Visitor essay donated by Russell Hairston
Reconciling science and Christian theology
Teaching Science began a lifelong interest, and I have attempted to stay current. I am a student of the Bible and have had two books published on religious topics. My theology has evolved and stretched, making allowances for current scientific findings. My goal is to encourage cooperation between scientists and religious leaders. This essay will show many ways where both Christianity and Science can be correct.
Why is there rancor between science and religion? After the dark ages, scientists were trained in religious institutions, but today they seem to be adversaries. Science has made quantum leaps in the last 400 years, but there has been scant new theology since the 1700's. New scientific findings left theologians without a coherent response, and this reignited fear and suspicion of science. Rather than disproving a creator, latest evidence begs for explanations for the complexity, precision, and inexplicable phenomenon observed since the birth of the Universe. Christians cannot refute the evidence that the universe is billions of years old, or that a type of man has existed for 200,000 years or that there is a genetic connection between humans and prior creatures. This wrecks havoc with many of their doctrines. Science shows that after the Big Bang, billions of years were required for sufficient cooling to accommodate life. As older stars became super-novas, their residue contributed material for the new, denser stars. Over eons necessary material was formed and new materials supported higher and higher forms of life. So, you would be correct in saying that we are made of dust or to tell your grand kids that they are made of start dust. Scientific evidence confirms that these elements of the Universe are the same as what comprises the human body.
Religious leaders aver and I agree that no matter how impossible or illogical something may seem God could accomplish it if he desired. God is omnipotent, meaning he can do anything he wants as quickly as he wants, but he never acts in haste, and he tries to not go against the physical laws that he ordained. One of these laws was the law of Thermodynamics that specified how long, after the Big Bang, sufficient cooling would permit life to exist. It is rare that God performs supernatural occurrences, when he does these are called miracles. It is not a question of whether God could do it, but what he actually did. Effective cooperation requires both sides to share ideas and theories without asserting those that cannot be proven. Theologians sometimes form a new dogma and vehemently defend it even if it cannot be proven scientifically. Maybe they are even mistaking what they think scripture means. We need to take a deep breath and seek another explanation that would not conflict with proven science or scripture. Sometimes, translators select biased words trying to prove their points at all costs.
I do not try to defend the Bible or God to skeptics, because God does not require that we defend them, but only obey and proclaim them. Proclamation is a major part of this essay. We may ignore the Bible or misunderstand or misinterpret it, but I have found no material error is in the Bible. We note how some prophecy has already been fulfilled in the time, place and manner as prophesied. God's word has survived despite the many hands touching it and many attempts to destroy it. I accept most current evidence on evolution, but stress that substances left alone tend to atrophy, therefore evolution left to random chance should regress rather than progress to higher forms. I believe that God designed and oversees evolution. Perhaps, this is where the dialog may begin. Collaboration with German scientists improved our space program, and cooperation between scientists and religious leaders can produce a win-win dialogue.
The Bible is as reliable today as in yesteryear, giving guidance for all situations, earthly and spiritual. We must use discretion to not misinterpret it, and to avoid dogmatism. We should interpret the Bible literally, unless symbolism is implied. An example of symbolism is "To God, a day is like a thousand years," and we see symbolism used many times in prophecy. Scientists must consider the Bible as the written word of God, but realize that it is subject to various interpretations and word choices. I acknowledge that a type of human has existed for 200,000 years, but will demonstrate that true-man has existed for only about 6,000 years.
A large obstacle to dialog is that some Christian leaders insist that the six days of creation are six 24-hour days. Using the same symbolism we just mentioned of a day equaling a 1,000 years: If each of the six days of creation lasted 1,000 years, beginning with Adam, we would be approaching 6,000 years. The seventh symbolic day is the Millennium which will last for a 1,000 years It may also be referred to as: God's Sabbath Rest, the seventh day, God‚s Sabbath-Day Rest or the Age to Come. Therefore, if we are close to the Millennium, the Rapture will only precede the Millennium by seven years. God had finished the Creation, but it is unlikely that he rested because of Satan and man‚s rebellion. He has been busy ever since. Maybe the Millennium will be his time of rest. The Son of God, Jesus seems to be in charge of Earth during the Millennium so this is an appropriate thought.
Scientists should consider what the Bible says because it is all we have for understanding the future. Scientists must consider its reliability. Studying the Bible will tell us about End-Time events and what we can expect. The exact date when these begin is unknown. Since the Rapture is the next event in prophecy, we will explain it. In Christian theology, the Rapture is when Christ takes believers to Heaven, both those who are alive and those who have died. The discussion is complicated because some theologians called Pre-millennialists assert that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation, whereas Mid-point theologians think the Rapture will occur at the mid-point of 3 ¬Ĺ years, and post-millennialists think it will be after the Millennium. A-millennialists believe that all End-Time events are symbolic. The Rapture is not the true Second Coming of Christ because Christ does not come to Earth, but meets believers in the air. If Pre-Millennialists are correct, the Tribulation will begin exactly seven years after the Rapture; If Mid-pointers are correct it will be after only 3 1/2 years. The second coming of Christ is when he begins his uninterrupted eternal reign. Prophecy names other events in the End-Times such as the rebuilding of the Temple, but none is required to precede the Rapture. The nearness of these events should motivate serious study and self-examination to be sure you are prepared. A person will have a chance for salvation after the Rapture if he is left behind. Turmoil, and horrific events will make it difficult to think clearly, and the Holy Spirit (Restrainer) will be removed also. Death during the Tribulation would end any opportunity for salvation. Survivors of the Tribulation will go into the Millennium where they have a chance for salvation. This is not a good thing to try to time too closely before making a choice.
Religion has had regrettable events including the Inquisition, but after the Reformation, freedom from Rome was exchanged for State control. With the State's connivance, many freedom, we still face a legalism requiring conformity to the dogma of leaders. Burning at the the stake is not a threat in the U.S.A. today, but pressures mounts from the State as Christians are silenced. Fundamentalism may seem desirable, but not the current kind that upholds only what leaders approve. Missionaries in my denomination were required to sign a type of creed or lose their positions. Never in our history were we required to sign a statement of beliefs. If you try to reason with these people, they pontificate, ignore your reasoning, or resort to name-calling. These are blocking cooperation and dialog that is desperately needed. One of their most unsustainable doctrines claims the Universe was created in six, twenty-four hour days. It is sad that some Christians still do not allow minor difference in theology. Christians have the right and responsibility to differ from established opinions without consequences. Some beliefs should be zealously defended, but not those that are contradicted by scientific facts, or not supported by the preponderance of scripture. Until recently, I supported the Young Earth theory, zealously defending the Bible's genealogical record. When I examined current findings regarding the human Genome, I dropped this assertion. Later, I received a thought that showed how both science and religion could be correct.
The major cause of disagreement between Science and Religion could have been eliminated if translators had not translated the Hebrew word Yohm as day, but had used another approved definition in Strong's Concordance. Strong's gives: period, age, space of time, or season as suitable replacements. Logic refutes the Young-Earth Theory. If the six days were literal days, all days would have been of equal length; scientific evidence indicates that no periods of creation were the same length. The Bible states that the sun and moon were created on the fourth day.Our day is 24 hours, the time it takes for earth to rotate on its axis. If the sun and moon were not created until the fourth day, what was the timer for the first three days? A day on another planet would be longer or shorter. Ergo: Day is not a logical word for measuring time in the Universe. Long before our current discussion, Origen of the third century asked, "What person of intelligence would maintain that day in Genesis was a literal day?" Augustine, in the fifth century, questioned the meaning of many words in Genesis. The Big- Bang offers the greatest proof of a creator whereas science cannot explain how or why the Universe suddenly came into existence. After the Bib-Bang, Helium, lithium formed first, with more complex atoms being formed continuing to today. An oversimplified statement for creation would be that from large amounts of energy, simpler atoms formed, and from these all future things were made from these byproducts. From no resource other than the Bible would be have an explanation, or any beginning point for a discussion, or clues about the future. Fair-minded scientists do not assert that evolution displaces God. Science and the Bible agree that plants came before animals, all beginning with primitive life forms that increased in complexity. Ecosystems worked together for the benefit of all life, assuring that they had food. Plants used carbon dioxide and emitted oxygen which animals inhaled, and exhaled carbon dioxide. God constantly fine-tunes the universe rather than allowing it to spin out of control. The Big Bang perfectly explains how God made something from apparent nothingness. Eden was perfect when Adam and Eve arrived, but they soon ruined it.
A provocative question contributing to the disagreement is...Did men come from monkeys? No explanation has been given that was satisfactory to both sides. Science was unable to prove that evolution explained everything completely. Recently, Science has been able to prove major assertions. They assert that Homo Sapiens, whose physical appearance was similar to Adam, have been around 200,000 years. The human Genome substantiated most of what evolutionists had asserted. However a complete explanation has still not ensued showing how and why the Big-Bang happened. I will show a way where the Bible's genealogical record is accurate, and science is correct. How can this be? Genesis covers events from 14 Billion years ago to the establishment of the Nation of Israel. The entire Bible covers a longer time span, but could not include all events and elaborations and remain portable. I believe that about 6,000 years ago a dramatic change occurred in humankind that is not reflected in the fossil record. For want of more accurate words, I call it a God-engineered mutation. Geneticists affirm that mutations usually come through the male, explaining why the first new-man was called Adam. God added qualities to Adam that made him suitable for his plans. From the most advanced creature, God made important additions and improvements. Exactly how God did this is unknown, but I will present a plausible scenario. The first chapter of Genesis says God created man. The second chapter possibly about events 200,000 years later when scripture says, ‚God formed Adam,‚ implying that Adam was formed from what already existed. The Hebrew word Bara, was translated created, but could have been translated: selected, chose, formed or modified. God created nothing ex-nihilo after the Big Bang, but formed his creation through natural laws with some divine interventions. The Bible says that Adam was formed from dust. The elements in a human body are the same as those in dust. The Hebrew words for dust was Adamuh, which added to the confusion. All life after the Big-Bang was formed from star dust. The Bible says God breathed his spirit and a soul into Adam, which were absent in former species. The fossil record would show no signs of a soul or spirit. The forming of Adam, Eve, and Jesus had three things in common. They were supernatural conceptions that were formed in human bodies, and human parents raised them. Jesus did not leave home to begin his ministry until he was thirty.
Explanations of Eve's formation were more problematic. God introduced Adam and Eve as adults. The Bible says God took something from Adam's rib-area to form Eve. Another possible scenario: God took Adam's DNA and placed it in an embryo, with the same adjustments he made at Adam's conception. Adam did not have to be much older since his DNA could have been removed at any time. When God created true-man, he said, "I created him male and female." I did not understand this until recently. The DNA taken from Adam and implanted into an embryo, according to cloning principles, would create an exact copy of Adam. When this fetus reached the stage where male hormones are released to complete the forming of a male, God prevented this step and a natural female was formed with the characteristics of Adam, including a soul and spirit. When God introduced Eve, Adam exclaimed, "This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone." It took two genders to express completely God‚s image of true-man. Therefore, we did not come from monkeys, but evidence shows we descended from a common ancestor, and some of our DNA may be shared with asparagus. Another oft-asked question: Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons. My answer would be "yes.'' God gave Adam dominion over the Earth, and everything was in perfect harmony. God taught Adam and Eve personally, carefully cautioning them not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve received qualities their ancestors never possessed. My contention is that Adam was formed around 6,000 years ago, and this comports with the Bible's genealogical record. This perceived conflict was my reason for embracing the Young-Earth theory, but I am happy that God showed a way where science and theology could be correct.
A subject that draws more ire from atheists than mentioning God is demonic interference with God's processes. I am as certain of Satan and demons as I am of God and Angels. Since falling from his position as Lucifer, the archangel, Satan has disrupted God's plan. Scriptures suggest that God used angels before and after the Creation. God said, possibly to angels or the Son of God, "Let us make man in our image." Job referred to Angels as watchers. I believe Lucifer, the Prince of angels was part of this Watcher Corps. I believe that Satan and 1/3 of the angel's rebelled when God shared his plan for this new creation. Perhaps God made agreements with Satan to assist in the development of humankind, and it probably caused jealousy since humankind would someday be higher than angels. When God makes agreements, he honors them even if the other party reneges. Although Lucifer reneged, God did not put him away until all obligations have been fulfilled. This answers why God allows Satan to act as he does. God gave Adam control of Earth, but when he disobeyed, he gave title to Earth to Satan. Jesus will redeem the title during the End-Times. God can then legally put Satan in his place and fulfill all promises to Christ and Christians. We look forward to that day expectantly.God is blamed for many things that were caused by the corruptions of Satan and man.
The Bible implies that members of the previous species coexisted with Adam. People question, "From where did Adam's son, Cain get a wife? The Bible says she came from the land of Nod, but tells nothing of its location or inhabitants. Cain's marriage caused consternation because descendants of this union were called the "unrighteous branch." Only bad things were associated with them. This co-mingling of species continued to Noah's time, resulting in the formation of hybrids, which were not part of God's plan. These hybrids may not have had souls or spirits, making them ineligible for salvation, so God had to remove them before they corrupted all humankind. I believe this corruption began when Eve's first son, Cain was conceived. The Bible quotes Eve as saying, "By the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man-child." This sounded odd, and I puzzled over it for years. Finally, it came to me that while Eve thought it was God who helped, it was Satan. Here is evidence. Cain became a rebel who rejected God and murdered his brother from pride and jealousy. Cain was called the bad seed and sired the unrighteous branch. God began his new plan and new race with Seth. God banished Cain from where Adam resided. Cain's hybrid offspring, under Satan's guidance, could have been the mighty men of old, or the true subjects of Mythology. The Bible calls them Giants, Nephelium, and Rephaim. These giants existed into mid-historical times, when David killed Goliath. Other comparable corruptions of Satan will continue into the end-times with beings called: the Beast, or Anti-Christ, and the False Prophet. These hybrids will be supernatural entities who possibly are immortal.
Another possibly mistranslation was the word Nachash, which translated as Serpent, but really means like the hiss of a snake, not necessarily a literal snake. We know that the Serpent was not Satan, but was controlled by him. I questioned why God would create a being like the Serpent who seemed to outsmart Adam and Eve, resulting in the disastrous Fall of Man. Most translations read, "The Serpent was more subtle than any other creature that the Lord God had made." This would imply that God created the Serpent. The KJV and the N.E.B. translate, "The Serpent was more subtle than any creature the Lord God made, implying that God did not create the Serpent. I believe that Satan accomplished this by corrupting one of the previous human species. Satan can possess humans and animals today. Satan can alter the genes of embryos, re-animate dead humans or animals, (see legends of Zombies). These are referred to as demonic possession or ceding one‚s mind to Satan. We see similar beings described in the book of Revelation.
God formed Adam innocent, without the sin-nature that inhabits his descendants. The prior race was probably like animals incurring no sin because they had no soul or spirit. Only salient beings are capable of sin or rebellion against God. Animals obey instinct, which is in harmony with God's laws. God gave New-Man a free will, unlike all former creatures. This allows man to choose, but he will reap the consequences of his wrong actions. God was mentor to the first couple, who who by continued obedience would achieve immortality. Since they did not, God goes forward with his modified plan until its completion, despite the 6,000-year hiatus.
I seek reconciliation so science and religion can work together for the good of all. There must be mutual trust in reconciling their differences in good faith. I believe that Christians have the greater adjustment to make. While some scientists are atheists, the majority want truth to prevail, and are willing to consider Biblical assertions if they do not violate proven science. Scientists may see how God has acted in the past to discover how he will work in the future. God is consistent. If you examine fulfilled prophecies, you will gain confidence when you find them in the exact time, place and manner as predicted. Thinking people must work together to understand how End-Time events will affect us. Evolution helps explain the past, but predicts nothing about the future. I believe humankind is regressing and moving toward having his own way rather than God's way. Adam disobeyed and lost eternal life. The only way he could sin was by eating the forbidden fruit. Today's man has myriad ways to sin, but only one way to achieve salvation. If a person will give God a little faith, he will demonstrate that he is real. This may not be scientific or logical, but if one exercises a modicum of faith, he will know that God has responded to him. We must choose to learn about God, so we can align with his plans. We must obey what God tells us through the Bible and by inspiration, No other resource approaches knowing God through the Bible. Effective study is hard, but so is anything worthwhile. You must do more than scan pages. You must seek to understand and make application to your life. Concordances and Commentaries are helpful, but regular, meditative reading is the most important habit. You will learn how to properly weigh and interpret scripture. Scientific evidence cannot prove what happens after death. Christianity is alone among religions in showing a guaranteed plan for achieving eternal life. I challenge thinkers, who have spent years studying their chosen discipline, to begin a purposeful study of the Bible. There is a limited time before these End-Time events will occur. Seek to understand prophecy and all the Bible to find an alternative to certain eternal death. I have accepted proven scientific evidence; I ask your consideration of what I have written. Consider what Oswald Chambers wrote in his treatise, Spiritual Evolution.
"Our world is obsessed with the promise that humankind can improve themselves. Society tells us we are getting better, and there is speculation of Supermen. Natural thinking says that man is a great Being in the making. The Bible says man is a magnificent ruin of what God designed him to be. Instead of evolution, the Bible speaks of of revolution whereby a man may be redeemed from his fallen condition."
Spiritual Revolution contrasts the life the world offers with the life that Jesus Christ offers. Christ‚s plan and outcome are clearly delineated, whereas the world offers nebulous promises. God's original world was perfect and humankind‚s destiny was assured, but after the fall, it can still be assured by knowing and obeying God. The condition of the Universe was affected adversely by what Satan and Adam did in the Garden of Eden. God had warned of the results of disobedience. God put everything under their control except themselves and this tree. God educated them so they could make informed choices, but Satan told them there was a faster way. Although their transgression displeased God, he devised a plan to restore fallen man. Scripture implies that this proviso was made from the foundation of the world. I believe God knows all about natural events, but when he gave man free will, he knew there was a chance man would exercise it in a fatal manner. Therefore, God went to this plan B, and another man would come to be the sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world. Jesus lived a sinless life, died for the sins of the world and provided atonement for all who received him. Jesus, the ‚second Adam‚ will win the title deed to Earth that Adam gave to Satan by disobedience. Satan told God that man could not accomplish what he expected of him, but through Jesus heaven and Earth will be renewed. Adam's mistake can be overruled, and salvation is possible for all who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. God modified his original plan and it has unfolded over the centuries. God proved to Satan that a man cooperating with God could defeat him. God‚s requirements were shown through the Law, but no one could keep them. If a person gives God control of his life, God will confer righteousness through Jesus' atonement. The Bible promises that if you make Jesus the Christ your savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit will then lead you to a life acceptable to God. Your sincere commitment to God covers your sins, and guarantees eternal life. If one insists on living a libertine life, he demonstrates that he is still trying to control his life and destiny. Other religions, creeds or lifestyles may promise this, but cannot guarantee it. Most people think they have the right to themselves, but they pay a high price for exercising it. We, like Adam, can be deluded to think we know more than God does. Satan's lies or half-truths cause people to trade eternal life for something transient.
Originally posted: 2010-JUL-31
Author: Russell Hairston