note from mombasa

i’m participating in a gathering of Christian leaders grappling with ecology – caring for God’s sacred creation. You might say our theme is creation versus exploitation, destruction, extinction, etc. But predictably, even here in east africa, someone brought up the issue of creation versus evolution. i was asked to make some comments on this last night … Many folks here have been strongly influenced by fundamentalists in the US, so only know of two alternatives: young-earth-creationism – or evolution-atheism. I presented 5 ways of interpreting Genesis 1-2:

1. Literal theory – this is classic “young-earth creationism”
2. Gap theory – this is a modification of #1, saying that there’s a gap that occurred “when the world was without form and void”
3. Day-age theory – that the “days” of Genesis 1 could have been a million or billion years
4. Contextual theory – that in their historical context, the creation narratives were never intended to provide a scientific account, so should be interpreted for meaning – literarily, not literally. In this view, there’s no conflict between sound evolutionary theory and wise biblical interpretation.
5. Superstition theory – the Biblical accounts are just superstition of no value beyond showing the ignorance of ancient people.

I urged those present to recognize that Christians have 4 good options (1-4), and I urged them to do what I do: have your own position (mine being #4), but respect those who hold other positions.
Today we’re being exposed to the environmental situation in Africa:
45% of Africa is experiencing deforestation
Nearly everyone sees examples of climate change
In Kenya, forest cover is 1.5%, down from 12%
In Ethiopia, forest cover is 3%, down from 40%
In Kenya, Lake Nawasha has become a lake of raw sewage
90% of the big fish in oceans are gone …
Kenya lost 11 species of birds in the past 50 years
On the drive to our conference center from the airport, i looked over a bridge and saw a “stream” full of an unidentifiable liquid that was blue-black-oily-greenish-gray … unearthly, disgusting. It ran through a neighborhood … And meanwhile, I’m thinking about the oil spill back in the Gulf …
I wish we could stop arguing about the origin of the earth in the past and start focusing on the survival of the earth’s sacred ecosystems in the future!