Potter’s Clay

Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” Isa. 29:16

There has been an ongoing spat in the editorial pages of the paper that sponsors this blog over the subject of evolution.

I understand that this is just another skirmish in the culture wars, but I just couldn’t resist a comment or two about it.

The whole idea that science somehow undermines God is in my estimation silly.

If you believe in God, almost by definition you also have to believe that there can be no power greater than God. Given that, then you also have to agree that God doesn’t need your help to defend Himself. He really does have it all under control.

Science isn’t about disproving the existence of God. Science is all about developing a deeper understanding of God’s creation and the truths that order that it. Science works because it continues to question the status quo without the limits of belief. If science discovers something that challenges current understanding, the old understanding is eventually abandoned and a new understanding takes it’s place.

Isn’t this what we Christians are supposed to be doing here too? We are supposed to be replacing the old earth-bound Adam with a new spiritual man. We work out our own salvation by increasing our understanding of who we are and how God is directing our lives. Every time that we become complacent because we think that we have it all figured out, God lovingly turns everything upside down. We regain our humility, agree that we don’t know as much as we thought we did, and resume our study and prayer.

Where religions and some Christians tend to jump the track is in feeling that they somehow have to spring to God’s defense when it is actually just their own beliefs, and not God that are being called into question.

Today’s creationists are the same folks who feared 400 years ago that God would somehow be undone if science disproved the Bible claim that the earth was the center of the universe. Just like the creationists, “devout” scientists in that age struggled to contain a growing body of scientific evidence within the belief system of a literal Bible. They failed then because they confused belief with science, and they are failing today for the same reasons.

A sun-centered universe eventually gave way to the big bang, but it did prove that the Bible is not nor was it ever intended to be a literal description of creation. God and the Bible, however, survived. That’s because God and His universe are in harmony and the Bible remains a sufficient guide to working out our place in that universe. The Bible remains relevant through the ages because it is NOT a scientific book. It is a spiritual book, a metaphor useful for instruction in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

That’s why you can look at the current conflict between creationism and evolution as just another loving example of God patiently overturning a too narrow and literal reading of the Bible so that those who are reading it can make better use of it for their growth and understanding.

7 Responses to “Potter’s Clay”

  1. keith says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Science PROVES God…..

    Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God CREATED the heavens and the earth.”
    I don’t know how he did it………Bang or no Bang and without giving it much thought, I don’t really think it matters much to me.

    He did however CREATE Adam and Eve, they did not evolve.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Kieth,

    Good to hear from you.

    Bible scholars pretty well agree on the fact that there are two creation stories in Genesis. Even the name of God changes from the first story to the second. In the first story in the first chapter and part of the second, man and woman are not named, but by Gen 2:2 God is done and it is all good. Then the second story starts and Adam isn’t made in God’s image and likeness. Adam is made of dust and Eve is made from Adam.

    So if you believe that Adam and Eve were created as described in the second chapter of Genesis, what happened to the man and woman created simultaneously in God’s image and likeness in the first chapter?

    Jeff

  3. keith says:

    “Bible scholars” don’t agree on this Jeff as I have only heard this on CNN.
    Please list your bible scholars and then I’ll list every Fundamentalist pastor on the globle. (mostly true I’d bet)

    The two stories are one in the same.

  4. Keith says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Let me throw this one at you and see if this isn’t the agreement that you and I haven’t been looking for. I disagree with Obama on most issues, at least from what I can tell from the few specifics he’s given. However, I can fully accept him as president as he seems to be tapping into what can be the best of us in an honest way. In other words, he’s being positive, not calling names, pointing us to a “collective” better day, and above all being honest. This stands in sharp contrast to those he is up against. I LIKE the guy. Even though he and I disagree he’s not throwing it in my face that we disagree nor is he calling me names. I believe Mike Huckabee is much the same, however he isn’t as paradium shifting as Obama. If would be interesting to see those two in the general election.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    Thanks for the posts. Sorry for my tardy reply. Other things just consumed the past week and I haven’t had much of an opportunity to do anything else. I’m back now though and grateful for the chance to focus on this.

    In response to your request for proof of my claim of scholarship regarding the two creation stories in the Genesis, wikipedia has a great page that goes into tremendous depth. Here’s a link for you to check out

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_according_to_Genesis

    I’m not surprised that fundamentalists would disagree with me. It’s likely something that we aren’t going to be able to resolve with logical argument.

    As far as Obama and Huckabee are concerned, we are largely in agreement. I feel the same way about Huckabee as you do about Obama. I don’t agree with the guy, but I like him. He’s not afraid to be funny. The stuff he’s doing with Chuck Norris is a riot!

    I am concerned about what I’ve read regarding Huckabee’s pardon of Wayne DuMond, but that might be a replay of the same smear tactic that the Republican’s used with Willie Horton. So I just need to find out more about this case before I make a decision.

    I have found a wonderful site that does a good job of separating campaign fact from fiction. Unfortunately it shows that every candidate is guilty of at least some distortion in their statements.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/

    Check it out and let me know what you think.

    Jeff

  6. Keith says:

    every word the candidate says for well over one year is recorded. i’m sure you and i would have a few mis-spoken words somewhere out there too. i can imagine every word i’ve said being replayed to me. not that i would be dishonest but to remember the context of EVERY mis-spkoen word would be trouble some.

    i’d like to see this process changed.

    as for the two stories of the creation of man to me one is macro and the other micro or the naritive of the event.

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    The simple slips of the tongue are easy to forgive. The deliberate distortions are harder to get over. What I’d like to see is more and more transparency to the process of fact checking. It would be really interesting, for example, if fact checking could be realtime and displayed on the TV as candidates were speaking.

    As far as Genesis is concerned, I also believe that there was a reason for the two stories. The first is the story of God’s creation of the spiritual universe including man and woman literally in his image and likeness. It was good then and remains good today. The second is story about the dream of material reality that we struggle with today. It is not the realm that God inhabits or created since God is a spirit and not material. The Adam-man was created from nothing (dust), is an illusion or dream which clouds our perception of who we really are while we live this dream, and disappears (returns to dust) when this material dream ends (death) leaving the only man that was ever really there – the spiritual man.

    So to that end I agree with you that the spiritual man and woman were created as an idea wholely formed and reflecting their (and our) creator.

    Jeff

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