Milt Hankins: It's futile trying to know the unknowable
A recent article in my morning paper featuring Bill Nye, the "Science Guy," was of great interest to me because it brought up the matter of "creationism" versus "evolution," a subject I thought was, for all intents and purposes, settled. Apparently, not so.
In case you missed the article, here's an excerpt: "Christians who view the stories of the Old Testament as historical fact have come to be known as creationists, and many argue that the world was created by God just a few thousand years ago." Nye went on to say, "The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old (citing scientists' estimates that it is about 4.5 billion years old) "it's not. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, I strongly feel that you should question your beliefs."
At issue are three questions: 1) Did God really create the world in seven days? This presupposes that a Supreme Intelligence created the world. 2) that "the world" is the world as we know it; and 3) that the "day" has always been the day with which we are familiar -- a somewhat standardized period of 24 hours.
As far as I'm concerned, the answer to the first question is a given: I believe that a Supreme Intelligence (God) created the world, period!
It is perfectly clear, from reading Genesis 1, that the world as we know it is far different from the world God created. According to Genesis 1:2a, the "earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep...." This is hardly a picture of the world we know.
As to the third question, to use a common "proof text," II Peter 3:8 states that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Obviously, the creation "day" was probably more like a billion years or longer. According to some conservative geologists, who appear to agree with Nye, the earth is at least two to four billion years old.
Even more interesting is the fact that the writer(s) of the Genesis story had absolutely no concept of the universe and outer space (cosmos) we know today. Serious Bible scholars willingly admit the Genesis creation stories (and, yes, there are actually three separate identifiable stories) are, at best, only early attempts to explain in knowable terms what cannot be known.
Now we know that our universe may not be the only universe. And, we know that our universe is expanding at an incredibly rapid rate. An expanding universe tells me, frankly, that the creation is still not finished.
Since the writers of Genesis knew nothing of science per se, the creation stories were never intended to be scientific accounts. The Bible is not a science textbook. It's a book about faith, and it is packed with faith stories.
One thing is absolutely certain. The only being who was present at the creation was the Creator. It's foolish to spend a great deal of time trying to "know" the unknowable.
Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.