Session Two: Creation and Evolution
Dear Creator...be with us in our learning. Send your Spirit of creativity to sing within us, mold us into new creations, and dance between us connecting us to one another and with you. Amen
- Genesis 1:1-2:4 - The Creation Narratives
- Revelation 7:9
- Paul Murray and David Wilkinson, The Theology of Creation Within Christian Tradition.
There is so much to explore when tackling the topic of creation. An interesting theology I have encountered challenges us to think of God not only as the Creator, but God as the event of creation, an event that was and called us into being, a creative event that is revealed today, and one that is still to be revealed as the promised new creation. What does it mean to understand God as a creative event that is not limited to the past, but is active in the present and promised in the future? In my learning within Dr. deForest's seminary course, I was introduced to the image of God as a composer, an artist, or a choreographer. I think we can push the creativity of these images, and explore God as an ongoing symphony, a work of art, or an improvised dance. God is the creative process which is always unfolding. In the video, I give credit to Barbour, but he was actually quoting Arthur Peacocke’s models of God in an evolutionary world. We live in an unfinished universe, and we can find creativity, we can find God, being revealed in this same universe. This is to say, I am OK with exploring a theory of evolution to explain this process of creative “unfolding,” this constant revealing of God.
Even a more literal understanding of the creation narrative can allow for evolution. It’s just that we should not read about the beginning found in Genesis apart from the promised ending found in Revelations. This connection was made by Dr. Megan DeFranza in a presentation I attended about congregations creating a safe and welcoming space for intersex people. She pointed out that “in the beginning,” we only have Adam and Eve, and they are given the command by God to “be fruitful and multiply” (NRSV, 1:28) God invites these first living things to be part of God’s creative process...it’s an important reminder that creation didn’t stop with the garden.
When we look at the promises of Revelations, we are told, “there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (NRSV, 7:9). God’s initial creation evolves from two, homogenous creatures to a vast and diverse multitude of beings. The same can be understood in the rest of creation in verse 28, we only have “birds of the air,” “fish of the sea,” and “living things that move upon the earth.” Where do penguins and other non-flying birds fit into this narrative when taken literally? Whales and non-fish or even amphibians? Dr. DeFranza’s point has some humor, but reveals to a strong theology of nature, that the specific categories laid out in Genesis do not cover the diversity of creatures we have in our world today. Could adaptation rather than evolution be argued...sure. Perhaps some will allow space for limited evolution...fine. I personally am OK with exploring Genesis with an understanding that the creation narratives are beautiful stories that help us understand the creative nature of God. I encourage an integration of science and the theories of evolution with a theology of nature, an understanding that God’s Spirit of creativity has been, is, and will always be active in our unfolding universe.
- How does your understanding of creation change when you think about it as an ongoing process, rather than a one-time event explained in the book of Genesis?
- In what ways could you articulate evolution as being part of God’s process of creative unfolding?
- After reading chapters 2 and 5, what was your biggest aha moment? What questions do you still have?
- Ian Barbour, Where Science Meets Religion, Chapter 2 and Chapter 5
- 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew about the Creation vs. Evolution Debate by Michael Lehmann
- NPR - Watch The Creationism Vs. Evolution Debate: Ken Ham And Bill Nye: CLICK HERE
Pew Research: 5 Facts About Evolution and Religion
Need to look back at the Introduction Session for a quick review?
Wanna continue to explore? Check out the next session!