Interlude: Blinding Me with Science
We’ve been discussing various views of the Fall of Man from different religious points of view. Let’s intersperse them with the scientific account of the origin of the universe. Science, of course, has nothing to say either way about God, his relationship to the universe, how and if mankind fell, and so on. However, it is important to understand the scientific account of the cosmos in order to have a baseline against which we must view the religious accounts we’ve been examining. That is, anything that we know with fair certainty from science can’t be contradicted by our religious beliefs. We don’t have to reject our religion; but we have to interpret it carefully so that we don’t take as literal (e.g. an age of 6000 years or so for the universe) something that needs to be read metaphorically.
1. Some 13 billion years ago, all the matter and energy that ever was existed in a tightly packed ball which exploded–the Big Bang. There is no agreement as to why this happened or what existed before this (or if it’s even meaningful to speak of a “before” to the Big Bang).
2. Over a period of billions of years, suns formed, burned, died, and exploded, forming heavier elements by nuclear fusion from the hydrogen that was formerly the sole material constituent of the cosmos. Successive suns formed from the expelled debris in an ongoing process.
3. About 4 billion years ago a cloud of dust from a second, third, or even fourth-generation of stellar formation and destruction condensed to form our sun and the Solar System–as a late-generation star, our sun and its planets contained enough of the right kind of elements for life to form.
4. As a result of processes we still don’t adequately understand, life came into being on Earth about a billion years after its formation.
5. Ever since then the once-simple lifeforms have evolved through natural processes into the vast panoply of life we see now, including ourselves (who came on the scene about a million years ago or so, half that if you count only Homo sapiens, maybe 100,000 for fully modern man in the form of the Cro-Magnons).
6. The physical, chemical, meteorological, and geological forces resulting from the formation of Earth are of such a nature that earthquakes, floods, droughts, and such naturally occur. The biological forces involved in living things and the selective pressures that cause them to evolve result sometimes in great beauty (flowers, bunny rabbits) and sometimes great nastiness (cancer, sociopathic killers). “Evil” is merely a term humans have devised to refer to all the nastier things and has no real ontological meaning in the great scheme of things.
7. And so the whole sorry story of sin and misery that is human history begins.
Part of the series Legends of the Fall.