There, you're up to speed.
So I know you're all dying to find out what it was that startled me about evolution – We'll get to that. But you can't make bricks without straw, so we need to get some background into us first.
First things first: God invented science. Now, I'd have been strung up for that 300 years ago (I probably still would be in some places), but it's totally true. Science, after all, is simply the process of observing the physical universe and giving names to those observations. That's it. Biology, geology, physics, chemistry; all that research scientists are doing is observing and naming.
Now consider two things. Firstly, God created the physical universe and everything in it. This means that whether they recognise it or not, scientists are – every one of them – studying the handiwork of Yahweh. Kinda gives the CERN Supercollider a whole new purpose when you realise God invented fundamental particles.
Secondly, let's take a quick squizz at Genesis 2 verse 19. "Now the Lord had formed out of the ground the wild animals and the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name."
In Biology, the process of naming animals and deciding which ones are similar to each other is called taxonomy. God invented it. Right here in Genesis we have God bestowing the first ever science degree onto Adam and setting him to work as a Biologist.
Whether you believe in a literal view of Genesis is irrelevant (at this stage. Don't worry folks, we will get to the juicy debatable stuff), God gave mankind the job of observing the planet and naming things. That's science.
"You keep using that word..."
So that's science, but what about this business of a 'Scientific Theory'?
I recently read an online debate (the most entertaining kind) in which an ardent short-span creationist was convinced of the Biblical proof that the universe was only 10,000 years old. We'll get into the details of this form of philosophy next time, but for now I want to take a look at one statement he made:
"Look at what science tells us about it's (sic) own so-called 'findings'. They call it the 'Theory of Evolution'. Theory. They call it a theory. Even the scientists aren't convinced and they expect us to be!"
I hit my forehead with my hand quite hard when I read that. But it's what many Christians are convinced of: if it's just a 'theory', that means even the scientists don't think they know.
So before I leave you today I'm going to dispel this one.
If you've seen the film The Princess Bride, you'll remember Inigo Montoya saying: "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what-a you think it means."
When most people today use the word "theory", they really mean "hypothesis" – something they're unsure of, something unproven - speculation, in other words.
When scientists use the word 'theory', they're using it the correct way. The way that musicians talk about 'musical theory'. It's the logical explanation that makes sense of an observed physical occurrence. Scientific hypotheses are tested and retested and scrutinised and delved into and debated and pulled apart and rebuilt for a long time before they become accepted theories.
So the next time you hear about the 'theory of gravity' or the 'theory of evolution', be aware that scientists aren't speculating. They're sure.
We'll get to the Christian response to that very soon.
Daniel Buckingham is currently studying towards a Diploma of Biblical Studies as part of his training to be a Salvation Army Officer (minister). He likes science and video games. He's a geek, but he's slowly coming to terms with it.
Daniel Buckingham's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-buckingham.html