Rare Universe - Old Earth Creationism
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Day Age Creationism Gap Theory Intelligent Design Progressive Creationism Theistic Evolution Atheism Young Earth Creationism

Old Earth Creationism Models

All of these models accept that the Earth and the Universe are old. They are also quite compatible with the creation time line on this website. The main differences stem from the philosophy used for interpretation of the creation account and with their treatment of evolution. All old earth models accept that God created science, and that scientific methods are important tools for understanding creation. Every creation model on this page accepts the major sciences, such as big bang theory, theories of star and planet formation, relativity, etc.

In my own personal search for answers about how the Bible relates to science, I found it difficult to find literature on this subject, especially on the web. That is the purpose in founding this site, that others will be able find the answers they are looking for. See the link bar above for more resources.

Day Age Creationism

This is a broad category within old Earth creationism. Most supporters of creationism, other than young Earth creationists, would fall into this category. The basis for this is that the use of the word day in the creation account is a metaphor for a long period of time or an "age". There is sound reason for this, as the original Hebrew word "yom" which is translated as "day" in English bibles, can also mean "age". So the bible is still accepted as the inerrant word of God.  

This understanding of Genesis takes the creation account as a general overview, providing a chronological summary of prehistory. It shows how God is involved in every aspect of the development of the Earth. The forces of nature are the commands of God. Though science detects the actions of these forces, the bible reveals the their source and purpose.

Many of the following models fall into this category. And some of these models overlap a bit. This general category does not seem to specify anything about evolution. But those who have some level of acceptance of evolution often would describe their viewpoint with that more specific creation model.  

Gap Theory

Gap theory differs little from young Earth creationism except that it inserts a gap of billions of years between the creation of the universe in Gen 1:1 and the creation week starting at Gen 1:3. This gap provides the reason for the appearance of age in the geological record. This theory sees the existence of fossils as evidence of a prior creation that was judged by God, and destroyed to make a place for the modern biosphere. So in this perspective, the creation days are literal 24 hour periods, but the age of the Earth and ancient fossils are accepted.

The problem with this theory is that it turns the descriptions of Gen 1:2 into a spiritual judgment on a prior creation, which is not likely the intent of this passage. Secondly, it still matches poorly with the fossil record, because many existing species have been around for millions of years.

The billions of years between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 is, however, a fundamental property of most old earth creation models. There is a lot of support for a large amount of time being inserted here. It is the spiritual additions included in the term "Gap Theory" that cause this theory to be less popular.

Intelligent Design

The melding of science and creationism provides the philosophical basis for intelligent design. Intelligent design is not claimed to be a religious or philosophical viewpoint in itself, but a scientific method. It is the scientific investigation into phenomena that may be best described by an intelligent cause. This can include a variety of theories such as origin of certain properties of the universe, but most often is used in the study of biological systems. This can cover a wide range of viewpoints, since the identity of the intelligent architect is not stated. Even evolution is not explicitly excluded from being an accurate picture of biology, but it is subject to scientific determination given that supernatural causes are also accepted as possible. So in this context, intelligent design could include theistic evolution and all other scientific models for the universe. However in practice, most intelligent design proponents do not support macro-evolution. And many reject an old Earth and universe as well.

With researchers accepting the possibility of supernatural causes in nature, intelligent design provides a framework that could allow for the discovery of greater truths than is possible in a scientific arena that adheres to the assumption of atheism. Yet to work, this would require strict adherence to critical review and openness toward a wide spectrum of philosophical viewpoints. Especially those positions arguing for natural explanations of phenomena should be presented for evaluation. As it is, there is far too little invested into science that evaluates alternates to purely naturalistic explanations.
Currently much of the intelligent design efforts go to trying to refute evolution, rather than discovering evidence for God.

Progressive Creationism

Another variant of old earth creationism is progressive creationism. By this, life on Earth is created in full form, by special creative events throughout geological time. This may have been done either with just a few events mirroring the 6 days of creation or a continual string of creative works. This position is used to explain the progressive nature of the fossil record, while maintaining special creation of lifeforms.

Most old Earth creationists accept micro-evolution to one degree or another. This allows for adaptation within a species or for changes in viral and bacterial pathogens that are well documented. Also the adaptation of breeds of animals is permitted. 

In progressive creationism, speciation within a higher level group such as the family or order is sometimes accepted. Some will also acknowledge the use of DNA from prior species in the creation of new ones. This explains the appearance of common descent. The Cambrian explosion and other explosive bursts of new lifeforms in the fossil record are often cited as evidence for progressive creationism. Detecting differences with such scenarios and full macro-evolution would be difficult given both theories share many of the same features.

Theistic Evolution / Evolutionary Creationism

These two titles represent two names for nearly the same model. In addition, there is another name for this, biologos, suggested by Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project. [ref 201, pg 203] The many different names represent the desire to shed preconceptions of the atheistic form of evolution and of the young earth form of creationism that are not intended by this position. For simplicity, theistic evolution will be used here. Theistic evolution is the belief that God used evolution as a tool to create the variety of life on Earth. This perspective accepts scientific findings about the natural world as a reliable source of information.

The frequent issue with theistic evolution is separating the atheistic stigma that often comes with evolution. But there is no reason to suppose that the Creator could not use evolution as a creation mechanism. This position often sees God as setting the laws of nature, in the beginning, such that the whole universe and life would evolve into what exists today, according to His plan. This view does not advocate a limitation of God's power, but a demonstration of it; creating all that exists in one stroke. Theistic evolution does not attempt to align with the Genesis creation story, and considers it to be allegorical in nature. So Genesis is taken to teach spiritual truths and not to be related to any specific scientific explanation. This can be a risky method of scriptural interpretation, and misses evidence that can prove the accuracy of the Bible.

Though there are some who accept aspects of evolution and also the historical accuracy of the Genesis account. They recognize the inerrancy of scripture and advocate that some elements of evolution actually do align well with the creation account when read in the proper context. With this version of theistic evolution, God is seen as continually involved, perpetuating the natural order. Perhaps a new category is needed for this specific viewpoint, since there are many who share this position.  This is covered in the book, Designed to Evolve.

Note on Evolution

Evolution is shrouded in preconceptions. The main problem comes when those supporting a young Earth very vocally reject science on the basis of their interpretation of scripture. This gives the atheist’s position more attention. What is really at the heart of why some believers are rejecting evolution, is the simultaneous promoting of atheism. This is a legitimate concern, especially in schools. If schools are to be religiously neutral, they should not espouse any religious position above another, including that of atheism. To accomplish this, there may need to be a brief overview of all philosophical positions on evolution, to prevent the atheistic approach from being singularly promoted.
This could be done without invoking religious positions, such as with the intelligent design method of not specifying the intelligent agent. Scientific facts supporting an intelligent creator, such as fine tuning, finite life of the universe, the early appearance of life on Earth, etc, should not be barred from being taught in schools either.

Evolution does not say how life began, only how it changes over time after it began. The origin of life is another topic all together, and is still a mystery to modern science. Though the discovery of how God did something does not make it any less miraculous. Perhaps science will one day discover how God created life and in so doing reveal even more wonders of His power and revelation in the natural world.

Regardless of one's position on evolution, it is not solely an atheistic theory, since there are theistic models that incorporate it to one degree or another. No one can deny that life appears to be evolved, nor can anyone deny that life appears to be designed. Just as automobiles have evolved over time, and yet are designed, so too could the case be for life. As far as religion is concerned, this relegates the topic of evolution to a minor theological point, not a foundational creed. Nor one that warrants protests or petitions. There are far more important spiritual and moral issues to contend with than the topic of evolution.

Note on Atheism

This is also known as naturalism. Atheism is a minority position, but claims to be the logical conclusion from science. This can not be farther from the truth. There is much more evidence that supports the existence and action of God than for any form of self-sustaining cosmos. Often, it is believed that something is fully natural because it has a material explanation we can describe scientifically. Though many of God's actions can be explained by natural processes, this does not make them any less miraculous. Which is greater the one who finds the formula, or the One who authored it? We often give ourselves too much credit for discoveries of science, when we are just observing the works of God. The fact remains that many fundamental properties of our universe appear to be designed without any realistic alternative. See Problems with Atheism for more information.

Note on Young Earth Creationism

This is a widely held world view that rejects scientific findings of an old earth in favor of a literal interpretation of the Genesis "day". The age of the Earth and universe are taken to be about 6000 years old. This view represents a simplest translation of scripture on its own without considering scientific data.
Tradition is another main component, as the young earth age has been accepted by the church for many centuries, since the work of James Usher who in 1650 tabulated the biblical geneologies to arrive at the date of creation as October 23, 4004 BC. This forms the basis of the young earth estimation of age, though some young earth creationists will allow for a slightly older age.

This position rejects evolution, and views theories for an old earth as atempts by evolutionists to provide the massive evolutionary time intervals required. Big bang cosmology is rejected, as well as radiometric dating, and any other theory or method that arrives at an old age for the Earth or the universe. Young earth proponents sometimes support theories that are rejected by most scientists, such as massive variation in the speed of light or other physical constants, alternate geological methods, or modifications to general relativity. Young earth creationism is therefore at odds with science on many issues.
Some biblical problems for this position are documented as well. See Problems with Young Earth Creationism for more information. For information supporting a young earth, see the external link to Conservapedia for arguments in support of Young Earth Creationism. Other links to information supporting a young earth can be found on our Links Page.

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updated Nov 12, 2012
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