Recapturing Beginnings

Origins and the Gospel

February 12th 2009 marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. While there are many angles one might take, rather than address arguments for or against the various view points on origins there are other questions that deserve consideration. It has been my experience that many Christians seldom consider the ramifications of any particular view of creation. Yet many times we see in scripture that the presentation of the gospel, particularly to gentiles, include a treatise on origins. We see this in Lystra when Paul and Barnabas presented the Gospel and when Paul presented the Gospel at the Areopagus in Athens. Colossians and 2 Peter written to Gentile churches include treatise on creation. If the Apostles considered a correct understanding of creation, God as Creator, man and the fall, critical to the gospel then should we not as well?

Various views of creation and origins are summarized in the table below.

Origins Cause Genesis 1-3 Age of Earth Life Morality
Creationism A finite physical cosmos was created by God from nothing to operate with a relative uniformity of cause in an open system. Historical Narrative Thousands of Years A single creation event followed by micro-evolution and adaptation within a species. God created life “after its kind” Absolute moral truth (right and wrong) exists and is defined by God. Man created “Good” by God made the choice of self-will and became corrupt.
Progressive-Creationism God as first cause created the universe and, through subsequent creative interventions, the world and life by introducing entities at various stages of development. Symbolic framework including a mix of allegory and historical narrative Millions or Hundreds of Thousands of Years Several progressive creative interventions by God along with Micro-Evolution and adaptation. Absolute moral truth (right and wrong) exists and is defined by God. In the past ancient less developed man made a choice toward immorality
Theistic-Evolution God as a first cause created the universe through the big bang and set a uniform process in motion resulting in the development of the world and life. Allegory Millions of Years A progression of macro-evolution over time caused, regulated and influenced by God Absolute moral truth (right and wrong) exists and is defined by God. In the past ancient less developed man made a choice toward immorality
Evolution A singularity uncaused relative to the dimensions of this space experienced rapid physical expansion. God Does not exist. The world has developed through a uniformity of cause in a closed system. Mythology Millions of Years A progression of macro-evolution over time in a closed system. Values and ethics develop relative to the needs of natural selection at the time

Progressive Creationism Difficulties

Everything we accept as fact has implications. Either we live with those implications or in tension, living contrary to what we accept as true. It can be daunting to dive deeply into the ramifications of what we believe, afraid that we might not be able to live with what we find. But this is something we must do to avoid living in darkness. Recently, progressive creationism has gained currency with some theologians, churches and seminaries. Progressive creationism accepts the time-lines interpreted from geologic and anthropological artifacts currently recognized by a majority of the scientific and academic communities. This view accepts the age of the earth to be millions of year. It postulates the existence of species and unrelated human like species prior to the creation of man and mans subsequent fall. The progressive-creationist, PC, view along with theistic-evolution accept the existence of death prior to the fall of man. These propositions raise many questions.

Scholars almost unanimously agree; the literary form Genesis takes is a historical narrative. To fit these extended time frames into Genesis many progressive creationists propose that the days spoken of in Genesis form a literary frame work describing ages of time. The waxing and waning of evening and morning are seen as the beginning and ending of ages. The word “yom” which means day is interpreted as an age of time. Taken separately the concept of ages is plausible but God seems to be adamant and specific placing “evening and morning” together with a sequence number and the word day, “yom”. Even if we were to accept the proposition that Genesis starts out describing ages of time at what point then does it start speaking of actual things that occur within the bounds of recorded history? What are the ramifications of viewing the historicity of circumstances surrounding the fall of man as being merely a frame work of time and not a historic sequence of events that can be placed on a time-line?

When God created the world at each step He said that it was “good”. Can the death of feeling creatures in ages prior to the creation of man be considered good? Then scripture goes on to say that because of one man sin entered the world (cosmos) and that death entered as well as a result of sin (Romans 5:12). It may be argued that this passage refers only to the death of man and it could be argued that this passage refers to death in general, ultimately the passage may not resolve this question on its own. Progressive creationism proposes that death existed prior to man and that the world was going through progressive refinement by God. We then find man primitive yet improving and progressing under God’s influence, living in a world where death occurs as a natural process. Under these circumstances man is presented with a choice of knowledge, progress and self-will, to be like God. Can we as modern people looking at this version of the story not feel as if we are the victim of the choice of a primitive man? Does this picture give us reason for humility and penitence in this age? Does a more literal picture of man created “good”, capable, as a pinnacle of creation placed in a perfect environment help us humbly conclude that we would have made the same choice?

Another point that those supporting progressive creationism postulate is that the majority of the scientific and academic community cannot all be mistaken or dishonest. We all seem to have a lot of faith in science and anything designated as science or backed by science these days. Is the scientific method a foundation for knowledge or a method of validation and discovery which still must be interpreted? The scientific method simply stated employees hypothesis, prediction, experimentation/research and validation of results. But, the fact still remains no matter how far you decompose something into its constituent parts, none of those parts will posit a reason for itself. The scientist must still interpret the observations made during research and experimentation and form a conclusion. Those that accept an old earth subscribe to the uniformitarian view that the present is the key to interpreting the past. This view was postulated by James Hutton in the 18th century and assumes that through-out time natural processes such as reproduction, death, decay, gestation, sedimentation, cataclysm occur at rates observed in the present. This is still an assumption and ultimately a world view upon which observations are interpreted. There is a minority of scientists and engineers that postulate a literal, scriptural creation based on a different interpretation of the evidence. (Answers in Genesis). Both of these groups employ the scientific method but arrive at very different conclusions. Does a majority necessarily infer propriety? Is the majority always right?

The recently released movie, “EXpelled”, discusses the trend in academia and the scientific community to dismiss evidence and arguments for an intelligent designer out of hand. Not only are these arguments dismissed but those that consider them are ostracized from the academic and scientific community. I would highly recommend the movie and it does bring to the forefront the question of what we specifically believe about origins and its relevance to life. It also documents evidence that the majority may not be as objective as we would like to think.

Ultimately are we trying to be “PC” to avoid offending the scientific and academic community. Should we not be challenging this community? God asked Job, “Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth…” Were any of us there? Is it not a question of the object of our faith and the source of our redemption. Will we trust a method or the Word?


About Last Fiddle
I have always had many interests; technology, science, philosophy, theology, politics, history, etc... Currently, life for the past twelve years has placed me in the area of technology fulfilling roles in System Administration and Architecture. But I have always been involved in the local church and enjoy researching and discussing issues of theology, philosophy, history and politics...

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