Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Creation and evolution and all that stuff...

I am passionately committed to broad theological thinking. The following postings on the creation/evolution debate are drawn from a paper put together by a theological research team – I asked them to look at this issue with reference to this year’s Darwin anniversaries - 200 years since his birth and 150 years since the first publication of his book The Origin of Species. I hope this review will be a useful resource to many. The aim is not provide a definitive answer but to identify key issues that need to be considered.

So, to start at the very beginning… Even amongst Bible believing Christians there is debate about how Genesis 1 & 2 relates to modern science. It should be possible to identify areas that all Christians should agree on and then subsequently to look at three alternative answers that evangelical Christians have given on this topic.

The basic events of Genesis 1-11 find some parallels in other ancient writings from the ancient Near East. Three of the most famous are:
Atrahasi Epic - which depicts creation and early human history.
Enuma Elish – contains a creation account
Gilgamesh Epic – in which Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk, experiences numerous adventures, including meeting with the only survivor of a great deluge, Utnapishtim.

It is not the similarities between Genesis and these other ancient stories that is striking, but the differences. When looked at, Genesis’ unique and far superior nature is obvious. So, in the other ancient accounts there are a multitude of gods who are limited in power and knowledge. Besides that they are not always very moral. In these stories, humankind - far from being the crown of creation is an after-thought – in one of them we are created to help out the lesser gods who had the job of feeding the rest of the divine beings and the flood was sent because we couldn’t do that without making too much noise!