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Religious Tolerance logo

Evolution, creation science, & Christian beliefs


Belief systems about the origin
of life & the development of species

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Debates on the Internet, within religious groups, and in the media about the origins and development of species of plant and animal life on Earth are often presented as a life and death struggle between two competing beliefs: naturalistic evolution and creation science.

This is not a particularly accurate description. There are in reality three main belief systems being promoted by individuals and organizations in North America. Within these three main systems there are many variations.

The three main belief systems:

Hundreds of religions around the world teach creation stories which account for the diversity of life on Earth. The theory of evolution is also a popular belief, particularly among scientists, secularists, and religious liberals.

In North America, beliefs regarding the origins of the origins of species of plant and animal life mostly fall into three general categories. Starting with the most popular:

bullet Creation science: God created the universe during 6 consecutive 24 hour days less than 10,000 years ago, precisely as a one of the literal interpretations of the Biblical book of Genesis would indicate. All of the various "kinds" of plants and animals that currently exist (and that once existed but are now extinct) on earth are descendants of the original life forms that God created during the single week of creation. However, within these original kinds of animals, microevolution has resulted in similar species developing. For example, God created a deer "kind" which has developed into a variety of deer. This is the most popular belief system among the general public. It is the least popular among earth and biological scientists. Over 99% of such scientists believe that a literal translation of Genesis does not represent reality, and thus that creation science is false..
bullet Theistic evolution view: The universe is about 14 billion years old. The earth's crust developed about 4.5 billion years ago. Some believers in this option suggest that God created the first cell; others suggest that the the first cell happened as a result of natural processes through abiogenesis. Subsequently, God used evolution as a tool to guide the development of each new species. By steering evolution over time, God eventually produced human beings.
bullet Scientific view: Evolution was driven by blind, unguided natural forces without a goal. Darwin's belief that naturally ocurring differences among offspring lead to evolution of the species through natural selection is the main -- or perhaps the only -- driving principle behind evolution. If God exists, he played no part in the processes. If all life were to be wiped off of the face of the Earth -- not that remote a possibility with the Earth's current levels of religious hatred and supply of nuclear weapons -- and life were to start over, there is absolutely no certainty that intelligent beings would evolve. If they did, there is no certainty that they would look much like homo sapiens.

Those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible attempt to follow eternal Biblical truths. However, they seem to have great difficulty in settling on a single understanding of the origins and development of plant and animal species. They have ended up with many different conflicting theories which cannot be harmonized. Meanwhile, the scientific community has arrived at an almost complete consensus in the theory of evolution. As new evidence is found, some details of the evolution of species are occasionally modified. Yet supporters of naturalistic evolution long ago reached a consensus on the overall evolutionary process. 

Topics covered in this section:

Descriptions of various origin models:
bulletCreation science models
bulletTheistic evolution models
bulletScientific evolution models
Other information related to origins:
bulletAre creation science and conservative Christianity linked?
bulletHow Christians interpret the Genesis creation stories

Other related essays dealing with evolution & creation science:

bulletOverview of evolution and creation science
bulletBeliefs of the U.S. public
bulletBeliefs held by various faith groups

Site navigation:

 Home page > Christianity > Christian history, etc. Christian beliefs > > here

or Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Evolution > here

Copyright © 1999 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on 1995-NOV-3. (That is not a typo; this website really did start up during early 1995 during the infancy of the Internet)
Most recent update: 2011-JUN-11
Author: B.A. Robinson
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