This is part of a series of posts on the “Life Dialogue” within Christianity. Check out other posts in the series here.
In my last post on Young Earth Creationism (hereafter YEC), I examined the case for the literal 24 hour periods in the Genesis account from the YEC perspective. Now I want to turn to YEC’s case against God using evolution. It should be clear to those following this debate that this post is therefore oriented towards the theological aspect of the dialogue rather than the scientific aspect.
Often, YECs argue against other beliefs in the dialogue by pressing that God would not have used evolution to bring about mankind. (This objection cannot apply to some forms of Old Earth Creationism, in which God does specially create man.) Essentially, the argument goes, “God’s character comes into question” if He used death to bring about these species (Ham, 35). They ask, “How could a God of love allow such horrible processes as disease, suffering, and death for millions of years as part of His ‘very good’ creation?” (Ham, 36).
Such questions make up some of the strong theological arguments for the YEC position. There are only a few ways I know to answer this line of reasoning. 1) One can affirm that the death which entered at original sin has the consequence of spiritual death as opposed to physical death [thus, when sin entered the world, all were condemned to hell through it, but they already died]; 2) God specially created mankind, and humans would not have died if they had not sinned; 3) Deny that such questions actually call God’s character into question.
1) seems a bit implausible from Scripture, though I suppose it is possible to hold this position (many do)
2) allows one to be more in-line with Scripture in my opinion, though one has to sacrifice some of the main reasons to hold a view other than YEC to affirm this (one can’t argue that all life evolved whether guided or not if one affirms special creation of man)
3) This may actually be the most fruitful path, though it must be combined with one of the above reasons. Just as God’s character is not called into question by the fact of death and suffering post-fall, so too is God’s character not called into question on such things pre-fall. One could argue this in a number of ways. Perhaps the possible worlds were limited to those in which God could only bring about mankind through a long process.
Does this YEC position work as intended? I think it does to some extent. It undermines some of the theological foundation of the other positions, while showing that YEC has an answer for the same problem. If there are no good answers to these challenges posed by advocates of YEC, YEC itself gains some strong theological credibility. The options above are capable of handling the challenge, but at what cost? I’ll have to see if there are better answers to be found before I give my final verdict.
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