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22nd October, 2007

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Creation by process?

Theistic evolutionists believe that God made living things by creating the “laws” of natural selection and then allowing the process to take its course — creation by process as a result of the creation of process. “Hard core” creationists believe that everything was created about ten thousand years ago “as is”, and that only minor changes have occurred since then. Theistic evolutionists go even further, and see the process of natural selection as arising towards the end of an endlessly long series of natural processes that were initiated billions of years ago with a “big bang” and flowered sequentially, process by process. Galaxies evolved from the primordial plasma, stars were born and “set alight” by natural means, planets and other interesting beasts such as comets and asteroids condensed out of disks of gas and dust spun off by stars; planets in turn hived off moons. Then life arose spontaneously on earth, and elsewhere, and evolved into the myriad forms we see today.

The evidence suggests that the truth lies somewhere between the two views. Scripture prohibits the most extreme version of theistic evolution — that the only truly creative act consisted of the big bang, with everything that has come into being since then resulting from a long string of natural processes each of whose germ was contained in the alleged pre-explosion singularity. Genesis One plainly speaks of God's direct involvement throughout the creation period. Yet the evidence from the natural world equally plainly reveals that many “things” are the result of natural processes at work. Sandy beaches provide a classical example. Mineralogical examination of the sand grains often shows that the sand on a particular beach is derived from rocks found many miles inland from that beach. Sand grains show all the signs of having come about by erosion of rock and transport by rivers. By the same token, sandstone has obviously come into being by the compaction and cementation of grains of sand. The overarching theme of earth science is that of steady state processes; earth's minerals are on a never-ending cyclical conveyor belt — rocks turn into clay and mud and sand, and clay and mud and sand return to rock, constantly being created and

recreated, and all in perfect balance.

In short, God created processes, sometimes called “secondary causes”, that in turn sculpt things with which we are so familiar — rainfall, rainbows, mountains, sedimentary rocks, caves, beaches, deserts and mudflats. The rings of Saturn can be “explained” without necessary recourse to a direct creative act. One inevitable corollary of this fact is change, or “evolution”; the whole universe, including this earth, is constantly changing. Many of today's mountains once were covered by water in an ancient sea. Hard core creationists need to acknowledge this hard core truth. Yet Scripture is adamant that everything that is , is because God made it so. Try as hard as they may to explain the wonders and order of the universe and earth by recourse to one long string of processes, humanists constantly slam headlong into a dead end. Natural selection cannot create new genetic information and thus new organisms. The proportions of elements in the universe cannot be explained by stellar nucleosynthesis. All the proposed models of formation of galaxies out of the original “brew” of hydrogen fail at many key points.

Of course, humanists have a hackneyed response to this last point — one day they'll be able to explain it all. Just give them time. No way. God created by fiat and also through secondary causes. Humanists may scoff at the notion of combining naturalism with thaumaturgy (“creating and making” — Gen. 2:3), but the alternative they offer should be enough to send the most hardened of audiences into an apoplexy of laughter.

To God goes all the credit, as Amos the prophet records:

For behold, He who forms mountains , and creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth — The Lord God of hosts is His name (4:13).

Winds spring up and disappear continuously in response to other causes. But Amos understood that God created the processes, and so to Him must go all the credit.


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