What if Creation is eternal?
As Christians concerned about the environment our starting point might be a belief in God as the Creator of all that is. But what if scientists were able to show that the Universe had no beginning but has always existed as an endless process of flux? This question was raised in an interview with Dr Stephen Jones (Lecturer in Sociology and Religion at the University of Birmingham) in the Radio 4 programme ‘Sunday’ on May 1st at 7.10am. If this did ever come to be established as the accepted scientific understanding would we still be able to call God our Creator? Might it alter the way we understand ourselves to relate to God? Would it affect the way we feel about the environment? Or might I decide that I would choose to continue trusting my Christian faith and reject the scientific view?
According to a recent survey referred to in this radio programme many people already assume that science and religion are simply incompatible. Yet there are certainly scientists who have a deep religious faith, and there are Christians who take science and religion to be complementary and needed by each other.
The thinktank ‘Theos’ have just published a ground-breaking report following three years of detailed research into public and elite attitudes to science and religion in the UK today. It included over a hundred in–depth interviews with leading academics and scientists. What they found was that views are more nuanced, and also more positive, than might be thought. Like a swimming pool, all the noise is up at the shallow end. Their report is now available to read:
The specific question about Creation left me wondering if the eternal nature of the Universe, could that ever be established, would actually mean the same as the eternal being of God anyway? For our faith is that God holds all that is in existence and in an eternal lovingness. Rather than being incompatible with our faith, and conflicting with it, science must be allowed ever to deepen faith and increase our wonder. It would make me feel that God and Creation are even closer than we had previously envisioned – and therefore that we should care even more for the environment.
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Comments on "What if Creation is eternal?"
The question of an 'eternal creation' has been addressed theologically through the centuries long before the recent scientific concept of a beginning 'big bang', and it seems Christians have not had a problem conceiving of an eternal universe. However, the time scales were unknown until recently. The concept of 'eternal' is very different from billions of years of a universe scale, to life on earth (millions) to a human scale (a few hundred thousand). Perhaps we might speak of creation as being in an eternal relationship with an eternal God, but as time frames go, 'eternal' is not a helpful concept. When we think of God's plan for this creation, I find it much more relevant and meaningful to think in terms of human scale time frames and our role, or the conversation becomes purely esoteric.