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Creationism Evolving

Many creationists argue that a worldview based on evolution rather than biblical creation negates the need for human ethics. They feel that evolution undermines the creation story of Genesis, and in turn the entire Bible. This cartoon illustrates the creationist belief that society's ills result from evolution and can be cured through their alternative: "creation science."

Credits: Courtesy of Earl Snellenberger

Creationism Evolving

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Topics Covered:
Science, Faith, and Politics


Creationism Evolving:

Although religion and evolutionary theory have often been at odds, it is possible for them to coexist peacefully, and, surprisingly often, they do. Most of the major world religions accept evolution while reserving a place for a deity in the creation of the world and living things. Even some sects that interpret the Bible, and Genesis in particular, literally have been able to reconcile a supernatural creation of the world with a limited form of evolution.

As fundamentalists go, the most extreme in opposing a scientific view are those who believe that the earth is flat, or that the earth is the center of the solar system.

Only somewhat more moderate but still believing in a literal view of Genesis are creationists of the "young earth" type. They hold that the earth was created in six days some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, and they deny that evolution occurred. Many believe that God created all the species in their present form, separately. Most also claim that geological evidence can be interpreted to support the biblical story of the flood. They propose that all present species descended from ancestral types that survived the flood on Noah's ark. They call their version "creation science" in an effort to have it given equal time in schools, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is not a science.

The so-called "gap creationists" ingeniously weave the notion of an ancient earth into the Genesis creation story. God created the earth but it was destroyed, then much later God recreated it, along with Adam and Eve. Another version of creationism uses the "day-age" model. Science and religion can be made to both fit in this model, according to which each of the six biblical days of creation actually lasted for thousands or millions of years, allowing for an Earth that is ancient.

In what is known as progressive creationism, God created the animals and plants in a series of separate acts over many long epochs. The fossil record, with its succession of species, can be made to fit in with special creation here.

Another branch of creationists use the intelligent design argument to criticize evolution and propose that a supernatural designer had to be responsible for life in all its myriad complex manifestations. Intelligent design proponents hold differing views on the degree to which evolution can be attributed to natural processes or a designer.

The most scientifically influenced religious view is theistic evolution, which says that evolution is an acceptable explanation for present life, but that God was the ultimate creator, using evolution as a tool.

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