Mapping the Terrain: Evolution & Intelligent Design
Intellectually and spiritually responsible Christians have arrived at different views of God’s creation process, but one thing is for certain: Darwinism is in crisis.
Taken alone, the Genesis account of creation is succinct and supernatural.1 On successive days, God spoke the heavens, the world, and its creatures into existence. Period. Once the first couple, Adam and Eve, appeared, they began to procreate, and the family tree sprouted. Scripture then details generations and life spans, and one who does the math can construct a time line of only several thousand years from Adam to Jesus.
Fossil discoveries raised some questions, however. If the natural processes of sedimentation and petrification formed them, it would seem their origin was quite ancient. Furthermore, some of the fossilized creatures, such as dinosaurs, were alien; they suggested an age far earlier than the time of the biblical Adam. What then is a biblical Christian to do?
In the 19th century, Charles Darwin stepped in with an answer: Reject Genesis. In its place, he proposed a purely materialistic account of man’s appearance, one which had no need of God, much less the Bible’s specific creation story. According to Darwin, increasingly-sophisticated life forms emerged as the result of two natural phenomena—mutation and selection. In the course of time, biological curiosities came on the scene. Some gave creatures an advantage, and they lived to pass on their genes—survival of the fittest. Unplanned, step by step, the species emerged and advanced—or so the story goes. Today, that story enjoys enormous currency in the scientific community.2 Universities, museums, and distinguished publications tout it at every turn.3 Still, polls suggest that the public at large has its doubts.
Christian responses are quite varied. Some have sought to accommodate Darwin, suggesting that God used evolution to do His work of Creation.4 The Lord either programmed the outcomes in the earliest life forms or simply pruned the evolutionary tree as He pleased along the way. Most of these people read the days of creation (at the least the first five) as ages. Others see an enormous time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
Christians who are persuaded that Genesis teaches a young earth may take several tacks. Some simply say that God created the earth recently with apparent age. For example, the first trees came complete with rings. Others hold that God ran natural processes fast forward in the early days, using catastrophe where He pleased.
One thing all Christians can agree on is that God did it. Blind chance was not the author of creation—and one need not be a Christian to believe this. The Intelligent Design movement is attracting a range of thinkers convinced that at least someone, or some ones, had to be behind the glories of nature. Whether deists, polytheists, or fans of the extra-terrestrial, they join Christians in saying that humanity did not just happen, that Darwinism holds no water.
Darwinism is justly under fire on many fronts. A growing body of critics now raises embarrassing questions, points out inadequacies, and highlights implausibilities.5 Of course, some of Darwin’s foes are as careless as the evolutionists they criticize, but there are responsible voices in the land, and these voices must be heard.
Yes, trust in the Creator God involves faith, but less faith than Darwinists must craft to sustain their naturalistic theory. Without God, they must cling to this materialistic account to explain the phenomena, so they are stuck with Darwinism until, in their estimation, something better comes along, or until they realize that something infinitely better—and true—has been there all along.