When I was learning to become a journalist, I was often told that a good story would answer all of the most important questions. Every story and interview, then, would attempt to uncover the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a certain event or topic. As a reporter, I took seriously this role provide all the answers to all of our questions.
Part of the reason reporters are fascinated with getting the answers to our questions is that we wanted to uncover as much truth as possible. There was also another reason for this. We recognized that people have a thirst for knowledge and want answers to their questions. People want to know why things are the way they are or what caused certain things to happen.
This is true for many aspects of our lives, whether it is a proposed piece of legislation or trying to determine if a certain athlete will win an Olympic medal. It is also true when trying to figure out how this universe came to exist and how we got here. We want all of our questions answered about creation and the universe.
Many, especially we who are Christian, have turned to Genesis 1 and 2 for our answers. There we read that in the beginning, where there was nothing, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1 and 2 is a beautiful narration of celebration for God’s creativity and universe. It is a celebration that God lovingly formed the universe and created each of us to reflect the Lord’s own character.
Yet, Genesis 1-2 does not completely answer all of our questions. It does not tell us how God created the world. It does not describe when it took place. It does not say where this took place. It simply says that in the beginning God created.
Because Genesis 1 and 2 do not answer all of our questions, we have spent several centuries attempting to read out of Genesis what is not there and available to us in the text. We’ve argued for a strict and literal interpretation to say it took God 144 hours (six days) to create the world. Some have tried to make a case that the world is only 6,000 years old. While others have argued that Genesis 1-2 cannot be fully trusted, because it does not answer all of our questions about the universe.
The reason for these efforts is that we struggle with ambiguity. We struggle with mystery and cannot fully handle the idea that not having all of the answers. Indeed, we question if something can truly be true if it cannot be fully proven through a process of rationalization.
However, if we go to Genesis 1 and 2 seeking all of our answers we will be disappointed. Genesis 1 and 2 were never intended to answer all of our questions about creation. Its sole purpose was to answer the questions surrounding the identity of the Creator and the reason for the universe coming into being. As we said, God created the universe and humanity as an expression of the Lord’s holy love. That answer sets the stage for what would follow in Genesis and throughout Scripture.
The answers to all of our other questions remain a mystery. This is truly fine and acceptable. Faith is not about having all the answers. Faith is about belief in the One who made all things. Having faith does not mean we have to prove certain things. We merely have to point to the One who was involved in creation from the beginning.
With that, we must welcome good and healthy discussions about science and faith in the church. There is room in faith for various interpretations as to what took place when God created the universe. There is room in the church for science and faith to work together regarding God’s creation.
Our hope, then, is that these discussions would help us to see more of God’s love and to come to a deeper appreciation for the vastness and beauty of God’s creation. We don’t have to have all the answers. We just have to have a desire to love God and embrace the mystery that is faith.