On Wednesday I met a Buddhist monk and asked him what he thought of evolution. He spoke briefly about cause and effect and then said that the theory of evolution was not important to Buddhists because their concern is solving the problem of suffering in themselves. As evolution does not aid this, it is not worth thinking about (This is a paraphrase. The monk I spoke with is a Theravada Buddhist and may not represent all types of Buddhism). I was not particularly surprised at his response because (to my understanding) Buddhists do not have an origin story as it is irrelevant to solving the problem of suffering. However, I had some sympathy for his position. I don’t really care whether evolution occurred or not but I do care where we came from. Chapter 5 celebrates the wonder of creation and reminds us why we care so much about “the beginning”.
This chapter was a breath of fresh air. After reading about all the things we cannot learn from Genesis 1-2 it was nice to read about the things we do learn. We are reminded that material things are not everything. We are more than matter. I really appreciated Lennox’s discussion about the intangibility of consciousness and energy (p101-102). I have vainly attempted to explain what energy is to students and it is comforting to know that it isn’t just me. These things are not easily defined or explained except in terms of their effects. But what is more significant from his discussion is that there are plenty of things we cannot explain and yet we are confident they exist.
A materialist would say there is nothing outside this world therefore all human achievements and endeavours and successes are a triumph of human thought. My proud heart can lead me to think this as well. But Genesis 1-2 teaches us there is wisdom in this world that is greater than any part of creation. ”By wisdom the LORD lay the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided” (Proverbs 3:19-20). God created this world with wisdom and God has given us this wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:13, James 1:5). Wisdom does not originate in the minds of people but is a gift from God. This conflicts with a secular materialist worldview and may well be at the heart of disagreements when talking with friends. Lennox points out that God has brought physical and spiritual light into the world through creation and through Jesus (p102ff). We are called to put our trust in and follow the light. Acknowledging our place in the world as part of creation and our dependence on God’s wisdom will radically change the way we interpret the world. By far my favourite quote is one by C.S. Lewis that Lennox quotes (p103) “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”