This reasoning has NOTHING to do with the beliefs of any modern religion or Church, or of any of the 770,000 words in the rest of the Bible, or even in any English translations of the original Paleo-Hebrew wording of the Bible. In the rest of the Bible, there are certainly references to events that historians and anthropologists say occurred. But those are different, either confirmation or denial of SINGLE EVENTS. This discussion of Genesis 1 involves a SERIES of events, presented in a particular SEQUENCE. It is the ONLY portion of ANY ancient text which seems compatible with modern Scientific Analysis. Yes, the even earlier Gilgamesh Epic seems to have a FEW events that might have historicity, but nothing like the amazing sequence of events which begins the Bible.
Critics look at the text of their modern English language translation and find criticism of this concept. Fine, but toward strict scientific accuracy, it is important to ignore the modern translations and instead study the Paleo-Hebrew original text of the Bible. Some enthusiastic Christian translators have been known to have made less-than-ideal selections of possible multiple translations. In addition, a superficial look needs to have a more complete logic toward understanding it. For examination, Genesis 1 SEEMS to refer to the Sun and Moon as having appeared well after other events had occurred. However, my personal conclusion about this involves that the early Earth had many constant volcanoes erupting where the sky was forever overcast with thick volcanic clouds. Once the Earth's atmosphere settled down, the sky cleared, and the Sun and Moon could then first be actually SEEN from the surface of the Earth. If the Sun is to be denied existence just because we could not have seen it, then that suggests that we would also have to deny any references to "end of the first Day" and so on in the earlier text of Genesis 1. If the Sun truly did not exist, then it would have been impossible for any distinction between Day and Night. However, with a heavy overcast atmosphere due to all the volcanoes that we know existed, then day time would have been lit up and night time would have been dark, much like during stormy weather.
My College Degree was in Theoretical Nuclear Physics. However, I happen to ABSOLUTELY believe that the (Original) LITERAL wording of the Bible was exquisitely correct, include the reference to a Six-Day Creation! And I believe I can even PROVE it, to a standard which modern science respects! I have been a Pastor of a small Christian Church since 1996. (I am also still a highly respected Physicist!)
Like all modern Christian scholars, I acknowledge that there HAVE been some minor errors / changes which have occurred to those Bible texts AFTER their Original composition. After all, the words of Moses were first Transmitted by Oral Tradition for about three hundred years, until any good WRITTEN LANGUAGE was invented. Christian scholars now generally believe that around five hundred years later, improved texts may have been composed by Priests and Redactors. Another three hundred years later, it was found that virtually no one could still read the Paleo-Hebrew texts of the Bible so it was all translated into the then popular Greek (as the LXX or Septuagint). The Septuagint was later translated back into Hebrew in the Aramaic language, which is probably the language which Jesus used. The New Testament was initially Oral Tradition, but after maybe a hundred years, the documents of the NT were collected as separate traveling collections of the Gospels and of the Letters. It was nearly another three hundred years before Church leaders finally settled on the specific set of Books of the Bible which we currently accept. Another hundred years later, Saint Jerome was dismayed that there were so many different texts of the Bible being circulated that he translated it into Latin, as the Vulgate Bible. During the Dark Ages of the following centuries, the vast majority of existing copies of any of those translations vanished, and it was only due to diligence of Arabic scholars where the Bible texts really persisted. Five hundred years later, a few European scholars translated the Vulgate and any other translations they could find into English, and they were usually gruesomely executed for doing it!
Another complication is that written documents tended to have short lifetimes before they decayed and decomposed, so Scribes have had to make very precisely accurate copies of the three million characters of an earlier Scribe of twenty years earlier of the Bible, and even though those hundreds of copies of copies were made by heroically careful Scribes, it sometimes happened that a tiny dot of one of those characters would get copied differently.
Massive work by thousands of Theologians and other Christian scholars over the past 200 years seems to have found and corrected all of such later alterations. Also, the process of translating any text from one language to another (now English for example) has the complication that most words have multiple possible meanings and therefore translations, which causes some lack of precision in the resultant modern English texts, where ALL scholars recommend regularly using a Strong's to confirm translation accuracy. (THIS factor is primarily the reason why there are KJAV and NIV and all the other English translations of the exact same Original words of the Bible.
There are SEVERAL related matters which should have received far more careful study long before me! One is the fact that English language Bibles refer to "Moses wrote", and everyone today simply has accepted that phrase as absolutely precisely true. First, the Ancient Hebrew word involved was (Strongs 03789) kathab. The possible translations into English of that words DOES include 'write', but also available are 'describe' and 'recorded'. Why is this important? Because of WHEN Moses lived! We have solid historical evidence that Moses lived around 1275 BC (because of when Pharaoh came to power in Egypt). We also have excellent historical evidence that NO actual "written language" had then yet been invented! Moses could NOT have WRITTEN DOWN any texts at all! ALL civilizations and societies for thousands of years had successfully used Oral Tradition to save and maintain all important knowledge. Moses clearly used that Oral Tradition process in sharing the Lord's Words with others. In the two centuries AFTER Moses, seven major written languages were invented, in different parts of the world, and developed. Interestingly, three of those seven languages have not even yet been deciphered! The seven were Sumerian, Egyptian, proto-Elamite, proto-Indic, Cretan, Hittite, and Chinese. Chinese was developed after Moses lived, and is the only one of them still in use today. The three which have not yet been deciphered are Cretan, proto-Elamite and proto-Indic. Hittite was also developed well after Moses lived. In any case, none of these became sophisticated written languages until AFTER Moses lived. (Virtually all modern written languages are variants of Sumerian and Hittite.) And why is THIS important? Because, for many centuries, humanity had successfully used Oral Tradition to pass all important knowledge along from each generation to the next. This is known to have been an extremely effective and accurate method of maintaining knowledge through many generations, in many different early cultures. In this case, Moses must certainly have ORALLY presented the text of the First Five Books of the Bible. Among other things, he did not have either the time or the thousands of stone blocks to even try to chisel Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols into stone, while he was occupied in trying to keep his followers alive! Additionally, Egyptian hieroglyphs were a SYMBOLIC system, which was not able to express many things (such as love) or virtually any concepts (such as 'Honor the Sabbath').
So the known historical evidence seems to indicate that the words of Moses were ORALLY TRANSMITTED for around 15 generations, probably with exquisite accuracy, until written Ancient Hebrew had been developed sufficiently where Moses' words could finally be recorded as written text, around 1000 BC. There seems even to be some evidence this had all occurred, from within the Bible itself. If you carefully read the text of Genesis 6 and 7, as an example, it is clear that each event seems to be described TWICE, where the precise descriptions are sometimes slightly different. For example, Genesis 6:19-20 describes TWO of each creature for the ark, while Genesis 7:2-3 seems to refer to SEVEN pairs of many animals and birds. Now, WHICH of those two descriptions were actually said by Moses, no one knows, but this seems to suggest that the first Scribes wanted to make sure that they did not leave out a correct description, and so Genesis has every appearance of being an inter-threaded PAIR of descriptions. That situation may easily have arisen from that 15 generations of Oral Transmission. By 1000 BC, there might easily have been TWO slightly different oral transmissions of Moses' words being spread, and the written Bible necessarily includes both. Note that the precise number of how many animals were taken into the ark does not appear to affect any Lesson of the Lord, in other words, an apparently very minor variation in one or the other of two parallel Oral Traditions.
Now, given these AMAZINGLY SLIGHT effects due to oral transmission, I find it easy to have ABSOLUTE TRUST in the words Moses actually spoke, while recognizing that the words that got written down in Ancient Hebrew nearly 300 years later MIGHT have contained very minor flaws or alterations. Specifically, I think it very realistic to think that ONE of those oral transmitters might have felt it appropriate to ADD a brief comment about the death of Moses. It is even noteworthy that the references to Moses' death come at the very END of Deuteronomy, and NOT in the middle of any important text. To imagine that an Oral transmitter might have chosen to mention the specifics of the death of Moses seems quite natural to me.
The point here is that where many Christians seem to quickly concede their Faith to any apparent adversary, I say NO! As a Christian Minister for 15 years and also a Theoretical Nuclear Physicist for far longer, I have long examined BOTH sides of such subjects, and I have TOTAL FAITH that the Lord Knew what He was doing when He created this Universe! When WE humans find things that we cannot easily understand, my suspicion is that we just have not been smart enough to understand the subtleties that He provided for our benefit.
The text of Genesis 1 of the Bible mentions a number of specific events in a specific sequence. The first one mentioned is that Light was Created. The final one was that Humanity (Adam) was Created. The Creation of grasses, herbs, larger plants, fishes, simple animals, larger animals and more are mentioned in between. The SEQUENCE of the events mentioned seems to be very important!
IF God did not Exist, then Moses or whoever else composed the text of Genesis 1, 3300 years ago, somehow found the ONE true sequence of the 14 events mentioned there (in the Original Ancient Hebrew text) out of 87,178,291,200 possible sequences! (Statistics of Genesis 1 - Scientific Approach, the statistical reasoning.) No human could have done that! This actually is solid scientific, statistical proof that God had to Exist! (He had to Exist in order to provide the information in order for Moses to get the sequence of those events correct!) Even science did not know most of that actual sequence until in just the past 100 years! (Prior to about one hundred years ago, there was no one on Earth who seriously believed that "light" came into existence before EVERYTHING else! However, modern science now knows that was the case.)
This presentation includes an extensive analysis of both the scientific evidence and the Genesis reference (KJAV) to each of those events, which shows that they appear to be in (nearly) PERFECT HARMONY with each other! Sequential Analysis of Genesis 1 and science
And the harmony is FAR too perfect for any human to have faked the writing of Genesis 1!
A rather simple and even obvious resolution may exist regarding the century-long adversity between Christianity and modern science! It does not even require either side to "give up" anything at all! There is a single Scripture that needs to be very carefully examined (Genesis 1:26-27, discussed shortly below), regarding its actual meaning, which might be slightly different than what we modern Christians have generally assumed. Christians ASSUME that Genesis 1:26-27 refers to a PHYSICAL resemblance of humans with God, but there is no actual evidence that it actually implies that! Actually, think about it! Unless God Lives somewhere where He would have to eat food, He might not need a MOUTH at all! And even if He Lived somewhere where there was air which He had to breathe (which seems highly unlikely for an All-Powerful Being), exactly WHO would He ever talk to regarding needing a mouth? So God is not likely to need or therefore have either a nose or a mouth. Probably the same is true of ears, isn't it? And what would He need with legs, since it seems unlikely that an All-Powerful Being would ever need to walk anywhere? Or arms, as He would likely have far better ways of moving objects than having to pick them up and carry them? So, whatever physical appearance God might have, many of OUR characteristics seem totally unnecessary! Humanity has certainly Anthropomorphized God into Someone who resembles US! And THAT was certainly done based on the poor translation of Genesis 1:26-27.
Instead, it seems far more logical that Genesis 1:26-27 refers to the fact that God installed a SOUL in Adam, an addition that DID cause humans to resemble God and to be unique among His Creatures. (A Soul happens to be something that modern science cannot detect or study, and so therefore cannot have any opinion about, positive or negative.)
This matter is also extensively discussed in this presentation.
These two issues seem to provide SOLID EVIDENCE that Christianity and modern science are actually in EXCELLENT AGREEMENT about EVERYTHING! Things like the Creation/evolution mess seem to have arisen because of INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS (on both sides).
There is actually a third resulting matter here. There are numerous critics who are familiar with the children's game of telephone, where each child whispers in the ear of the next child and an initial story is entirely different just minutes later as told by the last child. The critics express sometimes vicious attacks on the Bible for therefore having no credibility, since the information presented to us in the Bible clearly had to pass through an immense number of transmitters before it was able to be published after 1454 AD due to the Gutenberg printing press. Such attacks have always been hard to defend against, due to the paucity of actual facts regarding the accuracy of the Bible.
More specifically, when Moses lived (around 1275 BC, known from Egyptian records of Pharaoh accession), no written language had then yet been invented. Only picture-based records such as Egyptian Hieroglyphs then existed, and they were not remotely sophisticated enough to express concepts such as 'Honor the Sabbath'. So there was then a period of nearly 300 years where Moses' words had been transmitted by Oral Tradition (around 15 generations) without any written texts. Once Ancient Hebrew (or Paleo-Hebrew) was invented (roughly 1000 BC) it was quickly found that the texts had to be copied by Scribes about every twenty or thirty years, due to the written documents decomposing and disintegrating over time. And so the Ancient Hebrew (written) texts of Moses' words had to be copied, at least 40 times, each from the texts of the Scribes a generation before them, until the entire Ancient Hebrew text was translated into Greek in the Septuagint Bible (around 200 BC). Then THAT Greek text also had to be copied by Scribes, until that Greek language text was translated back into Hebrew, but now into Aramaic, a rather different form than the earlier Ancient Hebrew.
THIS was the form that Jesus read and studied. But Saint Jerome found that by around 400 AD, there were many variants of the Bible circulating (both in Greek and Aramaic and in other languages) that Jerome collected and carefully studied all of those variants, and he created a Vulgate Bible, in Latin. We still heavily count on Jerome's scholasticism regarding the accuracy of the Vulgate text, even today.
But the point here is that there had been about 20 more generations of Scribes copy the Bible text to get to Jerome, and that another 50 generations of Scribes copied it to get to the Gutenberg printing press.
These many, many COPYINGS of the Bible all involved around 770,000 words or around 3,000,000 individual letters which had to be copied absolutely precisely. The 'telephone' logic might have seemed to have had validity!
However, now consider that Moses' text of Genesis 1 included that SEQUENCE of events of Creation, and even after the many generations of Oral Tradition and then even more generations of Scribe copyings, the SEQUENCE which got included in the early published Bibles IS STILL THE SAME AS WHAT MOSES HAD TO HAVE FIRST STATED!
This is a rather monumental fact! The amazing care and accuracy of the 140 or more individuals who each had to memorize and repeat (either Orally or by copying letter symbols) is impressively confirmed, by the fact that even the SEQUENCE of the Genesis 1 events was never altered!
One might think that NO Oral Tradition carrier or Scribe copier would have seen much importance in making sure that "Light" was the very first element of Creation! It seems like such an irrelevant issue, doesn't it? Or more, that NONE of those 140 or more transmitters CHOSE to try to "improve" the sequence by changing it around to become more "credible". NONE of those people ever did that, even regarding the apparently irrelevant details of fish being Created before land animals or plants before fishes.
The fact that we NOW can see such amazing (statistical) matching of the sequence of Genesis 1 and what modern science has learned, really is an impressive testament to the strict accuracy of Bible texts!
Is that absolutely and precisely true? Not quite. Massive study by Christian and other religious scholars have compared around 20,000 hand-written Manuscripts which have been discovered, and some very minor copying errors have been discovered (and corrected). Such errors were generally due to a Scribe not copying a tiny dot above or below a letter in the source text. Even this is impressive when it is remembered that around 3,000,000 characters had to be copied by each Scribe to pass the Bible along to the next generation. The fact that SO FEW copyist mistakes have been found also attests to their care and the accuracy of the copy which they generated.
The main point being made here is that the "telephone game" is not remotely applicable to the Bible texts. And by implication, if Genesis 1 always got copied so very accurately, then the rest of the Bible text must certainly have also come to us in an extremely accurate form.
An interesting point to make is that we would NOT know this about how amazingly well the Bible has always been copied, if it were not for modern science now being able to provide a CONFIRMATION of the sequence of events in Genesis 1!
The story continues, where the two continue the conversation which quickly degrades into an argument, and soon even into rather vicious statements by both regarding the eyesight and the sanity of the other. BOTH saw the FACTS as absolutely clear and obvious, and neither could comprehend how the other could be so blind or so stupid as to believe what he had claimed! Their friendship was essentially ending! They were developing such terribly bad feelings and attitudes toward each other that their previous many years of dear friendship seemed no longer to matter!
THIS is like the point at which Christianity and modern science seems to now be! The FACTS are UNQUESTIONABLE to each side. How could the OTHER side possibly believe what they do? They must be absolute idiots or they are trying to be deceptive. Since Christians tend to worry that Satan is forever trying to mislead them, it seems almost obvious that many Christians would ASSUME that modern science was simply an activity of the Devil! What else COULD they believe, when science keeps saying things that seem to be so incompatible with everything they believe? But worse, there are many Christians who see the impressive logic in much of what modern science does and says, AND SO THEY DILUTE THEIR BELIEF IN CHRISTIANITY AS A RESULT OF ACCEPTING SOME OF WHAT SCIENCE TELLS THEM!
It turns out that BOTH of those reactions are very wrong! Consider how the African folk tale continues! At a point where the two men have gotten to the most vicious of attitudes toward each other, the woman happens to return. This time, she is walking the other direction, but again between them. The two men each see her hat, but now they each see the OPPOSITE color from what they had known to be true before! In their confusion, they stop her to talk, and they then BOTH realize that she is wearing a hat WHICH IS RED ON ONE SIDE AND GREEN ON THE OTHER!
In the African folk tale, there is a happy ending! We in Christianity and modern science are NOT there yet! But this presentation is meant to provide some suggestions and evidence where we might now proceed to a better mutual understanding.
AND, there seems to even be PROOF that the concepts of Biblical Creation and scientific evolution are totally compatible with each other! More, they even seem to SUPPORT each other!
As a first step, it is important for each person to get the facts and logic straight! It is astounding that thousands of Christian Ministers make the silliest and most foolish statements in trying to insult modern science! Just today, I saw a TV Minister laughingly say that he hasn't seen a Mammoth turn into a turkey. No kidding! If he was less ignorant, or if he had actually TRIED to understand what modern science knows to be true, he would have never spread such a ridiculous insinuation to a television audience. NO SCIENTIST has ever remotely believed what he claimed! Specifically, NO animal has EVER CHANGED INTO any other animal! The Theory of Evolution is actually a very simple and rather obvious observation that the CHILDREN of any person or animal or plant are NOT PRECISELY IDENTICAL TO THE PARENT. This is a simple and common occurrence in EVERY GENERATION of EVERY animal, plant and human.
There ARE a few exceptions to this statement. There are actually different methods of reproduction, and a few plants and animals can propagate from a single parent, where they then can have identical DNA as the parent. Such plants and animals are relatively rare, and we will continue to discuss here the far more common method of propagation that TWO humans or animals or plants must interact to produce unique new DNA which is the basis for the development of the individual of the next generation.
You probably notice that many of the adult men in your family are over six feet tall. Five generations ago in YOUR family, there was probably not a single man over six feet tall. There are people who try to claim that is due to better food, but think about that! Sure, better food can make people stronger and heavier, but how could it make them TALLER? How could it make their BONES become longer? The GRADUAL increase in height in your own family, SOMETHING THAT IS NOT EVEN NOTICEABLE IN ANY INDIVIDUAL GENERATION, is what is called an evolutionary trend. There was no sudden or spectacular change in any one person, BUT INSTEAD A VERY GRADUAL AND NEARLY IMPERCEPTIBLE TREND OF DIFFERENCE OVER SEVERAL OR MANY GENERATIONS. THAT is what scientific evolution actually is. And if you continue that to more than the five generations that you may be aware of in your own family, those gradual trends can have CUMULATIVE EFFECTS. A really obvious example is that many fossils have been found of the eohippus, a horse from around 55 million years ago which closely resembled modern horses but were only about the size of modern dogs. Did a 40-pound eohippus suddenly one day explode into a modern 1200-pound horse? What a foolish thought! No, there have been around 20 million generations of horses between the original eohippus and what modern horses have evolved into, the far larger animals we know. SOME (but not all) generations of eohippus were apparently a tiny bit bigger than their parents were. NOT to any noticeable amount, but if you repeat that TREND around 20 million times, yes, modern 1200-pound horses might be the result.
Many of the vicious (and ignorant) Ministers who try to insult modern science make another nasty comment with a smile or a laugh. They make a definitive statement that NO EXAMPLE OF EVOLUTION HAS EVER BEEN SEEN TO HAVE ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Those are more Ministers who are simply showing themselves to be ignorant! In addition to the height example actually seen in generations of humans, there are examples which show up in the news every week! There is an extremely deadly version of TB (tuberculosis) now spreading around the world for which there are NO medicines. In the news, it is called multiple-drug-resistant TB. Thirty years ago, TB was virtually eradicated world-wide. Unfortunately, a few microscopic viruses survived. The only reason they survived is that those very few TB viruses happened to be resistant to all of the medicines which had killed off all the other TB viruses. Those very few that had survived "had a survival advantage" over all the other TB viruses, which created a situation which Charles Darwin called "the survival of the fittest". Those TB viruses of thirty years ago were not stronger or bigger than the others, but they happened to have a single difference which was a tremendous advantage for them, the resistance to the drugs doctors were then using against them. Did the TB viruses PLAN it that way? No. It's just that any large population of any type of living things have VARIATIONS among them, and it just happened that a FEW of those old TB viruses happened to have the needed chemical and biological resistances to survive. And, quietly, while modern medicine had dismissed TB as forever gone, those FEW TB viruses have been multiplying. They are now again everywhere on Earth. This WILL be in the news a lot in coming years, because this new TB is absolutely untreatable by any known medicines or treatments. When Doctors or Nurses get infected with it, they have always been dying, along with all the patients. This is incredibly bad, and it is ENTIRELY due to the viruses evolving.
As a College Biology student, I was required to do many experiments with fruit flies (Drosophila Melanogaster). These are the very tiny flies which appear in your kitchen if you leave any rotten fruit out for a day or two. The experiments were to expose a population of those tiny flies to some different environmental condition, such as heat, cold, wet, dry, light, darkness, the presence of any of many metals or other materials, the presence of any of many types of radiation, the presence of Classical music or Rock music, etc. And then, if any of your flies were still alive after a few days, they were fed and allowed to multiply (which happens very quickly, the actual reason that they are used for such simple experiments.) Many such experiments killed all of the flies. But some experiments, especially when various forms of radiation were involved, resulted in very strange flies which had extra wings or eyes or legs, but then could not reproduce so they also died off. But some lesser variations would sometimes result in flies that could reproduce, and then your experiment would soon have a large population of flies that were all blind or that had extra legs or wings! All in a few weeks! And purely and completely due to evolutionary trends.
In any case, it is important that a Christian reader understand these basic facts about what evolution or Natural Selection is, rather than the fear-mongering rants that many Ministers manage to sell. You are ENCOURAGED to confirm or deny any of the above from any Encyclopedia or other reliable resource! We can now proceed with the current discussion!
I will briefly describe here what I see as the INITIAL reason why Christianity became so adversarial to science. (a) Christians believe the Bible, which includes that mankind was Created (Genesis 1:26-27) uniquely and separately from all of God's earlier "creatures". English language translations of the Bible generally include a reference to humans having a physical appearance resembling God. (b) Science includes attempts at logical understandings of all things, and that includes a "natural selection" which is popularly referred to as "evolution". (c) These two are seen as absolutely incompatible, especially by Christian leaders, because one insists that man was Created unique and the other suggests that man is not, being just sort of an "advanced creature". Since Christians insist on believing the one, the other must then be dead wrong! End of discussion. Start of argument, or at least, deaf ears!
IF this is the reasoning behind YOUR negative attitudes toward science, I have some really good news for you! The conflict that you see is actually the result of an assumption that some (English-speaking) Christians made long ago and still do, primarily due to the English translations of the Bible, that is probably incorrect! And once that is straightened out, there is NO remaining problem at all!
It seems extremely likely that the Original (Ancient Hebrew) wording of Genesis 1:26-27 is accurate. Even the early English translations, including the King James (KJAV) had "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" but that this English translation (and all other translations) have incorporated a translation assumption that may not be appropriate. The actual Original wording, transliterated, is just four Ancient Hebrew words, "`asah 'adam tselem d@muwth" (Strong's O6213, O120, O6754, and O1823).
Each of those Original Ancient Hebrew words has an assortment of possible meanings. It is certainly true that it CAN be interpreted in the way it always has, of regarding a "physical resemblance" of humans to the Lord. However, the third and fourth Hebrew words have the possible meaning of "resemblance" or "similitude". There seems no reason to believe that we must PHYSICALLY resemble God. This Essay is based on a different understanding of this specific Scripture, that the "resemblance" referred to is that of us uniquely "having a Soul". (No other creature does!) This small change makes an enormous consequence!
In other words, maybe God had arranged all the plants and animals, but then when it came time to Create humans, He chose AN EXISTING HUMAN-LIKE CREATURE, AND ADDED A SOUL. That action on the part of God made humans absolutely unique, and "resembling Him" (regarding having a Soul) in a unique way where none of His animals ever had or could! It also would have meant that there were CREATURES around that LOOKED like humans but did not have Souls, possibly explaining the population which Cain joined after having left Eden. Many entries in the early Bible seem to make a lot more sense with this interpretation in mind, such as the circumstances which led to the Flood, and many other Verses that have always seemed rather cryptic otherwise.
Nothing is really changed at all in Christian or Jewish Theology by this adjustment. However, it immediately makes clear what the unique feature of man is, of having a Soul, a fact that is clearly not applicable to any of God's other creatures. This simple adjustment then enables Christianity to be entirely compatible with the scientific findings regarding Natural Selection, or what is more popularly referred to as Evolution. Prior to man at Genesis 1:26-27, God may have Chosen to use genetic evolution to advance His many creatures. Man might therefore actually have been genetically preceded by the animals mentioned earlier in Genesis 1, but in Genesis 1:26-27, God made man absolutely unique by implanting a Soul in every man and woman. (At least all the men and women who are descendants of Adam and Eve, a subject for discussion below regarding the "people" that Cain met when he left Eden, who may have not been "people" at all but merely creatures which appeared to be people!) There are an immense number of things that seem to become clear with this new insight. It now seems quite clear as to HOW and WHY our human DNA is so remarkably similar to that of many animals and especially some primates. And why, forty years ago, a serious effort (in Ohio, I think) was advancing to raise thousands of apes exclusively to create blood for transfusions in serious human operations, as their blood is essentially indistinguishable from ours. See how these sorts of things can now perfectly fall into place?
By the way, God might have ACTUALLY done all of Creation in Six actual Days, but He was very careful to make sure that later (inquisitive) humans would find comfort in a Natural Selection (logical) explanation for all of it, where all evidence that could ever be found would all indicate that many billions of years were involved. Conversely, He may have been Patient enough to allow the Universe to take 14 billion years to proceed to where it now is, but Felt it necessary to present a Six-Day explanation for primitive minds of 3300 years ago, and also to very much impress everyone with His immense power and abilities! Yet again, He May have taken three seconds to do it all, or a month, and CHOSE to Create a Universe which is perfectly logical to researchers and scientists and also religiously compelling to everyone. No one can ever know exactly how much time He took! Of course, no one had a watch anyway, and at first, even the Earth and Sun did not exist, so the concept of time probably had limited importance anyway!
With this slight adjustment in interpretation, all of Christian belief and all of modern science come completely into accord! In other words, Genesis 1 describes EQUALLY either the Six-Day Creation or the far longer sequence of events that science has discovered, without suggesting preference for either of those two interpretations. Since science has no way to detect or study a Soul, the single issue that distinguishes the two views is then securely retained by Christians and Jews.
We will discuss later a reasonable explanation for the very different perceptions of time intervals and we will see that they can be compatible with each other.
Noted above, in the discussion which follows, only one major understanding is seen differently than has previously been done. Genesis 1:26-27 includes (KJAV) "And God said, let US make man in our image, after our likeness". The NIV and other English translations are all very similar. ALL believers seem to assume this as meaning that our PHYSICAL APPEARANCE is like God's. The actual Ancient Hebrew word (tselem) can mean "resemblance" and there is not any actual implication that it is a PHYSICAL resemblance. This discussion makes a different conclusion from that Verse, in that the resemblance referred to is much MORE important that simply LOOKING like God, but is instead regarding man as HAVING A SOUL (like God). If you think about it, isn't THAT a really important distinction that God would have wanted to make? One a lot more important than whether we look like Him or not? The Bible reads perfectly reasonably and logically with this understanding, but it then also permits "intimate agreement" between Christian beliefs and scientific research.
Many people have also noted that for the most recent five hundred years, humans have LOVED to Anthropomorphize God. There seems a fascination in imagining God with human form! But WHY would that actually be the case? Does God live on some planet like ours where He would need hands and feet? That seems very unlikely. Is he on some planet which has an oxygen atmosphere? If not, would He even need lungs? Would He need to eat, or even talk (to who?), so would He even need a mouth. Or nose? Or ears? Get the point? WHY would Genesis 1:26-27 need to refer to a PHYSICAL RESEMBLANCE? It wouldn't. However, it WOULD be important that Genesis 1:26-27 make clear that Mankind was UNIQUE in HAVING A SOUL, just like He does!
It seems to me that most Christians underestimate the Lord! Few seem anymore to be willing to believe where the Bible says that the Lord Created everything in Six Days, because they have been influenced by scientific research that discusses billions of years! As a Christian Church Pastor, I happen to believe the WHOLE Bible and so I do not question the Six-Day Creation. I imagine God as being extremely busy during those Six Days! However, it happens that I was educated as a Nuclear Physicist, and I recognize that science is on solid logical ground regarding the Universe being around 15 billion years old. What gives???
I think the resolution is really simple! I believe that the Lord is billions of times smarter than any of us people, so we probably can never totally comprehend His Plan for us. However, I believe that He is Loving and Considerate regarding us. And so, even though, given His Infinite Power, He Created everything in Six Days, He knew our curiosity and desire to "logically understand" everything, and so He Wonderfully provided a totally separate and nearly independent "scientific perspective" for us to find (3300 years later) totally logical comfort in. So, when I personally consider religious issues, ONLY the Christian perspective has reliable meanings, but when I study scientific subjects, ONLY the scientific perspective might have reliable meanings.
In fact, He arranged everything so well that we cannot even tell which of the two understandings is actually the one that really occurred! If a person wants to trust "solid logic", NO terminal flaw can be found in a scientific star-formation / earth-oceans-land / plants-fishes-animals-man line of reasoning! However, if a person is willing to set aside some seemingly logical rules (regarding time) and purely accept what the Bible tells us, then NO terminal flaw can be found in that either! A critical issue in this is that the SEQUENCE of events MUST be the same in both views, even if the time scales seem outlandishly different.
When I was a teenager, before I was Saved, I became intrigued by the fact that Genesis begins with LIGHT. What an odd first thing to Create! But there it is! And then it dawned on me that according to the best scientific evidence, before the Earth and everything else, there were stars, millions and billions of stars. Light. Hmmmm!
And then when I looked at the end of Genesis 1, the LAST event of Creation was mankind, which ALSO happens to be the most recent major event in a scientific time scale. This was getting very interesting! When I wrote down a list of the 14 specific events I felt I saw mentioned in Genesis 1, in order, I was astounded to find that all but the birds were in EXACT AGREEMENT with the order currently understood by science! (As a Nuclear Physics student, I knew enough to know that the statistical odds of that just being a coincidence was far over a billion to one!) (the matching of the sequences is included in this Essay.)
In any case, that started me on a life-long effort at trying to understand how Genesis/Creation could be totally correct and ALSO that science (including evolution) could also be totally correct. After all, I was on both sides of that street! I have seen others present what seem to be "rationalizations" in trying to describe how Christianity and science can be mutually tolerated. Such arguments always seemed to me to require a watering-down of some aspects of Christian belief and/or a watering-down of the strictness of logic in scientific study, and therefore I always found them wanting. Because my life was intimately involved in both Christianity and in science/Nuclear Physics, I felt I needed more than that, if I were to feel that I was not letting one or the other or both down!
This eventually resulted in this "parallelism" Essay which attempts to explain how EACH can be totally and absolutely true, within its own realm, even though there APPEAR to be overwhelming conflicts BETWEEN the two viewpoints. Again, I personally truly believe that the Lord Created everything in Six Days, but His Compassion for us caused Him to also provide us a perfectly logical view of everything which seems to involve many billions of years! But I am aware that He might actually have needed billions of years, or two months, or any other interval of time, to do all of Creation. I see this as evidence of the amazing Love He has for us! And NEITHER of these perceptions is any "deception" to us, because they are EACH perfectly, absolutely, totally, and independently true.
By the way, my initial fascination regarding Light being first seems to have another wonderful result. Say that the Bible was NOT inspired by the Lord, that some ancient human composed it (just considering Genesis 1). In sitting down to weave a story that needed to mention 14 distinct events, would any human writer claim that Light was first, if he wanted ANYONE to actually believe his story? Not a chance! He might have woven many different fake stories, but I do not think any of them would have begun with Light being Created first! And now, 3300 years later, science has come to AGREE that Light actually existed before anything else. Isn't that SCIENTIFIC PROOF that the Bible had to have been inspired by the Lord? It was composed around 3,300 years ago, given to Moses, and even just a hundred years ago, there was no scientist on Earth who yet realized that light existed first! There is NO way that any ancient human could have written Genesis 1, without God's help! When we consider that 14 specific events were mentioned, and we now scientifically realize that all but one are in the exact correct sequence, whoa! That alleged human writer would have had 87,178,291,200 different storyline sequences to pick from! Yet, the sequence presented in Genesis 1 amazingly matches what modern science has discovered. I personally consider it to be intensely compelling SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that the Bible (at least Genesis 1) could only have been written with God's help. In other words, scientific proof that at least part of the Bible is reliable and valid. Even that God had to actually exist in order for Genesis 1 to have been written as it is.
Based on that statistical analysis of the actual events mentioned in Genesis 1, I really do not see how any logical, scientific person could deny that God had to have existed at that time, in order to provide that specific sequence of events. People might certainly question many other parts of the Bible, but this really is pretty close to "airtight" from a scientific logic perspective!
Amazingly, science may even provide logical explanations for some things that have always been troublesome to Christians, like where Cain went when he left Eden, and who he married!
If a human author had written Genesis 1 without God's help he could have listed the 14 events mentioned in 87,178,291,200 different sequences. How could he have selected the sequence, beginning with Light first and Man last, which has now (3300 years later) been shown to be the sequence that modern science finally accepts?
This current Parallelism perspective is that there are two perfectly parallel understandings of existence, that of Christian Faith and that of analytical science, that are INDEPENDENTLY each absolutely true and complete and self-consistent. Trying to mix "facts" between them can appear to cause incompatibilities, but either alone represents a perfect and correct and complete view of the world.
A useful analogy involves language skills. Let's say you speak fluent English AND you also speak fluent Russian. You have the ability to have conversations in either language. But you cannot use both at the same time and make proper sense to anyone! You cannot decide to put a descriptive English verb in a Russian sentence, or apply Russian syntax in an English sentence. You cannot randomly mix together words, phrases or paragraphs from the two languages. Your expertise in English and Russian represents two independent "parallel" skills that are actually incompatible with each other. You can work at building your language skills in either language without being affected or concerned about the syntax and words of the other. THIS is how we should look at Christianity and science! The two are parallel and totally independent perspectives. Each is separately absolutely true and complete without any necessity for the other (just like with the languages). Each can be studied and expertise developed, (nearly) absolutely independently of the accomplishments or facts of the other perspective (again, just like with the languages). Very importantly, a person could be extremely fluent in English and barely understandable in Russian, or the other way around. A Venezuelan person may not know either. Some people might be perfectly fluent in both. Two independent spectrums of expertise exist, that have absolutely no relationship or dependence on each other. Similarly, a devout Christian could have excellent scientific skills or he/she could have none. An extremely analytical scientist could earnestly believe in Jesus or he/she could disbelieve. The two perspectives are totally independent of each other and can and should be developed AND CONSIDERED separately. In our English/Russian scenario, think about a question like "Which language is the CORRECT one?" The question is irrelevant. NEITHER language is inferior to or more incomplete than the other. Similarly, Christianity and science are each totally and equally valid and complete, and absolutely independent.
Note that an English grammatician could look at the sentence structure of a Russian sentence and think that he finds many errors. In his own realm of English, such a criticism might seem to make sense, but a Russian grammatician could confirm the correctness of the actual Russian sentence. Trying to apply rules and concepts of one, in analyzing sentences in the other, can be meaningless and misleading.
Even though it might seem that this premise involves relativism or subjectivism, those concerns are not present. In the same way that neither language is "relatively" better than the other, neither science or Christianity is better in any relative sense. There is no subjective aspects involved because they are (nearly) absolutely independent perceptions of the world.
It will be shown below that science does not need to "confirm" the existence of Noah's Ark, or the Burial location of Jesus, or the existence of the Ark of the Covenant. Whether or not it ever does, Christianity should not be based on that anyway. It must remain, as it always has been, a matter of personal Faith.
Now, this sounds hard! How should one overlook the impressive accomplishments of science and trust exclusively in Scripture (the way most Christian Churches try to insist)? That's actually the wrong attitude. A historical example involving Albert Einstein (described below) shows us that two parallel, seemingly incompatible understandings, can EACH be separately absolutely true. With other support, this essay will demonstrate how this applies to the long-standing debate between Christianity and science. As an extreme example of what it enables, it will explain how it is even possible to believe (in a strict Christian context) in a true Six Day Creation, while also embracing scientific research on stars that are known (in a scientific context) to be billions of years old! This, and the many other sticking points between Christianity and science, are NOT the overwhelming logical inconsistencies they have long seemed.
It is hoped that this essay will help Christians to maintain absolute and true Faith in the Lord and in every detail of Scripture, while also welcoming ALL accomplishments of science as being worthwhile and not perceiving them as challenges to their Faith. It is also hoped that analytical scientists will be able to maintain their rigid logic, while also opening their minds to the wonderful potential personal value of Christian Salvation.
With some differences among themselves, Christian Fundamentalists insist on belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin Birth and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the vicarious and atoning character of His death, His bodily Resurrection, and His Second Coming as the irreducible minimum of authentic Christianity (first listed this way in 1878 in the Creed of the Niagara Bible Conference). Science generally doesn't DENY these matters, but seriously doubts them because of a lack of documentation and physical proof.
There is ONE specific subject that invariably seems central to the
conflict. Christians believe that men have SOULS. (Science does not
necessarily have an opinion on this matter!) A variety of things
are sometimes meant by having a Soul, but usually a definition includes:
Christianity has ALWAYS very adamantly insisted that man was created separately from all other living things, and in that uniqueness, God invested man alone with a Soul and other spiritual, ethical, moral and intellectual characteristics. A central belief of Christianity has always been that no other of God's creatures has a Soul. That belief has mandated the need for a separate and distinct origin of mankind, which enabled and caused the unique presence of a Soul in man (which Christians can try to Save). Unfortunately, modern science is merrily roaring along proving more and more similarities between man and animals. Forty years ago, it was established that the blood of some primates is virtually interchangeable with ours. For a while, there was actually serious discussion about using such primate blood for humans during medical operations. Twenty years ago, evidence was found that the chromosomes of humans and some primates are more than 99% identical. Looming in the near future are analyses of the results of the Human Genome Project, which might find absolute proof. IF it WERE ever proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there ARE conclusive genetic links between mankind and lower animals, it would be presently be disastrous for ALL Christian Churches! (The premise of this essay becomes extremely important in this situation, where Christian Faith can SEPARATELY be true, even if it [sometimes] seems to totally contradict scientific findings.)
Science has already very well established the fact that the chromosomes of men and the chromosomes of certain chimpanzees are remarkably similar. In the past few years, technology has advanced to the point that the 3,000,000,000 component nucleotides that make up human DNA can be individually identified and sequences recorded. Researchers announced, early in the year 2000, that they had completed mapping the entire Human Genome. Several years earlier, it was discovered that the similarity between the DNA of mankind and of those chimpanzees is greater than 99% identical! Wow! In February 2001, scientists announced a number of amazing findings like that. For example, the X-chromosome of a housecat is apparently perfectly identical to a human X-chromosome!
Christian Churches are getting "cornered". They feel they must either continue to deny the validity of DNA and genetics and evolution (and all of their consequences) [a Christian Fundamentalist attitude] or someday publicly acknowledge it. Most Churches had been earlier forced to acknowledge that the Earth is not flat, that it seems to be older than 6,000 years and that DNA exists, and a number of other things. Each of these confrontations with scientific findings has represented serious problems for the Church, but it has always gotten through. This upcoming situation may be more serious. The uniqueness of the human Soul, and therefore the unique origin of man, is one of the most central concepts there is in Christianity, one that cannot be abandoned or modified.
Some Christian Churches have tried to "harmonize" their beliefs with the findings of modern science. Some have even acknowledged the likely validity of genetics FOR PLANTS AND ANIMALS (but not humans). This was dangerous, but it has always been carefully phrased to make absolutely clear that mankind is NOT involved in what is being recognized. They are now getting close to being forced to acknowledge the astounding similarities between some primates and humans, mostly because the ongoing DNA mapping evidence is becoming so compelling. (Few Christians seem aware that during the 1970s, the United States had a blood shortage. They started a project to grow thousands of apes (I think in Ohio) in order to create blood which would then be used in human operations! This project was proceeding actively until someone learned about it and there was a great uproar over whether patients would tolerate having ape blood used in them! As far as is known, the project was then rapidly ended! The point here is that the blood of several types of apes are so identical to ours that such a project was even planned and started! It is harder to argue how tremendously different we are biologically with such incidents occurring!
Those similarities logically imply more than a remarkable coincidence. Statistically, those similarities are far too great to just be accidental. They imply that the two different types of beings, humans and primates, must have originated from an ancient common (biological) origin. This would then lead to the conclusion that mankind and chimpanzees evolved from some now-extinct common ancestor (the popular "missing link"), because, essentially, that is a definition of evolution.
Christian Churches might be able to tolerate evolution, as long as it did not involve humans. However, the Church has effectively dug itself a really deep hole. The teachings of two thousand years of Christianity cannot tolerate evolution that involves humans. If humans evolved from some ancient, primitive life form, and are actually very distantly related to lower animals, this necessarily brings into question a number of the uniquenesses of mankind. Specifically, if Christian Churches ever acknowledged that, would that imply that chimpanzees also have Souls? Could chimpanzees be Saved if they could be brought to comprehend Jesus somehow? These are incredible questions! Whether they are meaningful questions or not, media reporters would ask these things of Church leaders. NO Church is prepared to respond to such questions, because they cannot! ALL Christian Churches have ALWAYS had to insist on the separate (biological) Creation of mankind, with the critically important consequences of these matters like the existence of the Soul in mankind alone.
Christian scholars call this a "slippery slope" situation. If a Church took even a single step in that direction, it would be almost certain that huge difficulties would follow. OK. So maybe you'd tolerate the possibility of chimpanzees having Souls, whatever THAT might mean! Then, what about gorillas? Since even dogs have DNA that is moderately similar to our own, what about them? (Many pet owners have long thought that their dogs and cats have intellect and logic and even Souls). And then, what about cows, pigs, horses? And rabbits, rats and mice? And birds, alligators and snakes? And spiders, flies, and mosquitoes? And amoebae and paramecia? Even trees, grasses, and seaweed have DNA that is moderately similar to our own. Would this mean that even THEY had Souls and emotions and knowledge of right and wrong? After all, these recent announcements regarding the analysis of human DNA are showing amazing similarities even between trees and people!
This reasoning is obviously ridiculous, but who could define just WHERE the cut-off point would be? Which types of creatures would have a Soul, like us, and which would not? A little thinking about this quickly establishes that NO sharp cut-off point could possibly be identified. If a Church acknowledged even a slight concession to science on this point of Soul, there would be no end to the "slippery slope".
It gets worse! If a Christian Church were ever forced to the point of having to admit such a possibility, that would be clear acknowledgement that two thousand years of Christian teaching has been wrong on a VERY central issue (uniqueness of the human Soul). Almost immediately, individuals and groups would attack the credibility of ALL the teachings of the Christian Church, including the accuracy and authority of the Bible!
Obviously, NO Church could participate in having this happen, or even ALLOW it to happen. Therefore, ALL Christian Churches have felt that they MUST continue to hold to that core belief that mankind HAD TO HAVE BEEN CREATED SEPARATELY FROM ALL OTHER CREATURES. They can have NO flexibility on this point! If they ever give an inch, a mile of established Christian belief suddenly will unravel.
(By the way, many modern Christian Churches DO acknowledge a number of findings of modern science: the billions of years of scientifically established history, the probable method in which the Earth and Sun were formed, ocean formation, etc. In a variety of areas, Churches are able to accept the findings of science, EVEN when they involve many aspects of the Genesis story. There seems to even be some implicit tolerance of the concept of evolution in lower animals and plants. Just NOT the one point involving mankind evolving from and being related to other life forms!)
Most individual Christians would LOVE to whole-heartedly support the Bible's Creation story. They are somewhat discouraged from doing so because of the impressive findings of modern scientific progress that seem to contradict it. Sadly, many Christians have become SO overwhelmed by science that they look to base their Faith on actual archaeological findings of Noah's Ark or on scientific proof that Jesus actually did Miracles or on other historical or scientific confirmations of Christian statements in the Bible. That actually defeats the whole concept of Faith! In Faith, it is centrally important to BELIEVE some things where absolutely no evidence or proof does or can exist. (This 'Parallelism' premise makes such external documentation unnecessary and essentially irrelevant within the religious context.)
Scientists, on the other hand, generally don't hold Christian beliefs in high esteem. They tend to just ignore the concept of religion and Creation as irrelevant. They tend to feel that Christianity (or any other religion) is just a collection of unsupportable and undocumentable claims of people who do not understand rigid logic. Instead, they rely on the long-proven methods of scientific investigation and they arrive at solid results that they absolutely believe in. (Have faith in, as it were!) They are generally willing to stake their professional reputations on those findings. Most scientists don't intentionally have animosity for Christian beliefs. (Such a statement probably surprises a lot of Christians). They often just consider the Christian community as following teachings that cannot match the brutal logic of their investigations, so they often may not have much respect for Christians. Some consider all of Christianity to be irrelevant! Not as an opponent, as a lot of Christians believe, but as a non-entity! Whatever findings they arrive at, they are proud of them, and they will defend those findings against any attackers. Such attackers often include Christian scholars, for the defensive reasons mentioned above.
Individuals on each side of the issue have often been cultivated into disrespecting their opponents. As a part of this, there is an implication that it would be pointless to even TRY to understand what the opponents believe, because it is so foolish!
The Assertion and the Flaw
"We are right! They don't agree with us! Therefore, they are wrong! Period!" It all seems pretty simple and obvious, to EACH side!
There is an incorrect assumption embedded in this viewpoint. THIS is where the flaw is in the logic. The assumption is that a person MUST be wrong if they disagree with your view, which you KNOW to be correct.
This does not seem like much of an assumption. Our daily experience consistently confirms the validity of such an apparently obvious statement.
For example, a coin is lying with a President's picture visible. I call it heads. You say it is tails. I am obviously right. You disagree with me. You are clearly wrong. And, importantly, We cannot possibly both be right. A coin cannot be both heads and tails at the same time.
Philosophers even have a name for this concept. They call it "the Principle of Non-Contradiction". As far back as Aristotle, this principle of logic has confidently been applied to philosophy.
Any subject that involves absolute answers is effectively the same as this. We often refer to such things as "black and white" choices; shades of gray are not an option. ALL of our experience has always seemed to confirm that two mutually contradictory conclusions cannot both be true at the same time. This has always seemed to confirm the assumption that is implicit in the statement above. So, we have naturally come to automatically ACCEPT the assumption as true. Later, we will make the case that this is NOT always necessarily true, and that there has already been a prominent example of such a situation (involving Einstein) a century ago.
It could be VERY productive if each side would attempt to consider just WHY their opponents believe what they do. It usually comes down to whether it is possible to believe that the other guys feel they have good cause for believing what they do or believing that they are complete idiots! Often, it is more convenient to just assume that they are idiots, being misled by: the devil (science) or their leaders (Christians).
In many "olive branches" that are offered as potential "middle grounds", some substantial concessions are expected on one or both sides in order to "harmonize" the two approaches. Either science is expected to ease its strict adherence to fact and logic, or Christianity is expected to concede the reality of some important belief. This situation has always doomed all "middle ground" approaches to failure. And that seems certain to forever be the case.
Considering the Christianity versus science debate, be practical
for a moment:
If this is actually correct, (and it has been assumed to be so for the entire period of analytical science), then it is destined that NO resolution will ever be possible. An example is whether evolution and genetic adaptation has occurred, and more specifically, whether mankind descended from lower animals or whether he was created separately and independently by God, as per the Creation story of Genesis 1. There IS no middle ground here. The two explanations are mutually exclusive. It's true or it is not.
This sort of situation has always been central to the conflict between Christianity and science. Clearly, no resolution seems possible!
This popular trend toward attempting to resolve the conflict involves quite a few (promising?) loose ends, however. There are definitely things that the "other side" believes that can not obviously be dismissed inside of "our" beliefs. The temptation (and popular tendency) has been to just ignore such things, and to retreat back to areas of "our" strength.
A brief example of such loose ends on each side:
It can be VERY beneficial to explore such things with an open mind. If such exploration can inspire some respect for the intellect of the opponents, some LARGER perspective might be possible, that might be able to include the two disparate viewpoints as subsets of a bigger picture.
How could it ever be possible to find a resolution for such intractable subjects?
It turns out that there MAY be a way! It turns out that a vaguely similar situation had existed inside the field of Physics for hundreds of years. And then, along came a guy named Einstein, who recognized a larger perspective on the matter. He saw that BOTH of the arguing sides had been absolutely and totally right all along! The author believes that God planned all that conflict and resolution to play out in the field of Physics, and to be eloquently resolved a hundred years ago, as a learning example for us today. In our struggles with finding any possible compatibility between Christianity and science, we might benefit from that history.
Many of the world's best thinkers got involved in this debate. Pierre de Fermat, one of the world's foremost thinkers, believed and aggressively supported a version of the corpuscular theory. Rene Descartes, another of world renown, believed and supported a slightly different corpuscular theory. Christian Huygens, who was equally respected and known, believed and supported a wave-based explanation. These men were the intellectual heavy hitters of the day.
To clarify the scale of the problem, consider the following. If the correct nature of light is as a particle, this implies a certain "graininess" where you couldn't forever keep dividing an amount of light in half (dimming it down, as it were). At some point, you would get down to one particle of light, and it couldn't be divided further. (If you could, the pieces would no longer be light, but something else.) In contrast, a wave nature implies ALWAYS being able to divide it in half, forever. No matter how small a wave is, you can ALWAYS make it smaller. You either can or you cannot keep dividing it forever.
And EVERYONE involved knew that both sides could NOT be correct! The two descriptions were irreconcilably incompatible with each other!
Light did NOT have a simple, single, fixed nature, as had been previously thought. Its complex TRUE nature just APPEARED to us to exhibit characteristics of being a wave OR of being a particle, depending on what experiment we did. It is now generally accepted that any experiment you could ever do will only show light to seem to be a particle OR a wave, and NEVER both at the same time.
A VERY important point here is that NEITHER side had to concede the slightest detail to the other. No "accommodating" was necessary and both sides could confidently know that they could fully believe EVERYTHING that they had ever earlier believed.
Christians and scientists today, (and, in a similar situation, even Young earth and Old earth Creationists) face a similar situation. Some just find it easiest to try to ignore the other side. But many thousands of the world's best minds have looked for major flaws in the position of the other side, in order to be able to claim victory by default, and all have been memorably ineffective in showing errors significant enough to displace arguments of the other side.
The premise here is that a larger truth exists, as in the recognition of the dual nature of light. Both the Christians AND the scientists are totally and absolutely correct! This is true, even though there would appear to be elements that are incompatible and irresolvable. As with the case of light, it is impossible to find the fatal flaw in either argument, because there is none! The two perspectives, which often seem so diametrically opposed, are actually each internally perfectly consistent explanations of our history and heritage and environment. The two represent "parallel" perspectives of the Universe, each absolutely and completely valid.
Before Einstein, an individual scientist could find comfort in his belief that light was a particle OR in that it was a wave. Each felt that his choice gave an appropriate explanation to fill in a gap in human knowledge. As it turns out, they were all right! Since Einstein, we find comfort in a more comprehensive explanation that clearly explains all of the confusing discrepancies that had befuddled scientists for centuries.
A similar situation exists in the Christianity / science debate (the main part of which is known as the Creationism / evolutionism debate.) Christians have always found comfort in the conviction of their beliefs. Scientists have long found comfort in relying on extremely rigid logic and indisputable facts. This partially explains why each group defends its ground so adamantly. Each side has total confidence in its established positions, which are all based on compelling evidence, arguments, and beliefs. There is no doubt whatever that what they believe is completely true!
The science/religion debate involves events of a very distant past history, and often of a subjective nature, which means that scientists have incomplete information with which to work. This same limitation also affects the Christian argument, both from the antiquity of the information and from the fact that the Bible wasn't really intended as a precisely historical document. Both sides therefore have huge gaps in their information base, which complicates the debate even more than the nature-of-light debate had been.
From the Science Side
For scientists, the subject described above regarding the true nature of light, is an excellent example which is absolutely accepted by all scientists today. Still, the necessary consequence of the fact that all matter and energy can (and does!) switch from one to the other (under rather specific circumstances) can still be a little unsettling. In the past century, science learned that solid objects are mostly empty space with occasional atoms, which seem to act like solid little balls, right? Well, no. Those atoms are actually also mostly empty space with a nucleus in the middle and electrons flying all around it, which FINALLY are solid little balls, right? Well, no! A consequence of this new understanding of the nature of light and matter is that all of these protons, neutrons, and electrons can sometimes seem to act as waves and therefore pass directly through each other! Every college Physics major remembers even calculating just how often the orbiting electrons actually pass directly through the (solid!??) nucleus of an atom. A huge number of other equally counter-intuitive consequences have resulted from the recognition of the dual nature of energy and matter.
Therefore, it seems reasonable that a scientist, who understands and accepts the sophisticated duality of light and matter/energy, should be willing to consider a Duality understanding of Creation / Evolution.
From the Christianity Side
Christians, from early on, have had an equally difficult concept to deal with. God is at once, One and Three. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are usually conceptualized as individual "Persons", but they're actually One and the Same "Substance". Truly understanding how He can be One and Three at the same time is somewhat difficult. Discussions and explanations of the Trinity often revert to expressions of personal opinions, or semantic gyrations (such as one substance, three persons, with rather little truly supportive evidence for any specific point-of-view. The point being made here is that the Trinity situation is moderately similar to recognizing how Biblical Creation and Scientific History can be perceived as very different while they actually are one and the same!
Therefore, it seems reasonable that a Christian, who understands and accepts the sophistication of the Trinity, should be willing to consider the possibility of a Duality understanding of Creation / Evolution.
(By the way, the Duality referred to here is NOT related in any way to the religious concept of Dualism! Actually, they are almost diametrically opposite. Where dualism requires an exclusive CHOICE of one OR the other of two opposing choices, Duality's premise is that BOTH of the two choices are equally and continuously and completely and permanently true!) Because of this area of confusion, this premise is also being referred to as Parallelism.
The Lord clearly DID create the world and the universe.
From the strict Christian Fundamentalist point-of-view, He actually did
all this in six days! He began by creating LIGHT. In the process
of Creation, He invested man alone with a Soul, and therefore created him
totally separately from all of His creatures!
And He caused descriptions of all the events to get to
Moses and thence into the Bible, several thousand years
ago. And He realized even then that He needed to
provide for the future natural curiosity of His humankind.|
During that six days of Work, with incredible foresight, He arranged for fossils to be available to be found in many rocks throughout the world, even though no one would even know what a fossil even WAS for thousands of years! He arranged sedimentary rock layers and magnetic "striping" and radioactive dating information that would later suggest enormous time intervals. He arranged the planets and stars and galaxies to appear basically as they do to us now. He arranged for the DNA double helix and evidence of similarities between the DNA of His humans and the DNA He put in other living things, even though there was NO actual relationship between them!
He also left innumerable intriguing clues (and some red herrings) for the edification of the curious scientific humans that would come many centuries later, that could support a scientifically self-consistent evolutionary explanation for all of our questions about the past and the Universe and ourselves.
Christians generally accept the Genesis story of Creation as absolute fact, and therefore irrefutable, because it is the written record that God had Moses write down in the Bible, which cannot have any errors.
It clearly took around 15 billion years for all of the natural
processes to occur that are presented so briefly in Genesis.
Science has also clearly established that LIGHT came first!
Incontrovertible evidence has been accumulated to prove that the stars
and Sun and planets and Earth and Moon took unimaginably
long times to form. Oceans and the atmosphere gradually developed
on the Earth. Sedimentary deposition and rock formation occurred
over periods of millions of years, and when animals and plants
occasionally died under very specific circumstances, a fossil was
eventually formed from minerals from water that got deposited in
the hollow mold.|
Radioactive decay of certain elements is a natural and predictable phenomenon, which can be used to reasonably accurately find the age of some of such very old objects. All of the creatures that now live and have ever lived came about by a rather slow, completely natural process of individual variation, naturally selective survival, mutation and evolution, with mankind coming about by this same process. DNA similarities between man and animals and even plants are therefore totally natural and logical. The entire Universe, including the Earth and mankind, evolved in a natural progression of events.
The Universe and all of its contents are therefore absolutely logical, and a (scientific) history of the past could be assembled without even having to rely on the Genesis story.
Science knows that it is forever a "work in progress" so most ideas about the explanations and inter-relationships about all of these matters are subject to future revision and improvement. Therefore, science generally describes much of their effort as being "theories". It might seem surprising, but strict science still considers gravity as a "Theory of gravitation" rather than the "Law of gravity" that is popularly referred to. And where religion always INSISTS on claiming ABSOLUTE statements, science thrives on the opposite! If someone should some day do an experiment which proves the Theory of Gravitation to be wrong, scientists would LOVE that! It would be an OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!
True science is INCREDIBLY cautious before claiming anything as absolute fact! But many of their "theories" are virtually certain to be true (like gravity!).
By impressively and lovingly planning ahead, He Created a Universe that could be perceived in either of two very different ways, and He made sure that each of the two ways was absolutely internally self-consistent! He effectively allowed future men to believe EITHER a story that involved one really impressive week OR a story that apparently required phenomenally long periods of time, whichever gave each of them the most comfort! But not both stories at the same time!
Down below, we present BOTH versions of the stories involved in Genesis 1. I ask that you consider the following thought. YOU are God (for a moment!) You go to a lot of effort which might be described by:
Early on, ONLY the element Hydrogen existed, the very simplest of all
atoms. YOU caused Gravitation to cause clouds of this Hydrogen gas to
collect in large balls. When a ball got extremely large, YOU caused
the weight of all the overlying Hydrogen to squeeze and heat up the
Hydrogen at the very center. Once you got that Hydrogen got up above
100 million degrees or so, the Hydrogen atoms were moving so fast
(that's what heat actually is, the speed of atoms moving around) that
when they crashed together, they didn't always bounce off but sometimes
fused together, a process we now call nuclear fusion. As a result,
atoms of Helium were formed, the next simplest atom.
Eventually, you used up all the Hydrogen fuel, and the outward going radiation that was partially supporting the weight of outer layers would essentially stop. This would allow a further collapse of the size of the star, causing even greater temperatures in its center. Eventually, with massive stars, the temperatures could get high enough that the new Helium atoms started fusing together, creating more energy and even heavier atoms in the process, such as Carbon.
You could continue with this sort of thing (for the very most massive stars) with ever heavier atoms as fuel and even heavier atoms as results. At some point, after having therefore created nearly all the types of atoms from the initial Hydrogen, you made the star become unstable and blow itself apart, in something called a nova or supernova. This resulted in all those varieties of atoms being sprayed out across the Universe. With enough time, the Universe would get cluttered with such an assortment of elements and chemicals.
At a later time, you worked with a DIFFERENT cloud of Hydrogen, which included a mixed assortment of these other elements, gravitationally collected to form our Sun, and also our various planets, including Earth. There is reasonable scientific documentation for these various ideas, and collectively they are seen as being an explanation of how our incredibly complex Universe, with all its 92 elements and countless chemical compounds, could have arisen from just simple Hydrogen, given enough time.
The paragraphs above were an extremely brief presentation of the field of Cosmology, a reasonably well-founded subject in science. Note that there are some amazing consequences. Look at your little finger. It is primarily composed of Carbon and Oxygen with many other elements in small amounts. If Cosmology is correct in the above, then every single one of those countless billions of atoms of Carbon and Oxygen in your finger were originally fused together in some extremely remote stars which later supernovaed! The concepts are nearly as mind-boggling as the Bible's Genesis 1!
OK, God, are you going to provide all this detail for a scribe to write down as description of what you had done? Keep in mind that virtually everyone was uneducated and illiterate.
As a smart God, I am tempted to think that instead, you would feel it far better to be brief, And God said, Let there be Light.
Which would YOU want to find in Genesis 1:3?
Do you see WHY God saw value in being very brief in his descriptions of the events of Genesis 1? Anything more, and no one would believe it (or understand it).
Clearly, there are clues in even more inaccessible spots on and in the Earth and elsewhere in the Universe, that we may not find for thousands of years yet. We current mortals are not necessarily the final generations. With His unlimited knowledge of our curiosity and inventiveness, it seems obvious that many future discoveries await us that even Sherlock Holmes would have difficulty deducing. How wonderful that He has provided for our entertainment and edification. He thoughtfully arranged for us to keep from getting bored. At the same time, He provided a consistency of logic in His Universe, such that we could achieve a level of understanding of the Universe. Every future discovery will certainly be compatible with both His Book and scientific investigation! That is pretty impressive just in itself!
EITHER Creation OR Evolution Is Absolutely Correct!
Wonderfully, each of us can therefore choose to believe EITHER Creation OR evolution, and we will each be able to forever believe in and support that perspective. In either case, we can be absolutely confident that our understanding is absolutely true and totally correct in every detail.
God has very carefully arranged His Book and His Universe to be compatible with EITHER approach to understanding. There are actually NO direct contradictions between the two stories, no matter what advocates of either side tell you. NEITHER story can EVER be disproven!
The vicious attacks between Christian leaders and scientific spokespeople have become so common and expectable, that many people on both sides have closed their minds to the ideas of ever finding compatibility with people of the other side. If they each would just be open-minded enough to accept (tolerate?) and digest the knowledge of BOTH sides, they would all have TWICE as much background information to work with and should be able then to achieve even better understandings of the complexities of this life the Lord has given us.
It is a difficult concept to deal with, that two apparently incompatible views might simultaneously be true. The author has tried to suggest that such a compatibility is valid by the Einstein resolution of the nature of light debate, but it is suspected that was only persuasive to scientists who are familiar with that history. Also considered was referring to any of a number of "optical illusions" such as a popular drawing that can look like an old woman or a young girl (but never both simultaneously) or another drawing that looks like a vase or like two people facing each other (but never both simultaneously), but the word "illusions" might imply some sort of artificial trickery. Instead, the author has come up with the following description, which it is hoped will assist in conceptualizing how two very different, apparently incompatible, appearances might exist, where there is actually only a single reality.
While you are pondering what you see, wishing you could get a better view of the antiquish round object in the building, you hear the voice of another person who has apparently climbed up a different path, and who came up to have access only to a single small window on a different side of the building. That person is apparently now also looking into the room, through his single small window that is present on THAT wall.
That voice begins commenting on the object in the center of the room. Comments about the beauty and reflectivity of the shiny new metal surface really confuse you. The rectangular shape is so wonderful! The greenish color of the reflection of light off the object is beautiful!
What is going on here? Is the person speaking a raving lunatic? Is he really looking into the building? Is he blind? Or stupid? Don't you wish that you could get around the corner to maybe knock some sense into his head? You can see with your own eyes, and he is clearly wrong, wrong, wrong! Fortunately for him, there is no easy path around the corner, and it would require you to climb all the way down and then back up on the other path to get there. What is the result of this? You are almost certain to disbelieve and disrespect the other person, and therefore you are certain to ignore any evidence he claims to be offering you.
It also turns out that if you express what you see to the unseen companion, an equally disrespectful attitude is likely to develop in him about you. Each of you is absolutely confident of what you are seeing, so you consider that to be the absolute and total truth. The unseen companion makes statements that are not compatible with what you know to be the truth. Such statements are obviously to be ignored!
Add to this situation, that a reference Book, the Bible, happened to be available just outside the Christian window, which does not actually offer explanations for the differences you are arguing about, but merely absolutely assures Christians that there is really only ONE OBJECT in the room and that THEIR VIEW of it is CORRECT and ACCURATE.
What neither of you know is that the object that you both are looking at in the room (and which neither of you has actual access to) is actually an object shaped like most of a 55-gallon oil drum, lying on its side, with the top (round) surface facing you. The other person is looking at the side, which appears to be rectangular. The materials and textures and colors of the drum's side and top are different, which explains the other disparate findings of the two of you.
If the two of you choose to be so narrow-minded as to only believe what your own eyes see, neither of you will LISTEN much or learn much and neither of you will ever understand the true nature of the object much better. Each of you sees something that seems to make sense to you, and seems to give a complete and self-consistent and comforting concept to you. Why look farther? Why even consider some stranger's comments that seem clearly incompatible with what you can see with your own eyes?
However, if the two of you would somehow be willing to give some credibility to each other, intellectual growth could occur. Each of you could have nearly twice as much information to build from. Eventually one or the other of you (maybe named Einstein??) might eventually realize that a more complete explanation exists of what you both saw. A moment of inspiration might be that it was a cylinder, lying on its side, with the end facing you.
It might even then happen that the companion notices that very thin line that rises up from the right edge of what he sees. He might then realize that that is probably the EDGE of the round disk that YOU are looking at. Prior to the constructive conversation between the two of you, he might not even have noticed that line, and certainly wouldn't have understood its significance. Your collective knowledge of the object is now greater than the sum of your independent knowledges! A whole new vista of understanding has been gained!
With just the information from the view through one window, neither of you could ever figure out such things.
Once the basic concept (of front and side views) was presented and found acceptable to both of you, the other details could quickly be analyzed to develop a decently complete idea of just what the object actually seemed to be. You two would start to ask productive questions of each other! Sharing your knowledge and insights would become exhilarating! Will the resultant conclusions be absolutely correct? Probably not, particularly since neither of you would likely figure out that much of the top part of the drum had been cut away, but they will certainly be a LOT more correct and complete than would otherwise have been possible.
The point here is that, it is easy to be very narrow-minded as to only believe what your own eyes see through YOUR window, without even considering that there might be different views that exist of the object in the room. This attitude would cause you to ignore or dismiss anything you might hear from those unseen strangers that you have no reason to respect. If such a person happens to say ANYTHING that seems to contradict what you can personally see and already personally know as the (complete) Truth, why would you even consider it? Actually, from the Christian side, considering the emotional intensity often associated with devout religious belief, your immediate response is likely to be violently defensive. Blasphemy! Heresy! How DARE someone try to pollute the purity of what you KNOW to be the Truth with such LIES!? From the scientific side, such emotional response is less likely, but often there is a general dismissal of "illogical" statements by "unschooled Christians."
As a result, neither of you will probably learn much about the true nature of what's in that room. Each group has a view that gives it certain information about the room's contents, some of which is uniquely visible from that view. Since the Christian group has been Divinely given a Book that insists and confirms that the view being seen is AN accurate and correct and true view, why even pay attention to strangers who are trying to convince you of strange things that are clearly not even compatible with the Book?
Each view makes sense in itself and does not appear to be incomplete in any way. With nothing apparently missing, why look to untrusted, unknown strangers for their peculiar (heretical??) opinions on it? An implicit assumption is made by viewers through each of the windows. We just stated that the Christian window was even accompanied by a Book that confirmed that the view being seen is AN accurate and correct and true view. The assumption is in extrapolating that to meaning that the view is THE one and only accurate and correct and true view. But, the reality is, that with just the information from the view through a single window, whether you realize it or not, which DOES show you the Truth, there are additional Truths that you have no possible way of ever comprehending.
This situation seems to be similar to the "Babel" situation. Without full and complete mutual respect and open and honest communication, none of us have any hope of truly comprehending a deeper level of God's Plan.
Once people would become willing to accept a more comprehensive communication between Christianity and science, we could then probably learn much more by comparing notes with each other. Unfortunately, because of the location and position of the building, it is fairly difficult for an individual to ever get a good look in both of the windows himself. Advancement will probably devolve to whether people can establish enough respect for those "other" viewers to come to accept what they say without any way of personal verification. But, if this can be achieved, each could start to ask productive questions of those other viewers to refine existing understandings of the actual Truth.
When the author explores scientific matters, such as astro-physics, great distances and apparently unimaginably long time periods are perceived, and evolutionary associations are acknowledged between all living things. When he studies his Bible, he sees and fully accept that Creation took Six Days and that mankind was created absolutely independently and uniquely and separately from all of God's other Creations. These two EXTREMELY different perspectives are not seen as any logical impasse, because of this Duality/Parallelism approach. As long as one doesn't try to "mix and match" between specifics that are seen in viewing through the two windows, there is never any confrontation with any actual contradictions. Each perspective is (individually) absolutely complete and self-consistent and obviously true.
It would only be if one tries to "harmonize" a Six-Day Creation in 4004 BC (seen through one window) with the presence of dinosaurs that died off 65 million years ago (seen through the other window), that one would be faced with apparent contradictions. But this example, and all others, are NOT actually contradictions! They only seem so because of an error in trying to mix things seen from the two windows. In reality, (through the Christian window), the dinosaurs probably DID exist, but they both came into existence AND died out and their fossils were created early in the Sixth Day of Creation. (This matter will be discussed below.)
Genesis as Proof of the Compatibility of Science and Christianity
Over 3,000 years ago, God presented men with the story of Genesis. He knew that man would always have great curiosity about his environment and history. Since this story was presented to very primitive humans, who were almost universally illiterate, He knew that the story should be brief and clear and fairly simple. (Few modern Christians seem to realize that at the time of Moses [around 1275 BC], there was not yet any written language invented [the first written languages being developed around 1200 BC. Prior to that, only symbols in stone, hieroglyphs and similar systems, but no language.]) He also clearly wanted to emphasize to those early humans just how incredibly powerful He was, so He presented the entire Creation story as having taken just Six Days. Even if He had WANTED to describe the steps as having taken millions or billions of years (which might have made it seem like He was not so spectacularly powerful), the peoples of the time would not have been able to comprehend such time intervals. Even now, when we casually discuss thousands of years of history, or even greater intervals, it is very difficult for us to actually comprehend any time period greater than our own human lifetime of 70 years or so.
God also knew that the inquisitive and creative and persistent nature of man would some day enable mankind to more carefully and thoroughly investigate human environments and history. With remarkable thoughtfulness, He made sure that fossils would exist, He provided DNA similarities of all living things, and many other intellectual artifacts. Scientists who would come to exist thousands of years in the future would be able to find appropriate evidence to be able to intellectually create logical sequences and patterns. Those scientists would eventually conclude that the human environment would seem absolutely scientifically self-consistent, and that a logical history of the past would also be (some day) absolutely logically self-consistent.
Since He has provided us with a duality of understandings of our Universe, each of which is absolutely internally self-consistent, we will NEVER have any way of proving one or the other wrong. We WILL always find that EACH perspective is "right" and can be forever confidently supported. He arranged for Creation believers to be able to conclude that He "planted" fossil evidence and even "aged" those artifacts so that they would give reassurance to the scientists who would some day find them, even though He actually whipped all of it up in just Six Days. He arranged for those people whose logic made them resist believing such a rapid Creation process, to eventually develop solid logic and science and to therefore be capable of developing a compelling scientific explanation of everything. This just means that the "views" through the two different windows of the analogy above, each show us the exact same Universe, but just seem somehow to differently present the apparent rate of the passage of time.
There are very few instances where the Bible and science stand face-to-face regarding established facts. The most prominent of these is the story of Creation in Genesis. The Book tells us what happened. Modern science also tells us what apparently happened. The time scales involved are extremely different, but we've already commented on that. The critical part would be that the SEQUENCE of the events described has to be in the same order. Then, even if the time scale appears very different, or even non-linear, the two perspectives could still be compatible. If the sequence does NOT match up very well, no realistic compatibility could be inferred.
This allowed God to give a brief, simple story of Creation to Moses for the primitive people of ancient times, while also allowing future human curiosity to find consistency in logic in everything, which would eventually include "fleshing out" the brief Genesis story with a more complete, scientifically-supported story.
It seems certainly intentional that the time scale that actually occurred while the Universe was created, was left vague. The premise of this Parallelism concept implies that NEITHER view has preference or precedence over the other. We will therefore NEVER know if He actually took six standard days, or 15 billion years, or even some other interval of time, to create the Universe! God might actually have taken two years to create everything. He might have provided one "time-lens" that made that two years appear as taking Six Days and another that made it appear to take many billions of years. We will never have any way of actually knowing.
As mentioned above, the critical matter is that the SEQUENCE of events be the same. The following presentation of Genesis 1, with comments regarding current scientific thoughts regarding the times of those events, is meant to make the case for this. There appears to be AMAZING compatibility between the two! Statistically, it represents staggering scientific proof that the Bible MUST BE true and accurate. There IS the one item that does NOT match up (the appearance of birds is one position different), but the matching of the sequences is otherwise quite striking. A mathematical statistical analysis of the comparison of the two sequences implies that there is far less than one chance in a billion that Genesis 1 could have been written with the sequence it has, without God's knowledge of the correct sequence. (Statistics of Genesis 1 - Scientific Approach, the statistical reasoning.) Since science has only been able to determine the times of these events within the past few decades, the question arises to scientists: "How can you explain the writing of Genesis 1 over 3,000 years ago?" No one (except God) knew the correct sequence! How could any human author of that time know that plants came before animals, or that fishes came before land animals, or that Light came before everything else?
Apparent Time Discrepancies
An additional observation needs to be mentioned that relates to the time scales involved. There would seem to be an obvious contradiction regarding time. "Did the year 14,613 BC actually exist?" People are sometimes distressed that a Six Day Creation, in about 4004 BC (as Bishop Ussher had calculated centuries ago), seems to have problems of incompatibility with events that science has determined to have existed prior to that date. There IS a logical explanation!
The actual MEANING of the word "year" or "day" is fundamentally different for Christianity and science. The two understandings happen to match up almost perfectly now and have matched up for the past several thousand years, but there was a time when they were very different. It is probably unfortunate that science and Christianity have chosen to use the same words for these actually different intervals.
My impression (and that of most of society) is that the scientific time scale is "linear". That means that each second or minute or day or year has always been of exactly the same intrinsic length, as described by some repetitive event, such as the rotation of the Earth, or its revolution about the Sun, or the number of oscillations of atoms of Cesium. In contrast to this linear time scale of science, the Creation time scale is seen as being non-linear, (at it would appear from that linear time scale) such as a hyperbolic time scale. (A chart showing such a relationship is below). A hyperbola has two straight lines called asymptotes that define its limits. Such a scale would have one asymptote (on the Christian time scale) in 4004 BC and the other asymptote being the 45-degree angle line that describes the identity with the linear scientific time scale. (In this diagram, the dotted lines represent the asymptotes.)
The 45-degree asymptote of this hyperbola would mean that our current year 2000 AD is virtually identically long in both scales and it began at essentially exactly the same moment. This enables an indistinguishably identical modern perception of a day or year. Even 2000 years ago, the two time scales would have been virtually identical. The distinction between the two would only have been significant before about 3900 BC. (For example, 3900 BC creation time might have been 3901 BC scientific time). Because of that vertical asymptote, from a Creation perspective, nothing could have existed prior to that year (4004 BC), so dates earlier than that (in the Creation time scale) are meaningless. But, looking at the chart shows that the line goes almost straight downward. If we extended the chard downward to 1,000,000 BC (scientific), you can see that the line WOULD exist down there, meaning that such a date has real meaning. If a memorable event happened then, it would be recorded in the year 4004 BC (creation). Extend the chart even farther down, to one billion years BC (scientific), and that still matches up to some moment during 4004 BC (creation). Effectively, this non-linear, hyperbolic time scale would have the effect of "compressing" an enormous amount of scientific time into a very short period of Creation time. (The author realizes that this is getting deep!)
Regarding the question posed earlier, there are actually two different answers, depending on which time scale is being used! In the scientific time-scale, YES, certainly the year 14,613 BC occurred. In the Creation time-scale, NO, no such year could have existed. No date prior to 4004 BC (creation) has any reality. If something momentous occurred during the "scientific" year 14,613 BC, it would have been recorded as having taken place late in the Sixth Day of Creation (in 4004 BC or thereabouts).
A technically more correct way of describing the relationship between the two time scales is represented in the graph here. The Creation time scale would be along the horizontal (X) axis and the scientific time scale would be along the vertical (Y) axis. A hyperbola is drawn here, with asymptotes along a vertical axis (X = - 4004) and along a diagonal line (X = Y). This hyperbola would have an eccentricity of 2.59. (An exponentially shaped curve would also look very similar.) The 'modern' part of the curve has essentially exactly identical years in both scales (slope = 1.0).
In recent history (upper right in the graph), the curve is virtually identical to the angled asymptote, meaning the slope is 1.00000, and a year in one is the same as in the other. But at the bottom of the graph, all scientific dates much before about 4000 BC all match up to that very busy Week of Genesis (in 4004 BC on the Creation time scale)! This hyperbolic line is continuous and always has a one-to-one relationship, so every event that has ever or will ever happen is represented uniquely by one specific point on that curved line, meaning that there is one perfectly defined moment in scientific-time and one uniquely defined moment in creation-time. It is what mathematicians call a real function.
This particular drawing of the graph has greatly exaggerated the separation between the curve and the asymptotes for clarity. In reality, the angled portion would be virtually identical with the dotted line asymptote on this graph except in that tiny curved area, and the vertical portion would appear virtually identical to the vertical dotted line.
So! Did the Universe get Created in a Serious Week of Work about 4004 BC? YES, if we're talking about the Creation time scale. Did the Universe take billions of years to form? YES, if we're talking about the scientific time scale. BOTH statements are entirely and equally true! Matters such as dinosaurs are thus easy to deal with. In the scientific time scale, they appeared around 225 million years ago and the final ones died out around 65 million years ago. In the Creation time scale, they appeared during the Sixth Day and died out later on that same Sixth Day (leaving their fossils and all the rest).
This non-linear premise might actually be somewhat supportable by Genesis. If you think about it, the line on the graph must get steeper and steeper (higher slope) for really ancient scientific events. That would imply that the very first creation-day would have matched up to billions of years, while the second and following days would match up to shorter and shorter scientific time intervals. The first Day of Genesis only involves creating light, but it appears to match up with a scientific interval of many billions of years. By the time we get to the Sixth day, the slope of the line has changed so that (creation) Day only matches up to a small fraction of a billion scientific years. Shortly after the Creation, the non-linear time-scale curve would go around its curved part from its nearly vertical section to its nearly 45-degree angle section, forever getting closer to 45 degrees as time proceeds. A virtually 45-degree line on that graph today would indicate a virtual identity between the modern time-scales of science and Creation. This would explain why we see no noticeable difference today between the two time scales.
A scientifically non-linear time scale in the Genesis story might also even be somehow related to the fact that a lot of people of the Bible lived to around 900 years old! But that's a different matter and may not have any connection to the matter at hand!
Sequence Analysis of Genesis 1
The following comparison includes interpretations of statements in Genesis 1 that are generally very similar to the analysis in the famous and respected Gray's Home Bible Commentary.
It also provides footnotes to the Original Ancient Hebrew words, and all their possible English translations, since some of the English wording is not precise enough for this analysis.
This might also be a vague reference to a Big Bang event to begin
the existence of the Universe, for when scientists would eventually become
capable of comprehending the possibility of such things. Modern
science currently believes that such a Big Bang event occurred,
and various evidence suggests that this event took place about 15
billion years ago. (Notice that this Parallelism approach also allows a
compatibility of Young Earth and Old Earth Creationists.
Whether the Creation sequence took six days or billions of years
becomes a moot point!)
Logically, this seems to be a peculiar first item to create, if you think about it. Ancient people would probably have expected ground or people to have been created first, then the other stuff. In ancient times, the sequence of Genesis events must have seemed very strange. Why plants before animals? Why water before plants? Why fishes before land creatures? Why light first?
From a scientific perspective, a LOT happened here. Early on, ONLY the element Hydrogen existed, the very simplest of all atoms. Gravitation caused clouds of this Hydrogen to collect in large balls. When a ball got extremely large, the weight of all the overlying Hydrogen squeezed and heated the Hydrogen at the very center. Once that Hydrogen got up above 100 million degrees or so, the Hydrogen atoms were moving so fast (that's what heat actually is, the speed of atoms moving around) that when they crashed together, they didn't always bounce off but sometimes fused together, a process we now call nuclear fusion. As a result, atoms of Helium were formed, the next simplest atom.
Eventually, the Hydrogen fuel would get used up, and the outward going radiation that was partially supporting the weight of outer layers would essentially stop. This would allow a further collapse of the size of the star, causing even greater temperatures in its center. Eventually, with massive stars, the temperatures could get high enough that the new Helium atoms started fusing together, creating more energy and even heavier atoms in the process, such as Carbon.
This sort of thing could continue (for the very most massive stars) with ever heavier atoms as fuel and even heavier atoms as results. At some point, after having therefore created nearly all the types of atoms from the initial Hydrogen, the star became unstable and blew itself apart, in something called a nova or supernova. This resulted in all those varieties of atoms being sprayed out across the Universe. With enough time, the Universe would get cluttered with such an assortment of elements and chemicals.
At a later time, a DIFFERENT cloud of Hydrogen, which included a mixed assortment of these other elements, gravitationally collected to form our Sun, and also our various planets, including Earth. There is reasonable scientific documentation for these various ideas, and collectively they are seen as being an explanation of how our incredibly complex Universe, with all its 92 elements and countless chemical compounds, could have arisen from just simple Hydrogen, given enough time.
The paragraphs above were an extremely brief presentation of the
field of Cosmology, a reasonably well-founded subject in science.
Note that there are some amazing consequences. Look at your little
finger. It is primarily composed of Carbon and Oxygen with many other
elements in small amounts. If Cosmology is correct in the above,
then every single one of those countless billions of atoms of Carbon
and Oxygen in your finger were originally fused together in some
extremely remote stars which later supernovaed! The concepts are
nearly as mind-boggling as the Bible's Genesis 1!
Also, note that right after the Sun was created (separated light
from darkness), we have the end of the First Day. The end of a day
would seem to have little meaning if the Sun had not yet been Created,
and so again, God was extremely logical in the sequence!
There is yet another important thing that happened to the atmosphere. The Earth is constantly bombarded by rather strong ultraviolet radiation given off by the Sun. Such radiation seems to be fatal to nearly all living forms. Therefore, the earliest lifeforms, such as blue-green algae, could only live under water, where the water protected them from that UV radiation. They certainly were producing a lot of oxygen as a by-product of their existence, but no land animals could yet have existed, because of that radiation. This also confirms that fish were the first of all animals, again confirming what Genesis 1 told us 3300 years ago. After a lot of oxygen had accumulated in the atmosphere, some of those oxygen molecules were hit by cosmic rays from outer space, and altered into becoming ozone molecules. As these ozone molecules accumulated near the top of the Earth's atmosphere, they blocked and absorbed much of the incoming ultraviolet radiation. This had several consequences, but the most important to us is that it allowed animals to be able to survive without having to be protected under the water. So, through a complex but extremely logical process, it would finally be possible that there be animals on the land (and larger plants too).
Isn't that interesting? Composed around 3,300 years ago, Genesis had told us that plants came before any animals, and now science has proved why that was true, because of the animals' need for oxygen that the plants first created. Science is not confronting Genesis, but supporting it!
For the record, the "uniform evolution" approach that
was long popular within science confronts the first of several
complications at this point. At seemingly the same time,
a broad assortment of very different new forms of life all
appeared, often referred to as the "Cambrian explosion."
The difficulty is that it seems illogical that a generalized
random process would initiate so many different types of life
at around the same time. There is moderate credibility in this
being a problem. However, critics tend to describe it as all
being simultaneous, while ten or twenty million years might have
been involved, sufficient time for millions of generations of
lifeforms to grow and possibly evolve. There are several later
examples of the same effect (not mentioned here) that were certainly
in shorter time periods, and definitely represent something that
uniform evolutionists need to explain. A substantial group of
researchers have concluded that there were bursts of rapid
evolution, within the otherwise slow and relatively uniform
evolution. In any case, the time periods involved are all so
long, millions of years, that a LOT could happen that we might
never have any evidence of. Science often has gaps in its
knowledge, some of which gradually get filled in at later times.
Enough fossil evidence of these and all following plants and
animals exists, such that sequences of subtle changes have been
found by scientists that suggest a logical progression of
how all these living things would seem to have come about.
A fairly continuous fossil record exists for some species
of plants, which suggests that later plants could have "evolved"
from earlier plants adapting to new conditions. This set of
scientific understandings allows scientists to be comfortable
with an evolutionary explanation for these events that they
can comprehend in a logical way and that they are comfortable with.
This might even offer a suggestion to science regarding
extreme cloudiness in that era, which I have not heard proposed
before within the scientific community. The Bible providing
evidence on which science can grow, imagine that!
Similar to the comments regarding that only a single thing, Light, was created on the First Day, please note that only fishes (and birds) were Created in the entire Fifth Day, and that a great complexity of Creation was kept for the last remaining day of the Six.
Overall, if this scientific perspective is not included, it almost appears that God did very little on any of the first Five Days! And then Did nearly everything that we think of as Creation in the remaining Sixth Day. So the traditional Christian or Jewish interpretation of Genesis 1 seems weak.
These observations would seem mysterious, except for the
suggested resolution of the time scale discrepancy referred
to earlier, which not only removes the difficulty, but adds
to the credibility of Genesis from a scientific perspective!
Note the interpretation we make regarding "in our image" mentioned at the beginning of this presentation. We feel that a correct interpretation is that God may have earlier used a process that we now call evolution to develop the grasses, seed-bearing plants, trees, fishes, crawling creatures and then larger creatures. And that He even continued that to creating CREATURES that happened to look like us! But they were CREATURES and not MEN. In Genesis 1:26-27, He "provided a Soul" to Adam, which we believe is what is meant by "in our image" and not that we necessarily have any physical similarity to God. Given this, all descendants of Adam and Eve would therefore have Souls, as per a scientific reasoning regarding genetics. It also makes clear an extreme distinction between humans and any other of God's creatures which can never be affected by any "evolution" or anything else that science might discover.
Science has absolutely no way to detect a Soul or to study them or to even confirm that Souls do or do not exist! So the very special addition that God made in Genesis 1:26-27, in making mankind unique in having Souls, presents no conflict with science!
There actually are many recent examples of similar evolution things. Several decades ago, modern medicine virtually exterminated the germs that caused smallpox and tuberculosis, and the agents that caused polio. Massive usage of antibiotics and other chemicals accomplished this goal. However, I said "virtually". Out of all the trillions of bacteria killed by those antibiotics, there were a few, let's say two, that managed to survive the antibiotics. Science would guess that those two had somehow "mutated", possibly as a result of the natural cosmic rays that continually bombard us from outer space. In any event, consider the situation AFTER that massive antibiotic use. Instead of trillions of bacteria having to share the available food supply, just the two were present. Can you see how they would multiply very rapidly, with essentially an unlimited food supply? Bacteria reproduce very quickly, in just a matter of hours, so those two could have had millions and billions of descendants within a period of months. In other words, the world again soon winds up with the trillions of tuberculosis-causing bacteria. But, do you see the one difference now? Since all of these NEW ones are descendants of the antibiotic-resistant two survivors, THEY are also drug resistant. You may note in current news that the medical community is extremely concerned about drug-resistant strains of a number of dangerous diseases, including TB. This is the scientific understanding of why this currently exists, as being a "natural" consequence of some individuals having a "survival advantage". In the case of TB, the recent cases are absolutely untreatable with any known treatments or medicines, so the patients ALWAYS die, a true catastrophe in the makings, and there is no way to avoid it in the very near future.
Of course, that was NOT humans, and there is the possibility that similar things do not happen regarding humans, but that is the basis for why science generally believes in "natural selection". In the event that some individual had a BIG advantage, like those drug-resistant bacteria that survived and had no remaining competition, the result is called "evolution". Please note that NO individual "evolves" into anything else, like in horror movies. Natural selection is a very gradual process that generally takes many generations of descendants before the result is noticeably different than before. In any case, whether it actually applies to humans or not, this is the correct explanation of what "natural selection" or "evolution" actually is.
By the way, there are some Christian leaders who think they are denying science when they say "You claim that evolution occurs, but you only talk about it happening a long time ago! It is obviously not true because it is not happening today!" The correct response to that is: "Natural Selection" (the more correct term for 'evolution') NEVER involves individual organisms drastically changing, but involves MANY generations to occur. Any Biology student can grow many generations of common fruit flies and experimenters have long seen Natural Selection results in countless experiments. If the student exposes a community of fruit flies to some kind of radiation, most of the flies might die. However, if any survive, and are fertile, they will be likely to genetically pass along whatever it was that kept them alive! Their descendants would therefore have a "radiation resistance" as a result of their survival. There may have only been a few that survived the radiation, but when they (the survivors) multiply, then all of the living flies would be resistant. There is no "magic" involved; simply the fact that only survivors can procreate!
The present drug-resistant TB danger represents another proof that it occurs, and that it is quite natural. Larger animals live so long that a hundred generations of them can easily involve thousands of years, and so "proof" of Natural Selection in them is far harder to establish, except through the use of ancient fossils.
This is all brought up here for a reason. Remember those two surviving bacteria that eventually "replenished the earth"? When science looks at the possibility of evolution applying to humans, they necessarily see the need for a VERY small number of beginning individuals. Thus, the concept of evolution virtually INSISTS on the existence of an Adam and Eve! In BOTH cases, it is agreed that you and I are direct descendants of (probably) two initial people. Science has no way of giving them names, but the Bible tells us they were Adam and Eve.
This combination of Genesis and science gives us a possible answer. Prior to Genesis 1:26-27, of making man in our image, there were many creatures populating the Earth. None of those creatures had SOULS! If science is correct regarding evolution, it could easily be that some of those creatures might have evolved into human-like beings. (This also offers an explanation of the fossils of primitive man-forms which have been found.) So, there could easily have been an existing population of human-like creatures PRIOR to Adam. When the Lord, in Genesis 1:26-27, made man IN OUR IMAGE, that meant that Adam had a SOUL, which no creature had ever or will ever possess.
This would have meant that there were two similar-appearing populations, the creatures that had evolved from the primitive creatures of Genesis 1:24, and the entirely distinct MAN who had a SOUL. When Cain left Eden, the Lord KNEW that he would later interact with those "creatures" and He gave him the mark. Nod and the wife and the family and the city then make sense, while not challenging any aspect of the Genesis story.
Later still in Genesis (look at Genesis 6:1-5) inter-marriage might have been occurring between the two similar-appearing populations. The "sons of God" then seem to be describing Adam's descendants, while the "daughters of men" might then be referring to the man-like creatures that had no Souls. Does it now seem obvious why the Flood was necessary? How else could the Lord have ensured that ONLY men with SOULS would populate the future Earth? (These thoughts are obviously speculations, but they are interestingly logical, better than other explanations for these matters usually seem to be.)
He created some big things but needed to tailor the possible understandings of those things to terms that both ancient and modern humans could comprehend. His Universe would appear totally self-consistent to both the Christian believer of the Bible and the scientist, who only wants to believe in things he can measure and analyze.
Notice that this does NOT mean that mankind is ACTUALLY related to other of God's creatures. Christians believe that we are distinct and separate from animals, while scientists believe that we evolved from lower animals. The Parallelism of understandings just allows each individual the choice of believing whichever viewpoint he or she comes to be most comfortable with. BOTH are completely and absolutely true! It is actually just more evidence of just how marvelous our Lord is, to provide this option for us.
In primitive life-forms, similar exons and introns have been studied. In the process of procreation, a protozoan, Tetrahymena, has some interesting things occur. It turns out that, if the introns are left IN an intermediate precursor RNA molecule stage, the process of procreation cannot continue! The intron somehow manages to snip itself out of the sequence and then splices the loose ends (of the important parts) together to form the functional molecule. This might first seem to imply that the introns are of no functional purpose whatever.
Some preliminary results of the HGP have suggested that parts of these apparently unnecessary "introns" in humans appear to be remarkably similar to the DNA found in bacteria and amoebae and trees! In the February 2001 announcements, scientists confirmed that they found several hundred sequences that seem to be precisely identical to bacteria DNA. One (of many) scientific working theory is that each organism forever maintains the DNA (genetic) code and capability of its predecessor species (in evolutionary development) and just adds on to the DNA string for newly added adaptations or improvements. That intron self-snipping feature might be its way of automatically selecting the latest and best gene string for that characteristic.
If this all turns out to be reasonably accurate, then evolution will have been absolutely proven! Every cell of every person would therefore contain genetic materials from earlier (simpler) life forms. It might then be theoretically possible to use existing gene-splicing methods to remove some of the modern genes to allow a life form to be created from the more primitive intron genetic material. It's hard to even imagine the ethical and moral questions that would arise if some idiot scientist actually did that. Unfortunately, one probably will, to achieve fame. It seems more likely that "reputable" scientists would first snip out a LOT of advanced versions, and might then be able to have bacteria or mold or algae grow from the HUMAN DNA. Such an experiment seems likely within a very few years. It does not seem that it will be possible to deny human evolution in the face of such an experiment.
In the case where the results of the HGP actually absolutely prove human evolution, this current Parallelism presentation may be the only way of maintaining credibility of Genesis / Creationism in the face of Paleontology / Evolutionism. Even if this research theory turns out to be correct, it STILL doesn't mean that mankind is related to any other creature; it just means that the Lord prearranged another detail regarding parallel perceptions of our environment to enable us to come to that conclusion for the sake of scientific consistency. We already know that He made our blood and DNA very, very similar to that of some apes; He left intriguing ancient skeletons that seem to hint at mutual origins. He left all this totally consistent scientific evidence for the benefit of our intellectual curiosity!
If they did actually do this, they did a pretty stupid job of faking it, because the story line really wouldn't be very believable to people of the time.
The ORDER of events seems really peculiar. Why light before dry ground? Why plants before animals? Why everything before man (who would need to witness it all to be able to be aware of it)? Why ocean animals first? Why, even, a WHOLE DAY to create light, while a LOT of things apparently happened on the Sixth Day?
A plausible fake story wouldn't have had such a sequence. An intelligent faker of the time would have spun quite a different tale for the Biblical Genesis sequence of events. Many reasonable sequences seem far more logical than the Genesis story.
But that ancient Bible (including Genesis 1) was written, around 3,300 years ago, as it is understood today.
Only in the past two hundred years has science started to be capable of recognizing the (apparently) correct scientific sequence of those events. And they have turned out to be REMARKABLY similar. One can apply the scientific approach of statistics to the two sequences. (Statistics of Genesis 1 - Scientific Approach, the statistical reasoning.)
There are several billion different permutations of sequences possible regarding those dozen or so events. Actually, for the fourteen events included in the descriptions above, there are 14! or 14-factorial possible sequences that were available. Maybe that doesn't sound like a very big number but 14! is the same as 87,178,291,200. An astounding number of possible storylines that a faker could have chosen from! A mere storyteller could have selected any of them. Why not have Adam created first, so he could witness all the rest? Why not Earth first as a logical starting point? But LIGHT was first! The amazing similarity of Creation and science sequences confirms that from a scientific statistical point of view, the likelihood that the Bible could have been faked is probably far less than one in a million. That's a compelling statistically valid proof that the Bible MUST be what it claims to be, inspired by God himself! The people of the day didn't have anywhere near enough information available to them to get the sequence of Genesis events in the correct order unless God was giving guidance! For example, there is NO chance that people back then could have known that LIGHT preceded everything else!
As another observation, have you ever noticed how LITTLE of Genesis 1 was involved in creating mankind? God used the first Five Days in creating Light and the Earth, and the oceans and plants and the fishes. Even much of the Sixth Day was used up creating all the various animals. Hardly a sentence is involved in the eventual appearance of Adam. Doesn't it seem, that if the Bible was faked, that human authors would have spent much of Genesis 1 emphasizing the special effort and attention that God paid in creating us? It would seem that self-centered, arrogant human authors would have tried to find some way of getting all of the rest of Creation out of the way on the First Day, so God could spend the rest of the days concentrating on these wondrous humans! But that is not the case! It seems to be additional strong evidence that humans did not write the Bible, specifically Genesis.
Since no human up to less than a hundred years ago had the knowledge to list the various Genesis events in the "correct" scientific order, and since it just isn't written in the anthropocentric way that we humans tend to do, there seems to be overwhelming support for the validity of the Bible being directly from the Inspiration of God. The many additional proofs offered by others, including historical and archaeological evidence and textual analysis, collectively make, to me, an overwhelming case for the Bible being directly from God.
The analogy presented above, of the building with the small windows on two walls, might also assist in better conceptualizing the Trinity. Imagine a third window in the roof of that building, with yet a different access path to it, and you would have three different views of the single object in the room. It would ACTUALLY be a single object, but it would seem to have three very different appearances through the three windows. Again, in any specific situation, only ONE of those three appearances could be seen and it would not be possible to experience more than one of those three experiences at any specific instant.
This might be a worthwhile approach toward better comprehending the Single existence of God (One Substance) while simultaneously acknowledging the distinct appearances of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Three Persons). If this premise is valid regarding the Trinity, the implication is that it might not be possible to experience more than One of the Three at any one instant, although the author has no idea how that could be confirmed or challenged. The general idea is that it could allow a more "physical" conceptualizing of the intrinsically difficult concept of the Trinity.
In anthropomorphic terms, one view could be where the Being is facing the window, and viewers would see the Gentle, Kind, Loving face of Jesus looking back at them, so His Wonderful human-like characteristics would be the prominent perception from that window. From a second window in an adjoining wall, a profile view of the Being might be discernible. This profile clearly shows a Stern and Powerful personage, Who seems Mighty and Authoritarian and Strict yet above all, Just. The view through the very dirty window in the roof is pretty confusing! The window is so dirty it's hard to see anything really clearly, and all that is visible anyway is the top of the head of the Being! It's pretty tough to tell much about a person by looking at the top of the head! We KNOW that this must also be the One and Only Divine Being, and we have chosen to describe what we see as the helpful, supportive, and inspirational Holy Spirit.
This conceptualization confirms that there is only One Divine Being, God, while also recognizing that we might perceive Him in any of Three very distinct ways, the Godhead of the Trinity.
The author has written an essay specifically based on this approach
on better understanding the
Trinity Concept in Christianity - A New Perspective
Compatibility of Faiths
The analogy presented above, of the building with the small windows, might also conceivably be applied to help better conceptualize a tolerance of the beliefs among Denominations and Faiths. Where there has traditionally been great animosity over differences of beliefs, it might hopefully be possible to develop positive and constructive attitudes based on the many similarities in beliefs. In our building analogy above, various Protestant Christian denominations and Catholicism and Orthodoxy might all be represented by small windows in various parts of the ONE wall that Christians have access to.
From all of these Christian- wall windows, the central feature in the room is always immediately obvious: Jesus! In addition, we can see in the room an assortment of people and objects and concepts: the Bible, Moses, Abraham, the Ten Commandments, Adam, Mary, etc. From all of the windows on our (Christian) wall, Jesus is clearly central and prominent, as He is sitting facing us, so we can see the gentleness and kindness and love expressed in His face.
Roman Catholics might be looking through a window where Mary happens to be especially near, and so she seems especially prominent.
When Muslims look in, through a window on a separated wall, they might see the profile of the Being as being an impressively Powerful looking Allah. Because of this viewpoint, Allah and His obvious power and might and authority is clear to all Muslims.
When Jews look in, through a window on yet another wall, they might see yet another profile view of the Being in the room. They also see a Powerful and Stern and Just Being, who they recognize as YHWH or God.
The room would ACTUALLY have the same contents, of course, but it would SEEM to have very different appearances through the various windows. Again, through any one specific window (denomination or religion) the view seen can be absolutely self-consistent. This would certainly reassure the group that viewed through that window that THEY were the ones that were seeing the ABSOLUTE truth, and they would then likely (erroneously) conclude that the viewers through the other windows were necessarily wrong. This can certainly explain how so many different Christian groups EACH think they alone have the Ultimate Truth. And how Jews and Muslims and others similarly KNOW that they alone understand the Absolute Truth.
All of the windows on all of the walls would see God/Father/Allah/Jehovah/YHWH/Jesus, Moses, the Ten Commandments, Abraham, Adam and many others. There would just be great differences in perceptions from the various small windows. Fortunately, just outside each of the windows is available a Book (Koran, Torah, Bible), which helps the viewers of that window to better understand what they are seeing. Unfortunately, the Books are sometimes somewhat general and all the windows are very dirty, so it's generally hard to tell precisely what is going on inside. The viewers at each window will have the natural tendency to "fill in the blanks" regarding things they don't fully comprehend, so they innocently make certain assumptions in trying to understand what they see. This allows some variation in the understandings to develop in those viewers. Each window's viewers would try to figure out exactly what they were seeing. They would certainly come to a set of conclusions based on that evidence. As before, the viewers at each window would KNOW they are right, and, by that same innocuous assumption, would conclude that viewers at all other windows MUST NECESSARILY be wrong. In each case, these differences of understanding would always be construed as "distortions" and errors in the others' beliefs, by each specific group.
This might be a worthwhile approach to explore toward developing better compatibility (or at least tolerance) between Denominations and Faiths. This approach suggests that EACH Denomination and Faith is ENTIRELY correct and proper, for the situation of looking through that specific window. However, it also suggests that all of the OTHER Denominations and Faiths are ALSO ENTIRELY correct and proper, because of their looking through their different windows. You can probably see how this represents another example of a resolution similar to Einstein's. Even though the various Denominations and Faiths have elements that are definitely NOT compatible with each other, EACH is an internally self-consistent AND CORRECT method of Worship and Prayer for the One and Only God/Jehovah/Father/Allah. Essentially, each of these belief systems can be seen as a parallel, equally valid method of worshipping God and All that He is.
This premise therefore fully supports the absolute validity of YOUR Denomination/Faith/religion. It only points out an error of assumption, in that by YOUR being right, all others are automatically wrong! This discussion is meant to show that that assumption could be incorrect. As long as each Denomination/Faith Worships and Prays to God/Jehovah/Father/Allah/Jesus (and not some mortal individual who is considered a Prophet), EACH such group is ALSO following a correct and proper and valid (but different) course.
Historically, it has always been difficult to see compatibilities between different beliefs. Individual differences are often hard to quantify and fully comprehend. It has traditionally been much easier to just dismiss opposing beliefs as valueless. It is hoped that this new perspective might open channels of communication between different Denominations and Faiths, such that they begin to look for and build on their similarities rather than destroy based on their differences.
The author has written an essay specifically directed toward the Compatibility
of Faiths based on this Parallelism approach. It is at:
Compatibility Among Christianity, Muslims, Jews.
It is important to keep in mind that, in the entire history of mankind, we presently only know of one situation where this Duality has been scientifically proven to exist, that of light being both particle and wave. Therefore, it might be an extremely rare circumstance, or it might be such an obscure concept as to be generally unnoticed, or our level of intelligence and comprehension may just be lower than we would like to think. It might easily be that Duality does NOT actually apply to a Compatibility of Faiths, for existence. The concept is presented as a possibility that seems to merit further study.
An interesting irony exists in this premise. Let's say that there is some truth in the Parallelism concept. If that is so, then a whole new approach to a wide range of religious concepts, and possibly life-concepts might open up. And it would have all began with Einstein's insights on LIGHT! For a second time, LIGHT might represent the very first step in a Genesis of understanding! (But, if Duality is shown to be meaningless, ignore that last thought!)
Hopefully, there are some useful truths contained within this essay and this premise. Hopefully, its effect might lessen the animosity between Christians and scientists and others, where mutual respect might build. That situation should enable dialogues, which might result in deeper respect and understanding and Faith for all of us.
Given that this essay was written by a mortal human, it is not likely to be perfectly and totally correct. However, hopefully it will offer a foundation for others to build on, to form a solid framework where Christians and scientists and others will be able to combine their efforts and Peace will be a result.
Several possible areas seem to exist where this Parallelism premise might be of benefit:
Even if genetics some day absolutely proves evolution to be true, this Duality/Parallelism approach still enables total belief and support for Christianity and Jesus and the Bible as being absolutely true, even while acknowledging and welcoming the genetic research that appears to say otherwise!
It is not actually necessary to concede matters such as a Creation time scale just because science has absolutely proved that far greater time intervals have occurred.
Finally, this essay has continued a long-standing tendency of people in anthropomorphizing God. God is (probably) not made of muscle and bone, and it is somewhat inappropriate to discuss Him as though He is. The building analogy and the parallel paths concept have been presented and discussed in ways that were meant to clarify concepts, not to accurately portray the true appearance or essence of God. This Duality/Parallelism perspective actually allows any and all such speculation to continue in other authors, but it is intentionally presented as NOT specifically promoting any specific religious belief. Yes, it would be wonderful if a reader seriously considers Christianity as one's Faith. However, this presentation is meant to apply equally for any Protestant Denomination and for Roman Catholics and for those of Orthodox beliefs.
Important Note: Someone reading this essay might conclude that this approach allows a heretical carte blanche attitude where absolutely anything could be believed and still be compatible with Christianity and with science. No. As suggested in the Genesis comparison, time scales could appear different but the SEQUENCES of events must be compatible. If the Bible would have said that the Flood occurred AFTER Jesus was on Earth, that would be a claim that could be scientifically proven wrong. (On a related matter, there are investigators today who try to match up Creation and scientific dating, and have concluded that the Flood occurred during, for example, the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. They then speculate on why many animals and civilizations clearly survived. Such investigators would realize that such apparent problems did not exist, once they recognize the two different dating schemes.)
There are other logical restrictions as well that also must still apply. The claim being made here is that EACH of Christianity and science is internally self-consistent and logical. If any scientist or Christian or anyone else should attempt to make a claim that can be proven to violate such sequential time orders or the other basic logical threads, that claim could not be true. The discrepancy regarding the first existence of birds represents that sort of situation. If science can some day prove irrefutably that birds appeared very late, then this premise has some serious problems in that area.
Christian and Theoretical Physicist
Physics Degree from University of Chicago