One of the most important and contentious debates is about the origin of life—creation vs. evolution. Are we the result of intelligent design or random chance?
Both sides would agree that the universe and the life in it are amazing and mind-boggling.
Both sides would also agree that this universe had a beginning. (Many times the Bible declares that God created the heavens and the earth. Likewise, the scientific evidence is very strong that the universe came into existence at a specific time.)
But beyond that, it can seem that there is little agreement between those who believe in creation and those who believe in Darwinian evolution as the origin of all life.
By saying creation vs. evolution, we are not trying to pick a fight or to disparage those who accept the theory of evolution or the incredible research and scientific study that has been put into it. We, too, are fascinated by the incredible variety in nature, the interconnections in ecosystems and the relatedness of all life.
We, however, see all of these as signs of design by a superintelligent Creator, rather than the results of random chance.
This is not really a debate about God vs. science. We believe that God created science and that studying science can help confirm our belief in the Creator God.
You may be surprised to learn that we believe that some aspects of evolution do occur. The definition of evolution is broad, and it does not just refer to the theory that tries to explain the origin and diversity of all life.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the meaning of evolution in biology today refers to “the changes in the proportions of biological types in a population over time.”
The same article quotes this definition by John Endler:
“Evolution may be defined as any net directional change or any cumulative change in the characteristics of organisms or populations over many generations—in other words, descent with modification.”
Such changes can be observed within species today, whether caused by changes of environment or mutations. We believe these are part of the flexibility designed within the created order.
But we don’t believe they explain the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code itself, or the unfathomable number of irreducibly complex changes that would be required to change from one kind of life to another kind.
You could say we believe in microevolution, but not macroevolution. In fact, the theory of evolution as the origin of life cannot be tested scientifically. It is not falsifiable—there’s no way to disprove it or prove it scientifically, and so it cannot be considered scientific fact.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was first published in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. Since then, it seems the theory of evolution has become the accepted scientific explanation of the origin of life and all its variety.
But this doesn’t mean all scientists agree. After the PBS television series Evolution aired, a hundred scientists published an ad with the title “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.”
“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life,” they wrote.
“Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
We encourage readers to study into the assumptions and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution as well as the evidence for design requiring a designer.
In the creation vs. evolution debate, many religious people have come to the conclusion that both are right. A range of beliefs fall under this umbrella of theistic (God-guided) evolution.
Some believe that God created the universe out of nothing, then used evolution to produce the variety of life we see. Many would then see the creation of the human “soul” as being a separate creation.
Others would say that science and religion are not in conflict because they look at different truths. For example, Francisco Ayala, an evolutionary biologist who earlier was ordained a priest, says science and religion are two different windows through which we see the world.
“Suppose I give you an exact physical description of a painting,” he said. “The physical description does not answer questions [about the aesthetics or meaning]. It has to be answered a different way … the physical description is like science and the meaning and purpose of the painting is like religion.”
However, the Bible teaches a single criteria for truth (John 17:17), and it clearly teaches that God not only created the universe, but He specially created man and the creatures now alive on the earth (Genesis 1).
While we believe science and the Bible are completely compatible, we don’t think those who believe the Bible can also believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. They contradict each other and can’t both be true.
For example, the Bible says that on the sixth day of creation week God said, “‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so” (Genesis 1:24).
On the same day, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (verse 26).
God says these things all happened the same day, while Darwinian evolution says they occurred over millions of years as a result of natural selection and random chance mutations. These cannot both be true, since the two explanations are not compatible with each other.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that some views of creation miss the fact that the Bible does not say that the entire universe was created a few thousand years ago. Genesis 1:1-2 leaves open the possibility of a gap of perhaps billions of years between the original creation and the creation week of verses 3-31. (See our article “The Gap Theory” for an explanation.)
When properly understood, we believe that science supports the Bible and that the Bible does not contradict science.
In the modern world, children cannot and should not avoid learning about evolution. But what do parents need to teach their children to help them understand both creation and evolution? How can they prepare their kids to deal with the creation vs. evolution debate? How does intelligent design fit into the evolution vs. God controversy?
Parents can teach their kids from an early age about the wonders of God’s creation. The evidence of beauty, purposeful design and meaning is visible and understandable to all.
Parents and children can marvel together about the growth of seeds, the flight of butterflies and birds, the wonders of the water cycle and the awesome complexity of the human senses.
Instilling a love of the creation and of science does not mean that our children must accept the theory of evolution as fact.
Science involves observation and developing theories to be tested. If our children understand that the theory of evolution is designed to explain the natural world without God, they can understand why we believe that intelligent design is a far better explanation in a world with God.
As they grow, our children can recognize that the theory of evolution—that life came from nonlife and over billions of years developed into all the complexity we see today by blind chance—cannot be tested or proven. Scientists can never develop an experiment to turn nonliving matter into a living being. And beyond that, they can’t answer where the matter came from in the first place, only that it did suddenly appear out of nothing!
Science depends on our ability to observe through our senses the things that happen over time in our physical universe. So science also cannot disprove the existence of the God who is beyond our universe.
The God who created the universe is not limited by space or time. He cannot be measured, but He gives us plenty of evidence and proof that He exists through the universe He designed for us.
These foundational principles provide a framework for understanding that scientific facts give evidence of the amazing design of God’s creation. We don’t have to reject the facts just because some of the same facts are included in evolutionary theories.
In general, the brilliant scientists who have developed and are continually revising the latest evolutionary theories are doing their best to explain the creation without the Creator. The details change and the reasoning can be complex, but the core argument is the same.
Are the universe and life the result of random chance? Or meaningful design by a superintelligent Designer?
Our articles can help you teach your children how to examine the facts and come to the right answer.
This much is clear from studying the Bible and the wonders of creation: God created the universe exactly as He said.
But as scientific knowledge increases and evolutionary theories change, many additional questions arise. See below for a number of articles that address some of these questions.
Studying creation vs. evolution may seem challenging and unconnected to everyday life.
But proving to yourself that our Creator exists is vitally important, because the Bible shows that the Creator God of the entire universe wants to have a relationship with you! The One who designed and planned the intricacies of the universe and life has a plan for your life!
There is nothing more important than learning about Him and getting to know Him. If you have questions, the caring ministers on our “Ask a Question” team are happy to help. Just click the link below.