What an interesting week! The questions we received during worship certainly challenged us to think about the Hebrew story of creation, it’s place in all of the ancient near eastern accounts, and our adoption of it in the Christian tradition. Also factor in the human interpretation and theories that counter a theological perspective and the teaching of science and theories in our schools and we come to know the importance of understanding the faith story and how we share and educate our children. Adults, we play a vital role in passing on the tradition and faith! Please take up the mantle so that your children may become the future perpetuates of God’s story! With that being said, here are the replies that Matt and I have to the questions that we could not attend to during worship! Blessings!
Troubling Themes and Twitter- Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design
Predestination vs. self-determination: how does the Methodist Church stand on the debate as it relates to creationism?
Since the United Methodist Church is fast in its theology it is hard to say. Most followers of Wesleyan theology would argue against predestination on the simple basis that Wesley was an Arminian in his thinking. He did not subscribe to John Calvin’s interpretation of predestination. It was the human free will that was exercised in the garden of Eden and it has been the human free will that has been exercised ever since. We have made the choice to respond to God’s invitational love or reject it. (Jim)
How do we balance our beliefs of creation with scientific facts/theories of evolution? Creationism is a theological conclusion regarding the impetus behind creation. In the Ancient Near Eastern world where there are several understandings of creation, the Hebrew tradition stated emphatically that it was God who was and is the creator. Science and the theory of evolution are just that, they are science. They operate on specifics regarding theory, testing, conclusions and analysis. God could very well have used a process of change in the creation of all because we know that things do change. However we do not subscribe to the aspects that an organism can change to become something completely different. Nor do we believe in the survival of the fittest. God has always been on the side of the oppressed…those who are not the fittest in society. Why would God use evolution to weed them out? (Jim)
How do you explain animals evolving in the present time? Is that God going through the days still today?
What particular animal are you referring to? I am not aware of any particular study that documents the evolutionary process of any species. Breeding and cross-breeding has created change in the species. Human hunting practices and use of land are creating issues for some species. However I am not aware of any animals that are currently changing from one form to another or that because they are unfit they are headed for extinction. Understandably we cannot forget the larva that becomes a worm that becomes a beautiful butterfly. That is certainly change but it is not an evolutionary change where we see the butterfly evolving again into something else. (Jim)
In your opinion why do Christians not want to consider the thought of evolution.
It is very likely that some Christians do not want to consider evolution because it may challenge their faith to a new level. If a Christian takes the fundamentalist (Bible is completely inerrant in the complete literal sense) view on creation, then evolution is a direct contradiction to their faith, therefore rising within them a desire to defend it in any way shape or form. But what we must realize is that the creation account is not a scientific account, it is a theological account, deeming necessary truths to the Christian faith and identity. (Matt)
What about the royal We?
Honestly, I had to Google this one. It is an old English or Victorian term. It has been used by sovereigns to talk about themselves. One example is the Queen saying “we are not amused…” It was a way of talking in reference to one’s self particularly used by leaders or rulers. In the Hebrew tradition God does not refer to God’s self as “we.” God is portrayed as Father, Son, and Spirit living in a communion of mutuality but is referred to as simply God. (Jim)
Big bang vs creation of light?
As the Big Bang is a byproduct of science and the creation of light being a theological concept, these two do not talk well to each other. However if one wants to employ that the Big Bang did indeed occur the way scientists have theorized, the best way to use such science in a religious setting is not employ the random act as truth, but instead as God the main actor behind the Big Bang. (Matt)
The creation story happens over 7 days but in the Bible it says God’s time is different from mans. Couldn’t that fit the theory of evolution and the days be millenniums?
Yes and No, because none of us were at the moment of creation and we cannot define the terms of God’s creation in time and space. (Jim and Matt)
Can you be a believer of evolution and a believer of God at the same time?
We believe there is room for that kind of belief however one must not employ the philosophy of “natural selection” in their own theology as it is not how God acts and how He calls His people to act. We are called to be the people of God, the image of God to all things therefore employing love, peace, and joy as our fruits to others instead of employing the thought of leaving the weakest behind. Paul even preached for us to pull up the weakest parts of the body for we will rejoice with them the greatest. (Matt)
God said let the animals come and fill the earth, and then they all came, so did different animals appear at different times?
It depends upon whether you subscribe to creation taking place in literal 24 hour periods or if you believe that the “day” was longer than 24 hours. If you follow literal interpretation then they had to all come and fill the earth pretty quickly! If you believe in a longer “day” they it could be possible that they appeared over time. Remember that the Hebrew writers didn’t care about time; their concern was proclaiming God as the creator. (Jim)
If it’s all about God’s relation to man why create the much larger universe around us?
John Wesley, our founder of the Methodist movement, saw the creation by God to be the ultimate exercise of freedom, as He could create anything He wanted. In doing so, God decided to create the larger universe as He saw fit. However when creating man, God changed His ultimate freedom into a Governing aspect, in that He would constantly interact with His creation, yet not inhibit on the free will He has given man. But the reasoning behind the bigger universe lies with God. (Matt)
Humanity has a tendency toward egotism. If we can ultimately break everything down and solve every problem then we become our own god. There is no need for the divine creator or story. However we cannot fully explain or comprehend the multitude of galaxies intertwined in the universe. Could the enormity of the universe be a simple reminder that we do not know everything, we cannot and will not know everything and therefore we will never be god. (Jim)
What is the UMC stance on teaching evolution in school?
I am going to cut and paste an article from EthicsDaily.com written by Bob Allen on May 20, 2008. “The United Methodist Church passed a resolution at its recent General Conference opposing the teaching of Creation Science and Intelligent Design in public schools.The statement, passed during a 10-day conference in Fort Worth, Texas, that ended May 2, put the denomination on record “as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.””Creationism and Intelligent Design are appropriate topics in public education classes such as comparative religion, literature, or philosophy since scientific method incorporates critical thinking processes,” said the resolution adopted by a vote of 508 to 323. “All truth is God’s truth. The promotion of religion or any particular religion in the public schools is contrary to the First Amendment.”
Probably enough said. (Jim)
So, if God stepped back and saw that all of this was good while creating everything, what about the serpent that tricked Eve?
The scriptures talk about the serpent in a fashion of being an instrument or tool used by Satan. The serpent itself was not evil; it was the influence of Satan that encouraged Eve to disobey God. (Jim)