Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Perspectives on the Evolution/Creation Controversy -3- Conclusion

Part Three Conclusion

The progressive creation position (depending upon the individual) may move further from a literal reading of scripture to become increasingly non-literal (at least with regard to the first chapters of Genesis). For example, the 6 days of Genesis, as with the old earth position, may be interpreted as actually referring to a longer period of time. (Note that the two examples of old earth creation - day-age and days of revelation – will also accommodate a progressive creation position.) Similarly, the Noachian flood may be taken non-literally (e.g., as referring to a localized instead of a world-wide flood), since it implies that many species became extinct at one time rather than progressively. 

The final position to consider is the theistic evolution position. Advocates of this position generally accept the physical evidence as showing that the earth/universe are quite old. In addition, the theistic evolution position also accepts the biological evidence as showing that all living things came from a common ancestor; new species occur as a result of divergent development, usually of isolated populations experiencing unique environmental pressures. Thus, the theistic evolutionary position is like the atheistic evolution position in that both positions accept the extensive physical and biological evidence. Unlike the atheistic evolution position however (which argues that evolution is undirected), the theistic evolution position argues that God guides the evolutionary process, usually in a subtle way. Thus, evolution has occurred, but God has directed it.

The theistic evolution position (depending upon the individual) generally moves further from a literal reading of scripture to become increasingly non-literal (at least with regard to the first chapters of Genesis). Some advocates for a theistic evolution position adopt similar views of scripture to the old earth and progressive creation perspectives. (The day-age and days of revelation positions will accommodate a theistic evolution position). Other advocates for a theistic evolution position adopt stronger non-literal views on the beginning chapters of Genesis – Genesis 1 up to Genesis 11:9 (i.e., the tower of Babel). These stronger views may regard the beginning chapters of Genesis as “Creation Narratives;” creation narratives (or creation myths) are not literally true, but are intended to convey a symbolic explanation of how creation came to be as it is and of the place of humans, for example, in creation.

Again, with the exception of the atheistic evolution position, the 4 remaining positions (young earth creation, old earth creation, progressive creation, and theistic evolution) are held by committed, mature Christians who have grappled with how to reconcile the evidence of Scripture and science. I recommend that people interested in the creationist-evolutionist controversy avoid reading individuals at either end of the continuum, simply because most people are likely to already be more familiar with the ends of the continuum. I have provided a short list of older books below. Older books should be cheaper and perhaps more available on Amazon. You may not agree with all of the conclusions of the authors below (I don't). However, there are many devout Christian scholars and scientists who try to reconcile the apparently differing accounts of scripture and sciences rather rejecting one end of the continuum or the other. They get short shrift from the opposite ends of the spectrum, but are engaged in earnestly and carefully thinking about the evolution-creation controversy. 

Moreland, J. P., & Reynolds, J. M. (1999). Three views on creation and evolution. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. An easily readable book describing three Christian positions: young earth creationism, old earth creationism, and theistic evolution. 
Fischer, D. (1996). The origins solution: An answer in the creation-evolution debate. Lima, OH: Fairway Press. One individual approach to resolving the controversy.
Miller, K. B. (2003). Perspective on an evolving creation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Miller is a highly esteemed author of some of most widely used biology textbooks in U.S. high schools.
Miller, K. R. (2007). Finding Darwin's God: a scientist's search for common ground between God and evolution (P.S.). New York: Harper Perennial. Miller is a highly esteemed author of some of most widely used biology textbooks in U.S. high schools.
Pun, P. P. T.  (1982). Evolution: nature and Scripture in conflict? Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Although a little outdated now, Pun is an advocate of progressive creationism, a perspective that is less common than other Christian perspectives. 

Steven J. Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer


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