Creation and evolution: my current thinking
I've been pondering the issue of creation and evolution for years, and I thought it was about time to set out my current thinking on the area. This is all provisional and subject to change, but the points below are things that I'm fairly sure about.
If you desperately want to label me with one of the common labels, then "young-earth creationist" or "six-day creationist" would probably be most appropriate. Except that I don't think the earth is young or that God created everything in six days.
- The basic narrative of the Bible is creation–fall–redemption. The "physical" history of life, the universe and everything is inseparably part of that narrative. The creation was good, was corrupted at the fall, and is being restored and renewed following the redemptive work of Christ. (Listen to this talk by Steve Lloyd on Creation and the Story-Line of the Bible.)
- Human death, and other things such as cancer, agony and violent death in humans or animals, are not good, were not present before the fall, and will be abolished when all things are renewed in the resurrection. (See the Steve Lloyd link above, and his points in a debate on creation and evolution.)
- All human beings are descended biologically from Adam and Eve (and only Adam and Eve), who were created thousands (not millions) of years ago. (See this book chapter by Michael Reeves on Adam and Eve. That almost rhymed.)
- It was necessary for Jesus to undergo human physical death in order to deal with the problem of sin, because human physical death is a consequence of sin.
- It follows from points 2 and 3 that all fossil-bearing rocks (or at least the vast majority of them) were laid down after the fall, probably during or soon after the flood, thousands (not millions) of years ago.
- Compared with the above points, the age of the universe and of planet earth are issues of little significance for Christian theology and biblical interpretation. Even if the universe and planet earth are old, that doesn't necessarily mean that the biosphere is old, or that the fossil-bearing rocks are old. My working hypothesis is that God created plants and animals on earth a few thousand years ago, prior to which the earth had existed without life for billions of years.
- "Faith" and "science" cannot be isolated from each other. There is a deep interaction between the two, which is relevant at every level.
- Evolutionary models for biology and geology have significant unresolved issues. This perhaps hints that there are scientific grounds (and not just theological grounds) for exploring alternatives. However, these unresolved issues do not imply that those models are wrong, or that they are bad science. (See my post on Evidence for young-age creationism.)
- Scientific models built on young-age views have major unresolved issues. But they also seem to show some signs of possessing explanatory power in certain areas in which the evolutionary models are weak. This perhaps hints that there are scientific grounds (and not just theological grounds) for continued research into young-age models. But, even if those models have strengths, they are currently far from compelling. (Again, see my post on Evidence for young-age creationism.)
- The truth about the origins of everything cannot be determined simply by looking up the definition of the word "science" in a dictionary.
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about 12 months ago - 2 comments
It's not clear precisely what role scientific evidence plays when someone chooses between young-age creationism and evolution over billions of years. Certainly no one can approach the issue dispassionately; we would all have to declare an interest if we were called upon to examine the evidence objectively. But still, we can try to think about…
about 1 year ago - 4 comments
I posted this elsewhere a few months ago, but I thought it was worth posting it here too. The Christian church is still a long way from resolving the creation/evolution issue, but maybe this points in the right direction. The Colossian Forum is some new thing trying to promote discussion on issues of science, culture…
about 1 year ago - 10 comments
Dear BHA, After re-loading your website home page a few times, I found on it the following quote by Ariane Sherine: "All children should be free to grow up in a world where they are allowed to question, doubt, think freely, and reach their own conclusions about what they believe." As an evangelical Christian, I wholeheartedly…
about 2 years ago - 18 comments
No. But there is a connection. Intelligent Design (ID), being essentially anti-evolutionism, is half of an argument for creationism. Basic scientific arguments go something like this: You are wrong. I am right. Or, in more detail: Your model does a poor job at explaining the data. My model does a better job at explaining the…
about 2 years ago - No comments
Great talks by Mike Reeves on the love of God from a recent UCCF event (hat tip: Dave Bish). This was the trailer... Transformission 2010 from Dave Bish on Vimeo.
about 2 years ago - 18 comments
This question (also the title of a recent book by Denis Alexander) is one over which evangelical Christians often sharply disagree. Some ("young-earth creationists") maintain that the Bible makes it crystal clear that life, the Universe and everything have had their beginning within the past few thousand years. Others ("theistic evolutionists") are less willing to…
about 3 years ago - No comments
I could be wrong, but there seems to have been more discussion recently amongst Christians within the evangelical church about how to fit Adam and Eve into an evolutionary framework. I think the historical progression of thought has been something like this: Of course, Adam and Eve were specially created by God, and were the…
about 4 years ago - 1 comment
Perhaps not. Have a read of this extract from Alvin Plantinga's entry on Religion and Science in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (dealt with at more length here): In crafting our cognitive faculties, natural selection will favor cognitive faculties and processes that result in adaptive behavior; it cares not a whit about true belief (as…
about 4 years ago - 6 comments
Presenter of Premier Radio's Unbelievable? programme "Justin Brierley spoke to prominent atheist Richard Dawkins after his debate with Professor John Lennox at Oxford University in October 2008." Here's what was said 5:30 into the interview: JB: But when you make a value judgement don't you immediately step yourself outside of this evolutionary process and say…
about 4 years ago - No comments
So if the Christian God is entirely different to whatever God anyone else worships, then what - or who - is this God? Mike Reeves, part 2 (with a bit of help from the Cappadocian Fathers): God is Father, Son and Spirit loving each other. That's it. Okay, that's a bit more appealing than Aristotle's…