by Barbara S. Helmkamp, Ph.D.
There once was a very foolish and vain emperor who wanted a new suit of clothes. His royal weavers promised him the most beautiful suit ever made; but these garments would have the peculiar property of being visible only to those in the know. So, when the emperor was presented with his new clothes and could not see them, he pretended he could. Likewise, all his courtiers and subjects pretended the same, extolling the emperor’s magnificence in them, as he paraded around in his underwear. Some were, like the emperor himself, foolish and vain, pretending to see the clothes because they feared their own incompetence. Others were pragmatists, supporting conventional “wisdom” in order to please the powers that be. It took a child to boldly confess the obvious: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
The grand myth of evolution, encompassing the Big Bang and Neo-Darwinism, is much like the Emperor’s new clothes. Both of these evolutionary hypotheses are utterly bankrupt and don’t fit the evidence,1 yet they continue to be paraded around—in museums and classrooms, textbooks and documentaries, Sci-Fi novels and movies—as glorious wonders of modern scientific thinking. Despite the failure of scientific naturalism to account for the universe,2 many Christians are still reluctant to defend the Biblical account of a six-day creation. Foolishness and practical thinking aside, perhaps many of us have begun to doubt the relevance of Creation (in the First Article) to Redemption (in the Second Article). We wonder, “Does it matter how and when God created the universe, as long as we know John 3:16?”
Evolution vs. the Gospel
It most certainly does matter. Christ is the second Adam (Romans 5:14) whose obedience to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8) frees us from sin and its consequence: death. Scripture teaches, “For as by a man [Adam] came death, by a man [Christ] has come also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21 ESV). Darwinism’s “survival of the fittest” teaches the very opposite: that man came about by death— eons-worth of it. Throughout church history since Darwin, including the history of Lutheranism in America, removing John 3:16, or any Gospel text, from the context of the whole Bible has rapidly led to disbelief (apostasy) for church bodies, if not individuals. Inconsistent theology is a house divided against itself (Mark 3:25). Thus, the Genesis account of creation (as perfect, deathless) and man’s fall (which brought death) is inseparable from Christ and the cross, that is, from the Gospel.
Evolution vs. the Law
The concept of a six-day creation is also inseparable from the Law, being spoken by God as part of the Ten Commandments: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh” (Exodus 20:11). Accepting God at His word has always been problematic for mankind, ever since Satan posed his infamous question, “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1). Certainly this condition afflicts our “scientific, anything goes” society, which rejects both miracles and morality.
Without a doubt, “six days” is a stumbling block for many. Of course, it is troublesome only if one has bought into the “millions and billions of years” for natural history. Evolution’s credibility (if it has any) rests on there being an unfathomable stretch of time to make the impossible seem possible. In any case, “deep time” has a deep hold on us, even as Christians. In particular, reconciling a “recent” creation (about 6000 years ago3) with billions of light-years of space4 is for many something that cannot be resolved easily.
In truth, there is no need to blush intellectually at the idea of a “recent” creation. The elementary formula “distance = (rate) x (time)” is not the final story,5 not by a long shot! Einstein’s theory of general relativity (which, unlike the Big Bang, is scientifically robust) tells us that the flow of time is not constant (unlike the speed of light) but depends on the observer’s location and the distribution and motion of matter.
This means that the closer you are to a massive object, the slower your clock ticks. It is a demonstrable fact that clocks in Death Valley run slower than clocks on Mount Everest. Similar clock effects occur as a result of acceleration, by Einstein’s equivalence principle, so accelerating clocks run faster than non-accelerating ones.6
Now that’s quite a stretch!
Now consider Day 4 when God made the stars (Genesis 1:16). If space itself, carrying all its newly made galaxies with it, were abruptly “stretched” (accelerated) outward from a central location near the Milky Way, an earth-based clock could, theoretically, register that only a few hours passed while a clock at the far reaches of the cosmos registered billions of years. In such a scenario, the apparent age of the universe, based on its size and the constant speed of light, is merely an indicator of how it was formed.7
The size of the universe is no more of an age-indicator than was Adam’s full-grown stature on Day 6 (Genesis 1:26-27). Adam and Eve probably looked twenty-something, as they first viewed the same night sky we do, but they were really less than a day old, and the sky was really less than three days old.
The reality is that things are not always what they seem, because of the fog of sin. But we can see correctly, like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” if we trust God’s Word. While the world saw Christ hanging as a criminal on a cross, we confess Him as the true Lamb of God (John 1:29) and creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16). The world sees that we sin (1 John 1:8); in Christ we are perfect (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is vital to keep in mind as you study these issues, because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
Dr. Barbara S. Helmkamp has a Ph.D. in physics from Louisiana State University. She is currently teaching physics and chemistry at Credo Academy, a homeschool co-op in Denver and overseeing her daughters’ high school education. Barbara, her husband Bob and daughters are members of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Elizabeth, Colorado.