It’s been some months since I last posted about my thoughts on creationism specifically (aside from a quick post a few days ago about common descent). My thoughts have shifted some through conversation with others about the topic, and other topics intimately connected therewith. I must also confess that when I first began to study this topic, I was much too eager to swing as far left as possible and still pretend to be a conservative; that is, I wanted so badly for theistic evolution to be true, and inerrancy to be a mistaken notion (or at least, I wanted to redefine inerrancy to allow evolution to fit).
John Frame and Al Mohler set me straight on inerrancy; the concept it describes is perfectly true of Scripture’s nature. The Chicago Statement, on the whole, is an entirely adequate definition of inerrancy (and though I may disagree with the perspective of its framers on Young Earth Creationism, I don’t believe that the CSBI requires YEC). It is by no means representative of the entirety of evangelicalism, but then, hardly anything is because of evangelicalism’s refusal to be easily defined. (Frankly, if Peter Enns is an evangelical, I don’t want to be.)
I am a creationist. That is, I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and all their host. I am not an atheist, nor am I a naturalist. However, I have come to accept much of the modern scientific consensus on the age of the earth and the evolution of life. I feel as though I have arrived at a deeper understanding of God and his mysterious ways, while also coming to appreciate the world around me as a testament to God’s ingenuity and power.
The universe is ancient. In my mind, there is no question about that. Nearly fourteen billion years of cosmic history have occurred since God first made that singularity go “boom.” From condensation of particles to formation of stars and gases and the coagulation of material into planets with precisely tuned orbits to the formation of our own Earth as the third from the Sun, perfectly situated for life to arise 3.5 billion years ago, God has been intimately involved at every step. The Scriptures tell us that God’s providence upholds and maintains the universe. He isn’t just a bystander who sits back and watches as the universe unfolds, crossing his fingers in the hope that everything will be just right. No, God had it planned out from eternity past. From the big bang until today, and from now on until forevermore, his sovereign hand is in control.
I am persuaded that life on this planet evolved from one or a few initial forms into the many millions of species we see today over billions of years, but I am not a Neo-Darwinist. If the royal society meeting of last year is any indication, Neo-Darwinism is on the way out. Life did not evolve solely through natural selection acting on random mutations, as neo-Darwinian orthodoxy has maintained. A more likely story is that life evolved through the means that Perry Marshall (an engineer) lays out in his book, Evolution 2.0: symbiogenesis, transposition, horizontal gene transfer, epigenetics, etc. Random mutations, while they do occur and can be beneficial, are not the main driving force of evolution. Marshall has done a rather decent job of demonstrating that cells have the remarkable ability to reprogram themselves. This means that evolution is not random and does not rule out design; instead, it is purposeful and focused. Rather than a buildup of gradual changes filtered through natural selection, Evolution 2.0 posits that evolution happens quickly and suddenly, in spurts (kind of like Stephen J. Gould’s punctuated equilibrium, which oddly is nowhere mentioned in the book), followed by long periods of stability. This makes much more sense to me than Neo-Darwinism.
Further, Evolution 2.0 takes seriously the fact that DNA is a code. It is a sister to the Intelligent Design movement in this way. Codes do not come from non-codes. Cells are intelligent machines, able to edit and shift DNA around like programmers to create new features or reuse old features. Obviously, many prominent biologists such as Jerry Coyne and others of the New Atheist group chafe at such ideas, and so oppose them. They maintain that Neo-Darwinian orthodoxy is enough to explain the diversity of life on the earth, but clearly, it isn’t, as information theory and simple mathematics make clear. Gone are the days of relying on “happy accidents” for explanations of evolutionary phenomena.
On the origin of life question, Marshall posits that since DNA is a code, and codes by nature are designed, then the first cell (or even the first cellular components) must have been directly created by God. He is offering a cash prize to anyone who can come up with a feasible scientific and naturalistic explanation for how a code can come from non-code. So far, no one has claimed it yet (and I personally don’t think they ever will).
Marshall is not the only voice saying evolution needs a rethink. Leading scientists from numerous areas are pushing what’s called the “extended evolutionary synthesis,” which is essentially what Marshall lays out in his book. James Shapiro, Denis Noble, Eva Jablonka, and others are all highly regarded scientists promoting this perspective, building on the research in genetics and inheritance that has been uncovered in the past 50 years. These people are not stupid, nor are they anti-religious. As I am a layman, I defer to experts in the field to explain the evidence and argue their points. I am still very much a student.
I suppose I should, at this point, mention that I am open to being corrected. My views are subject to change as I read more. Far be it from me to dogmatically chain myself to a theory of science which itself is continuously being changed and added to and what not. This is where I stand now. I’m comfortable with it.
A while back, I posted a blog article entitled Why I Am Not a Young Earth Creationist. I stand by everything I wrote in that article. I haven’t changed my position on Genesis much since then (for example, the flood is still an area of study for me that I am continuing to pursue). The days in Genesis are a literary framework employed by the author to describe God’s creative actions in logical (not chronological) sequence. Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, but they were the first humans to have a personal, covenant relationship with God; when they sinned and broke the covenant, they died spiritually that day, and that spiritual death spread to all men (because all men sinned; cf. Romans 5:12). Our condition of spiritual death cannot be remedied unless we are reborn of the Holy Spirit and believe in Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life and died on a cross to bear the wrath of God against sin for all those who would believe in him. (I include this to show you that my anthropology and theology of atonement have not changed in the slightest. See also my statement of faith.)
I have learned so much in this past year, much more about science than I ever thought I would. Never in a million years did I think I would become a card-carrying evolutionary creationist, but c’est la vie. I still have much to learn, and I am looking forward to continuing to study these concepts as I read more.
If my views on this topic are giving you hives, by all means, ignore me. If not, I’ll happily converse with you in the comments. Thanks for reading.