I confess: I’m mystified by some folks’ preoccupation with the “debate” about “evolution vs. creationism.” I’m puzzled by the notion that science and faith are at odds with each other. I’m troubled when people suggest that true Christian faith must include a belief in a six-day creation.
Maybe it’s because of Steinbach (Man.) MB Church.
I don’t remember the likes of Geordie Brown, H. K. Friesen, Martha Goertzen, Henry Harms, Vic Isaak, or Anne Wiebe explaining how God created the world. They simply believed that God was the One who began all things. As I recall, these folks had bigger concerns, which were expressed by George and Esther Bergmann.
I was 16 when Mr. and Mrs. Bergmann drove me out to the McDonald’s on Highway 12. I sat in the backseat as we savoured vanilla ice cream cones. “How did you become a Christian?” George asked.
And, “How’s your faith grown?” Esther asked. “How are you walking with Jesus today?”
Or maybe it’s because of the University of Winnipeg.
Books by Thomas Kuhn and Michael Polanyi, and classes with Dr. Tim Ball and Dr. David R. Dyck taught me to take Scripture and science seriously, and ask good questions. How is it possible for light to appear (Gen. 1:3–5) and vegetation to survive (Gen. 1:11–13) before the sun is created (Gen. 1:14–19)? And supposing evolution is true, how does that prove God doesn’t exist?
It didn’t take long to realize that the Bible says some things about creation, but not everything. Contemporary scientific creation stories have big gaps in their evidence, too.
It may even be because of the Winnipeg Jets.
On April 10, 1990, Dave Ellett scored in double overtime on a slapshot from the blueline to beat the hated Edmonton Oilers and give my Winnipeg Jets a three-games-to-one lead in the first round of the playoffs. I could almost taste the sweet Stanley Cup victory I was sure would finally come.
Six days later, the Oilers won game 7 and the series.
As I lay in bed that night, fuming in the darkness, the anguished disgust and bitter disappointment triggered a full-blown existential crisis. As I questioned the existence of God, the terrible awareness that I was going to die settled upon me. Questions like Are we alone in this world? and Why are we here? sent me to the bathroom reeling with nausea and fear.
Over the next 4 months, I would deliver newspapers with one thought looping in my mind: That second is gone forever. And that second is gone forever…
As the pitch was delivered, I would crouch in my position at shortstop, all the while thinking, If we’re here just as a random accident, what’s the point?
I had countless conversations with my parents around the question, “How do you know God exists?”
On a rainy afternoon in August, I was with my mom in Winnipeg, staring out the van window, when I asked her again, “How do you know God exists?”
Exasperated, my mom exclaimed, “J, look around you! Do you really think all of this could have happened by chance?”
I think I had heard that argument before, but for whatever reason, I was converted. In that moment, I knew in my gut (to paraphrase Colossians) that God did exist, and had created all heaven and earth, everything visible and invisible (1:16). And almost without realizing it, I was relieved of the questions and angst.
Or maybe it has to do with some other aspect of my life. In any case, I’m happy to reserve judgment when it comes to questions of genesis. I can’t help but think that our arguments about origins are less than helpful because we ask questions to which we don’t have the answers, and make conclusions on the basis of evidence that is partial at best. Why not wait until we have more information?
(Who knows? Perhaps God’s voice was the “big bang.” Or not. I certainly plan to ask God when I have the opportunity!)
On the other hand, there is something I do know. God made me. That was the Truth that created in me a sense of worth. It wasn’t the details of how God made me that mattered so much as the what and the why that gave my life a sense of meaning.
It was a eureka! moment – a creation-confession experience better than any Stanley Cup win.
—J Janzen, Interim Editor