A few days ago I posted a poll to find out readers’ opinions and beliefs about the origin of life, the universe and everything. I just wanted to reflect briefly on the responses. My ideal was to try to get a vote for every option, but most of them got votes so that’ll have to be good enough. I’m going to try and remain neutral about all of them and just give my impressions of what each answer means.
God created the universe and everything in it about 6 thousand years ago (YEC) 6% (1 votes)
Obviously, this is the answer that takes the Biblical narrative most seriously. It also seems like the one that takes physical evidence the least seriously. Everyone who reads this blog at all knows I am not personally a Biblical literalist, but maybe I understand some of where a literalist is coming from. If the Bible isn’t trustworthy to speak about things like the creation of the world, how can we assume that the Bible is trustworthy to speak about issues of salvation, or the existence of Jesus? One option in response to this problem is to affirm that the Bible is serious about everything, or almost everything.
God created everything in six metaphorical ‘days’ that could have been billions of years long (OEC) 13% (2 votes)
This response seems to strike a balance between the Bible and the evidence, so to speak, and is similar to the one below. I made the separate questions to underscore what I thought was an important difference in approaches. This one is still Biblically-rooted, I would say, but is willing to accept the Bible as at least partially metaphorical. One problem might be that it does not fully affirm either Bible as such (i.e. literally) or the physical evidence (which can be interpreted without reference to God at all).
God created the universe through evolutionary means as described by biology and cosmology (ET) 44% (7 votes)
Here we’ve moved farther away from the Bible and closer to the physical evidence as it is currently understood. (By saying that, I mean that a large majority of scientists seem to be in general agreement about biological and cosmic evolution, the time scale involved and physical principles involved, etc.) This of course begs the question – why pay attention to the Biblical narrative at all?
The universe and everything in it arose out of naturalistic causes without supernatural intervention 19% (3 votes)
This was interesting – I had the tacit assumption that almost all of the people who read this blog were theists of some kind. Out of say 40-50 a day, 3 isn’t that much, but out of only 16 total votes, its very significant – one fifth. The stance here is as clear as it is with Young Earth Creationism – take the physical evidence seriously and by itself, without reference to anything supernatural. I don’t live here, but I have a lot of close friends who do, and I think I understand what the view might look like. The question here is also obvious – what is the point of it all?
Some intelligence, perhaps a deity, designed irreducibly complex systems directly (ID) 6% (1 votes)
The argument here is often assumed to be a Christian one, and is used by Creationists to lend credence to their apologetic efforts, but there’s no reason to assume that this intelligent designer wasn’t, say, an advanced alien civilization that seeded the universe with the building-blocks of life billions of years ago. It is an argument from irreducible complexity which, my feelings aside, seems a very difficult concept to prove. Here the question is – will the real Intelligent Designer please stand up?
The universe is God’s body and they are co-eternal or co-exist, with the same origin (PE/PN) 6% (1 votes)
I threw in this one from theology class when we talked about Sally MacFague and a couple other theologians who take a strong ecological view that lends itself to panentheism. It is a unique view compared to the others – that the universe is God’s body, and that God exists in that body in a way that is similar to the way “I” exist in my body – that is to say, maybe, intrinsically but self-referentially or self-consciously. One question here might be (aside from ‘why throw God into the picture at all?) to ask how it is that God acts? Because it doesn’t seem to be the same way that “I” can act upon/through my body.
I don’t like any of the options! (Please comment with what you’d say!) 6% (1 votes)
And of course this is necessary. See the comments section of the original poll post for, among other things, a discussion of this vote.