Creationism vs evolution

Some Christians believe in Creationism (that the earth was created in exactly six days, and evolution did not occur) while other Christians believe that God designed us through the process of evolution, also known as Intelligent Design.

The reason for this divide is because of different ways of interpreting the Bible. Proponents of Creationism believe that the beginning of Genesis should be interpreted literally, taking six 24-hour periods to create the earth and everything in it. Proponents of Intelligent Design believe that the beginning of Genesis should be interpreted figuratively, with the six days representing 6 ages.

Let's take a look at that portion of Genesis:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1: 1-31


The question is whether these time periods are six literal 24-hour periods, or six ages. There are arguments for both.

One suggestion I have heard when in doubt, is to "interpret literally when possible; figuratively when obvious." Unfortunately, this doesn't help us at all! Advocates of Intelligent Design would say that it's obvious that the passage should be interpreted figuratively, while advocates of Creationism would say it's possible to interpret it literally.

My thoughts

I feel there are arguments for both viewpoints, although I feel that one seems more likely (to me at least) than the other. Here are the arguments:

The argument for Creationism

Is Creationism possible? It most certainly is possible. God is all-powerful and could certainly have created the universe in six days, and could have thrown in all the fossils and other evidence that makes the universe seem older than it really is. It seems a little odd that He would choose to do it that way - by which I mean that he made it look older than it really is being the odd part, not the part about creating it in six days. Still, He has acted in ways that seem inexplicable to us before, and He will again. He has His own reasons for doing things a particular way. I'm willing to accept that - but at the same time, I'm not yet convinced that this is the only possible interpretation of Genesis.

The argument for Intelligent Design through evolution

The argument for a figurative interpretation of this portion of Genesis is that Adam as first man most likely did not have a concept of ultra-long periods of time. Remember, the creation part of Genesis was told to Adam by God, and passed down verbally through generations until someone (probably Moses or Noah) wrote it down. At the time that God told Adam - the very first man - how creation occurred, I doubt that Adam had a strong concept of chronological time in large swaths such as ages. In all likelihood, being the first of his kind, even multiple generations were not a strong concept to him. Therefore I think it's quite possible that God used the word "day" as an approximation when telling Adam.

Most Christians who believe in Intelligent Design also believe that there was truly a first man and a first woman, Adam and Eve, and that God breathed a spirit of humanity into them. Basically, that the first man and woman (they may have not looked much like us today) were human and that God breathed something into them that made them entirely human and completely separate from their predecessors.

My conclusions

I do not feel I am wise enough to infallibly say that Creationism is the correct interpretation, nor that Intelligent Design is the correct interpretation. As you can tell from what I wrote above, I lean more toward Intelligent Design than toward Creationism.  

I would go so far as to say that I don't think anyone can infallibly say that one or the other is correct.

To me, it seems that both Creationism and Intelligent Design are different possible interpretations of the Bible, and that we don't have to fixate on one or the other. 

Indeed, the most important part of the Bible (if we had to name just one) would be Jesus dying on the cross and rising again to pay the price for our sins. 

Therefore, you may be asking why do some Christians believe so strongly in Creationism to the exclusion of Intelligent Design? Why not simply note that there are two possible interpretations of the Bible and that we shouldn't get too hung up on this point? I examine these questions in my next post. In the meantime, it seems to me that focusing on what Jesus did for us on the cross is far more important than Creationism versus Intelligent Design.

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