Ken Ham, founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis once said: “One of the reasons I’m so passionate about teaching creationism is because I see it as a fundamental issue. If the history in Genesis is not true, then neither is the gospel. If you can’t believe that God created Adam and Eve, then how can you believe that Jesus came to redeem humanity?”
He’s exactly right. If Genesis is not to be taken as a literal, historical account, then neither can the Exodus story of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, the Babylonian Exile that occurred in 586 BC, or the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By advocating these stories are just allegorical interpretations to help us understand the moral, ethical, and spiritual realities of the world we live in rather than being grounded in history presents a problem for the Judeo-Christian worldview.
In this article, my goal is to explain creationism, discuss the various types of this Biblical worldview – young vs old earth, how it relates to the intelligent design movement, and why it’s a valid alternative to naturalism and evolutionary biology.
Definition of Creationism
Creationism is a belief system that posits that the universe and all living organisms were created by a supernatural, personal God that is described in the Bible. The National Center of Science Education defines Creationism as, “the belief that a supernatural deity created the universe, Earth, and life on Earth either in its present form or at some point in the recent past.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary mentions similar concepts to its definition of Creationism but adds this important point: “And the world was created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis.”
Brief History of Creationism
The notion that God created the universe is not isolated to the Judeo-Christian worldview. There are ancient creation myths all around the world that believed a supernatural being or multiple gods, created the world.
Greek creation believes there was chaos in the beginning, then earth which produced sky. In Norse creation, there was a chasm that ocurred between fire and ice. In Egyptian creation myths, one version is based on the Ogdoad of Hermopolis. The story is told that the Chaos Goose and the Chaos Gander produced an egg that was the sun – Ra. The gander was identified with Geb, the earth god (The Symbolism of the Swan and the Goose,” by Edward A. Armstrong. Folklore, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Jun., 1944), pp.54-58).
However, the Biblical account is unique because it suggests having been written from a historical rather than mystical perspective. Let’s delve into the different types of creationism, interconnect them with intelligent design, and decide whether or not the creation story from Scripture is different from other religious stories found in the past.
Types of Creationism
In the biblical narrative, there are three prominent views: young earth creationism, old earth creationism, and theistic evolution. All three of these coincide with the intelligent design movement since they all concur that God is “intelligently” guiding all life forms. Let’s briefly discuss them.
Young earth creationism is held by Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and Creation Ministries international to name just a few. All of these organizations believe the earth is around 6,000 years old and base this position on a literal interpretation of Scripture. For example, the “six” days are literally 24 hours and not elongated sequences of time. God is not using allegory or figure of speech.
Scientists who take this view base their evidence on geology, archaeology, cosmology, and other disciplines of science. Some of their arguments include the oldest bristle cone only dating back 4,300 years, earth’s slowing rotation, population growth, salt in the oceans, and declining magnetic field. For instance, studies have shown that in the last 140 years, there has been a consistent decay rate in the earth’s magnetic field, and at this rate, in as early as 25,000 years ago, the earth would have been unable to support life because of the heat from the electric current. For more information on this topic, you can visit creationtoday.org
Moreover, these organizations reject the idea of a big bang origin of the universe and instead propose a model of a rapidly expanding universe that is more consistent with a young earth. They also argue that geology does not teach a long period of change (uniformitarianism) but instead mention the global flood as a reason we see abrupt catastrophic change. Mount St. Helens is an example of rapidly changing geological structures due to a cataclysmic volcanic eruption.
Old earth creationism accepts scientific evidence that indicates the universe is old like evolution, but still believes God played a role in creating them. Generally, they accept the fact that radiometric dating asserts the Earth to be approximately 4.5 billion years old. They agre in the geological discoveries of Greenland of rocks dating back to 3.8 billion years. Another reason they see signs of an old earth is due to the amount of salt in our oceans as well as deep sea sediments that point to old age. Other examples include cosmic backgroud radiation, age of stars in our galaxies, and the observed rate of continental drift to name a few.
Finally, there are Christians who uphold to theistic evolution. This view believes that God set in motion the natural processes that led to the development of life on Earth. I just spoke to a friend who had a conversation with a man that upheld evolution by natural selection. He argued that the fossil records indicate God was not at work, but rather natural intervention caused the variation of species over time. As believers, we should attest that the living God is not a deist “Clockmaker” who started the process but never mediates with his world. Surely God intervenes with creation since he came as a human through Christ. But that’s a topic for a different day!
Intelligent Design Movement
All of these viewpoints do coincide with intelligent design. The Young earth, old earth, Evolutionary Creationists, and theistic evolutionists all believe there was a creator involved instead of the world being exclusively brought into existence via natural processes. Some of the arguments for this view include irreducible complexity, fine-tuning of the universe, DNA as information, the Cambrian explosion, the anthropic principle, and the origin of life. Let’s briefly discuss each argument.
The irreducible argument says that there are biological structures made up of “irreducible” parts that all need to function together simultaneously in order to survive. Therefore, there wasn’t a gradual change occurring because any intermediate stage would be non-functional and not able to “evolve” during the process. The most famous example of this is the bacterial flagellum. The Institute of Creation Research has a great article on this subject entitled: “Debating Design: The Bacterial Flaggellum”. You can explore this topic here: https://www.icr.org/article/3465/.
The fine-tuning of the universe is another strong argument for the existence of God. This position holds that the physical constants and laws of the universe are “finely-tuned” for life. In other words, the odds are so astronomically low that it’s very improbable for life to occur through blind chance. One example if earth’s relationship to the sun. If the earth were slightly more distant from the sun, a stable water cycle would be impossible, ending life. Even the length of rotation around the sun matters. If earth was slower, our days would become too hot and night too cool to support creation, and this would also cause an increase in wind speed unsustainable for human adaptation. You can find out more information on Cold Case Christianity: “Four Ways the Earth Is Fine-Tuned For Life.” https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/four-ways-the-earth-is-fine-tuned-for-life/
The intelligent design vs evolution debate will always encounter how DNA is so complex and possibly point to an intelligent source. While proponents of naturalism will say it took millions of years to become this sophisticated, ID advocates say it’s impossible, even with a long period of time, to have this type of genetic coding. As Dr. Stephen C. Meyer states:“As it turns out, specific regions of the DNA molecule called coding regions have the same property of “sequence specificity” or “specified complexity” that characterizes written codes, linguistic texts, and protein molecules. Just as the letters in the alphabet of a written language may convey a particular message depending on their arrangement, so too do the sequences of nucleotide bases (the A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s) inscribed along the spine of a DNA molecule convey a precise set of instructions for building proteins within the cell.” For more information on this topic, visit https://www.gotquestions.org/DNA-Creator.html
The Cambrian explosion argues that the sudden appearance of many complex animal species cannot be explained by gradual evolution but only makes sense from an intelligent design lense. Why is this the case? Creationists argue that there is a lack of intermediate fossils and that this type of explosion had to come from some type of catastrophic event like Noah’s flood. The reason is these fossils are all in a shallow layer of earth and should be many layers separating them and that’s simply not the case. For more information on this subject, I would recommend you read an article entitled: Cambrian Explosion: Why Christians Need to know on whatchristianswanttoknow.com.
Finally, the anthropic principle is another argument from the ID advocates. These scientists state that the universe appears to be designed in order to support human life. This view coincides with the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God, also known in philosophical circles as the teleological position for God’s existence. To discover more about this topic, I recommend this article: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-anthropic-principle-2698848
In this article, my ultimate goals were to explain creationism, discuss the various types within the landscape of creationism – young earth, old earth, and theistic evolutionist–and reveal how all of these views connect to the intelligent design movement and are a viable alternative to evolutionary biology. It is my hope that you gained more insight to this topic. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at the contact page with specific questions you have. Blessings!
I disagree with pretty much everything that you said.
You threw out a lot of points, and I’m not going to answer all of them in detail, but I will give you a short answer for several of them.
Irreducible complexity as an argument is essentially an argument from ignorance. We see things like the bacterial flagellum as irreducibly complex only because we don’t notice the parts of the flagellum that perform different functions in other organisms, thus allowing the flagellum to essentially develop gradually. The eye is the most easily disprovable “irreducibly complex” thing, because we know exactly what good “half an eye” is, because there are extant organisms with everything from simple eye spots to complex vertebrate or cephalopod eyes, and pretty much every major step in between.
The Cambrian explosion does not represent some impossibly quick diversification event, it represents a combination of a relatively rapid increase in easily fossilizable parts on what were presumably extant soft-bodied organisms, and a time scale that is rapid only in the large evolutionary picture. I can’t easily find a source right now, since I’m writing this on my phone, but I believe the Cambrian period was a matter of millions of years. Relatively short compared to the several billion year history of life on Earth, but not exactly an eye blink.
I’m going to have to go back and skim your article again before I can address any other points, so I will stop this comment here.
The thing about those who hold evolutionary theory to be true is that they hold a religious faith based ideology. This is evidenced in your use of the words ‘I believe the Cambrian period was a matter of millions of years.’
Evolutionists fail to observe the real world correctly and see that for things to be assembled they need a designer, an architect, or in the case of a cake, a chef/cook.
The same is true of words. They do not assemble themselves of their own accord, they require a mind.
Thus we exist in the mind of God and being in the image of God we may create things with what is in His mind which is the universe we see.
Of course at one level we ourselves are universes within His universe so your other comment from the 1st April 2023 has relevance.
As regards fossils the only way they form including the shapes of the soft body parts is very rapidly by burial and conditions preventing decay by bacteria etc. or scavenging by animals. Observation in the world today makes this blindly obvious.
Therefore fossilization with the shapes of the soft body parts requires a catastrophe, flooding and landslides which can observe today. Short time scales are perfectly consistent.
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Yes, I agree. Many atheists will propose evolutionary naturalism as factual when there are PhD scientists who elaborate on the inconsistencies of this paradigm in much greater detail than I can pretend to do in this comment section.
I know appealing to authority can be a logical fallacy, but I am not a scientific expert so I don’t want to pretend I am fit to argue this complex case.
However, I did go to medical school, had an organic chemistry professor who was a believer, and my Christian worldview never contradicted my objective understanding of science.
I am very confident this universe did not spontaneously come into existence from nowhere, or multiple universes for that matter. There is no scientific evidence to suggest something can come from nothing. Explanation of a causation outside of time and space makes logical sense.
And even if you propose the multiple words hypothesis, you have to explain where those worlds came from, and also give evidence to their origin. These are all presuppositions, and no matter what position you take, everyone starts with a presupposition to either believe in a God or believe in matter as the causing agent. So circular reasoning is inevitable for both viewpoints.
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The anthropic principle, or the fine-tuning argument, is a little bit like a puddle claiming that the hole it is in was perfectly crafted and fine-tuned to hold the water.
Basically, if the universe was not “fine-tuned for life”, then life would not have arisen. But if it was “fine-tuned” differently, different life would have arisen, that would have considered that universe fine-tuned for its existence.
We have no particular reason to be certain that this is the only universe in existence, and if it is not, there are likely at least as many universes that are not “fine-tuned for life ” as there are ones that are. And in that case, every universe that is “fine-tuned”, and thus evolved life, might be substantially different from every other universe that was “fine-tuned” for life.
In other words, I think this argument confuses the effect with the cause. The universe has life because it happens to have the right conditions to produce life, rather than the presence of life proving that somehow the universe was manufactured in such a way that it would be able to produce life. If that makes sense, I’m not sure I’m getting my idea across very clearly, I am not exactly an orator.
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Your argument relies on faith again and the supposition that there are many universes, which cannot be proven. A nice idea, but just that.
Referring back to my comment just now to you on your first comment of the 1st April 2023, I mentioned the making of a cake.
Just because one can have the cake ingredients in ones cupboard and larder/fridge does not mean they will combine of their own accord into a cake. It requires a chef/cook to combine them in the correct amounts, put them in the oven and then watch to make sure it comes out right lest it be burnt or underdone.
If there is nobody around to do this the ingredients will eventually decay. They certainly will never become a cake.
It requires someone with a mind to create the right conditions for a cake to be made.
I have yet to hear of someone who thinks that a cake somehow miraculously appeared of its own accord. Most people I would hope say of a beautiful cake ‘Wow, who made that?’
The universe has life because it happens to have the right conditions to produce life created by the mind of God who sustains it all in His mind, His thoughts, even words if you will as that is what words are.
Which is why we should say of the universe ‘Wow, who made that?’ as somebody, a very Great Mind had to do so.
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Melissa, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I respect your viewpoint and hope you will continue to do more research in this area.
As I stated earlier, all of us have presuppositions we begin with, either that the natural world is a closed system or an open system. If it’s closed, then we can’t hypothesize a supernatural explanation but must defer to origins from a natural cause or alternate universe. However, an open system would allow for this, as the Creator would be the necessary entity, and the creation would be contingent upon this first cause. Whichever position you take, circular reasoning is inevitable.
Hello from the UK
Many thanks for your post. At this stage I would just observe that I consider the earth to have been shaped and filled with life in the 6 days (strictly a period of light and dark and theoretically not necessarily a period of 24 hours as we understand time.
The earth itself existed prior to time starting which commenced when the light was ‘switched on’ at the beginning of the first day.
We therefore do not know from the text how old the earth actually is, although this would not necessarily make it extremely old or even created in a very short period of time. This is because time did not exist as we know it so there is no record.
Unless there are other clues hidden in the text.
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