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Creationism

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William Blake's "Urizen as the Creator of the Material World" from Europe, A Prophecy. 1794.

Creationism is a belief system which postulates that the universe, Earth, and life were deliberately created by God. There are two main schools of study known as religious creationism and scientific creationism, and a spectrum of beliefs on issues such as the age of the Earth, biological evolution, and the extent to which natural processes were involved with the development of the cosmos.

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Age of creation

There is perhaps no issue which typifies and divides creationists from each other or mainstream science as does the "age of the creation" (see geochronology and cosmic chronology). Most Bible scholars have agreed that the straightforward reading of Genesis lends to an interpretation of a young earth and universe, and creationists have offered much scientific evidence to support this view. However, to harmonize the Bible with the assertions of modern science regarding the age of the cosmos, a number of creationist theories have been put forth; most notably, day-age theory (also known as progressive creationism) and the gap theory.

Name Opinion on age of Earth Opinion on origin of life Opinion on Genesis
Young earth creationism The Earth is no older than 10,000 years. Hydrogen diffusion, radio halos, the decay of the Earth's magnetic field, and many other facts cap the Earth's age at below 10,000 years. Radiometric dating, claimed as evidence that the Earth is old, is based on false premises, and is unreliable. Elohim deliberately and quickly created all of the created kinds on Earth, fully intact, with the capacity for biological evolution. He then looked at what he had created and said "It is very good." Genesis was intended as a history, and its timelines and precise dates it gives for events ought to be taken at face value. The days of creation are viewed as literal, 24-hour periods because the phrase "and there was evening, and there was morning, the second day" [1] cannot be reasonably interpreted as meaning anything other than a 24-hour day.
Progressive creationism The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old. The universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old. Radiometric dating is an accurate means of determining the age of the Earth. God created life on Earth slowly and gradually, over millions and billions of years, either by means of evolution or by waiting millions of years between acts of creation. The days of creation in Genesis represent long periods of time, not literal 24-hour days. To support this, 2 Peter 3:8 is often cited. Young-earth creationists, however, maintain that this is a misquotation, and that the verse is intended as an expression of the timelessness of God, not as a guideline to interpret the 'days' of Genesis (or the 'days' of any other part of the Bible, for that matter).

Types of Creationism

Within the main schools of thought lies differing beliefs with regard to the manifestations of the creation (i.e. universe, organisms, humans). Universal creationism is a fundamental tenet of the major monotheistic religions. Human creationism is also a tenet expressed or implied. Some form of biological creationism with the creator identified as God has traditionally been believed among adherents of the major monotheistic religions. Because of the acceptance of evolutionism among many intellectuals, biological creationism has lost influence. However, in recent decades a movement has arisen to defend creationism on theological, philosophical, and scientific grounds. This is commonly called creationism.

Various types of creationism may also be distinguished based on the grounds and arguments employed. Thus there is religious or theological creationism, philosophical creationism, and scientific creationism. In practice, these types of creationism often overlap. However, scientific creationism, especially intelligent design, employs scientific arguments and avoids religious or theological references.

Universal creationism

Universal creationism - the doctrine or belief that the universe was created by God out of no pre-existent entity. It is thus opposed to all forms of pantheism.

Biological creationism

Biological creationism - the doctrine or belief that the various species or kinds of living beings were created and so are not the product of a naturalistic process. The creator is usually identified as God, the creator of the universe. It is thus opposed to evolutionism.

Human creationism

Human creationism - the doctrine or belief that each human soul is created, notably by God. It is thus opposed to traducianism.

Religious creationism

Religious Creationism is the belief that the universe and life on Earth were created by an almighty deity. The position has a deep rooted foundation in scripture, which is relied upon for insights regarding the history of the world. Biblical creationism based on the Bible, whereas Islamic creationism based on the Qur'an.

Philosophical creationism

Philosophical creationism is the defense of creationism on philosophical grounds. It is related to philosophical arguments for the existence of God and became part of natural theology.

Scientific creationism

Scientific creationism is the defense of creationism on scientific grounds. While this arose before evolutionism, for example with the scriptural geologists, it is best known for its arguments against evolution and for one or more scientific hypotheses or theories of biological creation. This includes young earth creationism, old earth creationism, and intelligent design.

Intelligent design

Intelligent design (ID) infers that natural laws and chance alone are not adequate to explain all natural phenomena. It is not governed by religious doctrine, nor does it make claims about who the creator was. ID uses no religious texts when forming theories about the history of the world. ID simply postulates that the universe possesses evidence that it was intelligently designed.

Extraterrestrial creationism

Extraterrestrial creationism is the view that life on Earth was created by a race of extraterrestrials which came to be worshipped by men as gods and described in ancient religious texts.

Introduction to creationism

For an Introduction to creationism, the following articles may be helpful:

  • Disciplines in creationism: Creationism is multidisciplinary, involving science, history, philosophy, and religion. These disciplines are interdependent, and creationism cannot be understood at all unless it is understood in light of all these disciplines.
  • Philosophy of science: Science is only as good as the philosophy that it is founded upon. Evolutionism and creationism are based on two different philosophies of science which are similar in many ways, but also bear important differences. It is impossible to understand creationism without understanding its philosophy of science and understanding why creationists believe it to be correct.
  • Epistemology of the Bible: Creationists and evolutionists have different views about how the Bible should be used or interpreted. Creationism is based on the belief that the Bible is a historically accurate account of ancient events. Evolutionism is based on the belief that there are no supernatural causes, and asserts that the Bible is either allegorical or mythological, but not historical. It is impossible to understand creationism without understanding the historical accounts in the Bible, and why creationists believe them to be accurate.
  • Genesis: The book of Genesis accounts provide a great deal more than an account of "Seven days of creation." They provide an intricate and detailed record of historical events and people that spans around 2,000 years. It is impossible to understand creationism without understanding the depth and breadth of the history in Genesis, and why creationists believe it actually occurred.
  • Flood geology: A large volume of literature and evidence has been amassed regarding the Global flood of Noah. Flood geologists believe that the Earth's geological features can only reasonably by explained with reference to the enormous and horrifying flood covered the Earth 4-5,000 years ago which was recorded and remembered by every culture in the ancient world.
  • Creation biology: A large volume of literature and evidence has been amassed to support the belief that life did not originate spontaneously, but shows positive evidence of having been deliberately designed, and that all life on the Earth is not related, but that it originated separately.
  • Creation cosmology and Creation astronomy deal with the origin, structure and space-time relationships of the universe. It encompasses not only the observable physical or natural world but also the metaphysical means by which God governs and sustains creation.
  • Creation anthropology: Creationists and evolutionists have serious differences regarding the origin and nature of humans.
  • Radiometric dating: A large volume of literature and evidence has been amassed giving evidence that the radiometric dating methods used to determine the age of rocks and fossils are based on a combination of demonstrably false and unfalsifiable assumptions, making them so unreliable as to be useless.

History of creationism

Main article: History of creationism

Creationism has a history of several thousand years, and has found itself in conflict with evolutionism nearly as long. Notable early pagan proponents included Lao Tzu, Plato, and Cicero. The Hebrew scriptures provide the most detailed and best known creation account, known as Biblical creationism, which is accepted by the majority of orthodox Christians and Jews. Islamic creationism is identical to the core narrative of Biblical creationism, but has some subtle differences. In the 19th century, with the dawning of the scientific method, creationists began a systematic research program, known as Creation science, which grew in prominence throughout the 20th century until today. During the same time period, however, creationism came to be excluded from mainstream scientific discourse and public education, so that its research and education took place almost entirely through private means. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, a movement known as Intelligent design grew in prominence, which seeks only to provide positive evidence that life, the earth, and the universe was designed, without explicitly identifying the designer.

According to a 2004 Gallup poll, 45% of Americans believe God created humans within the last 10,000 years, 38% believe God guided evolution, 13% believe evolution occurred without God's guidance, and 4% believe something else or have no opinion.[2]

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References

  1. Genesis 1:8 (KJV)
  2. Authors unknown. "Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution." CBS News. November 22, 2004

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