This page contains excerpts from the writings of Howard Van Till.
According to one creationist view, evolutionary creation (also called theistic evolution), natural evolution was God's method of creation, with the universe designed so physical structures (galaxies, stars, planets) and complex biological organisms (bacteria, fish, dinosaurs, humans) would naturally evolve. This view is described by Van Till:
The creation was gifted from the outset with functional integrity — a wholeness of being that eliminated the need for gap-bridging interventions to compensate for formational capabilities that the Creator may have initially withheld from it" so it is "accurately described by the Robust Formational Economy Principle — an affirmation that the creation was fully equipped by God with all of the resources, potentialities, and formational capabilities that would be needed for the creaturely system to actualize every type of physical structure and every form of living organism that has appeared in the course of time.
I believe that the universe exists now only because its Creator has given it being and continues to sustain it in being from moment to moment. ... Each of its resources, potentialities, and capabilities can be celebrated as a gift of being that is indicative of the character and intentions of the Creator,... indicative of both the Creator's creativity (in the action of conceptualizing something that would accomplish the Creator's intentions) and the Creator's generosity (in the act of giving such integrity and fullness of being as this robustly gifted universe appears to possess). ... The more robust the universe's formational economy is, the more the universe owes to its Creator for the richness of its being. In the context of this consideration I find it especially ironic when Christian opponents to evolution appear to argue the contrary position: the less robust the universe's formational economy, the more it needs a Creator or Designer. In other words, their claim is that the chief evidence of a Creator or Designer is the presence of gaps in the universe's formational economy. Elsewhere, I have characterized this strategy as “the celebration of gifts withheld.” ... I think the Creator is better known by what the Creation can do rather than by what it cannot. That's the Generously Gifted Creation Perspective. (from Perspectives on an Evolving Creation)
By placing emphasis on the need for occasional interventions, it might appear that God's creative action is needed only occasionally. The doctrine of God's occasional action too easily degenerates into a doctrine of God's usual inaction.
The truth or falsity
of the RFE Principle [Robust Formational Economy Principle, proposing
a generously gifted creation, in fact a
fully gifted creation with total functional integrity] cannot
be rejected by Christians simply
it to be true or claims ownership of it.
By "evolutionary creation"... I mean a concept of the Creator and the creation that includes the following propositions:
(1) That God, as presented in the Scriptures, and as the only and omnipotent Creator, is the sole source of both the existence and the capacities (for example, what matter and material systems can do) of the entire universe.
(2) That from the beginning, when the creation was brought into being from nothing, God has generously gifted the basic entities... [so] the functional and developmental economies of the creation are complete, not marked by any gaps that God would be obliged to bridge in time by extraordinary interventions. ..... [excerpt-omissions occur in Propositions 2, 3, 5, 6] .....
(4) That the creation, though gifted by God with a gapless developmental economy (not missing any capacities that would be needed to realize the historical formation of all structures and life-forms) is always open to God's action in it and to God's interaction with it. Therefore, there is here no questioning of God's power or freedom to act in or interact with the creation; the question here is: What is the character of the created world in which God acts and with which God interacts? Does it have, by God's generosity, a gapless economy, or is its economy marked by gaps or deficiencies that need to be bridged by special acts of God in time, acts in which God manipulates or coerces matter to assume structures or life-forms that it was not earlier equipped by God to actualize? (Note: In this view miracles are acts freely performed by God for their timely revelatory or redemptive value, not obligatory acts needed to compensate for earlier omissions.)
(5) The scientific methodology that follows from this view of the created world is one that assumes the functional and developmental integrity of all physical and biological systems. The pejorative label "methodological naturalism" is, therefore, entirely inappropriate. The methodological strategies associated with this perspective are not derived from philosophical naturalism, which takes both the existence and the astounding capacities of the universe as brute givens requiring no further explanation. Its methodology is based instead on the presumption that the universe is God's creation and that he has generously gifted it from the beginning with a functionally and developmentally complete economy. A broad spectrum of physical structures and life-forms would be realized in time without the need for extraordinary divine interventions to compensate for earlier omissions. ..... and (6) is omitted.
A Dialogue between Mark Discher (Intelligent Design) and Howard Van Till (Evolutionary Creation)
Creative Providence in Biology by Peter Rüst, plus Does God choose among hidden options? (a response by Howard Van Till) and God's Sovereignty in Creation (counter-response by Peter Rüst)
METHODS OF CREATION (a links-page with views by a variety of authors)