Larry Niven likes to say that people talk in first draft. It’s a way of pointing out that we make mistakes, we stop and start, we change our minds mid-sentence, and ultimately don’t express ourselves as eloquently as we could. It’s a good point, suggesting that live communication is a work in progress and that it shouldn’t be held to the same standards as published work.

When I’m not writing on a computer, my scribblings tend to get marked up with all manner of corrections and changes. There’s crossed out words, inserted phrases and even the occasional passage that gets circled and tagged with an arrow to show that it needs to move. I was doing some reading about so-called “junk DNA” and realized that evolution works kind of the same way. There’s stuff in our DNA that’s been marked with the metaphorical equivalent of being crossed out; genes that are no longer expressed. There’s stuff that’s new (on an evolutionary timescale) and stuff that’s been around since, again metaphorically speaking, the first draft. There’s even one of our chromosomes that is a fusing of what were two different chromosomes in our ancient ancestors.

And, I guess, you can consider DNA to be one of God’s notepads, a place where he jots down ideas and then comes back and revises them. So looking over the mess that is our DNA is a chance to realize that even God essentially talks in first draft, that he does go back and change things, does revise things, does make things better. It isn’t too much of a leap then to realize that God must also change his mind from time to time.

So when we say that we are made in God’s image, perhaps our fallibility is not just that we are imperfect copies, but that the God himself is imperfect and we copy that aspect as well. Perhaps those that say the Bible should be a living document, updated with time and with our new understandings of philosophy and science are really on to something. If God himself is constantly revising things, who are we to say that anything should be static and unchanging.

That’s something worth keeping in mind.

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