Making Your Mind Up About The How of Creation
by Ruth Bancewicz
Hopefully as Christians we all agree about the WHY of creation – God made the universe and everything in it, all by himself, from nothing, and made us to be in a relationship with him. This is fundamental to our faith, and it’s important that we’re clear on this. But Christians often disagree on the HOW. For many people this doesn’t seem important, it doesn’t affect them every day, and you may wonder what the fuss is about. You may be happy to stick to whatever you were brought up with, or whatever bit of literature you came across first, be it ‘young earth creationism’, ‘intelligent design’, or ‘theistic evolution’. At some point though, you’ll probably delve deeper into Genesis and start asking questions, or talk to friends who aren’t Christians, and come across questions that you can’t answer.
Many people, whether they have a scientific background or not, use evolution as an argument against Christianity, and it doesn’t do us any favours as Christians if we counter these using evidence that we only half understand. For scientists, (astronomers, geologists and biologists in particular) it is most important to address the issue of creation properly. We’re surrounded by people studying origins and are often working on these issues directly ourselves. As Christians the challenge is to be able to speak about these things and how they relate to our faith confidently, coherently and logically.
There are three main viewpoints held by evangelical Christians who hold to a high view of Scripture. Theistic evolutionism is an acceptance of evolution as the best current scientific description of the way that God made the world. It is the dominant viewpoint amongst Christians active in academic science or theology ,,. Young Earth Creationism is a rejection of mainstream science in favour of an interpretation of the Genesis account that takes the 6 days of creation literally ,. Intelligent Design represents a range of views. In contrast to Theistic evolution or Young Earth Creationism, it is not concerned with Biblical interpretation ,,. This is often viewed as middle ground for Christians, but is very controversial, for a mixture of theological, philosophical and scientific reasons. Most proponents of intelligent design would accept an old earth (c. 4.5 billion years), but reject the theory of evolution on two grounds: 1) that there is not enough evidence for evolution, and 2) complex biological systems are evidence for a designer. The Intelligent Design movement also use the evidence for fine-tuning in cosmology that many theistic evolutionists talk about, so there is some common ground here.
The aim of this article is not to tell you what to think, it’s to give you some general guidelines about where to look for answers and how to examine the evidence for yourself. If you’re not a scientist this may be particularly daunting. Don’t worry, you don’t need to master astrophysics or Old Testament Hebrew to understand the basic principles. When you are asked hard questions about this kind of thing don’t ever be afraid to say – ‘that’s a good question, can I think about that/ask someone?’ or ‘I’m still thinking this through for myself’. Even experienced scientists and theologians will admit that they’re still figuring things out in certain areas, and new discoveries in both science and archaeology often throw up new evidence that may alter the conclusions we come to. This is no excuse, however, for keeping your head buried in the sand and not thinking at all. As Christians we should always be thinking biblically, willing to hear new ideas, and different opinions, and be prepared to change our position in the face of truth.
So here are a few guidelines to help you as you think things through:
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|Recommended Resources: The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate | Beyond the Firmament: Understanding Science and the Theology of Creation|