Few issues are as intellectually complex and emotionally charged as the subject of creation. There are a number of reasons this issue arouses such strong emotions.
Both sides in the debate claim that the weight of evidence is on their side. For Christians and other believers in a personal God, the recently enunciated anthropic principle 1 affirms their conviction that creation requires a Creator (Psalm 8:3, 4; Romans 1:20). Believers in naturalism (atheistic evolution) counter with the assertion that there is no mathematical, scientific “proof” that God intervenes supernaturally in the “closed system” of natural cause and effect.
Another source of conflicting evidence relates to the problem of evil. Believers in a personal Creator maintain that the limitless beauty of the universe and the existence of consciousness, self-sacrifice and love imply a loving, personal Creator. Naturalists focus on the randomness of nature and the universality of disease, predation, and suffering. They insist that the destructiveness in nature can be explained more easily by an impersonal universe than a loving, personal Creator.
Unfortunately, some believers in creation have had obviously flawed philosophical and theological perspectives. For example, because the book of Joshua speaks of the “sun standing still” (Joshua 10:12-14 ), a significant number of prominent Christians in the past assumed that the sun revolved around the earth. Because of this misreading of Scripture, they opposed the Copernican revolution. 2. More recently, other prominent Christians have endorsed Ussher’s chronology 3, insisting that the world is exactly as old as a superficial reading of the Old Testament genealogies would imply 4. Such believers allowed their own interpretations of Scripture to become idols, outweighing overwhelming evidence and undermining the authority of Scripture itself.
Many atheistic evolutionists, on the other hand, make an idol of the scientific method. They are reductionists who “reduce” life to nothing more than what can be demonstrated by scientific fact. By restricting the realm of “fact” and “reality” only to things that can be demonstrated scientifically, they exclude God and the most important aspects of human life.
Believers in creation make the reasonable observation that further acceptance of atheistic evolutionism’s worldview will make the spiritual vacuum that already oppresses modern society even stronger. Godless evolutionism laid the groundwork for the violent atheistic ideologies of communism, race-based nationalism, and fascism that made the 20th century the most catastrophically murderous century in human history 5. Atheistic evolutionists (naturalists) fear—with much less evidence—that the antiscientific bias of those who affirm creation may cause a recurrence of blind superstition on a mass scale, like that produced the Medieval witch-craze in Europe. (See the ATQ articles Why Did Ancient Pagans Practice Blood Sacrifices? and Did Church Authorities Seek to Eradicate Paganism in Europe by Killing Millions of “Witches”?)
Each side has fundamental doubts about the other’s integrity. Naturalistic evolutionists tend to view religious creationists as intellectually lazy people who are unwilling to grapple honestly with the evidence. Generalizing, they conclude that unwillingness of some creationists to seriously grapple with vast areas of evidence uncovered by science implies that the faith of all creationists is propped up by mere ignorance and group consensus. On the other hand, believers in a Creator tend to see all naturalists stridently promoting a worldview that fails to answer the most basic questions of human existence and ignores the despair it creates. They view all evolutionists as arrogant zealots unhumbled before the mystery of life, motivated largely by a desire to deny their accountability to a higher Judge.
The subject of creation tends to draw out the obscurantism on both sides: an obscurantism that tends to minimize the significance of physical evidence, and an obscurantism that tends to minimize the significance of the spiritual side of reality. Each inflames its opposite. Before they can come to a fuller understanding, both creationists and evolutionists need to be willing to dispense with their “pat answers” that ignore either physical facts or spiritual reality (Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 5:1-3; Job 38, 39)
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4. See the rest of the chapter).
A hundred years ago, the weight of the spirit of the age seemed to favor the naturalist who denied the need for God. Today, the spirit of the age is swinging in favor of those acknowledging the reasonability of a Creator Yet, it would be a mistake for Christians to depend on current scientific opinion as a basis for their faith. Healthy Christian faith thrives on both spiritual and rational integrity. Its vision of reality can be expanded by new scientific discovery without mistaking the world of mathematics and scientific observation for the sum of reality. Of all people, Christians should be most open to exploring both physical and spiritual truth.
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalms 139:1-18).
- One of the most startling developments to come from modern physics is that the universe, in some very fundamental way, seems to have been “designed” or “tuned” to produce life and consciousness. Actually, what physicists have discovered is that there are a large number of “coincidences” inherent in the fundamental laws and constants of nature. Every one of these coincidences or specific relationships between fundamental physical parameters is needed, or the evolution of life and consciousness as we know it could not have happened. The collection of these coincidences is an undisputed fact, and collectively, have come to be known as the “Anthropic Principle.” (J. P. Provenzano, The Philosophy of Conscious Energy) Back To Article
- Although not all early and Medieval Christians who took this view, Martin Luther was a prominent example of those who held that Joshua 10:12-14 proved that the sun revolves around the earth, rather than the earth revolving around the sun. Of course all the Bible verifies is that the sun and moon appeared to stand still. This apparently involved some kind of miracle, but God probably made the sun appear to stand still without stopping the rotation of the earth with all of the consequences of such an action.
Were the rotation of the earth stopped, the oceans would probably have flooded over the highest mountains and unprecedented earthquakes and volcanoes have been triggered as the result of tremendous pressures in the earth’s crust. All but the simplest life would be annihilated. Of course, God would have the power to suspend the laws of physics so that none of this would happen, but a miracle of this scale would seem to be a bit “excessive” just to help the Israelites win a battle. After all, there would be much simpler ways that God could make the sun “stand still.” Back To Article
- In the mid 17th century Archbishop James Ussher of the Anglican Church published a chronology that concluded the “first day of creation began at nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar, near the autumnal equinox.” Back To Article
- There is no certain biblical means of determining the amount of time that has elapsed between the creation of man and the coming of Christ. The genealogies of Genesis are clearly not reliable for this purpose. For instance, the Genesis genealogies would allow for only 300 years between Noah and Abraham, yet at the time of Abraham there were already great civilizations in such widespread places as Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia, and Greece. In addition, detailed archaeological evidences demonstrate that in some of these places many dynasties had already come and gone, and civilization was already ancient.
The solution to the apparent conflict between archaeological evidences and the biblical record lies in the fact that the genealogies don’t include unimportant individuals. The Hebrew word for son, ben, didn’t only mean son, but also was used to refer to grandsons and descendants. Similarly, the Hebrew word yalad (bear) also can have the meaning of “become the ancestor of” (Isaiah 29:23 is an example of yalad being used in this way).
There are a number of good examples of how genealogies tend to omit all but the most important individuals in a line. for instance, Matthew 1:1 names only Abraham, David, and Christ. Even though there are only four generations listed between Levi and Moses (Exodus 6:16-20), Numbers 3:39 states that Levi’s descendants already were numbered at 2200 males! (The genealogy shown for Ephraim seems to show 18 generations between Ephraim and Joshua. This genealogy is found in 1 Chronicles 7:20-27). The list of kings in Matthew 1:2-17 omits a number of names that are listed in the list of kings in the Old Testament.
These and other examples demonstrate that the genealogies of the Old Testament patriarchs are given in order to demonstrate the common descent of all mankind from Adam and Eve, not to provide an accurate chronology of the time that has elapsed from Adam to Christ. Back To Article
- In his book, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century (1993), Zbigniew Brzezinski lists 167,000,000 to 175,000,000 “lives deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage.” Back To Article