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March 2011


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Gaps in Theistic Evolution


Is evolution a scriptural alternative for fiat creation?

Gaps in Theistic Evolution

by Jeff Crabtree


Genesis one and two seem straightforward enough. God instantaneously created matter from nothing but His own will power (fiat creation). He also created everything in the universe in six literal 24-hour days. The evening and morning descriptions in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 are simply Genesis “defining what a day is.”

Of special interest is the account of the creation of mankind. According to Genesis, God created Adam and Eve—both body and soul—on the sixth day. He created Adam before Eve, perhaps by only a few hours, long enough for Adam to realize he was a unique part of creation. God created Eve using one of Adam’s ribs. This guaranteed the shared heritage of the human race.

The creation account seems simple enough. However, naturalism (the belief that natural law can account for all phenomena) denies God’s involvement, insisting that matter is eternal, that all matter, including mankind, is the result of time and chance. Rather than God creating from nothing, naturalism believes matter has evolved to its present state.


Faced With a Choice…or Not?

The two positions are opposites. Neither admits the validity of the other. It would seem a simple either/or choice, but this is wishful thinking. Many professing Christians believe evolution was God’s means of creation.

William Lane Craig, well-known Christian philosopher, recently stated his hesitancy to embrace a literal understanding of the first two chapters of Genesis. In June 2010, CNN interviewed Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Collins stated, “I am a scientist and a believer, and I find no conflict between those worldviews.”

He further testified that he converted from atheism to faith in Jesus. He now believes in the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and in God as creator. However, he also believes in “evolution by descent from a common ancestor.” He admits this is “incompatible with an ultra-literal interpretation of Genesis,” and he places himself on a long list of “many thoughtful interpreters like St. Augustine, who found it impossible to be exactly sure what the meaning of that amazing creation story was supposed to be.” He concluded, “Attaching oneself to such literal interpretations in the face of compelling scientific evidence pointing to the ancient age of Earth and the relatedness of living things by evolution seems neither wise nor necessary for the believer.”

As Dr. Collins noted, the apparent age of the earth as determined by geologists is a major point of contention between science and the Bible. He and Craig are not alone. The Scofield Reference Bible in its footnotes on Genesis 1:1, 2, speaks of God’s creation of the universe in the dateless past. According to Scofield, Genesis 1:3 is not a record of an “original creative act.” Scofield held to the Gap Theory, an unspecified amount of time—perhaps millions of years—between verses two and three of Genesis one.

Other believers hold to the Day-Age Theory. They point out that the word day has different meanings in Scripture, one of which is age. For example, in Genesis 1:5, the first occurrence of day describes daylight as opposed to nighttime darkness. The second occurrence in this same verse is the 24-hour period. A third use is found in Genesis 2:4 where the word day includes the entire period of creation in Genesis 1:1-31. A fourth use is found in 2 Peter 3:8, 10, where day describes an extended period of time (one day is as a thousand years and the day of the Lord). Understanding day as an extended period of time allows for the possibility of millions of years to pass in Genesis one, answering the supposed conflict between science and the Bible on the age of the earth.

Millions of years in Genesis 1 would also allow time for evolution. Some people believe scientific evidence is strong for evolution, and they think “theistic evolution” is the best explanation for Genesis one and science. Theistic evolution is the belief that God used natural evolutionary processes to create the present world. Some adherents describe themselves as “progressive creationists.”


Scriptural Foundations

I am not qualified to debate with scientists or philosophers in their respective areas of expertise. However, as a Bible-believer, I am troubled because Genesis one and two do not record an encapsulated narrative that has no connection to the rest of Scripture. In fact, all later Scriptural comments assume and build upon the literal creation that took place during literal, 24-hour days by a Creator God.

For example, in Genesis 5:1, 2, Moses again referred to the day God created man in the likeness of God and male and female. In Exodus 20:8-11 and Exodus 31:15-17 God equated the days of creation with man’s week, two of the strongest passages supporting a literal 24-hour day in Scripture.1 The 24-hour days in the first part of Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 are presented as meaning the same as the 24-hour day at the end of both verses. It is worth noting that God was speaking (Exodus 20:1).

In Deuteronomy 4:32, Moses spoke of days (plural) preceding that day in the wilderness (all of history since creation) and the day (singular) God created man. Both uses of “day” in this verse suggest literal, 24-hour periods.

The psalmist said God “commanded,” and the sun, moon, stars, and angels were created (148:2-5). Isaiah referred to God as creator several times (Isaiah 41:26, 28; 42:5; 45:12, “I have made the earth and created man upon it”). Man did not happen upon the earth by chance according to Isaiah 45:18. Instead, God formed the earth to be inhabited.

New Testament writers assumed the accuracy and literalness of Genesis one and two as well. The Apostles John and Paul taught that Jesus was Creator of everything (John 1:1-3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16, 17). More specifically, Jesus referred to “the creation which God created” as a real, historical event (Mark 13:19). He said God made male and female at the beginning (Matthew 19:4). Compare this with Genesis 1:27. In Luke 11:40, Jesus spoke of God’s creation of both the material and immaterial parts of man. He said, “Did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?” See Genesis 2:7.

Luke did not believe that Adam had earthly ancestors (a pre-Adamic race). He called Adam “[son] of God” (Luke 3:38).

The Apostle Paul accepted Genesis one and two as literal and accurate. In fact, it seems the doctrine of God as Creator was the starting point for his messages to non-Jews. He taught that God created everything (Acts 17:24), and that everyone came from a common ancestor (Acts 17:26). He taught that Adam was a real, historical person, not a mythological representative of a progressive race (Romans 5:14), that he was the first man, and that he came from dust (not soup; 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), that he was created first (1 Timothy 2:13; Genesis 2:18) and that Eve was created as his helper (1 Corinthians 11:9; Genesis 2:18).

Paul believed that God created Adam with intelligence (Colossians 3:10; Genesis 1:27) and that man has been responsible to recognize certain attributes of God since creation (Romans 1:20). Paul also taught that death entered the world because of an event—the sin of one man (Romans 5:12, 14; Genesis 2:17; 3:22), a position in conflict with a proposed fossil history that pre-dates man.

Paul taught that Eve was a historical person as well. She was created from Adam (1 Corinthians 11:8; Genesis 2:21-23) and deceived by the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Timothy 2:14; Genesis 3:1-6).

He also taught that God created man’s food (1 Timothy 4:3). Would this not include plants (Genesis 1:29) and animals (Genesis 9:3)?

Quoting Psalms 102:5, the writer of Hebrews (1:10) credited Jesus with creating the heavens and the earth. The Apostle John heard praises in Heaven to the One who created all things (Revelation 4:11) and witnessed an angel swear by the One who created Heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in all three (Revelation 10:6). If Genesis one and two are myth, then the myth is being perpetuated in Heaven, according to John’s record.


Forcing the Issue

All of this will not convince those who choose to believe in evolution that they are wrong, but that is not my intent. My purpose is simply to show those who want to follow Jesus that a literal understanding of the creation account is embedded throughout Scripture. When that literal understanding is set aside, much more than Moses’ ignorance is at stake!

One simply cannot adopt extensive times in the creation account without doing great harm to the rest of the Bible. Statements made by God, Moses, Psalmists, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the 24 elders in Heaven, and an angel all depend on the literal nature of the creation account in the first two chapter of Genesis. In short, the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, as well as the integrity of Jesus, His apostles, and the other Scripture writers are at stake. Would Jesus spread a myth as truth?

The writer of Hebrews stated his position and mine (11:3): It is by faith that we understand that God created everything from nothing in a literal 144-hour period. Yes, acceptance of a literal creation account in Genesis is a faith statement, but so is acceptance of evolution.

Those who follow Jesus follow His teaching about the origin of humanity with confidence. Why?First, He was there (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:10). Second, He created mankind (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Finally, Jesus never misrepresented truth (Hebrews 6:18; 1 Peter 2:22).


About the Writer: Jeff Crabtree is a home missionary to New Brunswick, Canada.


©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists