Science in Christian Perspective
Dangers of "Special Creationism " to Christian Faith
Jerry D. Albert
Mercy Hospital and Medical Center
San Diego CA
Gish apparently did not agree with the main thesis in my opening statement: "The debate about creation and evolution is unfortunately involved in a confusion of the categories of worldviews and mechanistic explanations of how the world originated and developed. The biblical doctrine of creation and philosophical evolutionism are opposing worldviews. The scientific theory of evolution (referred to as evolution from here on) and special creationism are opposing mechanistic explanations. One could (many do, including me) accept the creation worldview and evolution as scientific mechanism at the same time without conflict. We must avoid the extremes of insisting that science somehow demands us to accept only evolutionism as a worldview and that Christian faith in the Creator somehow demands us to accept only fiat creationism as a mechanistic explanation."
Responsible scientists should accept evolution at least as a working model for correlating biological data. As a result of this debate I am now firmly convinced that a scientist who accepts creationism as a mechanistic explanation is being irresponsible or unscientific, for creationism cannot be falsified and therefore is unacceptable as scientific theory. Evolution is the only, or at least by far the best, scientific theory to account for origins.
Contrary to the claim of special creationists, evolution is not a threat to my Christian faith, because no scientific theory has anything to say about values such as meaning, purpose, love, beauty, goodness, or evil. Nor can science be any threat to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, I used to see no problem if Christians accepted creationism, since naivete in matters of scientific understanding does not make one any less of a Christian. However, I now recognize a number of dangers to Christian faith that creationism poses.
(1) Creationism demands belief in a particular interpretation of Genesis to the exclusion of others. This belief has the danger of basing faith in a personal God and Jesus Christ on this mechanistic interpretation. Belief in special creationism thus can become almost a prerequisite for faith in Jesus Christ. This rigid position raises an unnecessary stumbling block for most people educated in the sciences.
Creationism ignores and obscures the essential message of God in the biblical
doctrine of creation. Special creationists seldom, if ever, mention these
biblical teachings: God created the universe freely and separately, with a
beginning and with a temporal existence which He alone gives it. Everything
created is intrinsically good. The universe and everything in it depends
moment-by-moment upon the sustaining power and creative activity of a
Providential God. We are not the end-products of meaningless processes in an
impersonal universe, but persons made in the image of a personal God. The God
who loves us is also the God who created us and all things; this establishes the
relationship between the God of our faith and the God of physical reality. We
can therefore trust in the reality of a physical and moral structure to the
universe, which we can explore as scientists and experience as persons. God
creates life with physical matter and through natural processes.2
(3) Creationism is a poor interpretation of the creation accounts in the Genesis text. There are unsolved inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and problems with a literal interpretation, e.g., the appearance of highly developed terrestrial vegetation on the third day before the creation of the sun and moon, the appearance of birds before terrestrial "creeping things," the appearance of great sea monsters before the beasts of the earth and cattle (mammals implied), and the quite different sequence of Genesis chapter 2 compared with chapter 1. Henry Morris has listed 25 inconsistencies between the geological column and the order of creation in his literal interpretation of Genesis.3 Examples of unanswered questions include: Who are the daughters of the sons of earth which the sons of Adam took for their wives) Didn't these unions pollute the human gene pool with nonhuman genes?
(4) Creationism is bad theology. The "Omphalos"4 argument that the earth and the universe merely appear old and were created with this appearance, or that the sediments with apparently old fossils were placed in that order by the Creator makes God a malicious and willful deceiver. Special creationists also have effectively a Deistic view of God as the "Watchmaker" who created the world at one time and is allowing it to literally run down and dissipate back into chaos, according to their interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics. The danger is that Deism leaves no room for the biblical view of an immanent, personal God Who provides for, maintains, and continually upholds everything in the universe. Special creationism thus ignores the biblical doctrine of Providence and replaces it with Deism, an unchristian view of God.
For these reasons special creationism should be rejected: its dangers to personal, biblical Christian faith, and its role as a pseudo-scientific threat to science education.
1September 28, 1981, at San Diego State University; first debate with Duane Gish was February, 1978, sponsored by Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.
2Albert, Jerry D., "A Biochemical View of Life," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 29, p. 81, 1977.
3Cloud, Preston, "Scientific Creationism-A New Inquisition Brewing?" The Humanist, p. 9, January/February 1977.
4Price, Robert, "The Return of the Navel, the "Omphalos" Argument," in Contemporary Creationism, CREATION/EVOLUTION, Issue II, p. 26, Fall 1980.