Evolutionary Creationism and the Image of God in Mankind
First off let me congratulate you on your amazing defense of Christianity as you travel about the world, debate, and lecture. I am a major fan, to say the least. However I have a question that has been put on my mind lately, concerning your views about creation and evolution. First off, I think you are spot on when you say evolution (in its many meanings) is not incompatible with Theism, rendering it useless as a objection to the concept of God. Aside from this, if I understand you right, you hold that views such as evolution[ary] creationism are compatible with the account of Genesis in the Bible. What bothers me about this is that I think, by holding this view, that God used evolution to bring about the diversity of life upon the Earth, including humans, you weaken and eliminate the notion that mankind was created in God’s image, or at least make it problematic. Now hopefully I understand you to mean by evolutionary creationism that you think God created life at a basic level, that being cellular, and directed it to create the diversity we see everywhere and at some point on the evolutionary timeline humans came about and where then chosen to be special to God. If I characterize your view wrongly, please clarify in detail. So that brings me to the question, how do you hold the view of evolutionary creationism while holding firmly that man was created in the image of God?
Since I’m not an evolutionary creationist, Andrew, I guess my answer to your question would have to be “I don’t.” Evolutionary creationism is the currently chic name given to what we used to call theistic evolution, which is the view that the current evolutionary paradigm is entirely adequate, so that the evolution of presently observed biological complexity requires no causal input from God. As my current lectures on Creation and Evolution in our Defenders class make clear, however, I am not yet convinced that the mechanisms posited by the current evolutionary paradigm are adequate to explain the biological diversity that we observe today.
One cannot exaggerate just how extraordinary an extrapolation the current paradigm involves. Many of us probably think that if random mutation and natural selection can explain, for example, the evolution of the horse, then that surely shows the power of the neo-Darwinian mechanisms to account for biological diversity. In fact, evolution within a single kind like this is nothing compared to the vast range of life. You might think that if we could show that random mutation and natural selection could explain, say, how a bat and a whale evolved from a common ancestor, that would certainly show the power of these mechanisms. Think again! A bat and a whale are both mammals, which is just one of the groups of the phylum Vertebrates. Even the evolution of a bat and a whale from a common ancestor is an utter triviality compared to the vast range of the animal kingdom. Such a demonstration would do nothing to explain, for example, how a bat and a sea urchin evolved from a common ancestor, not to speak of a bat and a sponge. This represents an extrapolation of gargantuan proportions. Indeed, it represents an enormous leap of faith in the efficacy of the Darwinian mechanisms….
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