“Is it true that God created the world in six days?”
That was the question rather bluntly put to me the other night at the Intelligent Design meeting. They asked me whether I believed that Genesis 1 was true. I said, of course (because I believe the whole bible to be God’s true and inerrant word), but not in the sense of modern historical or scientific textbooks. Rather more in the sense that a poem is true. In fact, I tried to tell them, sometimes a poem is more deeply true than any forensic description of “the facts”. But they didn’t buy it. Truth, pointed out the young pastor, according to St Thomas Aquinas and to Aristotle before him, is defined of “That which IS the case”. So then the question: “Do you think it is true that God created the world in six days?” Is it the case that God created the world in six days or not?
Well, they had me in a corner, because I wanted to say that Genesis 1 was true, but not true in such a way that I could say (historically and scientifically speaking) that the world came into being in 6 days.
Now, today, it came to me in a flash. What is Genesis 1 (and Genesis 2-Revelation 22, for that matter) about? Is it about what “was”? Or what “is”? If that which is true is THAT WHICH IS, then indeed the whole bible, all its stories, all its poems, yes, evening its histories, ARE TRUE, because they tell us the way that things ARE. The story in Genesis 1 (and, for that matter, the whole book of Revelation which is a different but related topic) are not about what WAS (or, in Revs case, what WILL BE) but what IS, right now. It is more true to say that the world IS created in six days than to say that it WAS created in six days. That is what the rhythm of the week is about. Even more, that is the meaning of the week in the light of Christ’s resurrection. The new creation is a seven day (actually, an eight-day–and again there are links with Revelation) creation. We are living in the present Creation. There is no past or future to God, but in him everything IS. He is the Great I AM. He is the “Right Now”. He is “The case as it is now”.
Do you get it? Yes, Genesis 1 (and especially 2-3) is TRUE because it speaks truly about the CASE AS IT IS right now. And that is more true than getting hung up about how it happened billions (or 6000) years ago.