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Originally published in Creation 6(4):33, May 1984
‘I am a professor of Biology at an Australian University.’ I was brought up in a home which wasn’t strongly religious at all, but we went to the C. of E. in a sort of formal way....
‘I am a professor of Biology at an Australian University.’ I was brought up in a home which wasn’t strongly religious at all, but we went to the C. of E. in a sort of formal way, and as an undergraduate I became pretty actively involved in propagating things which I am now horrified at. I don’t think I should have been set loose in Sunday Schools the way I was. I had very dogmatic and strong views which I have since totally rejected. I had a sort of literalistic belief in the Bible and the horrible view that man was fundamentally a terrible sinner and Jesus came to save us from our sins—all that sort of thing.
I was anti-evolutionist when I was an undergraduate. I used to strongly defend the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis and I had a picture of God as the carpenter and He made the world perfect and left it. He had virtually nothing to do but re-introduce himself back to perform miracles.
I realised that I couldn’t defend my position at all intellectually and I would have thrown out the baby with the bath-water, except that fortunately for me in the Uni. of Adelaide, there was a very liberal group called the Student Christian Movement. They were people who had been in much the same position, but they had been searching for a more intellectual approach to religious questions.
You see if you take any of these biblical statements (in Genesis) literally, they become nonsense. They have to be taken metaphorically. If it’s worthwhile trying to interpret ‘God made man in His own image’ in modern context (I’m not sure that it is, you know), but if it is worthwhile trying to interpret it, I’d want to say that every single thing that is made in the history of the cosmos is made, in some sense, in the image of God. Man reflects that nature only more completely than a butterfly or moth.
I don’t conceive of God as having some plan of the future which is gradually worked out across the ages. God to me is simply the potentialities of possibilities in the universe. There’s not just one creator. All entities are creators too, so that there is a multiplicity of creators. I think that God provides the possibilities.’
Charles Birch, professor of Biology at the University of Sydney made those comments on ABC radio. It is a sad fact that he has influenced many to adopt views similar to his own under the guise of being a ‘Christian Thinker’. Birch illustrates very well the choice facing the student or research scientist ‘Buckle under to peer pressure to believe in evolution and put your faith in man’, or ‘Stand alone with your trust in God as Creator.’ This is not a new choice. The writer of Proverbs wrote about it when he warned students to ‘trust not in man’s understanding but trust in the Lord with all your heart’ (Prov. 3:5-7).