Uploaded by Skyler Laney

Perspectives on the Creation Narrative

Skyler Laney
God and the World
Dr. Emmanuel
CTS Term 2
June 17, 2020
Perspectives on the Creation Narrative
The narrative of creation in Genesis presents Christians with a unique explanation of
how the Earth was formed. Over the years it has been interpreted in different ways, depending
on the advancements of scientific thought. Today there are a handful of prevalent
interpretations of this narrative and how they align with current scientific understandings of
the age and origins of the Earth. Presented here are some of those interpretations, along with
their explanations of how they use science in relation to their claims.
The first commonly held belief about the creation narrative is termed Young Earth
Creationism. This position holds that the earth was created in seven exact days as it says
literally in the words of the verses in the Bible. It asserts that this must be accepted despite how
old the earth may appear to be scientifically. Ken Ham words the claim in this way, "Youngearth creationists contend that the Bible is very clear that the days of the creation week in
Genesis 1:1-2:3 are literal, twenty-four-hour days, just like our days today” (Ham 20). Ken
Ham is one of the young-earth’s most prominent proponents.
This view is what some may call a “Bible-first” approach where the Bible is elevated
above science and given more authority on scientific matters. Ken Ham makes this evident in
the way he discusses the Young-Earth Creation view in his section of the book Four Views on
Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. He is adamant that the claims of scripture must be
upheld over any claim of man. His assertions are founded on the understanding that, “creation
is cursed, whereas Scripture is not” (Ham 19). Due to this, he explains that the conclusions
men make about creation should not be seen to be as true as the explicit statements articulated
in the Bible. He ultimately contends that to not accept the literal claims of scripture would be
to not accept the authority of the Bible.
Some would see Ham’s mindset as lacking equality in the approach to the two spheres
of science and faith. Just as the sciences hold basic assumptions to be true when explaining the
earth, our faith holds the same presuppositional foundations. Science and faith require the same
starting point that assumes the limit of human capacities to allow for only “conditional
certainty” on things we attempt to understand (Bishop 4). Ham would be considered a Biblicist
for holding this Young-Earth view of creation due to his strictly literal perspective of the Bible
passages. One scholar explains, “In the 1920s, fundamentalism emerged as an important
emphasis in American Christianity. Very numerous, fundamentalists revolted against both
Darwinism and German liberal theology, affirming that the Bible was not only an infallible
guide to faith and morals but inerrant as well in its history and geology” (Phy-Olsen 60). This
literal interpretation has come under much scrutiny in recent years.
Another commonly held belief about this creation narrative is called Old Earth or DayAge creationism. This view, “considers the creation days as six sequential, non-overlapping,
long time periods” (Ross 73). This exemplifies that the day-age creationists place a different
emphasis on the words of the creation story and interpret them using the text while also
incorporating scientific evidence. The word “day” in the Genesis narrative is interpreted in its
broader meaning of a long period or span of time. This not only allows for more time to have
elapsed in the creation account, but it “also [makes] most of the findings of geology acceptable”
(Phy-Olsen 60).
The Old Earth theory works for concord between the claims of scripture and science as
it, “envisions far more divine engagement and far less natural processes…” (Ross 89). This
exhibits that Old-Earth creationists place great emphasis on the involvement of God in the
worldly processes of science rather than separate or distant from them. The claims of the Bible
can be seen as parallel and affirming of the claims of science, rather than contradictory of them.
Thus, this view holds to the basic foundation that God is sovereign over the works of nature.
The third common view is Evolutionary Creation. Deborah Haarsma asserts that,
“Evolutionary creation is the view that God created the universe, earth, and life over billions
of years, and that the gradual process of evolution was crafted and governed by God to create
the diversity of all life on earth” (Haarsma 125). This view places a heavy emphasis on the
interactions of God and nature and the equal need for scripture and nature. However, then
Haarsma goes on to clarify the distinct belief that evolutionary creation has of how the
interactions of scripture and nature actually take place. She states, “most evolutionary
creationists do not see the Bible as making scientific predictions or referring to science
unknown to the ancient reader” (Haarsma 131). In asserting this Haarsma displays that
evolutionary creation holds to nonconcordism. Nonconcordism can be defined as, “an
interpretive framework where correlations or parallels between biblical texts and scientific
statements are not required” (Bishop 28). This type of interpretive framework for the creation
story is unique from the other viewpoints previously discussed and sets evolutionary creation
apart as is does not associate the biblical text with any scientific implications. In claiming that,
this approach allows for the bible and the science to not have to interact with one another or to
have to use one to make sense of the other.
Another distinct aspect of evolutionary creation is the belief that, “Christians should
not look to God as the ‘efficient’ (direct) cause of the motions of particles. Instead, God creates
the mechanisms that move particles” (Haarsma 132). This assertion aligns with the explanation
Robert Bishop makes for a comprehensive doctrine of creation, specifically in regard to
creation’s ministerial ability. He claims, “Various parts or features of the creation are called
and empowered to serve as mediators or ministers to other parts or features of creation. In this
way nature participates in becoming what the Father calls it to be in the Son as the Spirit
enables” (Bishop 15). This idea of creation participating in its own creation is exactly what the
evolutionary creationists are trying to argue when they claim that evolution is a means through
which God has chosen to carry out his sovereign will. And even more than that, a means of
carrying out a full redemption plan for creation. This view holds that God undoubtedly works
through creation to further his ultimate plan of reconciling his creation to himself, just like the
other views.
The last approach we will discuss here is Intelligent Design. Stephen Meyer explains
that this belief “is an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origin and development
that challenges strictly materialistic views of evolution” (Meyer 179). A simpler definition is
given to be that, “ID is a theory that some things are ‘best explained by an intelligent cause’”
(Phy-Olsen 62). Since the world is ordered in such a precise way to foster and promote life,
Intelligent Design reasons that there must be a force or cause behind it that is greater than it.
This view is completely independent of scripture and purely based on science and logical
reasoning. Therefore, this “intelligent cause” implies any divine being or interaction with the
world, and not necessarily the Trinitarian God of the Bible.
One problem from a Christian standpoint of this view is that it only considers one
“book” God has authored: nature and not scripture. Meyer specifies that, “though intelligent
design is not based upon religious belief, it does affirm a key tenet of a biblical worldview –
namely, that life and the universe are the products of a designing intelligence” (Meyer 207).
So, while there is no direct connection to the Scripture of Christians, it is a claim for some
sort of divine intervention in the processes of the world. This view points us toward a creator
and encourages us to consider the implications of the existence of a creator of all of the earth.
Thus, despite the significant differences between the four views presented, and the
intricacies to their opinion, the most significant aspect about all four of them is that point they
us back to Christ in some way. They call us to a deeper understanding of the natural world,
which in turn pushes us towards an understand of the Creator our Lord. The view of
intelligent design is more far removed from this claim, but nonetheless still partakes in
explaining how God is using creation and our quest to understand it, to draw us into closer
union with and understanding of Him. I have seen this in my own life as I have been
challenged to reexamine my assumptions and investigate the claims being made in regard to
interpreting the Bible and scripture.
Ham, Ken, et al. Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. Zondervan,
Bishop, Robert, et al. Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins: Cosmology, Geology,
and Biology in Christian Perspective. IVP Academic, an Imprint of InterVarsity
Press, 2018.
Phy-Olsen, Allene. Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design. Greenwood, 2010.