Monthly Archives: May 2013

When There Aren’t Any Shark Nets

When I was little, I wouldn’t go into the ocean because of sharks.  To help me conquer my fear, my dad did the responsible thing and he lied to me.

“Katie, the sharks can’t get close because there are nets tied to the buoys.”

That made perfect sense to me and I trusted my dad completely, so I happily swam in the ocean for years without any fear of shark attacks. Sure, I often wondered about the dolphins I’d see swimming so close to shore, but I assumed they had all jumped over the nets.

I believed this little lie until I was 18.  Yes, 18.  Somehow, even with all the times I had swum out to the buoys, it still didn’t register that there were no nets, that my dad had lied. Continue reading

The Origin of Man Essay

If you’re thinking I’m a total nutcase for posting an essay I wrote for class, you’re right.  I am.  But there’s a reason for this essay and I explained it in THIS POST, so if you didn’t read that one yet, you probably should.  It will explain why this post is so freaking long and why it’s not even a little bit funny.  So for my fellow nerd friends, happy reading:)

PS- The book I cite most often and highly recommend if you have questions about evolution and are a bit science-challenged like myself is called Origins.  It’s written by two science professors at Calvin College and is dumbed down for us non-geniuses.

PPS- I got a little carried away with the footnotes.  Turns out I don’t have many original thoughts, so this paper is heavy with quotes.

INTRODUCTION

The origin of man is a topic that can quickly ruffle feathers in the Christian community.  People often claim they know for certain how God created man, and will even make slanderous accusations about those who believe a different view.  This heated debate has brought about much unnecessary name-calling and belittling of others within the Church.  I imagine such division must sadden Christ who prayed for unity for the future believers and, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17: 21, English Standard Version).  Sadly, the Christian community has often done a poor job in attracting the world to Christ because of a lack of unity, especially when it comes to discussing the origin of man.

It is crucial that Christians adopt a posture of humility when debating this topic.  One must always leave room for the possibility of being wrong and respect the viewpoints of others.  Our disagreements must not become so hostile that the watching world is deterred from our God because of our lack of love for each other.  Several Christian scientists and theologians like Dr. J.P. Moreland have modeled such humility and respect, while sharply disagreeing at the same time.  Dr. Moreland explains the significance of this debate in a collection of essays and responses written by men with differing viewpoints. He writes the following in the introduction:

Because Christians are interested in the truth and because they are called to proclaim and defend their views to an unbelieving world, it is important for the believing community to think carefully about how to integrate their carefully formed theological beliefs with a careful evaluation of the “deliverances” of science, especially in the area of creation and evolution.[1]

Indeed, Christians need to be informed and educated about the topic before drawing conclusions about the origin of man.  While in the past, people felt they needed to choose to believe either science or faith, many theologians and scientists are now teaching that, “One can commit oneself to the Christian faith but also perceive our world through the lens of science.  Science and faith together may give a more complete understanding of our universe and our world, including ourselves.”[2]

While four different views of the origin of man will be discussed, the main focus will be on that of theistic evolution, or rather, evolving creation.  I will begin by juxtaposing the Christian creation accounts with the non-Christian view.  Next, I will discuss the meaning and importance of Genesis chapters one and two, explaining how the interpretation of these chapters will lead to differing views about the origin of man.  I will explain the arguments for and against Youth Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolving Creation, but the focus will be on Evolving Creation.  Finally, with emphasis on this last theory, I will explain four main counter arguments used to disprove it as well as refutations to such arguments.  Though I don’t claim to know for certain how God created man, I have found the arguments for Evolving Creation to be more persuasive than those of the competing theories.

CHRISTIAN VERSUS NON-CHRISTIAN VIEWS

Christians are divided into three broad categories when considering their beliefs about creation and the origin of man.  Those who believe in special creation are called Young Earth Creationists and believe God acted miraculously to make the first man without any common ancestry with animals.  Those who believe in miraculous modification are referred to as Progressive Creationists and teach that God used Progressive Creation, including common ancestry with animals to develop pre-human lifeforms.  Then God miraculously modified some of them to create the first humans.  The final category of Christians is called Evolutionary Creationists. They believe God created humans using common ancestry and mechanisms of evolution under his control but without miraculous action.  This is different from evolutionism, which teaches that humans arose by a purely natural process without guidance from God and therefore they have no higher purpose.[3]  Unfortunately, when people hear “evolution” they typically associate it with evolutionism, which is why many Christians falsely assume Christians cannot believe in evolution.  Dr. Haarsma, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College explains:

All Christians are united against evolutionism but disagree with each other about the best strategy for combating it…Young Earth Creationists and Progressive Creationists argue that the scientific evidence does not support the theory of evolution.  Evolutionary Creationists argue that the Bible does not teach against evolution and that God could work through biological evolution just as he works through other scientifically understandable natural processes.[4]

Dr. John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, agrees that the Bible does not teach against evolution.  In his book The Lost World of Genesis One, Walton explains, “Though the Bible upholds the idea that God is responsible for all origins (functional, material or otherwise), if the Bible does not offer an account of material origins we are free to consider contemporary explanations of origins on their own merits, as long as God is seen as ultimately responsible.”[5] So while he doesn’t specifically argue if favor of Evolving Creation, he does say that the Scriptures do not contradict such a theory.

GENESIS ONE AND TWO: LITERAL OR ALLEGORY?

How one reads Genesis chapters one and two will play a major role in determining what one believes the Bible says about the origin of man.  Concordists are those who believe the chapters should be read as a literal, historical account of how God created the universe and man.  They believe Genesis chapter one describes the sequence of events in creation.  Those who believe in such an interpretation of Genesis believe in either the Young Earth Interpretation, the Gap Interpretation, the Day-Age Interpretation or the Appearance of Age Interpretation, which will be examined later. [6]   Non-concordists, on the other hand, believe that the Genesis chapters were written to teach God’s people why He created them.

According to these interpretations, Genesis 1 was not intended to be a textbook of natural history or an eyewitness account.  The text tells us about the event of creation as a whole.  The sequence and timing of particular events described in the text had some cultural or spiritual significance, and the passage as a whole conveys some important theological truths, but the specific sequence of events in that chapter was not intended to be taken as literal scientific truth.[7]

Both Dr. Walton and Dr. Sailhamer have adopted such interpretations of the text, though they have reached different conclusions about the author’s intended purpose of writing Genesis one and two.

Dr. Walton’s View

Dr. Walton argues that Genesis chapter one is the story of God giving function to a created world, rather than God creating the material world.  He believes the Genesis story is that of God making earth a home for man, rather than the story of God building the “house” for man.[8] He points out that concordists seek “to give a modern scientific explanation for the details in the text…The problem is, we cannot translate their cosmology to our cosmology, nor should we…If we try to turn it into modern cosmology, we are making the text say something that it never said.”[9]

Thus, Walton argues that the bible does not actually teach how God created the material world since such scientific concepts would have been too complex for the original readers to grasp.  And I would venture to say that even with all the scientific developments in recent years, an explanation of how God created man would still be mind-boggling and perhaps too complex for us to understand.   When considering how God created man, Walton explains, “Genesis 1 speaks only of man’s function given by God.  They have a function relative to the rest of God’s creation, to subdue and rule.  Not only that, but they have a function relative to God as they are in his image.  They also have a function relative to each other as they are designated male and female.”[10] Walton’s point of emphasis is that while God did indeed create man, Genesis is not the story of how he did it.  Rather,

It focuses its attention on the archetypal origins of humanity, mankind and womankind….Humankind is connected to the ground from which we are drawn.  Womankind is connected to mankind from whom she is drawn.  In both male and female forms, humankind is connected to God in whose image all are made.  As such they have the privilege of procreation, the role of subduing and ruling, and a status in the garden serving sacred space (Gen 2:15).[11]

Thus, when we read Genesis, we can see the function God bestowed on all mankind from the very beginning. And while Genesis omits the when and the how of the creation of man, it does include the why, which was much more relevant and applicable for the original readers and for us today.

Dr. Sailhamer’s View 

Another Old Testament professor arguing from a non-concordist view, Dr. John Sailhamer teaches that Genesis one and two are actually an introduction to the Pentateuch.  He argues that God created everything “in the beginning” which was a long period of time and “the work of God during the six days of creation, therefore, is an account of His preparing ‘the promised land’ as a place for man and woman to dwell.” [12] In such a view, the opening two chapters of the Bible are rich with theological truths and “the garden of Eden anticipates the tabernacle where God desired to dwell with his chosen people.  Adam and Eve, like the later Israelites, could enjoy God’s great provision of the “land” as long as they were obedient.”[13]

Whether Dr. Sailhamer’s view or Dr. Walton’s view is correct, both agree that Genesis one does not explain how God created the world and man, only that God did indeed create the world and put man in it as his image-bearer.

Other Non-Concordist Views

Dr. Walton and Dr. Sailhamer are not the only theologians who teach that Genesis one and two should not be read literally.  There are those who believe in the Visionary Day Interpretation where Genesis refers to the days the original human author had a prophetic vision.  Then there is the Proclamation Day Interpretation, which teaches “God took six days to proclaim his creation to his heavenly court.  These “days” took place in God’s throne room, apart from the time and space of this universe.”[14]  There are those who believe Genesis one was a poem and there are those who believe the opening chapters are establishing the concept of a Kingdom-Covenant in contrast to the creation myths of the surrounding cultures. [15] There are others like Walton who argue for an interpretation based on Ancient Near East Cosmology.  Such a view juxtaposes the Genesis story with the Babylonian story of creation to make a theological point about the God of the Hebrews.

Israel’s God is God of every part of the cosmos- an astonishingly bold claim compared to the other creation stories told….Because of this context, the original audience would not have heard Genesis 1 teach that the earth was formed out of a watery chaos or that there was a solid dome firmament holding back waters above the sky.  They already believed that physical picture.  Rather, the original audience heard Genesis 1 as a powerful theological manifesto proclaiming the true authority of the God of the Israelites and the true status of humanity. [16]

Each non-concordist view has its faults since “the temptation is to interpret every Bible verse that appears to disagree with science as figurative without first studying the text.”[17] However, it does seem quite possible that the message of Genesis one and two was “never meant to be a scientific message about the moment-by-moment details of creation.  The account is an affirmation by the Hebrews that the God they worshiped and served is God alone.”[18] This central truth leads me to lean towards believing that the Ancient Near East Cosmology Interpretation is the most plausible. The original audience would have been baffled if God had corrected their scientific misconceptions and they would have missed the main point: God created man in his image and gave him purpose and a relationship with the one true God.

There are clearly several possible interpretations of Genesis chapter one that allow for a non-literal reading of the text.  Therefore, it follows that there is certainly room in Genesis one for evolution to have taken place, a tool used by a God who lives outside of time and outside of our total comprehension.   Before examining the arguments against Evolving Creation, let’s examine the weaknesses of all the other options.

YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM

According to Young Earth Creationism, Genesis chapter one is a literal, historical account of how God created the world and man.  It holds that creation occurred roughly 6,000 years ago during six 24-hour days and all mankind has descended from Adam and Eve, the first living humans.

Supporters

Believers of such an interpretation are dwindling as science continually proves that it is impossible.  However, there are still several groups who hold fervently to Young Earth Creationism.  The Creation Research Society, The Geoscience Research Institute staffed by scientists from the Seventh-day Adventist church, and the Institute for Creation Research all advocate this position.[19]  Many of these believers have grown increasingly defensive and hostile as other Christian scientists present them with scientific facts, which are difficult to debate.

For instance, Ken Ramm makes the following unfair accusation about believers who disagree with him. “It would not be exaggerating to claim that the majority of Christian leaders and laypeople within the church today do not believe in six literal days.  Sadly, being influenced by the world has led to the Church no longer powerfully influencing the world.”[20] Though the Church certainly doesn’t always influence the world as it should, this blame cannot lay at the feet of any believer who doesn’t support YEC.  And simply because one doesn’t agree with YEC, this does not mean that they have been fooled by the world.  Not all proponents of YEC exhibit such judgment and ignorance.  For instance, Dr. Paul Nelson and Dr. John Mark Reynolds admit that:

Some Christians do believe that evolution was God’s means of creating the cosmos.  This is certainly logically possible.  God is free to do whatever he wills.  But the question remains, What did he do?  There are two lines of evidence available to the Christian: religious (the teachings of the church and Scripture) and natural (the findings of science).  In our opinion, both types of evidence point away from evolution.[21]

Counter Arguments

Modern science has led to the steady decline in Young Earth Creationists. “Up to the 1600’s, most Christians believed that the world was created a few thousand years ago.  They did not have any evidence from the natural world to suggest that a different interpretation of Scripture might be more accurate.” [22] As science and technology improved, it became glaringly obvious that the earth is much older than 6,000 years. When referring to the geological evidence, it is said, “By 1840 virtually all practicing geologists, including Christian geologists, believed that the earth must be a least millions of years old.”[23] Dr. Moreland points out that proponents of YEC cannot keep ignoring the science that contradicts their claims since “one of our intellectual duties as Christians is to interpret Scripture with an eye on solving external conceptual problems.” [24]

And Dr. Walton points out the sad truth that “their scientific scenarios have proven extremely difficult for most scientifically trained people to accept.  When the latter find YEC science untenable, they have too often concluded that the Bible must be rejected.”[25] Sadly, non-believers often associate all Christians with Young Earth Creationists and thus assume all Christians are foolishly clinging to beliefs that have been easily discredited by science.

OLD EARTH CREATIONISM

“Over against young earth creationism, numerous strong scientific evidences (and a few biblical hints) indicate that the earth and universe are very old.”[26] Within the group of believers in Old Earth Creationism, there are several categories we will address separately.

Gap Interpretation

Proponents of the Gap Interpretation claim that the earth was created long ago according to Genesis 1:1, but there is a massive gap, or a separation of many million years between that initial creation and the story told in Genesis 2:4-25.  This theory was supported by the Scofield Reference Bible, and “it suggested that Genesis 1:1 recounted a prior creation ruled by an unfallen Satan.  It had the advantage that it allowed for the universe and earth to be old, but the days of Genesis to be recent.  Anything that did not fit into a recent earth (e.g., geological strata, dinosaurs) could just be shoved back into the first creation.”[27]

In explaining the origins of man, it is believed, “the old earth can be supported along with the mass appearance of hominid species in the first account.  The second account is then associated with something like the Neolithic revolution in relatively recent time sand associated with the granting of the image of God on two individuals that leads to Homo sapiens.” [28]

While this theory does solve some scientific problems, most Biblical scholars reject this theory since it is not supported by the Hebrew text.  Plus, “scientists have never found geological evidence of this ruin and restitution.  Moreover, fossil evidence shows that many life forms, including most species we see today, have been around much longer than 10,000 years, predating the catastrophe in which they were supposedly destroyed.”[29]  It is no wonder that this Gap Interpretation is no longer popular.

Appearance of Age Interpretation

According to the Appearance of Age Intepretation, God truly did create the earth in six 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago, but he created the earth to appear to be ancient.  Science cannot disprove this claim since “whatever science finds is how God made it appear.”[30] This view arose in the 1800’s and while some Christians still believe it to be true, there is a major theological problem with it.  Such a theory seems quite inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about God.  Scripture teaches that God reveals himself through the natural world and He is not deceptive.  The Psalmist points out that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps 19:1), illustrating that we can understand more about God by studying His creation.  So it follows that an honest God who wants to reveal himself through nature would not deceive us with nature.

Day-Age Interpretation (Progressive Creation)

The most popular of the Old Earth Creationist theories, Progressive Creation teaches that each day mentioned in Genesis chapter one refers to millions, or even billions of years. The belief is that “God progressively created species on earth over billions of years, with new species replacing extinct ones, starting with simple organisms and culminating in the creation of Adam and Eve.”[31] One of the current leading proponents of Progressive Creation is Dr. Hugh Ross.

In his book The Genesis Question, he explains, “I agreed with Einstein that an exploding universe can be traced back to an explosion, a beginning.  If the universe had a beginning, it must have a Beginner.  The big-bang theory implied that a Creator exists.”[32]  He goes on to explain that Adam and Eve were the first humans.  He solves the question of Cain’s wife and the numerous people around Nod by pointing to the long life spans and numerous descendants of Adam and Eve not listed in genealogies. Based on Dr. Ross’s calculations, by the time Adam was 760 years of age, there would have been 8,492,300,000 reproducing couples and a total population of 58,669,903,000.[33]  Dr. Ross explains:

According to simple mathematics, if Cain waited to marry until he was about sixty or seventy years old, he probably had several women to choose from, providing some migrated eastward to Nod with other families.  If he waited another two hundred years to build a city, he could have had at least a few thousand people to help him, again assuming some migration occurred.  Cain may have had sisters or nieces from whom to choose a wife even before his banishment and the birth of Seth.[34]

Dr. Ross explains that even in Abraham’s time, siblings were marrying each other.  Apparently, God outlawed sibling marriage in Leviticus because genetic defects as a result of intrafamily marriage develop slowly, and thus wouldn’t have presented a risk in the first dozen generations.[35]

Dr. Robert C. Newman, another proponent of Progressive Creation, teaches that the story of Adam and Eve presented in Genesis was the literal, historical account of the first man and woman since the later chapters of Genesis contain real historical accounts. [36]

Counter Arguments to Progressive Creation

According to Dr. Ross:

The fossil and archeological dates for the origin of humanity are consistent with the dates for the most ancient religious artifacts.  The biochemical history of humans proves consistent with these dates and with new evidence that the Neanderthals were morphologically and biochemically distinct.  All the dates and data fit the roughly estimated biblical dates for the creation of Adam and Eve.[37]

While this argument sounds convincing and scientific, most Christian scientists do not believe it.  Since I cannot claim to understand all the studies done on fossils and genetics, I must rely on the experts.  And the experts overwhelmingly agree “the diversity in the gene pool is much more than would be expected if all were descended from a single pair.”[38]  Also, Progressive Creationists must explain why scientists have found fossils of modern-looking humans gong back at least 120,000 years.[39]

Dr. Ross claims that “the four initial conditions and the sequence of major creation events- not just one or two, but more than a dozen- all matched the established scientific record.”[40] However, most other Christian scientists disagree.  Indeed, Dr. Loren and Deborah Haarsma, professors of both Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College, claim “the best current scientific understanding of natural history indicates a sequence that is different than either Genesis 1 or 2.  This scientific understanding is a consensus that scientists have held for over a century.”[41]  Not a scientist myself, it is difficult to determine which scientific proof is accurate, but I tend to believe the majority of Christian scientists, and they claim:

The order of events in Genesis simply doesn’t fit the order of events reconstructed from a scientific study of nature, no matter how much the time involved is stretched out… the modern understanding of ecosystems indicates that all life forms in a system (plants, insects, birds, animals) rely on each other, and most modern species cannot survive on their own without the others.[42]

Thus, while Progressive Creation is quite appealing, it appears to contradict science.  The Young Earth Creationists disagree with such a theory on the basis that “If God really created over the course of billions of years, then He has misled most believers for 4,000 years into believing that He did it in six days.”[43] This is a weak refutation since the same could be said of the fact that God “misled” the world into believing the sun orbited around the earth.  Our misunderstanding does not make God deceptive.  However, it is a refutation nonetheless.  On the other side of the spectrum, proponents of Evolving Creation point not only to the weaknesses in the scientific claims of Progressive Creation, but also to the proof of evolution which will be explained later.

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Intelligent Design is a more recent theory that claims to disprove evolution.  It was founded in 1991 by Phillip Johnson, a Christian lawyer at the University of California at Berkeley, and received much attention in 2005 when the president stated that he thought ID should be taught in schools along with evolution.[44]  Biochemist Michael Behe explains and defends Intelligent Design in his book Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. He argues against evolution by pointing to the complexity in the human body, which he claims could not have simply evolved:

As biochemists have begun to examine apparently simple structures like cilia and flagella, they have discovered staggering complexity, with dozens or even hundreds of precisely tailored parts.  It is very likely that man of the parts we have not considered here are required for any cilium to function in a cell.  As the number of required parts increases, the difficulty of gradually putting the system together skyrockets, and the likelihood of indirect scenarios plummets.”[45]

Proponents of Intelligent Design therefore conclude, “If evolution cannot explain irreducible complexity, then there must have been an intelligent designer involved somehow, who stepped in to provide the necessary components during the course of evolution.”[46]

Or put another way:

Intelligent Design theory focuses on two particular arguments.  One argument is that the fundamental laws of physics and the basic parameters of the universe seem to be fine-tuned for life to exist.  This indicates that a Creator designed this universe with the intention of bringing about life.  The second argument is that biological life is irreducibly complex, too complex to have evolved.  An intelligent being must have intervened in some way during the history of life on earth in order to make life more complex.[47]

Counter Arguments

An evolutionist himself, Dr. Francis S. Collins says, “From my perspective as a geneticist, a biologist, and a believer in God, this movement deserves serious consideration.”[48] However, he goes on to say that, “while ID is presented as a scientific theory, it is fair to say that it was not born from the scientific tradition.”[49]  Thus, one of the major problems with Intelligent Design is that it offers no scientific alternative to evolution.  Its focus is on disproving evolution rather than proving a way that God actually did design man.  “IDCs follow the pattern of classic creationists in launching a barrage of negative arguments against evolution…However, members of the intelligent design group have yet to publish in professional scientific journals any research supporting intelligent design as a better explanation of the origin of species.”[50]

Dr. Collins points out that while ID is appealing, it has both scientific and theological problems. While I don’t claim to understand his arguments about gene development or bacterial flagellum, I do understand this argument:

…it is not surprising that nonscientists, especially those looking for a role for God in the evolutionary process, have embraced these arguments warmly.  But if the logic truly had merit on scientific grounds, one would expect that the rank and file of working biologists would also show interest in pursuing these ideas, especially since a significant number of biologists are also believers.  This has not happened, however, and Intelligent Design remains a fringe activity with little credibility within the mainstream scientific community.[51]

If Christian biologists aren’t getting on board with ID, this seems to be a major red flag.

Dr. Collins refutation concerning theological reasons is that “ID portrays the Almighty as a clumsy Creator, having to intervene at regular intervals to fix the inadequacies of His own initial plan for generating the complexity of life.”[52] Michael Behe responds to this refutation with the following argument:

The most basic problem is that the argument demands perfection at all.  Clearly, designers who have the ability to make better designs do not necessarily do so.…The argument from imperfection overlooks the possibility that the designer might have multiple motives, with engineering excellence oftentimes relegated to a secondary role.  Most people throughout history have thought that life was designed despite sickness, death, and other obvious imperfections.[53]

This is a strong refutation and his point that we cannot completely understand the Designer is quite valid.  However, Dr. Behe fails to give a sufficient response for another common refutation of ID which is that is a “God of the gaps” theory.“  Such a theory claims “the gaps in our scientific understanding are the best, or only places to see God’s hand at work.”[54]  This is dangerous because “advances in science ultimately fill in those gaps, to the dismay of those who had attached their faith to them.  Ultimately a “God of the gaps” religion runs a huge risk of simply discrediting faith.”[55]  As science develops, ID supporters run a huge risk of science disproving their claim that God had to have intervened miraculously at some point during the creation process.

Dr. Haarsma explains that ID supporters can prevent falling into the “God of the gaps” problem if they argue the following:

God could have chosen to create biological complexity any way he wished, whether by scientifically explainable processes or by miracles.  Either way, God is in charge.  But we think that it is probably true- for scientific reasons or for theological reasons or both- that God chose to use miracles.  Therefore, we expect that scientists will never be able to find a satisfactory explanation for how biological complexity could evolve.[56]

Such language allows for ID supporters to avoid of the “God of the gaps” trap if science does develop and further prove evolution. They needn’t fear science making further discoveries and can even search for such discoveries on their own without threatening to disprove their argument for an intelligent designer.

Dr. Haarsma also argues that Intelligent Design and evolution could both be true.  He explains “Evolutionary Creationists argue that we don’t have to choose between evolution and design.  They argue that God designed the natural process of evolution to bring about plants and animals according to his plan.”[57] Therefore, while most ID proponents seem adamantly anti-evolution, they need not feel so threatened by the developing evidence for evolution, since there actually is a great possibility that the theories are not contradictory.

EVOLVING CREATION

Concerning the origin of man, supporters of evolving creation claim “God created humans using both common ancestry and mechanisms of evolution under his providential control but without miraculous action.”[58] While they do not believe man evolved from apes, as is commonly misunderstood, they do believe man shares a common ancestor with them.

Adam and Eve

Since supporters of evolving creation believe man evolved, they also believe Adam and Eve were not the first humans alive and mankind did not all descend from this pair alone, since as previously mentioned, that would be genetically impossible.  This information seems almost heretical to those of us who were raised in the Church and grew up believing that, beyond a shadow of doubt, Adam and Eve were the first two living humans.  Supporters of Evolving Creation differ in their opinions of who Adam and Eve actually were.  Some say they were symbolic, others claim they were our ancestors, and still others say they were historical people chosen by God to represent all of humanity.

While we can’t know for certain who they were, it is helpful to keep in mind the non-concordist theories about the creation story in Genesis.  Recall how Dr.Walton argues Genesis chapter one is a story of God giving function to the world and to man rather than how God actually made man.  Concerning Adam and Eve, Dr. Walton explains:

An individual named Adam is not the only human being made of the dust of the earth, for as Genesis 3:19 indicates, “Dust you are and to dust you will return.”  This is true of all humans, men and women.  It is an archetypal feature that describes us all.  It is not a statement of chemical composition nor is it describing a material process by which each and every human being is made…It is indicative of human destiny and mortality, and therefore is a functional comment, not a material one.[59]

The Bible doesn’t explain how Adam and Eve came to be, only that they were made by God and bear His image.  Evolving creation does not contradict this as the Haarsmas articulate here:

God could have given us our mental and social abilities purely miraculously, through special creation of the first humans.  Or God could have given us those abilities through a combination of natural and miraculous processes, through miraculous modification of pre-human hominids.  Or God could have given us those abilities simply through his governance of natural processes, through evolutionary creation. Either way, our mental and social abilities are a gift from God.[60]

There is not enough space here to focus on the scientific and theological implications of who Adam and Eve were, their “death” once they sinned, and who all the other humans were before them.  Indeed, there are several difficult theological questions to be answered.

However, in explaining five different possible scenarios of who Adam and Eve were, the Haarsmas explain “all five scenarios for Adam and Eve are compatible with the view that humans today are born sinful and cannot be righteous apart from Christ.”[61] The different scenarios put forward do not contradict scripture, but they cannot all be right.  All I can conclude right now is that Adam and Eve were archetypes, rather than prototypes, since science disproves the possibility of them being the first living humans.

Scientific Evidence for Evolving Creation

One of the most compelling arguments for Evolving Creation is the sheer number of Christian scientists who believe it to be true.  While I can do my best to follow their arguments about genes and fossils, I confess that I am still to some degree at the mercy of the experts.  One such expert, Dr. Howard Van Till, who teaches physics and astronomy at Calvin College, prefers the term “fully gifted creation” because the term “Theistic Evolution” or even “Evolving Creation” still has such a negative connotation in the Christian community.  Many people sadly still associate evolution with Evolutionism, but Dr. Van Till explains that evolution is still creation:

Is God’s creative action best described in a vocabulary that places special emphasis on episodes of miraculous intervention in which God is believed to have imposed new forms on the raw materials that he made in the beginning?  Or is it better described in a vocabulary that emphasizes God’s giving of being to a creation that is richly gifted with the capabilities to organize and transform itself into new forms in the course of time?[62]

Semantics aside, Evolving Creation is a theory supported by most of the world’s leading Christian scientists.  One such man is Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and a devout Christian.  In his New York Times Best-Selling book, The Language of God, Dr. Collins presents his support for Evolving Creation is a surprisingly humble tone.

God, who is not limited in space or time, created the universe and established natural laws that govern it.  Seeking to populate this otherwise sterile universe with living creatures, God chose the elegant mechanism of evolution to create microbes, plants, and animals of all sorts.  Most remarkable, God intentionally chose the same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, a knowledge of right and wrong, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with Him.”[63]

Many Christians are fearful of evolution because they wrongly assume this method of creation would remove God from the equation.  But Dr. Collins became a believer in God after he became a supporter of evolution.  Dr. Collins explains jumping genes, mammalian genomes, chromosomal fusion and other scientific concepts I don’t profess to understand in order to prove that “the study of genomes leads inexorably to the conclusion that we humans share a common ancestor with other living things.”[64]  He argues that the changes in the FOXP2 gene may have contributed to the development of language in human beings.  Dr. Collins then acknowledges that the godless must cheer at such findings.

If humans evolved strictly by mutation and natural selection, who needs God to explain us?  To this, I reply: I do.  The comparison of chimp and human sequences does not tell us what it means to be human.  In my view, DNA sequence alone, even if accompanied by a vast trove of data on biological function, will never explain certain special human attributes, such as the knowledge of the Moral Law and the universal search for God.  Freeing God from the burden of special acts of creation does not remove Him as the source of the things that make humanity special…it merely shows us something of how He operates.[65]

Dr. Loren Haarsma and Dr. Deborah Haarsma simplify the scientific findings to help us understand what modern science is revealing.  They explain that homo sapien fossils have been dated back 120,000 years.  Scientists don’t believe the fossils of all the hominids are ancestors of modern humans.  “Rather, they believe that these fossils are part of a family tree of which modern humans are one branch.”[66] They go on to dispel the misunderstanding that evolution teaches that man evolved from apes and teach the following:

The evidence from human genes matches the predictions of common ancestry…Neanderthal DNA has a few differences from human DNA, but human and Neanderthal DNA are about eight times more similar to each other than they are to modern chimp DNA.  This is what scientists should expect if humans and Neanderthals shared a common ancestor around 5000,000 years ago.[67]

Dr. Darrel R. Falk, professor of biology at Point Loma Nazarene University, explains in his book, Coming to Peace with Science, how the fossil evidence points to evolution.   See Appendix A to examine the fossil of the archaeopteryx. [68] You will notice this creature had both bird and reptile features.  So while it had wings, those wings had fingers.  And while it had a beak, it also had teeth.  Dr. Falk explains:

Archaeopteryx is not the only transitional bird species that has been found in fossils, although it is particularly interesting since it has so many reptilian features.  Fossils of a number of other species of birds that existed 100 million years ago have been found as well.  It is apparent that some of the birds that existed at that time still had teeth, the tails were longer and a number had fingers with claws sticking slightly out of the wings.  Almost unanimously, paleontologists now believe they can explain the lineage of birds.[69]

Besides the fossil evidence, the Haarsmas also explain that mathematically it doesn’t add up that we all descended from one pair of genes since there is so much genetic diversity.

When population geneticists look at the genetic diversity in the human population today, their best mathematical models indicate that the ancestors of humans were at a minimum number about 150,000 years ago.  The size of this bottleneck was about 10,000 to 100,000 individuals.  The genes in all humans today would be descended from that common set of founders.[70]

The final study used by the Haarsmas to prove that humans evolved from a common ancestry is the discoveries made by Dr. Collins concerning human genes.  The genetic similarities to animals points to common ancestry.  They explain it in the following way:

Interestingly, scientists recently obtained some genetic material from Neanderthal fossils and compared it to human and chimp DNA.  They found that Neanderthal DNA has a few differences from human DNA, but human and Neanderthal DNA are about eight times more similar to each other than they are to modern chimp DNA.  This is what scientists should expect if humans and Neanderthals shared a common ancestor around 500,000 years ago.[71]

In summary, supporters of evolving creation point to fossil evidence, genetic similarity to animals and genetic diversity in the human population to support their claims of human evolution.

Supporters of Evolving Creation 

As previously mentioned, one of the strongest arguments for Evolving Creation is the number of Christian scientists who believe it.  Dr. Van Till explains:

Since decisive proof is absolutely impossible, we will have to settle for informed judgment.  Who should make that judgment?  Quite obviously, persons who are sufficiently knowledgeable and equipped to do so.  Who are the people most likely to be in that position?  Biblical scholars? Theologians? Philosophers? Law professors?  People neither trained nor experienced in scientific research?[72]

This is not to discredit the work done by theologians and Biblical scholars concerning the origin of man.  Such minds are obviously greatly needed, but unfortunately, it seems many have already made up their minds about what could theologically be possible concerning how God created man and the world.  They either don’t understand the scientific evidence or choose to ignore it because they assume it will not fit with their theology.  However, Dr. Collins points out that “theistic evolution is the dominant position of serious biologists who are also serious believers.  That includes Asa Gray, Darwin’s chief advocate in the United States, and Theodosius Dobzhansky, the twentieth-century architect of evolutionary thinking.” [73] He also points out that Pope John Paul II believes in Evolving Creation and argues that Augustine would have been a supporter if the science had developed in his age.

Though not a proponent of Evolving Creation, Dr. Moreland points out that Augustine wrote “We must show our Scriptures not to be in conflict with whatever (our critics) can demonstrate about the nature of things from reliable sources.” [74] Christians must not be ignorant of the scientific evidence produced by reliable sources that points to evolution.  Another notable Christian leader advocating for theologians not to contradict science was C.S. Lewis.  Dr. Bruce Demarest highlights this point in his book Satisfy Your Soul.

As Lewis saw it, we must be open to the best scholarship- the wisdom of the ages- to keep us on track and free from errors caused by our limited, culturally influenced views.  Admittedly, Lewis said, the person who explores new ground and carefully weighs new possibilities puts himself at risk.  For when he proposes new insights or approaches, he is likely to be misunderstood and resisted.[75]

Indeed, Christians who support Evolving Creation put themselves at risk in the Christian community.   And indeed, this theory has been greatly misunderstood and continues to meet much resistance.  I fear that much of this resistance may be born of ignorance.

Counter Arguments 

Young Earth Creationists, Progressive Creationists, and Intelligent Design all share a common enemy: evolutionists.  Though they disagree with each other on how man originated, they typically show respect to the opposing views and are quite civil with each other.  However, this is often not the case when it comes to debating evolution.  Supporters of Evolving Creation are more often than not met with judgment and hostility from other Christians.  They are accused of bending to science and even of not being sincere Christians.  While I will not address such ridiculous claims, I will address some of the counter arguments that do require strong refutations.

The Bias of Scientists

There is a common misconception among Christians that any scientist who supports Evolving Creation is looking at the science from a biased perspective.  When speaking about Christians who believe in Theistic Evolution, Dr. Paul Nelson writes, “Many are well-trained, competent scientists.  They are rarely leaders of mainstream science, but they are allowed an existence within their disciplines….Such people cannot see beyond the bounds of their training or their own philosophic and theological commitments to seriously consider other possibilities.”[76] His claim that such scientists are rarely leaders in mainstream science is obviously quite false as highlighted in the previous section pointing to the many supporters.

Dr. Michael Behe argues, “Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don’t want there to be anything beyond nature…In other words, like Young-Earth Creationists, they bring in a prior philosophical commitment to their science that restricts what kinds of explanation they will accept about the physical world.”[77]  But don’t all scientists and theologians alike bring a “prior philosophical commitment” to their studies?  No man is entirely neutral.  But the fact that so many of the scientists who argue for Evolving Creation bring their Christian bias into the field seems to discredit Behe’s claim.

Dr. J.P. Moreland also suggests Christian scientists who support Evolving Creation are biased and writes “a homogeneous group can be blinded by the social force of their uniformity and develop closed minds to the suggestion that their views may be inadequate.”[78]  However, this could be true of the Young Earth Creationists, Progressive Creationists, and Intelligent Design supporters as well.  Dr. Van Till responds to Dr. Moreland’s comment with the following remarks: “The idea that the judgment of the scientific community- a community that includes a substantial number of Christians, by the way- can here be dismissed as a mere sociological distortion is, I believe, an illusion that must be conclusively dispelled.”[79]

The Seemingly Random Nature of Evolution

Opponents to Evolving Creation often point to the randomness in evolution being inconsistent with our God who is far from random.  This is a weak argument since, as Dr. Behe pointed out when defending Intelligent Design, we cannot fully comprehend our creator.  Also, Dr. Collins explains “…evolution could appear to us to be driven by chance, but from God’s perspective the outcome would be entirely specified.”[80] Or put in other words by Dr. Falk, “The seemingly random process of evolution is not random to God.  He is not limited by space and time, and the ultimate appearance on this planet of sentient creatures with whom he could have fellowship was never in doubt.”[81]

The Unexplained Complexity in the Human Body and Gaps in Evolution

Perhaps the strongest counter argument against Evolving Creation is currently the fact that there is so much complexity in the human body that has not been explained.  Dr. Kurt Wise points out “Macroevolutionary theory has never successfully explained the acquisition of any level of this complexity.”[82] This argument is the basis of the ID movement and Dr. Behe explains it this way:

What type of biological system could not be formed by “numerous, successive, slight modifications? “ Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex…And irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly by slight, successive modification of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.”[83]

While it is true that there are gaps and unknowns in the theory of evolution, this does not mean the gaps will never be filled and the unknowns will never be known.  Such complexity points to a very creative designer who envisioned the complexities that would develop.  Dr. Van Till puts it this way: “But if that creativity is beyond human comprehension, as we should expect, then the mode by which particular structures and forms are to be actualized in the course of time is also likely to be far more wondrous than we could imagine.”[84]  The Haarsmas also explain that it is too soon to conclude that science will never be able to explain the complexities in nature.

Given what scientists have discovered about evolution, is the evolution of complexity improbably?  Scientists don’t know; it’s too difficult to figure out with the current level of technology and scientific knowledge.  In a few cases, scientists have already figured out a plausible explanation for how something complex could have evolved…But in many other examples of complexity, scientists do not have enough information to decide whether its evolution was very probably or very improbably.  It’s too soon to say.[85]

Dr. Van Till also explains that God is not present only in those gaps that science has not yet explained. “If divine creative action is confined to the bridging of gaps in the creation’s formational economy, then the implication is that whatever takes place outside of those gaps is not dependent on the continuing moment-by-moment action of God- sustaining and blessing, for instance.”[86]  Indeed, our God is not only a God of gaps; He is working everywhere and in everything, not only in the miraculous.

The Theological Implications Seem to Contradict Scripture

Opponents of Evolving Creation often claim that if God really did use evolution, he would be like the notorious “watchmaker” of the Deists.  Dr. Millard writes, “There is a definite conflict between deism’s view of an absentee God and the biblical picture of a God who has been involved in not merely one but a whole series of creative acts.  In particular, both the Genesis accounts of the origin of man indicate that God definitely and distinctly willed and acted to bring man into existence.”[87] Dr. Phillip Johnson echoes this concern and argues, “Evolution, honestly understood, is not just a gradual process of development that a purposeful Creator might have chosen to employ.  It is, by Darwinist definition, a purposeless and undirected process that produced mankind accidentally.”[88]

While Darwin may have been blind to God’s hand in evolution, many Christian scientists are certainly not.  In fact, they suggest evolution might actually point to an even more glorious and creative creator than we ever imagined.  The Haarsmas address the issue of evolutionists not seeing God at work and explain.  “We must not expect that minds that have not been newly created in Christ will be able to express accurate truths about creation.”[89]

Dr. Van Till points out that many Christians require God to use miracles and special effects in order to call God’s work divine action.[90]  However, don’t we typically see God working in this world in natural ways?  Dr. Tremper Longman III, professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College, explains “Scientific progress in biology, geology and cosmology can now be celebrated as encouraging signs of God’s wisdom, power, care and faithfulness in his creation.  Each piece of scientific progress can now be regarded as further answering the question of how God created, and each answer should evoke praise from believing scientists and from Christians in general.”[91] So while the theologians have authority in answering why God created man according to the scriptures, the scientists have authority in answer how he created.

Supporters of Evolving Creation do not believe that God started the evolution process and then left earth and man alone.  No, our creative and loving God may have used natural methods to create man, but that doesn’t change the fact that he chose man to bear his image and chose to be in relationship with him.  Indeed, “life appeared at the command of God, and the parade of life was always under his control.  Both the Bible and biology are entirely consistent with this view of life.”[92]

CONCLUSION

Having grown up hearing the Genesis story told in a very literal way, I recall being skeptical when I first heard about each day actually representing millions of years.  It was humbling to admit that I might have believed wrong teaching.  But I grew to accept Progressive Creationism because it made theological sense and seemed to better comply with science.  But after looking more closely at what Christian scientists are finding and teaching about evolution, I find myself back at a crossroads, back in a posture of humility.

I would rather not admit that I was wrong, but truthfully, I was quick to accept Progressive Creationism as truth before really examining the proof.  Now that I have, I find the arguments for Evolving Creation much more compelling.  I am also drawn to Intelligent Design and am hopeful that the Haarsmas are correct in teaching that both theories could be right. And I am encouraged by this reminder from them: “We believe that God designed and created this world and everything in it.  And when we look at the natural world through the eyes of faith, we see evidence of God’s wisdom, creativity, and glory.  But our belief does not rise or fall based on whether or not any particular scientific theory is true or false.”[93]

My hope is that the Christian community will be civil in the debates about evolution, free from judgment, hostility, and malicious accusations.  I fear that we too often forget that we are on the same team, seeking and serving the same God.  I think we too often forget “God is the greatest scientist.  Surely he is not threatened by our efforts to understand the natural world.  Surely he does not expect us to disbelieve the facts that science is gathering about the wonderful beauty and order around us.”[94]

Regardless of what one believes about how God created man, all Christians can read Genesis one and two and be comforted by certain truths.  First, God wanted us to exist.  He has a definite plan for all of creation and for each individual.  He created man with the ability to have a deep, intimate relationship with Him.  Let us not lose the wonder of His love and purpose for us.  Dr. Millard reminds us “Man is not simply a chance production of a blind mechanism, or a by-product or scraps thrown off in the process of making something better.  He is an expressly designed product of God.”[95]

Next, as image-bearers with a relationship with God, we have a unique place in creation and we are wonderfully made.  We have responsibility as his image-bearers to glorify him with our gifts, abilities and lives. Dr. Erickson explains “Man’s greatness can glorify God.  We should frankly acknowledge that man has done many wondrous things…But how much greater must be the One who made him!”[96]

Finally, there is a brotherhood among men.  We are all human, all mortal, all bearing the image of God.  May this induce empathy in us when we are tempted to judge and condemn.  And when we disagree strongly about topics like the origin of man, may we treat our opponents as the brothers and sisters that they are, fellow humans and fellow image-bearers.

 

Did you seriously read all the way to the end?  

You’re really weird. 

It’s okay.

 I am too.

Bibliography

Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: Free Press, 1996.

Carlson, Richard F., and Tremper Longman. Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010.

Collins, Francis S. The Language Of God. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Demarest, Bruce A. Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality. Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1999.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983.

Falk, Darrel R. Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

Ham, Ken. The New Answers Book 2: Over 30 Questions onCreation/evolution and the Bible. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008.

Haarsma, Deborah B., and Loren D. Haarsma. Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2007.

Moreland, James Porter, ed., The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.

Moreland, James Porter, John Mark Reynolds, Paul Nelson, Robert C. Newman, Howard J. Van Till, and Stanley N. Gundry. Three Views on Creation and Evolution.Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub., 1999.

Pennock, Robert T. Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Ross, Hugh. The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998.

Sailhamer, John. Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account. Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Books, 1996.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins  Debate.Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Walton, John H., Dr. “Origins Today Genesis Through Ancient Eyes.” Lecture, Biola Presentation,Calvary Chapel, La Mirada, May 9, 2013.


[1] James Porter Moreland et al., Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub., 1999), 8.

[2] Richard F. Carlson and Tremper Longman, Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 10.

[3] Deborah B. Haarsma and Loren D. Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2007), 155.

[4] Ibid.,156.

[5] John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 132.

[6] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 82.

[7] Ibid., 108.

[8] John H. Walton, Dr. “Origins Today Genesis Through Ancient Eyes.” Lecture, Biola Presentation, Calvary Chapel, La Mirada, May 9, 2013.

[9] Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, 16-17.

[10] Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, 68.

[11] Ibid., 71.

[12] John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account (Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Books, 1996), 46.

[13] Ibid., 68.

[14] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 109.

[15] Ibid., 111.

[16] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 117.

[17] Ibid., 118.

[18] Darrel R. Falk, Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 32.

[19] Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 42.

[20] Ken Ham, The New Answers Book 2: Over 30 Questions on Creation/evolution and the Bible (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008), 133.

[21] Nelson and Reynolds, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 45.

[22] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 85.

[23] Ibid., 89.

[24] Moreland, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 85.

[25] Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, 110.

[26] Robert C. Newman, Three Views on Creation and Evolution,108.

[27] Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, 112.

[28] Ibid., 113.

[29] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 91.

[30] Ibid., 93.

[31] Ham, The New Answers Book 2: Over 30 Questions on Creation/evolution and the Bible, 126.

[32] Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998), 8.

[33] Ibid., 103.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid., 105.

[36] Newman, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 115.

[37] Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis, 115.

[38] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 216.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis, 9.

[41] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 92.

[42] Ibid., 93.

[43] Ham, The New Answers Book 2: Over 30 Questions on Creation/evolution and the Bible, 134.

[44] Francis S. Collins, The Language Of God. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 181.

[45] Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Free Press, 1996), 73.

[46] Collins, The Language Of God, 186.

[47] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 178-179.

[48] Collins, The Language Of God, 183.

[49] Ibid., 184.

[50] Robert T. Pennock, Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 239.

[51] Collins, The Language Of God, 186-187.

[52] Ibid.194.

[53] Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 223.

[54] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 190.

[55] Collins, The Language Of God, 193.

[56] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 190.

57 Ibid., 188.

[58] Ibid., 199.

[59] Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, 70.

[60] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 204.

[61] Ibid., 208.

[62] Howard S. Van Till, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 162.

[63] Collins, The Language Of God, 201.

[64] Ibid.133-134.

[65] Ibid., 140.

[66] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 200.

[67] Ibid., 201.

[68] Falk, Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology, 254

[69] Ibid., 123.

[70] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 202.

[71] Ibid., 201.

[72] Van Till, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 193.

[73] Collins, The Language Of God. 199.

[74] Augustine, De genesi ad litteram 1.21 Cited in James Porter Moreland, Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub., 1999), 8.

[75] Bruce A. Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1999), 67.

[76] Paul Nelson, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 46.

[77] Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 243.

[78] Moreland, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 232.

[79] Van Till Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 240-241.

[80] Collins, The Language Of God, 205.

[81] Falk, Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology, 10.

[82] Kurt Wise The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 230.

[83] Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 39.

[84] Van Till Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, 332.

[85] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution,187.

[86] Van Till Three Views on Creation and Evolution, 197.

[87] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983), 481.

[88] Phillip Johnson Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, 436.

[89] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 59.

[90] Van Till Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, 511.

[91] Longman, Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins, 139.

[92] Haarsma and Haarsma, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution, 168.

[93] Ibid., 193.

[94] Falk, Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds between Faith and Biology, 10.

[95] Erickson, Christian Theology, 493.

[96] Ibid.

Invitations in Zuni

I apologize for my lackluster blog effort of late.  I returned from Zuni and our landlady had raised the rent $200, so I said, “Peace out” and I moved, and anyone who has ever moved knows just how awful this can be.  Now I’m buried under a pile of freshman research papers that I have to grade and a research paper that I have to write, so I still won’t be around for a bit.  But the good news is: summer is just around the corner!  That means no more grading and no more formal writing! Until then, enjoy this final post about Zuni….a month late.

***

While I was in Zuni this year, I was reading the book Love Does by Bob Goff.  Bob is hilarious and wild and loves Jesus in a hilarious and wild way.  One of the chapters is about the invitation to live fully.  I shared this passage with my students as it was very fitting for our week and our lives:

There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time.  I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does.  It doesn’t come in an envelope.  It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen.  It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day.

During this one week in Zuni, it was easier to accept this invitation because we woke up looking for it, expecting it.  Here are some the ways we accepted the invitation to fully live:

* We raised havoc..

* raised the roof..

* and raised eyebrows when we invaded a gym to cheer for our friends Alex and Chelsea who were playing an intramural basketball game.  We later found out the lady at the door was telling people, “Yeah, there’s a group of crazy Christians here tonight.”  We were quite proud of ourselves.

We lived fully by…

* jumping for joy…

* jumping for thrills….

* and getting jumped by kindergarten monsters.

We refused to let life pass us by, so we…

* made lots of ice cream cones…

* made lots of new friends…

* and made ugly faces like it was our job.

*We seized the day by…

*  tickling…

* teaching..

* and hugging our little friends.

We grabbed hold of life as we…

* shot baskets…

* shot movies…

*  shot the breeze while we hung out in trees.

We drank deeply of life…

* rocking out…

* rocking in chairs…

* and rocking the cars while singing random songs at the top of our lungs.  And when I say “random,” I mean the most random song ever created by none other than Weird Al. I found this 11 minute song hilarious perhaps because the boys all sang every word, even the belch at the very end.  Or perhaps because I really do have the sense of humor of a 15-year old boy.

Either way, if your curiosity is peaked, if you’ve always wanted to listen to a song about Albuquerque, New Mexico or you want to punish someone for 11 minutes, WATCH THIS VIDEO. It is one of the strangest things on the Internet and you’ll probably think less of me since most grown adults find it completely moronic.

While in Zuni, we lived life on the edge, figuratively and literally:

and found it easy to embrace life each day because each day was bursting with new adventures.

Now that we’ve been home for a month and are back in the grind, back in routine and concrete jungles and piles of homework, it is much harder to accept God’s invitation to fully participate in life.  Bob Goff writes:

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors.  It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal.  It can also look like refusing to forgive or not being grateful or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy.  I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head-faked into thinking we haven’t really been invited.  But you see, we have been invited- every day, all over again.

I admit that since I’ve been back, there have been moments and whole days where I’ve ignored God’s invitation to fully live because it’s harder to find it here.  Or perhaps it’s because I’ve distracted myself so much and convinced myself that my task at hand is boring and trivial and certainly not part of God’s invitation to me.

But what if it is?

What if around every corner and every meeting and every parent e-mail God is beckoning me to live more fully with Him?

What if my mind is so constantly drawn back to Him that I can answer angry parents with a grin?  Or grade mountains of paper with gusto?

I’ve found that when I RSVP to God’s invitation to embrace each hour of life, life is suddenly much better, no matter the circumstance.  Bob writes:

A couple of other things happen when we accept Jesus’ invitation to participate with Him in life.  Obstacles that seem insurmountable aren’t.  Impediments that we believe disqualify us don’t.  When we show up to participate with Jesus in the big life, we’re participating with the very being who made life in the first place.

So I’m choosing to accept God’s invitation today and choosing to look for it around every bend.  I hope you do too!