Six Views on the Creation/Evolution Debate

1. Young Earth Creationism

The belief that the universe and all that is in it was created by God around ten-thousand years ago or less. They insist that this is the only way to understand the Scriptures. Further, they will argue that science is on their side using “catastropheism.” They believe that world-wide biblical catastrophes sufficiently explain the fossil records and the geographic phenomenon that might otherwise suggest the earth is old. They believe in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and world-wide flood.

2. Gap Theory Creationists

Belief that the explanation for the old age of the universe can be found in a theoretical time gap that exists between the lines of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. God created the earth and the earth became formless and void. Therefore God instituted the new creation which begins in Genesis 1:2b. This theory allows for an indefinite period of time for the earth to exist before the events laid out in the creation narrative. Gap theorists will differ as to what could have happened on the earth to make it become void of life. Some will argue for the possibility of a creation prior to humans that died out. This could include the dinosaurs. They normally believe in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and world-wide flood.

3. Time-Relative Creationism

Belief that the universe is both young and old depending on your perspective. Since time is not a constant (Einstein’s Theory of Relativity), the time at the beginning of creation would have moved much slower than it does today. From the way time is measured today, the succession of moments in the creation narrative equals that of six twenty-four hour periods, but relative to the measurements at the time of creation, the events would have transpired much more slowly, allowing for billions of years.  This view, therefore, does not assume a constancy in time and believes that any assumption upon the radical events of the first days/eons of creation is both beyond what science can assume and against the most prevailing view of science regarding time today. This view may or may not allow for an evolutionary view of creation. They can allow for in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and world-wide flood.

4. Old Earth Creationists
(also Progressive Creationists and Day-Age Creationists)

Belief that the old age of the universe can be reconciled with Scripture by understanding the days of Genesis 1 not at literal 24 hour periods, but as long indefinite periods of time. The word “day” would then be understood the same as in Gen. 2:4 “. . . in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” While this view believes the universe and earth are billions of years old, they believe that man was created a short time ago. Therefore, they do not believe in evolution. They believe in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and world-wide flood.

5. Theistic Evolution (with a literal Adam and Eve):
The belief that God created the universe over billions of years, using evolutionary processes to create humanity. At some time, toward the end of the evolutionary process, God, through an act of special creation, created Adam and Eve as the head of the human race. Some also believe that God did not use special creation, but appointed already existing humanoids as the representatives for humanity calling them Adam and Eve. They may or may not believe in a snake talking and usually believe that the flood was local.

6. Theistic Evolutionists (no literal Adam and Eve)
The belief that God created the universe over billions of years, using evolutionary processes to create humanity. Adam and Eve are simply literary and symbolic, representing the fall of humanity and the ensuing curse.


Problems with the more conservative views:

  • Often does not recognize that the Bible is not a science book and was not meant to answer all our questions.
  • Can create a “believe-this-or-do-not-believe-anything-at-all” approach.
  • Can creates a dichotomy between the Bible and science.

Problems with the more liberal views:

  • Often assumes uniformatarianism for all of human history (i.e. the measurement of things today can be applied to the same in the distant past).
  • Can seem to twist Scripture to harmonize.
  • It is difficult to know when actual (not accommodated history) history in Genesis picks up (i.e. if Genesis 1-3 are allegory or accommodation, where does “real” history start? Genesis 4? Genesis 6? Genesis 12? What is the exegetical justification for the change?)

I believe that one can be a legitimate Christian and hold to any one of these views. While I lean in the direction of number 3, that is the best I think anyone can do—lean. Being overly dogmatic about these issues expresses, in my opinion, more ignorance than knowledge. Each position has many apparent difficulties and many virtues.

This is an issue that normally should not fracture Christian fellowship.

1,205 Responses to “Six Views on the Creation/Evolution Debate”

  1. Personally, thus far I have been vacillating between Young and Old. I admit, this is the first time I am hearing of Time-Relative, and to me, this makes more sense now. But I do not buy the evolutionary tinge to that.

  2. Leslie, here is an article that holds to a similar view as #3:

    I don’t agree with everything here, but it will get you thinking in the direction that #3 goes.

  3. CMP,

    My view, which is influenced by John H. Walton, is that Genesis 1, understood according to Ancient Near Eastern literary conventions, isn’t as vested in the current origins debate as we tend to think.

    It is a text focused more on the origins of various functions and the setting up of God’s “cosmic temple” and not a text explaining the physical origins of the universe.

    This view, while not only purporting to read the text “literally”, as in, how the ancients would have understood it, but it also has the helpful effect of divorcing scripture from this whole mess of an origins debate.

    So the age of the earth, evolution, and all that other stuff stands or falls on the scientific evidence, not on what scripture supposedly says. Science can do science unheeded, and scripture can do what it does best; the Christian isn’t stuck with having to choose one or the other.

    I think we should focus our efforts on what scripture is really saying and stop trying to force it to fit science, or force science to fit it. Just let them both be.

    P.S. – Where do you think this view, that Genesis 1 isn’t concerned with origins as we understand it, fits into the six options you gave above?

  4. Greg, I would agree to the extent that being dogmatic about this issue either way is not wise. This includes the conclusions that some people make with regard to comparing the early chapters of Genesis with ANE and making conclusions that are presented in a way that dismisses other theories. It is not that clear.

  5. There are certain underlying beliefs that these views all hold in common, and those are the beliefs that I try to put the focus on for myself and when in conversation about this issue. In particular, that there is an eternal God who fashioned creation intentionally and set aside humanity particularly. I should think the implications of that shared belief are far more significant than anything up for grabs in a debate about the mechanics.

    Personally, I lean towards something along the lines of the fifth position based on my understanding of history, science and what the opening of Genesis was trying to convey. However, I have no particular attachment to evolution itself. (To be fair, that last bit is largely a discipline snobbery issue as a physical chemist. The softer a science, the less I trust it. Yes, I know it’s not a good reason, but there ya go.)

  6. CMP,

    I understand what you are saying. Do you ever think we will be able to get to a place where we can say “This is what Genesis is saying, and this is what science is saying, and there is no conflict” with a reasonable degree of certainty? I know there will always be disagreement, but will there ever be a time when we can cross out, say numbers 1 & 4, from the realm of possibilities? For example, a huge majority of Christians have crossed out geocentrism as a possibility because the science has advanced so much to make it a laughable conclusion, yet we know historically that that was not always the case. Do you think we will ever be able to do that for any of the options above?

    I get uncomfortable when scripture is used to guide science and science an interpretation of scripture. I don’t think its good practice to compare modern science with pre-scientific writings from a vastly different worldview, nor to search for hidden scientific meaning in writings that, for the most part, bear a very primitive view of the cosmos.

    I may be naive, but I think there is a reasonable solution to this problem. I just want to find it.

  7. CMP,

    Would you say that number three (closest to your view) is basically Russell Humphreys’ white hole cosmology? I have not followed up on that in many years. I recall him advocating the development of other possible creationist cosmologies. I was curious as to whether he had any recent competition. I don’t know how closely you follow those kinds of things, but I thought I would ask.


  8. Michael, thanks for the link. Dr. Schroeder’s article is quite insightful. The Time perspective sheds more light to the issue.

  9. Oops … “on the issue.”

  10. Thanks for another great post. This issue always seems to come up when Christians talk together; even if it’s just a passing comment. It is often assumed that Christians cannot believe in evolution (and can’t be anything other than Republican!). Me, I lean somewhere between 4 and 5. Do I count that as fact? No way; as you said, we can only lean in a certain direction. One thing I am 100% sure of is the fact that God created everything; how He chose to do that doesn’t really matter that much to me.

    A very interesting book on the subject of Evolution and Christianity is “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by Francis S. Collins. A good read whether you believe in evolution or not.

  11. Good post, especially your final point about the potential for any of these readings to be a faithful Christian’s readings. I tend to historicize origin-stories, whether they be bronze-age Hebrew stories or Victorian-age English stories, so I’d hold “science” historically complicated in the same ways that I’d hold ANE cosmology complicated.

    For that reason and others, I’d want to hold Greg’s “let science be science” suggestion at arm’s length at least–since the Victorian age, “science” has drifted away from its place as Theology’s handmaiden and rather set herself up as a queen to whom Theology should be subject (if she hasn’t tried to behead Theology yet). I think the (recent) history of materialism and Christian theology and their dispute over science words ought to give us more pause than that.

  12. I didn’t understand what you meant by 3 but have read the site and it is not it’s own position, it is a variant of day-age theory, number 4. It is just saying that God’s time (special unspecified place in the universe) is 6 days. There are significant issues with the article linked to (not time-dilation which is legit).

    This is not the same as white hole cosmology which is a variant of YEC. This is trying to solve the starlight problem. All positions have a starlight problem, in the evolutionary scenario the starligh problem is called the horizon problem.

  13. I vote for 1. Obviously I don’t see most of your problems as existing.

    * Often does not recognize that the Bible is not a science book and was not meant to answer all our questions.

    Irrelevant. If the Bible talks to a problem then it talks to it. The Bible doesn’t tell us the number of reptiles God created, or the age Jesus was weaned; it does tell us Jesus was born of a virgin from the tribe of Judah.

    * Can create a “believe-this-or-do-not-believe-anything-at-all” approach.

    Would take some time to tease this out, but you will have elements of what you think you have to believe, even if it doesn’t easily fit your current theological outlook. But you don’t dismiss it.

    * Can creates a dichotomy between the Bible and science.

    Personally I don’t think it does, but the bigger issue is people in general do not really understand what is meant by “science.” The types of “science” that YEC battle with have more in common with history than experiment. That is: there is the same evidence for everyone to see with each side offering competing interpretations.

    One really has to grasp the nature of empirical science and historical science to be able to debate the issue of dichotomies. Here is a helpful debate between a creationist and a sceptic over creationism.

    The YEC position is exegetically sound and has, in general, the historical backing of the church since it inception. That does not guarantee its truth. But it disconcerting that Christians dismiss it when on talking to them it is clear that they are ignorant about the pertinent issues. If you are going to disagree (strongly) with something, at least know what it is you disagree with.

  14. I think this post gives a decent summary, although I am always very cautious about trying to discuss these various views in short form like this given how complex and multi-disciplinary the issues are.

    For me, I think the discussions of this sort often focus too much on science vs Scripture and whether Scripture is or is not supposed to be a science textbook. For me, this misses the point, which is namely, are the implications of whatever view one espouses compatible with the nature of God as revealed in Scripture?

    We recently went to see Earth, the new Disney film, and my 7 year old daughter left the theater in tears halfway through the film, aghast at the horror of animal death that the film vividly and gleefully (albeit not graphically) displayed. (My rant about what a morbid, gruesome film outfit Disney is will have to wait for some other time…) The question is raises is for me is, is this the way things were supposed to be, or is this a consequence, a punishment? Even here I don’t think the question is necessarily easy; with one option, you have animals being punished with suffering for our screw-up, which seems like a bummer for the animals; with the other option, you have animal suffering hard-wired into the fabric of creation, which also seems like a bummer for the animals.

    My point is mostly that it’s a question worth wrestling with, and I would even go so far as to say it is THE question worth wrestling over. I would like to see discussions engaged along these lines, and see people address the implications of their views, rather than simply state that Gen 1 is or is not intended to be taken literally.

  15. On this one I have to agree with bethyada. Not only has this not been a controversy for long, too often the arguments come at this the wrong way. Is Genesis a scientific handbook? No, but it is a historical document, which means it presents things as history. If I deny this, where does that lead me? At what point does the story become “true” or “accurate”?

    A quote by Richard Bozarth seems to be in order

    “Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!”

  16. I lean more toward a variant of the so-called Gap Theory, although the variance doesn’t really allow for a gap. I first heard it explained by Bruce Waltke but, as he admitted, it didn’t originate with him: it began, rather, with Jewish rabbis who struggled with God having appeared to have created a mess, i.e., a creation that was “formless and void.”

    Rather than a gap between Gen 1.1 and Gen 1.2, this view posits that Gen 1.1 does not describe original creation but only the origin or beginning of the created order in which we now live. The Bible elsewhere refers back to original creation, e.g., Jn 1.1, but not in Genesis: Moses is limiting his description and explanation to the world in which he/we now find ourselves.

    Gen 1.1 is a thesis statement that explains what will be developed more fully in what follows. Gen 1.2 describes the condition of the earth at the time God began his acts of salvation, i.e., the separating of what is good from what is evil (e.g., the light from the darkness, the land from the sea). The earth, in this view, is in its chaotic state due to judgment having been executed upon it (due, perhaps, to the sin and subsequent judgment of Satan, the ruler of this world).

    This view allows time for the geological record, the fall of Satan, and other problems encountered by some of the other views.

    The greatest – and perhaps only – weakness of this view is that it is conjectural. But that, of course, is a problem shared with all the others.

    Waltke wrote about this in some length in his five-part series “The Creation Account in Gen 1.1-3,” the initial installment appearing in Bibliotheca Sacra, 132:525 (Jan 75).

    It is heuristic reading, at the very least, from an OT scholar.

  17. Here are the two “strengths” I see from the YEC view (theologically speaking):

    It appears to me that they can deal with Romans 8:19-22 (i.e. creation being subject to futility as a result of our sin) and 1 Cor. 15:21-22 (i.e. the idea of Christ being a “second Adam”) the “easiest”.

    I think if you could figure out a way to explain why the earth is screwed up (i.e. why there is death and suffering here [in light of the “good” creation]) and convince me that the Apostle Paul (and the Gospel writers) didn’t think Adam was a literal historical figure who is the “first born” of all mankind, the last couple explanations would be more plausable.

    Or if I’m simply mis-interpreting these passages, please correct me.


    Your brother in Christ,


  18. Michael,

    3 and 4 usually are presented with a local or “universal” (i.e. affecting all humanity) flood perspective, not world-wide.

  19. CMP wrote:

    3. Time-Relative Creationism
    Belief that the universe is both young and old depending on your perspective. Since time is not a constant (Einstein’s Theory of Relativity), the time at the beginning of creation would have moved much slower than it does today.

    Is that indeed what Einstein’s Theory of Relativity states?

    While my brief searching shows that Gravitational Time Dilation per his theory has been demonstrated, for it to be of any measurable or effective consequence for making evolutionary time take eons and not days, wouldn’t the earth’s mass have to be so huge that the type of lifeforms we have today couldn’t resemble or come from those created during such a slow-time situation?

    I’m just asking the basis of your reliance on Einstein for position 3, esp. since you say you lean in that direction; I have no physics knowledge to speak of.

    So I’m asking: Can one really find support from Einstein for position 3 being a real-world possibility? I.e., would Einstein say that scenario 3 is a real possibility for a creation model, given the world and life as we know it?

  20. I was expecting a view 7, along Walton’s lines and appealing to genre considerations. Then it finally showed up in post # 3 by Greg. Glad that got added.

    Considering the genre may lead a person to take one of CMP’s 6 views, but as Greg suggests, it may also simply lead to a degree of agnosticism about the actual historical events of creation.

  21. I vaguely remember reading a view that holds standard old earth dating, but says Genesis 1 is literal days. When God spoke he was philosophically giving already existing things purpose by defining them. I don’t remember what it said about evolution. Is this just an obscure view, or does it have a name?

    I’m #6 for the simple reason that I trust scientists more than I trust theologians. I can’t accurately evaluate the data on my own as I am neither a qualified scientist or theologian.

    I like to think there is an artistic beauty to evolution. If I draw a picture, I don’t plop it down all at once. I draw one line at a time, and gradually the picture fills out. As a programmer, I also like the idea that earths creation was coded 16 billion years ahead of time in the Big Bang singularity. No divine intervention is needed afterwords because it was all programmed in.

    As a side note, I know Adam from The Mythbusters wants to disprove YEC on the show. Don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but it would be interesting.

  22. What about Exodus 20:11?

    I don’t see how views five and six can be compatible with this verse.

  23. a different Joshua May 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

    From my observations, an increasing number of theologically conservative Christians are embracing the seemingly inescapable data of an old earth (4.5Byo) and universe (13.7Byo), recognizing a whole bunch of impossibilities (not just improbabilities) with a world-wide flood, and trying hard to see how the seemingly unbroken evidence of tens of thousands of years of human history mesh with Genesis without making a mockery of it.

    Some are trying to push Adam back another 30-50k years into the past, and claiming that the genealogies are simply incomplete.

    Some are giving up and embracing #6.

    One of the more interesting takes I’ve read in the past few years is from Richard Fischer at Unfortunately, the website isn’t nearly as well put together as the book it’s selling, but you can get the general idea. His view seems to fall between the cracks in these 6 categories, as he makes a case for Adam, Cain, Seth, Noah, etc… being pretty significant historical figures in Mesopotamian history.

    I haven’t if I agree with him, but it’s worth a look if you haven’t been satisfied with the gaps in your current view.

  24. Interesting post. I would disagree, however, with the description and labelling of the two ends of the spectrum as “liberal” vs. “conservative”. If conservative is understood as conserving a historic position, then the labelling is wrong because the old earth position also has an ancient pedegree, at least as long as the young earth view. If conservative is understood in terms of how one handles scripture, then the labelling is wrong because old earthers can, and many do, believe in inerrant scripture and that they are correctly understanding God’s words as he meant them to be understood. If conservative / liberal is understood theologically, as J.G. Machem and other writers over the last 80 years have understood it, then the labels do not apply because liberal refers to one’s position with respect to Christ (deity, incarnation, resurrection). Furthermore, the label “liberal” has a generally pejorative connotation in American evangelical churches and is typically taken to imply that a position is Biblically and theologically suspect–which old earthers would deny. So, if it is necessary to create a linear spectrum (which I do not think it is), I suggest that more appropriate labels be used.

    I also note that you neglect to describe the literary approach, which does not view Genesis one as describing either actual days or successive periods of time. According to the literary view, the creation story is told using literary conventions that are not intended to be interpreted as describing actual days or successive periods of time.

    Although often associated with particular views of creation, one’s understanding of the flood is not necessarily dependent on one’s view of creation. Hence, it is possible to be a “YEC” and believe in a local flood (though that would be rare), and also possible to be an old earther and believe in a local flood (much more common).

    Lastly, although implied by your “dichotomy” comment, your descriptions of the problems with so-called “conservative” views does not adequately express the problem that there is zero science that supports YEC. The YEC’s do try to grapple with the science, but their theories are speculative, untestable, or outright wrong. And by science I mean science as understood in the western scientific community, which is the community that YEC’s scientists allege that they are addressing. That is not to say, though, that YEC is not a possible Biblical interpretation–it is–but it is not one that currently has any viable or valid scientific support. Support is NOT the same as pointing out problems or unaccounted for data in current scientific theories.

    If it is indeed true, as the Bible states, that the heavens declare the glory of God and that the natural world provides evidence for God, then the lack of natural science validity and viability is a very significant issue and merits particular attention in any description of YEC as a position.


  25. It’s turtles all the way down.

  26. Mr. Dictionary May 27, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Please define “day” for me.

    Do you mean “day” as in a 24 hour rotation of the Earth at this very moment?

  27. EricW is correct, given that the alternative interpretation of “formless” is turtles (by way of Hittite etymological origins). Hence, “In the beginning . . . and it was turtles and void . . .”, or in some manuscripts recently translated from the Old Syriac “. . . and it was turtles and turtles . . .”

  28. Nick,

    I don’t know if it would prove anything but I can guarantee it would be funny. What I would like to see the Myth Busters tackle is the Big bang theory. It could be their final episode. What a way to go out, then we would all know for sure.

    Myth Buster’s in the creation debate , that certainly would be interesting! :)

  29. If I may respectfully disagree with you on one of your points Michael, Holding firm to one of the views of creation is a good thing. Do not be afraid to stand firm on what you believe to be the truth. The New Testament is full of verses that tell us to stand firm in the truth and that there are points where it is “either or.”

    The ignorance comes in when you try to force someone to believe or live by your stance on the truth. At that point you become just as bad as a Pharisee.

    The thing to do (I am not claiming it easy to do) is to give your reasons why you believe it and then let the other person do one of two things, accept it or reject it.

    Oh and if I may ask a question, while the bible I agree is not a science book, has there ever been anytime when something scientific in the bible has proven false or been shown to be mistaken?

  30. I have to agree with John C.T. on the “conservative vs. liberal” labels concerning the views of creation. The problem, as I see it, is that from a certain theological standpoint YEC is conservative and theistic evolution is liberal. But that’s not true for all theological standpoints. Within the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), for example, I would guess that the labels would be reversed with theistic evolution being the conservative view.

  31. What about a view which holds that God created everything fully mature and with the appearance of age? All observations of Adam would have indicated he was a (perhaps) 28 year old man, yet was less than an hour old in actual age. The same would go with trees, grass and the animals. Why then not extend that to everything else, including the planet and the universe?

    It seems to me that God created everything fully developed and mature 10,000 years ago or less…and so of course the age of the earth would appear to be fully mature (billions of years old).

  32. I’ve not made up my mind on the issue. I’ve not dedicated allot of time pondering the various creation views. I lean toward the gap theory. I see a validity in viewing the creation as stages that reflect God’s salvation plan of man, to which A.W. Pink made me aware.

    I don’t get too upset over the various views unless they openly contradict and distort a major doctrine plainly taught elsewhere in scripture. i.e. if Adam was not a historical person it presents a tremendous problem for Romans 5.

  33. What Greg said in post #3 and CMP’s point #3 (which I do not find mutually exclusive)

  34. Hmm… This is a good opportunity to raise a question that’s been bugging me about Flood geology. A possible Scriptural problem, not a scientific problem.

    One of the major ideas of YEC is that most of the “geologic column”–the various layers of sedimentary rock–was laid down during the Flood. (And most of those fossils were animals that died during the Flood.) It was laid down on top of the originally-created rock. So if an area has these layers of sedimentary rock, then they came from the Flood.

    OK. So, what’s the situation with Mesopotamia? Is Mesopotamia on rock that was deposited during the flood, or originally-created rock? Does the Flood Geology explanation of the rock layers fit with what Genesis says about the Garden of Eden?

    Because the way I read Genesis, it seems like Mesopotamia has to be original rock, not deposited rock. Because Gen. 2 talks about the 4 rivers, including “And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” So the land couldn’t have changed significantly during the flood, or those rivers would have been buried under massive layers of rock! They wouldn’t be the same rivers. (At best, our current rivers would be named after the originals–but this passage is using them as reference points! They have to be the same rivers.) So, whatever the geology of Mesopotamia is… It couldn’t come from the Flood.

    Since I thought of this, I haven’t been able to look into the geology, so I don’t know whether this is an issue. Maybe Mesopotamia is on the “oldest” rock–if so, that would answer my question.

  35. Fox, You have hit upon what I believe is probably the case: A literal 6 day creation with instant-age. If God can speak the world into existence in all of it’s extravagant detail, why is it so hard for Christians to believe that God would also have made it with complete maturity….fully developed trees, ‘old’ rounded mountains….stars who’s light had already reached the earth etc.. Sometimes I get the impression that some Christians can ascribe partial power to God in creation….. but somehow can’t wrap their mind around His unlimited power. Why would God need to start the first trees from seed? The first chickens from eggs? The first mountains jagged ‘young’ mountains…. and make everyone wait forever to finally see the first light of the stars because it took time for the light to reach earth?

  36. Susan,

    Yes, we have to take Appearance of Age into account. But there are different kinds of appearance of age–some that are reasonable, others that aren’t.

    For instance, the vast majority of people would agree that fossils in the rocks could not be reasonably attributed to appearance of age. Fossils seem more firmly to demonstrate things that happened. That would be deception on God’s part.

    On the other hand, take soil, or mature trees. If a scientist looks at one of those that was created 5 minutes ago, he’ll think that they’re old. Because trees grow from seeds, and soil comes from erosion. If God’s going to create them instantaneously at all, then the appearance of age comes built-in.

    I divide it two ways: “Functional” appearance of age, and “non-functional”. Non-functional appearance of age has no explanation for why God would add those particular details–the details seem to show stuff that actually happened, in a deceptive way.

    So, Susan, I have a major problem when I come to things like starlight. If you just imagine starlight as featureless white light, then you could say, “Maybe God created the starlight en route”. Because that starlight is a video. We see supernovas more than 10,000 lightyears away. If you want to explain that by saying “God just made the light en route”, then you’re saying that God inserted a video recording of a star exploding, when the explosion never happened and the star never actually existed!

  37. Fox, the difficulty with that view is the fossils that are buried within those rocks. When we see a fossil, we interpret it to correspond to an actual creature that actually lived at one time. If the “appearance of age” thesis conjectures that those creatures did not really live, then you have the fossil record essentially presenting a false history, which could be spun to seem as though God was purposely being deceptive by planting “false” evidence in the ground.

    EDIT: I see Jugulum has addressed this same issue.

  38. Whoops. I should have said, “But that starlight is a video”, not “Because that starlight is a video”.

  39. Jake,

    While I admit that does cause a question (what’s with the fossils and did they actually live?) about my belief, I don’t think it would necessarily lead to suggesting God misled or something like that. I’m not sure any theory is air tight or without mysteries…at the end of the day I do believe mine makes the most sense of both the Biblical account and scientific discovery. All other views must on some level discredit one or the other. My view is the most consistent (and humble!!!), even with lingering questions regarding the nature of fossils.

  40. Greg, I don’t like to compare YEC with geocentricm like a lot of people are fond of doing. One has to do with what the physical struction earth right now (observable and testable) and the other has to do with what what happened thousands or billions of years ago (neither observable or testable).

    Will YEC or OEC be taken of the table legitimately someday? I don’t know, but I doubt it should. Creation itself it too radical. It is too much, in my opinion, to ever assume that we know how it all went down and what was going on with the physical laws, that were themselves being created out of nothing!

  41. Great point Jugulum re the four rivers; I’d never thought about that before. Very interesting.

    It seems to me that the heavens could not declare the glory of God if they were declaring things that never happened and that do not exist.

    There are, moreover, two important aspects of the instant age theory that need to be addressed. First, there is a difference between apparent age that is related to a specific state or organization of molecules. That is, when we look at Adam a minute after he was created as an adult, or at wine a minute after Jesus created it, there is no historical information present; no way of determining how old either is just from looking at them. The wine is just a particular combination of alcohol molecules and other molecules. We only suppose a particular age because of our observations of other jars of wine and other adult men and we have seen that it takes time for those other men and jars of wine to come to a specific state. So, when we see those objects with that particular state (of “maturity”) WITHOUT any knowledge of that object in prior times we assume that the same historical process was at work that we observed elsewhere.

    However, star light is not like that. Starlight actually contains information, it is in fact like a video. What we get with star light is not just a particular state of photons, but a continuous record of the creation of photons over time.

    Second, when God does engage in instantaneous creation, he lets us know that he’s done it. His creation of the world which operates according to regularity, is an indication to us that we should interpret the physical world according to that regularity. Indeed, that view of the world is what set western science apart from all other cultural approaches to science and led to / fostered the explosion of science. Christians believed that God created the world to operate according to regularities and that we could observe and analyse the universe (entire books have been written about the impact of the Christain world view on science).


  42. CMP,

    Careful saying that what happened thousands or billions of years ago is neither observable nor testable.

    Things that happened in the past are not directly observable. Neither is the interior of the earth–but we can use indirect means to make measurements of things we can’t observe directly. (Of course, the more indirect we get, the easier it is to make mistakes of interpretation.) And then there’s astronomy–when we’re looking at distant light, we are looking into the past, pretty directly. (Of course, with astronomy, we can’t set up arbitrary experiments. Our observations are limited to what the sky gives us.)

    It’s harder to observe past events, because our observations are less direct, and we can’t set up arbitrary experiments. But theories about the what happened in the past are testable, through indirect observation of what happened.

  43. Wow, I can’t believe the shape of things on the poll. YEC, 21, the rest falling way behind.

  44. John, when I said that the best we could do is lean, I was speaking specifically to this issue. You know me better than that than to start pointing out places in scripture that say we can take a stand.

    On his issue, in my opinion, we will never have enough knowledge this side of heaven to make a definite pronouncement. That does not translate into Michael saying that we should never take a stand!

  45. Another thing in favor of a literal six day creation is that time has been marked by seven day weeks ever since…. the seventh day being the day of rest, established by God, in creation.

  46. @ Jugulum:

    Regarding post #34, the YEC explanation for this wouldn’t be that Mesopotamia is in some way geologically different from the rest of the world, and somehow “survived” the flood intact; rather it would be that the rivers mentioned in Gen 2 are different rivers that existed prior to the flood and shared the same name (and I guess that goes for Assyria as well). This isn’t entirely inconceivable — we’ve all heard of New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, etc. However, this explanation does raise an authorship question — specifically, I think it suggests that Gen 1-2 (at least) were either written or handed down by someone other than Moses, and Moses acted as a sort of “editor” for this portion (at least) of Genesis. This view isn’t universal among YECs but it is reasonably widely held.

  47. So how does “the appearance of age” deal with the fact that the universe “appears” to be billions of years old? I.e., is God still deceiving us and making us think that something that is actually 13 billion light years away is in fact only 10,000 light years away? To what extent must Genesis 1 describe the creation of “the heavens” (i.e., the universe and outer space) and the earth versus “the skies” (i.e., our atmosphere) and “the land/earth”?

    And how much validity is there to theories or claims that the speed of light has significantly changed, and if so, when did such a change supposedly occur? I.e., when did light “slow down” to 186,000 mps?

  48. Except, Susan, that Genesis does not state that the seventh day had an evening and a morning (leading some to interpret that it has not ended). Furthemore, there are no lights to indicate 24 hour days until the fourth day, so there is no way of know how long the light and dark lasted in the first three days.

    In addition, Genesis does not actually state that God did anything on any of the denoted days. The narrative describes what God did, and then describes the passing of a day and night. It is in fact possible to interpret the narrative as describing the actions of God occurring over a period of time, and then an announcement by God that things are good, and then the passing of a day. The day could be a completely separate day, marking out a division between stages, or it could be the day on which God declared things to be good, or it could be the day on which things are both created and declared good. It’s not actually clear.

    Finally, Genesis 2:4 states, unequivocally that it only took God a day to do the entire creation sequence: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.” (NASB).

    BTW, John is by far the most common North American male name. It is also quite traditional and gets used frequently with other traditional names. Hence it’s difficult to find a moniker that I can use consistently across blogs. It seems that, like passwords, strings that use letters, numbers and symbols have the greatest likelihood of being unique. I will therefore now try to go by “#John1453”, or “#John” (aka “number John”) for short on this blog.


  49. #John,

    I assume you are the former John C.T.? Since you signed off “regards” like he does and since he is the John that has commented recently here?

    Just so I know for sure here or this could be even more confusing!

  50. # John

    The ten commandments seem to indicate Moses excepted the six days as 24 hr days.

    “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth..” Exodus 20:11

    more than Moses excepted if these were written in stone by the finger of God. God seems to more than imply 6 days (?)


  1. Six Views on the Creation/Evolution Debate « From My Heart, Out Of My Mind - May 27, 2009

    […] the Creation/Evolution debate is a swamp of options and details without clear channels, a post from Parchment and Pen gives the six basic options in the controversy and what is at stake.  This post might really be […]

  2. Caffeinated Thoughts - May 28, 2009

    Latte Links (5/28)…

    1.  “On Victimization as Racism” by Collin Brendemuehl
    It comes in multiple forms. It comes on all sorts of colors (pun not intended). And sometimes it hides against the wallpaper and is difficult to discern. But it is there and it haunts hum……

  3. Latest Links | blog of dan - August 11, 2009

    […] Six Views on the Creation/Evolution Debate […]

  4. Evolution, Creation and Christianity « Spritzophrenia - July 29, 2010

    […] After much wrestling with this post, I decided to abandon any attempt to create the Mother of All Summaries, and concentrate on a few ideas that interest me right now. There’s a useful comparison table here which unfortunately still neglects some views. Here’s another useful summary […]

  5. Six Views on the Creation/Evolution Debate « Austind90's Blog - August 7, 2010

    […] […]

  6. Different views on creation | antwoord - May 1, 2011

    […] Six Views on the Creation/Evolution Debate […]

  7. Why is Creation complaining? « Dead Heroes Don't Save - March 8, 2012

    […] blogs has recently [it was recent in 2009] analyzed the various views one might have relating to creation and evolution. [but their is this recent post on that topic] has As I reflect on these options as well as what […]

Leave a Reply