Evolution, Creation, or Creationism—Which Do You Believe?
CONFLICT between science and religion is an old story. Up till the 16th century the accepted religious dogma was that the sun and the planets all revolved around the earth. In 1543 Copernicus proposed a new system with the earth and the planets moving around the sun. This aroused strong religious antagonism at first. It took the better part of a hundred years and the support of Galileo’s telescopic observations and Kepler’s mathematical analysis of the planets’ movements to win general recognition.
Until the 18th century, Western religions held that the earth had been created a mere 6,000 years ago. Hutton in 1785 proposed the theory of uniformitarianism, which demanded far longer periods of time for geological changes. Again religious controversy was raised for some 50 years, but Lyell’s field work and systematization of geologic strata finally won common agreement to the idea of a much older earth.
Up till the mid-19th century the Biblical account of divine creation of man was commonly believed. Darwin’s theory of the origin of species by evolution was published in 1859, and quickly stirred intense religious objection. Evolutionists, well over a century later, might like to think that their doctrine had by now won universal acceptance. True, many church leaders have capitulated, but there yet remains vigorous and determined opposition to the theory of evolution. Darwin’s supporters are still awaiting their Galileo or Lyell. Meanwhile, many well-informed people are beginning to believe that evolution is not inevitably destined to repeat the triumphs of earlier revolutions in scientific thought.
An organized crusade is currently seen in efforts to downgrade the teaching of evolution in the public schools through laws requiring that creation be given equal time. In the most recent legal skirmish, a federal judge decided that “creation science” as defined in an Arkansas law did not qualify on an equal basis with evolution. This setback was disappointing to many who hold that evolution does not satisfactorily explain life’s origin. What went wrong?
Flaws in “Scientific Creationism”
From the testimony given in the trial, it is manifest that the scientific evidence for creation was not really presented in clear confrontation with evolution. Instead, it was lost to sight in clashes over side issues, particularly two tenets of creationism that had been written into the law:
1. That creation took place only a few thousand years ago.
2. That all geologic strata were formed by the Biblical Deluge.
Neither of these dogmas is really crucial to the central question of whether living things were created or not. They are merely doctrines held by the members of a few churches, notably the Seventh-Day Adventists, who form the core of the group that sponsored the law. When these sectarian beliefs were written into the law as something that must be taught in public schools, that law was foredoomed to be declared unconstitutional.
Creationist Doctrines Not Biblical
But does the legal defeat of scientific creationism, as this movement is known, reflect unfavorably on the Bible? Are the doctrines of recent creation and a diluvial origin of geologic strata found in God’s Word?
An informed Bible student would answer, No. While the Bible clearly states that the heavens and the earth and everything in them were created by God, it does not say when those things were created. Most of the defense witnesses were shackled by the religious dogma that the six creative days in Genesis were all encompassed in a period of 144 hours. This harks back to an erroneous fundamentalist teaching that was not challenged by the science of the 17th century, but that is no longer tenable in the light of present knowledge. The Bible itself does not set any such time limit on the days of creation.
The first verse of Genesis 1:1 simply says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If we take this to mean the creation of the starry heavens, the galaxies, and the solar system of which the earth is a part, we are talking about events that preceded the first creative day. The description of the earth’s condition in Ge 1 verse 2 also precedes the first day. Not until Ge 1 verses 3 to 5 do we enter upon the activity of the first day of creation.
So no matter how long the days might prove to be, Ge 1 verses 1 and 2 describe things already accomplished, and they fall outside any time frame encompassing the creative days. If geologists want to say that the earth is 4 billion years old, or astronomers want to make the universe 20 billion years old, the Bible student has no quarrel with them. The Bible simply does not indicate the time of those events.
The next point to note is that the word “day” is used in many different senses in the Bible. It does not always mean a 24-hour period. Sometimes it means only the hours of sunlight, that is, 12, more or less. Sometimes it stands for a year. Sometimes it means the years during a certain generation. In several references a day is 1,000 years, and in some even longer. No doubt the days in Genesis chapter 1 were very much longer. But the Bible does not there say how long they were.
So all the argument in the Little Rock trial about the recency of creation and the attention it received in the news media were entirely extraneous to the question of whether man was created or evolved. The time of creation is not the same as the fact of creation. The two should not have been confused.
With the basic point established that the Bible text does not conflict with scientific theories about the age of the universe, we may also leave open the question of the age and origin of geologic strata. The Bible says nothing at all about the formation of sedimentary layers, whether at the time of the Flood or earlier. All the voluminous writings of creationists on this subject, which came under critical examination in the trial, have been motivated by the desire to reconcile the existence of the geologic column and its fossils, dinosaurs and all, with their claim for a 6- to 10-thousand-year age of the earth. If this claim is invalid, all the rest of the argument is beside the point.
Science Supports Creation
As readers of Awake! know, there is a wealth of scientific evidence for creation.a The weight of such evidence has moved many leading scientists of the 20th century to speak publicly of creation and a Creator. Among these have been William T. Kelvin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Robert A. Millikan, Arthur H. Compton, Paul Dirac, George Gamov, Warren Weaver and Wernher von Braun, to name some.
Cosmological arguments for creation have been mustered by Robert Jastrow in his book God and the Astronomers. Speaking of the big bang theory of the origin of the universe, many scientists have freely used the word “creation.” Even scientists whose personal predilections are against the idea of creation reluctantly confess that the convincing nature of the evidence leaves them wondering.
The Bible Versus Evolution
To get the issue between creation and evolution in clear focus, we must strip away the fuzzy shroud of dogma carried over from 17th-century religion. Then let us compare, point by point, what the Bible says with what evolutionists teach and see which agrees with established facts.
First, the Bible says that God is the source of life. (Ps. 36:9) Life did not arise and cannot arise spontaneously from lifeless material. This is in complete agreement with scientific laws and experimental tests. The laws of statistics, the law of entropy, calculations from thermodynamics and kinetics all converge on the conclusion that spontaneous generation of life cannot occur. Older reports of spontaneous generation are given no credence since the experiments of Pasteur. In controlled experiments, it just does not happen. Examination of soil from the moon and chemical tests on the surface of Mars verify that life has not arisen on those planets.
Secondly, the Bible says that every living thing brings forth its own kind of offspring. (Genesis 1:11, 21, 24) Neither the evidence from paleontology nor experiments in breeding or mutation have ever been shown to refute this principle. Fossil remains from ancient geologic strata of species that are still alive are identical with present-day forms. Wide diversity within a given kind may appear both in nature and in breeding experiments, but in no case does it ever pass beyond the limits to produce a new kind.
Thirdly, with respect to man the Bible discloses the time of his beginning, about 6,000 years ago.b (Plants and animals have been here much longer.) With this date history and archaeology are in close agreement. Claims for older human fossils by evolutionists are subject to dispute and do not disprove the Bible record.
Truth of Creation Vindicated
What, then, is the Bible-based position in this controversy?
The fact of creation is clearly stated in the Bible. It is in harmony with scientific evidence found in astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology and biology.
The theory of evolution is directly contrary to the Bible. It has failed to give a satisfactory explanation of the facts of paleontology and biology.
The Bible does not set the time of creation of “the heavens and the earth.” The creationists’ position on this is not supported by the Bible, and their theories conflict with the facts of astronomy, physics and geology.
The Christian’s faith in the Genesis account of creation stands firm, unperturbed by current religious-scientific squabbles. That faith is based on “the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) Above all, it is backed by the testimony of Jesus Christ: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” Further, in the revelation, which God gave him, we read: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Matthew 19:4, 5; Revelation 4:11; 1:1.
a Much of the biological evidence was set out in Awake! of 9/22/81. Other recent Awake! issues containing such evidence are those of 8/22/78, 1/8/79, 3/8/79 and 11/8/79.
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BIBLE DAYS—HOW LONG?
The Hebrew yohm: ‘A day; a long time; the time covering an extraordinary event.’—Old Testament Word Studies, page 109.
Daylight: “Light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”—Proverbs 4:18.
24-hour day: “The deluge went on for forty days.”—Genesis 7:17.
Day can include seasons: “It must occur in that day . . . In summer and in winter it will occur.”—Zechariah 14:8.
“Day of salvation,” many years.—Isaiah 49:8.
Creative days of Genesis chapter 1: “a first day,” “a second day,” and so forth, 7,000 years each.
All six creative days referred to as one day: “In the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.”—Genesis 2:4.