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Basic Worldview:
103 Science, the Bible,
and Creation

"Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"

The purpose of this prelude is to introduce and distinguish the closely-related article series that appear under the section headings "Atheism vs. Theism" and "Science, the Bible, and Creation."

The "Atheism vs. Theism" series primarily addresses foundational atheistic and agnostic criticisms of general theism, rather than any specific form of theism. In particular, this series traces the line of reasoning that establishes the necessity of an eternal, first cause. As such, evolutionary theory and Judeo-Christian creationism are not in view here. However, the issue of the origin of life is included as a vital case study for the necessity of intelligence as an aspect of the eternal, first cause. Additional, more detailed proofs for the intelligent and personal nature of the eternal, first cause are provided as part of our "Science, the Bible, and Creation" series.

Our "Science, the Bible, and Creation" focuses on the debate between evolution and creationism in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Moreover, this series addresses this topic in two distinct arenas, which could be described in terms of an internal and an external debate. The internal debate focuses on what is frequently termed "young earth creationism" and "old earth creationism." Old earth creationism is defined by a variety of attempts to reconcile and merge the creation account in Judeo-Christian scripture with the age of the earth in modern scientific theory.

At this point, it should be noted that although the term “evolution” is perhaps most often associated with biology, as a general theoretical premise the term “evolution” is also applied to other fields as well including cosmology and geology. In fact, the term is applicable to virtually any field for which modern theory attempts to account for all phenomenon (whether galaxies or landforms) solely in terms of gradual change produced by strictly physical (i.e. natural) processes. This general application of evolution as a systematic theory encompassing not only biology but cosmology and geology has been around since the time of Darwin in the nineteenth century. This fact is exemplified in the following encyclopedia entry about English philosopher Herbert Spencer.

Herbert Spencer – While he had discussed the evolution of various things in earlier articles, it was in “Progress: Its Law and Cause” (1857b) that Spencer first applied the concept of evolution systematically to the universe at large, and especially to human society: ‘The advance from the simple to the complex, through a process of successive differentiations, is seen alike in the earliest changes of the Universe to which we can reason our way back, and in the earliest changes which we can inductively establish; it is seen in the geologic and climatic evolution of the Earth; it is seen in the unfolding of every single organism on its surface, and in the multiplication of kinds of organisms...’ ([1857h] 1915, p. 35)” - International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 1968, encyclopedia.com

And this trend also continues into modern times. The quotes below apply the term “evolution” to the landforms of geology and galaxies of astronomy.

Landscape Evolution - ‘Landscape evolution’ is the term used to describe the ways that landscapes evolve or change over time. Some of the earliest geological insights arose from the realization that the Earth has a history and that the landforms on the Earth's surface evolve over time through the action of weathering and erosion. In the late nineteenth century, when the insights and controversy surrounding Darwin's evolutionary thought were receiving wide attention, the American geomorphologist William Morris Davis proposed a theory of sequential (evolutionary) landscape development...There has since been a return to long-term landscape evolution studies with the advent of new theoretical frameworks, such as plate tectonics, and the development of new analytical, modelling and dating techniques, such as radiometric dating, fission-track analysis, and cosmogenic surface-exposure dating.” – The Oxford Companion to the Earth, 2000, PAUL HANCOCK and BRIAN J. SKINNER, encyclopedia.com

”Galaxy Evolution - Any change in the properties of individual galaxies, or of populations of galaxies, with time. The properties of galaxies in the Universe today provide evidence that galaxy evolution does occur, and in more than one way.” - A Dictionary of Astronomy, 1997, IAN RIDPATH, encyclopedia.com

In fact, the quote below describes a foundational principle of geology in terms of “gradual change by means of known geologic processes.” It is also noteworthy that the quote below asserts that “the meaning of time in Earth history,” which is a reference to the onset of millions of years of history, originated in large part due to the application of this simple evolutionary principle to the field of geology.

Geochronology, Lyell's promulgation of uniformitarianism – Charles Lyell, another Scottish geologist, was a principal proponent of Hutton's approach, emphasizing gradual change by means of known geologic processes...Hutton's doctrine of uniformitarianism and its importance as one of the fundamental philosophies of the geologic sciences…This, along with the increased recognition of the utility of fossils in interpreting rock successions, made it possible to begin addressing the question of the meaning of time in Earth history.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Quotes such as these abound. The quote below directly describes the parallel between evolutionary geology and evolutionary biology, relating them as different branches under an overarching evolutionary philosophical idea.

“Evolution – There is a hierarchy of principles in the evolutionary world view: change, order, direction, progress, and perfectibility...Closely related to the idea that change is a characteristic of a system is the principle of uniformitarianism, the principle that the forces causing change are themselves unchangeable general laws that govern the system. Thus, geological evolution is seen as the result of processes of mountain-building, sedimentation, and erosion that have gone on throughout the history of the earth, at least since the time when liquid water was present in appreciable quantities. In like manner the processes of natural selection and mutation that can be seen occurring in the organic world today are assumed to have been the operative forces in all the past history of life...A commitment to an evolutionary viewpoint represents a commitment to the instability of the present order as well as the past. In its simplest and irreducible form, evolutionism is the doctrine that change of state is an unvarying characteristic of natural systems...” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 1968, encyclopedia.com

And lastly, World Book encyclopedia begins its article on evolution in the following way.

Evolution – Evolution is a process of change over time. The word evolution may refer to various types of change. For example, scientists generally describe the formation of the universe as having occurred through evolution. Many astronomers think that the stars and planets evolved from a huge cloud of hot gases. Anthropologists study the evolution of human culture from hunting and gathering societies to complex, industrialized societies. Most commonly, however, evolution refers to the formation and development of life on Earth. The idea that all living things evolved from simple organisms and changed through the ages to produce millions of species is known as the theory of organic evolution.” – World Book Encyclopedia 2005, Deluxe Edition

As we can see, the term “evolution” can and is regularly used as a general scientific idea describing not only the origin of species but the entire universe, the earth, and its geologic features in terms of how they “evolved” through strictly physical processes. This general philosophical preference can also be called atheistic naturalism or naturalistic science because it allows only for strictly natural or physical causes. Within this overarching worldview, it is of course also possible to distinguish biological evolution, which deals specifically with the origin and development of life on earth. Consequently, it is not inaccurate to refer to someone who endorses evolutionary geology or the evolution of the universe as “evolutionist,” even if they do not endorse biological evolution specifically.

For simplicity, during the portions of this study that address the external debate between young earth creationists and naturalists, we will simply refer to any aspect of this overarching theory as “evolution,” regardless of whether the topic at hand involves cosmology, geology, or biology. However, during the portions of this study that address the internal debate between “young earth” and “old earth” creationists, we will use the alternate term “naturalist scientific timetable” to designate the “10-to-20-billion-year” age of the universe, which has originated from the influence of a naturalist philosophical preference on such fields as cosmology and geology.

This distinction is particularly useful in the portions of this study because the term “evolution” is often associated solely with the field of biology in modern culture. Consequently, using an alternate (but equivalent term) avoids creating the confusion that all old earth creationists endorse biological evolution. We recognize that not all forms of old earth creationism endorse biological evolution. However, we would argue that all forms of old earth creationism by their very nature do attempt to accommodate the billions-of-years timetable that has resulted from the influence of naturalistic philosophy upon modern science. Consequently, while some old earth creationists may reject biological evolution, it must be said that all old earth creationists do endorse the more general and systematic theory of evolution that encompasses cosmology and geology and they seek to reconcile the conclusions generated by this general evolutionary premise with the scriptural account of creation.

In this portion of our study, the evidence under examination is the text of scripture itself and the method of examination is hermeneutic science, the science of text interpretation. The course of this examination demonstrates the insurmountable interpretive obstacles, which prevent the merger of creationism and the naturalist scientific timetable and which, in turn, rule out the possibility of old earth creationism as a viable, alternate within the Judeo-Christian view. (To view our analysis of this "internal debate," please visit our "Old Earth Creationism" series.)

In contrast, the external debate is between young earth creationists and evolutionists in general, particularly atheistic, naturalistic, or agnostic evolutionists. In this portion, the evidence under examination is the observable evidence from astronomy, geology, archeology and other natural sciences. And the method of examination for this portion is the scientific method itself. This article series defines each view and then embarks upon an extensive review of the evidence. Judeo-Christian conclusions are shown to be a product resulting from the scientific method, rather than a matter of blind faith or presupposition. Conversely, the course of this investigation also demonstrates that it is evolutionary theory, which not only lacks any supportive evidence but also lacks an actual explanatory theory for the defining points of the debate. Moreover, not only does evolution lack supportive evidence, but the observable evidence itself is shown to disprove evolution's defining premises. And the result is that evolution is shown to be the view that is based upon mere presumption and blind faith. (To view our analysis of this "external debate," please visit our "Origins" series.)

We hope that this prelude will help to clarify the distinctions between each of these article series. And we hope that each of these article series will in turn provide clarity to the topics, questions, and issues they discuss