I have had a lot of casual discussions this week surrounding the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate from a couple of weeks ago. Included in this time frame was a formal panel discussion at LeTourneau University (LETU). While the formal discussion was centered on the debate, the other discussions focused on the areas of what does the Bible say about origins, what do Christians believe about origin, and what do churches teach about origins.
As I mentioned last week, in my opinion the debate was not a true debate (formal debate style based on public education), but it did bring up some interesting points and evidences about the creation/evolution controversy. Yet in many of the web responses and in my casual discussions, the general public seemed to be on a different page with their questions and understanding.
Most people utilized information received from the denomination of their childhood, and there was a tendency to only know one viewpoint for origins with little knowledge about other competing Bible-believing, God-fearing theories.
I would like to present a brief summary of 3 theories of origins that are held by Bible believing Christians around the country. This is not an exhaustive list of theories or web sites about those theories, just a sample with places to look for more information.
- Young Earth Creationism (YEC)
This is the position that Ken Ham believes. His web site, Answers in Genesis, and the website of the Institute for Creation Research are two places to gain more information about this position. This position holds to a literal reading of Genesis with the age of the earth determined by piecing together the genealogical accounts in the Old Testament. Creation occurred around 6,000 years ago during a 6 day event. The days were actual 24 hour days. The geology of the earth was developed from the flood of Noah. Many in the YEC camp believe that without this interpretation, you cannot believe the Bible, and therefore, it is foundational for belief in Jesus.
- Old-Earth Creationists
This position holds that the Genesis account of creation is correct, but the timing is not 24 hour days. A good website for this is Reasons to Believe. The account uses day-age definition which means that the Genesis day was describing an amount of time. The age of the earth is accepted as 4.5 billion years. The Big-Bang is accepted as the origin of the cosmos. The creation of life is not attributed to evolution, but God’s intervention. Especially when humans are concerned, God created man in His image and distinct from other animals.
- Evolutionary Creationists
This position holds that evolution is God’s means of creation. God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. A website for this view is BioLogos. This view rejects the idea that God started the universe and has no active participation in it. God is still active in the natural world and in human history. While the evolutionary process is what drives life, it is not a purposeless process, God still functions in the process.
Within each of these positions there are different levels of belief:
- Each view has conservative to liberal participants.
- Each has arguments for its interpretation of the Bible.
- There are supporting evidences given from science and history for their viewpoint.
- None of them accepts the notion that there is no God.
- Each of them acknowledges that it is the God of the Bible in control.
One thing I would like to see at ETBU is a chance to discuss these and other ideas about origins. Maybe in a discussion forum like LETU held last Monday. Maybe just sitting around the tables at the Student center or in lobbies of dorms.
As long as the environment can be nonthreatening so those who disagree can feel safe in discussing their concerns, I think we can get some stimulating dialogue that will help strengthen our faith. Then we will be better equipped to answer the agnostic/atheist when asked about our belief system.