It goes without saying that the great debate of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries between science and faith in our culture has centered around the question of origins.
The origin accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures, which were embraced and adopted by the early Christians spoke of a powerful divine being who had called the cosmos to being out of chaos. The story speaks of His Spirit first brooding over the vast expanse of waste, and the the spark of divine power springs forth, calling forth his intention. Birds, plans, animals, all leap at His voice, created good.
The story is essentially recast in the next chapter. Here God gets his hands dirty, so to speak, the action is not focused on his voice, but on his work. he "fashions" man from the ground, breathes live, "plants" a garden.
The distinctive image is of an active, working, creative God, planning and executing His desire.
Wrightly, or wrongly, when our imaginations visualize the story, what springs to mind is something very different from the slow creation we see around us. We imagine giant forests pushing themsevles up in the span of an hour, fish suddenly teeming in the sea at the crackle of a word, popping from nothing...ex nihilo. It comes as no surprise, therefore that when science in the 19th century began to describe a different process of the development of life...well there was a bit of tension.
In the light or retrospection, however, it is fitting to ask ourselves - why do we bristle at a "slow" creation?
How could God, omnipotent, powerful, imaginative be content to sit and wait for random mutations to turn an amoeba into a man? Even if he was guiding the mutations himself, why couldn't He have just created man from the beginning just as He wanted? (Of course, this is the same brand of argument that tackles the question of evil by saying, "Well if God thinks evil is so evil, why doesn't he just get rid of it?")
I think it forgets several important points
1) There is a difference between growing vegetables yourself, and going to the store and picking up veggies mass grown for you. The process of growing, caring, nuturing the food contributes to its flavor in ways that can't be expressed. However, there is a certain satisfaction to "doing it yourself" that I believe is universal. Just because God COULD have created man in one "POOF" or "AB-RA! CADA-BRA!" does not mean that he necessarily would have wanted to. In fact I think our intuition tells us the oposite.
2) We tend to imagine God as a very stuffy know-it-all. Simply because God has the potential to know anything does not mean that he has to CHOOSE to know everything. Part of the act of creation was self-limiting - once he made the universe, He had made a decision - the universe WAS that way, by His choice, and by definition he had chosen the THAT option over any another. Similarly, we imagine that he necessarily planned every minute detail over creation, down to the shade of brown of the grass in my lawn on Friday, October 26th of the hyear 2018. Quite frankly, that seems a bit silly to me.
God can be soverign and omnipotent, and still give himself the opportunity to be surpised. Personally, I can't think of a more interesting thing to do with a universe than to set up a system by which an intricate structure of genes and proteins would self adapt and simultaneously solve the enormously complex problem of survival a billion different ways over billions of years. Put another way, when God looks at a Duck-billed Platypus, I think He has a good laugh, not because he planned it as a joke for humans, but because it's a beautifully ridiculous miracle, which he intended, but did not necessarily "design". I believe God left room for creation to surprise Him.
Ah, there's the rub. When we speak of "Intelligent Design", what comes to mind but God the great architect with blueprints, and a compass, and a measuring rod. Now, that's not to say that design wasn't involved in the universe, but the universe itself seems to testify to a degree of artistic interpretive freedom given back to the universe as a gift. I think there were indeed layers of the universe where God "measured twice and cut once", but I also beleive there were entire realms where he was more like Jackson Pollack, casting the paint upon the canvas in wild smatterings of color, and then stepped back to say..."Ah...It is good!"
3) To use software development terms, we too quickly mesh together the implementation phase and the instantiation phase of the universe. When I design a software program it does not execute during the time when I am writing the code. Put another way, in the lifetime of the program time does not go by until I command the program to RUN. However, that does not happen until the program is complete. Only when all of the code has been written beginning to end, does the first line of the program spring into "life".
J.R.R. Tolkein captures this separation of implementation and execution well in the Silmarillion. There, Illuvatar first gives the Ainur the music of his creation which they sing into being. During this singing, the creation is corrupted, in its deepest levels by the discord of Melkior. Illuvatar works to subvert the dark song of Melkior with a new strain, and when the song has been completed the Ainur are surprised to realize that Illuvatar was merely showing to him his intentions for the world. It still lay fallow and void. The execution of the plan was yet to take place though the design and marring was fully formed.
Incidentally, this nicely illustrates a way in which the marring of the creation could have prefigured even the Big Bang itself. It also changes the trajectory of our usual interpretation of Genesis, for here man is not necessarily viewed as arriving in a perfect world which he is responsible for marring. It rather points to God's intention that man, made in his image, will emerge as the hope for undoing the disaster done to world. He will be given the power to understand the world, and restore it. God intervenes, plants a garden, and puts the man in it, with the summons to fill the world, subdue it, take care of it, put it back to rights. Of course, in this scenario, evil invades Eden, man rebels, and joins forces with the evil already rampant in the world, until the second Adam comes and finally does what the first Adam was meant to do - set loose the project of setting the worlds to rights.
To make a further comment on this scheme, theologically it fits nicely into Tolkeins worldview. Illuvatar deigns not to destry the world planned through the music, despite it's marring, but to work to subvert the effects of the evil, and in the end glorify himself through the greater good that results through defeating the evil. In this scenario of evolving life on Earth, the darkness of "nature, red in tooth and claw" is countered by the emergence of rational man with a capacity to seek God from the bloody eons of death struggle for survival. When man himself rejects God and descends into pride, selfishness and fratricide, God again overcomes the evil by subversive action from the inside (the Incarnatin) rather than destroying his creation outright from the outside.
All of that is highly speculative, but it points to a proposition, that when we make quick assumptions about what timeline God lives in, or what the spiritual realm actually looks at, we are stepping beyond our ken. Even taking illustrations from our own fledgling attempts to create universes through fiction and software, we can at least understand the complexities involved with the interaction of creator and creation. Fundamentally, there is a barrier separating the two that can only be crossed by the creator. Hamlet can know nothing of Shakespeare. Mario can know nothing of Miyamoto unless the author and designer write themselves into their own stories. Which of course is exactly what Christians claim happened 2,000 years ago....