Creationists of the World Unite!

Gordon Lewis, Ph.D.

Dr. Gordon Lewis earned a Master of Divinity at Faith Theological Seminary and his MA and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Syracuse University. He is Senior Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Denver Seminary and served as President of the Evangelical Theological Society in 1992.

Recently a university professor asked, "What can we do to restore creationism to respectability on the campuses again?" The doctrine of creation has been defended on scientific data (inductively) or on religious authority (deductively).

A third, philosophical defense of creation is imperative because (1) the issues are not merely between science and religion, but between philosophies, and (2) In tax-supported, public institutions, especially, philosophies have a better chance of receiving a fresh hearing.

(3) A philosophical case for creation is apropos, furthermore, because creation answers a philosophical problem. And how did the multitudes of diverse things we observe originate from that one source? With such questions ancient Greek philosophers struggled with the problem of the one and the many. For example, Thales, a materialist, held that the one was water, and that all the diverse things we observe somehow came from water. His hypothesis accounted for liquid, steam and ice, but had difficulty explaining fire, thought and justice.

(4) Three contemporary philosophical answers are now given to the nature of the One and to the process by which the many different kinds of things came from it. Since Eastern and eclectic New Age pantheism challenged naturalism and theism in the West, people are increasingly aware of pantheistic, as well as naturalistic and theistic philosophies.

(5) Creation may also be defended by a third method of philosophical reasoning (abductively). What is the nature of the one reality that gives unity to the universe?

According to western materialism or naturalism the basic ingredient of existence is matter/energy which came from nothing once and by sheer chance the varieties of life came about by a materialistic evolution.

Eastern idealism or pantheism (increasingly prominent in the West) asserts that both the inner essence and the varied forms of things continuously come from an impersonal Absolute (the "Force") by emanation.

Theism, which originated in the Near East (not the West), teaches that both the fundamental ingredient (matter/energy) and the basic kinds of material and immaterial things came from the wise plan of an eternal, personal God who is distinct from the world but active in it, by creation.

Contemporary debates between evolutionists, emanationnists and creationists do not escape the assumptions of these comprehensive philosophies. So the analytically inclined, who prefer to think in bits and pieces, are asked to bear with those who find it necessary to put the pieces of the puzzle together and explore the big pictures of origins in their world views.

A. Evolution as a Naturalistic Philosophical Hypothesis

On the assumption of secular humanist Paul Kurtz, "Objects and events within the universe have material explanations. All objects or events encountered have a physical character." If we were to grant the giant leap of faith to produce matter out of nothing (ex nihilo), how does inorganic matter produce the many varieties of life humans experience? Kurtz continues,

"The most useful hypothesis to explain the diverse forms of life on our planet is that they evolved from common genetic material and split into diverse species. Evolution is a product of chance mutations, differential reproduction, and adaptation. The human species most likely evolved over a period of several million years, exhibiting processes that follow similar patterns in other species."{1}

Materialistic monists like Kurtz imagine that matter is not only the necessary, but also the sufficient explanation of material, mental, moral, social and spiritual events. Evolution is alleged to account for human capacities as different as those for knowledge of physics, poetry, math, moral virtue, business, aesthetic appreciation and life-transforming religious experience.

Berkeley law professor Philip E. Johnson, argues that "what is presented to the public as scientific knowledge about evolutionary mechanisms is mostly philosophical speculation."{2}

Darwinism started as a limited biological hypothesis and may account for biological diversity within the biblical "kinds" of some plants and animals. But "missing links" to support development from one kind of being to every other kind are still missing. In spite of the paucity of hard scientific data and its irrpeatability, biological evolution has been extrapolated into an all-encompassing philosophy thought to explain the origin of every aspect of every culture in history. Although there is evidence for developments of new varieties within kinds of plants and animals, anything like sufficient evidence for each and every step of the colossal philosophical hypothesis is lacking. Far from sufficient data has been turned up to continue to allege a single gradual progression from nothing to matter, from the non-living to the organic (just once) and from matter-energy to the varied experiences of human beings externally and internally.

Is not a theistic evolution plausible? Could not one God have used evolution to produce the many kinds of things and the events of human history? Christian theists may consistently incorporate in their world view micro evolutionary developments (within reproducible kinds). A micro evolution of new varieties of flowers is not only possible, but confirmed. And theists may include physical factors as necessary, but not as a sufficient and sole explanation of all kinds of beings and events. A theist believes in a personal God distinct from the world (contrary to pantheists) and causally active in it (contrary to deists). A macro evolutionary philosophy reductively assuming only a single material cause of all the varied forms of scientifically classifiable kinds human experiences, excludes the God of creation and providence. One who affirms that God is a living active spirit does not limit all explanation to material antecedents. Since creation, material causes are a necessary, but not a sufficient account of human experience including virtues like valid reasoning based on evidence, justice and self-giving love.

The formal plans for the creation of every complex kind of thing are found in the divine designer and producer, the logos (John 1:1-3). And the great providential Manager per excellence gets things done through people. Godís image bearers are moral agents, who, like God, are often the efficient and responsible causes of events. Believers in a biblical theism cannot consistently incorporate a reductively materialistic macro-evolutionary scheme that rules out the series of Godís mighty acts of creation, Godís continued providential activities, Godís regeneration of sinners or Christís incarnation and future return. Macro evolutionists hold a naturalistic, reductively materialistic metaphysics. Such materialism makes matter more than matter is. An adequate Christian metaphysical view is not monistic. Since creation, God, who is spirit, is not the only existing reality, matter exists distinct from spirit (in a metaphysical dualism). And since the Fall, reality includes evil as well as good (a moral dualism). Material factors are involved, but matter is not the sufficient account of either humanityís greatness or "manís inhumanity to man."

B. Emanation as a Monistic Philosophical Hypothesis

Unable to believe that matter and its countless forms came from nothing, monistic philosophers trace the energy of the world and its basic kinds of things to a totally transcendent nonpersonal Absolute.{3} The One beyond time, space and human thought, continuously emits the inner ingredient (energy) of things. Emanation is an endless process in which the substance of the many automatically flows out from the One. In this process the inner being of all the diverse things in the cosmos is continuous with the being of the One. Eventually things and people are alleged to return to the Source so that the process becomes cyclical.

According to the Neoplatonist, Plotinus (205-270 A.D.), emanation is like the radiation of light from the ultimate Being, growing gradually dimmer as it shades off into total darkness which is matter itself. In this downward process, movement goes out of the being of the One first to a mind (nous), second to a world soul, third to an individual soul and finally to matter.{4} This descent is followed by an upward movement back to the One in a cyclical process. Eastern and Western monistic mystics move from thinking of themselves as bodies, to individual minds, then world souls, and mere minds that eventually lose their individuality in the One from which they think they came.{5} Absolute idealists, process philosophers, Hindu and Buddhist mystics and New Agers typically advocate something like emanation from an undifferentiated, indescribable, impersonal Oneness or Sameness and persons allegedly return to it in mystical (nondual) experience.

Although some may not differentiate emanation from evolution, Philip Merlan overstated the case when he claimed that evolutionism has "obliterated the emanationist philosophy." {6} Eastern cyclical thought is now permeating the Western world in many ways, and particularly in the name of science. "The new physics," says Paul Davies, "seems to turn commonsense on its head and find closer accord with mysticism than materialism."{7} Michael Talbot wrote Mysticism and the New Physics "to point out the confluence of mysticism and the new physics." and Gary Zukav in The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979) repeats the quantum leap. So does Fritjof Capra whose The Tao of Physics argues that "The concepts of modern physics often show surprising parallels to the ideas expressed in the religious philosophies of the Far East."{8} A monistic philosophy of Eastern religions and the New Age movement has permeated the Western world. Karma, reincarnation and the Force have become household words. Emanation is not as frequent a term, but something like it will follow for those who consider themselves as particles of energy that have emerged from the ultimate Cosmic Energy. An origin and destiny of impersonal "thatness" (Hinduism) or "suchness" (Buddhism) or energy (New Agers), hardly explains a unique personality. Our alleged source and destiny is dehumanizing. What we need to lose is not our God given individuality, but our selfish desires and morally evil words and acts.

C. Creation as a Christian Theistic Philosophical Hypothesis

Others suggest that the matter-energy of the universe and the basic kinds of life came from a series of creative acts by a thoughtful, caring and capable (i.e., personal) eternal Spirit. Creation is not an idea in isolation, but the mighty act of the living God, who is personal and distinct from the world, but active in it.

According to this third answer to our philosophical problem, the many came from one eternal, wise and powerful Being by a series of freely chosen, well-designed creative acts. First, using no raw materials, the living God brought unformed matter-energy into existence out of nothing (unmediated). Matter/energy came out from God, but not out of Godís being, out of Godís thought and purpose expressed in word creating ex nihilo. Then, in a subsequent series of (mediate) creative acts, God formed out of matter-energy the earth, oceans, vegetation, animals and human bodies.{9} God made human spirits like the divine Spirit in some finite capabilities. To be made in Godís image is not to be continuous with Godís being. The personal Creator does not seek to eliminate our distinctness, but to fellowship and work with countless unique persons for time and eternity. As we have seen, evolution cannot be adequately defended atomistically apart from a naturalistic philosophy. Emanation does not stand independent of a monistic or pantheistic world view. Neither can creation be adequately supported in isolation from a theistic world view in which the Creatorís being is distinct from the being of every created thing.

Some spokespersons for creation have simply announced their belief , quoting Scripture without evidence or a reason for their hope in the theistic world view involved, counting on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. God has been pleased to use mere proclamation with people who have some respect for biblical authority. In other cases, however, the Spirit of truth may illumine people through means, such as adequate evidence and valid argument. A philosophical defense of creation, like a defense of any other aspect of Christian faith, needs The Holy Spiritís attestation and conviction to overcome the pride and sensuality of fallen people and bring about assent the doctrineís truth and humble trust in its Referent.

Some, echoing Tertullian, ask, "What has Jerusalem to do with Athens?" Paul answered that question when in Athens he addressed naturalistic Epicurean and pantheistic Stoic philosophers. The Apostle to the Gentiles quoted their writers favorably and established some points of contact from general revelation and then amplified a theistic world view. God is not pleased until people believe that he (a personal being) is and is actively involved in their lives (Heb. 11:6). Paul meaningfully reported the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ only after establishing a theistic world view with dependence on the Creator, moral accountability to God, and guilt before God (Acts 17:24-31).

Confronted by todayís naturalists and pantheists who are unacquainted with the God of the Bible (as were Peterís hearers on the day of Pentecost), we need to present creation as a philosophical answer to the philosophical problem. The issues are not merely between science and the religion; the issues are among philosophies.

By what method of research, reasoning and decision making can we seek to resolve the conflicting views of origins among naturalistic, pantheistic and theistic philosophies?

D. Testing Philosophical Views of Origins by Abductive Reasoning

Many assume that there are only two forms of argument, deductive and inductive. But a third, abductive or retroductive method of reasoning avoids problems in the other two ways of testing world views.

A deductive method does not move Creationists when used by materialistic or idealist monists. Having presupposed that nothing but matter exists, secularists deduce a materialistic evolutionary theory of origins. In such circular reasoning, the premise presupposes the very thing to be established. Neither are we impressed when a New Age pantheist asks Christian theists to assume the reality of an all-inclusive, impersonal Absolute like Brahman, and then deduces that we are part of it, we are God. Why then should a Christian theist ask nontheists to begin with a biblical theistic presupposition in order to deduce creation? That deductive method of reasoning assumes the truth of the existence of the personal Creator that is to be proved. Circular reasoning is closed to considering a case for alternatives, not logically valid, and not conducive to dialogue.

Will creationists do better to try inductive reasoning? In a purely empirical approach one attempts to observe sensory evidence with a tabula rasa mind in order achieve a completely objective interpretation. Complete objectivity is a great ideal for which to strive, but impossible to achieve. So an inductive method is unrealistic. No adult, seriously investigates a problem without some pre-understandings in mind. Furthermore, in a single life-time one finite knower cannot observe enough data to arrive at a probable conclusion about the source of everything that is. Since logically, the conclusion of an inductive argument cannot go beyond the evidence examined, one could never arrive at enough evidence to support the creation of all the many kinds of things in the world. Also, an inductive case for the Creator has been attacked ever since the five arguments of Aquinas and there is a another method that sidesteps both circular and unrealistic structures of reasoning.

A third abductive or verificational method of argument does not presuppose an unquestionable ultimate, but starts with major hypotheses that can be either confirmed or disproved. Rather than assuming the truth of a Christian theism a priori, a comprehensive verificational approach critically examines the proposals of other philosophies and asks their representatives to be as open to consider the existence of the God disclosed in creation, in the Jesus of history and in the teaching of Scripture. Capitalize on an abductive, critical (scientific) or hypothetical method familiar to people who had some science. But do not assume, as naturalists often do, the relevance of only sensory data. Ask for consideration of all the givens, including those of inner existential, moral and religious experience.

By what criterion does one test philosophical hypotheses including their views of origins? All three classical philosophies are put to the test of a three-fold coherence criterion of truth integrating logic, facts and values. That philosophical view of origins is true which without logical contradiction most adequately accounts for the lines of relevant external empirical data and the lines of internal, existential, moral and spiritual data of human experience. Gaining agreement with these criteria may not be easy initially, but they can be defended philosophically and theologically. Then with their hypothetical cards on the table, non-theists, pantheists and theists can debate their hypotheses of origins{10} like civilized humans in educational contexts, rather than fighting like animals.

From a Christian theological standpoint, believers can assume points of contact with non-Christian thinkers based on their creation in the image of God (damaged, but not destroyed by the Fall), general revelation and its universal illumination, common grace and providence. Human beings, as image bearers of God, whatever their philosophy, can compare similarities. With mutual respect thinking humans may also contrast their real differences. Where they differ they can test the three answers to the issue of origins by the standard criteria of truth. Does evolution, emanation or creation provide the most coherent account of issues involved?

Three vital issues must be briefly addressed: the ultimate origin of anything at all, the origins of complex differing kinds of things and the origin of distinctively human life.

1. The Ultimate Origin of Anything at All

Naturalists and theists agree that the matter-energy of the universe had a beginning in the finite past. Entropy indicates that it is not eternal. The usefulness of energy is running down. Naturalists say that the first matter-energy came from nothing. In your experience, what has come from nothing? Observed evidence does not confirm that hypothesis. Magicians do not produce something from nothing. They may have truckloads of paraphernalia. For something suddenly coming from nothing I find no evidence at all. It is so improbable as to be impossible. Where the naturalistsí assumptions forbid them to speak, they would do well to avoid speculation. But that did not stop the American philosopher, Charles Sanders Pierce from fantasizing about ultimate origins.

"In the beginning,--infinitely remote--there was a chaos of unpersonalized feeling, which being without connection or regularity would properly be without existence. This feeling sporting here and there in pure arbitrariness, would have started the germ of a generalizing tendency. Its other sporting would be evanescent, but this would have a growing virtue. Thus the tendency to habit would be started; and from this with the other principles of evolution, all the regularities of the universe would be evolved."{11}

Those who are not all they ought to be (sinful) may go to any length to try to escape dependence upon a moral Creator to whom to be accountable!

Even if it were granted that something came from nothing (ex nihilo without God), why only once? Scientists who choose to limit their data to those of the five senses are wiser to be silent on ultimate origins. A priori assumptions of autonomy limit their method to material data and repeatable, controlled experiments. Those self-imposed limitations forbid them to speak about unobservable, once-for-all, ultimate origins.

Is the monistic hypothesis of emanation more adequate? All the energy of the universe and humans is subject to entropy, but the Absolute is not. Hence the universe does not give evidence of being of the same stuff or energy as the Absolute. There is no duality in the Absolute and its emanations, but philosophers, referees and spouses make countless distinctions. In the Absolute there is no change, but all of us are changing. The Absolute is infinite, but we experience finitude constantly. The theory of emanation does not fit the givens of life on earth. To label all duality, change and limitation illusory (maya) does not alter the multitudinous, changing phenomena with which we have invariably to do. If the distinction between good and evil is mere illusion, karma (good or bad) need not be taken seriously. Furthermore, those who find it unthinkable to believe that they are God find it impossible to live unhypocritically by a pantheistic world view.

Theism proposes that the ultimate origin of the matter-energy of the universe derives from the freely chosen purpose of a personal, powerful Creator. Everything comes, not from Godís being automatically, but from Godís logos, Godís wise and free volition expressed in designing and speaking (Gen. 1:3,6,9, 14,20,24; Ps. 33:6,9; Heb. 11:3). The eternal, almighty Designer and Producer of the universe first brought finite matter-energy into existence out of nothing, ex nihilo. That unmediated creation involved no raw materials, no process of evolution or emanation. God spoke and matter-energy came to be, although it was as yet formless and empty. Behind every invention we know is a personal, creative mind. An invention is not of the same stuff as the inventor, but it is the product of a personal, intelligent, efficient cause.

In sum, on the issue of ultimate origins, which hypothesis fits the most givens of meaningful human experience? The hypothesis that the first matter-energy come from nothing has no hard data to confirm it. That matter-energy has always been automatically emitted from an impersonal Absolute does not fit the fact of its entropy. Would it not seem more plausible that the matter-energy of the cosmos, particularly of human beings capable of responsible scientific observation, came into being as the product of a personal Sourceís free choice and wise purpose?

Then which of the three hypotheses most coherently accounts for

2. The Origin of the Many Kinds of Living Things,including Humans

According to some emanationists, varieties of reincarnations happen according to an alleged inexorable law of karma. It determines whether oneís next reincarnation is higher or lower. The Hare Krishna philosopher, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada thought there were 8,400,000 species and so maintained that a "person" goes through 8,400,000 reincarnations. Such a number is far from confirmed either by hard data of observation or alleged memory regressions. The theory does not fit the facts of human outer or inner experience. Only an infinitesimal number of people claim to remember past lives. Some of these are unfounded or suspect.{12}

According to a naturalistic evolutionary philosophy, complex forms of life came about by a chance combination of non-living components. If human intelligence in the future becomes able to produce life, there is still no evidence that non-intelligent forces could produce a single cell. People like Richard Dawkins call it natural selection and regard it an all-encompassing theory that shapes every development in the natural world.

But other influential evolutionists are becoming increasingly aware of serious difficulties with evolution as a process whereby the complexities of multitudinous forms of life arose from non-living matter. Geological remains do not indicate such slow, infinitesimal steps, but rather, great gaps as new kinds of organisms suddenly appear in their completeness. Writing for an international science series, G. A. Kerkut found inadequate evidence for seven major assumptions of the total philosophy of evolution:

  1. non living things gave rise to organisms,
  2. spontaneous generation occurred only once,
  3. viruses, bacteria, plants and animals are all interrelated,
  4. protozoa gave rise to the metazoa,
  5. various invertebrate phyla are interrelated,
  6. invertebrates gave rise to the vertebrates, and
  7. fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, i.e., modern amphibia and reptiles had a common ancestral stock.{13}

Proposed accounts of the complexity of the "simple" cell from which all forms of life are alleged to have originated remain inadequate. The very complicated biochemical ingredients of life in intricate proportion were not perceivable by Darwin and have yet to be explained without an intelligent plan. Beneath the alleged simple cell, recent discoveries have found highly complex molecules as intricately interrelated as the infra system of a large city. In Darwinís Black Box (1996) Michael J. Behe maintains that DNA and other microscopic biochemical factors are so complex as to present an unanswered challenge to evolutionary theory. Behe writes, "Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity." He adds that "The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself--not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs." What is involved in his hypothesis of design? He defines it as "simply the purposeful arrangement of parts." {14}

As a result of new discoveries in several fields, Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard paleontologist argues for a punctuated evolution against natural selection. For survival more than the "fitness" of the organism is needed. One must account for the changes at the molecular level, from one generation of an organism to another. The defenders of a strictly natural selectionist view of evolution strongly disagree with Gouldís view. In response, Gould points up the growing division among evolutionists when he charges his critics with "a self-styled form of Darwinian fundamentalism."{15}

David L. Hull of Northwestern University, writing on "Darwinism" in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1995) reports, "Currently, almost every aspect of the neo-Darwinian paradigm is being challenged."{16} According to Berkeley professor Philip E. Johnson, the claim that from simple beginnings random genetic changes and natural selection can generate extremely complex organisms is "not only unproven but actually contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Despite all the inflated and oft-repeated claims, science has not shown that biological evolution either can or did occur by the Darwinian mechanism or by any other unintelligent and unguided process."{17}

The more coherent hypothesis to account for both the continuous and the novel is the creation of each highly complex reproducible new kind by an intelligent Designer and then development within the reproducible kinds. Microevolution or development of varieties within the kinds (flowers and animals) occur providentially, but God created the basic reproducible kinds of life with their distinctive complexities.{18}

3. The Origin and Worth of Persons

How do the three philosophies account for the origin of uniquely human persons who have inherent worth, inalienable rights, a demand for justice, a deep desire to be loved, to find truth and to communicate meaningfully in relationships?

Monistic philosophies assert that persons arrive from the One. As fragments torn from the ultimate entirety of things, humans are divine or have a divine potential within them. Our problems are our finiteness, physicalness and ignorance of our divinity. But all these are illusory and evil. Our reality and value consists in the extent to which we transcend our material limitations and are united in a nonduality with one another and the Absolute. What is not the One is not real. The enlightened lose their individuality and finitude through mystical experience of nonduality with the impersonal Absolute.

Pantheistic philosophies attack the enduring concept of the self. What the self is that allegedly transmigrates from one body to another, is not clear. What is clear is that it is not your finite self-conscious uniqueness, for that is illusory. It is what you have in common with all rocks, animals, and others. Your distinct, finite soul does not survive death. It is absorbed into Brahman or the One or lost in the emptiness of the Void.

The inherent and enduring worth of one man or woman and the universal necessity of relating to others justly is best accounted for on the hypothesis of a personal and moral Creator. According to the scriptural hypothesis, God created men and women in his image as responsible moral agents. The importance of the moral considerations to every human being and every subculture and society is best accounted for by a moral Source. Oliver Barclay argues that the ethic of love given ready-made in the Bible fits and explains human thinking and experience as no other hypothesis does. Christian ethical hypotheses, he adds, have a uniquely convincing explanatory value.{19}

E. Creation Philosophy Should Take Priority over Intramural Debates about the Time of Creation in Witnessing to People with other World Views

While western and eastern philosophers promote their evolutionary and pantheistic philosophies by every means possible, theistic creationists on university campuses ought not spend their time debating each other on guesses as to the date of Godís mighty creative acts. Were the six days of creation short literal or longer figurative periods of time? Did the reactive events occur as recently as 7-10,000 BC as recent creationists may say? Or did they begin several billions of years ago?

Recent creationists reason that the Almighty does not need to take longer than a week. Omnipotence, of course, need not take even a whole week. The issue is not what God could do but what God did do. The further answer to this temporal question may be something like the answer to the spatial question. Why would God create such vast reaches of the galaxies given his redemptive purposes on this third rock from the sun? The Almighty might reply, Why not? Importance is not determined by size. What is more important to the captain of an ocean liner--the value of the huge replaceable ship or his tiny baby in critical condition?

A young wife surprised me one day by asking,"Why did the Creator plan so many thousands of sperm in a male ejaculation when only one is needed to produce a baby?" The All-powerful Creator might respond, "Why not?" Omnipotence can be lavish (and there may be other good reasons). The Creator, so extravagant with space and sperm may be as extravagant with time.

Creation, not its date should be in the headlines to the world. One can believe in plenary biblical inerrancy and assent to all that the Old Testament affirms and not set a date for the creation of the universe or Adam and Eve.

No interpreter of Genesis 1:2 knows how long the raw material of the earth (matter-energy) was "without form and void" (KJ) or "formless and empty" (NIV).

The Old Testament does not give us any way to determine a date for the creation of humans. In the biblical genealogies, "begat" or "had a son" or "son of" may mean derived from, not necessarily the immediate father of X "the son of" Y may mean the son, grandson, or great, great, great, great-grandson. Jesus, in Matthew 1, is called the "son" of David, the "son" of Abraham. Approximately 1,000 year gaps may occur in the line of descent without notice. Comparisons of biblical genealogies with one another disclose gaps of several generations listed in others. A responsible interpreter does not guess at the number of gaps in the genealogies or their length.

So one cannot claim to set a date on the basis of adding up the ages of the patriarchs. "The date of 4,004 B.C. assigned to Creation by Usher in the 17th century is wrong. He assumed these genealogies were complete."{20} Setting a date for creation of the first man and woman is as unbiblical as setting the dates of Christís return at 1843, 1844, 1975, etc.

The Bible does not give us a basis for setting a date for the creation of the universe. It teaches a succession of six creative acts, but not definitively the length of time between them. The Hebrew word yom, does not always mean 24 hours. It may mean a shorter (12 hours, or a period of light) or a much longer period of time. Although "day" in scriptural is most often a literal 24 hour period of time with an evening and a morning, it is not always so. Many hold a literal week of creation because the sabbath commandment says, "In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth" (Exodus 20:11). But a literal 24-hour reference for yom is impossible during the first three days of creation. Not until the fourth yom did God arrange the solar system for literal days and nights (Gen. 1:14-16). Even days 5 and 6 of creation may have been long periods of time to parallel the first three or four. Six ages between creative acts followed by one age of rest would also set the pattern for the fourth commandment.

Yom was used by biblical writers for much longer periods of time: a month (Gen. 29:14), seven sabbaths of years (Lev. 25:8), "a long time" some 40 years in the wilderness (Joshua 24:7) and another long time when Israel was without the true God (2 Chron. 15:3). Evening and morning are also used of longer periods of time. The Psalmist speaks of the brevity of life beginning in the morning and ending in the evening (Ps. 90). Since the Bible uses yom figuratively for longer periods of time, a unspecified lengths of time may occur between the creative acts. Such a non-literal meaning is overwhelmingly probable at least for the first three or four days.

The inerrant Old Testament teaches creation, but not a date for it. Jesus Christ taught creation,{21} but our Lord did not give it a date.

The New Testament teaches creation but does not set its date.

Those committed to the inspired Bible as the final norm of faith and apologetic practice, will not make an estimated nonbiblical date a test of orthodoxy or fellowship. Neither will they make a date prominent in witnessing to non-Christians.

The scientific method, with its assumed reduction of evidence to that of the five senses and its touted demand for repeatability does not enable scientists to set a definite date for the origin of the world or of humans. Carbon 14 and other dating methods are useful within a relatively recent range (e.g., the parameters of the origin of the Dead Sea scrolls). But long range determinations depend for their validity upon an assumption-- that all the laws of creation have always functioned in the same way as at present. That presupposition has been assumed but it has not been proved. Many scientists simply assume that no catastrophe could have changed the usual patterns such as the speed of light and that none has. Even granting the assumption of the uniformity of nature for many billions of years, the margins of error in estimated dates are huge. Scientists do not agree on the date of the earliest human finds either. Reports of different estimates by different researchers in different areas of the world keep appearing. And these estimates depend on how one defines a human, how one distinguishes physical remains that are uniquely human from those that are not and whether the bone fragments discovered are indeed human which has too frequently turned out not to be the case. Since neither the hard data of science nor explicit data of Scripture provide a base for setting a definite date for the origins of the world or humans, apologists for a recent or a distant creation in intellectual honesty ought to cease and desist from setting dates as a basic part of their creation philosophy.

With the increasing impact of secular humanism and Eastern pantheism, both recent and progressive creationists should expend less time and energy on the length of time between the creative acts and more on those mighty acts. Unless creationists concertedly present their philosophy of origins more effectively to the coming generations, the 21st century will be increasingly dominated by a materialistic evolution or a pantheistic emanation Creationists have one of the greatest opportunities in history for the advance of a faithful witness to truth. It takes courage to present creation philosophy before those in power who differ. Witnesses (martyrs) are willing to suffer and even die for truth.

Creationists of the World Unite! {22}

Creationists of the world--whether in the American Scientific Affiliation, the Creation Research Society, or some other group--unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains of taxation without representation!

Unite in finding philosophical common ground and defend it together.

Unite in addressing the basic philosophical problem of the one and the many.

Unite, in presenting basic creation philosophy.

Unite in using an abductive method of research, reasoning and decision-making.

Unite in verifying hypotheses of origins by a threefold coherence criterion of truth integrating logic, fact and values.{23}

Unite in exhibiting the coherence of the creation hypothesis. It explains the origin of matter-energy, the beginning of kinds of life, their distinctiveness and persistence, the continuities and novelties in the fossil evidence, and above all, the uniqueness of human beings.{24} In contrast to the alternatives that depersonalize and de-moralize humanity, creation by a personal and moral God also offers the most powerful explanatory view of the inherent worth of persons, their inalienable human rights, their demand for justice, and their need for self-giving love of God and others.

Unite in developing philosophical competence in informal dialogues to earning the right to be heard publicly.

Unite in treating evolutionists and emanationists fairly. Respect and defend the right of people to present a reasoned case for any of the three influential philosophies of origins.

Unite in courageously standing up for academic freedom for teachers and students who hold to creation philosophy in any class on any subject where evolution or a mystical equivalent is appropriate.

Work together to develop course materials to help theists at different levels understand and evaluate the philosophical framework of evolutionists and emanationists.

Unite in producing materials so that any student and teacher in public schools can be as well acquainted with Christian theism as with naturalism and pantheism.


{1} Paul Kurtz, Living Without Religion (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1994), 36.

{2} Philip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1995), 12.

{3} Philip Merlan, "Emanationism" ed. Paul Edwards, Encyclopedia of Philosophy (NY: Macmillan, 1967), 2: 474-474.

{4} Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1953), 467-470.

{5} See my "Augustine: Monistic Mystic or Historic Christian" Christian Research Journal 19, 2, Fall, 1996.

{6} Philip Merlan, "Emanationism" p. 473.

{7} Paul Davies, God and the New Physics NY: Simon and Schuster, 1983), p. vii.

{8} Cited by Dean C. Halverson, "Science: Quantum Physics and Quantum Leaps" ed. Karen Hoyt, The New Age Rage Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1987.

{9} For more than nine reasons for interpreting Genesis one cognitively of a series of creative acts in order rather than poetically (etc.), see G. R. Lewis and B. A. Demarest, Integrative Theology (Zondervan, 1990) 2:36-45.

{10} For a comparison and contrast of criteria of truth in six methods of research, reasoning and decision making, see my Testing Christianityís Truth Claims (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990).

{11} Charles Sanders Pierce, "The Architecture of Theories" The Monist 1 (January 1891)161-76, reprinted in Max H. Fisch, Classic American Philosophies (NY: Appleton, Century, Crofts, 1951), 99.

{12} Norman Geisler & J. Uutaka Amano, The Reincarnation Sensation (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987).

{13} G. A. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution (NY: Pergamon, 1960), 6-7, 150-157.

{14} Michael J. Behe, Darwinís Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (NY: The Free Press, 1996). 193.

{15} Stephen Jay Gould in his own defense, "The New York Review of Books" June 12 and 26 as cited in ACADEME TODAY (Chronicle of Higher Education) 6/10/97.

{16} David L. Hull, "Darwinism" ed. Robert Audi, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy NY: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 179.

{17} Johnson, Reason in the Balance, 11.

{18} In Genesis 1 refers some ten times to each type of plant and animal as reproducible "according to its kind."

{19} Oliver Barclay, "The Nature of Christian Morality" ed. Bruce Kaye and Gordon Wenham, Law, Morality and the Bible (Downers' Grove, Il: InterVarsity, 1978), 128-129.

{20} R. L. Harris, "Genealogy" Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Zondervan, 1975) 2:675.

{21} Matt. 19:4, citing Genesis 1:27; 2:24.

{22} Lewis and Demarest, Integrative Theology, 2: 67.

{23} For further explanation of this epistemology, see Gordon Lewis, "An Integrative Method of Justifying Religious Assertions" ed. Bauman, Hall and Newman, Evangelical Apologetics Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1996), 69-90.

{24} Lewis and Demarest, Integrative Theology 2:57. Read the entire chapter on "The Origin of the World and Humanity" to evaluate the use of an abductive method in investigations of theological issues.