The Embryology-Evolution Analogy

mbryology Evolution Analogy

This is Part II of a two-part series.
Part I: What is Evolutionary Creationism?

To explain their view of origins, evolutionary creationists begin by pointing out the remarkable parallels between evolution and human embryological development in the womb. They argue that God’s action in the creation of each person individually is similar to His activity in the origin of the universe and life collectively.

Four analogous features between embryology and evolution include:

First, embryological and evolutionary processes are both teleological and ordained by God. In other words, the creation of each person and the origin of the whole world were planned for a purpose. Neither are a fluke or mistake. At conception, the DNA in a fertilized human egg is fully equipped with the necessary information for a person to develop during the nine months of pregnancy. Similarly, the Creator loaded into the Big Bang the plan and capability for the cosmos and living organisms, including humans, to evolve over 10–15 billion years.

Second, divine creative action in the origin of individual human beings and everything in the world is through sustained and continuous natural processes. No Christian believes that while in his or her mother’s womb the Lord came out of heaven and dramatically intervened to attach an arm, set an eye, or bore an ear canal. Rather, everyone understands embryological development to be an uninterrupted natural process that God designed and subtly maintains during pregnancy. In the same way, evolutionary creationists assert that dramatic divine interventions were not employed in the creation of the cosmos and living organisms, including people. Instead, evolution is an unbroken natural process that the Lord sustained throughout eons of time.

Third, human embryological development in the microcosm of the womb and evolution in the macrocosm of the world reflect intelligent design. That is, each is a natural revelation authored by the Creator. Notably, these are non-verbal divine disclosures in that they do not use actual words. The psalmist praises his Maker, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:13–14). In a similar way, evolutionary creationists view evolution as a “knitting” process that results in a world which cries out that it is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Indeed, the Big Bang “declares the Glory of God,” and biological evolution “proclaims the work of His hands” (Ps 19:1).

Men and women are utterly unique and distinguished from the rest of creation because they are the only creatures who bear the Image of God, and they are the only ones who have fallen into sin.

Finally, spiritual mysteries are associated with both the embryological and evolutionary processes that created humans. Men and women are utterly unique and distinguished from the rest of creation because they are the only creatures who bear the Image of God, and they are the only ones who have fallen into sin. Christians throughout the ages have debated where, when, and how these spiritual realities are manifested in the development of each individual. Yet history reveals that the church has not come to a consensus on these questions, leading to the conclusion that these issues are beyond human understanding. In other words, they are mysteries.

Similarly, evolutionary creationists believe that the manifestation of God’s Image and the entrance of sin into the world during human evolution are also a mystery. Christian evolutionists accept without any reservation the reality of these spiritual characteristics, but recognize that comprehending their origin completely is beyond our creaturely capacity to know.

Originally published as “Evolutionary Creation: Beyond the Evolution vs. Creation Debate” in Crux (June 2003). Adapted, edited, and updated by Denis Lamoureux and MPH.

Denis Lamoureux
St. Joseph’s College
Denis O. Lamoureux is a professor of Science & Religion at St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta. He holds three earned doctoral degrees – dentistry, theology, and biology – and has written several books on the relationship between Christian faith and modern science. He worships at a Pentecostal church.
To purchase Denis’s latest book, The Bible & Ancient Science: Principles of Interpretation from McGahan Publishing House, click here.

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