6. PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT VERSUS INSTANTANEOUS CREATION
Having expressed some opinions in the previous section that indicate that i have strong resistance to certain aspects of what i have encountered being argued against creation, it seems important to indicate that i have other objections to some of what is argued against evolution.
Most specifically, i am personally familiar with a school of thought with regard to creation that indicates that creation took place in a series of twenty four hour periods based on certain passages in the book commonly known as "the Bible". It seems to me that on the basis that twenty four hours is an extremely small period of time in the context of thousands, millions or billions of years, this can reasonably accurately be referred to as "instantaneous creation".
Using the examples of motor vehicles and aircraft, as an engineer i have at times read and listened with great interest to reports about the progressive development of these reasonably complex machines which it seems to me are not nearly as complex as human beings.
I have been personally directly involved in the progressive development and application of computers in business since the early seventies. I have even recently published a book on the effective application of computer systems in business. I have personally experienced a hard and very challenging learning curve about what works with computers and what does not. I have invested hundreds of hours and even thousands of hours in projects that have failed totally. I have also had outcomes that i hold to be "successful".
In considering these examples, all the evidence at my disposal indicates that all these technologies have become more sophisticated and more reliable through a process that could be called "progressive development". This process could, as far as i understand the term, also be referred to as "evolution".
Accordingly, applying "reductio ad absurdum" i can draw a conclusion that complex systems do not happen instantly. From this i can begin to infer that it is unlikely that creation took place in six consecutive twenty four hour periods.
From the same data, i hold that i can conclude that complex systems do not evolve of their own accord.
I also hold that the evolution of aircraft and motor vehicles proves "survival of the fittest" at least at some level, although it also seems to prove to me that the technologically most "fit" machine frequently does NOT survive. Frequently survival in these industries has been determined at least as much by marketing and management as it has been determined by any intrinsic property of a specific machine itself. The VHS and Betamax video technologies are a frequently cited example of the principle that inferior technology well marketed will succeed above exceptional technology poorly marketed.
It seems to me that there is much more that can be drawn from these examples, both in support of certain cases offered by those supporting creation and other aspects in support of those supporting evolution.
From my personal knowledge and experience of plants and animals it seems clear to me that there is a progression in development which is consistent with a concept of evolutionary creation. There does not seem to me to be any reason why the creator could not have created the universe, the earth, plants and animals one step at a time over thousands, millions or billions of years.
Taking the above points a step further.
We have at times considered purchasing a fish tank for sea water fish. We have consistently been told that it takes about six months to progressively establish stable ecological conditions in such a tank before sea water fish have any hope of surviving. Based on other knowledge and experience i hold that this information is probably more or less accurate.
Extrapolating this information to consideration of the requirements for the establishment of a planet like earth with the biodiversity that exists i conclude that it is highly improbable that the earth was created and populated in six consecutive twenty four hour periods. I also find that believing in a creator does not require this to be so.
Accordingly, i must conclude that if there are people with solid evidence that the development of life on earth took millions or billions of years, i personally cannot offer any "solid provable" evidence to counter this and i cannot subscribe to a view that it took twenty four hours or some small multiple thereof.
At the same time, it seems to me that acceptance that animals COULD have evolved over millions of years as a principle for the development of the points in this document does not mean that i believe that humans in their present form necessarily came into existence a long time ago.
As i see it, humankind could have come into existence relatively recently, for example, say, six thousand years ago, but it might have taken millions of years of prototyping to reach this point. Other plants and animals might have been created and stabilized thousands or millions of years or more before this.
On another front, the basic complexity of the universe is to a limited extent visible from earth. There are clearly many stars. I therefore hold that at the very least the basic observations about the scope, complexity, geometry, etc of the universe is at some level accurate.
On a broader level, the introspection referred to previously brought me to a further conclusion in this regard. I hold that my life experience and engineering experience have practically verified many of the laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, thermodynamics, statistics, etc that i have been taught.
On reflection, i cannot reconcile what i know about the universe, the solar system and the planet earth with creation in a series of consecutive twenty four hour periods. It seems to me that to mechanically place every planet, sun, etc in it's place, impart precise trajectory and, in some cases rotation, to it and manage the complex interaction of gravitational fields, all within the first "twenty four hours of creation" violates a significant number of physical laws and would result in all sorts of dynamic instabilities and variable forces and would generally not be conducive to creating a stable sustainable universe.
Given that i understand the creator to have existed for eternity, i am not personally able to come up with any explanation for why He would force things to happen in such a short time when He had eternity to do it.
I have therefore concluded that i cannot offer any evidence to support creation in such a short space of time. Furthermore, on superficially examining the Hebrew of the first book in the "Bible" commonly known as "Genesis" and referring to the first chapter, which as far as i know, is the primary text used in support of Bible based instantaneous creation arguments, i find that the word translated "day" does not have the specific meaning of a twenty four hour period, it can also have many other meanings including a "space of time".
Strong's dictionary, as provided in the "P C Study Bible" software version 2.1 G, published by Biblesoft, allocates this word the reference number 3117 and defines it as "from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), [often used adverb]:"
This word is listed as having been translated in the King James Bible into all the following English words "age, + always, + chronicals, continually (-ance), daily, ([birth-], each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever (-lasting, -more), X full, life, as (so) long as (... live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+age), (full) year (-ly), + younger."
Accordingly, there does not appear to be any basis to allege that Genesis chapter one is referring to twenty four hour periods and it seems quite possible that creation took place during a series of discrete "spaces of time" during which various components of creation "evolved".
There are other aspects of the Bible which relate to seven days for creation which could be seen to offer greater challenges, however, i have come to the conclusion that these are matters of interpretation, not verifiable fact. This raises the question of the reliability of the Bible as a source, which is discussed in a later section and will therefore not be addressed here.
In light of the above, it seems clear to me that whether one believes in a literal seven day creation or in evolutionary creation over hundreds of millions or billions of years is a matter of personal choice, not a matter of evidence in support of "creation" or "evolution". I have come to hold that requiring belief in a literal seven day creation as evidence of the existence of a creator is not helpful. It also does not seem to be fundamental in any way, unless one chooses to make it so.
In line with what is written in previous sections, i have chosen to do my best not to get positioned on this particular issue and to seek to discover if there are some things which are more fundamental and more provable to support the existence of a creator.