My response to a commenter to my Indy Star blogA reader posted a thoughtful comment to my Indy Star Blog Post entitled " Not By Chance". You can click the link to read my article and the responses of readers.
Below is my response to the commenter. It was too lengthy to post to the Indy Star blog, so I placed it here. Note that this response is not intended to be comprehensive or infallible.
Dear [Indy Star reader],
I can accept that "adaptation" (my view of "natural selection") occurs within species (such as fish lacking eyes in a dark cave, my household cat vs. an African Cheetah, or birds, like the ostridge, that have lost the power of flight). But I can't see how any amount of time will transform an animal into man. (If anything, things in nature tend to get WORSE, not better!)
Humans are orders of magnitude more complex than any animal, including primates. Physical characteristics are one thing, but intellect, self-awareness, love of God, artistic expression, etc, is a whole other matter. In my view, the theory of human evolution has no answer to the social/spiritual development of humanity. The Bible states people were created in "God's image and likeness." God breathed the "breath of life" into people and made us "living souls." (Genesis 1) Animals and people are not, and (in my view) have never been in the same class of beings (though many of my African ancestors were treated like animals).
I agree with you that evolutionists do not state (and nor did I) that people evolved from monkeys (which they consider a separate "branch"). Darwin (the father of the movement) stated the following in his book The Descent of Man: "The substantial similarity in outer form and inner structure which characterizes the embryo of man and other vertebrates in this early stage of development is an embryo-logical fact of the first importance : from it, by the fundamental law of biogeny, we may draw the most momentous conclusions. There is but one explanation of it—heredity from a common parent form. When we see that, at a certain stage, the embryos of man and the ape, the dog and the rabbit, the pig and the sheep, although recognizable as higher vertebrates, cannot be distinguished from each other, the fact can only be elucidated by assuming a common parentage."
You wrote: "Since all of biology points to our being mammals, with an almost hundred-percent match to some of animal-kind, who's to say that isn't God's plan?"
I think that biology points to God's wisdom in establishing harmony, order and utility in creation. Could you imagine a dog with five legs and three eyes being, "Man's best friend?" The compatibility of people and animals is evidence of God's design, not proof of evolution.
You wrote: "To me, and I say this with humility, it seems that a faith from the soul is fearless about stepping outside the Bible to seek the face of God. Could the Big Bang have been His action? Could meteorites be the seeds of God, Himself?"
Regarding the matter of the biblical interpretation of creation and the idea that God might use anything we imagine as the "seeds" of life:
Not all Christians agree on the sequence and timing of creation actions described in Genesis. For example, Genesis refers to the "greater light" (the Sun), and the "lesser light" (the Moon), it is obvious today that the moon is not a light at all, but a reflector of the light of the sun. There are many similar statements in the Bible that do not square with our understanding today. However, when understood in the context of the ancient people who read these scriptures, we can reconcile the context of the wording.
People who believe in God believe that God created the heavens and the earth, with no disrespect towards scientific fact (where it exists). This is not the same as "theistic evolution" (which you seem to espouse) in which people believe that evolution was the method God used. For people who have thoroughly studied the Bible (which many have not), it is not difficult to find congruence between many scientific facts and scriptural truth.
You pose an interesting scenario when you state your willingness to "[step] outside the Bible." I respect the biblical truth that God reveals Himself in nature. (Psalms 19). However, I also think that believers in God should seek to reconcile their views with the Bible (His Book). For example, nothing in the Bible remotely suggests life came to earth from a meteorite. The Bible clearly indicates that God did his earthly creative work in the earth (hence no sign of life has been observed anywhere else in our solar system).
Regarding the "big bang" as an explanation of the origin of an expanding universe: The Bible does not clearly confirm or deny this. I know and respect the fundamentalist Creationist view on the seven literal days of creation (including the creation of planets and stars on Day Four AFTER the creation of light on Day One), but Christians differ on that interpretation. What is not in question among Christians is God as the Creator, and that the creation of the universe, earth, earthly creatures and man occurred during a sequence of time, without transmutation between species (i.e. fish becoming birds, etc.).
There are those who consider the Bible irrelevant to any discussion outside of "religion." If this is your view, then "stepping outside the Bible" to form conclusions is understandable.
You wrote: "Bottom line, we don't know. In the distant past, the people who wrote about matters of faith didn't know either. We use words to try to describe God because that's the best we can do. What if 'in His image' is more about our having a creative force than a mere physical description? We don't know."
There is a lot that we don't know. However, biblical statements like mankind being made "in His image" are not subject to whatever meaning that you and I may imagine. The Bible is a very serious and substantial book. Almost all biblical statements can be understood by the various writers and books of the Bible. "Private interpretation" is not needed (1 Peter 1:20-21). Many other statements can be corraborated with other historical documents and archaeology. Ultimately, the Bible is a book that requires faith in God and an acceptance of its authority and accuracy. And this is not anti-thetitical to our intellect. Biblical concepts (such as the Wisdom of Proverbs, fulfilled prophecies, and the teachings of Jesus, etc.) have been verified generation by generation, even among former skeptics (such as myself).
Science, as significant as it is, cannot and does not explain everything in life. Science is far less developed in areas such as explaining the origin and nature of man. In some areas, science is utterly useless.
Since science cannot meet all human needs, you and I still need God, the Bible and grace through His son Jesus Christ.