Feb 7, 2014 @ 0:08 By Scot McKnight 7 Comments
Jack Levison, at HuffPo, asks what we lose when we become obsessed with the creation/evolution debate.
No matter what side of the creation-evolution debate you are on, your partisanship costs you dearly. Why? Because it costs you the ability to read the Bible on its own terms. What do we lose by straightjacketing the Bible with the creation-evolution debate?
First, we lose the poetry. Beautiful, powerful poetry. Notice the rhythm, the order of this poem in Genesis 1; with its lovely repetition: “and God said,” “and God saw that it was good,” “evening and morning, the first (or second or third) day.” So many of our lives are in disarray. So much of our life is in chaos. This rhythmic poetry is like breathing — in and out, out and in — to remind us that God can bring order out of chaos. There’s a lot of attention paid to mindfulness these days, like the lead article in last week’s TIME magazine. The Bible begins with mindfulness. Cosmic mindfulness: God brings order out of chaos. If you focus on creation versus evolution, on the scientific characteristics of Genesis 1; you may miss the mindfulness of this first poem.
Second, the creation-evolution debate makes us lose sight of the power of Sabbath (something intimately related to mindfulness). The point of the seven days of creation is to set the last one apart: On the seventh day, God rested. In the Ten Commandments, in fact, the reason for keeping the Sabbath is that God rested; in other words, Exodus 20 looks back to Genesis 1-2. God rested. You rest, too.Christians, creationists included, aren’t very good at Sabbath-keeping. I see a lot more soccer on the Sabbath than I do mindfulness and meditation. What good is an obsession with an historical seven-day creation if it doesn’t lead us to sanctify, to set apart, to separate one day entirely — a whole 24 hours — for community, rest (naps, even), and meditation?
Third, the creation-evolution debate blinds us to other lavish and meaningful portrayals of God as creator. We become so focused upon a scientific — or not — reading of Genesis 1 that we ignore altogether other passages in the Bible. In Proverbs 8(verses 27-31), for instance, God is an architect. God doesn’t just speak a word, as inGenesis 1; God plans, designs, and measures. In the poetry of Psalm 105; God is a construction worker who “stretches out the heavens like a tent” and “sets the beams of God’s chambers on the waters” (verses 2-3). In the poetry of Psalm 136; creation teaches us (the line is repeated again and again) that “God’s steadfast love endures forever.” Creation poetry is love poetry.