More than Three Views?

Allan Harvey (aharvey@boulder.nist.gov)
Wed, 24 Feb 1999 08:26:55 -0700

Reading _Three Views on Creation and Evolution_ has made me think about
how many views there really are. As I've mentioned, the book did not
have any representation of the "standard" young-Earth creationism
movement. Nor did any of the three views closely resemble my own. This
led me to come up with a classification scheme, which I present here for
discussion.

In the following, I use "gap" as shorthand for a (preferably detectable)
direct action of God in natural history that is outside God's "normal"
means of nature. Those who dislike that term can substitute
"fingerprints," as in Phil Johnson's statement that a worthy God must
have "left his fingerprints all over the evidence." "No gaps" refers to
the position that God accomplished his creation without acting outside
his governance of "natural" processes. I use "preference" to denote a
position that is held (perhaps strongly, perhaps tentatively) but not
considered essential. Preferences might be held on the basis of
evaluation of scientific evidence, interpretation of Scripture, or other
factors. This is in contrast to the position "theology requires X",
which means that X is an essential part of the person's Christian faith.
The latter can be the product of a multistep process, such as "theology
requires a 'perfect' Bible" followed by "a 'perfect' Bible requires X."

Given those definitions, I see six basic views:

1) Theology requires "gaps"
Theology requires young Earth

2) Theology requires "gaps"
Preference for young Earth

3) Theology requires "gaps"
Preference for old Earth

4) "Gaps" or "no gaps" both theologically OK
Preference for "gaps"

5) "Gaps" or "no gaps" both theologically OK
Preference for "no gaps"

6) Theology requires "no gaps"

While complex issues are never one-dimensional, I believe this is nearly
a continuum, so that one can define positions between adjacent items.
For example, I would place myself at about 4.7.

As I mentioned, "standard" YEC (#1), is not represented in the _Three
Views_ book. The "young-Earth" chapter is at about 2.5. I have not yet
read the old-Earth chapter, so I'll refrain from rating it. Howard van
Till's chapter comes across as about 5.5 (he can correct me if he feels
that misrepresents him). Curiously, all 4 of the people who give brief
replies to each chapter seem to cluster around 3.0. The final summations
are by Richard Bube who appears to be about a 4.9 and Phil Johnson who is
about a 2.8.

I'd be interested whether this strikes people as a good classification scheme.

Another issue might be the dearth of representation of views in the
4.0-5.0 range in this book and in these debates generally. Is it so
strange to take the position that, while it is wrong to require that God
*must* have acted in gaplike ways in natural history, it is theologically
OK to consider that he *might* have?

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| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | aharvey@boulder.nist.gov |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | "Don't blame the |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | government for what I |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | say, or vice versa." |
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