THE NOTION OF GOD (PART 3)
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CREATIONISM AND EVOLUTION
In The Notion of God I discussed the idea that God’s existence cannot be proved or disproved. This is why we say that God is a matter of faith not fact. I also discussed how God is independent of the universe that He created. I thus said that God is transcendent. Nonetheless I also discussed that God is immanent because he is present to us in the universe in some important way. In Part 2 of this series, I said that we can learn about God from the Bible, tradition, reason, and experience. I also pointed out two ways of thinking about God’s action in the world today. These were deism and theism. Theism is the traditional way of thinking about God. I also discussed that God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent and provided biblical references in support of these ideas. In Part 3 of this series, I will discuss the notion of God in our modern times. Specifically I will discuss creationism and evolution.
Today we are in a state of transition when it comes to traditional religious beliefs. Since Charles Darwin wrote his treatise “On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection” in the mid 19th century, it has become increasingly untenable to take what the Bible says about God creating the world literally. I think most people have adjusted to this development with exception of those that think that they must hold on to what the Bible says about creation or else? Now I’m not sure what the “or else” really means, but I believe it must be something like, “Or we cannot believe anything the Bible says!” Oftentimes, these people were raised in religious traditions that taught them to take the Bible literally. I think fundamentalists and many evangelicals fit this category.
However, as a liberal Christian, I no longer agree with this thinking. I say “no longer” because I too was raised in a rather fundamentalist manner as a Baptist. Even after I had converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult, I still didn’t know how else to think about the Bible. Luckily, I found the Episcopal Church of the USA, and I registered in a 4 year theology program called Education for Ministry. I learned that the entire Pentateuch (or Torah as it is known in Judaism) is mostly a myth. It is a myth about how ancient Israel became a nation (I will discuss this in a future essay). The real history begins after Deuteronomy. In fact, there are two histories in the Bible. But suffice it to say that the Bible was never intended to tell us the exact process through which God created the universe. I think Genesis was only meant to tell us that God did create the universe. And it is up to us, through science, to figure out how He did it.
In this essay, I reviewed what I have written about the notion of God to date. I also introduced the idea that the Genesis stories, Exodus story, and Patriarchs in the Pentateuch are parts of a creation myth that were written to explain how the ancient nation of Israel came to be established and to believe in one God. I also suggested that if we want to know the process about how God created the universe, we need to consult evolutionary science, not creationism. Creationism is basically how fundamentalists and many evangelicals think about creation. These groups insist that it happened exactly as the Bible says it did! In my next series of essays, I will discuss how the Bible came to exist. Until then, since I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year; and if you are not a Christian, Happy Holidays!