Over the years, I have followed the “evolution versus creationism” debate with interest. In Barbara Brown Taylor’s recent book on science and religion, “The Luminous Web,” she makes the case that the theory of evolution does not have to stand in opposition to a belief in divine creation. Reviewing the work of the great physicists, who have gradually been unfolding the secrets of the first few crucial seconds of creation, Taylor sees this unfolding as the revealing of the hand of God in creation.  She quotes Sir Fred Hoyle, who wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” In other words, whether or not you believe in evolution is not the point — the real issue is whether you believe that there is a creative, loving God who invented such fascinating ways to create a universe.

Reading Taylor’s book is like listening to a symphony. It reveals mysteries and wonders, from the time before planets or stars were formed and there was nothing but cosmic dust blowing through the immensities of space, through the appearance of life on earth and the eventual presence of this unique creature called humanity. Considering such large and beautiful themes has a way of putting our lives in perspective: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

Let me share with you just one little insight that helped me to see the hand of God in what the physicists are discovering. First, in the early chapters of the universe, there was nothing but stardust and energy. Then the stars were born. They aged. Their internal nuclear reactors broke down, and they collapsed in upon themselves, creating so much heat that they exploded into “supernova.” A supernova can release more energy in one minute than all the other stars in the sky combined. As it does, it bequeaths all of its elements to the galaxy. Its gifts are, specifically, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.

            Now, organic chemists tell us that our bodies are made of 65 percent oxygen, 18 percent carbon, 10 percent hydrogen and 3.3 percent nitrogen, plus a smattering of other elements. In other words, we are made of stardust. 

            An old Jewish folk tale makes the point. One day God said to Abraham, “If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be here,” to which Abraham replied, “True, but if I weren’t here, there wouldn’t be anyone to think about you.” 

            The creation has finally produced a creature capable of reflecting on its own origins. That’s the beauty we ought to see when evolutionists and creationists argue. What a wonder that we can consider the question at all! Here we are, curious creatures with stardust in our souls, able to look back and consider the creation itself — to wonder where we came from. That, in itself, is a miracle.


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