The recent papal pronouncements on evolution have elicited responses from hundreds of commentators. It is well known that approximately one third of the US population belongs to church groups endorsing evolution. Most of these believe evolution is a God-ordained means of bringing into existence Earth’s millions of species, including humanity. Another one fifth of the population believes in evolution but do not believe God had anything to do with it. Adding the two groups together, we find at least half the population believes in evolution. The two groups are in agreement concerning general evolutionary theory, but not in agreement on evolutionary processes. Most church members who believe in evolution believe God “created all things” in the beginning, a reiteration of “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (all that exists). From the first appearance on earth of LUCA, a one-celled common ancestor about 3.8 billion years ago, evolutionists say God has been watching evolution proceed without any further acts of creation in the traditional sense. Those who believe in both God and evolution are forced to this conclusion.
Many commentators in the past month reported that the Pope reinforced the position that evolutionary theory is consistent with the Christian belief system. By extension, mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants who believe in evolution would also find evolution compatible with their Christian belief system. Creationism, thereby, assumes a different definition: Theistic evolutionists have lately characterized themselves using the moniker “evolutionary creationist.” The term creationist, therefore, has now acquired diverse meanings. The challenge of theologians continues to be finding the truth, not merely reciting a spectrum of possible meanings of create, creationist, and creationism. Evolutionist evangelical Christian Denis O. Lamoureux, Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College, writing on the website of BioLogos, writes that, “Evolutionary creation…contends that the Creator established and maintains the laws of nature, including the mechanisms of a teleological evolution. In other words, evolution is a planned and purpose driven natural process.” (emphasis mine)
Pope Francis’ statements conflated the Big Bang and evolution: (1) The Big Bang doesn’t contradict the notion of a divine creator, but demands it; (2) “Evolution is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve. The term demands with respect to the creation event seems unrelated to the occurrence of the Big Bang; the term requires seems unrelated to the creation of beings which evolve.
Our blog has expressed the position that the Big Bang was God’s initial creative act in this cosmos. According to many independent discoveries of sound science, the Big Bang occurred. About ten billion years later, life appeared suddenly on this planet. Life’s appearance was also a creation event or events according to Genesis 1. We have stated that the progressive sequence of life forms has consisted of changes occurring in step-like fashion. According to our knowledge of paleontology, the record affirms no significant sequences of transitions of species as evolutionary theory would predict. Thus, evolution is not confirmed; rather, it is denied. Instead, sudden creation acts are affirmed.
Some of the heartiest doubts concerning evolution are voiced by evolutionists themselves. For example, Stephen J. Gould (1941-2002), popular evolutionary theorist, wrote earth’s species exhibit “no directional change” nor do they evidence the “steady transformation of its ancestors.” Nevertheless, the concept of biological evolution is enormously appealing to our modern world. Rationale for this phenomenon relates to the fact that traditional supernatural creation events seem more difficult to accept than naturalistic explanations.
God is the author of miracles. He is also the author of natural laws and processes by which the world operates on a daily basis. To attribute a transcendent miracle to a natural process is as mistaken as to attribute operation of a natural process to a transcendent miracle. We search for the wisdom of God in discerning the difference between transcendent miracles and the operation of natural laws and processes. God is the author of both.
We affirm, along with the Pope, that the Big Bang occurred. We do not affirm that macro-evolution occurred. Scientific evidence for creation events in the geologic record overwhelm scientific evidence for molecules to man evolution. Micro-evolutionary events occurred, but the evidence for macro-evolutionary events are virtually absent. If we acknowledge creation events, we acknowledge the divine works of God the Creator.