To discuss contemporary Creationism, I turn to the website and blog of Albert Mohler, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. I quote from several of his blogs to give a feel for his arguments. The core issue—particularly as it relates to evolution—is the inerrancy of the Bible. In a blog entitled “The Inerrancy of Scripture: The Fifty years’ War…and Counting,” published August 16, 2010, Mohler describes conflicts over the doctrine within the Evangelical community dating back to 1966, and how in 1978 leading evangelicals adopted “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” So, what is Biblical Inerrancy? It is the claim that “the bible is totally truthful and without error,” that “the Bible is indeed true, trustworthy and fully authoritative.” At issue here is the factualness of the creation accounts in Genesis and the concrete historicity of Adam and Eve and Noah and the flood. By extension, then, Paul’s discourse in Romans 5:12 about sin entering the world through Adam must presuppose a material, historical Adam. The reasoning is that if evolution is true and there is no historical Adam, then the coming of Jesus as the next Adam is falsified, and the whole of Christian theology collapses. For Mohler, then , “The rejection of biblical inerrancy is bound up with a view of God that is, in the end, fatal for Christian orthodoxy.”
In “No Buzzing Little Fly—Why the Creation-Evolution Debate is So Important,” published January 5, 2011, Mohler states, “A buzzing little fly is only a nuisance. The theory of evolution is no mere nuisance—it represents one of the greatest challenges to Christian faith and faithfulness in our times.” In this blog he is responding to publications by BioLogos, a website dedicated to advancing ideas about Theistic Evolution. BioLogos is supported by Frances Collins, Director of the NIH, Darrel Falk, Professor of Biology at Pt. Loma Nazarene University, and others. Mohler states, “Those of us who oppose the BioLogos agenda of embracing evolution do so because we are concerned that their approach means nothing less that the church’s capitulation to scientism and the embrace of a fatal subversion of both biblical authority and the integrity of Christian theology.” At issue is whether or not Paul, in Romans 5, was wrong to believe that Adam was an historical person. Mohler writes emphatically, “The Bible reveals Adam to be an historical human being, the first human being, and the father of all humanity.” Arguing that Christians should reject the uniformitarian assumptions of geology and evolution, Mohler states “The Bible itself offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena, with explanations that should be compelling to believers. In sum, there is every reason for Christians to view the appearance of the cosmos as graphic evidence of the ravages of sin and the catastrophic nature of God’s judgment upon sin.” (Italics mine)
In “Creation vs. Evolution—The New Shape of the Debate,” published February 1, 2011, Mohler continues as he states “….naturalistic evolution is the great intellectual rival to Christianity in the Western world….The emergence of evolution as a theory of origins and the existence of life forms presented a clear challenge to the account of creation offered within the Bible, especially in the opening chapters of Genesis. At face value, these accounts seem irreconcilable. “ He notes that before Darwin, atheists had no intellectual basis for rejecting Christianity, but that, with the advent of Darwinism, atheists now had a rationale from which to launch attacks. At the same time, Mohler decries “theistic evolution” as a capitulation to a Darwinism that has become naturalistic and thus a “worldview that of a sterile box filled only with naturalistic precepts.”
Mohler goes on to state , “the mainstream doctrine of evolution held by the scientific establishment and tenaciously defended by its advocates does not even allow for the possibility of a divinely implanted meaning in the Cosmos, much less for any divine guidance of the evolutionary process. There has been an unrelenting push of evolutionary theory deeper and deeper into purely naturalistic assumptions and an ever-increasing hostility to Christian truth claims. “
He goes on to state that these ideas injure Christianity, “which at the very least…require that the first two chapters of Genesis be read merely as a literary rendering that offers no historical data.” As such then, “the evolutionary account…is incompatible with any historical affirmation of Genesis…and the claim that all humanity is descended from Adam and the claim that in Adam all humanity fell into sin and guilt.” He decries that “proponents of theistic evolution as…publically rejecting biblical inerrancy… while others now openly assert that we must forfeit belief in an historical Adam, an historical Fall, and a universal Flood.” For Mohler, the stakes couldn’t be higher, because “The New Testament clearly establishes the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon the foundation of the Bible’s account of creation. If there was no historical Adam and no historical Fall, the Gospel is no longer understood in biblical terms.”
Mohler clearly and succinctly outlines the tenets of Creationism: Biblical Inerrancy, the factual, concrete historicity of the creation accounts in Genesis, Adam and Eve as historical figures and the parents of all contemporary humanity, and Noah and the Flood as concrete history. An inevitable conclusion of this view is that the Grand Canyon is the result of Noah’s Flood. I am struck by the similarity of the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy to Islam’s claim that Allah dictated the Koran to Mohammed, who dutifully recorded every word. Only if the biblical writers, spanning hundreds if not thousands of years, transcribed with absolute fidelity the words of the Lord, could Biblical Inerrancy be true.
Regarding evolution, Mohler conflates evolution, strictly speaking the Earth’s and Life’s history, and Darwin’s theory of random variation of species and the resulting natural selection . I think his idea that science has made out of evolution a naturalistic doctrine that does not allow any trace of the divine is quite true.
Again, I emphasize that there is a distinction between NeoDarwinism and the facts of evolution, e.g. the fossil and genetic records and the history they point to. I subscribe to a minority of scientists that Fowler and Kuebler (The Evolution Controversy) term MetaDarwinists. In Christianity in Evolution, I meld the MetaDarwinist idea that Life is an agent in its adaptations to Christianity.
I also suggest a model of Reality that I think would rescue Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity from their fatal collision with the reality of evolution. Inconveniently, evolution is visible from our car windows as we drive through almost any canyon or visit any national park. Texts such as the beginning of the Nicene Creed, “We believe in God the Father, creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen,” and innumerable sentences in the Scriptures suggest that Reality is composed of two domains, Heaven and Earth. In Heaven, the Godhead reigns, time is Kairos time, and the language is metaphorical, the reasoning analogic. Earth is Reality’s south pole, and it is typified by geologic history. Its time is Chronos time, and its language is digital.
It then follows that Adam and Eve exist in Heaven. They are spiritual, not literal figures, and their act of disobedience and the subsequent Fall, in Kairos time, is for us on Earth “that which is.” We can term their move against God as “Original Conflict,” their instantaneous shame as “Original Self-Conflict,” and Cain’s murder of Abel as “Original Internecine Conflict.” All of Life inherits these consequences, so that what we see as we closely study Life in all its iterations is conflict. And nowhere is conflict on Earth more visible that with us humans. Now there is the Fall, in spades! Just read the morning newspaper.