What is Old Earth Creationism?

Old Earth creationism is a form of creationism which includes gap creationism, progressive creationism, and theistic evolution. Old Earth creationism is typically more compatible with the scientific evidence on the issues of physics, chemistry, geology, and the age of the Earth, in contrast to young Earth creationism.

Main article: What Is Creationism?

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Types

Gap creationism

Main article: Gap creationism

Gap creationism is a form of old Earth creationism which posits the belief that the six-yom creation period, as described in the Book of Genesis, involved six literal 24-hour days, but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and second verses of Genesis, which the theory states explains many scientific observations, including the age of the Earth. This view was popularized in 1909 by the Scofield Reference Bible.

Progressive creationism

Main article: Progressive creationism

Progressive creationism is the religious belief that God created new forms of life gradually over a period of hundreds of millions of years. As a form of Old Earth creationism, it accepts mainstream geological and cosmologicalestimates for the age of the Earth, some tenets of biology such as microevolution as well as archaeology to make its case. In this view creation occurred in rapid bursts in which all “kinds” of plants and animals appear in stages lasting millions of years. The bursts are followed by periods of stasis or equilibrium to accommodate new arrivals. These bursts represent instances of God creating new types of organisms by divine intervention. As viewed from the archaeological record, progressive creationism holds that “species do not gradually appear by the steady transformation of its ancestors; [but] appear all at once and “fully formed.” The view rejects macroevolution, claiming it is biologically untenable and not supported by the fossil record, and it rejects the concept of universal descent from a last universal common ancestor. Thus the evidence for macroevolution is claimed to be false, but microevolution is accepted as a genetic parameter designed by the Creator into the fabric of genetics to allow for environmental adaptations and survival. Generally, it is viewed by proponents as a middle ground between literal creationism and evolution.

Theistic evolution

Main article: Theistic evolution

Theistic evolution regards religious teachings about God as compatible with modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. Theistic evolution is not in itself a scientific theory, but a range of views about how the science of general evolution relates to religious beliefs in contrast to special creation views.

Supporters of theistic evolution generally harmonize evolutionary thought with belief in God, rejecting the conflict thesis regarding the relationship between religion and science – they hold that religious teachings about creation and scientific theories of evolution need not contradict each other.

Evolutionary creationism, or theistic evolution, asserts that “the personal God of the Bible created the universe and life through evolutionary processes.” According to the American Scientific Affiliation:

A theory of theistic evolution (TE) — also called evolutionary creation — proposes that God’s method of creation was to cleverly design a universe in which everything would naturally evolve. Usually the “evolution” in “theistic evolution” means Total Evolution — astronomical evolution (to form galaxies, solar systems,…) and geological evolution (to form the earth’s geology) plus chemical evolution (to form the first life) and biological evolution (for the development of life) — but it can refer only to biological evolution.

Approaches to Genesis 1

Old Earth Christian creationists may approach the creation accounts of Genesis in a number of different ways.

Framework interpretation

Main article: Framework interpretation (Genesis)

Summary of the Genesis 6-day creation account, showing the pattern according to the framework hypothesis.
Days of creation Days of creation
Day 1: Light; day and night Day 4: Sun, moon and stars
Day 2: Sea and heavens Day 5: Sea creatures; birds
Day 3: Land and vegetation Day 6: Land creatures; man

The framework interpretation (or framework hypothesis) notes that there is a pattern or “framework” present in the Genesis account and that, because of this, the account may not have been intended as a strict chronological record of creation. Instead, the creative events may be presented in a topical order. This view is broad enough that proponents of other old earth views (such as many Day-Age creationists) have no problem with many of the key points put forward by the hypothesis, though they might believe that there is a certain degree of chronology present.

Day-age creationism

Main article: Day-age creationism

Day-age creationism is an effort to reconcile the literal Genesis account of creation with modern scientific theories on the age of the universe, the Earth, life, and humans. It holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather are much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years). The Genesis account is then interpreted as an account of the process of cosmic evolution, providing a broad base on which any number of theories and interpretations are built. Proponents of the day-age theory can be found among theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists.

The day-age theory tries to reconcile these views by arguing that the creation “days” were not ordinary 24-hour days, but actually lasted for long periods of time—or as the theory’s name implies: the “days” each lasted an age. Most advocates of old Earth creationism hold that the six days referred to in the creation account given in Genesis are not ordinary 24-hour days, as the Hebrew word for “day” (yom) can be interpreted in this context to mean a long period of time (thousands or millions of years) rather than a 24-hour day. According to this view, the sequence and duration of the creation “days” is representative or symbolic of the sequence and duration of events that scientists theorize to have happened, such that Genesis can be read as a summary of modern science, simplified for the benefit of pre-scientific humans.

Cosmic time

Gerald Schroeder puts forth a view which reconciles 24-hour creation days with an age of billions of years for the universe by noting, as creationist Phillip E. Johnson summarizes in his article “What Would Newton Do?”: “the Bible speaks of time from the viewpoint of the universe as a whole, which Schroeder interprets to mean at the moment of ‘quark confinement,’ when stable matter formed from energy early in the first second of the big bang.” Schroeder calculates that a period of six days under the conditions of quark confinement, when the universe was approximately a trillion times smaller and hotter than it is today is equal to fifteen billion years of earth time today. This is all due to space expansion after quark confinement Thus Genesis and modern physics are reconciled. Schroeder, though, states in an earlier book, Genesis and the Big Bang, that the Earth and solar system is some “4.5 to 5 billion years” old and also states in a later book, The Science of God, that the Sun is 4.6 billion years old.

The biblical flood

Main article: Genesis Flood Narrative

Some old Earth creationists reject flood geology, a position which leaves them open to accusations that they thereby reject the infallibility of scripture (which states that the Genesis flood covered the whole of the earth). In response, old Earth creationists cite verses in the Bible where the words “whole” and “all” clearly require a contextual interpretation. Old Earth creationists generally believe that the human race was localised around the Middle East at the time of the Genesis flood, a position which is in conflict with the Out of Africa theory.

Criticism

Old Earth creationism has received criticism from some secular communities and proponents of theistic evolution for rejecting evolution, as well as criticism from young Earth creationists for not taking a hyper-literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and for believing in death and suffering before the fall.

Hindu creationism

Main article: Hindu creationism

In Hinduism there is no single story of creation which instead is derived from various sources like the Vedas, Brahmanas, and Puranas. Some are philosophical while others are narratives. According to “Vedic” (more accurately known as Historical Vedic religion) creationism and evolution, all species on earth, including humans, have “devolved” from a state of pure consciousness. Hindu creationists claim that species of plants and animals are material forms adopted by pure consciousness which live a cycle of births and rebirths until liberation from this material universe into an impersonal or personal spiritual reality. Ronald Numbers says that:

“Hindu creationists have insisted on the antiquity of humans, who they believe appeared fully formed as long, perhaps, as trillions of years ago.” 

Hindu creationism is a form of old earth creationism. According to Hindu creationists, the universe is part of a multi-verse that goes through cycles with no end. These views are based on the Vedas, which depict an extreme antiquity of the universe and history of the Earth.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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