Commission on Creation (August 2000)
American Scientific Affiliation
In 1997, a subcommitee of the ASA Commission on Creation was appointed to draft a general statement on creation which it was felt would be agreeable to most members of the ASA. In any case, ASA members from the various perspectives on creation were appointed to the committee, and the resulting statement (General Statement on Creation) was unanimously approved by them. In addition, several more specific statements were drafted to represent the diversity of views in the ASA. These are labeled, respectively, Young Earth View, Old Earth View, Theistic Evolution View, and Intelligent Design View.
General Statement on Creation:
1. God is the creator of all things.
a. All things were created through the Word. (Jn1:1-3; Col 1:15-20)
b. God is both transcendent over creation and immanent in creation. (1 Kg 8:27)
c. God continually upholds all of creation. (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3)
d. God is continually creating. (Ps 104:29-30)
2. God is as active in "natural" events as in "miraculous" ones.
a. God is intimately and actively involved in what we perceive as "natural" or "law-governed" processes. (Amos 4:6ff; Mt 5:45)
b. God is in control of "random" or "chance" events. (1 Kg 22:17-38; Prov 16:33; Ac 1:21-26)
3. God actively cares for His creation.
a. God declares all that He has made very good. (Gen 1:31)
b. The earth is the Lords possession. (Ps 95:1-5)
c. All creation praises God. (Ps 148)
d. God sustains and provides for His creation. (Job 38-41, Ps 104)
4. All Creation is the object of Gods redemptive plan.
a. God so loved the world that He became incarnate. (Jn 3:16-17; Jn 1:1-18)
b. Creation groans in anticipation of redemption. (Rom 8:18-22)
c. Creation rejoices at the promise of Gods judgment. (Ps 96:11-13)
5. We humans are given stewardship responsibility over creation.
a. We are uniquely created to be Gods image bearers. (Gen 1:27)
b. Old Testament law protected the land and animals. (Sabbath, land sabbath)
c. We exercise control over creation as stewards who must give an account. (Gen 1:26-30)
d. We have a responsibility toward one another. (Lev 19:18; Mt 22:39-40)
6. Scientific study of the natural world can be a spiritual calling in service to God. (1 Kg 4:29-34)
a. God has created a physical universe which can be understood and studied by us, Gods image bearers. (Ps 19:1-4; Eccl 1:13)
b. The call to stewardship includes a call to study and understand the creation. (Gen 2:10-20; Eccl 1:13)
7. Scientific description and divine action need not be in conflict.
a. A scientific description of an event or process does not diminish Gods active control of that event or process.
b. How we describe scientifically Gods creative activity is a matter of dispute; that God is creator of all things is not.
Statement on Creation
Young-Earth (Recent Creation) View
In addition to the general statement on creation affirmed by all parties, ASA members who hold to a young-earth creation view would affirm the following:
1. God is absolutely free to act as He wills. Natural science must be open to the possibility that God acted directly to create any physical feature of the universe, including organisms and humankind. By implication, therefore, the philosophy of science known as methodological naturalism is unsound.
2. The simplest reading of Scripture regarding the details of creation is to be accepted as Gods revelation on the matter, and the data of science should be interpreted in this light.
3. All basic types of organisms, including human beings, were directly created by God during the creation week of Genesis 1 and 2. Humankind is united in one family, which began with Adam and Eve.
4. The flood of Noah was an historical event, global in extent and effect.
5. The curse of Genesis 3:14-19, imposed by God because of the sin of Adam and Eve, changed irrevocably the character of the natural economy. This "groaning of nature" (Romans 8:20-21), which includes the death of the higher animals and humankind, will be removed only by the coming redemption of the natural order (Revelation 21:1-5).
Statement on Creation
Old-Earth (Progressive Creation) View
In addition to the general statement on creation affirmed by all parties, ASA members who hold to an old-earth creation view would affirm the following:
1. God created the universe and the earth billions of years ago.
2. Gods means of creating included both supernatural intervention and providential guidance of natural processes.
3. The Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection, even with providential guidance, does not appear to be adequate to explain the phenomena of the history of life, particularly:
a. the Cambrian "explosion,"
b. the rarity of putative transitional fossils between the major animal body plans, and
c. the presence of "irreducible complexity" in many biological systems.
4. The human race was created by God by means of a supernatural intervention, using a body plan most closely resembling the apes among other modern life-forms.
5. Old earth creationists differ on how to relate the days of Genesis to the geologic ages:
a. some see the days as long time-periods;
b. others see them as 24-hour days separated by long periods;
c. still others as a literary device of the Divine or human author of Genesis.
6. Old earth creationists differ on where to put Adam in history:
a. some see him as relatively recent, less than ten thousand years ago;
b. others as identical with modern Homo sapiens, perhaps some tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago.
7. Old earth creation also differs from young earth creation in seeing both plant and animal death as occurring before the rebellion of Adam and Eve.
Statement on Creation:
Theistic Evolution (Continuous Creation, Evolutionary Creation) View
In addition to the theological commitments affirmed by all parties, ASA members who accept an evolutionary* perspective, would affirm the following:
1. God is free to act in creation in any way consistent with His character. The nature of the physical universe and of God's interaction is a consequence of God's free choice.
2. Evolutionary processes* are not antithetical to God's creative action. Furthermore, nothing in scripture provides a theological basis for rejecting the descent of all living beings from a common ancestor, including humans.
3. An evolutionary* view of the history of life provides a positive, productive context for understanding God's relationship to creation, and our role as His image bearers. It also provides a fruitful context for considering the meaning and implications of Christology and the cross.
4. Christians should rejoice and praise God for each new revelation of the history and character of the creation, for each new discovery that fills previous gaps in our scientific understanding.
Areas of theological diversity among Christians holding an evolutionary* view:
1. How does God direct the creation to His desired ends? Various models for God's action have been proposed, of which some follow. These are not mutually exclusive, so individuals may hold more than one.
a. God is actively directing ALL natural processes ALL the time so that all physical events are specifically willed by Him.
b. God gave, and continues to give, being to a creation gifted with all the capabilities to bring forth all the forms, processes, and events, willed by Him.
c. Creation responds to God's will as our bodies respond to ours. However, God's being is not embodied in creation but is transcendent over it.
d. God acts to determine the inherent indeterminacies of physical events, at the micro level of quantum phenomena and at the macro level of chaotic systems. The physical universe is not deterministic, but rather is an inherently open causal system.
2. To what extent has God granted freedom to His creatures? Various suggestions have been proposed:
a. God has chosen to limit His direct control over some aspects of creation to give His creatures genuine freedom.
b. God allows for a certain level of genuine indeterminacy in creation such that specific outcomes are not predetermined. At the same time, He remains sovereign and the fulfillment of His will is assured.
c. All physical events are predetermined and preknown by God.
1. An ancient and dynamically changing Earth and universe is supported by overwhelming evidence from geology, physics, astronomy, and cosmology.
2. The common descent of all living things is well-supported by diverse lines of evidence in geology, paleontology, biology, and genetics.
3. Biological evolution* has great explanatory power and has proven effective in generating new and testable hypotheses in a wide range of scientific disciplines including historical geology, paleontology, ecology, biogeography, developmental biology, biochemistry, and genetics.
4. New discoveries and new models are progressively closing many previous gaps in our knowledge and understanding of evolutionary history and mechanisms.* While many unanswered questions remain, current research is raising many exciting possibilities for studying previously intractable problems.
*The various references to evolution herein are understood to include the full range of scientific models from the adaptive change of species populations to the diversification of life on Earth from its common origin, but to exclude the idea of autonomous nature assumed in the "Blind Watchmaker" hypothesis.
Statement on Creation
Intelligent Design View
In addition to the general statement on creation affirmed by all parties, ASA members who hold to intelligent design would affirm the following:
1. Intelligent design (henceforth abbreviated ID) is not a doctrine of creation. Creation is always a theological doctrine and refers to God giving being to the universe. ID examines features of an already given universe to determine whether those features reliably point to the activity of an intelligent agent or designer. Whether that designer happens to be the God of some religious creed is not properly part of ID.
2. ID focuses especially on two features of the universe that point to the activity of a designer:
a. The fine-tuning of the laws and fundamental constants of physics that makes possible a universe that can sustain galaxies, stars, planets, and ultimately life;
b. Biological complexity in the form of highly integrated systems of multiple component parts all precisely matched to each other and jointly necessary to perform some function.
3. ID is fundamentally a theory of information, though one richer than Shannons form of it. ID adds to Shannons purely statistical or complexity-theoretic form of information what biologists have long called "specificity." Specificity refers to objective patterns that information is capable of exhibiting. Specified complexity or complexity specified information is well-defined information-theoretically and constitutes a reliable empirical marker to actual design. Specified complexity is evident in cosmological fine tuning and in biological complexity.
4. Intelligent agency or design is empirically detectable by means of specified complexity (i.e., specified complexity can be observationally determined and reliably points to intelligence). To say that design is empirically detectable is not to say that the activity of a designing intelligence was supernatural or violated any laws of nature. Although specified complexity is a reliable empirical marker of design, specified complexity says nothing about the mode of assembly by which an object, event, or structure came to be (which must be decided case by case). ID does not require miracles, nor does it preclude them.
5. ID is logically consistent both with theistic evolution and with special creation in its various forms. ID is compatible with theism, deism, stoicism, and various forms of Platonism. ID rejects reductionist accounts of intelligence, and it places strict limits on the types of causal accounts capable of explaining specified complexity. In particular, ID demonstrates that undirected natural causes (e.g., the Darwinian mechanism of differential survival and reproduction) are inherently incapable of generating specified complexity. This is not an argument for ignorance, but a proscriptive generalization like the laws regarding entropy and perpetual motion.