|Laser astronomical instrument|
at Mauna Loa Observatory
Photo by NASA
Scientists will tell you that it is 4.5 billion years old, give or take a few 100 million years.
More than three-fourths of the pastors believe that the Genesis story of Adam and Eve is literally true. You can read the report by clicking HERE.
This poll is probably no surprise, but I find it sad.
I was thinking about this during Morning Prayer this morning because the Old Testament reading, Genesis 4:17-26 is about the children of Adam and Eve, and their wayward son, Cain. In the story, Cain takes a wife and builds city. It seems to me that the idea that the Adam and Eve story is literal fact breaks down pretty quickly with Genesis 4:17. Just where did Cain find a wife if he was the only living offspring of Adam and Eve?
The attitude of these American Protestant pastors is off base not just as a rejection of honest scientific inquiry but as misguided theology. Let me point out that I count myself as a Protestant (The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion are products of the Protestant Reformation) and I am definitely a pastor.
We can debate (endlessly) how we interpret the Bible. But to not grasp the wonder of evolution and the length of time this earth has been evolving is to miss out on the wonder of God's amazing creation. As I watched the sun coming up this morning, as I do most mornings, I gave thanks for a new day. There will never be another sunrise like the one this morning, and God has provided 4.5 billion years worth of sunrises on this planet. Why would anyone think humans can place limits on God and God's time?
Scientists in recent years have identified thousands of planets around other suns that were heretofore unknown to us, and doubtless there will turn out to be billions more planets. Some planets that have been discovered are in the "comfort zone" that can sustain life. In all likelihood, there are other planets besides ours with life, and some of that life may be intelligent. Who else is out there giving thanks for a sunrise?
God is infinite, and God continues to create. The question for us is to open to this amazing universe God has created in all of its splendid variety and enormous depth of time. God gave us the amazing gift of intelligence to plumb the wonders of the universe. Shouldn't we show thanks to God by using that gift? And why would anyone want to use the allegory of Adam and Eve to limit their understanding of God and God's creation? The position of these American Protestant pastors is not only bad science, it is bad theology.