5 Views of the Origins of Life

Before I even knew the word apologetics, I’d already heard several debates on creation vs. evolution. For a good chunk of time, I saw this debate as completely binary. You were either a Darwinian evolutionist or a young-earth creationist who believes God created the world some 6,000-10,000 years ago. Anything in between was just due to confusion or misinformation. Over time, I’ve seen that there are other views in the mix that many never hear about. Skeptics toss out all of creationism and intelligent design, thinking they are all the same as young-earth creationism. Meanwhile, many Christians reject any alternative explanation as tossing out the Bible in favor of secular science. I thought it might be good to lay out the spectrum of views in play and where they fit together. These are 5 views of the origins of life and some problems with each.

1. Darwinian Evolution

This is the most popular view among modern scientists and naturalists. Those who reject any supernatural or theistic involvement in the universe typically land here. The theory is that life originated through random forces bringing about the first single-celled organism billions of years ago. That first life reproduced and its descendants adapted and evolved into other species. Under Darwinism, if you have enough time, you can go from a single cell to fish, dinosaurs, birds, mammals, and of course, humans. Humanity would be nothing more than the next stage of evolution that happened to be smart enough to invent language and science.

Discovering Bias In Anti-Bias Training

In many ways, evolution is the only option if you are going to reject theism. That does not mean that atheist=evolutionist. Many atheists disagree with that association. However, evolution is the primary theory held and the one being assumed and studied for centuries now. To my knowledge, very few alternatives exist that scientists widely take very seriously.

What’s Wrong with That?

I think most Christians understand where the conflict lies between Darwinian Evolution and Christianity. If evolution is true, it fundamentally changes what scripture says about human creation, original sin, and possibly the image of God and Biblical reliability. However, that’s not to say that there are no problems with evolution besides theology. The theory’s problems and holes have been debated for centuries, leading even some atheists to reject the theory.

2. Intelligent Design

When Christians think of intelligent design, it’s usually seen as synonymous with creationism. That’s not necessarily what I mean here. The term can mean more broadly that life was caused by intelligence before humanity. Perhaps aliens or some other form of life caused us, intentionally or no. This is a view that some skeptics adopt when they realize the growing number of flaws with Darwinian evolution. They may still hold aspects of evolution but appeal to an outside intelligence for the origins of life.

What’s Wrong with That?

The solution that intelligent design without God provides is limited. All they have done is explain how human life exists. However, now they are stuck with the question of how that previous intelligence began. They’re left with the same big questions on the origins of life, just one step further back. Unless the source is an uncaused first cause, like a timeless and spaceless creator, you have solved very little besides bringing aliens into the picture.

3. Theistic Evolution

This is the first view that explicitly involves theism but may not be orthodox Christianity. Theistic evolution still agrees with modern science regarding evolution but incorporates God as the author. Evolution is still the mechanism by which life came about. However, this view would reject the notion that it is random and unguided, instead believing that God controlled the process. Thus they accept most of the modern evolutionary theories with God to explain the origin of life.

What’s Wrong with That?

The view has some of the same theological conflicts as Darwinian evolution. First is the simple question of the historical Adam. If evolution is true, God did not create the first human, but humanity gradually came to be from lower lifeforms. This raises serious questions about biblical inerrancy and theological teachings on original sin. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come” (Romans 5:12-14, NIV).

It’s not popular among skeptics either, though. They see the notion of an unguided process of adaptation being guided by a creator more than a little strange. If you’re going to adopt this view, be ready to have people on both sides upset with you.

4. Old Earth Creationism

This view holds to a more traditional view of creation. There was still a garden of Eden and historical Adam. They still reject macroevolution. Theologically they hold pretty much every major orthodox Christian idea. The only division is that they tend not to read the days of creation as literal 24-hour days. They adopt modern science regarding the age of the Earth and universe while still rejecting evolution and naturalism.

What’s Wrong with That?

The problems with this view will depend somewhat on priorities. If you believe that reading the days of creation as literal 24-hour days is essential to correctly understanding the text, you will probably take issue with this. That and whether there was animal death before the fall are, to my knowledge, the only significant conflicts it gets into with other Christians. They still clash with evolutionary scientists, but considerably less than the young earth view in areas of physics, geology, and astronomy.

5. Young Earth Creationism

Probably the most commonly understood view of creation today, this is the view that God created the universe somewhere around 6,000-10,000 years ago. This number was determined by combining the 7 days of creation with the various genealogies in Scripture, adding up to under 10,000 years.

They did the math.

What’s Wrong with That?

First, the vast majority of the scientific community is not going to take the view seriously. Physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and anthropology alone raise serious questions for this view. Maybe you’re comfortable with that. However, as our culture becomes more focused on science, this view is getting harder to defend in the public square. It has been a major source of young people being convinced that Christianity is anti-science. That does not make it true or false, but it is a consequence.

Finally, it’s not theologically necessary. I think this view is probably the easiest conclusion to draw from scripture, but that does not mean it is the only acceptable position. There are plenty of times where the simplest reading of a text is not the accurate one. Whether or not the days and genealogies are literal or precise does not change any of the fundamentals of the Christian story.

Those are the very basic summaries of 5 views of the origins of life. There are others, or grey areas in between the 5. In the West today, these are probably the most relevant to the Christian.

Discuss your thoughts for this post on our Facebook Group here.

Catagories
Archives
Calendar
January 2022
S M T W T F S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
RSS Listen to Our Latest Podcast Here
  • What Is The Immaculate Conception? January 20, 2022
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question "What is the Immaculate Conception?". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • Responding To The Problem Of Evil Online January 18, 2022
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team evaluates an argument against theism using the problem of evil.   Video refferenced in the podcast:  
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • What Is Omnism? January 13, 2022
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question "What is omnism?". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • What Does It Mean To Turn The Other Cheek? January 11, 2022
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team discusses what it means to turn the other cheek.  
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • Do Christians Need To Be Baptized Twice? January 6, 2022
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question "Do Christians need to be baptized twice?". 
    Drew Covet, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • Epiphany January 4, 2022
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team talks about Epiphany and the Christmas season. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • Do Christians Need To Forgive? December 30, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question "Do Christians Need To Forgive?". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • The Idea Of A True Myth December 28, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team discusses a question from a listener about the idea of the opening chapters of Genesis being a "True Myth". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • Would The Holy Family Have To Travel For The Census? December 23, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question "Would the Holy Family have to travel for the census?". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • The Christmas Special December 21, 2021
    In this episode of the Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team discusses their favorite Christmas memories. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean