Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
NOTE: The article has the basics of what the Bible has to say on Evolution, but also within the article are other linked articles on the Evolution subject that goes deeper on those areas.
Evolution. Since the publication of Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859, a storm of controversy has raged among theologians and scientists. Some proponents of Darwin’s theory have elevated it as a new paradigm to be used to reinterpret the human experience. Other people have identified the theory of evolution as the work of the devil without any scientific merit. Most people stand somewhere between these two opinions. Scientifically, the mechanism of natural selection first proposed by Darwin (gradualism) is not able to account for biological problems such as the irreducible complexity of molecular systems and the gaps in the fossils as well as sequences in macromolecules. The phenomenon of punctuated equilibrium or punctualism describes the punctuated events of abrupt changes amid long periods in the geological record in which species remain virtually invariable. The emergence of punctualism in the mainstream of evolutionary thoughts is also accompanied by the philosophical resurgence of the intelligent design argument in the discussion of the nature of science. Proponents for the creation hypothesis argue that the presupposition of a Designer is a valid if not a more fruitful program in scientific investigation on origins, since the naturalistic alternatives cannot lead to any meaningful mechanistic explanations of these gaps. This article will attempt to examine seven views incorporating the scientific findings in their effort to relate to the interpretation of the Genesis account and still remain within a broadly defined Christian theological context. A critique of each of these views is also presented.
The Liberal View. Auguste Comte (1798–1851), a contemporary of Darwin, devised an evolutionary explanation of religion by showing three stages of development: (1) fetishism: separate will animating material subjects, (2) polytheism: many gods acting through inanimate things, (3) monotheism: a single, abstract will controlling everything in the universe. The liberals have extrapolated this view of religion in the form of progressive revelation to exegete the Bible. They believe that the revelation of God has progressed from the crude Old Testament God as a fearful, merciless tyrant who treats individuals as merely temporary members of social groups without personal significance. This idea in turn evolved during the shattering exilic experience of the Israelites through the anticipation of a personal God in the Psalms and finally culminated in Jesus Christ of the New Testament, the personal Savior and Lord of every Christian.
The rise of higher criticism also gave impetus to the liberal interpretation of the Bible. While challenging the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, liberals also cast doubts on the originality and authenticity of the biblical records of creation and the flood because of their alleged similarities to the Babylonian versions in Enuma elish. The Bible has since been treated by liberal scholars as a great literary work full of human errors and outdated teachings despite its essential message of vital personal realization.
Catholic theologian and anthropologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) incorporated the entire evolutionary concept into the biblical framework. The Christian message is reinterpreted according to evolution. Original sin is treated not as an act of disobedience of the first human couple, but rather the negative forces of counter-evolution—evil. This evil is a mechanism of the creation of an incompletely organized universe. God has been creating since the dawn of time through a continuous transformation from within the universe and individuals. The blood of Christ is a symbol of revitalization that is essential in the ascent of the creation and the progress of the world as represented by the cross of Christ. Accordingly, Christ is no longer the Savior of the world from the damnation of sins, but rather the culmination of evolution, giving direction and meaning to the world. Christianity, then, is primarily a faith in the progressive unification of the world in God. The mission of the church is the alleviation of human suffering rather than spiritual redemption of the world, the former being in direct harmony with the inevitable progress fostered by evolution.
Recent development of this view focuses on the role of experience rather than revelation in idealistic monism. The universe is a progressive manifestation of a universal consciousness, which is grounded on the experience of a conscious person. It is similar to panentheism proposed by the process theologians: the world exists as part of God under his constant influence. But the world also contributes to the novelty and richness of the divine experience. With an emphasis on an evolutionary framework, the universal consciousness undergoes five levels of change: (1) organelles, (2) cells, (3) multicellular segmentation, (4) multicellular individuals, and (5) society as an organism, with the culmination in the mystical body of Christ.
The Pre-Adamites Theories. These take two forms. The gap theory states that after the creation of the heavens and the earth and before the situation described in Genesis 1:2, a long period of time elapsed in which a great cataclysm desolated the earth. Jeremiah 4:23–26, Isaiah 24:1, and Isaiah 45:18 were cited as evidence of this cataclysmic judgment of God. This theory attributes early human fossils to pre-Adamites in the first creation in Genesis 1:1, who were destroyed before the rest of the creation events in Genesis 1. The two adams theory states that the first Adam of Genesis 1 was the old Stone Age Adam, who has since been extinct, and the second Adam of Genesis 2 was the new Stone Age Adam, that who is the ancestor of mankind today. This theory suggests that the rest of the Bible is concerned with the fall and salvation of the new Stone Age Adam and his descendants. A variation of this position traced Adam to the Sumerians and suggested that not all of humankind are the descendants of Adam.
Fiat Creationism. This includes all of the literal views that insist on a twenty-four-hour creation day in Genesis 1. It demands a young earth of approximately ten thousand years of age and a universal deluge that accounts for most if not all of the sedimentary deposits and fossils of today. It rejects all of the scientific data pertaining to the concept of an ancient earth. It adopts essentially the chronology worked out by Archbishop Ussher (1581–1656) and John Lightfoot (1602–75) based on the assumption that biblical genealogies were intended to be used for the construction of chronology. Fiat creationists also reject any forms of macroevolutionary development of life by attributing the differences in related organisms today to variations of the original stocks created by God. They believe that evolution is the culmination of the atheistic offensive to undermine the trustworthiness of the Scriptures by destroying the creation account. Thus, any evolutionary compromise in the interpretation of Genesis 1 is detrimental to the Christian faith.
Theistic Evolutionism. Most proponents of this view allegorize the Genesis account to be a poetic representation of the spiritual truths of man’s dependence on God his Creator and the symbolic acts of man’s disobedience in the fall from God’s grace. Theistic evolutionists accept the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. They also accept the processes of organic evolution as the ways God used to create humans. They believe that the Bible only tells us that God created the world but does not tell us how. Science provided a mechanistic explanation of life in terms of evolution. The two levels of explanation should complement instead of antagonize each other. By stressing the functional integrity (unity) of creation as one of the communicable attributes of God, it claims that the evolutionary pattern of cosmic history unites all natural processes of events, including the emergence of human beings. Despite the necessity to dispense with the historicity of the human fall, theistic evolutionists feel the fundamental Christian doctrines of original sin and the human need for redemption are unshaken by the incorporation of organic evolution into the Christian interpretation of life and origins. Some theistic evolutionists have a higher view of Genesis and accept the unique historical human couple as evolving hominids given human souls by direct divine intervention, or by God miraculously reviving a dead hominid with sudden chromosomal fusion and God’s breath of life. This latter view treats Genesis 1 as God’s proclamations laying out the laws of the universe in consecutive temporal order. However, these proclamations were later on fulfilled by the process of organic evolution in a different temporal order.
The “Creation Myth” of Neo-orthodoxy. Neo-orthodoxy puts much emphasis on the suprarationalistic or paradoxical aspect of Christian teaching and tends to ignore natural theology. Its view of creation may be illustrated by its treatment of the creation account as “myth.” Langdon Gilkey defines “myth” most succinctly as a way of talking about God as a figure who transcends history in the dramatic sense of an agent within history. He further distinguishes between the anthropological and theological usages of myth. While anthropological myths are essentially fables, and thus untrue, theological myths are true in the sense that they are concerned with the ultimate or existential issues of human destiny, using symbols to describe the transcendent or the sacred. Therefore, in this view, the creation myth would have more religious significance for salvation than would the literal history of creation, for scientific or literal facts have no religious value. By emphasizing the religious meaning of creation and the fall and the existential realities of evil and sin, neo-orthodoxy, together with theistic evolution, affirms the need for redemption through a personal encounter with the Savior who atones for sin by his death and resurrection. In this view, the scientific process of evolution that gives rise to humans is insignificant in comparison with the religious meaning of the doctrine of creation.
“God in Creation” of the Theology of Hope. In criticizing the individualism of liberal pietism and the existentialism of neo-orthodoxy, this resurrection-centered theology stresses Christ’s resurrection as the beginning and promise of the future. As “hopers,” Christians should confront societies with the claim of a city yet to come. The emphasis of the new heaven and new earth can also be found in the ecological doctrine of “God in Creation.” God indwells all creation through his Spirit. The transfiguring indwelling of the triune God in creation is the goal of creation. The future of creation is the eternal rest of God, in which the whole creation will find bliss. Similar to theistic evolutionism, “God in Creation” also stresses the transforming power of God who guides creation to its goal and drives forward evolution, not through supernatural interventions. It criticizes the “other-worldliness” of orthodox theology in its dispute with evolutionary theory. God’s self-transcendence is mutually related to his evolutive immanence in the world. To be distinguished from pantheism, which suggests that matter organizes itself, also transcends itself, and produces its own evolution, the God of creation is the uncreated God the Spirit who has creative energies. Evolution is in fact the continuous creation of God. Creation is an open system evolving into more possibilities and indeterminacy. The kingdom of glory is then the completion of the process of creation through the indwelling of God, a system that has finally been brought to completion and is therefore itself now closed. Human beings are both imago Dei (image of God), representing God to the creations, and imago mundi (image of the world), representing all other creatures to God. The enduring meaning of human existence lies in one’s participation in the praises of creation to the eternal, inexhaustible God.
Progressive Creationism. This view stresses the complementarity between science and Scripture in the explanation of God’s truth. Progressive creationists are willing to reinterpret the Scriptures if this is necessitated by the findings of modern science. Therefore, in light of the overwhelming evidence supporting the antiquity of the earth, most accept the traditional day-age theory of the creation account in Genesis. This view revolves around the usage of “day” in Genesis 1 as depiction of a period of time rather than a twenty-four-hour solar day. They find this interpretation exegetically sound and demanded by the antiquity of the earth. Progressive creationists are also cautious in their evaluation of the scientific theory of evolution. They only accept the microevolutionary theory that states that mutations selected by natural forces give rise to the diversification of varieties in a biological species as scientifically demonstrable. They are skeptical about macroevolution (from ape to man) and organic evolution (from molecule to man) because these theories are increasingly being divorced from the well-documented mechanism of natural selection. Therefore, to the progressive creationists, the present-day varieties of organisms are the result of the diversification process through microevolution from the prototypes originally created by God. There are also at least three versions of the day-age theory: (1) day-geological age, which assigns different geological eras to the creation days in Genesis 1; (2) modified intermittent day, in which each creative era is preceded by a twenty-four-hour solar day. (3) overlapping day-age; with each creative era delimited by the phrase, “There was evening and there was morning,” and overlapping with each other. A variation of the progressive creationist view is the so-called Framework hypothesis: The creation account in Genesis is interpreted “historico-artistically” as a framework of seven days and used anthropomorphically to outline a theology of Sabbath with the first three creation days as the work of distinction and the last three, the work of adornment. The difficulties of the creation of heavenly luminaries after the creation of light, and the inconsistencies of the timing sequence of the creation of plants as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 are resolved by the anthropomorphic use of “days.”
A Critique. Liberal Evolutionism. Humanistic influence in theology with its overextended attitude of analytical criticism that attempts to remove all unreasonable and supernatural factors from the Bible has downgraded the Bible to be merely a great book of religion instead of the Word of God. The only message of the Bible with all its outgrown traditions is the human experience as exemplified by the Hebrew’s aspiration for personal deliverance culminated in the person of Jesus Christ. However, the search for this unformulated experience for a human’s inward salvation and love without regard for the historicity of the biblical account has degenerated into sentimentality. Liberal evolutionism has placed persons in an ethically relative box with no moral plumbline by which he or she can evaluate the conflicting moral values he or she observes in humanity.
With the emphasis on experience rather than revelation, idealistic monism and panentheism stress the immanence of God at the expense of his transcendence. It also ignores the gravity of human sin as alienation from God the Creator through an act of disobedience. Liberal evolutionism places its emphasis on the dominant philosophical paradigm of evolution. The lack of scientific mechanism to explain the paleontological and molecular evidences is slighted.
Pre-Adamite Theories. According to J. O. Buswell Jr., the gap theory is untenable because of two serious weaknesses: (1) it has no exegetical evidence in the Bible, (2) it was invented by Christian geologists to attempt to harmonize the apparent conflicts of the creation of light and vegetation before the appearance of the sun and the antiquity of human fossils. The reference to Isaiah 24:1; 45:18; and Jeremiah 4:23–26 as supports of a cataclysmic divine judgment on God’s creation before the events of Genesis 1:2 is farfetched. The contexts of these passages clearly indicate that they are references to future events. The word “was” in Genesis 1:2, which was taken to mean “became” in the gap theory, is more exegetically justified to be translated as “was” since the context does not indicate otherwise. The word “replenish” in Genesis 1:28 should mean simply “to fill” instead of “fill over again” stipulated in the gap theory to depict a once occupied earth that was devastated. The theories of two Adams and the Adamic versus non-Adamic descent are not exegetically sound, and they seem to impinge on the fundamental concept of the unity of the human race (Acts 17:26) held by all anthropologists and orthodox theologians. The most serious challenge to these views are from Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15 (esp. vv. 21, 22). All humans sin in Adam, and they can be saved through Christ, the second Adam. If only some humans are descendants of Adam, who are we to decide which races or which nations? God wants all to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9) through Christ alone (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5) by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).
Fiat Creationism. The major hurdle facing the fiat creationists is the antiquity of the earth. Since the dominant atheistic view of evolution requires a vast amount of time, fiat creationists maintain that the acceptance of the ancient-earth concept is a compromise with atheistic evolution detrimental to the Christian faith. Therefore, they reject the principle of uniformitarianism (“the present is the key to the past”) and all of the dating methods that point to the antiquity of the earth in favor of universal cataclysm. However, due to the lack of visible evidence of the universal deluge and the intriguing patterns of the distribution of animals in different continents, the theory of a universal flood is still far-fetched. They have also ignored the vast amount of data supporting the observable microevolutionary processes in nature and the laboratory. The refusal to be open-minded to scientific inquiry because of the espousal of a particular interpretation of the Bible has impressed others as the continuation of the medieval obscurant mentality of the church in the Copernican revolution.
Theistic Evolutionism. If man is a product of the chance events of natural selection, theistic evolutionists have the problem of convincing the secular world of the biblical basis of humans as created in the image of God and of the first sin. The figurative interpretation of the Genesis account of creation seems to weaken these two fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. By denying the historicity of the first Adam, this position also invites skepticism for the meaning of the cross of Christ, the second Adam (Rom. 5:12–21), as a historical event and thus endangers the whole structure of the Christian message.
The materials in Genesis 1:1–2:4 are formal and arranged in balanced structure with recurring formal phrases. This has led some theistic evolutionists to treat the formal structures as “poetic.” This interpretation, however, is untenable for two reasons. First, the creation account in Genesis 1:1–2:4 bears no resemblance to any known form of poetic arrangement. Second, the account has nothing of the emotional tone of poetry. The abundance of Hebrew poetry in biblical and extrabiblical Semitic literature provides no comparison with the Genesis account and thus does not lend itself to the support of the poetical interpretation of this passage. The commandment to honor the Sabbath day is rooted in the sequential events of the creation week (Exod. 20:8–11). A figurative interpretation would provide no factual basis for this commandment, and thus it would be untenable.
The eleven tablets each ending with “These are the names (generations, descendants) of …” found in the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis seem to depict an historical account of primeval and patriarchal life (Gen. 1:1–2:4; 2:5–5:2; 5:3–6:9a; 6:9b–10:1; 10:2–11:10a, 11:10b–27a; 11:27b–25:12; 25:13–19a; 25:19b–36:1; 36:2–9; 36:10–37:2). The NT also regards certain events of Genesis 1 as actually having taken place (e.g., see Mark 10:6; 1 Cor. 11:8–9).
The creation of Eve (Gen. 2:21–22) also constitutes an enigma for the theistic evolutionists who accept the naturalistic explanation of humanity as being genetically derived from a nonhuman ancestor. Furthermore, in Genesis 2:7 it is stated that “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (niv). Although the process of formation is not specified, it seems to convey the thought of “special creation” from inorganic material rather than “derived creation” through some previously living form. The Hebrew word for “living being” in Genesis 2:7 (niv), nephesh, is the same as the words translated “living creatures” or “living and moving thing” in Genesis 1:20–21, 24. The same word nephesh is used in the translation of “living being” (Gen. 2:7). The difference between humans and beasts is that humans were created in God’s image whereas the beasts were not. Therefore, Genesis 2:7 seems to imply that humans became living beings just as other beasts. Also the curse in Genesis 3:19 stipulates that humans will return to dust because they are taken from dust and are dust. The interpretation that humans are derived from a preexisting living being is entirely inappropriate in light of these considerations.
As an exception to the evolutionary paradigm, one could postulate that God chose two of the evolving hominids to become Adam and Eve and to endow them with the image of God, just as he chose Noah and Abraham from the wicked generations in which they lived. God could also have created Adam from a dead hominid and Eve from Adam. Both of these scenarios require an extraordinary act of God. For many creationists, the extraordinary act that God utilizes to create man from the dust of the earth is as logical, if not more consistent, since no satisfactory natural mechanism is sufficient to account for the evolution of Adam and Eve. This should not mean that we bring in God for a supernatural event when we cannot see a natural cause. The transcendent God and his extraordinary act of bringing Adam and Eve into existence does not imply “God-of-the-gap” deism. This stipulation simply stresses the special importance attributed to the creation of man, who is created to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God’s providence does not preclude his using extraordinary acts not explainable by known natural means for a special purpose of his own. The act of creation ex nihilo itself demands a transcendent God performing an extraordinary act to put together the natural processes in his creation.
Theologically, natural selection does not explain the efficacy of the fall, for it leads to death. The fall was a moral predicament not necessitated by any natural processes. The unity of the human race as derived from a single source (Acts 17:26) and the origin of human sin from a single human couple (Rom. 5:12–21) necessitate the incarnation and the redemptive work of Christ. Christ is the second Adam who is to give life to the fallen human race through his obedience and atoning death. He is not the culmination of human evolution.
Theistic evolutionists also give too much credence to the as yet poorly formulated theory of organic evolution. In their efforts to reconcile the naturalistic and theistic approaches to the origin of life, they have inadvertently gotten themselves into the inconsistent position of denying the miracles of creation while maintaining the supernatural nature of the Christian message. The overworking of the multilevel structure of reality according to Bube’s dictum (i.e., there are many levels at which a given situation can be described; an exhaustive description on one level does not preclude meaningful descriptions on other levels) seems to run the danger of compartmentalizing reality into spiritual and physical realms that are independent of each other. This dualistic connotation seems to be implicit in the theistic evolutionist position of the human being, with a body that is a product of naturalistic evolution and a spiritual capacity that is given by God in a supernatural act.
The “Creation Myth” of Neo-orthodoxy. The major weakness of the existential emphasis on sin and the fall is the inconsistency of allowing God to act on a personal level through existential encounter while denying God’s action in history through creation. The religious truth, as revealed by a personal encounter with the incarnate Word through whom all of the Scripture should be interpreted, seems to be divorced from the historical truth of the Bible. The lack of interaction between the religious truth as expressed in mythical language and the historical truth as expressed in scientific language seems to imply that reality is comprised of several levels of truth that are independent of each other. This dualistic overtone seems to contradict the unity of God’s general revelation through nature and his special revelation through the Scripture.
Genesis 1:1 BDC: Is the earth only 6,000 to 10,000 years old? Are the creative days literally, only 24 hours long?
“God in Creation” of the Theology of Hope. “God in Creation” focuses on the immanence of God at the expense of his transcendence. The emphasis on man being part of creation and the idea that the meaning of his existence will not be fulfilled without full participation in it awakens the ecological consciousness of Western civilization. However, while trying to distance from the pantheistic implications of process theology that God is also perfected by being intimately involved in the creation, the uncreated God in creation also has lost much of his sovereignty. Creation is an open system evolving into more possibilities and indeterminacy. The God of creation is no longer the God in history, who “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless.… We were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Eph. 1:4, 11). God ceased his initial creation at the end of the creation week. He is now sustaining his creation by his providence. The creation exists moment by moment only by the direct sustenance of God the Creator. In the context of the Scripture, there is no distinction between supernatural or natural, since we are to see his sustaining power in all things. A miracle is an extraordinary event that is accomplished by God as a sign of some purposes of his own (John 20:30–31). God is equally involved, however, by means of his providential control, which allows the probabilities determined by natural processes to work for his purposes.
Second, God in creation does not focus on the effects of sin and the total depravity of sinners. Sin and the sinner is only subjectively identified within the person. Creation is good, but sin is an accident after human willfulness yielded to an objective evil force of Satan. Creation is cursed because of this historical act of disobedience (Gen. 3:17; Rom. 8:19–20). God is also re-creating those trusting in him in accordance with the likeness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 John 3:2). Creation not only receives bliss at Christ’s second coming but also judgment when the dead will be resurrected unto life or condemnation (Rev. 20:11–15).
Progressive Creationism. Progressive creationists maintain that aside from the scientific data supporting the antiquity of the earth, there is adequate exegetical data to demonstrate that the days of Genesis 1 can be considered long indefinite periods of time, and the genealogies of the Bible were not intended and cannot be used for the construction of an accurate chronology.
That the creative day is taken to denote a period longer than a twenty-four hour solar day is supported by the following arguments: (1) The sun’s visible function of defining days and years did not begin until the fourth creative day when the sun was revealed. Therefore, the first four days were definitely not twenty-four hour solar days. (2) The citation of the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exod. 20:8–11), to argue against the day-age interpretation is not necessarily valid since it is based on analogy but not identity. The establishment of a Sabbath year (Exod. 23:10–11; Lev. 25:3–7) seems to corroborate the interpretation that the substance of keeping the Sabbath is rest instead of the strict interpretation of “day.” People must rest for one day after six days of work, and land must rest for one year after six years of cultivation since God also worked in six creative periods and rested in the seventh. (3) The citation of “and there was evening and there was morning” found at the end of every creative narrative to support the twenty-four hour solar day interpretation is not conclusive. Since “day” can be taken to also mean a period of time of undesignated length (Gen. 2:4; Ps. 90:1–4) and periods of light as contrasted with darkness (Gen. 1:5), the components of “day” can similarly be interpreted figuratively (Ps. 90:5–6). Moreover, the evening and the morning make a night, not a day, if one wants to press the literal interpretation of these two items. (4) Events that transpired on the sixth day of creation as recorded in Genesis 2 seem to take up a considerable amount of time. The most important time consideration seems to be the Hebrew word happaʿam translated in Genesis 2:23 as “at last” (rsv) or “now” (niv, nasb) in Adam’s exclamation as he showed appreciation of the woman God made for him. This word seems to imply that Adam had waited a long time for a mate, and finally his desire was satisfied. This interpretation is supported by the usage of the word in the Old Testament in contexts of elapsed time (Gen. 29:34–35; 30:20; 46:30; Exod. 9:27; Judg. 15:3; 16:18).
As to the biblical genealogies, noted Old Testament scholar W. H. Green, a contributor to the famous Fundamentals papers, analyzed the genealogies of the Bible and concluded that they were not intended and cannot be legitimately used to construct a chronology. His conclusion has been corroborated by other biblical scholars. His major observations were that abridgment and omission of unimportant names form the pattern in the genealogies of the Bible; genealogies include significant names; and “father,” “son,” and “begot” were used in a broad sense.
The traditional day-age interpretation of creation assigns days to various geological periods. However, it is difficult to align the creative days to the actual fossil records. In addition, the creation of land plants that bear seeds and trees that bear fruits with seeds before the creation of land animals poses a problem, since many land plants with fruits and seeds depend on insects for pollination and fertilization. Both the modified intermittent day and overlapping day-age models overcome this problem by assuming the overlapping or contemporaneousness of the creation of the fruit-bearing land plants with some of the land animals. The current popular star formation model of the origin of the earth and the solar system can be nicely harmonized with the Genesis account. This theory (the “big bang” theory of the galaxies) depicts the universe as expanding from a superdense state that exploded 13 billion years ago and subsequently cooled down to form the interstellar products including the earth and the planets. The events in the first three creative eras seem to be consistent with the scientific model of a dark nebula containing water vapor that eventually cleared up as oxygen was given off by plants that underwent photosynthesis.
All of the three models allow for processes of change to take place after the creation of each prototype of living creatures. In the interpretation of God’s rest in the seventh day, the overlapping day-age model assumes creation was ended at the conclusion of the sixth day (Gen. 1:31) and God is resting in the seventh. This agrees with the traditional view. However, the modified intermittent day model suggests that we are still living in the creative period initiated by the sixth creative solar day, that which intervenes between the sixth and seventh days. God is still creating through the changes and developments of the inorganic as well as the organic world. The seventh day, on which God absolutely rests (Heb. 4:1–11), will commence only at the inception of the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21:1–8). This latter position seems to strain the interpretation of Genesis 2:1, which states, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.” Since scientific models of the universe are only tentative hypotheses subject to revision with new findings, all the theological attempts of integrating science in interpreting Genesis must remain working sketches only.
The major problem of the day-age theories is the delayed creation of the heavenly luminaries until the fourth day after light has been created on the first day. There are suggestions that the Hebrew word ʿaśâ translated as “made two great lights … and … the stars” in Genesis 1:16 can be rendered as “has made.” The verb from of ʿaśâ used here connotes completed action. Thus the luminaries were made earlier and were made to be revealed on the fourth day. The Framework hypothesis resolves this problem by its historico-artistic interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. However, it remains unclear at what point one can draw the boundary line between an allegorical account, where only the spiritual meaning prevails, and a historical-theological account, where both what actually transpired and its spiritual meaning are significant.
The hurdles faced by the progressive creationists are less insurmountable than those confronting the other models because there is a conscientious attitude in relating science to Scripture. Two of the more perplexing are: (1) How does the antiquity of humans fit in with the seemingly advanced civilization of Genesis 4? Despite the lack of artifacts associated with the early human fossils, physical anthropology suggests that humans have been on earth for perhaps millions of years. The large gap that exists between the first human and the advent of human civilization, which is dated to 9000 b.c. is a major problem. Attempts to ameliorate the difficulties include the alleged meager description of Cain and Abel’s civilization and the postulate, based on Gen. 4:12, of lost civilization because of the prevalence of sin. It is possible that human culture was rediscovered at the advent of the Neolithic Age some eleven thousnad years ago. (2) What is the extent of the Noachian deluge? Since there is a lack of visible evidence for a universal flood, most progressive creationists subscribe to some forms of local flood theories that suggest that the flood was confined to the Mesopotamian areas. The major argument of the local flood theory is that there is a sort of metonymy commonly employed by the ancient Near Eastern culture to speak of a considerable part as a whole (see Gen. 41:57; Deut. 2:25; 1 Kings 18:10; Ps. 22:17; Matt. 3:5; John 4:39; Acts 2:5). Therefore, the universality of the flood may simply mean the universality of experience of those who reported it. It is difficult to conceive how Moses would perceive the universal flood if he did not know the entire scope of the earth at his time.
Conclusion. In summary, liberal evolutionism casts doubts on the validity of human moral judgment. Among the evangelical views, fiat creationism seems to adhere to certain theological traditions that suppress the objectivity of science. Theistic evolutionists apparently concede important theological ground to the atheists and the liberals by allegorizing the Genesis account of creation and the fall or are inconsistent in applying the evolutionary paradigm. Neo-orthodoxy stresses religious redemption at the expense of the historical fall. “God in creation” puts humankind in the community of creation but slights the sovereignty and wrath of God over sin. The position of the progressive creationists seems to be able to maintain scriptural as well as scientific integrity.
By P. P. T. Pun
Bibliography. M. J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution; R. J. Berry, Adam and Ape: A Christian Approach to the Theory of Evolution; R. Bube, Human Quest; J. O. Buswell Jr., Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion; R. E. D. Clark, Universe: Plan or Accident?; Creation; D. Fischer, Origins Solution: An Answer in the Creation-Evolution Debate; L. Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth; S. J. Gould, Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History; C. G. Hunter, Darwin’s God; P. E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial; M. Lubenow, Bones of Contention; N. Macbeth, Darwin Retried; E. McCrady, Seen and Unseen: A Biologist Views the Universe; J. Moltmann, God in Creation; J. P. Moreland, Creation Hypothesis; H. M. Morris, Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science; G. Morton, Foundation, Fall and Flood: A Harmonization of Genesis and Science; R. C. Newman and H. J. Eckelmann Jr., Genesis One and the Origin of the Universe; E. K. V. Pearce, Who Was Adam?; P. P. Pun, Evolution, Nature and Scripture in Conflict?; B. Ramm, Christian View of Science and Scripture; H. Ross, Creation and Time; Fingerprint of God; H. Van Till, Fourth Day; J. C. Whitcomb and H. M. Morris, Genesis Flood; E. J. Young, Studies in Genesis One. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 415–422.