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Theories of Creation Part Five: Theistic Evolution

This is the last installment of this series.  There are many more theories out there, and perhaps I will write about them at a later date.  The goal of this series has not been so much to advocate for one view or another, but to explain them so we all have a better grasp of them.  The post is below.

 

The Theistic Evolution theory of creation is very controversial in Christian circles.  Many have false ideas about it simply from reading the title.  The world “evolution” is viewed as something that is anti-God, and trying to say that God does not matter.  Some will look at Theistic Evolution in terms of Deism.  Deism holds that God created the everything, and then left things on their own[1].

There is a lot of confusion as to what it is, and as result this interpretation of the Genesis account requires some explanation.  The universe had a definite beginning, and there has been definite development in the earth and its species.  Throughout this development, God has intervened several times in the process so things develop as he intends[2].  This theory as also goes by the name of Evolutionary creation.  In describing this interpretation Dr. Dennis Lamoureux writes, “Evolutionary creation asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created the universe and life, including humans, through an ordained, sustained, and intelligent design-reflecting evolutionary process[3].”

With this explanation in mind we see that, in this interpretation, the earth did not come about as an accident.  Things were sustained, nurtured, and helped along by the creator.  Theistic evolutionists are willing to point out that interpreting the creation accounts in the right genre is vital.  Many of the other views presented have stated that the Genesis creation accounts were literal, historical, twenty-four hour days.  Evolutionary creation does not see history happening in Genesis until Chapter 12[4].

Like other theories presented, theistic evolution seeks to harmonize scripture and science.  According to Dr. Lamoureux, God gave us His two books of scripture and science[5].  In this view, Genesis 1:6-8 and 1:14-17 are very important.  In these passages the word firmament is used several times, and is used stated as something solid that is being made flat.  This is something that stays intact and is even mentioned in Psalm 19.  Above all, the creation account was written in terms that they understood at the time.  Our world has greatly progressed, and we now have further details about genetics and the fossil record.

Opponents if theistic evolution focus on the creation of man to dispute it.  One common objection is that God breathed life into man in Genesis 2:7[6].  Evolutionary creationists will counter and say that this is when God put the soul into man.  Thus, making the soul the breath of life.  Some would say that theistic evolution is at odds with scripture, and should not be held to by any Christian.  Many have said that the view destroys the inerrancy of scripture, and makes man out to no not be the pinnacle of God’s creation.  Either way the view does lay out some interesting points, and it is wise for one to have a grasp of it.

[1] Joseph Pohle and Arthur Preuss, God:  The Author of Nature and the Supernatural (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1916), 93.

[2] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God the Father, God the Son (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1996), 136.

[3] Denis O. Lamoureux, Four Views on the Historical Adam, ed. Matthew Barnett and Ardel B. Caneday (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 43.

[4] Ibid, 44.

[5] Ibid, 45.

[6] Clarence H. Benson, The One True God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 49.

 

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Theories of Creation Part Four: Revelatory Days Theory

Another interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative is known as the Revelatory Days Theory.  Though this interpretation has few supporters today, it did have more support early in the twentieth century.  In describing this theory Dr. James Smith writes, “The days in Genesis were ordinary days on Mt. Sinai in which God revealed the fact of divine creation to Moses[1].”  Another view point is that Moses had visions over a six-day period, and during that time God revealed how he created the earth[2].

It is a truly interesting theory, but abandonment of this interpretation is well founded.  It required one to be inconsistent in the use of hermeneutics.  It is a slippery slope by which anything in scripture can be seen as a vison.  At that point any historicity that the scriptures have can be twisted to meet anyone’s viewpoint.

[1] James E. Smith, The Pentateuch (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), 52.

[2] Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 3rd ed (Chicago: Il: Moody Press, 1994), 199.

 

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Theories of Creation Part Three: Literal Day with Gaps Theory

The Literal Day with Gaps Theory is also known as the Multiple Gaps Theory.  This theory holds that the earth was created in six 24-hour days, but in between these days were an undetermined length of time.  Dr. Donald England writes, “The days could easily have been 24-hour days and the earth still date to great antiquity provided that indefinite periods of time separated six creation days[1] In this theory God creates on a particular day, and the span between the days allows for development.  No matter what happens between the days of creation is still attributed to the design of a sovereign creator.

This view does not view Genesis 1:1 as an age, but inserts the various ages between each day of creation.  At this point the geologic process takes place which makes the earth billions of years old.  It allows for things such as the Dinosaurs living and becoming extinct millions of years before man, or the sixth day.  This theory attempts to reconcile the creation narrative with that of science.  Through it all God is sovereign, and through the development of the ages he is still in charge of all new life[2].

From a logical perspective, this theory makes sense, and does allow one to reconcile a twenty-four-hour creation account with a world that is billions of years old.  From a hermeneutical point of view the theory is lacking.  The biblical text does not seem to allow for multiple gaps between each day of creation.

 

[1] Donald England, A Christian View of Origins (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1972), 111.

[2] Carl F.H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1999), 144.

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Theories of Creation Part Two: The Day Age Theory

The Day-Age Theory is another creation interpretation that seeks to reconcile geological issues with the creation narrative.  The theory was put forth in 1823 by an Anglican priest named George Faber[1].  Though he developed the theory, it did not gain mainstream credibility until a well-known geologist, named Hugh Miller, started promoting it.

The theory, sometimes known as progressive creationism, holds that the days referred to in Genesis were ages of undetermined length.  In supporting this theory, the great theologian Charles Hodge states, “Now it is urged that the word ‘day’ be taken in the sense of ‘an indefinite period of time’, a sense which it undoubtedly has in other parts of scripture[2].”  As previously stated, the days presented are not 24 hour days, but six geological ages of undetermined duration.  In this interpretation, God intervenes with a specific act on each day or age[3].

Once again, a look at the Hebrew meanings of words are beneficial.  This interpretation looks very closely at the Hebrew word for day which is yom.  The core of the word is the measurement of a 24-hour day, but that is not always the case.  The word can also describe a decisive event, a process or time, or an eschatological sense of pointing to death and judgment[4].  It is a common hermeneutical practice to research a word and see how it is used in other passages of scripture.  One such example is Genesis 2:4 which states, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens[5].”  Another such example is in Genesis 5:2 where Adam and Eve were created in a day.

Another interpretation in support of this view looks exclusively at the creation of Adam and Eve.  In Genesis 1:27 we read about God creating Adam and Eve on day six of creation.  In Genesis 2:4-25 we a big gap in between the time that Adam was created, and the time that Eve was created.  During this period of time the Lord placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he was charged with taking care of it, he named each animal, and then he became lonely.  That is a lot of activity to fit into a 24-hour day[6].  In reading the creation narrative we see that Adam and Eve were created in the last part of the sixth day.  Adam would have had to fulfill all of the duties the Lord had given over creation in a period of time shorter than 24-hours, if the days were literal[7].

 

[1] Terry Mortenson, The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology – Before Darwin (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004), 35.

[2] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Bellingham: WA: Logos, 1997), 570.

[3] Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 147.

[4] Douglas Mangum et al, ed., Lexham Theological Wordbook (Bellingham:  WA: Lexham Press, 2014), time.

[5] Genesis 2:4 (King James Version).

[6] Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 147.

[7] Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 3rd ed (Chicago: Il: Moody Press, 1994), 201.

 

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Theories of Creation Part One: The Gap Theory

Within the scope of creation account interpretations, the Gap Theory is a fairly new idea.  Though there may have been adherents to it previously, it was made popular by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Thomas Chalmers.  He preached a series of sermons in 1804 in which he promoted the theory. The theory peaked in popularity when it was included in the Scofield Study Bible.

The Gap Theory holds that there was a gap perhaps as long as five billion years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2[1].  Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth[2].”  According the theory, this is when God created a perfect world[3].  To understand the scope of the theory a look at Genesis 1:2 in vital.  Genesis 1:2 states, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters[4].

It is at this point that this interpretation gets interesting.  What happened between verse one and verse two?  Those that adhere to the Gap Theory hold that there is a mistranslation in most English versions.  The word that is translated as “was” in Genesis 1:2 should be “became”.  This one word describes a whole new meaning in Genesis 1:2. If the world became void it means that it had already existed.  The theory proposes that the time period between verses one and two was marked by Satan’s rebellion against the creator.  Satan lead the original creation in total rebellion[5].

Thus, the original creation that God had created was destroyed.  Included in this original creation were prehistoric men, and prehistoric animals such as the dinosaurs[6].  Following this rebellion, the world was covered with a cataclysmic flood, which proponents say can be evidenced in Genesis 1:2[7].  The undisclosed time period between verses one and two allows for the various layers of sediment and rock to form. This interpretation continued with God hovering over the waters and deciding to create what we have today.  The creation following the rebellion was done in six literal days, but still allows the earth to be billions of years old because of the gap between verses one and two[8].

The view was very popular for a time, but there are some concerns for it.  Among these concerns are that the Hebrew grammar in verses one and two go against it[9].  From an exegetical standpoint time is not inserted between verses one and two, because verse two does not follow in that manner.  This can be seen by using a grammatical device in Hebrew called a waw-disjunctive.  The Hebrew word waw, which means “and”, is connected with a noun.  In this case the noun is the earth, and this literary device links up to the previous verse.  It does so that it may describe verse one more fully, and thus time is not permittable to be inserted.

 

[1] Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 147.

[2] Genesis 1:1 (New International Version).

[3] Robert J Utley, How It All Began:  Genesis 1-11 (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 2001), 24.

[4] Genesis 1:2 (New International Version).

[5] James M. Boice, Genesis:  An Expositional Commentary, vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 50-52.

[6] James E. Smith, The Pentateuch (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1993), 50.

[7] C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1909), 3.

[8] Carl F.H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1999), 144.

[9] Paul S. Carleen, The Handbook to Bible Study (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 328.

 

Three Law Codes

When we read through the books of the Pentateuch something extraordinary happens.  To one who is just getting started in Biblical study it would be logical to think that there would only be one set of laws.  However this is not the case and we, in fact, find three different codes of the law.  There is the Covenant code which contains laws that are appropriate for a rural economy.  There is a separate Holiness code that was set aside for priests.  Lastly there was the Deuteronomy code which revolved around an urban kingship or monarchy.

The Covenant code not only contained the Ten Commandments, but the Book of the Covenant.  The laws are designated for a rural settlement or community.  As Collins puts it “these laws were formulated in a settled, agrarian, community; they are not the laws of nomads wandering in the wilderness (Collins, page 130).”  The deal with consequences of violence against ones neighbor.  This is where the phrase an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” originates.

The next law code is the Holiness code found in the book of Leviticus.  This code is specialized in that it is for priests alone.  Though these laws are interwoven with the Decalogue they deal in specifics in regard to the ritual laws of the priests.  It lays out specific ways to slaughter and sacrifice an animal.  It also goes into detail about relations with other nations.  In we find that the Israelites are not to be like other nations.  Though not all activity of others is forbidden the way they acted sexually certainly was.  These are important because “these abominations are said to defile the land (Collins, page 149).

Lastly we have the third code which is the Deuteronomy code.  This code was in effect in an urban based monarchy.  Though the Decalogue is important there seems to be somewhat of an emphasis on the “laws of sabbatical release (Collins, page 165).”  Humanitarian care for the poor and the widow are emphasized, as well as the forgiveness of debts every seven years.  Another prominent feature is the release of slaves.  In Deuteronomy we also find the centralization of worship in Jerusalem.  People would now have to make a pilgrimage to offer sacrifice instead of going to the local shrine.  This was significant in the growth of Judaism as the rural people were still persuaded to worship other gods such as Baal .

 

 

References

Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004.

 

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