Hi, my name is Matthew Gunn. Our worship pastor, Jason, asked me if I would be interested in writing this installment of the church’s blog, specifically regarding the presentation I will be giving on May 21st from 4-6pm. The presentation is kind of a book talk/class about the book I wrote last year and also kind of a forum about the subject I wrote on. The book is called The Existence of Light: A Layman Attempts Theosophysics and it discusses what it actually means to hold a literal interpretation of Genesis, which is usually termed the Young Earth Creation view of life, the universe, and everything else. (Links for ebook purchase are here and here)
The presentation I will be giving will be an apology for the Young Earth worldview as well as a discussion of Atheistic cosmology and Old Earth Creation theories, the challenges they present to the Young Earth view, and how Einstein’s Theories of Relativity help account for and reconcile some of the differences between all three worldviews. So, that’s kind of overwhelming. I understand that. You probably didn’t expect to read about this kind of thing in your casual church blog update. You might have even lost all interest in going to the event or ever picking up the book, so allow to not start there and see if that will help ease your mind.
This book began as an idea I had while reading a book titled Death by Living by N. D. Wilson. In it, one of the things he discusses is the nature of time. We often view time in a fatalistic way because it is so very clear that it is a limited commodity with no individually marked expiration dates, and, ultimately, Death is one of the few things that has served more people than McDonalds (though it should be noted that McDonald’s has likely contributed a number of notches to Death’s talley, which cannot be said for the other way around.) Because human suffering is due to human sinfulness and depravity, we most often view death as the final and greatest punishment for our wickedness.
[I have inserted this break as an opportunity for you to scourge yourself in your wretchedness if you’d like. Otherwise you may move on.]
However, in Death by Living, Wilson blew apart my theological box, turned my theological table, and firmly place the shoe on my other theological foot when he said,
Time is a kindness…. Mortality is a consequence of sin.
But it is also a gift. A mercy. A kindness. Death is grace.
This seemed entirely unfair to me at first. I know people and have read news stories about people to whom death did not come kindly, easily, or quickly. But Wilson’s point answered mine: Would it be gracious for God to allow you to live eternally in your current state? Would the person dying of a disease prefer to live if it meant eternity with that disease? With that imperfection? Your imperfections, your failures, your heartache, your loss, your struggle. Would you like these things forever with a heaping side of vanity and never ending dissatisfaction with all that is under the sun? Or might I interest you in our soups?
I realized that death, in all of its ugliness and pain and devastation is a mercy that keeps us from living eternally as the hurting and hurtful people that we are by nature. It is also grace to the believer who will not only end their suffering here but, through death, go on to live a whole life in the presence of God--the undoer of all ills and the satisfaction we can never quite find while here on Earth. These realizations led me naturally to the next logical step: physics. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “that’s exactly where I thought you would be going next! Oh, please tell me about the thrilling world of physics!” And while I appreciate your excitement, doing so would make this post lengthier than it already is. I will leave further explanations of the physics for the actual presentation.
I hope it will suffice, then, for me to say that shortly after reading Death by Living, I began an investigation into the concept of time and took an astronomy elective in school that talked about planets, distances, energy, matter, and our perception of these things. I, an English student, began talking with my professors about Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and elementary particles and other weird stuff way over my head. I was told that there were stars billions of lightyears away and a cosmic microwave background which indicated that the world was at least 13.7 billion years old. Needless to say, that data and its evolutionary implications conflicted more than a little with my morning devotional. The game, for me, was afoot to find a justification for a literal interpretation of Genesis because I deduced that, if the beginning of the book I’m staking my life on can be chalked up to mere poetry, I have little if any defense against objections to equally unlikely events like the incarnation, the resurrection, and other arguably important things of that caliber.
What I found is that regardless of the numbers we ascribe to the scale, Creation and Evolutionary cosmology agree on several things: both describe a beginning that can only be described as miraculous (whether you attribute the miracle to chance or the love of God), a movement from disorder to order, and an agreement on the selfish nature of man. Atheistic, evolutionary cosmology describes a world of fear, of selfishness, where might makes right, where you’re either lucky or dead, where you can be an agent in the onward-marching genetic progression or you can become the food that helps someone else move along in it. In this world, lying is never off the table. Stealing, rape, murder, and other questionable acts are not a question of morality, but of payoff. In this world, where we are no higher than the animals, the only thing that separates us from those animals is our ability to do and create things that make us think that we are somehow above them.
My “Aha-moment” came when I realized that the Bible says a lot of things similar to this when describing the state of humanity. How much of human action is predicated on fear and selfish reasons. Do we not back-bite? Bark and growl at one another? Take advantage, overpower, and deceive? Never have I heard an argument that the Bible isn’t true because it was unbelievable to think humanity is capable of putting entire cities to death, calling for the murder of firstborn children for political security, or dashing their heads against rocks. The argument, instead, is always against God Himself for allowing these things to happen. I realized that both Atheistic and Christian explanations posit the ability of humankind to reduce itself to animal status. The difference is that one believes that we began as nothing more than animals and will continue to be so, while the other believes that we did not start here, nor are we meant to stay here. This is not to say that I have no other qualms with the Evolutionary worldview, rather this is the first and only one I can engage with in this space. But I think it important that we see how Christianity pivots on the assumption that we are horribly broken and sinful people who think in terms as selfish as the “survival of the fittest” mindset described in the Evolutionary worldview. But Christianity, believes that that has only and ever pointed to the savior we find in Christ. And in Christ, we found a rule change and a role change, from an old system of sinfulness and death by our own wills to a new system of righteousness and life, flagshipped by Christ.
This idea of role/rule change is incredibly important as we move into a discussion of Relativity and observe how it changes the reality we experience and helps explain other issues which remain between scientific discovery and faith. However, I will leave that discussion for my presentation on the 21st. If you’ve actually read this, thank you. I hope I haven’t offended too many of your sensibilities with my proposition and, if I have, would like to remind you that there will be time for questions during the presentation to address those grievances. And so, I hope to see you there.
- Matthew Gunn