WELCOME TO THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

 

      

As I have hopefully demonstrated throughout this series, the debate is not about creation versus evolution. Most creationists acknowledge that evolution takes place at some level. Therefore, most creationists are also evolutionists.

       The debate is about origins. Many evolutionists believe the origin and development of the universe and life forms has come about through fortuitous processes devoid of any supernatural involvement. These folks don’t believe a God is responsible for origins. Those that believe this way are often referred to as atheistic evolutionists.

        Creationists, on the other hand, believe the supernatural is involved with the origin and the development of the material universe and life forms. However, such involvement is seen by some creationists as quite different from what is recorded in the Genesis creation account.  

       Progressive creationists believe the universe was created by God billions of years ago through what is commonly referred to as the Big Bang and that life forms have been progressively created by God over millions of years of creative activity. In other words, God has been and continues to be actively involved in the appearance of life forms but it didn’t start with the Genesis creation account.

       Like progressive creationists, theistic evolutionists believe the universe was created by God millions of years ago through the Big Bang. Life forms are seen as coming into existence through a God created evolutionary process involving the mechanisms of genetic mutation and natural selection. Theistic evolutionists generally believe God created life and then turned it over to evolutionary processes. The only real difference between atheistic evolutionists and theistic evolutionists is that atheistic evolutionists don’t believe a God is responsible for origins while theistic evolutionists believe God started it all.

       Progressive and theistic evolutionists are both old earth creationists in so much that they believe the earth and life forms are millions of years old. In so doing, they see the six day creation account as some sort of allegory and not a literal account of origins. The creation of man on the sixth day of creation week is seen as bogus.

       In addition to progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists there are young earth creationists who believe the earth is only six to ten thousand years old and believe the Genesis creation account provides an accurate explanation of origins.  They base this conclusion on believing when Genesis records that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” this beginning is seen as going back no farther than six to ten thousand years ago.

       This perspective is based in part on the genealogies found in Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles and Luke 3 that go back to Adam. These genealogies are rather extensive, involving multiple hundreds of descendants and yet seemingly go back only six to ten thousand years.

       It is concluded that if Adam didn't literally exist, these genealogies are false and therefore the creation account is false and salvation theology is false because Paul bases salvation theology on the literal existence of Adam.   A literal Adam is seen as existing because both Jesus and Paul saw Adam as a real person.  

       The Genesis account of creation is seen as being literally true by Jesus, Apostle Paul and other NT personalities. This appears to place these men in direct conflict with modern day conceptions of origins. Since Paul bases salvation theology on there being a literal Adam and Eve, if Adam never existed, it makes salvation theological very problematical. Let’s once again look at how Jesus, Paul and others viewed origins.

      Mark 10:6-8: "But at (Greek: ἀπὸ (apo) which most translations render "from") the beginning of creation God `made them male and female.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'  So they are no longer two, but one.

       Jesus acknowledged the authenticity of Genesis 2:23-24 by virtually quoting from it in saying that at or from the beginning of creation God made humans male and female and "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

      In quoting from Genesis 2:23-24, Jesus is giving verification to the Genesis account of creation which is recorded to have occurred within a six day timeframe. The implication is that man was part of this six day creation. Jesus gives no hint of man existing prior to the Genesis creation account. Then we have what Jesus said as recorded in Luke 11:50-51.

       Luke 11:50-51: Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

       Here Jesus speaks of Abel existing from near the beginning of the world, thus associating Abel with the timeframe of the world’s creation. Jesus recognized the reality of Abel's existence and by extension the existence of his parents Adam and Eve.      

       In Luke chapter 3 the writer traces the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam, thus showing his belief in Adam being a real person and as having been directly created by God.

       In his first letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul speaks of Adam being formed first and then Eve (1st Timothy 2:13).  In Romans 5:12-14, Paul writes of sin and death beginning with one man and being in evidence from Adam to Moses. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).  In 15:45 the first Adam is compared to the last Adam who is seen as Christ (The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit). Paul sees Adam here as the first man. In Acts 17:26, Paul is recorded as saying that from one man God has made every nation of men.

       Acts 17:26: From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth.

       In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul writes of the deception of Eve by the serpent which appears to be a clear reference to the Garden of Eden event.  In the Revelation we find reference to "that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan."  The devil/Satin are referred to dozens of times in the NT and is clearly seen as a literally existing entity.      

        Jude 14 sees Enoch as the seventh from Adam, thus acknowledging the existence of Adam and indication he was the first man. In Jude 11 we see Cain referenced who is shown in Genesis to be the first human born from a sexual union between Adam and Eve.  The writer to the Hebrews refers to Cain, Able, Enoch and Noah (Hebrews 11:4-7).  John speaks of Cain (1 John 3:12).  Jesus references Noah and the Genesis flood in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:37-39). Luke records Jesus referring to Noah and the flood (Luke 17:27). Apostle Peter references Noah and the flood (1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:6).

       It should be apparent that Jesus and the writers of NT documents believed what is written in the beginning chapters of Genesis is actual history of what occurred. There is no evidence to conclude these writers believed the creation account was allegory or metaphor as some Biblical scholars have suggested.  We see Jesus, Paul and other New Testament teachers viewing the Genesis account of the creation of man as fact. These teachers view Adam and Eve and their offspring as real people having literally existed. 

       For young earth creationists the genealogies recorded in Scripture that go back to Adam are seen as very instructive as to origins.  These genealogies along with the sayings of Jesus, Paul and other NT writers that speak of Adam and a number of other OT personalities is seen as verification that the universe, earth and life forms all had their beginning in the creation account as recorded in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 and that this creation occurred no more than six to ten thousand years ago. 

       This perspective, however, flies in the face of modern day scientific discovery that shows the universe, earth and life forms to be millions of years old. In this series, I have discussed the fossil record, and the dating methods used to identify the age of fossils and the rocks and other materials that make up planet earth.  We identified some series problems with some of these dating methods and problems with how the fossil record has been established. On the other hand, we also saw that there are strong reasons to believe the earth and its life forms are indeed millions of years old.

       There are dozens of dating methods being used by scientists and by and large they agree with each other as to the earth and its life forms being millions of years old. We looked at how great amounts of time are involved in the making of a cave and the making of stalactites and stalagmites. We looked at how long it takes for light to travel to earth from distant stars. In looking at all these things it becomes evident that the earth and life forms indeed do go back a lot farther than six to ten thousand years.    

       If indeed the earth and life forms are millions of years old, how do we coordinate this with the Genesis creation account?  In Part Two of this series I did a comprehensive investigation of the theory that there is a gap of an undetermined amount of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  We determined that that this theory has some strong evidence to back it up. If this theory is correct, it allows for seeing the earth and life forms as being millions of years old while at the same time allows for the Genesis account of a six day creation or recreation to be valid.  

       The recorded sayings of Jesus and Paul clearly show that they believed in the literal existence of Adam and a number of others who are recorded as having existed at or near the time of Adam.  Because of the obvious recognition by Jesus and Paul of the Genesis creation narrative being a literal account of origins, it becomes very problematical to conclude that the Genesis account of creation is not a literal account. To do so you have to virtually discount the testimony of Jesus, Paul, Jude, Peter and the writer to the Hebrews.  

       If we are to believe the testimony of Jesus, Paul, Jude and others that the events of the Genesis creation account actually happened while at the same time acknowledging the validity of what science has determined as to origins, the task before us becomes one of determining if and how the Genesis creation account can be coordinated with the discoveries of science as to the age of the earth and life forms.

       As discussed previously in this series, there have been various attempts by theologians and others to harmonize the findings of science and the Scriptural account of creation. One such attempt has been to see Adam and Eve being selected from an extant human population

       It has been suggested by some theologians that Adam and Eve were not the first humans but were selected out from a population of humans who had evolved to the status of Homo sapiens in evolutionary development. These humans are seen as living outside the Garden of Eden at the time. The Garden of Eden event is seen as a standalone event and occurring within the context of an already existing human population that had progressed through possibly millions of years of evolutionary development. Is there any evidence for this approach?

       Those who suggest this approach point to Genesis 4 which speaks of Cain, after killing his brother Able, being concerned about himself being killed. The question that is asked is who was it that Cain was afraid was going to kill him?  Were there other humans already living in the area? 

       Genesis 4:13-15: Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."  But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

       Cain is seen as living in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Where there others living in the land of Nod?  Genesis 4 speaks of Cain having sex with his wife and she becoming pregnant with Enoch. Where did his wife come from?  Some conclude he must have married a sister who was born to his parents, Adam and Eve. However, while it appears Cain and Able were born shortly after Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden, it appears Adam and Eve didn't have another child until much later and only after that did he have other sons and daughters.

       Genesis 5:3-4:  When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.

       Could it be that Cain married someone unrelated to him who was part of a population of humans living outside the Garden?  It is interesting that Cain is seen in Genesis 4 as building a city at the same time it is said he lay with his wife and she became pregnant.  The building of a city would imply there were people available to inhabit such city.

       Genesis 2:8-15 records that God planted a garden in the east of Eden suggesting that Eden was an established location.  A river watering the garden is seen as flowing from Eden into four other rivers, several of which are associated with named locations. Could it be possible that these established locations were inhabited by humans living outside the Garden?   

       As I have mentioned before, prominent New Testament scholar NT Wright leans toward the view that Adam and Eve were chosen out from an existing population of humans for special purpose. Wright sees them as representatives (archetypes) of the whole human race. This perspective is articulated in the following quote from his book Surprised by Scripture.

       "just as God chose Israel from the rest of humankind for a special, strange, demanding vocation, so perhaps what Genesis is telling us is that God chose one pair from the rest of early hominids for a special, strange, demanding vocation. This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be the representatives of the whole human race, the ones in whom God’s purpose to make the whole world a place of delight and joy and order, eventually colonizing the whole creation, was to be taken forward. God the creator put into their hands the fragile task of being his image bearers" (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture, [2014], page 37-38).

       This approach appears to be an attempt to harmonize the Scriptural account of the creation of man with the belief that there have been millions of years of evolutionary development. It appears Dr. Wright sees a literal existence for Adam and Eve in that he analogizes their being specially chosen to that of the people of Israel being specially chosen out from a much greater human population. We know the people of Israel literally existed.

       However, in postulating that Adam and Eve were chosen out from among an existing human (hominid) population, Wright is saying Adam was not the first man which appears in conflict with how Paul and other NT writers view Adam. Paul writes of sin and death beginning with the first man Adam.  If humans existed prior to Adam, Adam wasn't the first man and death didn't originate with Adam as Paul teaches as it can be assumed hominids would have been dying as a result of sickness and disease or simply old age.

       A number of questions arise relative to the proposition that Adam was chosen from an already existing population of humans.  Genesis 1:26-27 says man was made in the image and likeness of God. If pre-Adamic man came to be through millions of years of gradual evolutionary development, how does that correspond to man being made in the image and likeness of God? 

       Some resolve this issue by concluding that being made in the image and likeness of God has nothing to do with physical form but with spiritual dynamics that made Adam far superior to pre-Adamic hominids that came to be through evolutionary processes. 

       An obvious question to be asked is what if any is/was the eternal destiny of pre-Adamic humans?  Did they just die like animals and that was it?  A huge question is how the rest of the Genesis creation account coordinates with an existing population of humans living outside the Garden.

       The Genesis creation account pictures God developing or redeveloping an earth that was or had become lifeless and desolate. A human population living outside the Garden doesn't harmonize with the rest of the creation account. The noted condition of the earth at the time of creation as being without form and void pretty much dismisses the idea that there were people living outside the garden at the time of Adam and Eve. There was no outside the garden.  

       Another attempt to harmonize an old earth perspective with the Genesis creation account is to see Adam and Eve as a special creation that took place at a specific point in time during the overall timeframe of millions of years of evolutionary development of life forms.  It is postulated that Adam was an advanced human creation and unlike hominids, was made in the image of God and was thus superior to the hominids living outside the garden that had come to be through millions of years of evolutionary development.

       However, this perspective has the same problem as the perspective that Adam and Eve were selected out of an existing population of humans living outside the garden. The creation account shows a desolate earth. There is no outside the garden. Life is not seen on the earth until it is created during the six day creation account.      

       What has largely driven the development of new perspectives as to origins is recent research done by genetic biologists into the genetic ancestry of the human race. This research has been made possible as a result of the sequencing of the complete genetic code for man. Geneticists have come to believe that comparison of the human genome with that of other primates has clearly established that all humans have common genetic ancestry with pre-human life forms. This would place into question the idea that Adam was a special advanced creation, having a different genome than other humans. In addition, genetic researchers have concluded that the human race could not have begun with two individuals but had to develop from an existing population of individuals. These findings have created quite a stir in segments of the Christian community.

      Because of these findings, some see the genealogies in Scripture as tracing humanity back to a genealogical Adam, not a genetic Adam. Adam and Eve are seen as the beginning of a new genealogical line of humans who, after being removed from the Garden, integrated with existing humans who had been living outside the Garden for possibly millions of years and had evolved to a biological state of being that allowed for interbreeding with Adam and Eve.

       However, this model of origins has the same problem of failing to account for a desolate earth at the time of creation.  The perspective that Adam and Eve were chosen from an existing human population or were a special creation placed into an already existing creation just doesn’t harmonize with the Genesis creation account which shows a water covered uninhabited and barren earth at the beginning of creation.

       The only model of origins that compares favorably with an old earth perspective and the Genesis creation account is the gap theory. Under the gap theory, the earth and life forms could be millions of years old but at some point in the historical past the earth became desolate and life forms were destroyed. God them restored the earth and created Adam and Eve and began a new dispensation of existence for the earth and its life forms. This approach matches up well with the Cambrian expulsion we see in the fossil record as I discussed previously in this series. This view matches up well with the geologic record in general and the fossil record in particular. For a review of the gap theory, go to Creation versus Evolution Part Two.

       As discussed previously in this series, fossils are formed by the action of water quickly burying organisms in horizontal layers of sedimentary rock. Science has identified many fossilized organisms as being millions of years old. If indeed Genesis 1:1 is recording a creation previous to the six day creation beginning in Genesis 1:2, it would appear that flood waters brought about the fossilization of these organisms. This appears to be confirmed by the fact that water is seen as covering the earth prior to God beginning the six day creation. While the Noachian flood would have created fossilization as well, such fossils would not be millions of years old.  The fossil record appears to have in large part been formed as the result of a very ancient catastrophic event or events involving water.   

       This is the only view that allows for the Genesis account of creation to coordinate with science.  This view allows for a literal creation of life forms in six days culminating with the creation of a literal Adam and Eve.  The Genesis account shows God creating life forms according to their kinds. As I explained previously in this series, living organisms have reproductive boundaries. While organisms can produce a variety of life forms within such boundaries, it appears that such production is not achieved outside of such boundaries. You may recall the horse, donkey, mule example I spoke of in a previous essay in this series. 

       It is reasonable to conclude that the kinds seen in the Genesis creation account were the starting point for classes of organisms that have evolved to produce the great amount of varieties seen within such classes.  This would account not only for the great variety of organisms presently extant on planet earth but also the great amount of organisms seen in the fossil record that could have evolved from a creation previous to the six day Genesis creation account.    

       As I have pointed out before, the debate is not about evolution versus creation, it’s about origins. Evolution is a demonstrated method whereby organisms develop. It is a process whereby genetic mutation, natural selection, phenotypic plasticity, and hybridization account for the vast array of organisms extinct and extant on planet earth.

       While atheistic evolutionists see origins and the evolutionary process as occurring without supernatural involvement, I see origins and the evolutionary process beginning with a creator God restoring a desolate earth and designing and creating the kinds seen in the Genesis creation account. It all begins with intelligent design creating irreducible complexities that form the foundation of living organism both plant and animal. I have previously discussed the scientific evidence for intelligent design and how such intelligence has created irreducible complexity in living organisms.

       Looking at the creation account within the context of the gap theory allows for the creation account to be seen in a literal way and allows for Jesus, Paul and other NT personalities to be accurate in their belief in the literal existence of Adam and Eve and the validity of the creation account as recorded in Genesis chapter one and two. Under the gap theory, which postulates a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, the Genesis creation account can be coordinated with the findings of science that the earth and life forms are indeed millions of years old?

       If the gap theory is not correct, I personally see no way to coordinate the findings of science as to the age of the earth and life forms and the Scriptural record of creation. I personally believe science has correctly identified the earth and life forms as being much older than six to ten thousand years as believed by young earth creationists. I will not bury my head in the sand by denying the scientific evidence for an old earth. 

       At the same time I believe the Scriptures to be valid in recording that Jesus, Paul and other NT personalities identified the Genesis creation account as a true account of origins. Therefore I believe the gap theory to be valid beyond reasonable doubt and a self evident proposition. In essence we are seeing two different origins described in Genesis chapter one. Genesis 1:1 describes an origin that occurred millions of years ago.  Genesis 1:2 records the destruction of that origin.  Genesis 1:3 records a new origin. 

      This all being said, it still leaves for further consideration the question of how God created the universe and brought life forms into existence. The big bang theory is still  popular in scientific circles as to how the universe began. However, this theory has some serious problems and even some scientists are questioning its validity. I discuss the big bang theory in some detail in Part One of this series.  As to the creation of life forms, progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists believe God created the evolutionary process and life forms have come to be largely through this process over millions of years with varying degrees of supernatural involvement.

       The Genesis creation account speaks of God creating/making living organisms with man being made from the dust of the ground. How did God do this? The Scriptures tell of God speaking the universe into existence. Therefore it is very likely God spoke life forms into existence as well.  

        Psalm 33:6-9: By the word (Hebrew: bi·ar which means speech) of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

        Psalm 148:1-5:  Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

       Hebrews 11:3: By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  

       I have seen so-called mentalists seemingly able to bend a metal spoon by simply thinking it into doing so. Whether such events are real or the result of some kind of tricky I don’t know.  God is seen as doing this on a massive scale. He is seen as creating the universe through the power of thought. If God brought the universe into existence in this manner it is very likely he did the same as to life forms.

       God may have done a great deal of designing of what he created no different that we humans design things and then create them. With God, however, it is apparent he spoke into existence what he designed and not that he used existing materials as we humans have to do. We do see God creating Adam from the dust of the ground and creating Eve from a part of Adam. Here it would appear God used materials He had previously created.

       I believe that in this series of essays I have established that the evidence for supernatural involvement in the creation and sustenance of the universe and life forms far outweighs the view of atheistic evolutionists that the material universe and life forms have come to be through fortuitous events. Jesus, Paul, Jude and others see the Genesis account of creation to be valid. If Jesus, Paul, Jude and other NT writers are to be seen as creditable, we must consider their attestation to the validity of the Genesis creation account as true.

       This being said, as discussed above, it is apparent that science has correctly identified the universe, earth and life forms to be much older than young earth creationists would have us believe.  Therefore the young earth perspective is very problematical.  I am forced by the scientific evidence to embrace an old earth perspective while at the same time I am forced by the statements of Jesus, Paul, Jude and others to embrace a literal view of the Genesis creation account.  I find I can do this only within the context of their being a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. If the gap theory should be falsified, it would create some series cognitive dissonance between the findings of science and the Genesis creation account.   

PART SIXTEEN