We’ve spent quite a few weeks now from a scientific angle and I don’t want to carry on for too much longer. I don’t have a huge passion for science, but what I’ve wanted to do is show you that science does fit comfortably with Christianity. We should have confidence that there are a growing number of very intelligent scientists and philosophers who can argue very effectively for intelligent design or a God inspired creation.
What I just wanted to do today was to sum up the main views about how the universe and life itself all began. This may help you as you are talking to people to see where they are coming from. These are very broad explanations as I don’t want to go into too much detail.
The first viewpoint is routed firmly in last week’s subject about Evolution. That is the belief that the universe came about without any help from God, “there is no God” they say. They say that life emerged from pre-existing building blocks which were influenced by natural laws (although it is not clear where these laws came from). I will call it atheistic evolution because as we will see later some people try to mix God and evolution together. There are various terms for people who would not believe in God such as Atheist, humanist, secularist or even agnostic.
The second viewpoint could actually be used as an umbrella for all the others, it is called ‘Intelligent design’. But I just wanted to mention that this idea is by no means exclusively Christian or religious. The very basic definition is “the theory that life, or the universe, cannot have arisen by chance and was designed and created by some intelligent entity.” Intelligent design does not state who or what did the creating just that it must have been intelligent given the amazing complexity of the created order and this is a better explanation for how things came into being rather than just blind, random chance. We looked at this a few weeks back when we were considering the argument for the existence of God from design.
The remaining 3 views we will look at today are the different views that people have that believe in a biblical God (and I guess other world religions would have aspects of these views). The first one believes that God created indirectly and the second two direct creation;
1. Theistic Evolution or evolutionary creation
These views are not identical but for the purposes of this discussion the differences are negligible so I have lumped them together. Theistic Evolutionists say that God created all the necessary ingredients and building blocks needed to sustain the universe but He then stood back and let it all happen. The only difference between theistic evolution and atheistic evolution is obviously the presence of God. After that, everything else can be largely agreed upon.
Theistic Evolutionists would generally believe that Adam and Eve were just stories and only served some symbolic purpose, although those that do believe in Adam and Eve would tend to think of them as a special creation at the end of the evolutionary process.
The last two viewpoints centre on the question “Did God create everything in 6 (24 hour) days?
2. Old-Earth Creationism
This view separates the creation of the universe from the creation of life. Old-Earth Creationists agree with mainstream science that the universe is billions of years old, but they deny evolution. They believe that God specially created humans and that there was a literal Adam and Eve. They can be further split into two camps:
- Gap Creationists believe that there is a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 – God created the heavens and the earth (pause) then the earth became void. This view is based on the study of verb tenses in verses 1 and 2, which could suggest that an indefinite time period existed before a literal 6-day creation took place. Gap Creationists vary on what made the earth become void of life, but some believe another original creation existed and was destroyed which would account for the age of the earth and the existence of dinosaurs).
- Day-Age Creationists believe that the creation days of Genesis should not be taken to mean literally 24-hour days, but rather indefinitely long periods of time. This is based primarily on the analysis of the Hebrew word “yom,” which is usually translated day but can mean a period of time.
3. Young-Earth Creationism
Lastly, we come to the view people most commonly associate with the term “creationism.” This is the belief that all things were created by God in 6 literal 24 hour days. That’s what it says in the beginning of Genesis and why would it not be as it says. If we really believe that God is all powerful and can create the world from nothing we should believe He is capable of doing it in 6 days. In fact He could do it in 6 nano-seconds if he wished! The outworking of this viewpoint is that the earth is somewhere between 6 to 10,000 years old based on time frames in the bible and the well recorded genealogies. Young-Earth Creationists answer disputes over aspects of geology and why the earth appears older to the events of Noah’s flood. This would explain such things as the fossil record.
Please indulge me, but I would like to take one more week on this subject and look in further detail at creation next time.