With apologies to Al Gore for the use of his movie title, the ongoing debate over creation versus evolution just will not go away. Most of academia, the majority of science practitioners, and (disappointingly) many theologians embrace evolution as “fact.” In spite of evolution’s dominance among these educated leaders, over half of respondents in a 2007 USA Today/Gallup poll agreed that it was either “definitely” or “probably” true that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”1
An earlier CNN/USA Today Gallup poll found that “fifty-three percent say God created humans in their present form the way the Bible describes it, essentially endorsing a strict creationist explanation.”2 These statistics have not changed much over the past two decades, leading Karl Giberson, Vice President of the BioLogos Forum, to lament that about half of the country agrees with Al Mohler, whose stalwart stance on recent creation is vehemently opposed by BioLogos.3
What Has Changed?
ICR’s founder, Dr. Henry Morris, began his early creationist efforts in the Intervarsity group at Rice Institute (now Rice University) during the 1940s. Evolution was the dominant theme in most universities and the bulk of Christianity either embraced theistic evolution, the day-age allegory, or the gap theory. Evidence for a recent creation was almost unheard of among technically trained Christians before The Genesis Flood was published in 1961.
That book started the modern creationist revival, giving birth to the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research. Over the next 30 years, thousands of scientifically and technically trained Christians had their evolutionary doubts cleared away, beginning a huge groundswell among conservative Christianity to embrace a tighter view of Scripture. Many were trained through seminars, debates, and summer institutes, resulting in an explosion of proponents for a recent, fiat creation—just as the Bible teaches.
Still simmering, however, were two major ideologies that opposed the biblical model. Although initially stunned by the wealth of scientific evidence supporting a recent creation and a global flood, the academic world began to combat “scientific creationism” with overt ostracism from the “inner circle” of technical journals and scientific graduate programs. Then, as their favor grew, it began to weed out those professors who either openly espoused or just merely tolerated any form of creationism, or who were proponents of implied “intelligent design.”
Secondarily, a number of Christian organizations developed in the 1980s that opposed a recent creation in favor of various hybrid models embracing both an old earth and a local flood. These different groups began to coalesce into a movement whose common denominator was the assumption that science had proven the mechanistic model of evolutionary development and the long ages during which that development had taken place. The only real difference from the standard evolutionary model was their belief that God had either guided the evolutionary processes or had progressively created over the long ages in such a way to bring about the good plan God intended to develop.
The late 1990s and the opening decade of the 21st century have witnessed the strengthening of several key groups. It is important to understand the ideals that each holds and the focus of their efforts to influence others.
Dominated by best-selling authors like Christopher Hitchens, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett (among others), the “new atheists” are both aggressive and intensely hostile toward anything Christian. Although their aim is to scorn and belittle anything that promotes “religion,” their particular target is Christianity, and more especially any form of creationism. Their vehemence would be irrelevant were it not for their influence and following in academia.
This group’s name is something of a contradiction in terms, but it is nonetheless an accurate description of a growing following. Essentially, these people are predominately theistic evolutionists, those who teach “that evolution is how God created life. Because the term evolution is sometimes associated with atheism, a better term for the belief in a God who chose to create the world by way of evolution is BioLogos.”4
Founded by Francis Collins with funding from the Templeton Foundation, the BioLogos Forum has become a widely followed website.5 Its president, Darrel Falk, and vice president, Karl Giberson, and their associates are avid evolutionists and strong opponents of biblical inerrancy. Although many of their advocates insist that they believe in the “historic Christian faith,” a quick perusal of their website reveals such statements as “in what sense can we say with a straight face that Scripture is God’s word?”6
This forum would be not much more than a place for anti-creationist and anti-inerrant proponents to sound off if it were not for BioLogos’ aggressive efforts to “train” pastors and “help” students and teachers come to harmony between faith and evolutionary science. The BioLogos Forum is a co-sponsor of The Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science, a series of seminars and a growing forum for “conversations” about the compatibility of evolutionary science with biblical faith. Peter Enns, fired from Westminster Theological Seminary in 2008 for his heretical views on Scripture, is now a major contributor on BioLogos and is working on a new Bible curriculum, “Telling God’s Story,” to be marketed among homeschool children. The influence of theistic evolution and anti-inerrant thinking is gaining a broader hearing among evangelicals.
The Intelligent Design Movement
Under early impetus from the writings of Phillip Johnson and Michael Behe, the Intelligent Design movement gained rapid attention among intellectuals. The contributions of microbiology were and are quite valuable, not the least being the quantifying of the “irreducible complexity” concept that has caused an enormous stir among evolutionary gradualists.
The ID movement’s approach is to refrain from identifying the “designer” in public writings and speaking opportunities, trusting that the evidence alone will drive a wedge into the evolutionary bulwark and draw many people to faith in God. That hoped-for success, however, has not materialized. Evolutionists and various court judges have all declared that the ID movement is nothing more than “creation in disguise,” and it has been rejected out of hand by the very institutions and proponents that the movement was supposed to challenge.
Today, the ID “tent” has become very broad, incorporating a wide spectrum of beliefs. And although many, if not most, of ID proponents are sincere Christians, the common denominators among their strongly-held beliefs are a multi-billion-year-old earth, eons of death and natural development prior to Adam and Eve, and a local or regional flood during the days of Noah.
Young earth creationists, as they are frequently called, are represented by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and the many societies and local associations that embrace the biblical record of recent creation and the worldwide Flood. Common to all of these groups is an unwavering commitment to the authority and inerrancy of the biblical text. That commitment necessitates an insistence that the creation of the universe was accomplished by an omnipotent and omniscient Creator in six 24-hour sequential days, less than 10,000 years ago.
The book of Genesis is a historical narrative document, not an allegorical or poetic collection of ancient stories. Adam and Eve were the first human beings, created as functioning adults by the hand of the Creator. Genesis 3 records an actual event in which Adam and Eve rebelled against the Creator, bringing the Creator’s judgment on the earth. All humans now begin life “dead in trespasses and sins”7 and the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain.”8 Were it not for the salvation and redemption provided by that same Creator, neither man nor the earth would ever escape eternal damnation.
Less than two millennia after the rebellion of Adam and Eve, man had grown so wicked “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”9 This brought about the total destruction of the earth and every land-based creature except Noah, his family, and sufficient pairs of air-breathing animal kinds to preserve life after the Flood. Thus, “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”10
What Are the Consequences?
Those who claim atheism as their faith are “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”11 Some who had professed atheism have since found deliverance through a faithful witness and by the grace of God. Most, however, who have embraced the anti-God worldview of evolutionary naturalism have “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.”12
It is unlikely, at least from a human perspective, that atheists will convert. It is tempting, therefore, to ignore their blustering. However, their best-selling books and media exposure will dull the reception of many to God’s truth. We who are able to give an answer should be prepared to respond.
The evolutionary creationists, on the other hand, are more dangerous. Their well-funded agenda appears to be designed to “convert” evangelicals from a mere tolerance of divergent views of biblical foundations to a wholehearted embracing of evolutionary naturalism and a disdain for “literalists.” All of their writings and appeals to “conversations” (the new term for open dialogue) are wrapped up in scholarly “good words and fair speeches”13 that have “a form of godliness, but [deny] the power thereof.” The simple admonition of Scripture for these kinds of false teachers is: “From such turn away.”14 The major voice for evolutionary creationists is the BioLogos Forum.
The Intelligent Design movement is something of a mixed bag. Many of its adherents are active Christians who maintain a strong personal testimony of their faith in Christ. Although the movement has become somewhat amorphous and some of its leaders are now identifying the “Designer” of creation, the core philosophy is still centered on using science and the evidence for design as the means for persuasion—without stressing the obvious need for recognizing the omnipotent and omniscient Designer.
Two serious problems continue to weaken the effectiveness of the Intelligent Design movement. By consciously excluding the identity of the Creator from its message, the least that can happen is that the Creator Himself will not identify with its message.15 Further, by deconstructing the clear teachings of Scripture of a recent creation and a worldwide flood, ID proponents are placing the teachings of secular science over the written Word of God, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”16
Amidst this matrix and milieu of “every wind of doctrine,”17 ICR and its sister organizations maintain an unwavering stance on the authority and accuracy of the biblical text. ICR has, from its inception 40 years ago, researched and displayed the scientific evidence that demonstrates biblical inerrancy, and has concentrated its public efforts on challenging Christian leaders to grow in their trust in and knowledge of these foundational truths.
The spiritual battle rages on and appears to be intensifying. God’s power has not abated, nor has His truth altered one iota. God has, however, committed the responsibility to declare His truth to His sons and daughters in the faith. ICR has both a specialized and a “frontline” assignment. Please support us with intercessory prayer and with financial help as the Lord enables.
- Gallup poll results. USA Today. Posted on usatoday.com June 7, 2007.
- Jones, J. M. Most Americans Engaged in Debate About Evolution, Creation. Gallup News Service. Posted on gallup.com October 13, 2005.
- Giberson, K. Storm Clouds on the Horizon: The Future of Science and Religion. Patheos. Posted on patheos.com August 4, 2010.
- How is BioLogos different from Theistic Evolution, Intelligent Design and Creationism? The BioLogos Foundation website.
- Dr. Francis Collins now serves as Director of the National Institutes of Health under President Barack Obama.
- Sparks, K. After Inerrancy: Evangelicals and the Bible in a Postmodern Age. The BioLogos Forum. Posted on biologos.org June 10, 2010.
- Ephesians 2:1.
- Romans 8:22.
- Genesis 6:5.
- 2 Peter 3:6.
- Ephesians 2:12.
- Romans 1:25.
- Romans 16:18.
- 2 Timothy 3:5.
- Luke 9:26.
- Matthew 15:9.
- Ephesians 4:14.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2010. An Inconvenient Truth. Acts & Facts. 39 (10): 21-23.