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Christianity and Science, Creationism, Old Earth Creationism

The Life Dialogue: Old Earth Creationism 2

This is part of a series of posts on the “Life Dialogue” within Christianity. Check out other posts in the series here.

Last time I wrote about Old Earth Creationism (OEC), I referred to Hugh Ross’s More than a Theory. Perhaps the most interesting part of Ross’s “Reasons to Believe” (RTB) Model was that in order to harmonize a seeming mix of creationist, intelligent design (ID), and theistic evolutionist (TE) views, the model argued that humans were specially created. This was, I perceived, partially to avoid the problem that can be leveled against TE or ID, which is that man died before sin, which goes against Scripture. Thus, by asserting that mankind was specially created, and only died when humanity fell into sin, the RTB Model avoids this charge.

I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t only for theological reasons that the RTB Model made this argument. Rana and Ross (hereafter I’m going to say “RR”) argue in Who Was Adam? that there is reason to believe that Adam and Eve were specially made by God. RR assert that while the fossil record does indeed show evidence various hominids (distinguished importantly from humans), none of these can be seen as evolutionary stages or transitional forms that lead to humans.

The RTB model holds that God created the first humans through divine intervention, that all humanity came from Adam and Eve, that humanity originated in a single geographical location, that God created Adam and Eve fairly recently (10,000-100,000 years ago), that humanity’s female lineage would date later than the male lineage, that God prepared Earth for humanity’s advent and created humans at “a special moment” for humanity, human beings share physical characteristics with animals, that humanity displays distinct characteristics from animals, that life spans of humans were much longer at one time, that a universal flood shaped early human history, and that humanity spread from somewhere in or near the Middle East (RR, 43-51).

Clearly, I don’t have time to outline the entirety of their argument in a post. I’m only going to hit on the major points.

RR argue that molecular anthropology point to humanity’s origin from a mitochondrial Adam and Eve (73 and the pages surrounding). This is due to DNA evidence pointing not to multiple origins, but simply one X and one Y chromosome giving rise to the rest of humanity. This is evidence supporting a number of points in their model outlined above.

The next stage in their argument reflects the same idea that I’ve expressed before: different views of the same evidence are possible. I see ways to take the data RR presented here as evidence for evolution, but I also see how it can be interpreted as support for OEC. RR point to the fossil record, which contains various hominids. The archaeological evidence, however, does not support anything more advanced than the most basic usage of tools for these hominids. This, they argue, reflects the “image of God” in humanity. Early humans (contrasted here with hominids) arrive with complex tools immediately, religious beliefs and practices, etc. (77ff, 139ff).

RR argue that humanity came about when the conditions were exactly perfect for human civilization (97ff). This, combined with various arguments against the common descent of man from hominids (including the argument that there is no clear way to set up such a chain [139ff]), scientific analysis of and arguments refuting ideas that we came from either neanderthals (179ff) or chimpanzees (199ff), and finally examples of how “Junk” DNA is actually useful lead to the conclusion of RR’s argument:

“Genetic studies of human population groups signify that humanity had a recent origin in a single geographical location from a small population, with genetic links back to a single man and single woman… The research also demonstrates that humanity and human civilization arose relatively recently near (or in) the Middle East to fill the earth… The archaeological record reveals a veritable explosion of human culture–anthropology’s ‘big bang’–which marks the appearance of God’s image… At no other time in human history has the biblical account of humanity’s origin held greater scientific credibility than it does today… man is the crown of God’s creation (248-250).”

It seems to me that RR make a fairly strong case for their side, but the evidence they present could be easily used by theistic evolutionists (arguing within Christianity here) as well. Thus, I don’t think RR have definitively shown that the RTB Model is superior in regards to the origins of man, though they have offered a compelling argument that ties in with the rest of the RTB. Taken as a whole, I believe the RTB Model offers superior explanatory power in a number of aspects. Not only that, but as seen in Who Was Adam? it avoids the theological argument against views like Theistic Evolution or Intelligent Design.

I continue to find the RTB Model perhaps the most compelling of any side of the Life Debate within Christianity. As I’ve noted before, I don’t see any reason to throw myself in fully behind any of these views. Rather, I intend to pick and choose based on my presuppositions. In all things, however, Christ has preeminence (Colossians 1:15ff).

Sources:

Rana, Fazale and Hugh Ross. Who Was Adam? Navpress. 2005.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) 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

4 thoughts on “The Life Dialogue: Old Earth Creationism 2

  1. “RR argue that molecular anthropology point to humanity’s origin from a mitochondrial Adam and Eve (73 and the pages surrounding). This is due to DNA evidence pointing not to multiple origins, but simply one X and one Y chromosome giving rise to the rest of humanity. This is evidence supporting a number of points in their model outlined above.”

    RTB are just wrong about this – http://biologos.org/blog/does-genetics-point-to-a-single-primal-couple/

    See Can an Evangelical Christian Accept Evolution?

    Posted by James | April 18, 2010, 12:39 PM
    • Thanks for your response, James. I note that the page you cited writes elsewhere (here) that genetics does show that genetics can be traced back to one man and one woman. The page you cite argues for a different interpretation of the same evidence–“Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam lived at different times, were probably separated by thousands of years and quite possibly were in different locations”–though I don’t see any reason to accept this conclusion provided. Further, they acknowledge that the “adam” and “eve” were at different points in time–something the RTB model predicts and accounts for within the framework of the flood.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | April 18, 2010, 1:08 PM
  2. Adding another comment on your blog I just found! You’ve explained before that you aren’t a scientist. I hope you’ll give this subject another look with a new entry at BioLogos:

    http://biologos.org/questions/the-mitochondrial-eve

    I’m concerned that your blog post posits so strongly that the earth is old, (I agree) and that God would not be a god of deception. But you succumb to the YEC weakness in your response to James. You simply say, “I see no reason to accept this conclusion.” (i.e. you believe your science, I believe mine…sounds a little YEC-ish.)

    I would ask you to earnestly consider a few things: the concept of mitochondrial Eve is very basic, and agreed upon by absolutely everyone with any credibility. Rana (from RTB) can be literally bizarre with some of his scientific claims, and sometimes seems to grasp them out of thin air.

    Try this from an EvC:

    http://biologos.org/blog/a-tale-of-three-creationists-part-3

    And this from a YEC (yes a YEC) who says Rana’s credibility is “completely shot”:

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2011/01/rtb-and-chimp-genome-part-8.html

    Please try out the above article about Mitochondrial Eve. It’s detailed, and you may have to read it twice. But it shows that it makes absolutely no sense to think that “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y Chromosome Adam” existed at the same time.

    Posted by Brute Wolf | March 15, 2012, 12:39 AM

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  1. Pingback: The Origins Debate Within Christianity « - April 16, 2010

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