RE: Creation Stories
Thank you, Chris, for your reply. Hopefully this response is useful to you.
I feel that there is one core issue here that must be addressed first: everyone has a creation story, or if you prefer, an origin story, a narrative which purports to explain the existence of the universe, and why it is the way that it is. There is always involved some Power, Being, or Force, or many of them. I believe what the Bible teaches, namely, that there is a being ʏʜᴡʜ, a first cause, who has no beginning or ending, infinite power, and unfathomable knowledge and wisdom. He who spoke the universe into being was also capable of providing us with a record of it, and did so.
The so-called secularists, touting the popular explanation of the origin of the universe, are really just believers in a myth they have invented, which if you boil it down becomes a sort of pantheism. The secular cosmologist would expect us to believe some variant of the following: a Nothing (a quantum nothing? a flucuation of nothingness?) was (became?) a singularity of unfathomably great mass/energy, which exploded. After this very hot material expanded and began to cool, and processes occurred over millions or billions of years to somehow form protostars. This is recognized by astrophysicists to be a very difficult process to explain due to the recognized major problems with pressure and temperature increasing as gases contract, and issues with magnetic fields, but somehow something (some external trigger) helped them get over the bumps, and stars formed. Eventually, accretion disks of dust and such like around stars began to come together into planets and solar systems. Eventually, molecules somewhere on some of the planets (currently we only know of one such planet) some how came together to become sophisticated enough to be self-reproducing. Et cetera.
Honest minds will admit that there is a connecting thread here, a Force, Tendency, or Consciousness at work in-or-behind the scenes that causes all these things to organize into more than they were, despite all the many difficulties. You can either pretend like It doesn't exist, or you can put a name on It. If you don't want to believe there is some separate Being out there (a Creator) you have to believe that the universe organizes itself, that is, the Universe is your God.
I have a relative, though he probably wouldn't want to be named in this post, who is very intelligent, and studies science and quantum physics (at least on an introductory level) and he outright said that he believes the Universe itself is God, and that the initial Conciousness somehow broke apart in that initial explosion, so that all the parts of the universe somehow have a share in that Conciousness. It is an straightforward position, and we Christians like to call that Pantheism. It is also the religion of the secular cosmologist, whether he is honest about it or not.
When I stated that the universe was created by the God of the Bible, you demanded that I prove it. What kind of proof are you looking for? Certainly there is not some one experiment in a laboratory I could do that would prove my origin narrative any more than it would yours. What I can do, with God's help, is to show that what we see in the universe is consistent with the Biblical narrative of Creation, the Fall, and the Flood, and that the Bible explains things well when you look at the universe from a Biblical framework of thinking. One of the things we see as we explore is that our little part of the universe is ideally tuned in many ways to support the life that inhabits it.
Also it is important to see that the pantheistic cosmology has so many difficulties that it is clearly not a necessary outcome of scientific inquiry, but rather a philosophical commitment, that must be believed at all costs because the alternative is unacceptable.
I'd like to jump to the argument from Egyptian mythology. That mythology as you described it sounds ridiculous to me as well, so I certainly won't be defending it. The line of argument is that, if there are some origin narratives that cannot be believed, therefore all origin narratives cannot be believed. The logical fallacy seems obvious to me. This seems like a good excuse to share a brief portion from C. S. Lewis' book "The Pilgrim's Regress", one of my favorite books. In the allegory, Mr. Enlightment is explaining to John while he no longer needs to believe in the Landlord:
'Then, again, there is anthropology.'
'I'm afraid I don't know —'
'Bless me, of course you don't. They don't mean you to know. An anthropologist is a man who goes round your backward villages in these parts, collecting the odd stories that the country people tell about the Landlord. Why, there is one village where they think he has a trunk like an elephant. Now anyone can see that that couldn't be true.'
'It is very unlikely.'
'And what is better still, we know how the villagers came to think so. It all began by an elephant escaping from the local zoo; and then some villager — he was probably drunk — saw it wandering about on the mountain one night, and so the story grew up that the Landlord had a trunk.'
'Did they catch the elephant again?'
'Oh, my dear boy, you are misunderstanding. This happened long before there were any anthropologists.'
'Then how do they know?'
'Well, as to that ... I see that you have a very crude notion of how science actually works. To put it simply —for, of course, you could not understand the technical explanation —to put it simply, they known that the escaped elephant must have been the source of the trunk story because they know that an escaped snake must have been the source of the snake story in the next village —and so on. This is called the inductive method. Hypothesis, my dear young friend, establishes itself by a cumulative process: or, to use the popular language, if you make the same guess often enough it ceases to be a guess and becomes a Scientific Fact.
After he had thought for a while, John said:
'I think I see. Most of the stories about the Landlord are probably untrue; therefore the rest are probably untrue.'
'Well, that is as near as a beginner can get to it, perhaps. But when you have had a scientific training you will find that you can be quite certain about all sorts of things which now seem to you only probable.'
There was also a question regarding Joshua 10:13. Regarding the Sun and Moon standing still, I have no trouble at all taking that narrative literally. The power of God that created this unfathomably vast, energetic, and orderly universe, certainly could freeze the whole thing in place, if he wanted to do so. Of course, he would have to deal with things like the massive accelerations involved, maintaining orbits, and such like, but he is certainly capable of doing that.
Following, however, the principles of simplicity and conservation of miracles, it is important to remember that astronomical descriptions in Scripture are usually from earth's frame of reference, and so really all God has to do is, in some way, to make it appear that the sun and the moon stay in a fixed position in the heavens. So, one could imagine some miracle involving redirection of light, or an effect on the the observers' experience of the passage of time. An impressive miracle in any case, but perhaps one idea or the other is easier for us to contemplate.
Regarding dolphins: I have not made any special study of them, so I will try not to wax eloquent on the subject. God created many creatures wonderous and beautiful, and he gives to different animals different levels of "wisdom" (see Job 39:17). So, it would not be surprising to me to discover that dolphins are intelligent, emotional, and aware of their own existence, on some level. We also see from our personal experience, that mankind is gifted in unique ways. Some things that we have never observed dolphins doing:
- struggling with deep moral dilemmas
- composing beautiful music, or at least exploring new genres and recording them for future generations (many animals have a gift for music in a limited sense of the word)
- arguing about politics
- working out mathematical formulas
- building new technology
- making detailed astronomical observations and charts of the universe
Mankind has inner desires that transcend our earthly existence, and a longing to explore and to understand deep mysteries and plans and purposes (Proverbs 25:2; Ecclesiastes 3:11). We have not observed this in other land or water-bound creatures.
What fundamentally makes humans different is that they are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). There is a lot that could be discussed as far as what that means exactly. But we can say that, unlike the animals, we have the ability to know God and to have a close personal relationship with him.
 For example, "Astrophysics is Easy! An Introduction for the Amateur Astronomer", Mike Inglis, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-1-85233-890-9, pages 59-60.