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November 20, 2015 / BTM

What are the Major Differences Between the Explanations for the Origin of Everything?


Last week I shared six stories I’d used with our kids to illustrate the major differences between six explanations for the origin of the universe, life, and humans. Reading these stories will get you a long way toward understanding some of the major differences between these explanations. However, analyzing them – even at a child’s level – will reveal some interesting trends.

Here’s more on how we used the exercise from last week to learn interesting things about how different groups explain the origin of everything.

Analyzing the Explanations

Kids are good at listening to a story and pulling out the major parts in it – particularly when the story isn’t very complex. When I read the six stories from last week’s post to our kids over breakfast on a PD Day, we filled out a simple chart at the same time to illustrate how the different explanations answered specific questions.  Here are the categories that we used to compare the different explanations:

chart to compare 2

So, for example, after reading the Young Earth Creation story, we answered the questions in the left hand column for this explanation of the origin of everything.  Then we read the Old Earth Creation story and paused to fill out the chart for that explanation, etc.

Theological Implications of the Explanations

When you have completed reading all of the stories and filling in the chart, notice some of the trends in the answers to the questions:

  • What happens to Adam and Eve? (They begin to fall out of the picture – only three of the explanations consider them to be real people);
  • What happens to God’s sovereignty? (It quickly erodes – only half of the explanations believe that He has foreknowledge and purpose in His involvement in the universe, life, and human beings);
  • What happens to God’s involvement in the world and human life? (Four of the explanations acknowledge that God has some sort of involvement in the world or human affairs, although Planned Evolution limits it quite severely); and
  • What happens to the idea of humans being created in the image of God? (Only two explanations credit God with creating humans in His image as distinct from animals.)

Questions That We Have to Answer

As I hope you can see, the explanation that you choose has theological implications.  If Adam and Eve are just symbols, why is Adam considered a significant figure in the introduction of sin into the world and into human nature, for which the ‘second Adam’ (Jesus) came to make restitution?  (More on this in a future post.)

If God isn’t sovereign enough to be directly involved in the origin of everything, and isn’t involved in our day-to-day existence, can we consider Him sovereign at all?  How about His omniscience?  Omnipresence?  Omnipotence?

For explanations that propose that God used evolution to develop animal diversity including humans, how do we decide when the category ‘human’ first began?  When did humans acquire a spirit?  When and how did sin enter the world?  How do we explain the theological idea that humans are created in God’s image?

The Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the roombehind saying that God used evolutionary processes to direct the development of species diversity is that evolutionary processes are blind and directionless (they have no purpose or end goal; they are not building toward something), and operate randomly and by chance.  Evolution is an explanation designed to exclude God.  It is supposed to work entirely without Him.  That being said, proponents of evolution have serious challenges in explaining the origin of life and the origin of the diversity in life (which could be good reasons to reject the idea).  This is the only reason I can see for attempting to bring God into evolution, but isn’t it a bit convenient to bring God in when you need Him and exclude Him when you don’t think you need Him?

I hope that by doing this activity you are able to begin a rich conversation with your kids about God and the origin of everything.

I’d love to hear what you think!

What are your thoughts about the theological implications of the various explanations?  Can you answer any of the questions I posed on how we can credibly link God and evolution?

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