Evolution and Creation – Definitions

Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

Theistic evolutionism holds that God created matter in the beginning, and then used billions of years of natural processes, including death, destruction, mutations, and disease, to produce the various kinds of living things, including the human body. Generally speaking, theistic evolutionists deny the historicity of Genesis 1-11 [To be fair, one should distinguish between denying the historicity of these chapters, and interpreting them as a particular genre of history, in which figurative language plays an important part] and believe that Noah’s Flood was a local flood, that the Tower of Babel incident never actually happened, and that human languages evolved from primitive to more complex over long periods of time. [If one accepts the theory of evolution of life on the basis of the evidence for it, one is naturally quite likely to accept the theory of evolution of language on the basis of the evidence for it, since the kinds of evidence are rather similar. Similarly with the evidence for the flood and the exegetical considerations involved.]

The traditional, patristic, magisterial doctrine of creation holds that God created all of the different kinds of creatures during a very brief creation period at the beginning of time by an act of his Divine Will. According to this understanding, God created a perfectly harmonious world for our first parents, Adam and Eve, a few thousand years ago. He created Adam first, and then created Eve from Adam’s side. There was no human sickness, death, disease, harmful mutations or man-harming natural disasters before the Fall. Prior to the Original Sin, all of nature was under the dominion of Adam and Eve and was subservient to them. Even after the Original Sin, early man was physically and mentally [mental superiority after the fall cannot realistically be called part of a common traditional doctrine of creation] superior to modern man, and the early patriarchs actually lived to the long ages ascribed to them. There was a global flood in Noah’s day which killed all of the people and land animals except for those on Noah’s ark, [as the interpretation of the flood as a local flood was said to be mostly connected with the acceptance of the evolution of life, so the interpretation of the flood as global should be said to be mostly connected with this other interpretation of creation, rather than part of it.] and all of the basic language-families complete with their unique grammars and modes of thought were instantaneously created by God during the Tower of the Babel incident. [A more reasonable interpretation of the common understanding of the Tower of Babel event, would be to say that some basic language-families were created at that time. The assumption on the part of the authors that languages can not diverge from each other to an extent equal to the difference between any of these "basic language-families", is neither part of the doctrine of creation, nor is it pertinent to the interpretation of the Tower of Bable event.]

It is already evident from the contrast between these two definitions, that several things are mixed in here: what is being opposed is not only two doctrines of how God created the world, life, and languages, but also different hermeneutical approaches to understanding the natural world and interpreting Scripture. I'll come back to this point in a later post.

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