WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
Three positions for Genesis believers.
Young Earth Creation (YEC).
(Evolution of birds from dinosaurs plus DNA evidence for evolution).
Old Earth Progressive Creation.
Each position has a dilemma.
This is the third part of a three-part series on creation and evolution. It’s a mix of science and spiritual. The subject here is personal belief, and how your belief compares with others. As always, I use as much data and facts as possible.
THREE POSITIONS FOR GENESIS BELIEVERS. If you believe in biblical truth AND you believe in science, you fall into one of three positions, as laid out in a book by Hal Reed and Duane Thurman called How to Think about Evolution (2015). It’s a carefully researched book, not yet published, by two biology professors. We have drawn from this book, and provided excerpts below.
The three positions are:
(1) Young-earth creation.
(2) Theistic evolution (evolutionary creation).
(3) Old earth progressive creation.
A fourth position, called Intelligent design does not include God.
All three positions support biblical truth. But they vary in their interpretation of Genesis chapters 1-12. All three positions face dilemmas, which we talk about below.
(1) YOUNG EARTH CREATION (YEC).
What we believe about God’s word will determine what we believe about science.
• In Figure 1, the Ark in Kentucky is a full-sized replica. The length of the ark is 170 yards (one and a half football fields), and its height is 7 stories.
• Included in the ark are models of dinosaurs, as well as Noah’s family. Wait…..dinosaurs were in the ark? Yes.
• Plus explanations of the creation story. But which creation story?
The story presented in the Ark is that God made the earth in 6 literal days of 24 hours each day. And this was just 6,000 years ago. The long dates of deep time from science are not accepted. Finally, God created the first two humans.
This position accepts the inerrancy of scripture over modern science, and the inerrancy is based on a literal interpretation of Genesis chapters 1-12.
The YEC position contends that all fossil layers and geological strata, all over the world, are a result of Noah’s flood in Genesis, which occurred 4,500 years ago. The flood also caused the Grand Canyon in USA, when a huge dam located above the Grand Canyon suddenly broke.
Major proponents of the YEC position include Ken Ham and the Answers in Genesis Institute (who organized the Ark in Kentucky), and the Creation Research Society.
THE DILEMMA OF YOUNG EARTH CREATION.
Tree ring counts go back 14,000 years and lake varve counts go back 50,000 years. The dilemma is that science says the earth can’t be younger than 50,000 years. Do we trust the science? The reliability of these dates was discussed in Part 2 of this series on Creation-Evolution.
(2) THEISTIC EVOLUTION
If God created science, how can science not be true? [Oral Roberts]
At the other extreme, we find the position of Theistic Evolution, where deep time dates from science are accepted. For example, the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Part 2 of this series discusses deep time.
In this view, God was involved in and created the world by evolutionary processes. God is the creator of all things, using biological processes that he developed.
God created these processes and allowed them to progress over billions of years to form past and present biota, including humans.
God is involved via the processes that he created, and perhaps even guided which is called directed evolution.
EVOLUTION OF BIRDS FROM DINOSAURS.
This topic is about transitions between life-forms. The absence of transition forms has in the past been used as an argument against evolution. The following is excerpted from a website Evolution is True by Dr Jerry Coyne:
• The dinosaurs with feathers (see Figure 3) are exactly what we expect for transitional forms.
• They have a largely dinosaurian skeleton but birdlike feathers, and moreover, appeared in deep time well after theropod dinosaurs (the presumed ancestor) but before modern birds appeared.
• Further, the fossils become less dinosaurian and more birdlike as one gets to more recent strata. Whether one calls these “birds” or “dinosaurs” is a matter of taste.
• The important thing is that they are exactly the transitional forms we expect, and they appeared at exactly the time they should have if dinosaurs evolved into birds.
We have fossil records of many transitional forms: not just those from reptiles to birds,
but also from reptiles to mammals, amphibians to reptiles, terrestrial mammals to whales,
and from early hominins that had small brains, big teeth, and walked on their knuckles to the more cerebral and gracile species of Homo Sapiens.
DR FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR OF NIH IN THE USA, HAS WRITTEN AN EXCELLENT BOOK called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006). Here are some quotations from the book about evolution, and belief in God. Collins was a manager of the famous Human Genome Project which was completed in the year 2000.
No serious biologist today doubts the theory of evolution to explain the marvelous complexity and diversity of life. In fact, the relatedness of all species through the mechanism of evolution is such a profound foundation for the understanding of all biology that it is difficult to imagine how one would study life without it…
Evolution, as a mechanism, can be and must be true. But that says nothing about the nature of its author. For those who believe in God, there are reasons now to be more in awe, not less…
A profound consequence of the study of multiple genomes has been the ability to do detailed comparisons of our own DNA sequence with that of other organisms. Using a computer, one can pick a certain stretch of human DNA and assess whether there is a similar sequence in some other species. If one picks the coding region of a human gene (that is, the part that contains the instructions for a protein), and uses that for the search, there will nearly always be a highly significant match to the genomes of other mammals. Many genes will also show discernible but imperfect matches to fish. Some will even find matches to the genomes of simpler organisms such as fruit flies and roundworms… [87% of human DNA is the same as that of chimpanzees.]
What does all this mean? At two different levels, it provides powerful support for Darwin’s theory of evolution, that is, descent from a common ancestor with natural selection operating on randomly occurring variations. At the level of the genome as a whole, a computer can construct a tree of life based solely upon the similarities of the DNA sequences of multiple organisms. Yet its similarity to conclusions drawn from studies of comparative anatomy, both of existent organisms and of fossilized remains, is striking…
So here is the central question of this book: In this modern era of cosmology, evolution, and the human genome, is there still the possibility of a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews? I answer with a resounding yes! In my view, there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us.
THE DILEMMA OF THEISTIC EVOLUTION.
Science explanations for evolution of species from primitive life-forms are compelling. But be aware the argument (by extrapolation) that the cosmos and life are merely products of natural causes. Such arguments are misdirected and would diminish God’s involvement.
It’s helpful to recall that science explanations are inadequate for the following (see Part 1 of this series):
• What existed before the big-bang (the science is unconvincing, my opinion)
• The origin of life on earth from inanimate matter (the science is non-existent)
• The origin of human consciousness (science has no consensus)
(3) OLD EARTH PROGRESSIVE CREATION
• The earth is ancient based on geological evidence…. 4.5 billion years old.
• Organisms and their molecular components are too complex to have been created by ultra-slow, step-wise Darwinian evolution.
• God formed adult organisms representing the major body forms during direct creative periods throughout earth’s history. For example, the Cambrian “explosion” which started 530 million years ago and lasted only 10 million years – see Figure 4. God is invoked to explain this “punctuated equilibrium” model of evolutionary change which is attributed to Stephen Jay Gould (rapid change in life-forms followed by long quiescent periods of little change).
• Humans are a special creation by God.
THE DILEMMA OF OLD EARTH PROGRESSIVE CREATION.
If God acts as a designer in this way, why not design the world all at once? Why intermittent intrusions into the world’s creation? This is sometimes referred to as God-of-the-gaps. But if God is invoked to explain sudden leaps of evolution, such as the Cambrian explosion, the risk is that science will eventually find an explanation that will close the gap and squeeze God out.
If God appears periodically, He disappears periodically.
If He comes upon the scene at special crises, He is absent from the scene in the intervals….
The idea of an immanent God, which is the God of evolution, is infinitely grander than the occasional Wonder-worker…
[Henry Drummond, a Scottish biologist and evangelist, circa 1890s]
Supporters of Old Earth Progressive Creation include astrophysicist Hugh Ross, and his Reasons to Believe organization.
Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science. It must be examined with the heart, the mind, and the soul. [Francis Collins]
For more information about the book How to Think about Evolution you may contact Dr Hal Reed, professor of biology at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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The Gray Nomad ….. think well and stay informed.
• It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God. [Francis Collins announcing the decoding of the human genome in 2000]
• Belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science. [Francis Collins]