Creationism vs. Evolution: Either dust or lightening started it all


Alyssa Beck


Senior Seminar


December 2, 2002


Thesis:  Evolution and Creationism are controversial issues that scientists and theologians are trying to find a common ground to explain how it all started.


A. Introduction

B. The Beginning

C.  Age of the Earth

D. Other topics

E. Human Evolution

F. Conclusion

G. References




Creationism and the study of evolution has been a controversial debate for decades now, leaving many people on one side or the other.  Creationism argues that faith should take precedent over science, basing its beliefs on one book for guidance, the Bible.  God created the earth and everything on it, taking six days.  Evolutionists believe that the earth is much older than the Bible describes, and that plants, animals, and humans are a result of a natural progression called evolution.  There were no common ancestors (Adam and Eve) from whom we came; it was a natural selection process, stemming from inorganic compounds and nature.  For many people in the scientific world, it is hard to take a final stance on this issue since there is evidence of evolution, but that is where faith in God and what God has done comes into effect.  According to a great medieval philosopher, Moses Maimonides, “conflicts between science and the Bible arise from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a defective understanding of the Bible”(Schroeder, 3).  This paper will reveal some topics that these two groups debate about, along with their viewpoints.       

The Beginning

The beginning of the earth, along with the birth of humans is one of the biggest and most contentious issues among creationists and evolutionists.  Scientific theory holds the opinion that the universe is eternal, while the Bible states that there is a beginning.  It has been proven that there was an official beginning; the question that arises is when that exact beginning took place, a time where there was neither time nor space nor matter.  Christianity uses the Old Testament to describe the beginning of life.  In the span of six days, God created the heavens, the earth, the sun, moon, water, animals, and ended with the finalé of human beings.  Other major events such as Noah’s flood occurred along the lifespan of the earth, accounting for the distribution of fossils and the formation of the earth’s layers.  St. Augustine of Hippo (who was raised a Christian and later became a member of the Manicheans) believed that the Old Testament was nonsense.  He “believed therefore that organic forms were potentially in a kind of seed-form, and realized actually when the conditions were right- when the seas appeared for instance”(Ruse, 51).  Augustine believed that God created everything in one move: conception, wish, and creation were all at the same time.  This thinking was also a belief held by Galileo later on in history.

Evolution is defined as “the development by natural causes of all organisms, those today and those yesterday, from other forms probably ultimately much simpler and originally perhaps from non-living substances”(Ruse, 12).  According to evolutionists, the earth began approximately 4.5 billion years ago, with the explosion of life beginning around 55 million years ago.  To evolutionists, the starting of life began as inorganic molecules that underwent a natural transformation (through electricity or heat) to become organic molecules.  These building blocks joined to form macromolecule chains that eventually made up organisms.  The chains started to replicate and “feed off the ‘pre-embryonic soup’, which is the state of ponds and so forth as the result of the first stage of evolution”(Ruse, 62).  Experiments done by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey in Chicago (1950’s) confirmed this by subjecting inorganic molecules to heat and electric shock.  They were able to obtain organic amino acid compounds naturally and rapidly.  Evolution finds the origins of organisms developing along a 4.5 billion year span, and says that humans are a “new creation”.  It does deny though that humans are the final creation, which contradicts the creationism theory where God created human beings in the last day, then resting after Creation was complete.  Fossil identification and geography gave evolutionists some insight as to when earth and life began.  Other ways used besides fossil identification to guide evolution include: comparing anatomical features, embryological analogies, and similarities/dissimilarities. 

Charles Darwin was a strong believer in evolution and was the founder of the theory of natural selection.  Natural selection is the theory that there is competition – for survival, mates, space, food, shelter, etc.- in which the favorable organisms tend to be preserved by nature and the unfavorable ones tend to die out, leading to evolution.  There are two major types of evolution, macroevolution and microevolution.  Macroevolution deals with changes above the species level, while microevolution is changes in gene frequencies within a population, which may lead to the formation of new species.  Darwin believed natural selection occurred in nature, the need to select and breed only the best and most desirable stock.  The concepts of genetics and hereditary did not come along until later when introduced by Gregor Mendel, and later the study of evolution emerged with the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953.

The Age of the Earth

The age of the earth has been debatable, first with creationists stating that the earth started with God first creating the heavens and the earth.  Some scientists argue that the earth already had the properties to sustain life, as the Bible agrees.  “And God said, Let the land produce vegetation”(Genesis 1:11), and later on, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kind”(1:24).  Nowhere in the Bible does it say or suggest that each species had its own creation.  A view that is strongly upheld by creationists is that all living things have remained fixed over time, God created each creature the exact way that we see the organisms today.  When God created the earth and everything on it, God said it was good.  Creationists argue that if something arose that was not perfect in God’s eyes; God had the power to destroy it, hence the reasoning for the flood.  God kept the good and destroyed the bad. 

It is scientifically difficult to take the Bible seriously because many interpretations have been made over the decades and most people believe that one cannot take everything within the Bible literally.  For example in Genesis 1:5,8,13, it describes how God created evening and day, and every verse following a day of creation ends with “and there was evening and the there was morning”.  But it is not until later on in Genesis that a sun and moon were created to govern the day and evening.  “God made two great lights- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night”(1:16).  This example, along with countless others points to scientific belief that the Bible is an unreliable source, one that specific scientific information should not be taken from.  The Bible does suggest one evolutionary change in a physical trait, the trait of longevity.  Throughout the Bible, the life spans (at the beginning were around 900 years) and sexual maturity (ranged from 65-187) decreased, for it was a miracle for Sarah and Abraham to have a son, and she was only 89 years old.  “The trend of shortening life span and more rapid sexual maturity is similar to that observed in domesticated animals”(Schroeder, 15).  This forms a basis for today’s breeding and population genetics.  Evolutionists state that creationists have only one source from which they are arguing from, and their arguments are a way of covering up what they do not know or understand about the scientific world.  This failure has come in two main ways: “1) the failure to deal with the large amount of evidence that supports evolution and the fact that animals and plants are different today than in the past, and 2) the failure to provide any alternative theory to natural history”(Miller, 55).  The real theory of creationism is based and centered on faith, faith in God and what God has provided.  “Science exists because of evidence, whereas religion exists upon faith, and, in the case of fundamentalism and creationism, in spite of evidence”(Berra, 130).

The evolutionists take a different stand on this topic of life.  “No mention of a special creation is associated with the start of life.  The earth itself had the special properties to orchestrate the beginning of life”(29).  Today this would be referred to as self-organization with the aid of catalysts.  The experiments done by Miller and Urey support the statement that the earth was awaiting for its beginning on its own time.  Organic molecules, proteins, plant life, and animal life evolved along with way.  Fossil evidence was discovered that showed life started immediately on a cooled earth.  Fossils show a variety of species and show species evolving into other species (intermediate or transitional species).  “The fact of the matter is that the fossil record not only documents evolution, but that it was the fossil record itself which forced natural scientists to abandon their idea of the fixity of species and looks instead for a plausible mechanism of change, a mechanism of evolution”(Miller, 48).  For example in the western United States, scientists were able to trace the modern single-hoofed horse to a dog-sized creature, Eohippus, which ran around on its five toes.  Also, according to animal and human development, all organisms start out life in the same form, eventually specializing into their specific species.  For example, the human develops similar to a reptile with a few modifications that make the human species unique: yolk sac to fish eggs to having a tail  to a 3- chambered heart (like a reptile) to a 4 -chambered heart to reptilian double jaw joint to skin folds (gill slits) to covering of hair to having human characteristics.

One argument against fossil evidence is the idea that fossil dating could be inaccurate.  Fossil dating is done using Carbon 14, but for it to be of value, the amount of C-14 must have always been a constant.  If the intensity of radiation (specifically cosmic radiation) differed in any way, then the C-14 dating system would be flawed.  Scientists discovered fossils throughout the various layers of the earth according to the time period the organisms corresponded with.  The bottom layers contained species associated with the beginning of the earth, while the top layers contain more recent and advanced species, especially mammals.  Evolutionists feel that these findings strongly argue for evolution.  They feel that if God had created the earth and everything on it, all fossil remains would be mixed together.  Creationists argue that the reason for the fossils being distributed the way they are is because of the Great Flood.  Most of the time creationists avoid this topic because of the lack of evidence they have against it.  The controversy continues whether gradual evolution took place, and if it did occur, why was it not evident in fossil records.  “The ferocity of the battle suggests that sudden leaps in the record would imply God’s direct role in evolution while gradualism would mean randomness and no role for God”(Schroeder, 32). 

Other Topics

Another theory that some scientists are using to explain the beginning of the earth is the Big Bang Theory.  This theory states that the “universe began as an infinitely hot point of infinite density, which cooled and diffused as it exploded outward”(Berra, 71).  Space, time, matter, and energy existed only after the Big Bang.  The reasoning for this theory is based on our knowledge of how the universe is based on the analysis of electromagnetic radiation, providing data that shows the universe is expanding.  Two astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected cosmic microwave background radiation in the ground, which is later the primeval light and heat from the Big Bang.  This heat and light provide the formula for the start of life.  This theory has been controversial among the scientific community as well as the religious community, but it was substantial enough to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

Another puzzling question that is brought up among evolutionists when debating with creationists is, what about the dinosaurs?  There is no place in the bible that talks about the dinosaur age, when these huge reptilian creatures roamed the earth without human interference and then suddenly disappeared.  Paleontologists and archeologists estimate the dinosaurs to have lived around 65 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period.  There are a number of speculations for their extinction:  the climate became too extreme one way or the other, the animals fed on newly evolved poisonous plants, new species evolved and ate the eggs of the dinosaurs, or an asteroid or comet fell to the earth, destroying everything on the earth.  “Recent speculation based on marine-animal families over the last 250 million years argues that large scale extinctions occur about every 26 million years”(Berra, 17).  These large scale extinctions are due a companion star coming close to the sun, disrupting the orbits and causing comets and asteroids to hit the earth. According to scientists, this mass extinction is approaching, but in the creationists eyes’ this is the Apocalypse. 

Yet, another approach to the creation of the earth relates to how we view time.  In the Bible, each day is assigned a new creation, but is time today the same as it was at the time of Creation?  Some scientists believe that each day of Creation is related to a geological time period.  As one period began and developed, God added on to it, thus another day of creation.  Each day or time period brings something new and different to the earth.  The days of creation could be seen to humans as a 24-hour day; it is easier for us to comprehend a day in a 24-hour period rather than in millions or billions of years.  The Bible in a sense took the easier way out to describe the story of creation to us.  “Deep within the Psalms 90, there is truth of a physical reality: the six days of Genesis actually did contain the billions of years of the cosmos even while the days remained twenty-four hour days”(Schroeder, 43).  The Bible relates in the first thirty-one verses of Genesis the events that span around 16 billion years, from mere hundred words theologically to more than a million words scientifically.  It is hard to evaluate the time it took for each day of creation since we are unable to have been there or have a first hand source; thus the reasoning for scientists to look more at fossils and the earth’s strata for concrete evidence. 

Human Evolution

How human beings came to be on the earth is another big topic among evolutionists and creationists.  Creationists live faithfully by the belief that God made Adam from dust, in God’s image, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living person”(Genesis 2:7).  Eve was later made from the ribcage of Adam as a companion.  Adam and Eve are the beginning of the human species race, and from them, all human beings descend.  Human beings were made in God’s image, giving us a choice to become spiritual and moral beings.  This is what separates us from any other species, for human beings have a soul, guided by God.  The creation of Adam could be seen differently though depending on how one interprets the Bible.  The making of Adam relates to the body.  In the Hebrew language, the word adam is rooted in the word meaning soil.  The creation of Adam refers to the human soul, the neshama.  Legends and biblical scholars would say that Adam was created at the age of twenty, but it could be possible for him to be made at an earlier age and lived for nineteen years without a soul.  He became a human being at the age of twenty when God created him with neshama.  There are several verses within the Bible (Numbers 1:3, 14:29, Deuteronomy 1:39) that teach at the age of twenty one becomes divinely responsible for their own actions.  Before the soul was given, there was something like a man, but not completely human.  So one view could be that Adam was created at the age of twenty, and before his creation, he had evolved from the primate species.  When God finally saw a creature that God wanted to represent God’s image, a soul was given, and Adam was created. 

Evolutionists have a different view of how human beings came into the world, believing that we have evolved from other species, specifically the primates.  Fossil records have shown that Homo sapiens have evolved from four-legged creatures swinging through trees, to 2-legged creatures that walk the earth.  Fossils of pre-historic humans show a remarkable resemblance to the primates, all the way from the jaw and forehead, to the torso and feet.  Throughout time, evolution has adapted the human species into modern day human beings, making it possible to live in present-day times.  Although it is hard to believe, we have now “established that it was only five to six million years ago that we split off from the ancestral lines leading to the gorillas and chimpanzees, our closest relatives…”(Ruse, 69).  Language developed because of adaptation as the need presented itself.  Just as we have changed technology to make things easier for us, evolution has adapted us also, making it possible for us to live in today’s society.  It is doubtful that we could have lived in the same time that Neanderthals lived, as they would be unable to live in today’s world.  


Creationism and evolution have two very different viewpoints of how the earth and human beings began.  Creationism is based on the belief that the Bible is a credible source, which gives the story of Creation.  In the span of six days (24 hour days), God created the heavens and the earth, the sun, moon, stars, and all of the creatures of the earth.  On the very last day, God created Adam, a human being in God’s image to rule over the earth.  Creationists believe that the earth is young, and that organisms are fixed, every organism that we see today is the same organism that God created a few thousands of years ago.  Adam and Eve are the beginning of the human race, and we are separated from every other species by the soul that God gave us.  Creationists say that those who believe in evolution are immoral.  “Most frequent is the charge that evolutionists are ‘pompous and arrogant, just the kind of people that the First Amendment was written to protect us against’, and that they display ‘an academic arrogance frequently typical of the nation’s scientific educational establishment’”(Toumey, 95).

Evolutionists believe that human beings are a result of evolution, beginning with simple molecules to today’s modern person.  The earth was made over a long period, beginning 4.5 billion years ago.  Life began with inorganic molecules, and with the help of nature, became viable living organisms.  Each time period of the earth had its own characteristics with different organisms and life forms making that period unique, and leaving behind traces with fossils.  Animals and plant life evolve, becoming more fit for the environment.  Human beings have also evolved along the way from our primate ancestors into today’s modern humans, but we are not the final product.  We too, will change over time, becoming a different species in future generations.  Along with evolution, there are theories such as the Big Bang theory, and critiques of how the Bible views time compared to geological time.  Evolutionists believe that God was not the founder of the earth, instead it was a natural phenomenon, beginning with inorganic molecules evolving into today’s modern person.

I agree with both arguments to a certain degree.  As a scientist, it is hard to discard tangible evidence that shows life has evolved across species.  Yet, as a Christian, my life is centered on faith in God.  I believe that God created life, but I believe God did it in a way that uses evolution.  I believe that God created everything in six days, but that each day lasted millions of years, with different species and life forms evolving throughout that era.  I believe that God structured the world so that there could be evolution.  I think that species have to adapt to changing environments, and God made each species of organisms so that it could survive each change that takes place.  I do not necessarily believe that human beings are the finalé; I think that we will change over the decades evolving into higher specie.  I do not believe in the Big Bang Theory or that life stemmed from inorganic molecules.  God started life, and then gave nature freedom to develop.  If God did not like the outcome, it was destroyed by means of a natural disaster, such as the asteroid ending the life of the dinosaurs or by the Noah’s flood.  If it was good, then things stayed, and life continued.  This is a hard topic to take a definite stand on since faith is abstract, yet a way of life for Christians, and science is concrete.  There is a need for cooperation between the two worlds though since there are Christians in science, but it takes one to look at both sides to decide on what one’s own theory is on the beginning of life and human evolution. 

“Reconciliation does not require that every scientist becomes a believer, or that every believer embrace all aspects of science.  It will be complete when we accept the need to read and understand the Bible on the Bible’s terms…and when scientists, having already discovered that there is a limit to knowledge, admit that science is powerless to confirm or deny a purpose for life”(Schroeder, 21).




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