THE CREATION VERSUS EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY: PART TEN
In part nine of this series I reviewed and summarized the evidence examined in previous installments of this series and concluded that life is the result of the activity of a supremely intelligent and powerful designer and creator. The evidence for intelligent design and special creation of life was shown to greatly surpass the evidence for the gradual evolution of life beginning with non-living elements progressively developing over millions of years. The reality of the matter is that there simply is no viable evidence for the evolution of life from simple to complex forms beginning with non-living elements. All evidence points in the opposite direction.
I also, in essay nine, extrapolated from the evidence for a creator of life that the physical earth and universe are also the result of intelligent design and great creative power. We will now review the evidence for how and when God created the physical heavens and earth along with biological life. We will begin by briefly summarizing the various positions on this issue which were discussed in greater detail in previous installments of this series.
THE AGE OF THE EARTH/UNIVERSE:
THE EVOLUTIONIST POSITION:
Most evolutionists believe the universe began with the explosion (Big Bang) of condensed atomic particles billions of years ago and through fortuitous activity these particles developed into the universe as we know it. Life is seen as developing somewhere along the way as a result of the chance activity of amino acids coming together to form living matter which continued to progressively become more complex over millions of years of evolutionary development. This position does not see the evidence or the need for an intelligent designer or creator playing a role in this process.
YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISTS:
As covered in previous installments, young earth creationists (Sometimes referred to as six-day creationists) believe the earth, our solar system, and the entire universe was created in six literal twenty-four hour days by a powerful designer and creator God. This belief is based on their understanding of the first chapter of Genesis, as well as, other scriptural passages that deal with creation. This belief identifies Genesis 1:1 as a summery statement of the creation of the heavens and the earth described in the following verses. The Genesis 1:2 statement that the earth was without form and void, is seen as the condition in which it was created on day one when God said, “let there be light.” Therefore planet earth is seen as being created on the first day of creation week in an undeveloped form with God proceeding to develop the planet. Genesis 1:14-19 is seen as teaching that the sun, moon and stars were created on day four. This belief makes the earth the first heavenly body to have been created. Thus the physical earth and the heavenly bodies that make up the universe are seen as being created during the first four days of creation week. Days five and six of creation week are seen as when living creatures were created, including man. Young earth creationists believe their position is supported by geological and fossil evidence.
OLD EARTH CREATIONISTS:
GAP THEORY CREATIONISTS:
Some creationists believe Genesis 1:1 stands alone in stating that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It is believed the beginning could have occurred millions or billions of years ago and therefore the universe, including the earth, is very old. It is further believed the earth was previously pristine and inhabited by angels who rebelled against God. This resulted in a great galactic battle between the forces of good and evil which resulted in great destruction on earth and in our solar system. Genesis 1:2 is thus seen as a description of the earth in its destroyed state with God about to rectify the situation. The six day creation account is seen as a renovation of the earth and the start of a new chapter in the purposes of God. Therefore, the fourth day of creation is seen as a revealing of the sun, moon and stars that were part of an original creation of undetermined age. Therefore, the forth day is not viewed as the initial creation of the heavenly bodies as believed by young earth creationists. Those taking this view see no conflict with the pronouncements of science as to an old universe, earth or fossil record. This view believes organisms found in the fossil record are in part from a creation that preceded the six day creation recorded in Genesis. It is believed the fossil record was produced by a flood resulting from the battle between forces of good and evil associated with the original creation and the Noachian flood which occurred sometime after the six day recreation.
MODIFIED GAP THEORY CREATIONISTS:
A secondary position is that both Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 relate to an initial creation of the heavens and earth millions or billions of years ago and Genesis 1:3-9 is an account of God making the earth a habitable place for the life forms he was about to create. This view believes the earth and universe is very old but the earth’s geology and fossil record is the result of the Noachian flood. This view does not believe a galactic battle made the earth “without form and void.” These terms are believed not to define a destroyed earth but an earth created in a undeveloped state which is later developed by God. The fourth day of creation is seen as a revealing of a previously created sun, moon and stars. When asked why God would create the earth in a undeveloped state and have it remain that way for possibly millions or billions of years, the answer is given that this allowed time for star light to travel the great distances necessary to reach planet earth and be used to light up the night sky and for navigation purposes.
This group takes the position that God facilitated the creation of the universe through the Big Bang and has progressively created various life forms over millions of years leading to the creation of man. The days of the Genesis creation account are seen as representing long periods of time and not to be taken as a literal account of the time frame in which God facilitated the creation and development of the earth or life on the earth. This view sees the geologic record as indicating millions of years of activity and development. The Noachian flood is often viewed as not world wide but an event restricted to the Mediterranean area of the world and therefore not having a great affect on the earth’s geology as a whole.
Theistic creationists believe an all powerful intelligent designer and creator facilitated the Big Bang and has allowed evolutionary forces to operate since. This position differs from a strict evolutionary approach only in so much that an intelligent first cause is recognized as the creator behind the elements and laws of the universe that has led to evolutionary development.
ORIGINS AS SEEN IN OTHER RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS:
The Qur'an states that "Allah created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in six days" (7:54). While on the surface this might seem similar to the account related in Genesis, there are some important differences. There is no designation of morning and evening or reference to first, second, third day, etc. There is no mention of God resting from his work. The verses that mention "six days" use the Arabic word "youm" (day). This word appears several other times in the Qur'an, and each time denotes a different measurement of time. In one case, the measure of a day is equated with 50,000 years (70:4), whereas another verse states that "a day in the sight of your Lord is like 1,000 years of your reckoning" (22:47). Therefore, Muslims interpret the description of a "six day" creation as six distinct periods or eons of time. The Qur’an does not discuss what took place during these days.
Buddhism does not postulate a creator God. In Buddhism there is no single universe in which every living being resides. Rather, there are many universes of experience, and every living being exists in its own universe. For Buddhists the creator of the universe of experience is not an external being, but your own Karma (fate fortune etc.). Karma substitutes for the role of God. Buddhists don’t bother themselves with origins but focus on the present and how to best prepare for the continuing cycle of existence.
Hinduism has many versions of creation in its literature and therefore does not postulate any one specific concept of creation or God. In general, Hindu tradition perceives the existence of a cyclical nature of the universe and everything within it. The cosmos follows one cycle within a framework of cycles. It may have been created and reach an end, but it represents only one turn in the perpetual "wheel of time", which revolves infinitely through successive cycles of creation and destruction. Within this cycle of creation and destruction of the universe, the soul also undergoes its own version of rebirth in which individual souls are repeatedly reincarnated.
We will now commence to draw some conclusions as to the manner and time frame in which the physical universe came to be. These conclusions will be based on a review of the information already presented in this series. We will seek to identify were the point of greatest evidence is and base our conclusions on that evidence. I have made every effort in this series to discuss all currently extant positions on the issue of creation and evolution. I have also made every effort to treat all positions with objectivity. As already noted, the evidence for life being created by an intelligent, powerful, designer is overwhelming. Evolution, on the other hand, simply has failed to provide viable evidence for life having evolved from non-life over millions of years through fortuitous processes.
Having established there to be a preponderance of evidence for the intelligent design and creation of life; we now turn to the origin of the universe and its age. As to its origin, I believe the evidence for an intelligent and powerful designer and creator is without question. As covered in essay nine of this series, all human experience demonstrates that things don’t come into existence fortuitously. You always find intelligence associated with existence. Such intelligence is always connected to life. Intelligence isn’t found operative in non-life. It is, therefore, unscientific to postulate that the universe sprang fourth from the chance activity of elements that came into existence without the involvement of living cognitive intelligence. Such a conclusion runs contrary to all that is seen and experienced. All experiential awareness points to a living, intelligent, cognitive powerful living entity as the cause of the universe. While various religious systems identify this entity in different ways, I believe the Biblical scriptures identify this entity correctly. Again, I refer you to my series entitled, An “Examination of the Reliability of the Biblical scriptures,” found elsewhere on this website. Therefore, what is left for us to do is identify how the God of the Bible created the universe and how long ago did this creation take place.
HOW WAS THE UNIVERSE CREATED?
THE BIG BANG:
In essay number one of this series, we discussed the Big Bang theory. The Big Bang theory postulates that many millions of years ago, the universe sprang into existence as a singularity. Singularities are believed to exist at the core of black holes. Black holes are believed to be areas of gravitational pressure so intense that energy is concentrated into tremendous density. It is these zones of intense density that are called singularities and it is from such a zone that it is felt the big bang occurred. While some see the Big Bang as an explosion, others see it as an expansion where the singularity didn’t appear in space but rather space began inside the singularity. In other words, space and time began at the same time energy began to turn into matter. In essence, this puts everything inside the singularity which is the universe.
This approach to origins is held by evolutionists, theistic and progressive creationists and some gap theory creationists. It is soundly rejected by young earth creationists. Evolutionists see the Big Bang occurring without any supernatural involvement. Theistic and progressive creationists see the Big Bang as the mechanism by which God created the universe. I discuss the evidence for and against the Big Bang theory in essay number one of this series. As shown in that essay, every postulation as to how the Big Bang may have occurred is met with reasonable alternative explanations. Therefore, I can only conclude at this point that evidence for the Big Bang having occurred is insufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt that it took place and was the mechanism where by the universe came to be.
There is no irrefutable evidence for the Big Bang taking place. Progressive creationists fail to provide adequate refutation of objections to the Big Bang and have not convincingly harmonized the Big Bang with the scriptural account of creation. Therefore, I do not believe the Big Bang adequately explains the origin of the universe. Since I believe the Biblical scriptures present a reliable record of historical events, let’s examine some scriptures that describe the involvement of God in the origin of the universe.
Psalms 148:1-3: 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.
Psalm 33:6-9: By the word 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.
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.
In Psalm 1:48, we see the writer personalizing the sun, moon, stars, heavens and waters and asking them to praise the Lord for having commanded them into being. In Psalm 33, the writer says the starry host was made by the breath of the Lord’s mouth. The writer teaches that God spoke and things came to be. The writer to the Hebrews says the universe was formed at God’s command from what is invisible.
It is interesting to note that the Greek translated “formed” is katartidzo. This word has a variety of meanings including, “to put in order,” “restore to a former condition,” “to mend,” and “to arrange” (See the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Arndt, Gingrich and Bauer and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon). In Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19 it is used of repairing or mending nets. In Classical Greek the word was used by Herodotus to mean, “To put in order again.” Other Classical literature render it as “repairing a ship” or “setting a broken bone.” Some may conclude from this that the writer is speaking about a restoring of a previously created universe to its former condition. However, the author also writes that at God’s command, what is seen was made from what was invisible. This would indicate the author is using katartidzo in its meaning “to arrange.” It should also be noted that the English “universe” is translated from the Greek aion which means age and appears here in the plural and means ages. This word is used to designate time frames. It can denote long or short time frames and can also denote the aggregate of things contained in time which appears to be the way it is being used in Hebrews. The aggregate of things contained in time in the context of Hebrews 11:3 is the universe.
Isaiah 42:5: This is what God the LORD says-- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
Isaiah 43:12: It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
Isaiah 45:18: For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Some look at Isaiah’s writings and feel he is describing the Big Bang when he speaks of God stretching out the heavens and spreading out the earth. The Big Bang sees the universe continuing to expand from its original point of explosion. The Big Bang theory, however, sees an initial explosion followed by fortuitous activity of particles forming the heavenly bodies including earth over billions of years. For the evolutionist, this process is seen as taking place without supernatural involvement. Theistic and progressive creationists see God as starting this process but pretty much leaving things unfold on their own from there except for course corrections were necessary. Isaiah, however, appears to indicate a much greater personal involvement by God. The book of Job makes God’s personal involvement even more apparent.
Job 38:4-6: Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone.
Job 38:31-33: "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God's] dominion over the earth?
A complete reading of Job, chapters 38 and 39, shows God involved with the creation in a very hands on manner right from the start and also in a continuing fashion. In reviewing the Genesis account of creation and the various references to creation throughout the scriptures, it becomes quite apparent that God was actively involved in the details of creation and did not just start the process by facilitating the Big Bang and let things develop on there own from there. This conclusion also parallels what we constantly experience at the human level. The creation of physical things is the result of design and hands on work activity. While the scriptures teach that God created the universe and its contents through command, the scriptures also allude to God working in relation to such creating. All this shows God to be actively involved throughout the process.
HOW OLD IS THE UNIVERSE?
The dating of rocks through radiometric methods indicates the universe is billions of years old. While radiometric dating methods and dating conclusions derived from such methods have been shown to be somewhat problematical, the challenges presented by creationists to the validity of radiometric dating have not satisfactorily demonstrated these dating methods to be without merit. Some of the challenges thus far offered by creationists are themselves problematical and therefore do not offer refutation of the conclusions reached by radiometric methods. Please review essays four and eight of this series for an in-depth discussion of the issue of radiometric dating.
As discussed in essays six and eight of this series, a method of measuring carbon-14, called AMS, or Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Dating directly counts the carbon-14 atoms, using a tandem accelerator. This method has identified carbon-14 in specimens formally tested and concluded to be millions of years old. Organic material millions of years old would not have detectable carbon-14 still in them. The fact that the AMS method has detected carbon-14 in every organic specimen it has tested indicates such specimens are much younger than previously believed. Carbon-14 has been found in fossils, petrified wood, shells, whale bone, coal, oil, and natural gas from around the world and at various depths. It has also been found in a variety of rocks and minerals. Carbon-14, which has a relatively short half-life, should not be present in material that is presumed to be millions of years old. Either carbon-14 has somehow been reintroduced into this material over time or such material has been wrongly dated by the standard carbon-14 dating methods being used. A brief discussion of standard carbon-14 dating is found in essay two of this series.
It should be noted that while the AMS method has identified a problem with dating various carbon based materials as being millions of years old, the results of their findings still showed a 44,000 to 57,000 year age for coal, diamonds and other materials. This still poses a problem for creationists who believe the earth is only six to ten thousand years old. This problem has not been adequately resolved by young earth creationists.
THE STARLIGHT PROBLEM:
The light we see from stars must travel multiple millions of light-year miles to reach planet earth. Based on the measured distances of stars and the known speed of light, it has been determined that the star light we see, left such stars millions and, in some cases, billions of years ago. It is argued that if the starlight we see left such stars millions of years ago, such stars must be millions and even billions of years old and therefore the universe is billions of years old. See essay number seven in this series for a discussion of this issue.
The issue of starlight and its apparent indication of an old universe as opposed to a young universe has not been adequately countered by young earth creationists who believe the stars were originally created on the forth day of creation week and are no older than six to ten thousand years. All the evidence indicates that stars are millions of years old.
CONCLUSIONS AS TO THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE:
The current evidence provided by the findings of radiometric dating and the starlight phenomenon indicates the universe, including the earth and our solar system, is billions of years old. Objections raised against radiometric dating have certainly identified problems with these methods. There has not, however, been conclusive evidence to nullify the findings of these dating methods and until there is, I will have to view them as reasonably legitimate. On the other hand, the age of organic material, including fossils, may be much younger than formerly believed based on recent finding with advanced carbon-14 dating methods.
In terms of current evidence, it appears that the earth is very old but life may not be that old. This all suggests that a gap of time exists between the creation of the universe, including planet earth, and the subsequent development of planet earth and its life forms. I personally do not subscribe to the traditional gap theory which teaches the earth became formless and empty due to a great battle between the forces of good and evil because I don’t believe the physical evidence or the scriptures clearly demonstrate this.
Those who hold to the traditional gap theory will cite Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 as evidence that an angel named Lucifer, along with millions of other angels once lived on planet earth with access to God's abode in the heavens. At some point Lucifer looses his position of power and authority because of pride and rebellion against God. God then casts Lucifer, who now becomes Satan the adversary, to the earth which results in a great galactic battle that resulted in the earth and our solar system becoming damaged. God then, in six days, is seen as renovating the earth and creating new life forms.
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel begin their narratives by describing the demise of specific human rulers (The king of Babylon and the king of Tyre) but appear to insert descriptions of the demise of a supernatural ruler into the narrative as well. Those who teach the traditional gap approach believe these passages speak of God’s judgement upon Satan and his allies (the fallen angles) for their rebellion which led to the temporary destruction of the earth and its solar system.
It must be pointed out, however, that neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel say anything about angels at one time inhabiting the earth, a rebellion of some of those angels led by an angel named Lucifer, a battle between God and Lucifer leading to the destruction of the earth or Lucifer becoming Satan, Gods adversary. The Hebrew word translated Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12 (KJV) appears only this one time in all of scripture and is a proper name based on the Hebrew root which means “to shine.” In the NIV it is translated "morning star." Some conservative Christian commentaries show the name Lucifer to be referring, not to Satan, but to the literal King of Babylon who exalts himself to shine above other deities.
There just isn't any solid evidence in these two rather obscure passages to conclude that Isaiah and Ezekiel are referring to a fallen angel that became Satan and that such fall brought great destruction to the earth which God had to then rectify. The context in Isaiah is clearly addressing the King of Babylon and the context in Ezekiel is clearly addressing the King of Tyre. It must be pointed out that scriptural writers often use rhetorical exaggeration (hyperbole) in describing events. It may be exactly such hyperbole that is being used here in describing the attributes of human rulers who are shown as having once held positions of prominence but are now being brought down to nothing.
As discussed in a previous essay, translating “was” as “became” in Genesis 1:2 is grammatically problematical. The Hebrew “tohu wabohu” translated “formless and empty” in the NIV is felt by some Hebrew scholars to simple provide a contrast to what was to be accomplished through the creative acts of God. The formless earth would be given form and its emptiness would be replaced with living creatures.
Based on the evidence, this writer does not feel the traditional gap theory is a provable explanation of how/why the earth was "formless and empty" as described in Genesis 1:2. A more scriptural explanation is that God created it that way at the beginning and later developed the earth to support life.
In essay seven of this series I provide a practical overview of the Genesis creation account within the context of the evidence currently available. I have not seen anything in creation research to change the perspective offered in essay seven. Viewing Genesis 1:1-2 as an account of an original creation of undetermined age is in line with the age findings of science. Seeing the development of the earth beginning in Genesis 1:3 is in line with a literal six day time frame for that event. Genesis 1:2 speaks of darkness being over the face of the deep. In Job chapter 38 is a description of God creating the earth. In referring to the waters, God asks Job where Job was when He (God) “made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness.” The indication is the waters on the earth were created with thick darkness covering them and this is not something that happened later as traditional gap theorist’s claim. It therefore is reasonable to conclude that at some undetermined time in the past God created the heavens and the earth with the earth being shrouded in thick dark clouds. At a later point in time God removed the dark clouds covering the earth and developed the earth and biological life forms within a literal six day time frame.
THE GEOLOGIC/FOSSIL RECORD:
Much of the geological record, including millions of fossil remains of biological life forms, can be explained by the catastrophic impact the Noachian flood had upon the earth. Flood geological research has shown how the geological formations of the earth could have developed in a short period of time due to the action of water and volcanoes. It’s been clearly demonstrated that rock strata can be formed in a short period of time. See essay three, “How Were The Rock Strata Formed,” for a discussion of this issue.
How old is the earth? How long ago were life forms created?
The evidence presently available suggests the earth and universe are billions of years old. Until I see solid evidence to the contrary I will have to believe that they are. On the other hand, much of the geology of the earth appears to be much younger and may very well be the result of the Noachian flood. As to when life forms were first created, genealogical records found in Genesis suggest a six to ten thousand year time frame beginning with the six day creation account and running to the present. AMS carbon-14 dating indicates life forms (carbon based materials) have been on earth for at least forty to sixty thousand years. In view of conflicting evidence as to how long ago the six day event took place with its creation of life forms, this author will wait for more conclusive evidence before arriving at conclusions regarding the age of life on planet earth.
All the evidence we have considered in this series of essays point to an omnipotent and omniscient personage being the designer, developer and creator of the material universe and the life forms we see on planet earth. It is interesting to note that science is beginning to see things that point to this same conclusion.
In 1973, the world's most eminent astronomers and physicists gathered at a conference to commemorate the 500th birthday of Copernicus. Copernicus had shown that the earth was not the center of the universe or even our solar system as had been previously believed. The findings of Copernicus and the subsequent work of Charles Darwin began the movement toward believing the earth and life were not anything special but came to be as a result of accidental, unintelligent forces.
At the 1973 conference, Brandon Carter, a well established astrophysicist and cosmologist from Cambridge University, gave a lecture in which he pointed out that all seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common. They all are precisely the ratios you need if you want to have a universe capable of producing life. Constants such as gravitational force, electromagnetic force and all other such constants are in the exact required ratios to one another in order for the universe and life to exist. The prevailing view that the universe and life is the result of random forces is now being challenged by the findings of science itself.
Science itself may find in the years ahead that the only truly scientific view is that an intelligent creator is responsible for the universe and life.
Creationists and evolutionists continue to examine the issues presented in this series and publish their findings on a regular basis. This author believes all knowledge is provisional in so much that new evidence should always be allowed to challenge current understanding. In the following addendum's to this series I continue to share information I have gathered in my continuing study of the issues involved in the creation versus evolution controversy. .