The Creation-Evolution Debate in a Nutshell

1. Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

The Skinny:

Belief that the universe was created miraculously by God around ten thousand years ago (or less).


YECs often insist that their view is the only way to understand and remain faithful to the integrity of the Scriptures. For them, options which integrate evolution or an old earth paradigm compromise the clear teachings of Scripture and even the essence of the Gospel message.

They will often argue (especially since the publication of  The Genesis Flood in 1960) that science is on their side using “catastropheism” or “Flood Geology.” They believe that world-wide biblical catastrophes sufficiently explain the fossil records and other geographic phenomena that might otherwise suggest evolution or an old earth.

They believe in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and global flood.

Relationship Between science and Scripture:

Scientific discovery always submits to Scripture in all matters. Science is interpreted in light of Scripture. YECs see the early chapters of Genesis, taken at face value, as an accurate and authoritative (even scientific) guide to the basic details of the origin of the universe. Science is of great value so long as it starts with the Bible.

Notable Adherents:

John Calvin, Martin Luther, Henry Morris, Ken Ham, John MacArthur, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Four in ten Americans believe in YEC.

2. Gap Theory Creationism

The Skinny:

Belief that the earth was created by God an indefinite number of years ago, while the creation of humanity happed ten thousand years ago or less.


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.

Here is how it looks:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

—-Indefinite Time Gap—-

Genesis 1:2a And the earth was (i.e. became) formless and void.

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 formless and void. Some will argue for the possibility of a creation which died out prior to humans. This could include dinosaurs and many other extinct species. While this was popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible in the early 20th century, it was eventually replaced with Young Earth Creationism with the rise of “flood geology.”

They normally believe in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and global flood.

Relationship between science and Scripture:

Typically sees nature as a complementary guide from God which speaks authoritatively to issues about which the Scriptures are unclear or silent. Whatever source (Scripture or nature) is more clear is the authority in matters of origins. If both seem equally clear, yet seemingly conflicting, Scripture is the final source.

Notable Adherents:

Cyrus I. Scofield, Harry Rimmer, A. W. Pink, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Clarence Larkin

3. Time-Relative Creationism

The Skinny:

Belief that the universe could be both young and old, depending on your perspective.


Since time is not a constant (Einstein’s Theory of Relativity), time at the beginning of creation could have moved much more slowly than it does today. From the way time is measured today, the succession of moments (events with a causal relationship of before/after) in the creation narrative equals that of six twenty-four hour periods, but relative to measurements at the time of creation, the events would have transpired much more slowly, allowing for billions of “years” to elapse.

This view, therefore, does not assume a one-to-one correspondence in measurements of time/space/matter phenomena between the time of creation and today or from God’s perspective to ours. They would argue that any presumption upon the radical events of the first “days” of creation is beyond what science should attempt to speak about with any degree of dogmatism. In short, we can’t gauge, measure, or predict, much less be dogmatic about, the physics present at the creation event.

This view may or may not allow for an evolutionary view of creation. When they do, evolution would have happened very quickly from God’s perspective (almost instantaneously), but from the perspective of human science analysis, it happened very slowly.

They normally allow for a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and global flood.

Relationship between science and Scripture:

Typically sees nature as a complementary guide from God which speaks authoritatively to issues about which the Scriptures are unclear or silent. Whatever source (Scripture or nature) is more clear is the authority in matters of origins. If both seem equally clear, yet conflicting, Scripture is the final source.

Notable Adherents:

Seeing as how this view does not dogmatize anything but candid uncertainty, it may be broad enough to house all those who simply say, “Who knows?”

4. Old Earth Creationism (OEC)
(also Progressive Creationists, Day-Age Creationists, and, sometimes, Framework Hypothesis)

The Skinny:

Belief that the universe was created by God somewhere around 15 billion years ago, while the creation of humanity occurred just thousands of years ago.


The old age of the universe can be reconciled with Scripture by understanding the days of Genesis 1 not as literal 24-hour periods, but as periods of time of indefinite length. The word “day,” according to OECs, would 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 understands the universe is billions of years old, proponents believe that man was created a short time ago. Therefore, they do not believe in evolution.

Most believe in a literal Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, snake talking, and global flood.

Relationship between science and Scripture:

Typically sees nature as a complementary guide from God which speaks authoritatively to issues about which the Scriptures are unclear or silent. Whatever source (Scripture or nature) is more clear is the authority in matters of origins. If both seem equally clear, yet conflicting, Scripture is the final source.

Some Notable Adherents:

Hugh Ross, Francis Schaeffer, Norman Geisler, and possibly St. Augustine

5. Deistic Evolution* (DE; often just “Theistic Evolution”):

The Skinny:

Belief, as Darwinian Evolutionists, that God created the universe over billions of years, using naturalistic evolutionary processes to create humanity without intervention.


I call this “deistic evolution” due to the “hands-off” approach God takes to the development of man in the evolutionary process. Darwinian evolution, through the process of natural selection, is accepted. While there is across-the-board agreement that God did not/does not intervene in the process of evolution, DEers are divided as to whether God directly caused the first life to begin or whether he let life come into being naturalistically (abiogenisis).

Concerning Adam and Eve, the views are diverse and, often, complex. Some believe that the first few chapters of Genesis are a creation myth that served as a polemic against other gods and should not be taken literally. Adam and Eve, in this case, would simply be literary, symbolic figures representing the fall of humanity and the ensuing curse. Others believe that toward the end of the evolutionary process, God, through an act of special creation, created and elected Adam and Eve as the representative heads of the human race. Others believe that God did not use special creation, but appointed already existing humans as representatives for humanity, calling them Adam and Eve.

They normally do not believe in a snake talking and usually believe that the flood was local.

Relationship Between Science and Scripture:

DEers employ a type of science known as “methodological naturalism,” believing that the assumption of God should never be invoked at any point to explain naturalistic phenomena. Therefore, no matter how much science may lack understanding as to the “gaps” in our knowledge about the process of evolution, supernatural intervention should never be seen as an option; otherwise, the data is tainted with a “god-of-the-gaps” approach. This is to be distinguished from “philosophical naturalism,” which assumes the complete absence of God in its very philosophy, not just method of inquiry. This view places a higher authority on matter’s origins in their interpretation of nature through science than through Scripture seeing as how, according to them, Scripture does not speak clearly on these issues.

Notable Adherents:

The majority of Christian scientists, B.B. Warfield, C.S. Lewis, Pete Enns, Catholic Church (open to the theory, yet not dogmatized officially)

*Please note, I have never heard this referred to as “deistic evolution” so the designation may be original here. As well, don’t confuse this with theological deism which believes that God does not (indeed, can not) intervene in the affairs of humans at all.

6. Intelligent Design (ID)

The Skinny:

Belief that science itself, without reference to the Bible or any other religious book, points to the reality of an intelligent designer.


It is difficult to classify ID as a a distinct option among these listed. In fact, IDers can fit into any one of these groups except deistic evolutionists. For example, many IDers are theistic evolutionists, but they don’t believe that God took a “hands-off” approach in the process of evolution (otherwise, they would be deistic evolutionists).

It could look like this:

They argue that Darwinian evolution is insufficient to account for the “irreducible complexity” found in so much of creation. Science itself, according to IDers, needs an intelligent explanation to account for phenomena of the universe. God must have had his intervening hand in the process. Therefore, methodological naturalism is denied.

However, IDers are not arguing for a specific model of creation. They simply argue that there is sufficient reason to believe that science points to the hand of a designer.

Relationship between science and Scripture:

In theory, IDers are not about invoking any religious tradition into their agenda. Therefore, they distance their method of inquiry from any religious text.

Notable Adherents:

Michael Behe, William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Stephen C. Meyer

A word of caution:

I believe that one can be a legitimate Christian and hold to any one of these views. While I lean in the direction of some sort of Time-Relative creation, I only do this because my main contention is that it is very unwise to be dogmatic. Though I used to be favorable to it, I now reject methodological naturalism, believing it leads to preset conclusions that end up being awkward, unnecessary, and very unscientific. Therefore, though I rejected it at one time, I have come to accept ID as a responsible approach to these matters.

In the end, I believe that the best anyone can do is lean in one direction or another. Being overly dogmatic about these issues expresses, in my opinion, more ignorance than knowledge. Each position has many apparent difficulties and many virtues.

While I believe this is an issue we should continue to discuss with excitement and hope, this is not an issue, in my opinion, that should fracture Christian fellowship.

177 Responses to “The Creation-Evolution Debate in a Nutshell”

  1. As a fellow Calvinist, I’m surprised that you would describe DE (#5) as “hands off”. It seems to be the only theory where God’s sovereignty is complete and continual. Every other theory presumes that God was initially mistaken and had to course-correct mid-stream.

  2. Hey JS,

    Interesting, but I am not sure I understand.

  3. Which of these theories are taken seriously by those actively doing research in the respective fields and publishing peer reviewed papers?

    Or in other words, if I get brain cancer should I trust some random guy on the street to operate on the tumor in my head, or a neurosurgeon with a few decades and 5,000 surgeries under his belt?

    The only difference I can see between Time-Relative Creationism and the worldview of Theistic Evolutionists is that the TE’s take the evidence for an old universe at face value. If the evidence says the universe is old, then its old. No need to resort to Biblical concordism.

    Science in the Bible is ancient science, and nothing more. No modern believes in a firmament with the sun, moon, and stars embedded in it holding up a vast ocean, but there it is in Genesis 1:6 & 14. Why then do we try to find a place for a 6,000 year old universe?

  4. “Or in other words, if I get brain cancer should I trust some random guy on the street to operate on the tumor in my head, or a neurosurgeon with a few decades and 5,000 surgeries under his belt?”

    I trust the guy who knowlege and experience in the field of surgery.

    Unfortunately, issues involved in this debate are not accessible in the same way medical science is. Therefore, theology, philosophy, epidemiology, and even morality have a more necessay seat at this table.

  5. Michael, what issues, specifically?

    Do you have an example?

  6. The interpretation of the fossil record. The assumption of natural selection as a vehicle for evolution. The assumption of a uniformatarian principle. The faith in “science of the gaps” which is produced when “god of the gaps” is rejected. The faith that unguided random mutation can produce so many “positive” results. The epistemic circle produced by methodological naturalism. I could go on and on.

    I am not saying that other theories are without problems (I am not even saying that we should choose the option with the least problems), I am just saying, as I said in the OP, the issues are too severe for people to be dogmatic and then force their dogmatism on others with heavy handed tactics and appeals to popular opinion about any of the views.

  7. A generally irenic peace Michael, with the exception to calling theistic evolution deistic evolution. I’m not quite sure why you used such a loaded term as “deistic” into the description. I’m a reformed evangelical Christian (though also quite ecumenical) who accepts the science of evolutionary biology as well as big bang cosmology. But I also affirm quite strongly God’s providential presence in history, including miraculous events, as well as the historical reality of Adam and Eve. None of this precludes an evolutionary approach to creation. Are there tensions? Certainly. But each view has its own tensions. They’re just at different points. Modern science, including astronomy and biology, has been spectacularly successful at understanding the physical world. I survived my early childhood because of modern science. I also think it’s important to understand the creation motif in light of the ANE neighborhood Israel inhabited, while still seeing scripture as authoritative. Blessings.

  8. Hi Michael,

    I would question your treatment of deistic evolution. I’m not catholic and I’m not sure what the official position is but I am largely convinced by classical theism, which is definitely not a hands off God. Everything requires the action of God to both exist and keep existing. ie God is acting in everything at all times. It’s true that many classical theists reject ID but that is because ID proponents agree to the modern mechanistic view of the universe and by doing so give away too much ground. Maybe you need another category?

  9. Michael,

    I don’t think the problems that you think are problems are the deal-breakers you think they are.

    But tell you what: The forum over at called “Science and Origins” have several very knowledgable posters on these issues. Why don’t you pose these problems to them and discuss them?

    Or I can start a thread there and refer them to here. I highly respect you and the work that you do, but you’re a theologian and not a scientist. That matters.

    Forget the neurosurgeon. Would I rather believe you, Michael, or someone with as much experience in a given scientific field as you have in theology? That’s an easy choice.

    I don’t think the things you are saying are problematic will hold up to scrutity. At least not to the degree that leaves things like the theory of evolution or the age of the universe in any serious or probable doubt.

  10. CMP –

    I’m sure you are aware of the BioLogos website. Good stuff from my perspective, at least in the sense of engaging with issues of science and faith.

    I’m currently reading Denis Lamoureux’s book, I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution. The title cracks me up. It reads more like a textbook, but at least lays out all the issues really well, especially an intro to the theistic evolutionary perspective. I also have Theology After Darwin on my desk, which looks to deal with a lot of the theological issues we must consider if evolution is the method of God’s creative process. Two great…

  11. Michael, Time-Relative Creationism is a variant of YEC and is held by a significant number (but not all) of them. It is an attempt to solve the horizon problem (distant starlight). It postulates a young earth but a variably aged universe from a universe local clock perspective, though the age of the universe from an earth clock is the same age as the earth, several thousand years.

  12. This is reasonable summary. I don’t think you can include Augustine where you have.

    You are also conflating 2 different issues, evolution and age of the earth/ universe. They are related in that belief in evolution requires an ancient earth. But they are distinct. One can disbelieve evolution because it contradicts what we know about information loss and be non committal about the age of the earth.

    Intelligent design generally contradicts evolutionary theory. One can only hold both if they think that God continually added information to the genome. Or one may get a variant of progressive creation episodes as per item 2. ID says nothing about the age of the earth but is generally anti-evolution.

  13. On YEC your flood geology date is over a century late. You need to read up on the scriptural geologists of the 19th century. Mortenson has done a lot of work on them.

    And their interaction with science is a little more complex. They accept operational science but see forensic science as philosohically distinct (which it is) and as not necessarily superior to competing historical claims.

  14. Good summary, but it does not go far enough.

    There is a difference between deistic and theistic evolution. The hands-off of deism is not the same as the incorporated hands-on aspect of the theistic view (God “holds all things together”). However, the theistic view does not go as far as ID in seeing God filling in “gaps”.

    Likewise, I think you should at least mention those who see Gen 1 as not talking about science at all, but rather about God as Creator & His relationship to His creation (John Walton- Gen 1 is describing God’s temple= creation, and the functions of creation that begin to take place).

  15. Thank you for the conclusion at the end there, Dr. Patton. That’s what matters more than anything else, at least in my opinion. Hopefully it won’t be lost in the wake of the discussion. ^^;; Something like, don’t be mindless, but don’t be dogmatic, in a debate like this?

  16. Michael,
    Do you believe that it is possible to be dogmatic without losing fellowship with a brother (or sister) of an opposing view?

  17. Luke, yes.

    Beth, no, Time-relative creation is not the same as Young-Earth, at least the way you have describe it. I know what you are talking about concerning variables light speed, but it is much more philosophical than that.

    Thanks for the comments.

  18. Michael, good to hear (see). :) I’m OEC, but know quite a few YEC that think its heretical and follow the implications. :(

    Beth, I have a hard time with the way you described the time-relative model. I think that it leads to some serious philosophical issues that have implications for, at least, our theory of inspiration of the Scriptures and who God is. The way that you describe the view: what man has the ability to know does not reflect what actually is. And if the Bible states what man can know rather than what actually is. It seems this would imply that either God does not know what actually is about His creation or that God did not inspire Scripture to the point of correcting man’s mistakes about reality.

    I don’t know a single YEC that would be willing to accept either one of those options, so I have to conclude (like Michael states) that there is something more complex about the view that allows them to reconcile their epistemology with ontology.

  19. Concerning “Deistic” Evolution, I figured that might raise some eyebrows. I figured that those who would get passionate about this would not know much about Deism and would not draw the connection as tightly as other. I underestimated the group!

    However, I was sure to qualify my label by distancing “Evolutionary Deism” from “Philosophical/Theological Deism.” I know very well that many of those who accept my description of Evolutionary Deism will believe in a sovereign God. My qualification limited the deistic tendencies of God to the evolutionary process. He does not intervene in any miraculous way to make evolution work. It all works with a built-in naturalism. Some would even suggest that the way things turned out were not even by God’s sovereign design, but that he just let the “free-will” of natural selection create the human race that way it did.

    A good book to look at for this is “Saving Darwin” by Karl Gibson.

  20. How can the human soul come to be by naturalistic processes, such as evolution? There needs to be some supernatural interference in this story…

  21. Well, that is a problem in one sense and not in another. I am a “Traducian” which mean I believe that the soul is created “in-and-with” the body. It is a historic position along with the “creation of the soul theory” (aka. creationism—not to be confused with what we are talking about here).

    Therefore, if evolution happened, it could be that the very fish that crawled up to land had a soul. Otherwise, I suppose you would have to say that at the point when God “elected” the human race representatives “Adam and Eve”, he would have given them a soul.

    Odd? Certainly. But which position does not have oddities?

    (Even though, again, I do not hold to the above stated position concerning deistic evolution.)

  22. Biologos is a funny group. I really like so many of the people involved, but they are becoming the polar opposite of Answers in Genesis. In other words, like Answers in Genesis, they are dismissive, militant, condescending, and, frankly, fundamentalist.

    The most gracious and open groups that I still see out there are Old Earth Creationists and IDers. All others are losing their rhetorical voice for me.

  23. I’ve been reading the BioLogos blog for the past year or so. Calling them ‘dismissive’ is certainly not very descriptive of them. They are constantly interacting with the ID publications. They don’t agree, but they explain why they don’t agree. This is the opposite of dismissive. ‘Militant’ and ‘Fundamentalist’ are also descriptions which seem pretty out of place from everything I’ve read.
    Condescending, I can see though.

    I just read the latest entry before reading this: was there anything not gracious with Falk’s tone in the message or the comments?

  24. Even if the fish had a soul, evolution cannot explain it. Especially an immortal soul. Again supernatural interference is necessary. No space for purely natural processes in this story…unless one wants to deny the immortality of the soul.

  25. Chad,

    It is easy to see things differently, I am just very sensitive to this kind of stuff. I suppose that once one gets so dogmatic, militancy is a fine line. I just see it crossed too often in the same way I see it at AIG.

  26. Erico,

    I suppose that they could say that all the components for the soul were built-in when the first move of the Unmoved Mover was made.

    Again, I don’t agree with Deistic Evolution, but we must be careful that we don’t make the soul a higher priority than the body. The creation of the soul is no more miraculous or difficult than the creation of the mind/body in my opinion.

  27. Wow, “gracious” and “open” are not the first two words that come to mind when I think of the ID crowd. Did you see the recent dust-up where they used political pressure to force a scholarly journal to compromise its standards?

    Regarding Calvinism; a God who arranged the laws of nature so as to accomplish his will at every single moment of time, seems far more sovereign than a God who has to intervene periodically and violate his own laws of nature to accomplish his will.

    Technically ID is compatible with this view, as is TE/DE. All ID (ala Dembski) adds is an assertion that certain steps in the evolutionary path were wildly improbable. I mean, if creation itself isn’t enough to attest to God, then I guess you can try to look for secret signatures.

  28. Michael,
    I think we can be dogmatic on this issue, as long as we realize that it is, in fact, a non-essential for both salvation and orthodoxy. If we reject either of those, the “militancy” line will always be crossed and crossed consistently. I’m tempted to say that crossing that line is a pretty accurate indicator of what one actually believes about the “essential-ness” of the dogma vs. what they might say they believe.

  29. “I mean, if creation itself isn’t enough to attest to God, then I guess you can try to look for secret signatures.”

    I do like this as a sort of Elephant in the Room of the apologetics side of this debate. However, I don’t necessarily see ID as a purely apologetics movement, but a movement of discovery and allowance to follow the evidence and make conclusion with you philosophical presuppositions in tact. In the end, I would think that this follows Ps. 19 in its glory to God through the revelation in creation. However, I do see how the DE can give glory to God through his design as well, so I don’t want to sound dismissive of its doxological abilities!

    I suppose that God would be in more control too if he did not have to come in and fix the human condition through miraculous intervention and the cross? I know you would disagree, but “intervention” gets very subjective when we talk about it in regards to evolution.

  30. Luke,

    I would distinguish, I suppose, between can and should. Can we be dogmatic? Sure. We can be about anything. Should we be? I don’t think so, as I have argued. Too much mystery and too many assumptions.

    Am I dogmatic about this? Doh…Blast you for asking!!!

  31. Michael,

    What assumptions forces the different adherents of the different models into a non-dogmatic position?

  32. You said it right, Michael. You need a supernatural explanation for the soul, even if it is in the beginning. But the human soul seems to be incredibly different from the animal soul, I don’t think we can distinguish animals from humans in terms of bodies only, and therefore, I don’t believe that evolution can explain how our soul came from an animal’s soul. That’s how I see “Let us make man in our image”. Most naturalists probably don’t believe in the soul.

  33. Great recap of the main families of creation thought, Michael. All it needs is a new graphic showing the different interpretations of a spectrum of most conservative to most liberal. :) It fails to mention though one of my favorite interpretations – that of John Sailhammer that he wrote about in Genesis Unbound. It’s a short book and should be in the collection I sent you. It proposes something similar to the Gap Theory in that he sees the creation of the earth taking place at a different time than the creation account of the Garden of Eden, which he see’s as becoming the Promised Land. It is a very interesting approach from a scholar in Hebrew and is a key part of where I myself currently lean. I like Genesis 2 being about the creation of the Garden/Promised Land, but for a number of reasons, I don’t assume that Genesis 2 is speaking of sixth day of Genesis 1. It raises some questions, but also answers a lot. Check it out at

  34. “I suppose that God would be in more control too if he did not have to come in and fix the human condition through miraculous intervention and the cross?”

    The cross was definitely not a “Plan B”, as I’m sure you would agree. It is exactly what God planned. But overall, I agree with your take that it’s a subjective matter between Dembski and TE/DE.

  35. Erico, most naturalists don’t believe in an eternal soul, but the vast majority do believe that human consciousness is distinctly apart from the animals. For example, in his book “The Tell-Tale Brain”, atheist neurobiologist Ramachandran says that humans are “a species that transcends apehood to the same degree by which life transcends mundane chemistry and physics”. In a recent interview at AMNH, atheist paleoanthropologist Johanson (discoverer of the ancient homind “Lucy”) made much the same point; arguing that capacity for symbolic language is a huge phase transition. Robin Dunbar describes degrees or orders of intentionality.

    Intentionality is still an open question in evolution, but I don’t doubt that it can be answered eventually.

  36. Yes, “Let us make man in our image” is very problematic from a certain evolutionary perspective. When did he become in God’s image? At what stage of evolution? Have we evolved beyond his image? Can we evolve beyond his image? Most will agree that evolution is still happening.

    However, I suppose we could say that “Let us make man in our image” is a blanket statement of fiat which is carried out through the process of evolution and complete at some time in the recent past.

    Either way, difficult questions that should leave us without definite answers and open to God’s rebuke of “Where where you?”

  37. Daniel,

    I thought about including Sailhammer’s view (esp with how popular it is). However, I just did not see it as distinct enough from the “Gap-Theory” in its scientific understanding (even though it differs in how the text of the Bible should be read).

  38. Interesting point, Allen. But doesn’t quite solve the soul problem. I’m talking from a Christian point of view, in which an eternal soul is generally accepted. For that, you still need the supernatural.

  39. Luke,

    I would say that in my mind the biggest assumption for either side is that of uniformatarianism or non-uniformatarianism. If the way we measure physics is not the same today as it was at the moments of creation, then we must temper our conclusions with much timidity. Same goes for those who reject uniformatarianism.

  40. Michael,

    “…even though it differs in how the text of the Bible should be read”

    That should not just be a side comment, that is huge. Sailhammer and Walton bring those passages into a new light, removing some difficulties, while still maintaining a high view of Scripture, and still maintaining the overall meta-narrative of Scripture.

  41. Erico, I was only responding to your statement: “I don’t think we can distinguish animals from humans in terms of bodies only, and therefore, I don’t believe that evolution can explain how our soul came from an animal’s soul”

    I was just pointing out that naturalists don’t draw the contrast “in terms of bodies only”. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what naturalists believe, and of what evolution is. Nearly all naturalists believe that the human consciousness transcends the animals, and that evolution produced this “soul”.

  42. Rick, you could be right. There are just so many views to cover!!

    Also, I was wrong to say they fit into Gap Theory as I have put it. I actually would say that they belong in either Theistic Evolution or ID+Theistic Evolution, if I am not mistaken. In these movements there are multiple way which people reconcile the Scriptures with evolution.

  43. Erico,

    Immortality of the soul is a completely different issue, but still interesting. Obviously, naturalists don’t seek an explanation for the soul’s immortality, because they don’t believe that souls are immortal. However, the standard naturalist view is that the soul supervenes on the body (analagous to how a computer program runs on a computer). When the computer dies, the program doesn’t “die”. A computer program can conceivably be transferred to a new computer, and the soul could conceivably be transferred to a new body (as in standard Christian dogma), or even to a computer.

  44. Allen,

    I can see your point. There is conscience, memories, emotions, etc. and people studying how all that links with our brain and chemicals. Maybe you can see some of those things in animals and you must admit that they are “superior” in human beings. But there is still “someone in there” that is going to heaven or hell when the body dies. That is what I’m talking about. That someone is who God blew into Adam’s nostrils, and I don’t think it is a computer software. A person is more than body and energy + algorithm, I’m sure you agree.

  45. Michael,
    Are you referring to the constants of physics, such as the speed of light?

    You also said that this was the biggest one. Could you give me some examples of the others?

  46. Yes, it could be put that way, but merely limiting it to the “speed of light” is already couching it in the assumptive terms of measurement and things that science can gage.

    It is hard to discuss all the others because, for me, the bottom card in both houses is uniformatarianism (both physical and metaphysical). For example, to discuss the assumption of natural selection as the mechanism for evolution would be hard simply because it assumes uniformatarianism itself. So it is an assumption built on an assumption. Could be right, could be wrong.

    I think science has to move forward, to some degree, with these assumptions in tact from the standpoint of modern science and medicine. That is perfectly justified. But when we are talking about something as radical as the big bang or creation, while interesting, we must tentatively hold to our views.

    I know that the way I speak about these things can be very confusing. But I am more of a theology guy so I think in different terms.

  47. Michael,
    It sounds like you are thinking in very skeptical terms. I’m curious to know what axioms you hold.

  48. I don’t consider uniformitarianism any more of an assumption than catastrophism. And I wouldn’t say that the consistency of the speed of light is based on uniformitariansim. The fact is that if light from distant stars sped up or slowed down too much, the light rays would no longer be in the visible spectrum. As such, the fact that we can see them indicates the speed in which the light rays traveled.

  49. Yes, very skeptical of all sides. Been around this stuff for too long.

    My paradigm with regard to issues such as this, shrouded in so much mystery, is “The secret things belong to the Lord” and “Where where you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”

    Again, don’t disagree with people taking a stand and pursuing this (I pursue it after all), but I just become more and more convicted that most people are very rash and, can be, arrogant in this issue.

  50. “I don’t consider uniformitarianism any more of an assumption than catastrophism.”

    Exactly. Both are equally assumptive. I forgot that wonderful little word “catastrophism.” Ha. Isn’t this fun?

    Either way, both are very potential houses of cards. I just try to hold my hand over my mouth.


  1. Classifying Christian origins positions « Undeception - May 10, 2011

    […] Parchment and Pen has a post up that seeks to classify  the different Christian views on origins. C. Michael Patton is usually pretty good at describing different points of view sympathetically, and things were going along pretty uncontroversially as he described different types of special creation, that is, views of creation that envisage miraculous intervention of one sort or another. Then he gets to “Deistic Evolution”, whose advocates, he asserts… Believe, as Darwinian Evolutionists, that God created the universe over billions of years, using naturalistic evolutionary processes to create humanity without intervention. […]

  2. Fuerst Best 5.10.2011 « The Fuerst Shall Be Last's Weblog - May 10, 2011

    […] Michael Patton over at Pen and Parchment does a quick rundown of the various Christian views of science, the Bible, and the origins of the universe. It’s a good, quick […]

  3. Tuesday Headlines & Links - Shane Raynor - May 10, 2011

    […] off Marriage? – Al Mohler Did God Really Say? – Steven Furtick The Creation-Evolution Debate in a Nutshell – C. Michael Patton Licensed to Worship: WORSHIPcast & CCLI Streaming License – […]

  4. No Blog is an Island – 5.13.11 « Nate Navigates the Bible - May 13, 2011

    […] Michael Patton has a useful and clarifying outline of the various Christian positions on creation and evolution, for which there’s more variety than I new.  I’d say that, while this frankly isn’t an issue that’s high on my priority list in terms of needing to have the right answer, what assumptions I do have about creation are probably most in line with no. 4, Old-earth Creationism.  Check it out, but heed Patton’s disclaimer: I believe that one can be a legitimate Christian and hold to any one of these views. […]

  5. Combing the Net – 5/14/2011 « Honey and Locusts - May 14, 2011

    […] The Creation-Evolution Debate in a Nutshell — Summaries and adherents of the major positions in the origins debate. […]

  6. Christian views on Creation and Evolution « thereformedmind - May 16, 2011

    […] C. Michael Patton has provided a nice short summary of each of the major Christian positions on creationism and evolution here. […]

  7. Wednesday Link List « Thinking Out Loud - May 18, 2011

    […] Here’s a breakdown on the whole Creation-Evolution debate neatly condensed, boxed and tied with a ribbon at the Parchment & Pen blog. […]

  8. » God and Creation: Session 3 Reading List - June 14, 2011

    […] Post: The Creation-Evolution Debate in a Nutshell – This post presents an overview of 5 (possibly 6) different views on God’s role in […]

  9. Bill Nye, @AiGKenHam, and @AiG « TheoNerd - September 4, 2012

    […] Michael Patton lists six views of on the creation/evolution debate that I think are a little more helpful for the creation/evolution discussion: […]

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