We seem to have a little problem. Way back when the King James Bible was authorized by King James (not God) in 1611, James Ussher (1581-1656), a bishop from Ireland, postulated that, according to the Bible, creation occurred in 4,004 B.C.; and this date and his name were inserted in the introduction to the book of Genesis in many Bibles. And so this inquisitive teenager called upon her pastor (me) asking for an explanation about when the world was created. Apparently, she had been reading a lot of scientific material that disagreed with the footnotes in her Bible.
I didn't really know the answer to her questions, but I could point out a few problems with what she was reading in her edition of the Bible. She did not know that all of the prefaces, introductions, chapter headings, footnotes, and even the grammar marks in the Bible were not actually biblical. The Hebrew of the Old Testament is a consonantal language with no vowels, which I am sure made speaking it a bit interesting. The vowels were actually added much later by the Masoretes sometime around the 6th century A.D. The New Testament Greek depended upon the sentence structure and the prefixes and suffixes of words to determine how it should be read. Grammar was added much later. Thankfully, all of these were added, since reading the Bible would have been an act of futility for most of us.
So when was the universe created? When was humanity created? I'm sure I don't know, but I do know Bishop Ussher was wrong.
When Edwin Hubble discovered in 1929 that the universe is not static but is constantly expanding, it gave rise to the conclusion that the universe must have been created from a single point in time -- that is, everything in the universe must have been condensed into one highly compressed mass that exploded, creating the universe and its outward direction. From there, the really brilliant scientific minds determined that the known universe is about 14 billion light-years (one light-year equals how far light travels at 186,000 miles-per-second in one year) across and is expanding. Of course, all of this leads directly to the so-called "Big Bang" theory of creation.
Obviously, the Big Bang Theory immediately gave rise to the evolutionary process of creation, which most people ascribe to today. On the other hand, there remain some faithful followers of older theories who have developed what is called "Creationism Theory." And, like the evolutionists, the Creationists have many variations in their definitions. Some believe that the entire creation only took the six days mentioned in the book of Genesis, while ignoring that days were not actually created until the fourth day. More to the point though, Creationists are adamant that the universe didn't just happen, that it was created by God.
For those of us who believe in the Bible, that's a very good point; but it doesn't say much about when or how it happened. On the other hand, while the evolutionists have a good point in describing the development process, they tend to ignore the obvious importance of where did all of this substance come from and what (Who) made it explode?
Bishop Ussher's timetable just doesn't make sense, considering all of the data now available to inquisitive minds. We now know that Abraham lived sometime between the 19th and 17th centuries B.C., and the Exodus took place sometime around the 14th to 12th century B.C. In addition, the January/February edition of the Smithsonian Magazine contains an article by Fen Montaigne that documents civilization existing along our Western Seashore as far back as 32,000 years. And then there's Richard Leaky who was excavating in Africa when he came upon an almost complete skeleton of a young boy (now called "Turkana Boy") that has been dated to around 16 million years ago.
Confusing? I think so. I certainly don't know all of this scientific material and wouldn't know how to put it all together if I did know, but let me share with you what I do believe.
I believe that the universe was created by God. How He did it is immaterial. If He wanted to do it with a "Big Bang," that's okay with me. As far as evolution is concerned, I am positive that some kind of evolution has indeed occurred, at least during my lifetime. As a teenager, I paid good money at a carnival just to see a seven-foot-tall person; today, I watch them every week play basketball.
Did we evolve from apes? I'm sure I don't know (although I have seen a few people who looked a little like an ape).
However, at least one pundit has created a cartoon with one ape saying to another, "I don't care about what they believe, but I sure know that we didn't descend from them."
Aren't you glad to be a part of God's creation?
-- Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 05/13/2020
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