is not naive. But naivete is not a thing. Such as a dent has no foundation of it’s home, we can remove a dent and the fender remains, but where is the dent? It is not separate from the fender, else it doesn’t exist. Not part of reality.
Then I suspect you have no objections…
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worship ers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23
Bingo. There are no laws against His Spirit. Who objects to kindness, mercy or love. Freedom.
But that didn’t seem to be the attitude I was hearing. And right there is the crux of it all…
Knowing the truth of love, or even the law will not change our hearts. Something else is needed, His Spirit.
Sorry if your spirit wanted to rumble instead.
The implication is that 13.8 billion years and 4.5 billion years are a really long time.
It’s similar to questions about the size of the universe. It’s just so big!
Well…compared to what?
Maybe the size and age of the universe says something more about its Creator than it says about me.
My questions were meant for Adam in answer to HIS question
It seems to me that creating something independent of Himself is not trivial thing for an omnipotent being to accomplish. The simple exertion of power to make what He wants can only make something which is no more than what He made it to be, capable of doing no more than what He made it to do. In other words, something with no independence at all.
But I think there is a way. What you need is a system of automation that operates by itself according to a set of rules. Then we know from mathematics that a complex enough system will will exhibit self-organizing processes. Add the innate indeterminism of quantum physics and you will get self-organizing systems which are not even predictable in principle and thus will be something which is not controlled by any external agency. That is the foundation for the process of life we see in the world, which makes its own choices and participates in its own creation. And the result is something that isn’t simply what God made it to be and is not only capable of doing what God made it to do.
There is no advantage to giving life to a tool. A tool made to accomplish something, ought to do what you decide and not make its own choices willy nilly. That would be crazy. Thus a machine would make a much much better tool than something which has life.
But if instead of making something as a means to end, what if God wanted something which is an end in itself, something with which to have a real relationship… something to love like a child. Then God indeed might create something with life… something independent of Himself which made its own choices and lived its own life.
I think the difference is that dreams don’t have make any sense. In a dream you can do things any way you want. But for it to be real, the way you do things have to be consistent with what you accomplish. Thus if God is to have a greater omnipotence than any of us already have in our own dreams then it cannot mean being able to do whatever you say by whatever means you care to dictate.
The universe would dematerialize if it weren’t for God’s sustaining it.
…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.