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Views on Creation and the Origins of Life

There are several perspectives on creation and the origins of life. We will be using four papers written by Tim Kamp, science teacher at Unity Christian in Orange City, IA that explain the issues and the different viewpoints. By reading these papers and discussing the viewpoints and issues involved our goal is that our students will be able to

  1. articulate the differing views on the creation and origins of life
  2. develop a better understanding of the relationship between science and religion
  3. develop a better understanding of their own position on the creation and origin of life
  4. respect others who hold positions different from their own

Paper 1: Creationism? Evolutionism? This paper explores the creation/ evolution controversy. The author addresses the role of science and theology in looking at the creation, specifically what science is and what it can tell us; the role of the Bible, what it means to be Christian and where we get information about God, the creator. Kamp asserts that in the end there should not be a conflict between what we know to be true about religion and the Bible, and what we know to be true about science.  He explains two ways people view the relationship between science and religion.

  1. The complementarity view (science answers questions about what and how things work – theology deals with why things exist).
  2. The direct interaction view (scientific theories and theology can either offer support for each other, or cause logical problems for each other).

Kamp then looks at four different understandings of biological evolution. These include the terms microevolution (small changes in species), and macroevolution (radical changes in organisms and common descent of organisms). A third understanding is that there is a creator who started life and then left things up to natural selection, mutations, time and chance. A variation is that there is a God whose Providence is responsible for giving creation purpose and design. A fourth understanding is evolutionary naturalism, a view that there is nothing other than the natural world, that science offers insight into all that exists and there is no purpose for God.  The formation of the universe and organisms is purely random.

In papers 2, 3, and 4 Kamp explains three views of the Creation and the origins of life most commonly held by Christians. What follows are summaries of those views.

Short Day Creation

Short day creationism accepts a literal reading of Genesis as the basis for creation. Creation stopped after the 7th day, and no new creation has taken place since. Each day in the Genesis account was a normal 24 hour day. Created things may appear older than they actually are because they were created with a history which makes the earth appear older than it actually is. The Second Law of Thermodynamics shows that the Universe tends toward disorder and decay.  This is proof of the fall and of sin entering the creation. All the fossil evidence was formed during the flood of Noah which caused massive catastrophic events across the earth. Fossils were formed very quickly as a result.

Long Day Creation

Long day creationists believe that the days described in Genesis are much longer than a 24 hour day. Long day creationists look to what the Bible has to say about creation and what they find in creation and try to understand both. The scientist is limited to what they can see in creation, but the creationist is not because they have the special revelation of scripture. Science has limits it can not tell us about what caused the creation process or the creator.  Only the Bible can reveal the Creator and the process by which creation was started. The Bible is the final authority, and science can only be accepted if there is some precedent in Scripture. Man was created separately from the rest of creation, and is unique spiritually. Long day creationists accept changes within species, but not larger scale evolution in which new species are formed.

Theistic Evolution

God’s creative ability endowed each organism with its physical being and potential to grow and develop over time. God sustains the creation moment by moment and without his sustenance the creation would not exist. Science is a useful tool that is discovering the potential that God gave to his creation. Part of the potential of creation is the ability to organize itself into more complex organisms. Creation not only has potential to develop over time, but God has given his creation a purpose in the fulfillment of his Kingdom. Our understanding of the Bible must take into account the context and purpose for which the passage was written. The Bible is one source of information about the world while the creation can serve as another. The Genesis creation accounts can be understood figuratively rather than literally.