How to Deal with Creationism

Creationism is the belief that God created everything (matter, plants, animals, the universe) out of nothing, in accordance with a literal, or largely literal interpretation of Genesis 1, and that this can be proved scientifically in contradiction of the theory of evolution which creationists reject. 
Some Christians fear that if one jettisons the literal truth of Genesis 1-3, one also effectively jettisons the literal truth of, say, the Gospels’ description of the life and work of Jesus.  Thus the only way to avoid sliding down the slippery slope is to fight for the literal truth of every aspect of Scripture.  However, it is clear that not all Scripture is literal. there are symbolical passages and truth can, of course, be conveyed by symbolical passages. 

Creationism needs to be taken seriously as a sincere belief, but it is often born of this fear of the slippery slope. Some Christians who have, and wish to maintain, a high view of the reliability and authority of Scripture have this fear. Other Christians, with an equally strong commitment to the reliability and authority of Scripture, believe that God used evolution as a method of creating the universe.   

The evolutionist-creationist argument is actually a secondary issue. The problem is that it has had various unfortunate effects:

  • – It seems to imply that to accept evolution means to reject belief in God. So some unbelievers have concluded that they have a choice – to believe in evolution or to believe in God. And they have chosen the former, which is very sad. But the fact is that many Christians do accept evolution.

– It seems to imply that the only choice is either accepting evolution or believing in a literal six-day divine creation, which many people can’t accept. However many Christians beleve in Theistic Evolution – evolution overseen by God.

The important thing is not how God created the universe but that he created it.

All truth come from God, so Christians need not fear scientific truth. There is no conflict between established scientific theories and biblical truth. It is only when scientists trespass into theology and philosophy under the guise of scientific thinking or Christians refuse to let scientific truth inform their interpretation of Scripture that conflict occurs. 

Creationists will immediately respond that evolutionary theory is not fact. Other Christians say that there is such a mass of evidence for evolution that it is a reliable theory. 

Many Christians find it difficult to maintain that the whole of the Genesis 1-3 story is literal. So there have been various creationist theories. One is the age-day theory (the six “days” were aeons of geological time). Another is the “gap theory” (Genesis 1:1-2, it is claimed, should read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth BECAME formless and empty” i.e. the original creation was followed by a huge “gap” of geological time before the re-forming of creation in six days). 

Other Christians regard Genesis 1-3 as a sort of divinely-inspired parable full of deep theological truths clearly teaching God is the creator but with no interest in how God made the world?  Scripture is mainly interested in the relationship between God and humanity, and between God and creation. It is interested in God’s redemptive purposes for humanity and all creation. It is not interested in how God made the world. 

© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction