A Possible Evolutionary Creation Model

Over the past couple of years, I've been studying material from The BioLogos Foundation. They've had a major impact on my thinking. I now consider Christianity and Darwinian Evolution to be 100% compatible, they convinced me to give up concordism in favor of accommodationism, and they made me go from "Evolution is so absurd! How could any sane person believe such a thing?" to "Yeah, I can see why so many people think it's true". As of the time of this writing, I am not totally convinced that Old Earth (special) Creationism is false, it's more like I'm on the fence about evolution and no longer take a stance one way or the other. I'm firmly convinced that the universe is 14 billion years old and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, but whether God miraculously and separately created each individual species over the Earth's 4 billion year history or whether He worked through an evolutionary process, I'm just not sure. I'm leaning towards EC, but I haven't clamped down on it.

In any case, if I do ever take that final step and go from "leaning" to adhering, this is the creation model I would adhere to.

1: God Creates The Universe Out Of Nothing At The Big Bang 

The Big Bang Theory is the scientific theory that says that 14 billion years ago, all matter, energy, space, and time came into being out of absolutely nothing. Plenty of evidence backs up The Big Bang Theory such as the expansion of the universe (as entailed by Albert Einstein's Theory Of General Relativity, Alexander Friedman's and George Lemaitre's Theoretical Models, and the empirically verified redshift of the light from the distant galaxies discovered in 1929 by the American Astronomer Edwin Hubble). The Cosmic Microwave Background radiation discovered in the 1960s also verifies that The Big Bang Happened.

(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause. (2) The universe began to exist. (3) Therefore, the universe has a cause. The cause of the universe must transcend the universe. It must be spaceless because it brought space into existence (it cannot be inside of space if space didn't exist before this cause brought it into existence), it must be timeless because it's the cause of time (again, you can't be inside of something if you are the reason it exists), it must be immaterial because material objects occupy spacial dimensions and we've already established that the cause must be spaceless or non-spacial. Moreover, it must be uncaused because, for the universe's cause to have a cause that brought it into existence, before-and-after relationships would need to be possible, and they're not possible without time. The cause must be unimaginably powerful because it created the universe out of nothing. And it must be a personal agent. Why? Because the cause is immaterial. There are two things philosophers typically categorize as immaterial: abstract objects and unembodied minds. Abstract objects are causally impotent. That's part of what it means to be abstract. The number 7, for example, doesn't cause any effects. Since abstract objects are causally impotent, the cause of the universe cannot be an abstract object. The only other option, therefore, is that the cause of the universe is an unembodied mind. Minds belong to persons. Therefore, the cause of the universe is a person. Reason and logic show that The Big Bang was impossible without a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, uncaused, personal Creator.

God created the entire physical universe at The Big Bang approximately 14 billion years ago.

2: God Finely Tunes The Laws Of Physics Right At The Big Bang

In order for life to exist, the laws of physics such as The Strong Nuclear Force, The Weak Nuclear Force, The Force Of Gravity, The Force Of Electromagnetism, The Ratio Of The Number Of Electrons To Protons, The Expansion Rate Of The Universe, etc. had to fall into an extremely narrow range in order for life to exist. If any of them were off by even a hair's breadth, the balance would be destroyed and the universe would not be capable of containing life. There are only 3 potential explanations for why the universe is so precisely calibrated: physical necessity, chance, or design. Physical Necessity and Chance are extremely untenable. It follows that intelligent design is the best explanation of the fine tuning of physics.

3: God Finely Tunes Our Galaxy, Solar System, and Earth-Moon Planetary System 


Over 400 characteristics of our galaxy, solar system, and Earth-Moon planetary system has to come together in an extremely precise way in order to get 1 planet capable of harboring advanced life. If any of these were missing, life would not be able to evolve. God providentially ordered that the 400 just-right characteristics to come together in our galaxy, solar system, and Earth-Moon Planetary system.


4: God Miraculously Created The First Single-Celled Organism And Let Evolution Take Over From There.


DNA Contains Information and whenever we trace information, we always trace it back to an intelligent agent. Moreover, the cell is full of irreducibly complex systems like The Bacterial Flagellum. The Cell is an extremely complex factory. It is statistically impossible that it could have come together by chance, and I'm skeptical that God could have even created the first single-celled organism without directly intervening. Abiogenesis is impossible.

Abiogenesis and Macro Evolution (or universal common ancestry) are two separate issues. I find the latter plausible, but I find the former extremely unreasonable. In order for evolution to occur, you first have to have something there that can evolve!

5: By using His Middle Knowledge Of What Nature WOULD do under any given circumstance, God is able to orchestrate evolutionary processes in such a way that the kind of animals He wants to exist come into existence. By using His middle knowledge, God is intimately involved in the process of creation, and life is not a cosmic accident. 

As a Molinist, I find that if God did use evolution to create all of life, the best explanation for how He did this was through His middle knowledge. Molinism asserts that God has 3 types of knowledge: Natural, Middle, and Free. His natural knowledge is knowledge of all possibilities and necessary truths (i.e everything the could happen and must happen), His middle knowledge is knowledge of everything that would happen under certain circumstances. His free knowledge is knowledge of everything that will actually happen in the future. This third logical moment of knowledge is of God's own choosing, based on what He knows in His middle knowledge.

God can control what happens in the world by acting on His middle knowledge; His knowledge of what any creature would freely do in any circumstance. God knows "If Bob were in circumstance X, he would freely choose action A over action B". So, if God wants Bob to choose action A, God can get him to choose A by placing him in circumstance X. God places Bob in circumstance X, and lo and behold, Bob chooses A.

I believe this is how God orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. God knew that if Caiaphas was high priest in the first century, then he would freely condemn Jesus on grounds of blasphemy and take Him to Pilate for execution. He knew that if Pilate was prefect in the first century, then he would freely comply with the demands of the crowd. And He knew that if Judas was born in the time and place that he actually was, then he would become Jesus' disciple for a while and would freely choose to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin. On Molinism, God providentially brought about the crucifixion by acting on His knowledge of how people would freely act if placed in these positions. Now, if these people would have chosen differently, God would have known that and could have placed different individuals in their shoes instead.

If God can control and orchestrate human history through the use of His middle knowledge, then He could direct evolutionary history in exactly the same way. God would know "If this species of animal were in this part of the world with these conditions in place, then this genetic mutation would occur, and natural selection would preserve it". Or God would know "If X happens, then this population would move to this part of the region where this genetic mutation would occur." And in order for God to get those genetic mutations to occur, He could use His middle knowledge to actualize a possible world where those animals are in just those circumstances so that the mutations do occur, and natural selection does preserve those changes.

This view differs from progressive creationism in that, on Progressive Creationism, God intervenes throughout evolutionary history in a miraculous way in order to help nature along. On this view that I'm positing, nature would be doing all the work, but God would be directing the process through His knowledge of what nature would do under any given circumstance. So evolution would be completely non-miraculous (just as its non-miraculous when Bob chooses A over B in circumstance S), but it's also completely God-guided.

"We knew of old that God was so wise that He could make all things; but behold, God is so much wiser than that, that He can make all things make themselves." - Charles Kingsley, an Anglican Priest, and a friend of Darwin.

6: Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve evolve from lower primates but aren't the only humans to come into existence. Nevertheless, the creation narrative focuses on them because everyone alive from the time of Noah is descended from them (explanation is given in next subheader), and also because they are the ones to introduce sin to the human race. The introduce the sin nature through their progeny through inheritance (i.e their descendants inherit their sin nature), but their contemporaries get it through Adam and Eve being a bad influence. 

Now, of course, some would object that Adam and Eve couldn't have evolved from lower primates because The Bible says Adam was made out of dust (Genesis 2:7) and Eve from Adam's Rib (Genesis 2:22). John Walton makes a strong case that the reference to dust is implying Adam's mortality, given other places in Scripture where it speaks of humans being dust, with the context making it clear that the "dust" language is speaking of our mortality. Psalm 103:13-16 says "As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust. As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." 

We are dust. We are mortal. Just like the grass and flowers.

The “teacher” of Ecclesiastes asserts the same thing, comparing us to animals:

"The fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again." - Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

It's very plausible that the Genesis text is just saying God created Adam mortal, rather than literally scooping up a handful of dirt and miraculously transforming it into a person.

"But wait!" you'll object. "Doesn't The Bible make it clear that Adam was created immortal? Romans 5 says death came into the world through his sin." -- For one thing, I think it's plausible that Romans 5 is speaking of spiritual death, not physical (see my blog post "Why Pre-Fall Death Isn't A Problem For Old Earth Creationism" to see why). But besides that, if Adam was created mortal, then the tree of life becomes superfluous. For if Adam was an inherently immortal being until he sinned, then why does there need to be a tree of life for him to eat from? And why did God feel the need to bar access from the tree of life? In Genesis 3:22, God told us the reason for barring access to the tree of life. "And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." God barred access to the tree of life to prevent Adam and Eve from living forever. But if they were inherently immortal, such a tree wouldn't be needed. It's implied that unless Adam and Eve could have regular access to the tree of life, they would die, which entails they didn't have immortality in and of themselves. 

7: God destroyed 99% of humanity due to the extreme depravity that filled the Earth in Noah's time. The reason all humans are descended from Adam and Eve even though they weren't THE first human is because their lineage, and only their lineage, survived through Noah and his sons. 

On this creation model, Adam and Eve would be one of the first homo sapiens to evolve, and the reason scripture focuses so heavily on them is that all human beings are descendants of these two people. But, how could that be if they weren't the first human beings but only one of the first human beings? This is where the Genesis flood comes in. We know from scripture that Noah and his sons are descendants of Adam (via the genealogies), and we also know that all human beings were killed in the flood except for Noah and his sons and daughter-in-laws on the ark. If this is the case, then virtually every person since that time is a descendant of Adam and Eve because Noah is a descendant of Adam and Eve, and Noah and his sons and daughter-in-laws were the only people to survive that catastrophe. No one descended from any other homo sapiens because these other homo sapiens that evolved along with Adam and Eve had their ancestral lines end when the last ones in their family tree were killed in the Genesis flood.

So, when The Bible says in Acts 17:26 that God built the nations from one man, we don't have to view this as being in conflict with the Darwinian view of human origins. If this model is correct, then God did build all of the nations from only one man.


Which Interpretation Of Genesis 1 Is Compatible With This Model?

The Day-Age Theory, The Framework Hypothesis, and The Functional Creation (John Walton) view are all compatible with this evolutionary creation model. The Calendar Day View (7 literal 24 hour days) are not. 

Conclusion 

I want to make clear that I am not an evolutionary creationist. I lean that way, but that's as far as it goes. I am an OEC-leaning-towards-EC. I think the model of creation I presented in this one is compatible with The Bible and is compatible with the theory of evolution. If I ever go from mere leaning to actually adhering to evolutionary creationism, this is is the view I would hold to. As an Old Earth Creationist, I already adhere to 4 out of 7 of the tenets of this model, and talk about the first 3 in my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods.