Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What's Your Question Wednesday

April wants to know: Is there a difference between old-earth creationism and theistic evolution? If so, what are the differences? Thanks!

Most simply defined, thestic evolution is God-directed evolution. God used the mechanism of natural-process evolution to give rise to the variety of species that have inhabited Earth at one time or another. Many theistic evolutionists do not believe the early chapters of Genesis contain a historical account of God's creation miracles. Their beliefs about whether or not God intervened at certain key points in the history of life vary. Some believe that God intervened at the creation of the first life-forms or the creation of Adam and Eve, while others do not. They also differ on the historical nature of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. Some theistic evolutionists hold to a more historical understanding of those events, while others interpret them in a more mythological fashion.

People who hold this to theistic evolution usually consider science and religion to be two legitimate realms of knowledge that are best kept apart, with science being rooted in facts and religion grounded in faith. In this perspective, science gives us information about the "how" and "what" of natural world, while theology gives us the "why." Thus, there can be no possibility of conflict between science and Scripture because the information from each sphere of knowledge is kept totally separate. Keeping these realms detached eliminates any pressing need to figure out how the details in the Bible fit with the record of nature.

Now, let's turn our attention to old-earth creationism. I usually describe old-earth creationism as having the following distinctives:

Old-Earth: It accepts the data from the record of nature that the universe is, in fact, ancient. To be more precise, the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old while the earth is roughly 4.85 billion years old.

Creationism: Natural process evolution (Darwinism) does not provide an adequate explanation for the diversity of life that can be observed through Earth's history.

Old-earth creationism contains within it several "sister" views. These include the gap theory, day-age perspective, framework interpretation, and analogical day view. (I am not including theistic evolution under this category.) While these views agree on a number of general principles, they do differ in some of the details of how they interpret the Genesis 1 text. The following are areas of agreement between the various old-earth creation approaches to interpreting Genesis 1, however.

1. The Bible is the error-free word of God on all matters it addresses - theologically, morally, and historically.
2. The record of nature and the words of the Bible, when interpreted properly, will not contradict one another.
3. God is the source of all creation.
4. The "days" in Genesis 1 can refer to six periods, or epochs, of time (views differ about whether these periods are consecutive or nonconsecutive).
5. Genesis 1-3 recounts real history.
6. God created a literal historical Adam and Eve.
7. Sin was introduced through a real historical event called the Fall.
8. The record of nature provides an accurate revelation from God about His existence and some of His attributes.

A good resource on this subject is the book, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, edited by J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds. Arguments are made for the three major Christian positions: YEC, OEC, and TE.

Hope this is helpful.

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