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Three Views on Creation and Evolution

Paul Nelson, John Mark N. Reynolds and Walter Bradley

For Christians, the issues raised by the different views on creation and evolution can be challenging. Can a “young earth” be reconciled with a universe that appears to be billions of years old? Does scientific evidence point to a God who designed the universe and life in all its complexity?

Three Views on Creation and Evolution deals with these and similar concerns as it looks at three dominant schools of Christian thought. Proponents of young earth creationism, old earth creationism, and theistic evolution each present their different views, tell why the controversy is important, and describe the interplay between their understandings of science and theology. Each view is critiqued by various scholars.

Discovery Institute fellows Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds provide a clear explanation of the differences between theistic evolution, young earth, and old earth creationism. Young and old earth creationism both share a view that there are discontinuities in biology and real design in nature. Yet theistic evolution does not share this view.

Howard J. Van Till, a theistic evolutionist expounds his view of a “fully gifted creation” where the universe was created to bring life into existence through natural laws. He finds claims that Scriptures provide “privileged information” to be “embarrassing” because they show little regard for the “informed judgment” of the scientific community. Phillip Johnson finds Van Till’s views self-contradictory: Van Till argues that God should “withhold” no gift from creation that would require God’s intervention to create, but yet Christians of all stripes believe God has intervened in history.

Discovery Fellow and mechanical engineer Walter Bradley critiqued Howard Van Till, who argued that God must “fully gift” the universe to permit the natural origins of life. Yet Bradley replied that if natural laws specified amino acid sequences, then this would greatly limit the possible diversity of life on earth. Thus by directly intervening in a creation that is impotent to make life, Bradley believes God’s creativity can be fully expressed. Most poignantly, Bradley exposes Van Till’s true motivation for accepting naturalistic hypotheses for the origin of life: “maintain his intellectual integrity.” Bradley finds Van Till’s secular-envy ironic. As a scientist and acclaimed author critiquing origin of life hypotheses, Bradley knows that naturalistic hypotheses for the origin of life are highly controversial, meaning that by blindly accepting them, it is arguable that Van Till who makes intellectual blunders, and Van Till certainly has no right to cast such stones about on these controversial subjects.

This volume clearly expounds the pro’s and con’s of various Christian perspectives on creation. While this debate is surely not going to end soon, this book will bring a greater understanding and appreciation of “other viewpoints” to all interested.

Contributors not associated with Discovery Institute include Richard H. Bube, Howard Van Till, John Jefferson Davis, and Vern S. Poythress.

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.

John Mark N. Reynolds

John Mark N. Reynolds is the President of The Saint Constantine School in Houston, and is a Senior Fellow of Humanities at The King’s College in New York City. He served formerly as the Chief Academic Officer at Houston Baptist University, and was the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University. He has also taught philosophy at Roberts Wesleyan College, Whitworth College and Saint John Fisher College. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester, where he wrote a dissertation analyzing the cosmology and psychology found in Plato's Timaeus.

Walter Bradley

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Walter Bradley received his B.S. degree in Engineering Physics and his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, both at the University of Texas (Austin). He taught for 8 years as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, for 24 years as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU, and ten years as a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University. He is co-author with Charles Thaxton and Roger Olsen of the seminal book The Mystery of Life’s Origin (1984), which will be republished in an expanded edition in 2020 by Discovery Institute Press.