There's been quite a buzz in the media, and whispers around the water cooler, this week as the news broke that Pope Francis declared evolution and the Big Bang Theory "not inconsistent" with Creation. As with all things in the media, the Pope's words have been selectively edited to make a political statement that he never intended to make. But things are things, and people are really interested in this right now, so let's look at evolution, Creation, and the Big Bang Theory (which moves back to Thursdays tonight...oh wait. The other one).
It is true that neither evolution nor the Big Bang are incompatible or inconsistent with Creation. Evolution, we know, is quite possible within Creation because we're seeing it all the time. A yorkie and a poodle make a yorkiepoo and a new breed is born. That's a form of evolution. It's called micro-evolution, and it's all around us. Macro-evolution, the idea that man is evolved from monkeys, is quite something different altogether and is not consistent with the Creation story. Nonetheless, we must admit that evolution is not inconsistent with the Creation framework.
The Big Bang, too, is not inconsistent with Creation. And as I've thought about this idea in preparation to write this blog, I can almost see where it might be quite like God to do such a thing. It's sort of the "Hollywood" version of the Creation story, which has a more logical flow and a steady pace to it, but I find myself thinking about all of the lessons God gives about the seed. To me, that's one concept of the Big Bang - a seed of the universe becomes the whole of Creation itself. Remember what God said about the mustard seed? It is the smallest of seeds but grows into the mightiest tree. I can kind of see that idea in the Big Bang and think about God holding this seed that contains the DNA for the entire universe in the palm of His hand, treasuring it, loving it, planting it and then it explodes out of the fertile soil of God's imagination and becomes this place where we live today. Again, that's the "Hollywood" version of the Creation story, but I don't think God will fault me for thinking about it.
Science is something special. It's the rational world. It's the way things work. Everything we discover by science is a Creation of God; some have called this natural world "the book of God's Works" (as opposed to the book of God's Word). And it's just as revealing about Him as the Scriptures. Maybe, one might argue, even more revealing because it is not tied into the story of one man at a time, but into the story of all men at all times. Certainly, when you see the structure of the world, you can know that God is at work.
One of the quotes that's been pulled from Pope Francis' speech is that "God is not a magician, with a magic wand." That's true; He's not. He works within the same framework that we have to. He works within the laws of nature for most of what He does. Most. He works within the sun and the moon, within darkness and light. He works with the wind and with the rain and with the snow. He works within the seed to create a beautiful flower. He works within the womb to make a child. You have knit me together in my mother's womb. That's science; it's also Creation.
But God, while He works in this framework that we can discover, is not bound by this framework. His Word is full of the testimony of miracles, which are only possible when God steps outside of the laws of nature. Wine does not come from water. But in Cana, it does. Blind men do not spontaneously see. But at the word of Jesus, they do. Sticks do not become snakes. Water does not come from rocks. Fire does not leave the hairs on a man's head unsinged. Not in the laws of nature. But in the nature of God, all of these things are possible because God is not bound by nature.
Not because He is a magician, but because He is a miracle worker.
So no, science is not incompatible with God. It's not inconsistent with Creation to find a way in which things are still being created. We have to sidestep the politics and stop thinking science is a threat to God; it's a testimony to Him if anything. The problem with these theories, however, is that they don't go far enough. They don't answer all of the questions.
The Big Bang is not inconsistent, but it does not answer the question: what exploded? Where did the seed of the universe come from? Something does not come from nothing. It can't. This is where Creation and science must work together. We can say that the universe exploded and expanded from a single point (I don't know whether it did or not; I wasn't there) but we must also say that this single point came from somewhere. For those of us who believe, this single point is the hand of God. He created the seed.
Evolution is not inconsistent, but it does not answer the question of how life begins at all. Creation steps in here, too: God created them male and female. God gave that male yorkie the seed and the female poodle the egg and created the conditions for life in which a yorkiepoo is born. He's created the life that can create life at all; life does not just crawl out of the ooze.
The Pope said some powerful words (which have been said by many Popes before him). And what strikes me in all of this is that what the Pope said was meant to bridge the gap a little between faith and science, to start repairing the relationship between these two fields. His words were an attempt to bring us together by speaking truth - there is room in our theology for science. And there is room in science for our theology. But the media has taken his words and used them to pit the two against each other once more, to widen the divide between science and faith. It's heartbreaking. We can't buy into it. We can't let the sensationalism polarize us on opposite sides of the truth.
And here's the truth: Creation does not exist inside itself; it can't. It's one of those moments that defies the laws of nature. It's a miracle. From the miraculous inception moving forward, however, science is possible. In fact, it is necessary. We could not understand God were it not for the laws of nature, which He created and works within but is not bound by; and we could not understand the laws of nature were it not for God, who created and works within but is not bound by them.
We believe in nature because there's no such thing as magic; we believe in God because there are miracles.