M. C. Nige wrote:
Genesis 2 says that God created man from the dust of the ground. Evolutionary theories say that man evolved from apes. Both cannot be correct.
This remark set me thinking about other facts and events that have both a scientific explanation and a Biblical explanation.
In Job 38 and in Proverbs 8, God is said to have set the measures of the earth and the boundaries of the oceans. Isaiah 40 says God has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with his span, and grasped the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in scales. Psalm 104 says that the mountains rose, the valleys sank, unto the place which God had founded for them. Amos 4:13 says that God forms the mountains, and creates the wind. Job 28 says God measures out the waters and appoints a statute for the rain, and a way for the thunder's flash.
Job 9 says that God removes and overturns mountains, and makes the earth shake. Psalm 18 and Isaiah 5 says the earth shook and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains trembled and shook, because God was angry.
In Genesis 7 it rains because the windows of heaven are opened. In Malachi 3:10 it is God who opens the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing. In 1 Samuel 12, 1 Kings 18, Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 11 and 28, 1 Kings 18, Job 5, Psalm 147, Jeremiah 5, Joel 2, Matthew 5, and Acts 14, God sends rain; in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7 and Isaiah 5 he threatens to send no rain, but sends a pestilence. In Exodus 9 and Psalm 105 he sends hail and thunder and fire. In Jeremiah 10 and 51 he sends tumult, lightning, rain and wind. In Ezekiel 38 God threatens to send rain, hail, fire, brimstone, pestilence and blood.
In Exodus 9, Numbers 11, Numbers 16, Numbers 25, 2 Samuel 24, Psalm 106, and Zechariah 14, plagues and pestilences are sent by God, and sometimes stayed by prayer and sacrifices.
In 2 Samuel 22 and in Job 36 and 37 and Zechariah 10 it is God who causes lightning to flash, and commands it where to strike.
In Jeremiah 31 he stirs up the sea and makes it roar.
In Genesis 1 God makes the stars; in Psalm 147 he counts them and gives them all names.
On the other hand, we also have scientific explanations for events of these kinds. We know that the plague and many other pestilences are caused by micro-organisms and viruses, and can be prevented by hygienic practices and can be controlled by antibiotics. We have a fair understanding of the physical mechanisms that produce rain, wind, hail, thunder and lightning, enough to let us make reasonably useful weather forecasts.
We also understand to a large extent how the physical shape of the earth came about. Tectonic plates move around, driven by convection currents in the earth’s mantle, creating oceans where the plates move apart, and mountains and earthquakes where they collide. Volcanoes also make mountains, glaciers scoop out valley floors, and erosion brings mountains down again, slowly.
Astrophysics also provides us with convincing explanations for the size distributions of stars and the relative abundance of different chemical elements.
The main point I want to make is that although these biblical explanations and scientific explanations look superficially contradictory, most Christians have no difficulty in accepting both. Many of our ancestors thought they couldn’t both be true, but to most of us today the two sorts of explanation are not as incompatible as they seemed to be at first sight.
In much the same way, I expect that in time the scientific account of evolution will come to be accepted by almost everyone, including those who consider themselves to be fundamentalist Christians. At the same time, they will not lose respect for the biblical account of creation. Indeed, they may gain a deeper understanding of it.
As with weather, oceans, mountains, valleys, stars, pestilences, earthquakes and floods, the emergence of life is now seen by many Christians as something that can be described in two non-contradictory ways: the Bible tells us God did it, and science tells us how.