Just finished reading Francis S Collins book, " The Language of God." Francis S Collins is one of the worlds leading Geneticists, the leading scientist in the " Human Genome Project." A follower of Christ, and a passionate scientist who seeks to merge creation and evolution.
Having a post-secondary education in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, and working in a clinical laboratory for almost 25 years, I have never been at odds with the idea of creation and evolution not being compatible...that they are not a threat to each other. In fact in my mind, they express a more awesome, and mind boggling image of a creator God. Anyway, below is are a few word bytes of Francis S Collins...
A God, who is not limited is space or time, created the universe and established the natural laws that govern it. Seeking to populate this otherwise sterile universe with living creatures, God chose the elegant mechanism of evolution to create microbes, plants and animals of all sorts. Most remarkably, God intentionally chose the same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, a knowledge of right and wrong, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with Him. He knew these creatures would ultimately choose to disobey the Moral Law.
Francis S Collins proposes to name theistic evolution as BIOS through Logos, or simply BiosLogos. Bios as the greek word for " Life ", and Logos as the greek word for " Word." To many beievers the Word is synonymous with God, as powerfully and poetically expressed in those openninh lines of the Gospel of John, " In the beginning was the Word, and the Woed was with God, and the Word was God." " Bioslogos " expresses the belief that God is the source of all life, that life expresses the will of God.
Bioslogos doesn't try to wedge God into the gaps of our understanding of the natural world; it proposes God as the answer as the answer to the questions science was never intended to address. such as " How did the universe get here?" " What is the meaning of life?" " What happens to us after we die? Unlike the theory of intelligent design, Bioslogos is not intended as scientific theory. Its truth can be tested only by the spiritual logic of the heart, the mind, and the soul.
How is this consistent with the theological concept that humans are created, " in the image of God." Well perhaps one shouldn't get to hung up on the notion that this scripture is referring to physical anatomy...the image of God seems alot more about mind and spirit than body. Does God have toe nails? A belly button?
How could God take such chances? If evolution is random how could he really be in charge, and could he be certain of an out come that included intellegent beings at all?
The solution is readily at hand, once one ceases to apply human limitations to God. If God is outside of nature, then he is outside space and time. In that context, God could in the moment of creation of the universe also know every detail of the future. That could include the formation of the stars, planets and galaxies, all of the chemistry, physics, geology and biology that led to the formation of life on earth, and the evolution of humans, even right to this moment and beyond.
In that context evolution could appear to be driven by chance, but from God's perspective the outcome would be entirely specified. Thus God could be completely and intimately involved in the creation of all species, while from our perspective, limited as it is by the tyranny of linear time, this would appear a random and undirected process.
In the twenty first century, in an increasingly technologiacl society, a battle is raging in the hearts and minds of humanity. Many materialists, noting triumphally the advances of science in filling in the gaps of our understanding of nature, announce that belief in God is an outmoded superstition, and that we would be better off admitting that and moving on. Many believers in God, convinced that the truth thet derive from spiritual introspection is of more enduring value than truths from other sources, see the advances in science and technology as dangerous and untrustworthy. Positions are hardening, voices becoming more shrill.
Will we turn our backs on science because it is percieved as athreat to God, abandoning all of the promises of advancing our understanding of nature and applying that to the alleviation of suffering and the betterment of humankind? Alternatively will we turn our backs on faith, concluding science has renedered the spiritual life no longer necessary, that the traditional religious symbols can now be replaced by engravings of the double helix on our altars?
Both of these choices are profoundly dangerous. Both deny truth. Both deminish the nobility of humankind. Both will be devasting to our future. And both are unnecessary. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral as well as the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, inticate, and beautiful...and can not be at war with itself. Only we humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.
Saint Augustine writes, " What kind of days these were, it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to concieve. " He admits there are probably many vailid interpretations of the Book of Genesis: " With these facts in mind, I have worked out and presented the statements of the book of Genesis in a variety of ways according to my ability; and, in interpreting words that have been written obscurely for the purpose of stimulating thought, I have not brashley taken my stand on one side against a rival interpretation which might possibly be better." ( Saint Augustine, The literal meaning of Genesis 20:40 )
The book is a great read, a combination of CS Lewis's , " Mere Christianity ", and NT Wright's " Simply Christian ". The book is beautifully written, a great merger of science and faith...all weaved through Farncis S Collins own conversion.