Fossils of man in his present form are dated as being 150,000 years old. What we refer to civilization has existed for about 6,000 years. Assuming that the genealogies laid out in the Bible are complete and that modern scientific dating practices are valid, then Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden not at the advent of man on this planet but rather at the beginning of civilization. Isn’t that interesting?
Science is trying to tell us the story of our physical environment or “how” things came to be. Religion is trying to share with us, not how, but rather “why” things are as they pertain to us, the children of Adam. Just as science makes a poor religion, religion is usually a poor science book. Nevertheless, I fully believe that someday, both religion and science will be complete and will stand as compliments of each other. I realize that this attitude may seem blasphemous to both secular humanists in their rejection of religion as well as some of my religious friends in their rejection of science. Nevertheless, truth is not relevant it is static. A thing either is or it is not. Therefore, truth as found in revealed religion and proven science must eventually meet. In the meantime, let me share with you some random mussing that may give an indication as to how the two may eventually be reconciled.
I have read some debates on the origin of the native inhabitants of the American continent. Current science theorizes an ice bridge along the Aleutian Islands over which Native Americans migrated from East Asia. Indeed, archeological evidence lends support to the idea. Thor Heyerdahl on the other hand set sail in a replica of an ancient reed boat to prove that a migration by sea across the Pacific Ocean was also possible. The study of native speech patterns supports the idea that the migration of Native Americans proceeded from the Southern Hemisphere to the north. The opposite direction of the Aleutian Island theory. There is DNA evidence to support or disprove both ideas. There are other ideas as well and the debate rages on.
I have in my lifetime become familiar with several Native Americans and Native
American groups. It is simply my observation that the peoples of the Yucatan, the Navajo and Apache Nations and the peoples of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington are just simply different. They vary in height, facial hair and culture. They just simply look and act differently. So why I ask is there a debate? Isn’t it possible that all of the above is an acceptable answer? What says there weren’t multiple groups or migrations to the American Continent? It seems rather elementary if you simply use a little common sense. Everyone wants to pose the question in terms of either, or. The truth is often in the middle.
So I feel it is with us on a larger perspective in reconciling intelligent design and the things that science are discovering about our past. Rather than just continents, can’t God use planets to accomplish his purposes? Is it logical to believe this Earth has only been used for one purpose, as a boarding school for Adam’s children? What was it doing for the other three billion years that it was traveling the universe? I suspect, based on what science tells us, that this Earth has been used as a greenhouse, as a breeding ground for dinosaurs and other life and, perhaps more recently, as a home for other peoples like Cro-Magnon man.
Scripture tells us about us. It fails to mention anything pertaining to the rest of the universe or God’s other projects. Is God not involved in the rest of his creation? I’m sure that he is. Someday, probably in the next life, I get to find out and that will be a really interesting read.
Science is a story that attempts to explain our physical surroundings. It is a young story and while it is getting better, it has not yet sunk deeply into the vast pool of truth. I have lived long enough to see several chapters of the science story recanted or, rewritten. My son was recently watching the Smithsonian channel. The show set forth discoveries that revealed things science thought to be true but proved to be incomplete or simply false. It happens all the time. Science is continually learning and that is a good thing. I don’t think we are nearly as smart as we think we are. Secular Humanism in embracing human reasoning is on a rather shaky and newly poured foundation. We are learning but, we are still infants in reaching truth through scientific discovery. There is a lot that we do not know.
Similarly, anyone who says that religion is closed, that no more truth will be revealed are not seeking truth but rather they are parading around only partially covered similar to the story of the Emperor and his new set of clothes. If all truth had been revealed there would no longer be disputations. Those who try to explain science through scripture are going to still have a lot of questions. While God has given us a basic outline of the steps needed to organize this earth, he has not shared with us the details. I suspect he will in the future. His lack in doing so right now might possibly be because we wouldn’t understand it if he did. Meanwhile science, also a gift of knowledge which comes from God, begins to slowly fill in the details while religion tells us why we are here and how to be successful in this life in preparation for the next. Science is starting to explain how. Religion tells us why.
The point to these speculations is simply a way to show that either/or beliefs may be limited if not simply false. When both proven science and “true” religion are viewed as viable and an attempt is made to reconcile them, things start to make sense.
I sincerely believe that all truth comes from God but that he uses both revelation and science to share the wonders of our existence with us. While I have shared a few speculative thoughts touching things that I do not yet know, here are a few simple things that I know to be true. There is, without a doubt, a God. True science, like true religion, is inspired of God. We are God’s children and he loves us. God organized this Earth for his purposes. We, his children, are central to that purpose. In the end, whether through revelation or science, we will know the truth of all things and there will be no discrepancies nor disputations.
Truth is religion regardless of what it pertains to or where it comes from. You see, true religion encompasses all truth.
Samuel Waen Jensen