In the media, it always seems like we have just two choices when it comes to the evolution vs creationism debate, atheistic evolution or young earth creationism. But for those of us Evangelicals that believe in the revelation of Scripture and Nature, it seems like the media is giving only part of the story. As our understanding of Genesis 1 unfolds and science reveals more of the workings of creation, it begs the question: are there any other theories out there?
Two of the more predominant theories are Old Earth Creationism and Evolutionary Creationism. Both theories are competing for center stage among Evangelicals and are at odds with each other, at least in some aspects.
Below is a brief look at each theories and then I will close with my two cents:
A Look At Old Earth Creationism
Both definitions are taken from my post on the theories of Creationism.
This theory embraces both the truthfulness of Scripture and the scientific evidence for a multibillion-year history of the universe, Earth, and life on Earth. Since the most crucial element of the creation story for Old-Earthers is that God created the material universe, the only place most Old-Earthers stray from modern science is biological evolution. This brand of creationism views the six days of creation as six epochs of distinct events that took thousands or millions of years per epoch. They see the creation story as a literal, chronological list of events, but insist that the Hebrew word for “day” in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 has multiple meanings and should be read to mean “periods of time.” Since much of the geologic record and advancement of life can be roughly correlated to the creation sequence, they see much overlap between the record of Genesis and the record of nature.
A Look At Evolutionary Creationism
With this theory, God the Creator uses cosmological, geological, and biological evolution to create the universe and life according to God’s plan. They view Genesis 1 and 2 as as more metaphorical narrative showing that God, not gods, created the universe and that God created the universe for a purpose and not on a whim. So it sees God more directly involved in the evolutionary process, bringing about the changes He desires by directly guiding the evolutionary process. And while Evolutionary Creationism allows for macroevolution to occur within its scientific model, God is more directly in control of this process and is guiding it to His ultimate plan for the universe.
Creationism Models: Where Do We Go From Here
When it comes to which model is best, I try not to have a dog in the fight. The only way you can see which theory is more viable is to pit them against the evidence and see which remains. Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe is an Old-Earther and done much to bridge the gap between the inherency of the Bible and Modern Science. His use of astronomy and geology have done much to make for an "intellectually satisfied Christian."
The problem I have with his work, as I see it, is he has not fleshed out a mechanism for discovering the evidence of the creative acts of God. If you are to take Genesis 1 and 2 literally, you would have periods through the epochs in which God spontaneously created plants, animals, and human life. So how then do we detect these acts in a meaningful way? To say that there are gaps in the fossil record that give the appearance of species "explosions" does not a proof make. All that is does is point out holes in our current record.
As far as Evolutionary Creationism, like Bio Logos, they have the bulk of current scientific evidence on their side. Since they use astronomic, geologic, botanic, and evolutionary models to explain the creative process of God, they only need to work hand in hand with most scientists to bolster their model. But they are adding a piece to the puzzle that materialistic sciences refuse to, namely God. And since that is the case, it falls to them to tell us how God punctuated naturalistic processes to effect His Will. If they cannot do that, atheistic evolutionists need not look further than their current theories to feel secure in their way of thinking.
So Old-Earth Creationism or Evolutionary Creationism, only time will tell which will emerge as a more compelling theory for bridging the faith science gap. As far as the media and their limited reporting scope, I want to see a more robust reporting, if only to get some meaningful discussion started.