1. 14 Billion Years Evolution and 6 Days Creation
2. The Adam Dilemma
3. The Great Reformation
4. Today’s Reality
5. A Postmodernist Understanding
i. Understanding of Language
ii. Understanding of human limitations
iii. Understanding of the Bible
6. One Step Further
i. About Revelations
ii. Why 6 and 7 Days?
iii. About the Adam Dilemma
iv. Another Postmodernist Undertanding
v. Christianity in the Postmodern Age
7. How this book would be organized
When approaching the end of last millennium, human civilization entered a stage which has been labeled as postmodern by many. For Christians this would be a very special stage not only because many have believed that this postmodern times brings us close to the last days, but more importantly because we are given some historical privileges that could help us to have a better understanding of the good news from Christ given to us in the Bible, which was not available for our faith ancestors until this postmodern age.
Today, the difference between science and the Bible, especially the literal disagreement between the evolution demonstrated by science and the creation we learned from the Bible, has remained as a major obstacle for spreading the gospel around the world. In this book, together we will walk out some critical steps in understanding the Bible, starting with appreciating how the scientific evolution theory and creational teaching in the Bible are actually working together as strong testimonies for each other. We will also see how the apparent disagreement between the evolution theory and the creational teaching could serve as a critical key for us to enter a better understanding of the gospel. 1. 14 Billion Years Evolution and 6 Days Creation
Since Charles Robert Darwin published his well known book On the Origin of Species about 150 years ago, people from most part of the world not only have been educated about the theory of evolution, but also witnessed the evolution of the evolution theory itself. The theory about the evolution of species was just a start for the symphony of the evolution demonstration. A couple hundred years before the theory of biological evolution was given to the world, a few people including Galileo started another much longer scientific journey, after several hundred years, with countless fruits in the fields of physics, chemistry, geophysics, astrophysics, as well as biology, etc., scientists finally displayed to us a grand picture of the evolution of the complete universe starting from a big bang.
Different from faith based church teachings, science applies a reasoning system that can be traced back to ancient Greek thinking and allows people to conduct publically repeatable and disprovable empirical and logical studies. Because of this teamwork behavior of science, any scientific achievement from anywhere in the world could (at least in principle) be understood by someone else in the world with the common logic we all share. Because science works on observation results and logic reasoning, it is believed that as long as we could trust our basic perception and our logic reasoning ability, we human beings could trust the outcome of scientific researches in general. In the past several hundred years, with the rapid advancement of our civilization, science has assured us that our basic perception and logic reasoning ability are trustable. Or in other words, science has told us that we could trust science, and as part of our trust in science, we could trust the evolution theory which comes as a consistent part of science.
Compared with the publically traceable evidences accumulated by science, it seems that we are not very well offered with evidence for the creation details except what the Bible tells. But then why so many people including many highly scientifically educated people all around world continue to accept God as their Lord about 150 years after Darwin and Wallace published their evolution theory? Someone said that people believed in God just because they were told that there is a God. This is a very naïve opinion for the following facts:
1) Even today in traditionally non-Christian regions, persecutions or disfavors to Christians still could happen. But millions of people in those regions have accepted Christ in past years.
2) Many previously non-Christians became Christians in free faith societies where they don’t have to believe in any religion. Some of these people were born in a non-Christian environment where they had no chance to be touched by Christianity, but they accepted Christ when they migrated to a Christian cultural environment where they could learn the gospel. Among these people, many were not only educated in atheistic schools but also educated with very strong scientific mindset. Some others were born in Christian cultural environment but they accepted Christ only at certain point of their life when something very special happened so that they believe there is a Mighty God in this cosmos.
3) Many scientists have written eloquently about how their scientific studies of biological evolution have enhanced rather than lessened their religious faith. 
Then, while the politically dominating science has provided solid evolution evidences which apparently are in contradiction to the creation teaching from the Bible, what on earth attract people to the Christian Kingdom? Different persons might provide different answers to this question. The most important one is that many Christians have some personal subjective or objective experiences which are undeniable to themselves, from which they know that some supernatural power is in contact with them, and by their faith they believe they have experienced Christ. This is the main reason that today there is still a core Christendom of true Christian believers. Especially, for those who are very well scientifically educated to be truly faithful in Christ, the personal experience with Christ must be very strong so that it can stand firmly against the apparent disagreement between biblical teachings and the scientific theories including evolution theories.
Therefore, we may conclude that both science and Christian faith are mainly supported by human experiences, for science they are publically traceable common experiences, and for Christian faith they are personally undeniable experiences. Obviously, these are two quite different types of human experience, and the very difference itself stays strongly as an obstacle for many people to accept both of them at the same time. As a result, the apparent disagreement between scientifically developed evolution theory and biblical creation teaching becomes the central issue to keep many people away from accepting Christian faith. Even for those who not only believe in God based on their personal experiences but also trust science based on common logic, if they could understand both the Book Genesis of the Bible and science very well, the apparent disagreement between the Book Genesis and science could be very bothersome deep in their hearts, they might struggle from time to time to decide which one they should accept as correct.
Because of this difficulty, some people who do believe the existence of supernatural power have suggested that we might just accept both science and supernatural at the cost of giving up the Bible, which could apparently solve the dilemma of evolution and the creation. However, people who try to do so would very soon find that they are getting themselves into a deeper faith crisis. This is because by giving up the Bible they are giving up the complete believe system of Christianity, but they are not able to find a second believe system in human civilization which could provide a better solution to the issue that caused them to give up the Bible, i.e. the disagreement between science and believe system.
Some other people try to create some believe systems using their own intelligence , which indeed causes more failure spiritually to themselves as well as many others even though some of them might have obtained some apparent social success by doing so. The reason is simple: if there is supernatural existence, then the supernatural is out of our human reach so that we are not at a position to draw a clear picture of the supernatural reality. The best information we could acquire about the supernatural world would be from some revelation.
There is an old Chinese saying that you cannot see the mountain when you stay at the middle of the mountain. When we stay between the Bible and science and try to compare these two word by word, we see the disagreement between them. Now let’s take a look at the biblical teaching of creation in Chapter One of the Book Genesis and the up-to-date knowledge of evolution at a little far away distance and make a comparison:
1) At the very beginning:
a. At time zero of the creation:
I. According to Science: The only thing scientists have known so far about time zero of the Big Bang is that this universe came from nowhere in the Big Bang. Scientists have not found any satisfactory theory about the very early period near time zero in the Big Bang yet.
II. According to Genesis: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
b. Very shortly after the creation (for Genesis) or Big Bang (for Science):
I. According to Science: the universe was very hot and filled with matter and antimatter, when matter and antimatter collides with each other, there would be an annihilation of both and it would generate light. One second after the Big Bang, the energy density of the universe was dominated by photons.
II. According to Genesis: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
2) After the very beginning:
a. According to Science: Over quite a long period of time, the slightly denser regions of the nearly uniformly distributed matter gravitationally attracted nearby matter and thus grew even denser, forming gas clouds, stars, galaxies, and the other astronomical structures observable today.
b. According to Genesis: And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
3) Then as the creation (for Genesis) or formation (for Science) continued:
a. According to Science: Then after about 10 billion years or so, the earth formed at about the same time as the rest of our solar system, and not very later the moon formed. In the very beginning of earth’s history, the earth was a giant, red hot, boiling sea of molten rock.
Scientists have not reached a satisfactory agreement on where the water on the earth came from and how the oceans were created at the beginning. One of the theories says that early atmosphere of the earth was formed by water vapor and other lightweight, fluid constituents from earth’s interior. And as the earth cooled down, water vapor began to condense and clouds formed and storms raged, more and more water poured down on the primal earth, cooling the surface further until the seas were formed.
And then at about 550 million years ago to 450 million years ago, fish and land plants appeared almost at the same time. And then through a path of from fish to amphibian and from amphibian to reptile and finally, from reptile to mammal, mammal appeared on the earth.
And then, human beings finally appeared on the earth.
b. According to Genesis: And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created human beings in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
From the comparison of the evolution view of science and the creation in the first six days written in Chapter One of the Book Genesis, we can see the following interesting points:
First, even though science understandably does not provide any theory about before creation, amazingly science tells us that light was in the earliest universal existence while the Genesis tells us that God first created light. The disagreement is that based on science it seems that the whole universe should be very “bright” at the beginning since it was full of energy and light was everywhere while the Genesis tells us there was evening, and there was morning. But one thing we might bear in mind that the time scales in Big Bang theory and in the Book Genesis are obviously quite different so that during the time scale of the Book Genesis, the contrast between bright and dark might be already made sense in Day one.
Second, science not only tells us that both time and space were created together with matter at the time of the Big Bang, but also tells us that the vast space we are enjoying today is the result of a process of cosmic cooling down and expansion, while the Book Genesis tells us that the creation of space by God and the separation of “water from water” are closely related. Someone might think the word “water” here is not that impressive according to today’s scientific awareness, but what I see here the significance is the action of separating matter from matter to expand the space, which is a fundamental process in the history of our universal development according to science. The way to set the creation starting from “Day One” and onward and putting the creation of light and space as the first things is in very good agreement with the view of initial creation of time, space, and matter (energy) of the Big Bang theory.
Third, today scientists have not reached a satisfactory agreement on where the water on the earth came from and how the oceans were created at the beginning. It seems that the large amount of water that is present on the earth in comparison to other earth-like bodies cannot be alone explained by that released from the earth’s interior. Therefore, some scientists hypothesized that water-objects from the outer space collided with the pre-historic earth and brought water to the world’s oceans.
While scientists still could not figure out how the oceans were formed, the Book Genesis provided one theory about the process in which the oceans were formed: water all around the earth was gathered into some concentrated place so that oceans and dry land appeared. Well, if the earth surface was quite smoothly even at the very beginning and it became uneven as a result of the movement of earth crust, then this might be true. But we might not know whether this is a place where we should take the words in a strictly literal way or not.
Since there is no all-accepted scientific theory about the initial formation of oceans yet, it might be too early to make a detailed comparison between the evolution view and the biblical view of the formation of oceans. However, we might very soon notice that science and the Book Genesis have another good agreement so far: both tell us that the formation of oceans was earlier than the appearance of life on earth.
Fourth, according to Genesis, land plants were clearly created earlier than living creatures of the sea. While based on science, fish and land plants appeared between 550 million years ago to 450 million years ago from today at almost the same time. One issue that might be worth notice is that nowadays science determines the order of the appearances of life species on the earth largely based on the fossils they could find. For example, if one day some scientists found a land plant fossil which could be scientifically determined to have been formed much earlier than the earliest fish fossil they could have so far, then they might tell you that land plants appeared earlier than fish. Actually based on current knowledge we know that it is not a trivial thing for a fossil to form because most components of formerly-living things tend to decompose relatively quickly following death. Generally, in order for an organism to be fossilized, the remains need to be covered by sediment as soon as possible.
No matter what finally scientist might say about whether fish or land plants appeared first, one more agreement between the scientific view of evolution and the biblical view of creation is that both tell that plants and sea creatures appeared before land animals.
Fifth, the fourth day of biblical creation is very interesting in the sense that the description of what were created on that day contains some redundancy of what had already been created previously. For example, it is said in the Book Genesis: “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.” The creation of the Sun, the Moon and the stars was not mentioned in the creations of the previous days, but day and night was mentioned previously. This might look somehow self-conflicting to some critical eyes on the Book Genesis, but it is very interesting to me.
I see two very important implications from the description of the creation on Day Four:
1) If we agree that God knows that day light on the earth is from the Sun, then the creation of “two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night” described in the creation of Day Four seems to imply that the creation of light on Day One was not actually meant for the make of the Day and Night (which were supposed to be the most important meaning of light at far ancient times) even though the Day and the Night were defined in the creation of Day One, but was just for the creation of light itself! This sounds very scientific to me according to today’s Big Bang theory;
2) The disagreement between the evolution view and the creation view on the order of the appearance of oceans and earth life and the creation of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars are obvious. However, after “And there was evening, and there was morning” has been stated three times previously, the specific description of the creation of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars on Day Four seems to imply that the creation of Day Four was mainly for the constellation that earth man could see from the earth.
When we look up at the constellation hanging on a cloudless night sky, we all pay attention to two basic factors:
a) The distribution of the locations of the stars;
b) The distribution of the apparent size and brightness of the stars.
Scientists have learned a bit about how the solar system formed, but scientists are still lack of knowledge about when the constellation we earth man could see today were finally stabilized. Actually even though scientists believe that the Moon was formed and started to orbit the earth 30–50 million years after the origin of the Earth, they are still not very sure exactly how and when the Moon was formed and started to orbit around the Earth as it is doing today. But some scientists believe that the distance between the Moon and the Earth was quite different once in the history (and thus the brightness of the Moon might be somehow different to the eyes of earth man).
If the constellation did get stable around 30–50 million years after the origin of the Earth, then it would be much earlier than the formation of ocean and even more earlier than the appearance of plants on the earth, and then the biblical creation on Day Four could be viewed as a major order disagreement with the scientific view today.
I would say the implication 1) above suggests a very good alignment between the Book Genesis and science, and the implication 2) above might also suggest another quite good agreement between the Book Genesis and science depending on how science in the future might provide more information about the original formation of the constellation we see at night.
But no matter what, the biblical creations on Day Four and Day Five agree with science on that the constellation we earth man see for the past thousands of years became relatively stable before any animal appeared on the Earth. Of course, as for the creation of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars, both the Book Genesis and science agree that they were done before any animal appeared on the Earth.
Sixth, both science and the Book Genesis agree that fish appeared before birds. Even though science demonstrate that before birds there were already mammals, but both science and the Book Genesis agree that there were birds before any of the livestock and the wild animal species that we still could see today.
Finally, when it comes to human beings, both science and the Book Genesis highly agree that we humans appeared later than plants and other animals!
After looking at the science and the Book Genesis from a distance away, I believe many readers might have found more agreement between science and the Book Genesis than the disagreement we might have thought when we compare the two literally at a very close distance. Actually, the agreement between the Book Genesis and science is so astonishing that we don’t need to go through a thorough review of the history of science to know that what the Book Genesis achieved has cost scientists a great deal to get to learn after thousands of years.
Even so, those who believe in hard scientific data only might still not appreciate the agreement between science and the Book Genesis we have seen here. Obviously, the Book Genesis was not written using scientific language that we are familiar with today, and the agreement between science and the biblical creation description is just some kind of high level match rather than precise match of details. Therefore, people with hard scientific mind might assume that the creation part of the Book Genesis could be the result of some philosophical reasoning based on folk scientific knowledge and common senses available at the time the book was written; if it was so, then the agreement between the Book Genesis and nowadays science could be just the agreement between a primitive science and an advanced science. However, considering the amazing agreement between the Book Genesis with the scientific achievement that was not anywhere on this globe until the very recent century, I would say that the chance it was written based on scientific knowledge and philosophical reasoning solely would be very tiny. Actually I see the work of a mighty hand of God and an awesome plan of God in revealing the truth concerning the cosmological and life origin written in the Book Genesis to Moses several thousand years ago!
If we look at both science and the Book Genesis from a wider historical view by laying both of them among all other cultural and religious systems which have been developed for the past several thousand years, we would appreciate much more the agreement instead of disagreement between science and the Book Genesis. No one so far could point out another traditional culture or religious teaching that provided a theory of the cosmological and life origin which is in closer agreement with the scientific demonstration of today. This tells that after several thousand years of the development of human civilization, science comes into play as a solid testimony for the Book Genesis among all other cultures and religions started at the time of Moses or later! This is why those who try to give up the Bible for the literal disagreement between the evolution and creation views alone would not be able to find another believe system that could provide a better teaching to compensate their disappointment.
In order to see the agreement between the biblical creation written in Chapter One of the Book Genesis and the scientific evolution theory, as we have learned above, we have to expand those 6 days of creation over a time span of multi-billion years. This tells that we should not read Chapter One of the Book Genesis in a literally precise way in order to see the agreement between the two, which in turn would mean that we might need to understand Chapter One of the Book Genesis in a symbolic or metaphorical way. This way of understanding is so far the most difficult thing for most Christians to accept, especially among most faithful believers!
For those who would not read the Bible in any other way except for the strictly literal way, we need to come back to a very fundamental simple question: do we read Bible because we believe that God wants us to read? For those who would answer yes to this question we need to ask another question: Should we assume that it is the will of God that we should read Bible only in strictly literal way? For those who would answer yes for this question, we then need to ask how they think why the Bible describes the creation of the two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night in the creation of Day Four, while Day and Night were already defined in the creation of Day One and “there was evening, and there was morning” has been stated three times previously. Do they agree that God knows that day light on the earth is from the Sun? Would they assume that God made logical mistake in Chapter One of the Book Genesis about the creation of the Sun and the Moon in the creation of Day Four after “there was evening, and there was morning” has been stated three times previously?
If we could agree that God knows that day light on the earth is from the Sun, and God knows that Day and Night have been defined in the creation of Day One in Chapter One of the Book Genesis, and God knows that “there was evening, and there was morning” has been stated three times previously before the description of the creation on Day Four in Chapter One of the Book Genesis, then I would say we should accept the conclusion that the Bible is not meant for us to read only in a strictly literal way at all!
However, for those who could agree not to read the Bible in a strictly literal way, they would very soon face a much bigger theological challenge than what they could have experienced for understanding the creation from Chapter One of the Book Genesis. 2. The Adam Dilemma
Actually, it is much easier for those who previously did not accept the Bible or those who were in the way of giving up the Bible than those all time believers to appreciate the agreement between scientific demonstration of evolution and the biblical teaching about the creation on those first six days, in the way I discussed above. It is much easier to convince those scientifically minded non-believers or ex-believers to appreciate the supernatural power once they see the amazing agreement between the creation teaching and the evolution view as we discussed above. But once they turn their faith back to the Bible based Christianity, they would face a much bigger theological challenge together with those all time believers for ignoring the literal disagreement and accepting the agreement between the scientific evolution view and the biblical creation teaching.
They would face that bigger challenge right after they finish reading the creation of the first six days in Chapter One of the Book Genesis and start to read Chapter Two of the Book Genesis. It is written from verse 7 to verse 25 in Chapter Two of the Book Genesis:
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.” The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
For the creation of the first six days described in Chapter One of the Book Genesis, we could read it in a symbolic or metaphorical way because there actually no traceable hard historical data to stop us from doing so. Once we come to Chapter Two of the Book Genesis, we are encountering a real person whose name was Adam. If Adam was just a name then there would still be no problem for us to read the creation of Adam in a metaphorical way. However, Adam was not just a name. If we read Chapter Five, Chapter Ten, and verse 10 to verse 27 of Chapter Eleven of the Book Genesis as well as Chapter One of the Book Matthew, we will see that Adam was a true person who could be traced back based on the scripture from the time Jesus came to the earth back to the day recorded in the Book Genesis as the day Adam was created out of dust. Actually if by any chance there is a written account of the line of one of Jesus’ brothers up to today, then we could even trace back to Adam from today!
Obviously we are now facing a much greater challenge than we had when we read the creation on those first six days in Chapter One of Genesis because literally the creation of Adam out of dust might sound in solid contradiction to the evolution view of science and it also seems very hard for us to view a real person in a symbolic or metaphorical way as we did for the general creation earlier. If we read the creation of Adam out of dust in a literal way, then it might sound like that we are giving up the scientific view of evolution, which is not what we would like to do. However, even if we don’t read the creation of Adam out of dust in a literal way but in a metaphoric way, it still does not mean that we could have the biblical teaching of Adam to be scientifically agreeable because scientific theory would require parents of Adam and would not agree with the story of the Garden of Eden of Chapter Three of the Book Genesis.
Once again we are facing the difficulty of either giving up science or giving up the Bible after all the work we have done to find the agreement between scientific evolution view and the creation of the first six days described in the Book Genesis. Obviously the reason I am writing this book is because I don’t want to give up either one.
From the comparison of science and Chapter One of the Book of Genesis we have already seen that God creates science to be used as a solid testimony of the Bible, therefore we should not give up the hard data based science. If we don’t give up science, then how should we solve the evolution and creation dilemma with Adam? Obviously we should not give up the Bible, especially after we have witnessed that testimony science has provided for Chapter One of the Book Genesis. Actually, the story about Adam is such a key part of the Genesis that the fundamental Christian teaching of the original sin is based on that story, and thus we could not and should not bypass this issue if we really want to make a breakthrough for the challenge of the apparent disagreement between science and the Bible.
Before we further go on for the dilemma of Adam, let’s think about a question: Is the Bible really important to Christians and why? Here I would like share some of my personal answers to this question.
First, as Christians, we believe in God Almighty, we believe in Jesus Christ the Savior, and we believe in Holy Spirit. The name of the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Spirit is what we rely on. Then where do we learn about God? Where do we learn about Jesus Christ? Where do we learn about Holy Spirit? The answer is simple: we learn from the Bible. Without the Bible, we would lose the foundation of our faith. Without the Bible, even if God listens to us when we pray to the name of God, in our hearts we would not know what God really means to us, we would not know what the blood of Christ really means to us, and we would not know what God wants us to do.
Without the Bible, someone might even use the name of God to mean what God is not. Actually the fact that God uses science, which is politically dominating all over the world in 21st century, to be a testimony for the Bible as we have seen from the discussion I had above, we are assured once again that the creator and real ruler of the universe and heaven wants us to worship Him as the God in the Holy Bible!
Second, the Bible provides a very effective medium for the Holy Spirit to communicate with us. The Bible provides some basic laws to tell us human beings what good behaviors should be, and the Bible also provides in many places very detailed guidance on how a Christian could not only live a holy and righteous life in spiritual meaning, but also handle worldly life issues with wisdom and right attitude. Many Christians have life testimonies that the Holy Spirit guided them through some events in their life by directing them to some specified verses in the Holy Bible in various ways. Actually, the live guidance from the Holy Spirit with words from the Bible is an important reason for many Christians to truly appreciate the meaning of the scripture:"For the word of God is alive and active." (Hebrews 4:12)
Third, as we Christians already learned that the Bible is about prophecies. Past fulfillments of prophecies presented in the Bible could serve as testimony for the Bible to firm our faith, and prophecies about the future could bring us hope and expectation, and also help us to prepare ourselves for the kingdom of God to come.
Fourth, the Bible demonstrates how God chose His own people, built up His own people, gave grace to His own people, guided His own people, helped His own people, saved His own people, and let His own people to spread the Gospel. This is very important to us Christians because knowing how God worked with His own people in both the Old Testament and the New Testament times could help us to understand the inspiration or revelation from God.
Fifth, a major part of the Bible is about the inspiration and revelation the prophets, apostles, disciples, and faith fathers learned from God, and how those faith ancestors did to glorify God and to spread the Gospel. These are extremely valuable for Christians following them to learn how to live a Christian life.
Sixth，the Bible provides very profound teachings about the meaning of spiritual life for those Christians who have experienced the LORD, so that we could have the hope of eternal life.
The above are just a few among the benefits we can have from the Bible. I would say that based on these benefits we Christians definitely have to stay with the Bible. Now the challenge we are facing is very difficult: we have to stay with both the Bible and science while the two of them creates the creation and evolution dilemma with Adam which true Christian believers cannot just simply assume to be ignorable. We learned from verse 28 of Chapter Eight of the Book Romans that “all things are working together for good to those who have love for God, and have been marked out by his purpose.” If we have true love for God and have true faith in God, then we could expect that the challenge of the creation and evolution dilemma with Adam might lead us to some major breakthrough in our spiritual life. 3. The Great Reformation， a Great Plan
Around 500 years ago, a great religious reformation started in Europe, which ended the Middle Ages and is generally remembered with the names of Martin Luther and some others. The direct reason for the reformation was to fight against abuses within the Roman Catholic Church, but it actually created a far reaching religious and socio-political impact for the generations to come. If we are faithful to the guidance of God in the spiritual and worldly development of human civilization, we can see that great reformation played a very important role in a great plan of God for us human beings. However, when look back at the history, most people of today appreciate that great reformation mainly from socio-political points of view. Actually many people even considered the great reformation together with the renaissance that happened earlier and the enlightenment as well as the scientific and industrial revolution that followed as an important transition period where God’s influence on earth started to be replaced by humanism. Obviously people with that perception mistook Roman Catholic Church as the sole representation of God. That was really a big mistake especially if we realize now it was a plan of God to bring down the arbitrary power of Roman Catholic Church with the great reformation.
History told us that before the Martin Luther reformation, the Roman Catholic Church requested that preachers should not preach the Gospel in any way other than some standard way. Anyone who did not follow the Catholic dogma could be denounced as heretic and could face some serious threat to their life. Obviously, that would not be a convenient atmosphere for anyone to discuss any new way of reading the Bible which would be different from what the Roman Catholic considered as correct.
It is not hard to understand that the only way to have everyone in the world to preach the Bible in exactly the same way would be to make the Bible a literal dogma, which would mean to enforce a simple strict literal way of reading the Bible, and thus every single word would have a fixed meaning, and in case there would be any confusion about any wording, some authorities would come to provide a standard explanation and then to assume that explanation would have been from God. It is also not hard to find some benefits of making the Bible a literal dogma. Among other possible benefits, I could see four of them:
1) A dogma should be a teaching system of fixed contents and unified grammatical definitions for the wording of the contents. Therefore, a dogma would be a teaching system in which every single sentence should only be explained in a single way, which would be good for central guidance and administration of a great mass of people;
2) It is easier to repeat a dogma than to comprehend and explain more profound live messages;
3) For a literally fixed dogma, people who are familiar with the dogma could use any part of the dogma as the truth for their own need without worrying that they might say something wrong;
4) The most tempting benefit of establishing a dogma would be to apply the dogma into more general reasoning. Once we have a dogma, then it would be easy for us to turn that dogma into a system similar to a mathematical axiomatic system. Since every single sentence in a dogma is viewed as a truth by itself, every sentence within a dogma could be treated like an axiom. This is a major difference between a dogma and a mathematical axiomatic system because there are normally few axioms in an axiomatic system which could be used to derive other conclusions. Therefore, people who are familiar to a dogma could use any sentence of the dogma as a starting point and apply common logic to reach a conclusion for his own reason.
Even though many people of today with open mind would not appreciate the dogmatic way of teaching and reasoning, actually it was more positive than negative back to about 2000 years ago when Christianity just started for not very long. At that time, a dogmatic system of teaching might be not only very beneficial but also very necessary for people of Christendom to learn and to spread the Gospel in a consistent way. Today when we talk about the scientific testimony for Chapter One of the Book Genesis, we definitely should appreciate the privilege we are having over people during early church times when there was no modern science at all. Today if we admit that there are still many unanswered mysteries about the biblical teachings, we definitely should understand that people at the early church times were facing much more unanswered mysteries than us, and many questions they had at that time were supposed to be answered by the scientific discoveries that would happen more than one thousand years later. We all know that faith is about believing. Therefore, when people are facing many unanswered questions about their faith, one important and effective way to walk out is to just believe and leave the questions to the future. A unified dogmatic teaching at the time when there were overwhelmingly many unanswerable questions would be a very effective means to help people to accept and understand the Gospel and not to be distracted by doubts about their faith.
However, the dogmatic teaching of the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church would inevitably contradict many scientific discoveries that would come after the Middle Ages, and the Roman Catholic Church would use their power to resolve the contradiction based on their own understandings in their own favors. God knew that before it happened for sure! And God made arrangement for science to come smoothly, and one of the great plans of God, as I believe, would be to have science to serve as a solid testimony for the Bible many years later. It is now obvious to me that God started the great reformation which was carried out by Martin Luther and others to break up the concentrated power of the Roman Catholic Church.
Today, most people, Christian or non-Christian would agree that without that great Church reformation, it would be very difficult or even impossible for modern science to come later on. As a result, the great reformation practically opens the door for the development of evolution theory. But much more importantly, it served as a critical transition for a greater plan of God in leading us human beings to better understand God and better communicate with God, which seems to have not been appreciated by most people today. 4. Today’s Reality
About 500 years after the great religious reformation, today there are countless denominations or non-denominations of Christian churches around the world. Actually anyone who graduates from a Christian theological college could legally start an independent church by himself or herself in many countries, and there are also churches that have been started by people without any theological college degree. Regular Sunday sermons are not necessarily delivered by ordained ministers, and no common style for the messages delivered in the sermons either. Today what identifies a faith group to be a Christian church is whether it is based on the Holy Bible (both Old Testament and New Testament), and no any global arbitrary body to look over what exactly the messages are delivered within each church. This situation could have been viewed extremely chaotic and unacceptable if it had been presented to the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago, but today it is a true display of freedom of faith and speech in the Christian world.
However, even though the freedom the Christian churches are enjoying today is an outcome of the reformation that broke down the arbitrary dogmatic system about 500 years ago, today almost every Christian church still maintains such a common teaching that we can only read the Bible in a strictly literal way, which basically is the same as saying the Bible is a dogma even though people don’t really follow any standard way of teaching today. This creates a simple problem: how could different people teach a same dogma in different ways? A simple answer that many of us have been familiar with is that each church claims that their own teaching is the correct explanation of the Bible. Most people for the most time even don’t bother to make this claim unless it is necessary for them to do so.
Now we are facing such a situation: everybody could preach in his own style because of the freedom of faith and speech, but no one should propose any new way of reading the Bible because of the commonly accepted nominal dogmatic sense of reading the Bible. Therefore, about 500 years after the great reformation, and about 150 years after the proposal of biological evolution theory, today in churches all around the world, faithful Christians are just trying to assume that they could ignore the difference between the scientific evolution theory and the biblical creation teaching. This means while the dogmatic system was a powerful means to spread the good news in the early church times, today the nominal dogmatic status of the Bible becomes a reason for Christians to stop each other from walking out a critical step of faith growth which I believe God has waited us to do for almost 500 years.
Some people might wonder why we should still bother to worry about the disagreement between the evolution theory and the biblical teaching of creation since we already have plenty of freedom of faith and speech. Why don’t we just claim the creation in church and enjoy the evolution in science and technologies in our daily life as many people have suggested today? The answer is simple: the Glory of God is for perfect beauty and perfect harmony, not for self-confliction.
We might defer some unanswered questions to the future, but it does not mean that we should accept inconsistency and disharmony as part of the Glory of God.
Actually, the effectiveness of science and the difference between science and the Bible has been an important reason for some previous Christians to go astray for some other “truth”. Some of them have turned their faith in God to faith in the Nature and to assume the Nature or the Universe itself is the same as God. On the other hand, the intolerance of the difference between science and the Bible has led some faithful Christians to denounce science as a creation of evil, while they are not only enjoying the comfort brought to their daily life by science but also making good use of scientific achievements in their church work, which is not a way to glorify God.
Then what are the benefits for people to maintain a nominal dogmatic sense of the Bible, while virtually the compliance to the dogma is neither followed nor enforced? I think the second to fourth benefits of the 4 benefits of having a dogma as I mentioned in the previous section are still the main reasons. Simply speaking, people still need a nominal dogmatic system because it is much easier to understand, to use, and to preach a dogma than the dynamic profound live heavenly messages, which might be of some vital importance for many ordinary people’s faith life. However, the weakness of human beings should not be a reason for us not to respect the fullness of the Glory of God in any sense. Therefore, it becomes an important mission for Christians to find out a way in which not only could most people understand, use, and preach the heavenly messages written in the Bible easily, but also could they avoid the disadvantages such as being confused by the apparent disagreement between science and the Bible. For this we need to pray to God for giving us more wisdom and courage.
I believe that it is the will of God that we should not only find the harmonic agreement between science and the Bible, but also walk out a breakthrough in our faith quest as a result of facing the current apparent disagreement between science and the Bible for us Christians. This is a great plan of God, and for this great plan God released us Christians from the arbitrary dogmatic system about 500 years ago, and has provided us with more and more freedom in the years following the reformation. 5. Postmodernist Understandings
Today we are living in a postmodern age. A central issue of the postmodernism is language, which in a narrow sense refers to the natural language we speak and write, and in a general sense refers to artistic expressions and any system of symbols which delivers meanings as well. As Christians we all know that language is of central importance to Christianity too. This is because we believe in the word of God. Words form languages and the word of God has been translated into various languages. This common emphasis of language for both the Bible and the postmodernist civilization has made the latter a very special stage of civilization for Christian faith, which has not been realized by most people around the world yet. i. Understanding of Language
Then what is language for? For most people, we might summarize three functions of language: 1) it serves as a medium for people to communicate so that meanings are transferred from person to person through language; 2) it serves as an important means of thinking because any serious systematic thinking could only be done through the use of language; 3) it serves as a psychological messaging tool, one example of which is to soothe a person psychologically and physically when talking to oneself or someone else using language.
But very often people who believe in supernatural power might feel that language might also of some other functions. As Christians, we believe that the word of God has some mighty power not just because the meaning of the word, but the word would work when God says the word. Even though some people have tried to assume that when believers repeat the word of God they could see exactly the same power, I would say when people repeat the word of God the effect would be definitely different from when God says the word.
People who believe in supernatural power normally believe that language might have some power even when human beings say something using language. One important reason for people to believe so is because of the power of praying. Like believers of many other believe systems, Christians believe the power of praying. We know that when we pray, there could be some supernatural effect which could not be explained in scientific terms. However, this might still be described as the communication function of language because when we pray we pray to God and when people of other believes pray they pray to the supernatural power they worship. Then what about curse of man? It is a common knowledge among people who believe in supernatural power that sometimes curse might work. But this might be explained as that when curse works it is because some supernatural power might have listened to the curse, and thus the curse could also be viewed as a communication. Some science fiction writers have assumed that when praying or cursing some potential supernatural power built within human beings might be somehow activated by the language, which could be attributed to the psychological messaging function of language. Well, since we are talking about supernatural from our natural understanding here, we don’t just exclude any potential possibility.
Therefore, as long as we include communicating with supernatural power in our definition of communication, and include possible activation of some inner supernatural potential within human beings in our definition of psychological messaging, we might assume that, for human usage, language serves only for communication, thinking, and psychological messaging.
In real life many people have some very wrong conceptions about language. One of the wrong conceptions is that the only meaningful usage of language is just for communication. Because of this wrong conception, many people hold another wrong conception about language that when we communicate with each other language is just a tool that conveys the thoughts in our minds. Even though thousands of years ago some philosopher already pointed out the dependence of our thoughts on language, it was after we entered the postmodern times when it started to become a common knowledge of more and more people that our thoughts actually depend on the languages we are using.
One more popular misconception about language is that the language we are using in daily life is perfect and thus it can be used to express whatever meaningful. The catch is that no language in this world is perfect. The grammatical structure of each single language on earth has its defects. Comparison between different languages could help us to realize the defects of each language. We might very often find that language A is missing some concepts in language B and vice versa. Besides the structural defects of all languages, the late famous logician Kurt Gödel pointed out that our abstract logic system which is independent of any specific natural language is also defective. Because language does not only serve for communication but also serves for thinking, our thoughts would bear a structural mark of the language being used, which means that our thoughts are limited or affected by the structural limitation of the language we are using and the limitation of our common logic as well.
Language functions as a carrier of meanings and meanings of language is of essential importance in philosophy, especially postmodernist philosophy. Traditionally, because of the wrong conception that language was just a tool to convey meanings, people considered the meaning of a passage is solely the meaning that the speaker or the author tried to convey. This has never been true because as we are aware today that the form of the structure of a language unit (e.g. a sentence)could generate meaning itself, which means that the meaning a language unit could convey does not necessarily the exact meaning of the speaker or the author. A good example is that mistakes people made during conversations could mislead the audiences to think about something the speaker never meant to say. Besides, today we all know that stories written in books or played on movies are very often do not have any real life companion at all, and the meanings of the stories could just be products of the assembly of vocabulary by complying with the grammar or products of organized actions of visual objects and subjects.
Therefore, a complete picture of human communication is that 1) some meaning is conceived in the mind of the speaker or the author(the extreme case would be that the speaker speaks out by instinct reaction without any thinking)
; 2) and then the speaker or the author expresses the meaning using some language units, and thus the meaning in the mind of the speaker or the author is contained in the language units together with the possible extra meanings generated by the structural form of the language units; 3) and then when the audience or readers retrieve the meanings from the language units, they decipher the language to learn (or understand) the original meaning of the speaker or the author if this is the interest of the audience or the readers, and they might also enjoy the extra meanings generated by the structural form of the language units, or they might be completely misled either because their own mistakes in explaining the language or because it is too hard to retrieve (or understand) the original meaning of the speaker or the author.
In last paragraph I was discussing meanings of language in a very subjective way because I was talking about the meaning of the speaker or the author and the understanding of the meanings of the language units. But it is a common knowledge that we use language to describe things in life, which means the meaning of language should have some objective basis in life. However, once we talk about the relation between language and the objective basis of language in life, quite a few philosophical difficulties might arise, such as: what is the true meaning or is there any true meaning of a language unit? Based on the fact that the structural form of language units or any symbolic systems generates meanings and our communication and thinking count on the languages we are using, some postmodernists argue that there is no such thing called true meaning and all meanings are generated by some structural form of some symbolic system units with some historically developed conventions that are changeable themselves. It sounds very reasonable since we do agree that meaning of a language unit is generated by the form of structure of the unit. However, this theory would not be able to satisfactorily explain the fact that we can translate a written passage from one language to another with completely different vocabulary and grammar sets.
The very fact that languages could be translated from one to another tells that a natural language is just a network of grammatically connected concepts (or conventions developed through history), which covers some area (or volume) of infinite meanings, but not seamlessly. Translations between different languages are just mappings between different networks of concepts. Here I am talking about some real meanings that are independent of the structure that is used to generate the meanings, which sounds like some soul that is independent of the body by which that soul is manifested to the world. Then what on earth is the meaning behind the meaning-expressing or meaning-generating structure? In 1999, Hollywood brought to the world a science fiction movie with the title The Matrix. It seems that The Matrix accidentally hit a worldly view answer to the previous question. The answer is actually quite simple that there is an infinite-dimensional dynamic matrix of infinite size of materially or abstractly realizable (if we consider imagination as one kind of realization) possibilities (or meanings) in the nature, and a symbolic unit in any language is just a manifestation of some of the possibilities on that matrix. This means that the nature itself is full of meanings, and the reason we don’t see them all the time is not because the meanings are not there but because they have not been manifested to us. Of course, this is a worldly view, not of supernatural meaning as The Matrix was trying to demonstrate.
While most ordinary people for most of the time tend to see meanings in the universe only after those meanings are manifested, creative people such as inventors are more tuned to see meanings before the manifestations. For example, once we had the internet, a search engine was meaningful right away, but most of us did not see the meaning of a search engine until yahoo realized the already-there-meaning by providing a globally accessible searching service. The reason that we could translate written passages from language to language is because different passages written in different languages are just different manifestations of some already-there-meanings. What we need to be aware is that although passages could be translated from language to language, they might not be translated with exactly the same meaning in the sense: 1) there could be mistakes during the translation, and 2) there might not be exact match between the two languages for some specific concepts.
As I pointed out previously that the matrix view of meanings is a natural or worldly view because that concept is built with our natural perception or logic. Then what are real supernatural meanings? I don’t know because all my knowledge has been developed in natural existence including my view about supernatural. But one thing seems true to me that God has communicated to us natural beings by means of natural meanings which we could comprehend. Therefore, all the supernatural meanings we have been taught in the Bible or by other means are all in natural terms and thus are also covered in the matrix view I mentioned above.
If we try to use one word to characterize postmodernist philosophy, in my opinion, that word would be relativism. It looks to me that all philosophical ways of thinking that could be tagged as postmodernism are related to relativism in this or that way. The very fundamental relativist view is that meanings in general exist relative to certain background condition. Even though some philosophers or historians might argue that the existence of relativism could be traced back to thousand years ago, it becomes a dominant philosophy only at this postmodern age. Obviously, in order to be a true relativist, one cannot say that every meaning is a relative meaning because that statement would sound too much absolute and not relativist itself. Well, as long as a relativist does not claim every meaning is relative and admits the sovereignty of God, I personally would say that relativism makes a lot sense concerning human limitations on our understanding of meanings.
One form of relativism is pluralism which denies a central authority of truth and claims that different people could have different correct explanations about the same happenings. Many conservative people do not like this idea, but let’s think about this: what happened about 500 years ago was exactly the breakdown of a central authority of explaining the Bible and then many people are teaching the Bible in different styles in different denomination and non-denomination churches today. This is exactly a very good example of how pluralism happened to our Christian faith quest. ii. Understanding of human limitations
We are saying that we are now living in the postmodern times because we are living in a mixture of traditional cultures, modernist cultures, and cultures that can be labeled as postmodernism and are playing a leading role in human civilization. Even though it is very hard to tell when the postmodern times started, we could clearly see that postmodernist styles exist in the world today scientifically, artistically, socially, and philosophically. While the main theme of modernism was the potentness of rationality, postmodernism emphasizes the limitation of rationality, which we might have already sensed through the relativist view discussed earlier.
Some people consider postmodernism as back to pre-modernism, which obviously is not true. Apparently postmodernism is somehow un-modernist, but it is a continuation of modernism, not a movement of back to pre-modernism. One difference between pre-modernism and postmodernism is that, people in pre-modernist time conceded to the limitation of human rationality because of their awe of natural or supernatural power, while people in postmodernist time concede to the limitation of human rationality because of their awareness of the limitation through their rational (not anti-rational) quest. For example, both Einstein’s relativity and Heisenberg’s uncertainty had great influence on postmodernist culture, and both were discovered through human rational study. Thanks to the development in natural science, psychology, logic and linguistic studies, we are now aware that our limitation in expressing and understanding ideas using language is one of major limitations of human beings. This awareness would have tremendous impact on our understanding of the Bible and on our Christian faith quest.
Ironically, even though the theme of the limitation of rationality permeates all over postmodernist cultures, the reason that some scholars or ordinary people are confused about the postmodernism is mainly due to lack of awareness about the theme of human limitation. This sounds like an old saying that someone did not see a 500 pound gorilla walking in the room. For faithful Christian believers, this might have happened because postmodernist cultures like relativism or deconstructionism are quite different from traditional church teachings and thus they seem not to sound right; while for non-believers, many are lack of awareness of human limitation because they might still be in the dream of conquering the nature with unlimited human potential.
For example, if we don’t see the theme of human limitation behind the relativism, then we might view relativism as very negative since it sounds like trying to deny the substantial meaning in our faith. However, if we view relativism not as an absolute way of thinking itself, but as a way of thinking that is trying to tackle one important limitation of our human rationality that we in general could understand meanings only in reference to some background conditions, then our Christian faith quest would benefit from understanding the relativism.
Actually, great awareness of human limitations is what we should have gratefully benefited from the postmodernist culture, and unfortunately it is also what many Christians who have hard time to recognize the postmodernist values have so far severely missed. Once we are aware of many limitations of our human rationality, especially the limitations in our communication using language, we will have a better understanding of the Bible, and we could firmly walk out the important step in our faith quest which I believe God has waited us to do for about 500 years. iii. Understanding of the Bible
Compared to the Roman Catholic Church before the great reformation of 500 years ago, today’s Christendom could be viewed as in a pluralist state. Theoretically many Christians do not appreciate this status quo even though practically everyone is enjoying the freedom of this state. The most worrisome problem of this pluralist state that Christians should stay alert against is that pluralism provides Satan with an opportunity to distract people from true Christianity in many different disguises so that many false Christians or antichrists would appear.
Then why God would allow this pluralist state to exist and actually has led us to this state through the great religious reformation and the development of human civilization afterwards? Those who do not believe that God is actually in control at every stage of human civilization might not be bothered by this question because they would claim that God has not been with human civilization for a long time. But for those who truly believe that God is always with us human beings, this is a very valid and important question to ask themselves. I would like to share with you my personal answer to this question: it is because God is much more powerful than Satan. Actually no matter it is pluralist or not Satan could always find some ways to distract or attack Christians, but no matter in what state, God is always much more powerful than Satan. I believe that God would not stop His own plan just because there is some risk that Satan would make use of some situations during the process of the plan.
Now let’s think about what of the pluralist state is good for our Christianity. There is a simple good thing about the pluralist state: in our Christian faith, there should be only one central authority that is Jesus Christ and having a central human authority of faith could practically reduce the authority of Christ over churches in this world.
One serious problem that the Roman dogmatic system created is that many Christians could not see the difference between the word of God and the human explanations of the word of God. The reason behind this confusion is again the lack of awareness of human limitation. It is true that the word of God is eternal, but it does not necessarily mean that the explanations by some sphere of ecclesiastical authority of the word of God are eternal. It is extremely important for Christians to submit ourselves to the guidance of Holy Spirit. We should bear in mind that the Bible is a very important medium for Holy Spirit to talk to us, and the only central authority to explain the Bible in our life is not human but Holy Spirit. This is a key awareness of essential importance for us to resolve any faith challenge that is related to the apparent disagreement between science and the Bible.
A great awareness of human limitations could lead us to walk out a critical step in understanding the Bible: the eternal message from God is delivered to us in the Bible with human language, and any human language system on earth is a defective symbolic system. To many people this is just a reiteration of a simple known fact, but for many others, especially many faithful believers who cannot appreciate the postmodernist culture, even this simple reiteration of a fact that is already known to some other people is not easy because making this simple statement could mean saying a final goodbye to the dogmatic way of reading the Bible. But anyway this is a very important awareness to have in order to make a breakthrough in front of the challenge of the apparent disagreement between science and the Bible.
We are taught by verse 9 of Chapter 12 of the Book 2 Corinthians that the power of the LORD made perfect in human weakness. The awareness of human limitations of communication using language could help us to appreciate the beauty of Chapter One of the Book Genesis much more.
Now let’s review some knowledge that we have learned from Chapter One of the Book Genesis:
1) The following cosmological elements are of essential importance for human civilization:
Light, Space, Day, Night, Sky, Sun, Moon, Stars, Water, and Life of all forms;
2) The following knowledge about the origin of the universe and life: The universe was created at one moment of Day One, and light was among the first existence of the universe, and space was created by separating matter from matter, the crust of earth was very even so that no difference between dry land and ocean at the beginning, and then oceans formed as the earth crust became uneven and water was concentrated in oceans, and the constellation became relatively stable sometime before there was any animals on the earth, and land plants and fish appeared on the earth earlier than birds and any land animals, and human beings appeared on this plant at the end of life creation chain.
We might notice that several important cosmological creations are not explicitly mentioned in Chapter One of the Book Genesis. First of all, water was there before the creation, therefore, the creation of water is not mentioned, which might be of some special spiritual meaning.
Second, the creation of the earth is not mentioned explicitly but referred indirectly with the creations of sky, ocean, and dry ground. This tells us that the cosmological view provided by Chapter One of the Book Genesis is a human centered cosmology, which means that it is a view from human eyes. This should be one of the staring points for us to appreciate the beauty of the cosmology of Chapter One of the Book Genesis.
Third, the creation of time is not mentioned explicitly but indicated indirectly by the order of creations from Day 1 to Day 6.
Fourth, there is no creation of air at all in Chapter One of the Book Genesis.
The miss of the creations of the earth, time, and air in the Book Genesis delivers a very important message about the revelation given to Moses about the origin of the universe and life, which we will come back to review in next section of this introduction.
Postmodern artists very often try to express meanings from a much-more-than-three dimensional perspective on a two dimensional plane, and they know it would be difficult for them to do so in realistic pattern because of human limitations, therefore they express them with some weird appearances, which cause many people to feel hard to appreciate postmodern art. Personally I believe that the motives behind this might have a lot to do with the development of photographic technology. Artists could have learned two things from photographic technology: 1) no one could reproduce a natural image more “real” with any drawing techniques than photographic technology; 2) one could actually to express something that a “real” picture might not suit to present to viewers.
In order to make more sense out of limited elements within a limited space or during a limited time interval, artists might have to use one element to serve for multiple uses, and in order to do so he might need to move elements in the picture around in an irregular way within the framework and add in some seemingly extra elements as well. The more meanings the artist tends to express, and the fewer elements to be used, and the smaller the space or time for him to display the elements, the farther away from what people could easily comprehend with common logic might the picture look like. Actually, postmodern artists very often have to count on some implications to cause the imaginations or psychological associations of the viewers in order to present many meanings with fewer elements.
Now let’s think about such an assignment: with all the scientific knowledge we have, let’s write a brief summary of the history of cosmos and life evolutions from a perspective of a human being on the earth (meaning we have to indirectly indicate the formation and evolution of the earth). What should we do? Now we know the universe has been evolved for 14 billion years, there are countless elements we might want to include in this essay. But we are not allowed to write a very long article, so we have to view the entire history from a very high level by picking some most important elements. How should we do it? We might first to figure out the following issues: 1) where should we begin with? 2) Where should we end? 3) What elements should we cover? 4) What events should we cover?
For the first 2 issues, I guess most people would agree that the choice made in the Book Genesis was the best that we begin with the first moment when the universe was created, and end with the emergence of civilized man (not apes). Of course if we have the luxury to include many details we might want to end at this postmodernist time, but if the restriction on the length is very tight, then the emergence of the species which we could call as civilized man might be the best place to end this essay.
People who have knowledge about the Big Bang might know that it could consume many sentences even if we want to trace the beginning down to the first second after the creation, therefore, when there is a strict length restriction, I would say it would be the best choice to just pick the most common and most important issue during the very beginning, then the light would be the best candidate to me for being a representative of the very first universal existence. Besides, light also serves as the most important element for us human beings to see the universe (please remember that the requirement of this essay is a perspective from a human being).
Then let’s look at the third issue. First of all, with light by which we can see things, what make an earth man be aware that he is part of a cosmos would be these concepts: sky, day, night, the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. With my scientific mind after so many years education of science, I would definitely add space and time as well. Nowadays common knowledge of physics tells us that the fundamentals of the universe would be space, time, matter (energy), and physical laws. I have to be very careful about matter because everything besides space and time is matter, including light. If I add matter into the list, not only I might be forced to use some term that was definitely incomprehensible several thousand years ago, but also I have to distinguish matter and instances of matter such as light, which might cost too many sentences for me. Besides, even if I add in matter I still need to add some specific instances of matter such as animal. As a result, I would decide not to add in matter. Then of course I would come to consider life. With the common knowledge we human beings have today, when I talk about life, I would mention three basic things as well: water, air, food. But considering the fact that all food we eat is dead lives, to save sentences, I would not list food as an extra. Well, the only thing on my list which is not covered by Chapter One of the Book Genesis is air.
Then let’s look at the fourth issue. The creation of light has been covered in the first issue for the beginning of the universe. In order to have anything else to be added in the universe, we need space, so I would add in the creation of space. With nowadays common knowledge I know that space was created at the Big Bang together with time and matter, but the vast space out there in today’s universe is the consequence of the cosmic expansion, which means that the size of space is not permanent but grows when matter moving away from matter in the universe. This over simplified introduction of space has already cost too many sentences here without including any specific information for earth cosmology. Therefore, I cannot afford to describe space separately from talking about other things. Then I decide to choose something that could cover the following issues at once: space, matter, earth environment, and living condition. As a result, I would do as what is done in the Book Genesis: to use water to represent matter and thus the separation of water from water not only demonstrates the creation of the vast space, but also indicates the creation of earth environment, which naturally introduces the sky as well, plus a basic living condition would also be covered.
Once the space, water, and sky have been covered, the basic cosmologic framework for an earth man has been set up, and then I might wonder what the earth looked like when it was formed. So I might then add in the formation of some geographic elements, such as the formation of ocean. And then, what is significant for me to think about the universe would be the constellation. Therefore, I would add in the formation of the constellation into my essay, but in order to do so I have to first create what would be in the constellation: the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. But after I have done this I would realize that the complete constellation has actually been indicated already so that in order to save sentence I am better off moving on. Definitely I would not add the noise making truck outside my window into my essay, neither would all the buildings. The next most important thing in my essay would be evolution of life, for which, to the simplicity that the Book Genesis has managed, I guess not many people would challenge the way the Book Genesis has presented to us about the order in the evolution chain. After all, I found that, even with the scientific knowledge I have today, I could not write an essay better than Chapter One of the Book Genesis in a thorough but concise way as in Chapter One of the Book Genesis.
One of the fundamental key issues in the above assignment is that we have to write an essay with limited length to cover maximum information. This requirement first challenges our language ability and in response to this challenge we see our limitations that it is impossible for us to use language to do whatever we want. Then this requirement forces us to make arrangement of the elements we want to cover like a postmodernist artist.
Again, please remember that I could plan the assignment in the way I mentioned above is because based on all my command of scientific knowledge I know that is the right way, but several thousand years ago, Moses did not have the same scientific knowledge as mine at all!
I was born in a non-Christian cultural environment and I have learned many myths about the cosmological and life origin, nothing comes close to Chapter One of the Book Genesis, which provides not only a scientifically agreeable but also an artistically beautiful high level summary of the cosmological and life origins in such compact form of less than 1000 words several thousand years ago. I am deeply awed by the potentness and beauty exhibited by the Book Genesis.
After review Chapter One of the Book Genesis from a postmodernist view, we have more faith in the Bible, but so far we still have not resolved the issue of Adam dilemma that we discussed previously. In order to resolve that issue we need to strive out one critical step further in understanding the Bible. 6. One Step Further
Almost 2000 years after the early church times, many evangelists, church ministers, and ordinary Christians still continue to witness that they obtain revelations from Holy Spirit in visualized visions, audible voices, materialized life occurrences, dreams, and other types of inspiration. Thanks God for these testimonies for they are of invaluable importance for us to understand revelations in the Bible. i. About Revelations
It is explicitly mentioned in many books in the Bible that the messages God gave to the prophets were delivered in dreams or by audible voices and some seeable visions that they would feel real when they were not in dream.
These are two basic facts that we could learn from the Bible: 1) the heavenly messages written in the Bible were not written by God but by some human beings who were given the messages; 2) the heavenly messages written in the Bible were not given to every person everywhere in the world at the same time, but was to a very limited number of people first, and through the work of these people the messages were spread to others in this world.
From these two very basic facts personally I see an extremely important message: God does not give us a heavenly written book that covers every spiritual and natural secret at once, and God knows that the message written in the Bible could bear human personal subjective marks. Some people might ask why God not give us a book which was not written by human, but I would say that we should be very grateful to the great grace of God for giving us revelations through a book written by human---the Bible, and we should obey the will of God in learning the revelations from a book written by human---the Bible. Those who like to consider the Bible as 100% from God without any human marks might not agree with me here, then let’s all continue to pray to have a better understanding of the Bible.
As we might have seen so far that one important thing for us Christians to do in order to have the faith breakthrough is to speak out or repeat some obvious facts. This is because speaking out or repeating some obvious facts could help us to stand firm in complicated situations and could firm our faith in God. After discussing those two basic facts in last two paragraphs, let’s review the Book Genesis again.
Even though Moses did not mention explicitly how he obtained the revelations in the Book Genesis, after we speaking out or repeating those two basic facts previously, and based on our knowledge about revelations in general, I could feel quite safe to assert that when the revelations written in the Book Genesis was originally given to human beings, the messages were not given in a written form, but were given to some human being through seeable visions, and/or audible voices, and/or sensible materialized occurrences. Based on what we also learn from the Bible about some other revelations Moses obtained and the miracles Moses did, we might very safe to assert that the revelations in the Book Genesis was originally given to Moses directly.
In a simple way to say what I was trying to say in last paragraph, we could quite safely say that Moses obtained the revelations in the Book Genesis through some seeable visions, and/or audible voices, and/or sensible materialized occurrences. We have also learned that the unique feature of the revelations in the Book Genesis is that they are not about the future, but about the past, and not a short past, but the past of some 14 billion years. It means that Moses actually was given to see some visions and given to hear some voices or maybe also given to feel some occurrences that demonstrated some very important happenings in the cosmological history including the beginning of human civilization. After received those revelations, Moses recorded them in words. What Moses recorded was quite accurate about what he was given to receive, but might not be a perfect copy of what he was given to receive as a human being.
For those faithful Christians who agree with me for the statements I made in last paragraph, together we walk out one important step in our faith quest, even though some of you might feel what I just said was so simple and nothing special. For those faithful Christians who cannot agree with me for the statements I made in last paragraph, I still wish you could stay with me for the rest of this book even though obviously we might have quite a different basic understanding of the Bible, and all of us might continue to pray for a better understanding of the Bible.
Based on the above understanding of how Moses received the revelations in the Book Genesis, let’s review Chapter One of the Book Genesis again.
From the details and thoroughness of the revelation about the cosmological history summarized in several hundred words, we could imagine that Moses was given to see from his earthly human perspective some vision with an audible voice for an abbreviated version of history covering some important aspects and events. Now, let’s imagine what Moses might have experienced when receiving the revelations:
At the beginning (obviously Moses would be informed when the beginning of the revelation about the creation started), he saw a vision which made him feel formless and empty except for some unclear background images, from some very mild sound of water he himself felt like in waters, and he learned that the Spirit of God was hovering around;
Then he heard a voice saying “Let there be light”, and then he saw light was created so that he could see the contrast of bright and dark part of the universe, and then he saw the brightness and darkness alternated and heard a voice saying the word “day” and the word “night” alternatively;
Then he heard a voice saying “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water”, and then he saw waters that were filling the whole universe were separated from each other, and when he saw vast space coming out, he heard a voice saying the word “sky”;
Then he heard a voice saying “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear”, and then he saw ocean and dry land appeared, and he heard a voice saying the word “land” when the land appeared, and the word “seas” when the seas appeared; and then he heard a voice saying “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds”, and then he saw plants and trees were created and learned that they were bearing seed and fruits according to their kinds;
Then he heard a voice saying “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth”, and then he saw the Sun, the Moon, and the stars were made;
Then he heard a voice saying “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky”, and then he saw sea creatures were created and flying birds appeared in the sky, and then he heard a voice saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth”;
Then he heard a voice saying “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind”, then he saw land animals that he most probably had already seen in his life before started to moving along on the ground;
Then he saw the image of God, he saw that the image of God is a human image, and heard God say “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground”, and then he saw man and woman were created, and then he heard God spoke to the human beings who were just created: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground”, and he heard God continued to speak to the human beings who were just created: “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.”
During the whole process when Moses experienced the vision, he saw alternations of brightness and darkness between some major creations and he counted and learned that there were 6 alternations so that he knew it was in 6 days.
Then when the brightness of day time came for the seventh time period, he was told that God had finished the work God had been doing, and God would rest from all his work, and then he saw God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creating that God had done.
For those who might have got a bit lost here, I just remind that I was imagining what Moses might have perceived when he was given the revelation in the Book Genesis.
I mentioned in last section that the creations of the earth, time, and air in the Book Genesis were not explicitly mentioned in Chapter One of the Book Genesis. This is in very good consistence with the possibility that Moses was given to see the revelation. The awareness of the molecular compositions of air and its physiochemical properties became clear only when modern science boomed. Even though ancient people knew that breathing was important for life, they might not be clearly aware the difference between empty space and space filled with air. As a result, Moses might have missed air because he did not see it; as for time, Moses did not see the creation of time either since we cannot see time, but he was given to feel the creation of time (which he actually had already been very familiar with in his own life)through the progress of the creation with time; for the creation of the earth, unless Moses had been told by voice that one globe formed in the universe was the earth, even if he was given to see the formation of the earth he would not have known it was the earth. Therefore, the miss of the explicit description of the creations of air, time, and the earth, together with the thoroughness and accuracy in other aspects, tells us that Moses most probably saw the vision about the cosmos and life origin.
I want to emphasize that what we read from the Book Genesis in English was translated from some version of the book which might not be exactly the same copy written by Moses; and the version written by Moses was what he recorded after he received the revelations, and what he recorded not only might involve some of his own earthly human understandings of what was revealed to him, but also might not be exactly the same reproduced written copy of what he was given to see. ii. Why 6 and 7 Days?
When we ignore the disagreement between the Book Genesis and science, and read the Bible in a strictly literal way, we would take 6 days of creation and 1 holy day for rest without any question. Now if we read the 6 days of creation in a metaphorical sense, and view the 6 days at a span of 14 billion years, then we might ask why God revealed the whole history of cosmos in 6 days to Moses.
Actually biblical numerology has been a branch of biblical study. It has been believed by some people that number 6 is the number of man and number 7 is the number of completion or perfection. Personally I do believe that God revealed to Moses the cosmological and life evolution of past 14 billion years in 6 days plus 1 special holy day of rest for some special reasons. I feel that there might be two important reasons for this:
1) To set a base rhythm of the life of our earthly human beings with one day to rest because God knows that we are weak and we need rests. During this day for rest, we could not only recover from fatigue but also come to worship God. This shows that God loves us. Reconnection with God is the central theme of the Bible and the central theme of Christianity, which is an amazing spiritual blessing for us from God.
Besides, number 6 has some close relation to the basic rhythm of earthly man: 1 year has 12 months, 1 day has 24 hours, 1 hour has 60 minutes, 1 minute has 60 seconds, and 1 second is about the interval of each pulse, and some lunar calendar takes every 60 years as one cycle;
2) To set this sacred number 7 in the center of our human life. Now with 7 days a week, even though many places in this world now have 2-day weekend, we still feel that every 7 days is a small cycle in our life even those who stays or works at home.
There are many numerological theories involving the number 7, personally I see two important meanings of this number:
1) Today scientists have found that the complete cosmos should be an 11-dimension instead of 4-dimension space-time, there are 7 dimensions of hidden space-time. Personally I feel that 7 dimensions of hidden space-time could be related to supernatural existence above our 4-dimensional human beings. Altogether, the numbers of dimensions of time, space, space- time, hidden space- time, and the complete cosmos, which we all learned from science, form an interesting Fibonacci like series: 1, 3, 4, 7, 11….;
2) There is another 7 related Fibonacci like series which seems to be related to music tones to me: 2, 5, 7, 12….
Actually, today physicists are telling us that space-time (no matter what the dimensions) and vibration of super-strings are two fundamental aspects of the universe. It sounds like our universe is just simply a symphony of super-strings in space-time. As for the super strings themselves, some people believe that all material substances in this universe are related to the Fibonacci series itself: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,…. iii. About the Adam Dilemma
Now it is about the time for us to get some breakthrough with the Adam dilemma we encountered previously. The reason we are having a dilemma is because that on one hand Adam was a real person with a traceable family line and on the other hand the story of creation of Adam is in conflict with scientific theory of evolution. Even though it might sound very simple, the real challenge is actually the extreme subtlety of the logic behind and the complexion of background possibilities.
Let’s do some very careful analysis here. We first stand on both the side of science and the side of the Genesis, and then move together to where they seem to meet and conflict with each other. From the side of the Genesis, we know that both Adam and Eve were real persons in the history of human beings; from the side of science, we would say that based the fossils that scientists have found so far, before Adam and Eve, there were already some beings who could be called human because of their biological similarity with us human beings (including Adam and Eve). Then both sides meet and conflict with each other at this point: it is written in the book Genesis that Adam was created out of out of the dust of the ground and Eve was created out of a rib of Adam.
After our discussion about revelations in general in previous section, we might conclude that the creation of Adam and Eve was recorded in the book Genesis most probably because Moses saw and heard what is written in the Genesis about Adam and Eve in some spiritual visions. Logically, there could be two different possibilities about what Moses saw in the visions, and we will see that none of these two possibilities would be in conflict with science at all despite of the misconception most people have so far that they were in conflict.
The first possibility is that what Moses saw in the vision about Adam and Eve was what actually happened in the past. Since we Christians believe that God has the power to create miracles, we definitely could accept this possibility (and so far most faithful Christians seem to consider this to be the only possibility). Based on our knowledge about science, we know that what science has demonstrated is the evidence of general evolution, not an evolution of a line of a specific human family. Therefore, the scientific evolution theory should not be viewed as in conflict to the possibility that God created the family of Adam in the way as described in the Genesis in addition to the general evolution stream, and also made the family of Adam and Eve biologically the same as other families that could be called human.
Then those who could digest meanings only from very literal explanations might still argue that science is still in conflict to the fact that the Genesis claims Adam to be the first human ever on the earth, not just one special person created in the middle of some already there evolution process. As we already discussed previously in the first section “14 Billion Years Evolution and 6 Days Creation”, in order to resolve the apparent disagreement between scientific theory and the biblical teachings in the book Genesis, we cannot read every sentence of the book Genesis in a strictly literal way, and actually I believe it is not the will of God that we should read every sentence in the Bible in a strictly literal way as I mentioned earlier in the first section “14 Billion Years Evolution and 6 Days Creation”.
If we insist on reading the Adam and Eve related biblical teaching only in a strictly literal way, then the conclusion is very simple that we can only accept either the Bible or science, not both of them, which I truly believe is not the will of God.
In order to learn important messages from the Adam and Eve related biblical teaching while not denying the validity of science, we need to accept the scientific evidences that before the time Adam was created as recorded in the book Genesis (about 6000 years ago), some evolution process which could be related to human beings had already been happening for a very long time. However, strictly speaking, so far science has not been able to prove that we human beings of this postmodern time are not solely offspring of Adam. This is because science has not been able to identify any specific modern person to be a child of any specific person who lived before Adam while the book Genesis tells us that all human beings except one family from Adam’s offspring died in a huge flood, and all the pre-historical stories that people heard of from different cultures so far were not formally documented history.
Therefore, if we viewed the possibility that what Moses saw in the vision about Adam and Eve was what actually happened in the past as a special creation in addition to the already existing evolution process at that time, then this creation story is not in conflict to scientific discoveries.
The second possibility is that what Moses learned in the vision was some heavenly designed story used to show Moses some profound messages about human civilization in a metaphorical way. When God showed the vision to Moses, of course God has the power to design the vision not only to involve some real people in the history but also to reveal some profound messages in a compact version and in metaphorical way. If that was the case then what Moses saw in the vision was not what really happened in the past, and thus as a result what was shown in the vision would not cause an actual conflict with science at all.
Therefore, as long as Moses received the revelation recorded in first three chapters of the book Genesis from some spiritual visions, then there could be no conflict between science and the biblical teaching concerning Adam and Eve, and thus the Adam dilemma we mentioned previously in section 2 is resolved.
Even though the above mentioned two possibilities concerning the story of Adam and Eve could be all considered valid possibilities if we could accept miracles and heavenly visions, for a couple of reasons personally I feel the second possibility to be more real:
1) We can see that the narration of the story of Adam and Eve is in a quite different style from the style used in the narration of the creation of the first six days in Chapter One of the book Genesis, and most importantly Chapter One and Chapter Three have quite different endings concerning the creation of human beings. The story of the creation of human beings in Chapter One ends with blesses and granting, as it is written in verse 27 and verse 28 of Chapter One, but the story of the creation of Adam and Eve ends with curses and banishing as it is written in verse 13 to verse 24 of Chapter Three.
One main blessing written in Chapter One is “Be fruitful and increase in number”, but the sexual desire which is necessary for human beings as bisexual beings to increase in number was recorded as the result of a sin that was the cause of the curses written in Chapter Three.
From this very unique arrangement in the narration of the creation of man and woman in the first three chapters of the book Genesis, I personally feel that Moses might have received the revelations in Chapter One and in Chapters Two and Three not from one single vision but from two or more separate visions, if he did receive the revelations from visions as I believe he might have. From the different styles of the narration of Chapter One and Chapters Two and Three, personally I feel that the story of six days creations is more likely composed of some critical true events in the past, while the story of Adam and Eve is more likely a heavenly designed story of two real persons.
2) Throughout the Bible, we could see many examples which tell one fact that we human beings could not really be able to distinguish good from evil. Even though traditionally people from different cultures all assumed that human beings were capable of knowing what was good and what was evil, one important progress we have achieved in the postmodern civilization is that we as a whole are mature enough to know that we human beings are lack of the ability to tell good from bad in the ultimate sense. Based on this awareness I would say that what was written in verse 22 of Chapter Three of the Genesis, “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.’” should not be what really happened at the time of Adam and Eve since God knows our features way much better than ourselves.
No matter the story of Adam and Eve was actually happening or was a heavenly designed metaphorical teaching, it definitely contains plenty of profound messages. Different people might see some different meanings from the story, and I would like to share with you some of the meanings I could see as follows:
1) As the creation of the first man, the creation of Adam could serve as a prototype for the creation of all human beings, and the Book Genesis tells us that Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground. This is amazingly in line with today’s scientific knowledge about human biology composition. According to science, like any organisms, human body is composed of basic chemical elements which could be found on the earth (this knowledge was not available to human beings until only very recent centuries!). In other words, science has theoretically established a correlation between human body and the repository of chemical elements on the earth; while the Book Genesis pointed out to us a correlation between human body and the representative of the repository of chemical elements on the earth---the dust of the ground. In scientific terms, we can say without doubt that we are made of the same elements of the dust of ground, and in biblical terms, we can say that we are made out of dust of ground. What an amazingly close match!
2) While the body of Adam was formed from dust of ground, the life of Adam was given through the breath of life from God. This is very important knowledge about life, which is not covered in any scientific theory. Some scientifically minded people might take this part as a contradiction to science as well. But I would not think so even though I have agreed that there are many apparent contradictions between science and the book Genesis.
When we say two theories contradict to each other, we should know the contradicting parts of both theories. Now we know from the Book Genesis that we are alive because we have something in our body which is different from all elements we could found from within the earth, which we might call as soul or soul plus spirit; while science has only covered some material aspects of human life, scientists have never been able to prove that there is no soul or spirit attached to a human body, and actually scientists even have never been able to create a life solely from earthly elements. Therefore, we could not conclude that the biblical view that life was from a breath of life from God is in contradiction with scientific discoveries, even though we might say that this biblical view is in contradiction with some personal feelings of some scientists.
3) As for the message behind the creation of woman from a rib of man, verse 24 of Chapter Two of the Book Genesis tells us: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Some church teaching has also explained this as that man needs to have woman to be complete, and woman needs man to form her own home.
4) The selection of a real person Adam in the middle of the scientifically demonstrated evolution process as a representative of civilized man to reveal to Moses might have the following significance:
a. Adam was an ancestor of Moses in blood. Therefore, the revelation of Adam to Moses enabled Moses to see how his own ancestor evolved through generations.
b. Biblical scholars have shown us that Adam was created about 4000 BC. This was a very important historical stage because all secularly documented ancient civilizations discovered so far began around or after 3000 BC. Therefore, a civilized man of 4000 BC could be a very good representation of the beginning of human civilization.
c. Before the days of Moses, one branch of the line of Adam had been of special spiritual importance for carrying on some heavenly messages on earth, and for living on the faith in heaven, and would continue to be so for generations to come, and would deliver gospel to the rest of the world later on.
d. Actually according to Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight of the Book Genesis, all human beings except those eight people of Noah family died in the flood, and Noah was one of descendants of Adam, which means all people alive today are children of Adam. Even though scientists have found different pre-history fossils from different parts of the earth, and there are different races living in different parts of the earth today, but so far scientists have never been able to match different races with different pre-history fossils. Therefore, the existence of different kind of pre-history fossils does not mean all the pre-history families have continued to today. Beside, all the pre-history artifacts recovered so far by scientists could only tell that there were pre-history civilizations, but could not tell that those families actually survived a huge flood. Furthermore, all the pre-historical stories that people heard of from different cultures so far were not formally documented history.
5) The teaching of the existence of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is of very profound significance for Christian faith, and for the entire human civilization as well.
Basically, while faithful people all know that God could change our mind directly, in reality, God normally communicates with us by sending us some humanly comprehensible messages. This is because of our free will. The very basic meaning of free will is to know what is good and what is bad for us, and in our world of four-dimensional space-time the ultimate meaning of good and bad for any creatures of life is about life and death, which is basically controlled by the second law of thermal dynamics. All our human actions are for the good in some sense. Evil not only means the extreme of bad, but also stands as a symbol of all bad things. Thus, having the knowledge of good and evil is a metaphor of acting by our own free will, and acting by our own free will means we are not in close accordance with the will of God.
Therefore, the teaching of the tree of life together with the teaching of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil tells us that when we were in heaven, which means we were in complete accordance with God, we could have endless life; but when we are on earth where the controlling law is the second law of thermal dynamics, while we are on our own free will, we cannot enjoy the endless life from heaven.
Today, while science tells us that all living creatures on earth would die because of the second law of thermal dynamics, the Bible tells us that the deadly destination of human beings was caused by the disconnection (even though it might not be a complete disconnection since obviously we are still getting messages from God) from heaven.
Some people asked why Adam and Eve did not die right away after they ate the forbidden fruits while it is written in verse 17 of Chapter Two of the Genesis, “when you eat of it you will certainly die”, and many people gave many different explanations to what might be the reason. I never read the original version of the Bible since I don’t understand the language. But from the English version that I could understand, I don’t see what is written in verse 17 of Chapter Two of the Genesis necessarily mean “die right away”. Here the “will certainly die” logically is just the opposite to “will probably die” or “will never die”; therefore, it could mean “will die sometime later”.
6) Once Adam noticed that he was naked he felt ashamed of himself. To feel shameful when naked is a basic human nature that makes us different from animals even though we are all bisexual beings. If we can accept the scientific evolution theory, then we should be able to imagine that getting aware of own naked body and feeling ashamed of it was one important milestone in the process of man evolving into “human”, and accompanying the maturity of this awareness should be some major development or growth of the intelligence of man. Besides, as we know that human intelligence has been what human beings count on to tell good and evil without spiritual awareness, and in fact the ability and effectiveness of telling good from bad has been the basic evaluation of human intelligence ever. Then we can see that the story of man and woman noticing own naked bodies after eating the fruit of knowledge of good and evil could be very well designed to tell us the important milestone of human intelligence development in the evolution process. Therefore, scientific evolution theory and the story of Adam and Eve become testimonies to each other again!
Actually, as human beings, our naked body is a source of shame deep in our psyche not only because our body is imperfect, but also because we do not have full control of our own body. Especially when it comes to sexual desire, very often we are compared to animals by writers of different cultures. Imagine that we were at the positions of Adam and Eve, and then we could imagine that Adam must have felt that he himself was much superior than those animals that he gave names for. But the similarity between his own body and those animals, especially his own desire of Eve’s body could have degraded his feeling of superiority a lot, which might have been an important reason for him to be ashamed of himself.
Even though God created us human beings to rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground, the biological similarity we shared with the animals that we are created to rule over is a very important source of all our sins and unrighteous desires, and a very important source of various evil things around the human world and along the human history.
Very often we might hear some Christians try to defend our own images using verse 27 of Chapter One of the book Genesis because it is written there “So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Personally I would read verse 27 of Chapter One in a metaphorical way just like I read the creation of six days in general in a metaphorical way. This is because a) I do know our image is not perfect and I do believe God is perfect; b) I do believe that the heaven of God is in higher dimensional space-time where the concept of image would be very different from what we feel about images in our four-dimensional space-time.
I think that the reason Moses wrote the verse 27 of Chapter One of Genesis as it is might be because Moses saw God in an image of human being in the vision he was revealed the messages as I guessed in subsection 6.i. “About Revelations” previously. I believe God definitely has the power to appear in an image of human being.
Actually it could be a very precise statement that the combination of the primitive biological feature (of our body) similar to animals and the developed mental ability (of our intelligence) dissimilar to animals constitutes a major source of human evilness. This is very consistent with the story that man and woman became ashamed of their bodies after they sinned and ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.
7) It is written in Verse 28 of Chapter One of the Book Genesis that after God created the man and woman, God blessed them and said to them: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” This tells that having many children is the great plan of God for human beings. However, from Chapter Two and Three we see that only after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they noticed that they both were naked, and thus they could have sex desire of each other. This story on the other hand tells that human beings had sex after they sinned, and thus they would reproduce themselves only after they sinned.
Furthermore, Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because she listened to the serpent who tricked Eve, and the reason she listened to serpent was because she saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom.
The meaning behind all this is also of very profound significance for Christian faith, and for the entire human civilization as well.
First it is manifested here in a metaphorical way that the source of human sex desire is from our sin, while we all know that without human sex desire no one in this postmodern age would have been ever lived at all. Then it is manifested through a story that the reason we would be tricked and sin is because of our desire of knowing everything in the universe and being independent, and of taking what good for our mouths and what pleasing our eyes, while we all know that these desires are not only our fundamental instincts, but also the basic conditions for human civilization to grow and to be prosperous.
This manifestation of the relationship between our sin and our fundamental desires and needs that are essential for the survival and development of human civilization tells us that even though we are living on our own free will, we are actually unable to ultimately distinguish good from bad because what is bad for us is actually rooted in what is good for us, and vice versa.
8) The teaching that Adam and Eve did not notice they were all naked before they ate the forbidden fruits might tell another important message that when we were in heaven with God or by connecting to the heaven to some extent through the glory of God, we would live in a world of higher dimension and thus we would see through the four-dimensional bodies. Right now we need clothes to cover ourselves even when we don’t feel cold because without clothes we would see the surfaces of each other. If we could see through each others’ body, then our feeling about the surfaces of each others’ three dimensional bodies might be quite different, and actually even clothes would not be good for cover our bodies any more in that situations.
If what Moses saw in the vision was actually what happened with Adam and Eve, then the story might tell us that the family of Adam and Eve might have actually been created in heaven and then sent to earth for some great plan of God, and they came to this four-dimensional space-time only after they ate the fruits of knowledge of good and evil.
Actually, the story that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden to work the ground after they ate the forbidden fruits shows us our original spiritual connection to heaven even though we are now on the ground, which sheds a beam of hope for us to get our connection to heaven back. Especially, the teaching that we are off the spiritual kingdom because we sinned actually tells some important message from the opposite to the apparent: if our sin could be forgiven then we could get back our spiritual connection to heaven, and then we will have a life above our current life in this four-dimensional physical world. And we all know from the gospel written in the New Testament of the Bible that our sin would be forgiven only through the redemption by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is why the story of Adam and Eve is so important for Christianity: by telling us where the cause of the problem was, we could appreciate the solution to the problem much better.
9) Some new Christians could accept the story about Adam and Eve but do not understand why the Bible tells us the story about Cain and Abel, which actually could be a sign that they do not fully understand the messages conveyed by the story of Adam and Eve. Actually, no matter the story of Cain and Abel was heavenly designed in some metaphoric sense or was what actually happened in the early history of human beings, it delivers some important message; if the story was what actually happened then it is a true record of history.
One way to help us to understand why the Bible tells us the story about Cain and Abel is to see the human sins exposed in that story together with the evil trick and human sins exposed in the story of Adam and Eve. We can see the following evil trick and sins in verse 1 to 6 of Chapter Three of the Genesis, less than 200 words in modern English: a) The crafty serpent made lies to seduce Eve, which was targeted at the faith of Eve by making use of Eve’s own desire; b) Eve fell into the trick of the serpent because of the desire to please her own mouth and eyes and the desire of gaining wisdom, and then she lost her faith in God; c) Once Eve sinned, she dragged Adam to sin together; d) Adam sinned because he did not refuse the wrong thing his woman asked him to do; e) All in all, both Adam and Eve sinned because they disobeyed God.
And then the sins covered in verse 4 to verse 8 of Chapter Four of the book Genesis are: a) jealous; b) angry, violence, and murder.
Well, even though Eve thought that after she ate the forbidden fruits she could know the good and evil, I believe that we all know today that all the sins and the evil trick described in verse 1 to verse 6 of Chapter Three as well as verse 4 to verse 8 of Chapter Four of the Genesis constitute almost all main sources of evil that we are still struggling to overcome even for today.
10) From the gospel of the New Testament we already learned that the central theme of the Bible is the love of God for us, and the greatest love is the salvation of us by Jesus Christ, which is the spiritual redemption of our souls by the blood of Jesus. Then why we need to be saved? We need to be saved because we are sinners, which we all can see from ourselves, from the daily happenings around the world.
From the messages in points 6) and 9) above we can clearly see that the Genesis at very beginning tells us: we are defective beings and our own biological body are one source of our sins and our shame, and there are some basic kinds of sin that we are easy to commit, and there are also evil tricks in this world to seduce us to sin. However, if we are staying in the heaven with God, then we don’t need to worry about our own imperfection, but we are not in heaven because we are not fully obedient to God. This is what we can learn very clearly from the very beginning of the Bible, and then in chapters that follow later on in the book Genesis we can see how the sin of human beings developed in early human civilization.
Therefore, we can learn the source and forms of human sins from the book Genesis, and the knowledge about human sins could help us to learn: a) what is righteous in contrast to unrighteous sins; b) why human beings need to follow some laws; c) why the redemption for us out of the sins are important and invaluable.
11) Adam and Eve did not notice that they were both naked (and thus would not have sex desire of each other) until they ate the forbidden fruit and would certain die. This indirectly tells us one important truth that in our non-spiritual four-dimensional world there would be no new life until old life would die. This is because if there is no death, continuation of birth of new life would eventually occupy all available space on earth, and consume all available resources on earth, which is not nice. Therefore, only if there is death, new life would be reasonably meaningful. iv. Another Postmodernist Understanding
Previously in Subsection 5.iii “Understanding of the Bible”, together we went through an assignment trying to write a brief summary of the history of cosmos and life evolutions from a perspective of a human being on the earth in a very compact form, and we found we could not do it better than what is written in Chapter One of the book Genesis. Now let’s write a metaphorical story to express the following messages in a very compact form:
1) in the process of human evolution, after our intelligence got mature enough to be able to make judgment of good and bad in a more advanced way than other animals, we started to feel ashamed when we were naked;
2) we felt ourselves superior over animals for our own intelligence, but we also realized that actually our biological body and physiological desires were similar to animals and we could not have full control over our own body, which made us feel degraded from the superior position to somewhere close to those animals so that we are ashamed of our own body deep in our psyche;
3) the combination of the primitive biological feature (of our body) similar to animals and the developed mental ability (of our intelligence) dissimilar to animals characterizes the basic feature of human evilness;
4) man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh;
5) one important reason for people to sin is because falling into someone else’ tricks and lies;
6) once one person sinned, that person very often might influence the closest family members to sin together;
7) very often one person sinned because he could not refuse some wrongful requests from the closest friends or family members;
8) our basic desires and needs good for our life very often are sources of our sins;
9) woman are more sensitive than man sensationally and thus easier to be attracted to something good for food and pleasing eyes;
10) the reason we must die is because we are living in this four-dimensional material world, and on this earth, new life becomes meaningful only if old life would die; if we are living in the heaven then we could have endless life;
11) our body is composed of the same elements that could be found from the dust on the earth; but our sole could not be found from the elements of the earth and our sole is given by God;
12) because we are sinners and could not live in the heaven, we are bound by the physical laws that requires us to work very hard to make livings and requires woman to suffer a lot when giving birth;
13) even though we are on the earth now, actually we had some original heavenly connections; we cannot live in the heaven because we are not fully obedient to God yet; but we could get back our lost heavenly connection if our sin could be forgiven;
14) the serpent is more crafty than any of the wild animals; and there are evil people in this world who tend to trick people;
Well, I think I don’t need to actually write one myself because what is written in Chapters Two and Three of the book Genesis has done an excellent job to convey all the messages and even much more very convincingly in about 1500 words of modern English. v. Christianity in the Postmodern Age
I believe that sooner or later as time goes by in this postmodern age, non-dogmatic postmodernist Christian faith would dominate in Christendom. But before that happens, more theological work needs to be done to help Christians around the world to have some brand new non-dogmatic way of understanding the Bible, and this book is aimed to contribute to this cause.
Then what might it be once Christian teachings are all non-dogmatic? What if too often and too many preachers tell too many wrong ideas or wrong explanations about the gospel when the Bible is no longer a strictly literal dogma? This might happen depending on how we define “too many” and “too often”, but I don’t worry about it too much since I know the reason for Christianity to grow stronger in this world is not our human intention but is the will of God, especially when I see that it is the will of God for us not to read the Bible only by strict literal meanings. I believe God would lead Christians to a better future not a worse future. During this process, the guidance of Holy Spirit would be what all Christians around the world could depend on.
In fact, the pluralist situation of today’s Christendom is already open to “too many” and “too often” mistakes if this is what someone worries about, but for sure our faith quest is getting better not worse, and for sure we are not going back to the time of 500 years ago because it is the will of God that we should move on forward. 7. How this book would be organized
This book would be divided into 7 chapters. Chapter One “Review of Post Modernism” would provide a review of the development of postmodernism from scientific, artistic, and philosophical perspectives.
Chapter Two “Meaning Analysis” would further the discussion of meanings mentioned in section 5 of the Introduction.
Chapter Three “Spiritual and Material Worlds” would discuss the meaning of spiritual and material worlds based on both Bible scriptures and today’s scientific terms.
Chapter Four “The Glory of God and Human Weakness--- Fundamental Principles” would discuss some fundamental issues of today’s human faith life and to human civilization.
Chapter Five “An Even Bigger Picture” would discuss how God has raised human beings like a father to raise a child from his enfant age to grow up step by step.
Chapter Six “The Redemption by the Blood of Christ” would contribute to appreciate the real and precious salvation by Jesus Christ from today’s postmodernist stand point of view.
Chapter Seven “Christian Life in Postmodernist Era” would contribute to Look ahead how Christian life might develop with postmodernist new understandings of Christianity.
 Science, Evolution, and Creationism, by National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine (2008)