By Helen Fryman
In the midst of the debates -- or wars -- concerning the issues of creation and evolution, there is a tendency to over-generalize. Both sides often refer to the opposing side with the broad term of either "evolutionist" or "creationist." And yet there exists within both sides a great deal of variety and even controversy. As a creationist myself, I am hoping the following will help increase the understanding of the variety of positions on the creationist side of the fence.
In the United States, and perhaps in all the western culture(s), the term "creationism," or "creation," is automatically associated with Christianity and the Bible. In particular it is associated with the book of Genesis, the beginning book of the Bible, which recounts the story of creation. However, this generalization ignores those of other faiths who believe just as firmly in creation, as opposed to evolution, from their respective points of view. The Islamic faith is a creationist faith (whether or not its proponents agree with this position). Information regarding the Islamic creation beliefs may be found here:
In Japan, there is the Kojiki, the ancient chronicle of creation.
The book Red Earth, White Lies, by Vine Deloria, Jr., (Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana Street, Suite 350, Golden, Colorado 80401) deals with the Native American beliefs regarding creation as opposed to evolution.
The list could go on, but it is important to realize that the term "creation" should not be relegated to Christianity exclusively. This is doing a great disservice to the beliefs of many other people in the world.
Because Genesis is also the first book of the Hebrew, or Jewish, Scriptures, there is a strong creation movement within the Jewish faith as well. Some of the points of view may be found on this webpage: (link no longer valid) http://members.xoom.com/torahscience
Within the Christian community, there are also different views of creation:
- Old universe, old earth, old life: This view is commonly held by theistic evolutionists, or those who claim Christian beliefs regarding Jesus Christ but do not accept Genesis as a straightforward account of the beginning of all things. This model accepts ancient ages based on man's knowledge of science, and the laws science is aware of today. This is the compromise position, basically, between creation and evolution. When there is seeming opposition between the Bible and current science, science wins and the Bible is considered either incorrectly translated or incorrectly understood. Although God is acknowledged in this model, He is generally relegated to the position of "clockmaker" in an almost deistic fashion; He set up the universe and life and established the laws by which it has run ever since.
- Old universe, old earth, recent life: This position is held by those who subscribe to what is often referred to as the "Gap Theory" of Genesis, wherein it is believed that the universe and the earth are quite old, but that, at one point or another and for one reason or another, the early earth was either destroyed and re-created or simply held in abeyance until the creation of recent life. This is the official, or semi-official, doctrine of some churches.
- Old universe, young earth, recent life: This position, not as commonly held, considers the universe to be old; but earth itself, and subsequently life, to be young. This is also the position of some parts of Christianity.
- Young universe, young earth, recent life: This is the classic Christian model which is so widely disputed by those of the evolution camp. In this model the entire universe, including of course the earth and all life, is less than 10,000 years old. This is in keeping with the most straightforward reading of the Genesis account in combination with the lists of generations in Genesis 5, 10, and 11.
It is the fourth model which is the commonly considered definition of "creation" as it is discussed today. This is the model, along with -- to a lesser degree -- models 2 and 3 which is ridiculed and fought against by many in professional education, science, and communications. Within the last three models there are several "sub-groups" as well. Here I will deal with only the fourth model, known as the YEC model (young-earth creation model), as the others are included or excluded by implication.
- The Flood of Noah was responsible for the vast majority of the geologic strata we see today. This is the historic position of young-earth creationists. It is the official position of the most well-known creation organizations, including the Institute of Creation Research in southern California (http://web.archive.org/web/20071009192540/http://www.icr.org/) and Answers in Genesis(http://web.archive.org/web/20071009192540/http://www.answersingenesis.org/index.asp?Area=Home ), based both in Kentucky and Brisbane, Australia.
- The Flood of Noah was only one of several catastrophic events contributing to the geologic record. There are a number of individuals in this camp who have been putting together models based on what they understand of both the Bible and the geologic record, as well as other areas of science. The two most noted at this point are Barry Setterfield and Bernard Northrup. However, other models are also in the works, according to several communications I have received personally.
With this short introduction, it might be seen that to categorize "creationists" into one camp -- often the fourth camp of the Christian position -- is to be working out of ignorance of what is involved in creation. As a note, it might also be necessary to clear up the term "creation science." Science is science, lab work is lab work, and field work is field work. Science, in its purest form, deals with what can be tested and worked with. It does not matter when adding materials to a Petri dish, when excavating fossils, when operating the spacecraft, whether the person or people involved are atheistic, deistic, agnostic, New Age, or whatever else they might consider themselves. The technical aspects are not part of the belief systems of the men and women involved.
The adjectives "creation" and "evolution" get added to the term "science" when the matter of presuppositions and conclusions are dealt with. There is no scientist anywhere in the world who does not hold to some kind of presuppositional truth in his own life. That which he considers true will invariably color his understanding of the science he is involved with. Thus, those who believe evolution to be true will see their work in terms of evolution theory. Those who believe creation to be true will see their work in terms of creation theory. Each will form conclusions based on what they consider true in the first place. The data can be exactly the same, but the conclusions can be radically different because of this. Thus, "creation science" is not a separate science itself, but a way of looking at science through the eyes of those who believe, in whatever form, that the universe and all life was the result of creation by some kind of deity.
The last point that should be brought up here is the relatively new area referred to as "Intelligent Design." Those involved with this frame of reference are part of various religions, or are non-religious altogether. Intelligent Design is the logical and philosophical position, combined with science, which says that the universe and life itself give strong evidence for intelligent design. The identity of the Intelligent Designer is left to the individual -- it is not a matter for discussion within the parameters of the Intelligent Design movement itself. There are both Christians and non-Christians in this movement, as well as those who are agnostic. It is a far wider-reaching category of thought than creation as discussed above, but includes it. Some of the articles by those involved in the Intelligent Design field can be found here:
Understanding the different areas of creation beliefs should help all those involved in the debates to argue more precisely and intelligently. When broad generalizations are made, it can cause respect to be lost and produce defensiveness. There is too much to be said in the creation-evolution controversy for ignorance to be allowed to lead the way.