What is Evolutionary Creationism?
To be sure, evolutionary creation seems like a contradiction,
and indeed would be if the words “evolution” and “creation”
were restricted to their popular meanings.
Evolutionary creationism claims that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created the universe and life through an ordained, sustained, and intelligently-designed evolutionary process. This view of origins fully embraces both the biblical beliefs of historical Christianity and the scientific theories of geological, cosmological, and biological evolution. It contends that the Creator established and maintains nature’s laws, including the mechanisms of a teleological evolution. In other words, evolution is a planned and purpose-driven natural process.
This position also argues that humans evolved from pre-human ancestors, and over some time, the Image of God and human sin were gradually and mysteriously manifested. Evolutionary creationists experience the Father’s love and presence in their lives. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they drink deeply from the Bible and enjoy an endless source of spiritual nourishment for their soul. And these Christian evolutionists meet the Lord Jesus in a personal relationship, which at times involves both dramatic and subtle answers to prayer as well as miraculous signs and wonders.
To be sure, evolutionary creation seems like a contradiction, and indeed would be if the words “evolution” and “creation” were restricted to their popular meanings. That is if the former is fused to an atheistic worldview, and the latter refers exclusively to the creation in six literal days about six thousand years ago (known as young earth creationism, the prominent view among evangelicals). But evolutionary creationists reject the black-and-white categorization of origins and move beyond the so-called “evolution vs. creation debate.”
Regrettably, the standard approach traps individuals into a dichotomy, leaving them with only two options and limiting their ability to make informed choices. The either/or view of origins has led many to assume a conflict between modern scientific discoveries and Christian faith. Evolutionary creation rejects this simplistic understanding of the relationship between science and religion and underlines that dichotomy origins are a false dichotomy.
The most critical word in the term evolutionary creation is the noun “creation.” These Christian evolutionists are first and foremost thoroughly committed and unapologetic creationists. They believe the existence of the world is dependent on the will and grace of the Creator. The qualifying word in this category is the adjective “evolutionary,” indicating merely the method through which the Lord made the cosmos and living organisms. This view of origins is often referred to as “theistic evolution.” However, such a word arrangement places the process of evolution as the primary term and makes the Creator secondary as merely a qualifying adjective. Such an inversion in priority is unacceptable to me and other evolutionary creationists.
God created the world and everything in it, and he did so through an ordained, sustained, and intelligently-designed evolutionary process.
Another reason for the category of evolutionary creation is that the word “theistic” carries such a wide variety of meanings today. Derived from the common Greek word for god (theos), the proper definition of theism refers to belief in a personal god, like the God of Christianity. But as everyone knows, there are many different gods of the world, and consequently, countless uses of this word. Therefore, evolutionary creation distinguishes biblical Christians who love Jesus and accept evolution from the evolutionary interpretations:
- Deists – belief in the impersonal god-of-the-philosophers;
- Pantheists – everything in the universe is a god;
- Panentheists – the world is god’s body, and god is the world’s mind/soul;
- New-age pagans – god is a divine force or entity in nature;
- Liberal Christians – Jesus is only an enlightened human who never rose physically from the dead.
Evolutionary creationists are creationists in the most traditional meaning of the term. God created the world and everything in it, and he did so through an ordained, sustained, and intelligently-designed evolutionary process.
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 O. 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.
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