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Christianity and Science

The Argument within Christianity: Evolution, Intelligent Design, or Creationism?

I’ve written about evolution before but I wanted to narrow the scope of my discussion to how this debate is happening within Christianity. I explained in my first post on evolution that I am not, nor will I (probably) ever be a scientist or an expert in this field. Thus, what I try to do when I make posts about evolution, Intelligent Design, or Creationism, is bring things up on a layman’s level or bring up issues that I think pertain to the philosophical side of the debate. This is the introductory post for my series. View here for links to all the posts in this series.

Christians are right in the middle of this debate. Polls continue to show that the majority of Americans don’t believe in evolution. Many people seem to think that belief in evolution would somehow undermine God or belief in God. This, I think, is why evolution has become such a hotly debated topic within Christian circles.

Christians, it seems, have (at least) three choices when it comes to evolution:

1) Theistic Evolution- the belief that (neo-)Darwinian evolution is true, but God exists and kind of started the process of somehow (perhaps by creating life, and then letting things happen).

2) Intelligent Design- the belief that (neo-)Darwinian evolution is almost true, but it needs some help. Some things cannot be explained by random mutations and natural selection. Instead, an intelligent designer (read: God) directed and guided this process, stepping in here and there to insure that it continued in a manner the designer wanted.

3) Creationism- the belief that (neo-)Darwinian evolution is false and God created the world and all the “kinds.” Usually this includes a belief in micro-evolution–that the “kinds” mentioned in Genesis can vary, that viruses, and the like do evolve, etc.

Each of these groups can be broken into almost countless sub-categories. I will note just one for now:

Creationism can be broken down into:

1) The name “Old Earth Creationism” generally applies to people who believe the universe is as old as the scientific community holds, but that evolution has serious problems and that God specifically intervened either by creating life at various stages (often referred to as “progressivism”) or by fine-tuning life throughout the process.

2) Young Earth Creationism- God created the world in 6 literal 24 hour periods, resting on the 7th day. Evolution is false (except for micro-evolution) and the world appears ancient because of catastrophic events in our past (such as the Flood).

What exactly is at stake? If you ask me that question, I would have to answer “not much.” I feel strongly as though every side of this debate is greatly over-exaggerating the implications of the debate within Christianity. The Young Earth Creationists often argue that those who go against their view reject the authority of Scripture. This is unfair to those advancing the other positions, who are often looking to the Bible first for their view, while fitting what they view as scientific authority into that framework. On the other hand, theistic evolutionists often accuse those in the Intelligent Design or Creationist camp of ignoring scientific discoveries and evidence. Thus is also unfair, as it simply refuses to acknowledge the great amount of empirical research that is going in in the other areas.

I say that “not much” is at stake because I don’t think that any of these views ultimately excludes saving faith, which is the belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit. None of these views is damaging to such belief, so these views are all compatible with Christian belief. The extent to which they are compatible may be a different matter, and that is something that I intend to include in my analysis in future posts.

So where do I fall in these categories? Honestly, that answer will vary depending on what day you ask me. It’s an issue that I still need to do a lot of investigation into before I settle on one view.

Thus, this post, and ones that will follow, will reflect my investigations into this often explosive issue. I will be writing on things I read from each camp and trying to present them and evaluate them in as neutral a fashion as possible. Will I be unbiased? Obviously not. One can see from my “About” page what my presuppositions are. If a view I read goes against my view in the inerrancy of Scripture, then inerrancy will trump the view. I readily acknowledge my bias in this regard (which is more than a great many people do), so that you, the reader, can know that and take it into account.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “The Argument within Christianity: Evolution, Intelligent Design, or Creationism?

  1. First about this post: Great thoughts here. There really isn’t much at stake by believing any of these positions, so long as we each acknowledge God as Creator, regardless of the methodology He chose to create with. It always bugs me when Answers in Genesis and similar groups push the Young Earth theory as the ONLY biblical way of believing, and question the salvation of those who believe in Old Earth creationism. As you stated, it is not a salvation issue. Sure, I acknowledge that some folks only go with theistic evolution because they mistakenly believe that believing in Creationism makes them mentally feeble, as scientists try to make it appear. In reality these folks are only choosing this approach as a sort of fashion statement, they want to appear smart. Some legitimately choose it after researching the claims, but just like politics, few take the time to do any research whatsoever these days. Beliefs are mere fashion statements and social identifiers. Religion is relegated to culture, politics to pop-liberal opinion/groupthink, and faith becomes a mere personal issue that should always be kept an intensely private and tolerant affair. Good post.

    Now on to blogging advice: JW, please enable full text in your feeds. Go to your dashboard (wp-admin), on the left column, under Settings, select Reading. There is an option within that that says, “For each article in a feed, show” – select “Full Text.” PLEASE. I often don’t read stuff here because I can’t view it in my Reader. 😉 I have a feeling you’ll pick up more readers that way. Also, you need to highlight subscription options. Currently your only RSS feed link is a tiny one on the bottom of the page that says “Entries (RSS).” Make a bigger one at the top of the page. Maybe even consider using FeedBurner to track your feed/readers.

    Posted by Dan | February 15, 2010, 5:25 PM
    • Thanks for your comment Dan! I think that is one of the major issues: people need to do the research before taking an absolute stand on an issue, particularly an issue like this, which is far more divisive than I think it need be.

      It’s already set to Full Text! I remember having this conversation before. I’m not sure why it doesn’t show up as full text!

      And I have no idea how to do the other thing you said to do. I literally have no clue. If you have any way to teach me, please share! I don’t know what to do with the “full text” thing as I remember I set it last time you mentioned it. It was already set to that when I opened it just now.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 15, 2010, 6:36 PM
  2. I sit comfortably with being a Creationist, first and foremost, meaning that God is the Creator of all. Beyond that, I don’t see why that position is incompatible with the belief that all creation bears the mark of intelligent design (I mean, how could anyone POSSIBLY deny that in the face of the incredible odds of the conditions needed for the creation and sustenance of the Universe and the earth?), and the belief that evolution could have been guided by the hand of God. in other words, could a Christian not be a Creationist, I.D. advocate, and a theistic evolutionist (of sorts, with qualification)?

    I admit to not having nutted out the details, but I don’t really see the great need to, nor the productivity of such an exercise, given that there seems to be insufficient evidence to settle on any rigid position. The only things that seem certain to me are 1) the statement that evolution is unguided cannot be scientifically established, and 2) fine-tuning of the universe by chance is improbable, 3) the beginning of the Universe and life is best accounted for by a theistic account.

    However, I came to this site hoping to gain a bit more understanding, and so here I am, ready to learn. And I shouldn’t ask too many questions before I have read the results of your thorough research!

    Posted by Anonymous | October 21, 2014, 12:56 AM
    • Thanks for stopping by and reading through. Do feel free to comment with any questions/etc. I am still exploring this issue as it remains of great interest to me but I will readily state I think YEC is deeply mistaken.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | October 21, 2014, 9:09 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The Argument Continues: Old Earth Creationism « - February 23, 2010

  2. Pingback: The Origins Debate Within Christianity « - March 21, 2010

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