Creation Vs. Evolution
An Open Letter
From The Message Of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
There has been considerable disagreement, even among those who consider themselves Christians, as to what the real truth is in the Creation Vs. Evolution controversy. This writer has long been interested in this question, and has long since come to conclusions of his own on this issue. Just as his opinions concerning the Second Coming are at odds with most popular views on that subject, so are his views on this issue. One of the people who have responded in a positive way to the Message of this Ministry once wrote a letter in which he asked this writer for comment on the issue. This page is based on what the writer said in reply:
In the issue of Creation Vs. Evolution, as in many cases, the real truth is neither of the two extreme positions. Christians usually are either liberally open-minded on this issue, accepting belief in "guided evolution" or something of that nature; or they side with the Creationist, literal six 24 hour day view. Of course, no Bible-believing Christian can honestly believe in evolution by chance. However, as I will show, the Six-Day Creationist view is not as good as some Christians think. However, there is another way of believing in Creation that does not conflict with real science.
Any Christian who has really studied this subject will testify to the fact that many of the arguments for evolution are not valid. Even some evolutionists will admit this to be true. However, I can tell you one thing, and I am sure of this: Many of the arguments for a young earth are not as valid as they sound, either. I also know that some "creation scientists" are really aware of this, and are hypocritically maintaining a position they know is really nonsense.
A creation scientist once publicly admitted to a newspaper reporter that creation science could not produce the knowledge of geology that makes it possible to find oil that is thousands of feet underground. By that admission, he invalidated his own position. Orthodox geology even makes it possible to find oil under the oceans. If it can, and creation science can't, then which is more likely to be true?
I wish I had kept the article, but some years ago I read about a scientist who was, so to speak, a practicing evolutionist by day and a creationist by night. That is, he was holding a science job that required him to be an evolutionist, but when he was on his own time, he took the creationist view. And he considers himself a Christian while practicing that hypocrisy?
I also know that some of the things said by creationists in their efforts to discredit evolution and the ancient universe and earth are outright lies. I was at a seminar on the subject a few years ago where I heard a woman say that Charles Darwin himself didn't believe in evolution, and that the "Origin of Species" manuscript was discovered and published after he died. That's a complete lie! But a Christian was saying it! Darwin not only believed it; the sales of the book made him rich and famous!
I hate to disillusion you on this point, but I have caught Christians lying and distorting the truth in order to try to prove creationism on a number of occasions.
Some of the "young earth" arguments I have heard made me feel like throwing up, they were so obviously dishonest.
Creationists argue that the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona, was created by the Flood. I had a creationist book in my hands once that was entirely devoted to arguing this. My answer is, "No way!" I have been in the Canyon on several occasions, (see photo below) and have seen with my own eyes what the place is like. The canyon walls - a mile high - are made up of layer upon layer of solid sedimentary rock. Each layer is a different kind of rock from the layers above and below. Some of the layers are hundreds of feet thick. It took a series of consecutive ages of sedimentation to build up these layers. Furthermore, the land around the Canyon must have been at a lower elevation when the layers were being laid down. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is roughly 8,000 feet above sea level, higher than many mountains. But the canyon is not in a mountainous area. It cuts down into what is otherwise a high (the Colorado) Plateau.
After the layers were laid down, the land had to rise to its present elevation. Then it had to have taken a long time more to erode the canyon down through the layers of rock. The flow of water that did the eroding had to come from one direction, continuously for a long time, as does the Colorado River that flows through the Canyon. This would not have happened in the Flood that the Bible describes. The whole area would have been simply submerged. The Flood was over the mountain tops. See Genesis 8:5. There would have been only light sedimentation, and little erosion. Water draining from the Flood probably enlarged the Canyon, but it didn't create it. And it certainly didn't put the layers of rock there. I have a Christian book, "The Flood Reconsidered" by Frederick A. Filby (Zondervan, 1971) that supports this view. I can't say, though, whether it is still in print. It was most recently printed, as far as I know, in 1974.
The truth, as far as I am concerned, is that the Grand Canyon constitutes solid evidence that this planet is far older than the Bible seems to say.
example of a fallacious Creationist "young earth" argument is the idea
that if the earth was as old as orthodox science says, there would be far more
helium in the earth's atmosphere than there is. This argument was featured in a
Creationist video seminar that was circulated a few years ago, and still may be
going around. The argument may sound good to scientifically illiterate
Christians, but it can be easily refuted, just by answering a few simple
Where and how is helium formed on earth?
How is helium for commercial use obtained?
What happens to a helium - filled balloon if it is released?
(Note: The above statements are made on the authority of the Encyclopedia Britannica.)
A buildup of helium in the atmosphere is a physical impossibility. The Creationist argument is nonsense. It is so easily refuted that using it is dishonest. Any real scientist should know better than to use it. It is really a crackpot idea.
I want to emphasize three points:
The biological theory of evolution; the geological theory of the extreme age of the earth, and the astronomical theory of the extreme age of the universe; although related, are nevertheless totally separate issues. I do not believe in evolution, but as far as I am concerned, the earth has to be much older than the Bible makes it sound. I have seen considerable evidence of that with my own eyes. The scientific world does not agree on how old the universe is, but it is definitely far older than the Bible seems to say. The existence of craters caused by asteroid and comet collisions shows, in my opinion, irrefutably, that the earth must have existed long before the creation of life as in Genesis 1. The craters exist, there is no question in my mind about that. I have been inside of, and flown over a small one (see photo below). I have seen photos of a number of others. Some of them are so big that the collisions that produced them would have wiped out the human race, had we been around when they happened. See "A Mountain Burning With Fire" The geological record does in fact show that there has been considerable change in the earth's environment over a long period of time. Some of this change has been of the gradual variety, which is in keeping with orthodox evolution theory. However, some of it has obviously been caused by global catastrophes. The probable causes of most of these catastrophes were comet and asteroid collisions. Again, if we had been around when some of those catastrophes happened, we wouldn't be here now.
Let me tell you about some other evidence of the old earth that I've seen: One day some years ago a friend told me about having heard a creationist-type evangelist denying the existence of fossilized dinosaur tracks. Well, it just happened that only a couple of weeks before he told me about that, I had been walking around in an area in the desert of northern Arizona where there were fossilized dinosaur tracks all over the place (see photo below). And it was not a place that has been publicized. Since that time, I've seen the place mentioned in print only once, and I've searched for it. I happened to see the place because a tour guide knew about it and drove a tour group I was with to it. It was not a scheduled part of the tour. So I know these things exist. And by the way, I have on several occasions found fossils. In other words, to my ears, that evangelist's denial of the existence of fossilized dinosaur tracks was a crackpot rant. And Literal Six-Day Creationism is a crackpot idea.
-- about 4000ft --
This is a small impact crater.
|The Grand Canyon, Arizona||Meteor
Produced by a small asteroid collision
|All Photos By Author|
And speaking of dinosaurs: There is, of course, no real question that they did exist. But I do not believe that they could have been around in the years before the Flood, as creationists claim. If they had been, it would have created a real problem for early man. There is no question that many of those creatures were carnivorous, and probably more dangerous that way than most of the carnivorous mammals we have around today. The idea that Noah took dinosaurs on the Ark, as I recently heard of a creationist saying, is sheer, crackpot nonsense.
The reader may not be aware of this, but the most dangerous living predators today are crocodiles. Although sharks get more publicity, crocodiles, although there are far fewer of them, kill over four times as many people annually as sharks do. Yet far fewer people get exposed to the risk of crocodile attacks than get exposed to the risk of shark attack. (Probably less than 1% as many. Anytime a person swims in the ocean in a temperate or tropical climate, he or she is exposed to the risk of shark attack.) Carnivorous dinosaurs would in all likelihood have been at least as dangerous as crocodiles. Furthermore, during the dinosaur era, there were also crocodiles significantly bigger than the ones living now. If dinosaurs and giant crocodiles had been around before the Flood, the world would have been an extremely dangerous place for humanity. In fact, probably effectively uninhabitable.
Yet Genesis 9:3-5 suggests that there were no man-eaters, at least, and possibly no carnivores at all, on earth during the years between the creation of Adam and Eve and the Flood. I am not alone in noticing this.
The death that entered the world when Adam and Eve fell was spiritual death. Physical death had been around for a long time. In fact, Genesis 3:22 & 23 suggests that Adam and Eve would have eventually died physically anyway, even if they had not sinned, unless they ate the Fruit of the Tree of Life. In fact, that is apparently why God put the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Note that God did not forbid them to eat its fruit until after they sinned. He only had forbidden the Tree of Knowledge. See the "Extended Life Spans and Biological Eternal Life" page.
The Example of Galileo
The reader, if informed at all about the history of knowledge, has heard of Galileo, who proved that the planets orbit the sun. The Church had previously held to the erroneous Ptolemaic theory that the earth is the center of the universe, and that everything in the universe orbits the earth. In the early 1600's Galileo, building on the work of Copernicus with telescopic observation, proved it just wasn't true. When he began publishing his ideas, they became popular immediately, but they also got him into trouble with the Church, to the point that the Inquisition eventually forced Galileo to recant. Yet almost everyone, except for a very few crackpots, now accepts the view that Galileo was right.
Galileo first began having problems with the Church because of his ideas circa 1613 AD. Galileo, knowing the potential trouble he was in, attempted to forestall it by writing several letters to ranking authorities of the time. He reminded the Church that it had a standing practice of interpretingScripture allegorically when it came into conflict with scientific truth. He warned that it would be a terrible detriment to the souls (that is, the faith) of people if they found themselves convinced by proof that something was in fact undeniably true that they were told it was a sin to believe.
Galileo was right. The fact that the Inquisition forced him to recant did nothing to stop people from accepting his views. Rather, it gave enormous support to therise of humanism in the latter part of the Renaissance. It encouraged the Enlightenment, aka Age of Reason, in which secular thought about the nature of reality departed almost completely from Church dogma and the Bible in the direction of knowledge gained by observation and reason. This threw the door of general acceptance wide open to the theory of evolution.
This is what is happening today with so-called Six-Day Creation. Just like the damage the Inquisitiondid in trying to silence Galileo, Six-Day Creationism is doing serious damage to the Christian Faith by denying the fact of the ancient earth and universe. If they would concentrate their efforts against evolution, and only against evolution, and be honest about the facts otherwise, they could do some good.
The position that one must take Genesis 1 literally in the scientific sense to be able to believe anything else in the Bible, which some Creationists hold, is just as irrational as the insistence of the Inquisition on believing that the earth was the center of the universe. Just as the Inquisition's persecution of Galileo did more harm than good to the Christian Faith, so does "Scientific Creationism".
The Real Truth
I am certain that the real truth is that there have actually been a series of creations of life on earth, of which we were part of the last major one. Each creation was followed by a long period, probably thousands of years, at least, though probably not tens of millions, as orthodox science says, in which things basically remained the same, and whatever change occurred during those periods was gradual. Then a major asteroid or comet collision (there have also been many minor ones) terminated that age. When things settled down after each major collision, God created a new order of life. The situation described in Genesis 1:2 was the result of the most recent major collision. There have been minor creations, too. I believe that one happened after the Flood. It happened in Genesis 8:6-12. God recreated plant life, at least, during that time.
The belief that there have been many global catastrophes in the prehistoric past actually predates the theory of evolution. The theory, called Catastrophism, was first formally stated by the French scientist Georges Baron Cuvier (1769-1832), who is regarded as the father of modern paleontology. Evolutionists rejected Catastrophism because they could not imagine what caused the catastrophes. They were wrong. We now know what caused the catastrophes, and we know it can happen again.
(Note: There is also scientific reason to believe that some of the ages were terminated, not by collisions, but by volcanic eruptions on a scale orders of magnitude larger than anything in recorded history. There is undeniable geological evidence that such eruptions have happened. There is also reason to believe, though, that these eruptions may have been triggered by collisions. At least one more such eruption is expected in the not-to-distant future, and may be part of the First Woe of the Great Tribulation. If it does, it will happen in Yellowstone National Park. See Revelation 9:1 & 2. It is also believed that there have been earthquakes in the prehistoric past that were greater than any in recorded history.)
This happens to be what the geological and fossil record really shows. Again, there have been long periods of earth's pre-history in which there was little change. Each period ends abruptly in the geological record, with evidence, in most cases, that a cosmic catastrophe ended it. Shortly after, a whole new order of life appears. In fact, the current wave of interest in asteroid collisions began with the discovery of the first evidence for such a sequence of events. Evolutionists have recognized that this is true. To try to cope with it, modern evolution theory has moved away from "uniformitarianism", the idea that all geological and biological change happened gradually over a long period of time, and they have invented the idea of "bursts of evolution". As you may know, one of the strongest arguments against evolution is based on probability. The "bursts of evolution" theory makes the probability argument stronger, and weakens the theory of evolution. But evolutionists have had to adopt it to face the facts. However, these facts support neither evolution nor strict six day Creationism. They do support what is said here.
The probability argument basically says that it is wildly improbable for evolution by chance to have produced life as we know it, with an improbability on the order of trillions to one against it. In fairness to the Creationist side, this argument against evolution is so strong that it is even supported by some evolutionists. The late Carl Sagan, an atheist and a champion of evolution, said in his book "The Cosmic Connection" that the probability of evolution by chance producing life as we know it is smaller than the number one divided by the number of atoms in the universe. Which is equivalent to saying it is best expressed as zero. Sagan hypocritically refused to believe the evidence of his own reasoning.
Furthermore, opponents of SETI, that is, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, use the same probability arguments to say that the search is futile. They say that the probability of evolution by chance is so small that although "it did happen here", it is wildly unlikely that it happened anywhere else! Again, they are refusing to believe the evidence of their own reasoning.
Let me emphasize this: I don't believe in evolution! I do believe in an ancient earth and universe.
There is a "gap" between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. The original creation of the universe may have actually been billions of years ago. I did not originate this idea. Nor do I know who did. No one does. Six-Day Creationists say that it was invented to try to adapt the theory of evolution to rhe Genesis Creation story. According to something I read recently (a link will be added soon) the Gap theory originated long before the theory of evolution. In fact, it was claimed that it originated in the second century AD. In the light of what I have learned, it makes perfect sense. And by the way, I do not believe the seven days of Genesis 1 are literal. If they are, they contradict Genesis 2:4-8, which if taken literally says that all Creation took place in one day. Only one of those two passages can be taken literally. Or, as is far more likely, neither.
Actually, if you have visited my "Great Tribulation" and/or "A Mountain Burning With Fire" Web pages, you know that I teach that the trumpets of Revelation 8:7 and 9:2 refer to different aspects of the same event, not a series of events. I also believe the same is true of the bowls or vials of God's wrath in Revelation 16. I happen to think the same literary device occurs in Genesis 1. In other words, the days are not even symbolic. They represent different aspects of one event, in which all the present organic life on earth was created. How long that event actually took, I won't even speculate.
God As Creator
I might note that the Genesis Creation wasn't the last major one. God promises another one in Revelation 21:5. That creation may not be the last one, either. There may never be a "last one". New creations may go on for all eternity. In fact, in a sense, it may be said that God is creating all the time. Every time another person becomes Born Again, a new creation has taken place. God always has been creating, and He always will be.
You may have heard it said that we are created in God's image, and that is why we are creative. I happen to be a very creative person. I didn't just create something once and leave it at that. I keep creating new, different, and hopefully better things. I also sometimes redo things I previously created to improve them. Like this Web page, for example. I seriously believe that God does things the same way.
So, evolution, no!
An old earth and universe, yes!
Catastrophes and multiple creations, yes!
In conclusion, as I have said elsewhere, if we expect to spend eternity with God, why do we feel so compelled to squeeze His work of creation into six literal days? He is "from everlasting to everlasting" (Psalm 90:2). Did He do nothing during the past "everlasting"? That is in fact what Six Day Creationism effectively says; that He did nothing in the past "everlasting"! I think the Creation Science -young earth view is actually just another deception. Those who fight for this view are doing nothing but harm to the cause of Christ. They are giving intelligent, educated people legitimate reason to reject the Gospel. I was once a case in point.
And let me reemphasize that the "young earth" arguments are not as good as they sound to scientifically illiterate Christians. As shown above, some of them are nonsense. I advise you not to take a stand on that. It will do no good. Rather, it could get you seriously embarrassed if you argue with the wrong person. And it could turn people who might otherwise accept Christ against Christianity. It turned me against Christ when I was in my teens.
In fact, I would avoid the subject as much as possible. See I Timothy 6:3-5. Don't focus on questions like this. Focus on growing in grace and walking worthy of your calling. See Colossians 1:9-11.
Contact Author, William D. Brehm: firstname.lastname@example.org