A Brief History of the Creation Discussion

The narrative of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth is clearly described in Genesis chapter 1 and 2.  This narrative describes a creation period of six (6) days of ordinary length (24 hours).   Until the acceptance of uniformitarian geology in the 1800’s, there was very little creation discussion.  This was due to the fact that the majority of Christians held the view that the earth was created in six days of ordinary length and for this reason, this view is sometimes termed the Traditional Interpretation of creation.  The Traditional Interpretation is also termed the Calendar-Day Interpretation, Days of Ordinary Length Interpretation, Literal Interpretation, and Twenty-four-Hour Interpretation.  The term “Traditional Interpretation” is helpful when describing the history of the creation discussion.

Some Christians attempted to harmonize the Bible with the long ages of uniformitarian geology.  This resulted in the development of two new interpretations of creation.  These interpretations are the Day-Age Interpretation and the Ruin-Restoration (Gap) Interpretation.  Both were developed in the early 1800’s, before the publishing of Darwin’s theory of evolution (1859).  The Day-Age view and the Ruin-Restoration view are termed concordant views of creation.   Neither of these views accommodates evolution.   Concordism is a term used to describe interpretations of Genesis which attempt to preserve Genesis as history while harmonizing the Bible with secular science (as understood at their time).

Some Christians became dissatisfied with the Day-Age and Ruin-Restoration Interpretations but wanted an alternative to the Traditional Interpretation.  As a result, new interpretations were developed.  The best known of these new interpretations are the Analogical-Day Interpretation and the Framework Interpretation.  The Analogical Day Interpretation dates from the 1890’s but was popularized by seminary professor Dr. C. John “Jack” Collins in the late 1990’s.  The Framework Interpretation dates from the 1920’s but was popularized by seminary professor Dr. Meredith G. Kline beginning in 1958.   The Analogical Day view and the Framework view are termed disconcordant views of creation.  Discordism is a term used to describe interpretations of Genesis gives lip service to preserving Genesis as history.   However, the trust of discordism is to remove the Bible from scientific and historical discussion by using various literary interpretations and devices.  This requires elaborate reinterpreting certain passages.  Not all who hold the views of discordism hold to evolution and some claim that these views reject evolution.  However, materials that support theistic evolution hold to a discordant view of scripture.

There are other less know alternatives to the Traditional Interpretation. Some of these less known alternatives could be classified as either concordant; other could be classified as discordant.

Darwin’s theory of evolution (1859) offered a totally un-Biblical view of the origins of humankind.   The theory of evolution was understandably popular with atheists and agnostics because it offered an explanation for human origins that excluded the God of the Bible or any other god for that matter.   By the 1980’s, the theory of evolution, long geologic ages, and the “Big Bang” became the majority view of the scientific community and of the consensus scientific consensus.

The theory of evolution started to be accepted within the leadership mainline protestant denominations soon after it was formally introduced.  However, within the mainline denominations there were many who believed in the Traditional Interpretation of creation.  The Scopes Trail of 1925 highlighted the conflict between the theory of evolution and the traditional view of creation.  John T. Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act (1925) which prohibited teaching evolutionary theory in public universities and public schools.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented Scopes.  In 1950, the Roman Catholic Church announces that there was no conflict between Christianity and evolution.  Some evangelicals accepted evolution in the 1800’s; however, most did not.  Evolution first acquired a noticeable voice in evangelical churches in the 1950’s.  This voice was heard through the American Scientific Affiliation (1941).

The publishing of the Genesis Flood (1961) sparked a tremendous interest in creation and science.   One outworking of this has been the development of a number of creationist organizations that support scientific research and the Traditional Interpretation of creation.  The interest in the creation discussion prompted two conservative Presbyterian denominations to publish reports on creation.  The reports are the PCA Report (2001) and the OPC Report (2004).  These reports have done much to document the history of the creation discussion and present the various views of creation.

In the 1980’s, The Intelligent Design (ID) movement became a participant in the creation discussion.  The founders of the movement are well qualified scientists.  In basic terms, ID teaches that the scientifically observed complexity of life requires a designer.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Edward’s v. Aguillard barred the teaching of creation science public education.  The basis of the decision was Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

In 2005, a U.S. District Court’s decision in the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District barred the teaching of Intelligent Design in public education.  The basis of the decision was Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  The plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and others.

The creation discussion began to take different turn in 2006 with the publishing The Language of God ….; this book supported Theistic Evolution (also termed Evolutionary Creation) and was very popular.  The BioLogos organization was formed in 2007 and actively promotes Theistic Evolution.  Another major contributor to the promotion of Theistic Evolution has been the Templeton Foundation.  Prior to Biologos, the creation discussion was largely within evangelical Christians and various views were financed from within the evangelical community.

The current (2016) creation discussion is centered primarily within evangelical churches.  This is due to the fact that theistic evolution is the official view of the Roman Catholic Church and the majority view within the mainline protestant churches.  All views of creation are represented in the current evangelical church.  The Templeton Foundation and Biologos are aggressively promoting theistic evolution (also termed Evolutionary Creation).  The focus of these two organizations is the present and the future evangelical leadership.  Evangelical leaders are awarded honors and financial prizes for producing materials favorable to the cause of theistic evolution.