Creationist or Evolutionist; Do we need to be either?

Tonight I was asked by my cousin for the very short version of what I believe about creationism and evolution; in a few sentences, what do I think about the differences between the creationist position and evolutionism? I might have said, 'I am neither a Creationist nor an Evolutionist', but most people would assume by that I meant that I am a theistic evolutionist; which I'm not.

Behind the question I think was the assumption that since I've studied quite significantly both science and the Bible, surely I must have this one 'figured out' [at least for myself]. I can understand that assumption; but the one about my ability to put my position into a few sentences?

I don't pretend to have arrived at a complete and comprehensive [or final] position on this topic, but I have given it a lot of thought over the years, and have continued to read on this subject. I used to be a subscriber to Creation ex Nihilo magazine and would have called myself a creationist as a college student over 15 years ago. My position has developed considerably since then, and I'd no longer identify myself with creationism. Recently I have been going through Denis Alexander's Creation or Evolution - Do we have to choose? However unlike Alexander, I am loathed as an evangelical christian to accept the extensions of the modern theory of evolution and try to maintain at the same time its compatibility with the basic tenants of the Bible's doctrine of creation. Theistic evolutionists believe in both creation and the theory of evolution at the same time; they are Christian evolutionists. I list below three brief reasons why the Bible's account of our world's historical development - which is the basis for its theology - is at odds with evolutionism if we accept that theory holus-bolus.

Creationists and evolutionists are alike if only for one reason: Neither will concede any ground to the other; both are equally as 'absolute'. Alexander asks, 'do we need to decide?' [he argues we can believe both in the bible's doctrine of creation and the theory of evolution without necessary contradiction].  But I'd ask, 'can we need to be either?' [I'd argue that neither creationism (proper) nor to the theory of evolution (proper) are acceptable to the Bible's doctrine of creation.]

3 things about creation

In a 'few words', here is what I believe the Bible categorically affirms about Creation, historically:

1.1. Adam was a real person, and the singular, historical father of all humanity, according to NT author's reading of the OT [and Eve the literal mother of all people past and present other than Adam]. God in the beginning created only two people, Adam and Eve, according to Jesus and the Apostles interpretation of Genesis' account. While he filled the sea with fish, the sky with birds and the land with animals, he did not do so with people. When he created people, he made in the first instance one man and one woman, and told them to go and fill the earth themselves. All people came from these two people by direct descent.
He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, (Jesus, Matthew 19:4) 
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, ... (38) the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:23-38)

Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1Corinthians 15:45)
For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  (1Timothy 2:13)

1.2. The fall was a real and historical event exclusively involving Adam and Eve, according to NT author's reading of the Genesis account. To Jesus and the Apostles, this is the basis of gospel (Romans 5:12). Prior to the fall, the world was a perfect place in the sense that it was declared good by God, and in these sense that not only did people exist then without sin or death, but also the world existed without sin and death prior to the fall [although death by our definition was at least present if only for plant life, which was not given the 'breath of life' as were animals and people]. Sin and death entered the world through the first sin of Adam. And because all people came from Adam, sin and with it death spread to all people to fill the world.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12)

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1Corinthians 15:22)
1.3. The flood was a historical and literal re-beginning for humanity and a worldwide event, according to the NT author's understanding of Genesis' account. To Jesus and the Apostles, the worldwide flood is gospel (Luke 17:26-27, 2 Peter 2:5, 9). All living land creatures and people died at that time, except the 8 people who entered the Ark and two of each 'kind' of animal selected by God to go with them. From Noah and these seven others, and the animals with them who came out of the Ark, has come all life that has walked on the earth since then; that is, every land creature today including all people are directly descendant from that subset of life that emerged from the Ark.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. (27) They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Jesus, Luke 17:26-27)

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
...when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. (1Peter 3:20)

...if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly... (9) then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment... (2Peter 2:5,9)

3 more things about creation

In a 'few more words', here is what I believe is evident about evolution within God's creation, whether by observation, or extension directly from the Bible's account of creation:

2.1. Evolution of species does occur in God's creation. With God's selection of two of each kind of animal when they entered the Ark, the effect of evolution is unavoidably apparent in that today we do see millions of 'species' of immense variation [by science's definition of 'species'], all of which must have arose from the small subset of species which came out of the ark. We see evolution for example in the many different species of bear around the world today, from polar to panda, from black to brown to grizzly, all of which could not possibly have been present and represented identically on the Ark, but only by their original 'kind' . But we can also make evolution happen artificially, with breeding and inter-breeding, which is essentially 'unnatural' selection [if you like].

2.2.  The world and the universe may well be much much older than the Bible's account of humanity. I can see no reason theologically or historically to insist that Genesis 1-2 must be read as a 6-day creation account. And reading the 'days' of Genesis 1 and 2 as literal 24-hour periods leads to many problems that are internally inconsistent with those texts. It is also not externally inconsistent with the Bible's account to accept the long periods from the 'big bang' right up to the creation of Adam and Eve.

2.3. The theory of evolution is something different to the process of evolution. The 'theory' of evolution teaches 'macro-evolution'; the day-to-day process of evolution involves only 'micro-evolution'. As explained, the reality of evolution as a process we see around us is obvious from what we see of the world and history, and produces what we all know as the variation in species, and the adaptation of new species from pre-existing species, such as 'Darwin's finches' [geographical isolation highlights how rapidly micro-evolution does in reality occur]. What I am calling micro-evolution is essentially variation and adaptation within God's creation as a result of genetic diversity and natural selection, and is a creative force for good that God has used to sustain the creation [for without it, extinction would have been much more prolific and devastating for the world by now].

But the theory of evolution of course maintains something much more, a theory of absolute origins: species have originated continually all the way back to the first place when stars gave birth to carbon, and carbon to amino-acids, and then to proteins, and from them micro-organisms, and from them all the macro-organisms of our past and present. This is what may be called 'macro-evolution';  it maintains not only that fish have diversified [micro-evolution], but that they gave rise to reptiles; and reptiles gave rise to birds, and so forth. Having looked at the evidence for macro-evolution, I'm much less than convinced. And as a Christian, I don't have a big need to believe in it as do atheists and agnostics.

I don't believe it follows from what scientists 'know' about the age of the biological world that the theory of evolution is necessarily true [stellar evolution and cosmology is a different thing entirely to what I'm talking about by the way, which is strictly biological evolution]; in other worlds, it is not necessarily the case that because we know that micro-evolution occurs between populations and that this has been occuring for a very long time that we can deduce backwards in time towards a common singular origin of all living things. There is no reason why this extension should not lead us back to a discrete and finite set of original species; in other words, we could just as easily arrive back at 2 of every 'kind' of animal that was present on the Ark. And prior to that; we could arrive back at the original set of kinds of animals that God had in the beginning created ex Nihilo [out of nothing], simply by speaking words empowered by his Spirit.

So having said all that, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. My first 3 initial statements about creation (1.1 - 1.3) require me to reject the theory of evolution in so far as it teaches macro-evolution as the process of origination for the worlds flora and fauna, including people, and contradicts what I see the Bible categorically affirming about God's act and process of creation, both theologically and historically. However my 3 additional statements about creation (2.1 - 2.3) are in part at odds with what 6-day creationists teach [I'm perfectly happy with an old-earth/ancient-universe and a creation that is evolving all around me], although putting 2.3 next to  1.1 - 1.3, it's clear that I do have quite a bit in common with them. However, 2.1 and 2.2 give me some things in common with evolutionists too.

I'm going to keep reading Denis Alexander's book, and as time allows I'd like to give it a proper review. It's definitely got some helpful points to make [as well as its fair share of problems too]. But for now, there's my answer in three words or less.


Human Ape said...

You wrote "Creationists and evolutionists are alike if only for one reason: Neither will concede any ground to the other; both are equally as 'absolute'."

You are forgetting something very important that shows creationists and biologists not alike at all. The biologists have a massive amount of extremely powerful evidence for evolution from molecular biology and many other branches of science. Creationists have nothing but their wishful thinking and their total ignorance of science.

Evolution has been an established truth for more than a century. Today the evidence is so overwhelming it's fair to call evolution the strongest fact of science. A quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica: "There is probably no other notion in any field of science that has been as extensively tested and as thoroughly corroborated as the evolutionary origin of living organisms." Do you think the best encyclopedia in the world would make something like that up? If that's what you think there's nothing to stop you from reading about the evidence they provide at

You wrote "Having looked at the evidence for macro-evolution, I'm much less than convinced."

Take another look because you're just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
just remembered something from a lecture at uni which may be food for thought on this topic... The Christian lecturer raised the idea that whatever happened before the fall happened in a different world order and therefore we can't necessarily impose theories from this world order onto the time before the fall.

Joe Towns said...

Thanks Tineke.
The idea has more than a bit of merit.

See Romans 8:18-23.