“It’s wonderful to have an easy-to-read yet well-researched book that
demonstrates that a sound reading of Genesis chapter 1 demands a
literal, six-day creation week. If you’ve ever asked yourself whether
the first six creation days were real days, or whether it even matters,
this book by pastor and educator Doug Hamp is for you.”
– Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation
The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, the science guy, raised the important question of what is evolution. I wrote about that in my book, The First Six Days.
What is Evolution?
Evolution in its most basic sense is any process of formation or growth; development, derived from the Latin meaning unrolling, according to Random House Dictionary (2006). There are many things that evolve, so to speak, in our world. All that we mean, however, is that there is a slow, gradual change occurring in different facets of life. Let us consider a few examples.
The Changes in Language and Culture
We can speak of the slow progression of the English language as an example of evolution. The English of today is clearly not the same as that of Shakespeare’s day. They are both English, but many things have changed radically so that words and expressions of his day have a completely different meaning today. The change in language is something that happens slowly and in small increments, but we can all agree that it happens. Consider how it is that we use different expressions than our parents did and our kids use different words and expressions than we do.
Cultures are also going through a process of change or evolution as well. The culture of America is without doubt different today than it was 50 years ago. Things that were unacceptable back then are sometimes considered normal by today’s standards. In both of these examples, however, we are using the word evolution as a description of the slow change that is taking place and as such, the concept is completely acceptable. After all, these changes are observed linguistically and culturally by experts in the respective fields and simply by the general public. In other words, we can easily document and conclusively prove that those changes have actually occurred because the starting point is only 50 years ago and not 15 billion or even 6000 years ago.
From Natural Selection to Molecules-to-Man Evolution to Abiogenesis
Using the word evolution to describe the slow, steady changes that we undoubtedly witness in languages and cultures is indeed a correct use of the term. If that were the only way that it was used then there would be no problem whatsoever. However, the reality is that evolution
has been given a new role and meaning; it is used to describe the entire progression of the universe starting with the Big Bang until the present day. The different phases of evolution include: particulate, galactic, stellar, planetary, chemical, biological and cultural. Biological evolution purports to explain how life started from non-life (properly called abiogenesis) and then how those single-celled organisms eventually turned into you and me. Douglas Futuyma, a foremost expert in biological evolution notes,
“In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution…is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual…Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions.” (Futuyma 1986)
The above definition is rather misleading, however. Dr. Futuyma should define for us the three different concepts that he is dealing with under the broad category of biological evolution, which are: Natural Selection (adaptation to an environment), molecules-to-man evolution (change in kind, e.g. reptile to bird) and abiogenesis (a nonliving piece of rock to a living single-celled organism). Neither the Bible nor literal six-day creationists are in any way against the concept of Natural Selection, which was actually first introduced by a creationist Edward Blythe. Changes in species populations, by adapting to their environment, have in fact been witnessed to occur.
Charles Darwin correctly noted that the beaks of the finches on the Galapagos Islands changed according to the climatic conditions. He called this evolution. From there he postulated his theory that these small changes, given enough time, could account for all of the living creatures on earth. Darwin failed to note, however, that the finches were still finches. They never turned into something else other than finches. Darwin observed the species’ ability to adapt to its surrounding (which is easily ascribed to an amazing) and from there made the leap of faith that with the magical element of time, one creature will turn into another.
According to Its Kind
The belief in molecules-to-man evolution – that single-celled organisms turned into more complex creatures, which turned into something else, all the way to you and me – is what stands in direct conflict with the Bible and specifically the six days of creation. Genesis 1:24 specifically states that on the fifth day, “Thensaid, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind [מין min]: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so.” This verse acts as an insurmountable obstacle to those who would try to bridge (macro)evolution and the Bible. God’s words cannot be misconstrued here. He plainly says that different living creatures will come forth according to their own kind and not from one common ancestor of all. He then defines what He means by enumerating the creatures: “cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth”, rendering impossible the paradigm that everything came from a different creature smaller and simpler than itself. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains:
Some have argued that when God created “min” [class, kind, species], he thereby fixed the “species.” This is a gratuitous assumption because a link between the word “min” with the biologist’s descriptive term “species” cannot be substantiated, and because there are as many definitions of species as there are biologists…God created the basic forms of life called “min” which can be classified according to modern biologists and zoologists as sometimes species, sometimes genus, sometimes family or sometimes order. This gives no support to the classical evolutionist’s view which requires developments across kingdom, phyla, and classes.
Dogs Are Still Dogs
Animals reproducing fertile offspring according to their own kind, is what we see in nature. We see hundreds of varieties of dogs, but dogs are still dogs. This (largely human-caused) variation in dogs is often called evolution. This is reflected in the Seed Magazine article “The Human-Influenced Evolution of Dogs” (Anthes 2006), which discusses not the molecules-to-man type of evolution of how a non-dog turned into a dog, but how through human intervention “the domestication of dogs by humans has given rise to the immense diversity of the canine species by allowing otherwise harmful genetic mutations to survive.” (Anthes 2006) This “evolution” that Anthes refers to is nothing more than variation within a kind. Nevertheless, she is echoed by the Natural History Museum in London which says that the breeding of dogs shows evolution as well. (Batten 1996) Here again, we are given an example of Natural Selection (adaptation and variation, which are factual and observed) and are led to believe that it is equivalent to molecules-to-man evolution.
However, there is no “evolution” of the dog at all, other than variation due greatly to humans. Interestingly, the study of genetics confirms that all dogs have come from a common ancestry. “Most breeds have developed during the past 500 years, […] Before humans began breeding dogs for certain traits or behaviors, dogs were more general in their appearance or morphology […]” (Dalke 2002). The multiplicity of dogs is not a proof of evolution but of dog’s best friend manipulating him to better suit man. “Breeds tell us more about human preferences than about dogs […] Dog breeds are the result of human preferences—selected traits taken from generation to generation.” (Dalke 2002). “The Human-Influenced Evolution of Dogs” would be better titled “Man’s Breeding of Dogs”.
Views of Biblical Creation
For those holding to the belief that God was the agent of creation, there are four possible answers to the question of how He did it. The first view is that God took six, literal days as understood by the plain reading of the Genesis text, which is the thesis of this book. The other three views consider the evolutionary model to be an established fact and therefore seek to reconcile the revelation of Scripture regarding creation with evolution. The three views are Theistic Evolution, the Gap Theory, and Progressive Creationism.
The Gap Theory
Thus, for the Progressive Creationist, both the Bible and the evolutionary model complement one another because the biblical creation account is better understood through the lens of evolutionary thinking. Undoubtedly, most proponents of both the Gap Theory and Progressive Creationism believe in the authority of the Bible.
How Much Time Does God Need?
Rather than ask why couldn’t God have taken billions of years to accomplish His work of creation, the better question is why didn’t God speak once and everything merely come into existence as suggested by Augustine (see chapter 7)? God, the Supreme Being by which all things exist, could have snapped His divine fingers and everything would have come into being at once. Thus, even from a literal, six-day-
creation standpoint, God took His time in a big way! Why did He take so long to create everything? God purposely slowed Himself down rather than just getting it over with. The reason, found in Exodus 20:11 (and 31:12-17), is that God wanted to establish a pattern which for mankind to follow; God worked for six days and then rested and so should man.