My Credo Friday thought for this week is about the evolution of my creation belief.
This one is tricky because it involves several other elements of my credo, the things I say I believe. And some parts of my credo shape my attitude towards the other elements. To tell you about how creation falls in my credo means avoiding the temptation to say too much or too little about other aspects of my credo – I need to stay out of the weeds.
If you’re reading this one and keeping have “yea, but…” moments, hang in there for future posts that will hopefully tie up the obvious loose ends.
My earliest Christian influence from the Church was a Baptist Sunday school program. Somewhere before my memory started being recorded on my permanent hard drive, I was hearing flannel graph stories about God creating the World in 6 days and resting on the 7th. I absorbed the story of Creation and the Fall almost out of the air – I honestly can’t remember a time when I did not know this story. But we did stop going to church.
In my public education and through TV programs I started to learn about a competing narrative called, the Theory of Evolution. My love for the genre of science fiction started posing problems for my naïve and unsubstantiated belief in a magic god who took 6 days to create everything that I experience and call, Creation.
At University, studying to be an anthropologist, I took a deep dive into evolution both in terms of the origins of life and the development of culture…from a professor who let us know he was a man of faith and who saw no conflict between his faith in Jesus/God/the Trinity and the evolution of the species. Deep down my inner Baptist boy started burning his flannelgraph.
Then I made a decision to follow Jesus that was based on a reading of the 4 gospels and the person of Jesus I encountered there. And I went off to Bible college to become a missionary.
And at Bible College I learned terms like inerrancy and infallibility and I took a class called, Creation Science and another called, Old Testament History, that taught Genesis 1 the way an American History professor might teach about the Plymouth colony, Plymouth rock and the Mayflower. I learned all the scientific problems with the Theory of Evolution (it’s a theory, not a fact, get it? They’re tipping their hand right in the name…) and how I had a simple choice – believe the 6 day Creation account in Genesis 1 as the definitive story of origins or call the Bible a lie, not be able to believe any part of it then and eventually wind up in Hell (yes, we capitalized it like it was a place you could drive to…).
So I did what any sensible, good, mid-western boy would do – I ignored all the science facts I’d ever been taught and embraced the only true story about the origin of man in Genesis 1 (…which we preferred over the account in Genesis 2 because it was a little more fuzzy that 1.)
Eventually, my Creation beliefs evolved. How did that happen? I kept studying the Bible. I kept asking questions. I kept seeking. And most of all, I kept studying the Bible.
So here’s where I am today. My Creation credo.
I believe that God is the origin of all that is, and particularly the origin of life.
I believe that the exact process of Creation cannot be determined by the biblical text that was not setting out to give a scientific explanation for life but rather a storied explanation for our existence. I believe that “why” is always a superior question to “how.”
The biblical story of Creation is intended to tell us WHY we are here and was never intended to describe the exact process of creation. And while I still have a lot of questions about the Evolution model, I do not see it as incompatible with the Bible story other than regarding the question of causation…WHY are we here?
I believe the story of Creation clearly tells us that as humans we are not here to be consumers but custodians, cultivators. Our role here is not to reap as much as we can from Creation but rather to nurture Creation and develop the long term health of Creation because ultimately, we’re all going to be on this planet for the rest of ever.
I believe that the Creation story is a temple story and the story tells us that mankind serves in the garden as the icons of God. Men and women are created equal, commissioned as equals and related to by God as equals with one another. You should never take the life of an icon of God.
I believe that human beings, especially those who follow Jesus, are still charged with Creation care and having a healthy relationship with the created world around us. Because of this, I believe Christians should be at the forefront of efforts to conserve, to recycle, to reduce usage and to preserve our natural resources.
Respect for Creation is a Christian act of worship. Our relationship to Creation says more about our relationship to God than does our intellectual acceptance of the story that God took 6 days to create this world.
Every day I walked on the Camino de Santiago was a day I heard Creation singing to me, calling to me, inspiring me, soothing me, feeding me. Creation is not a disposable commodity we will trade in or trade up, it is our primary gift from God.