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Five Camps in the Origins Debate Steve Badger and Mike Tenneson April 2004 1. Young Earth Creationists YEC like to call their position “Scientific Creation.” YEC generally claim that both the Bible and scientific evidences support these conclusions: 1. Young Earth Creationists

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Five Camps in the Origins Debate

Steve Badger and Mike Tenneson

April 2004


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1. Young Earth Creationists

  • YEC like to call their position “Scientific Creation.” YEC generally claim that both the Bible and scientific evidences support these conclusions:


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1. Young Earth Creationists

  • YEC believe that:

    (1) God suddenly made the physical realm and life

    (2) out of nothing,

    (3) in six consecutive 24-hour periods,

    (4) about 6,000-15,000 years ago.


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1. Young Earth Creationists

  • Thus, all contemporary theories of evolution (common ancestry, macro-evolution) are rejected, as is a universe that is billions of years old.

  • Creation accounts in the Bible are interpreted literally.


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2. Old Earth Creationists

  • OEC accept the scientific evidences for a universe that is billions of years old, but argue that God created every-thing—including life—by a series of creative acts that took place over a long period of time.

  • This position is also known as “Progressive Creation.”


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2. Old Earth Creationists

  • Adherents disagree on when each of these creative acts occurred.

  • OEC generally reject evolution (macro-evolution, common ancestry) but believe that God directly created life in its various forms pretty much as they exist today.

  • Creation accounts in the Bible are usually interpreted less literally.


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3. Evolutionary Creationists

  • EC agree with most natural scientists that the universe is billions of years old and accept modern biological theories of evolution, but they stress that God guided the evolution of existing life forms from the original life forms that He created.

  • Thus, some EC emphasize that they too are “creationists.”


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3. Evolutionary Creationists

  • Creation accounts in the Bible are inter-preted more figuratively by EC.

  • EC generally attempt to harmonize theories of evolution (macroevolution) with the biblical account of Origins, and some of them like to call their position “Evolutionary Creation.”

  • Many reject the reality of a literal Adam and Eve.


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Origins: Five Camps

  • People in any of these first three groups may embrace some form of the “Gap Theory,” which suggests a large period of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.

  • They may also embrace the arguments of the Intelligent Design theorists.


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Origins: Five Camps

Don’t confuse the “Gap Theory” with the “God of the Gaps.”


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4. Deistic Evolutionists

  • DE claim that God is no longer involved in the physical realm.

  • They also usually maintain that the physical realm is a superior and more trustworthy revelation of God than the Bible (which is usually rejected as neither inspired nor authoritative).

  • DE argue that if God created the physical realm, he left it to evolve on its own.


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5. Atheistic Evolutionists

  • AE deny the existence of God and propose that life arose from non-life (spontaneous generation) and one kind of life changed into other kinds of life by random natural processes (macroevolution).

  • AE do not consider the Bible God’s Word.


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5. Atheistic Evolutionists

  • People who are not necessarily confirmed atheists, but who attempt to answer the questions of Origins without invoking God, are also included in this camp.

  • Some people call this “Ateleological Evolution.”


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Origins: Five Camps

  • While some people (e.g., Buddhists and Hindus) do not fall into one of these five groups, this is a general description of the vast majority of Westerners today.

  • Three Views on Creation and Evolution, edited by Moreland and Reynolds, is a recent presentation of the first three views with good critiques of the strengths and weaknesses of each view (Zondervan, 1999).


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Origins: Five Camps

  • People who belong to the first 3 camps (YEC, OEC, EC) generally believe in the God of the Bible and generally agree that the Bible is God’s Word (although they disagree about how the creation accounts in the Bible should be understood).

  • We find Christians belonging to one of the first 3 groups (YEC, OEC, EC).


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Now What?

  • After years of reading, listening, teaching, and reflecting, we have reached a few conclusions.

  • None of the positions on Origins is correctly called a scientific hypothesis or theory (IMHO).

  • Rather they are “interpretive paradigms.”


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Interpretive Paradigm

  • Once people embrace a position, they then organize, evaluate, and interpret relevant observations and arguments according to their chosen paradigm.

  • Thus YEC, OEC, EC, DE, and AE all organize, evaluate, and interpret the same data to fit their positions.


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All Observations Fit My Paradigm!

  • And since most of the questions of Origins cannot be answered with any degree of certainty, people in every camp find their paradigm validated by any new evidence or observations.


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How do you know?

  • Where does your theory of Origins fit into your overall worldview and apologetic?

  • Ultimately creation is a faith statement. The writer of Hebrews said it like this: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Heb 11:3, NIV)


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Everyone Uses Faith

  • In the same way that a creation position is a faith statement, all of the other positions on Origins are faith statements too.

  • Evolution is a faith statement: Faith is placed in the scientific method and human reasoning to discover what happened a very long time ago.


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I’m Not Sure What I Think!

  • As a Christian, you don’t have to reach a definite conclusion on all Origins questions.

  • But recognizing God as Creator is very important in the spiritual life of Christians.

  • However, we should also recognize that the Bible does not answer all of our questions about the methods the Creator used as He created or when He created.


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We’re Not All Alike!

  • And Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, spirit-ually mature, dynamic Christians can be Old Earth Creationists, Young Earth Creationists, or Theistic Evolutionists.

  • The friend who witnessed to me years ago and led me (Badger) to faith in the Lord was a theistic evolutionist named Ed.



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Self-Reported Position: Faculty and Students



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The Challenge

When it comes to our beliefs and convictions about Origins, let’s live up to the old saying:

In essentials, unity.

In non-essentials, liberty.

In all things, charity.


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