Re: How to encourage a former creationist to persevere in faith?

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Aug 19 2005 - 15:58:59 EDT

Just to say thanks to everyone for their contributions. I shall be
away on holiday next week so I guess the conversation will carry on
without me and I hope it sparks more interesting discussions.

I thought David F. Siemens was closest to my own thoughts when he said:

>By the way, a God who has to tinker to get things right seems to fit the
>notion that the deity is not bright enough to get it right from the
>beginning. But a proper theology has him omnipotent and omniscient.

And this is very much my own feeling. It seems astonishing to me that
God could create a universe that was capable of assembling itself and
lead to creatures complex enough to sense the Creator. That in itself
is enough to marvel at. But I agree that if creation breaks down from
time to time and God has to step in to help it over the tricky bits,
then that doesn't seem so good.

Unlike David, I wasn't a YEC for a long time. I grew up accepting
evolution unquestioningly and kept it at a slightly uneasy distance
from my faith.

I guess my brief encounter with YEC coincided with a difficult time in
my life. I was doing a part-time PhD in Computer Science, at the same
time as a full-time job & only getting to work on it one day a week,
plus evenings. To be honest, I didn't think it was going too well &
couldn't see how I'd ever get it done. I was filled with an
increasing sense of dread that I'd never get it done and that would be
bad for my job as my employer was sponsoring the PhD. At the time, I
had a colleague who is a YEC & I was amazed that anyone could hold
such beliefs. I guess his ideas gave me something new to cling on to
during a fairly desperate time of my life. As it turned out, I'd
little to worry about academically - my supervisor threw me a good
steer in the final year with a paper to review & a lot of the ideas in
that paper led to the development of key ideas in my own thesis & in
the end the viva (the one event in my life I was dreading more than
death!) turned out to be a breeze.

Anyway, after having briefly decided in the midst of my confusion that
I was a YEC, I began to see the immense stretches of science that were
going to be required to make it hold up & started to worry. The "no
death before the fall" idea pushed by people such as AiG seemed a
difficult obstacle to overcome. If YEC wasn't true then this wasn't
true and the whole basis of everything crumbled away.

In the end it wasn't science but the Bible that got me round this
difficulty. A shaft of light came to me one evening on a walk out
when I started considering Nicodemus in John Ch 3. N. makes the
mistake of over-literalism ( can a man enter his mother's womb a
second time and be born again). Clearly it wasn't that kind of birth.
 In a way, N. is being way too materialistic, and failing to see that
it is a spiritual state that is being referred to. By the same token,
it appeared to me, the death that happens as a result of the Fall is a
spiritual death - no problem then for billions of years of deaths
before it. This realisation (revelation? prompting by the Holy
Spirit?) was an immense relief to me! I can still remember the
feeling of realising that I didn't have to worry about whether YEC was
true any more, or rather what were the consequences of it not being
true. Like a weight being lifted from one's shoulders. I guess the
whole picture is succinctly put in Eph 2:4b-5: "God ... made us alive
in Christ even while we were dead in transgressions".

I also think another mistake we make too easily which leads perhaps to
the idea that it all has to be compressed into the biblical historical
time frame, is to reason as if God is constrained by time. Perhaps
when we read "In the beginning", we unnecessarily interpolate "In the
beginning (of time)". Then you have the ridiculous idea of God waking
up one day and saying "I think we'll create the universe and time
today". This is illogical because time begins at the Big Bang, and I
don't think it's helpful to think of God deciding "before" the
beginning of time to create it. God transcends time, and the phrase
"In the beginning, God ..." doesn't necessarily refer to an event in
the past IMO. It is telling us that God is the origin of it all -
throughout time.

Perhaps these two verses from Psalm 139 sum up God's transcendent
nature over time; the creator who sees the big picture as it stretches
through the canvas of time:

15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

    16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

Well that's enough ramblings of the thoughts of an ex-almost YEC. The
transition out of it wasn't that difficult for me as I wasn't in it
very long and my thoughts about Nicodemus were a welcome rope to pull
me out.

Iain.
Received on Fri Aug 19 16:00:07 2005

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