Can the theories of science and story of creation be united in way that affirms the veracity of the Bible? Oxford Math Professor John Lennox says it can happen.
In his recently published book, Seven Days that Divide the World, Lennox sets out to prove that Christians can believe in the theories of science and maintain the truth of Scripture.
"I think that sometimes people have been taught there are only two possibilities: Possibility one is that if you are being faithful to Scripture, you have to be a young earth creationist. Otherwise you're an evolutionist or a theistic evolutionist, and you're not faithful to Scripture," he explained to the Christian Post. "I don't think that is the case ... the whole point of the book is to explain that in some detail."
Lennox writes that all the wonders of the universe affirm the existence of the God of the Bible.
Therefore, he told CP, "it's not a quest of trying to keep up [with science], but it's a quest of looking at what God has revealed of Himself in nature, and looking at what God has revealed of Himself in the Bible and trying to make sense of those two."
With that thought, Lennox convinces Christians they should not be afraid to explore the Bible for openings where God's account of the world's creation and modern scientific discoveries can intersect.
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In his book, Lennox first suggests that Genesis teaches readers the possibility that the seven days are suggestive of a more complex process.
"Jesus told parables about farming, building and fishing, not about factories, aviation and jungle exploration ... His parables are accessible to anyone in any age," he explains. "Similarly with Genesis."
He continues, "If the biblical explanations were at the level, say, of twenty-second century science, it would likely be unintelligible to everyone, including scientists today. This could scarcely have been God's intention. He wished His meaning to be accessible to all."
Lennox then considers the writings of Old Testament scholars such as John Walton and the late Frank Derek Kidner to express the possibility that the seven days of creation were written as a framework that "might then indicate that there is more to the text than ordered sequence."
Analyzing the grammar of Genesis 1:1, Lennox also suggests "that 'the beginning' of Genesis 1:1 did not necessarily take place in day one as is frequently assumed. The initial creation took place before day 1."
A delayed beginning separate from God's day one separation of the light from the darkness gives readers pause to believe that the earth may have been created long before He began the literal seven, 24-hour days of creation. It also gives the reader pause to further explore the scientific makings of the earth and the universe.
Lennox does not find pause for evolution, however.
He writes that verses from Genesis chapters one and two – "Let the earth sprout vegetation;" "Let the earth bring forth living creatures;" "The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground" – affirm that humans have a shared chemistry with animals and plants.
However, he states, "Genesis seems to go out of its way to imply a direct special creation act [to make man], rather than suggesting that humans arose, either by natural processes or ... out of preexisting hominids."
Lennox does not attempt to explain today's science through the Bible, but simply shows there are openings for the creation story and modern science to overlap. He also encourages Christians to seek the occasion to intersect science with the Bible.
He warns readers against relegating the Bible to one domain of thought and science to another. Doing so makes the case that science deals with reality while Bible beliefs are fantasy, says Lennox. New atheists, he observes, are already making this point.
Lennox, who also authored God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God, lectures regularly on the interface between science, philosophy and theology in defense of Christianity. He has also debated known atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
The Bible, he asserts, is actually way ahead of its time scientifically. It is the Bible, not science, that was first to proclaim that the universe had a beginning, he states.
In fact, he notes, "When scientific evidence began to indicate that the universe had not existed eternally, some leading scientists put up fierce resistance because they thought it would give too much support to those who believed in creation."
God, Lennox also asserts, started science by naming His creation. Biology Online calls the science of finding, describing, classifying, and naming organisms taxonomy.
However, the Bible has its limitations.
"The [Bible] is not a textbook of science," the Oxford professor says.
Quoting 16th century theologian John Calvin, Lennox says of Genesis, "Nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere."
Nevertheless, he maintains that true science and true interpretation of Scripture does not conflict.
The early church has shown Christians that it is possible to reconcile the science of a moving earth with the Scriptures.
"We've coped with controversy in the past where people have been split and we have resolved it so that virtually nobody I ever met ... believes that the earth is fixed," said Lennox.
He believes today's church can again conquer the controversy and division surrounding the modern sciences.