I am currently a student studying about the different perspectives on the origins of the world for my Bible class. Please take the time to respond to my following question.
We all believe that Jesus came to the earth and died for our sins. As a result of this, our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled with God. God has left us His book, the Bible. This is where some of our different interpretations arise. In Genesis 1:1, it reads, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Then, in chapters 1-2, it also goes over how God had created everything on Earth, from birds and plants, to animals and insects, and even us! For this reason, I believe I kind of have a 50/50 belief in both young earth and old earth creationism. (But, I don’t really understand why it matters how old the earth is. I guess I’m just more intent on how the earth varied to the extent we see today.) However, when I think more about this, some questions arise about evolutionary creationism. I don’t quite understand the core beliefs of creationary evolutions and how they have come to their conclusions. Could you help me explain/understand?
Welcome to the forum, Kaira. I have been around the forum a long time, and have considered these issues over the years and decades, and find my views while remaining stable for the most part, continue to …evolve. Your’s probably will also.
For me, evolutionary creationism is the construct that allows me to integrate scientific truths with theological truths. What I have learned is that scriptural interpretation can be compatible with EC but does not dictate EC. You could be a YEC adherent and fully accept Walton’s interpretation of Genesis. However, you cannot accept a literalistic/historical interpretation and Genesis without being a YEC. And if you do that, you must only accept a false science that conforms to that view. That was not possible for me, and meant the literal/historical interpretation must be false, and other ways of looking at scripture, and particularly early Genesis, were necessary.
It is late and I hope to add more tomorrow, but that will get you started. Please feel free to question and interact with the posters, as perhaps that will,help guide the answers to your questions.
Evolutionary Creationism is not really a Bible interpretation that reads evolution into Genesis. The Bible tells us who God and humans are (God is the Creator, humans are called to bear his image in that creation and live in right relationship with God and their fellow humans). Science tells us the earth is ancient and life on earth evolved over time to give us the great diversity of species we see today. The conclusions about what the Bible teaches come from studying the Bible, especially in its ancient context and what it meant to its original audience. The conclusions about science come from studying the natural world and accepting all we have learned over the centuries from the disciplines of astronomy, physics, biology, and geology.
Evolutionary creationism is essentially just a way for us Christians that believe in evolution to confirm our commitment to accurately interpreting the goal snd genre of genesis 1-11 and that we accept the clear evidence for evolution through scientific analysis of the data available. It’s a way to basically say I’m a Christian who accepts the facts of evolution.
The age of the world is important because a YEC understanding of science is not compatible with actual scientific understanding.
As mentioned evolutionary creationism, or theistic evolution, is not a biblical interpretation. It’s strictly science and the paradigm of faith.
When reading genesis 1-11 we quickly notice that it’s writing style is very different from chapters in exodus, kings, and the gospels. It’s writing style is more similar to Jonah, Revelation, and places like psalms 74. It glanced over thousands of years using very hyperbolic and symbolic literary techniques. It’s not wrote to be understood as a scientific or historical explanation of life.
Such as how could a snake talk?
How could Abel’s blood really call out?
Who was Cain afraid of if at that time he had no other siblings. We know he had no other siblings alive when fled because of how Eve reacted to Abel being replaced by Seth.
How could a global flood actually happen? It’s scientifically impossible. For water to come down from the sky in that mount it would have created a super global warming effect. Same if it was chunks of ice in space everything would be frozen to death. If the majority of water came out of the ground from geothermal heating everything would have steamed and boiled to death if they survived the explosions themselves.
It’s wrote in a very mythological manner. It’s purpose was to create tales and patterns setting up the story of the Bible leading to Jesus.
Thank you for your insight on the topic. I think I am able to now understand the view of evolutionary creationists a little bit better. However, I do have another question that I’m still curious about. If you cannot accept the literal or historical interpretation of Genesis, what do you think the moral (or point that God was trying to tell) of the creation story in Genesis was?
what do you think the moral (or point that God was trying to tell) of the creation story in Genesis was?
Kaira - I’m one who doesn’t read Genesis as a scientific explanation. But I do read it as God’s word. There are SO MANY powerful, profound truths in Genesis, that I just can’t fit them all in this tiny box. Let me list a few headings from just first couple of chapters:
- That God is separate from his creation (ie, God is not the universe and the universe is not God)
- God created ex nihilo (Everything that exists he created out of nothing.)
- That when he created, it was good. It wasn’t subject to the imperfections and decay and pain as it is now.
- That human beings at some point crossed a line and fell - and all of creation as we know it was affected. And the imperfection and hollowness and struggle we experience, and the Problem of Pain (why is there suffering) has its origins here.
- That humans somehow bear the image of God - there is something majestic deep inside us - fallen as we are. Even fallen, we have moments of beauty, grace and goodness. And moments of horror.
- So although God saw that all was good, he already had some kind of special space for humans ‘in his image’.
- I see what happens when innocence is lost in human nature - in ways that are affirmed in psychology: a sense of shame that cuts to the core of our identity and self; avoidance of responsibility; covering up; blame shifting…
- There is a hint that humans crossed over into a greater moral sphere - knowing right and wrong at some deeper level - and we know that God ultimately brings us into himself as sons and daughters of God. ‘Made a little lower than angels… crowned with glory and honour.’ (That psalm speaks of Christ, but ultimately of us as well because ‘in Christ’ we are brought into that space.)
- It is not good to be alone. God created us as social beings. To love and to give in love. To be one.
- God gave us stewardship over beauty of creation ‘the garden’. To exploit it for short-term profits is one option I guess? Or perhaps to recognise the God given beauty on this pale blue dot teeming with life - which to date we’ve never seen anywhere else in the universe.
Etc. Lots more. I love this book. These are just headings full of rich truths.
Good thoughts, Brett. I think it is obvious in reading Genesis 1-11 that it addresses theology, rather than science or it being a historical record. It is there to tell us about God, and our relationship to him. It also sets the relationship between us and others, and between us and the rest of creation. In fact, when you consider the purpose of scripture as a whole and the overarching story of the Bible, it is really rather bizarre to think of it as history as we think of it or science. It would be sort of like claiming its purpose was to teach auto mechanics.
In Genesis, God is revealing his nature and how we were made to relate to him, and how that relationship was broken. The original audience lived in a pre-scientific world, in a society with multiple gods of a very different nature, and much of Genesis 1 seems to address what makes the one God different. Note the Sun and moon are unnamed, but described as to their function, to avoid identifying them with their pagan names of gods, and making no doubt that they are created by the one God.
So basically, what you’re trying to say is that we have to look at the Bible and evolution separately?
Thank you for the good points you made. I do, however, have a few questions. If it is as you say that nothing would’ve survived, wasn’t that the whole part of the flood to destroy everything? Could it be possible that God, who is capable of the impossible, have just protected Noah and everyone in the ark?
Sure God can do whatever he wants. But if he does whatever he wants, then it makes science useless.
Which is why we don’t try to get science from genesis 1-11. We don’t have to worry about if God can or can’t, or if he did or did not do something. It’s irrelevant because the way genesis 1-11 is wrote is not to be interpreted literally.
Take psalms 74.
Could God have created a fire breathing multiheaded talking sea dragon? Sure. Could he have battled that dragon, crushed its head snd ripped it apart flinging it’s flesh across the world? Sure. But that does not matter because that’s not how the story was meant to be interpreted.
Or take revelation. Revelation says that a giant woman , the white of Babylon, drinks the blood of Christians, and that two sea monsters with horns comes out of the ocean. Could God create a giant prostitute that drinks the blood of Christians? Sure. But we know that’s not how it’s meant to be interpreted.
So we don’t have to worry about any scientific claims in genesis 1-11 because it’s purely fiction. It does not matter that God could have slowed down time allowing Adam to sneak in 800 hours in a 24 hour day before being cut in half, and it does not matter if Noah could have fit a million species of animals onto a ark that survived boiling water and steam and he somehow also protected all the fish from being cooked alive as well because it’s not meant to be read literally.
So we don’t have to separate evolution from the Bible. We have to separated bad literalist interpretations of genesis from the actual literary style it was meant to be understood.
Once we understand the nature of how genesis was wrote, it allows us to be able to accept science.
But if you force a bad, faulty and incorrect interpretation of genesis then you also have to abandon common sense, the notion of any biblical symbolism, and science.
Hmm, good points. I think I can understand a little bit better now.
As for what was the points genesis was trying to make I believe there was many.
The Hebrews were called slaves who worked hard. To them the sabbath was about rest. So God rested on the 7th day. The point was to highlight the importance of not always being concerned with the physical but taking a break and focusing on enjoying life and God.
The watery earth, void and without form, was a representation of Chaos. We see that repeatedly such as with the sea dragons in genesis 2. This is the beginning of setting up baptism.
The land was below the surface of the waters. It was “dead” and no life existed. Once the land came up out of the waters life was possible. This connects to Noah. The ark was a representation of Jesus. The chaotic waters flooded the earth killing all who rejected what Noah preached. The good news. The earth was baptized and the waters wiped away the evils of the earth. Those on the ark was safely brought through. In the way that baptism is talked about in acts 2:38. Repent snd be baptized for the forgiveness of sins snd to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18-21 touches on this as well.
The tree of life represents Jesus. The tree of life granted sustained eternal life. Jesus grants sustained eternal life. Jesus was the fruit of life on the cross.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil represents humanities choice. We can choose goodness and life from the one tree or we can choose sin and death by trusting in ourself ( the flesh ) rejecting the fruit of the spirit. Eve saw that it was good to her own eyes. Just like we all can reject the teachings of Christ and replace it with what we believe is good. Sin is justified all the time because it’s “better to our eyes” that this and that is found acceptable.
The narrative of the sons of god ( angels ) coming down to the daughters of men ( human women ) and having these giants. These kids that were considered legendary. This ties directly into the fall of satan after he tried to kill Jesus. In the gospels er read of fallen angels entering people through possession snd these possessed people became these legends in those communities. Like the two men with legion who could snap chains. They were like these “giants” . The byproducts of angels and humanity being merged wickedly.
The story of Babel. Humanity all spoke one language and said let’s build a city that reaches heaven. They wanted a city that went to heaven. They were able to orchestrate it because they were one nation, with one language, with one goal. God saw it was wicked and he destroyed the tower, and he made the one nation many nations with different languages confusing them. This connects to the story of Pentecost. But it turns it upside down. God gathers the many nations to make them all one nation under God. He gives them the gifts of tongues uniting all the people. The purpose is to make them all one body, the kingdom of heaven. Then as told in revelation, the holy Jerusalem comes down to earth. Instead for humanity uniting to take earth to heaven, we see humanity uniting so that heaven comes to earth.
Those are some of the main points. Obviously Abel represents Christ. Abel a innocent person murdered by his own family and his blood calls out is tied directly to Jesus being murdered by his own people and his blood calls out as a sacrifice covering us and protecting us.
There are a lot of other patterns there too such as the four rivers and the nations they mention that they wrap around and go through and how those nations are all the nations ( of the east ) that pops up throughout the rest of the Torah.
We can see how Adam being split and his other side becomes Eve and they come together as husband and wife sets up the patterns for monogamous marriages and how that then ties into us being the bride of Christ and we can only serve one master.
We can see the order of creation being deconstructed as curses in the blights against the Egyptians.
Lots of great things there thst can be teased out and followed throughout the entire Bible all the way to revelation. Such as why does it randomly say in revelation that there will be no ocean in then new heaven and earth? Because the ocean represents chaos. Why is their no marriage in the new heaven and earth most likely? Because we are one body with one husband, Jesus.
There are more subtle things. Such as the fiery sword protecting the garden and how that ties into those that are not in the book of life can’t enter into the new heaven and earth and are destroyed ( body and soul ) by the lake of fire which is the second death.
Why was Cain’s fruit of the ground rejected ties potentially into metaphors used later on in the epistles of paul about what goes into the ground is born again and ect…
So a non literal interpretation of genesis provides mountains worth ( another form of hyperbolic speech) to learn from.
The God of Genesis is a remarkable evolved creation in that He cares.
Yes. I don’t think the Bible is the only source of truth. God gave us minds and the ability to study the world and we can learn true things from all sorts of fields of study that don’t reference the Bible. Lots of times the Bible and science don’t conflict because they are talking about very different topics. But sometimes the way we have interpreted the Bible in the past bumps up against something we learn from science so we have to ask ourselves how the two things can be understood together. Sometimes scientists make claims that really go beyond what science has the tools to evaluate. Sometimes our interpretations of the Bible need to be re-examined. Since I think all truth is God’s truth, I don’t think God is threatened by any scientific discovery. Sometimes our human understanding of the Bible might have to be given more nuance in light of what we learn though.
With respect to a young earth, I can’t find anywhere in the Bible that says planet earth was created on the first day, so it would seem a young-earth interpretation is off to a bad start.
According to the Bible, the earth had already heen created when the “six days” of creation began. And despite the claims, Exodus 20 doesn’t say planet earth was created during the “six days” - “earth” in that passage refers to land, not the planet as a whole.
I’m hard pressed to see evidence that genesis is actually teaching the world was already here prior to the six days. I think it’s skipping past all of that as just mythology.
I believed this for decades from fifty years ago.
Anything is possible for an omnipotent God, but it is accepted that God will not be deceitful (a deceitful God could be lying about the need for salvation). The more miracles invoked to justify the survival of Noah and the reality of a worldwide flood, the more is appears that God is being deceptive. Google Omphalism, Omphalos Argument, or “Last Thursdayism” when you have a chance.
The main problem is that coming up with situations where you can imagine a possible scenario is not science. It’s imagining scenarios. We have an entire history of earth in fossils and rocks. It’s a long history of billions of years. We have an entire history of human civilization in buildings and artifacts. There is absolutely no evidence of a catastrophic global flood that completely destroyed all human civilizations except for a single family. There are piles of evidence that human civilizations have been developing, unbroken all over the earth for tens of thousands of years.
For example, the young earth version of history and the global flood requires rewriting the very well-established history of Egypt and changing dates of construction of the pyramids based on fitting the history into a preconceived idea of how it had to be, because Noah. That’s not honest. Just because some people can imagine a scenario where the pyramids were built much later than they were after Noah’s flood, by his descendants, not ancient Egyptians, doesn’t make it reality. It’s imagination. Archaeology and history have dependable ways of determining when things happened. You don’t get to overturn the consensus by imagining something else that could have been possible, you have to deal with the actual history.
To begin with the obvious, the first thing to do is to clearly define in your own mind the differences between the 3 drivers of the question: 1) Settled science (to the extent that anything is settled in a final form), 2) Unanswered questions, not yet clearly understood and 3) Matter of faith that one chooses to adopt simply because they are not subject to scientific analysis.
No one (should I say few, rather than no one) who has studied our evolutionary biology doubts the process of evolution. Consider the Bio Logos position as one of advocating for that science, while at the same time giving the obvious credit for such an impossibly complex system to have been created, monitored and adapted by our single God. It is noteworthy that our brightest scholars do not have adequate hypotheses to explain the origins of life (de novo) and then the structure of DNA (statistically it could not have happened in only 2.6By of animal life), much less the evolution of ribosomes, mitochondria and the machinery to transcribe DNA into mRNA, then translate that to proteins. Then beyond that, to alter certain proteins for function, switch on/off, enhance, and/or reduce them.
Our Human Genome Project released in 2001 is continually being re-evaluated and altered as we discover more, but evolution is not in question. Similar to the HGP, we now have the Human Proteome Project (HPP) since 2010 working on the protein problems. But please consider rejecting any notion that a YEC is one of the possibilities since it is not.
My bottom line is that the science is overwhelming and conclusive about the age of earth, the time periods for our existence, and the evolution of our cell-types, organs, organ systems and body plans. Remember that of every 1,000 species that have existed since the beginning of time, only 1 survives today. So 99.9% are now extinct. My evolutionary creationism comes from the convergence of those facts plus the inability to craft an explanation without God. He is the source of our origins and He directed our evolution. That is a blend of science and faith that is perhaps unavoidable.