3 Meanings of Evolution & Biblical Creation
by J.R. Miller
Maybe you have heard the accusation that biblical creationists are blinded by their ancient theology which forces them to reject the modern “scientific fact” of evolution. But what do people mean by this accusation? What is evolution? Is biblical creation a de facto rejection of evolution science itself or just a rejection of how some scientists interpret the data? The answer, it turns out, depends on how one defines evolution. Therefore, to properly address this supposed conflict between biblical creation and evolution theory let me start with some simple definitions.
1. The 3 Meanings of Evolution
a. Cosmic Evolution
Cosmic evolution explores the origin and development of the universe. Astronomers generally focus on empirical observations of celestial bodies such as stars and galaxies and the properties of space-time itself. Cosmologists use the discoveries from astronomy and physics to develop theories of how, and if, the universe began. There are a lot of competing theories that are very detailed and nuanced. For the sake of simplicity, I have categories them into the following four kinds:
CATEGORY #1: An Eternal Universe & Eternal Matter: This theory dates back to Aristotle’s argument for the eternality of matter. In the 20th century the argument was advanced by Fred Hoyle using the Steady State theory. With the demise of Steady State theory, scientists now rely on speculation about Dark Matter and quantum trajectories to sustain arguments for a universe with no beginning or end. In theories fitting category #1, all that exists is within the natural world and, therefore, no external or supernatural causation is needed to explain existence.
CATEGORY #2: A Finite Universe & Eternal Matter: In response to the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Big Bang cosmology, a variety of theories have been postulated over the past half-century to explain the beginning of the current universe while holding onto the eternality matter. Based on the metaphysical assumption that causation is purely naturalistic, theories in category #2 include speculation about an Oscillating or Cyclical series of universes. This article from the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science provides a helpful summary…