U.S. Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia recently noted in a speech at Liberty University that evolution and much else he was taught in college were "lies straight from the pit of hell." These were "lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior." He went on to note that he believes that the earth is about 9,000 years old and was created in six days because this is what the Bible says. He noted that the Bible is "the manufacturer's handbook" and "it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in our society."
Congressman Broun is not alone in his views. Forty-six percent of Americans in the latest Gallup poll reported believing human beings did not evolve but were created as they are today less than 10,000 years ago. A large number of earnest Christians reject evolution, believe in a young earth, see the Bible as the "manufacturer's handbook," and believe that it gives solid advice for public policy today.
I love the Bible. I read it every day. I spend 10 hours a week studying it. It has affected my life in profound ways. I am inspired when I read it. In its pages I find the truths that guide my daily life -- truths that represent my highest ideals and greatest aspirations. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible is my primary way of knowing him and what it means to follow him. And I am a pastor and I teach and preach the Bible to my congregation every week. But the Bible is not a manufacturer's handbook. Neither is it a science textbook nor a guidebook for public policy.
The creation story is placed at the beginning of the Bible not because God felt we needed a science lesson as a preface to the rest of the Bible. Instead it is a lesson in theology. The story is archetypal -- it is intended to teach us that there is a Creator, that life is a gift and that we were created in God's image (with the capacity to love, to make conscious decisions, to transcend our instincts, to reason). In addition it teaches that human beings were created for companionship, that sex is a blessing from God, and, in the most tragically compelling part of the story, that we human beings are drawn to do the very things that separate us from God and others (we are drawn to eat the forbidden fruit). When we do this, paradise is lost.
The story likely drew upon the best thinking of the time regarding the origins of the physical universe, but that is not the point of the passages. It is not meant to teach cosmology, or biology, geology or physics. It is teaching theology and, one could argue, anthropology, sociology and psychology. But to suggest that the creation story was intended to teach science, and that any scientific theory that contradicts these accounts is a lie "straight from the pit of hell" is to misunderstand and misrepresent these chapters.
Read the rest here