Creation Theories
Leon L. Combs, M.A. (Theology), M.Div., Ph.D. (Chemical Physics)

Fall, 2009


Why have so many people tried to develop creation theories? Many creation theories have arisen from people with the excellent motives of trying to convince others that God exists. So, one reason for developing theories of creation is for apologetics. Although the motive is admirable, the idea that people have to be convinced that God exists before they will believe in Him is a bit off-course. Mainly I think such a drive to convince people that God exists is the result of an incorrect understanding of faith. If someone thinks that faith is something developed by a person then it is reasonable to assume that if a person can be convinced that God exists and then believe in Him then the faith will be developed by the person. However Biblical faith is not from within man but directly from God:
Rom 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 2Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

Jesus Christ is the author and perfector of that faith we receive as a gift of God:
Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The cause of belief and trust is faith that is a gift of God. Faith can be properly defined as the enabling power of God. God giving His children faith then results in the person believing and trusting in God. Man often gets concepts backwards as in the case of thinking that belief and trust will result in faith.
1Cor 2:5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 1Tim 1:4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

However, God may certainly use Biblical exegesis of His creation as a means for bringing in His children. So, certainly this purpose is not to be explicitly rejected.

Another reason for developing theories of creation is so the Christian will be able to reconcile Scripture with science. There are two sources of revelation: Nature (or general revelation) and the Word of God (or specific revelation). The written Word must always supersede natural revelation in order of priority. In other words, we cannot use natural revelation to explain the written Word. The written Word must be used to interpret and understand the natural revelation. Science is man’s understanding of natural revelation but only those with the gift of faith can properly interpret natural revelation using the Word of God. So, is anyone justified before God in trying to reconcile Scripture with science? A Christian is recreated in the image of God and has the reasoning ability given him by God so he/she certainly is free to try to understand how Scripture properly fits with science. The key is to interpret both Scripture and science properly AND to always make Scripture have priority. In other words we cannot use science to interpret Scripture but we can use Scripture to interpret science. We may then develop a creation theory if it uses Scripture as the basis. Most creation theories are developed with the science considerations having priority.

Theories of creation were developed in the third and fourth centuries by Minucius Felix and Gregory of Nazianzus and by medieval scholars like Moses Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Reformed scholars like Thomas Reid and Charles Hodge in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also developed theories using design arguments with God as the Designer. William Paley (Natural Theology, 1902) postulated the watchmaker argument stating that if we find a watch then it logically follows that some intelligence designed and developed the watch. This is called a means-to-an end argument and Paley mainly utilized the human eye in his argument saying that such a marvelous organ could not have just appeared by random chance any more than a watch could have been self-developed.

Much energy and time has been devoted by creationism and evolutionism that could have been more properly spent on personal sanctification, evangelism and the obeying of the Great Commission. I would like to proclaim a pox on both of these “isms” so that Christians can do the really important functions as we are commanded, such as both of the following:
Matt 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. "
Phil 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

I do maintain that there are some basic concepts of creation that must be held by an orthodox Christian. For example, it is imperative that we proclaim that God created time, space, and matter out of nothing. It is not important that we try to know exactly how God created everything. Time was also created by God so although He is from everlasting to everlasting, creation is from time zero to everlasting.

In this article I want to look at some of the more popular design theories and end the discussion with a proposal of a theory that might allow for more compelling conversations with non-believers on the more important issues. I am not endorsing any of these positions as the truth. I do not know how God created everything. I just accept that He did create everything and that He maintains it:
Col 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

God of the Gaps

The God of the Gaps theory of creation began its development before the scientific revolution of the last four centuries. Gaps are defined as some sort of development of creation that science cannot explain such as the origin of man, the conscience of man, the vision of man, etc. Until the twentieth century such arguments were commonplace and widely accepted, partly because the "gaps" were large and seemed likely to remain unexplained by science. However, as science provided more answers for these “gaps”, the use of this theory as an apologetic became less effective.

Isaac Newton developed equations that explained away many scientific “gaps”. And, in response, Newton turned to the variety that he saw in creation, as evidence for a creator:
“We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing.”

In 1944 Bonhoeffer recognized that it was futile to try to understand God in terms of these gaps in our understanding:
“...how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved.”

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) introduced a design argument based upon the order and predictability in inanimate objects, which clearly cannot create order for themselves. He said that there must be an intelligent being ordering them:
“We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”

Thus looking for God in gaps in our scientific understanding is not a fruitful venture since God has given us much information about Himself in the natural revelation that we can understand.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

However, it seems that most creation theories are essentially gap-theories.

Intelligent Design

This is a creation theory developed initially by Phillip Johnson, a legal expert on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. Many scientists have joined in agreeing with this theory including Dr. Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist and founder of Reasons to Believe. Dr. Ross has written a number of books on the subject including “Creation Science”. An excellent book explaining many aspects of intelligent design (ID) and the history of the development of such concepts is “Mere Creation” edited by William A. Dembski and containing contributions from a number of scientists as well as experts in other fields. This model is essentially Darwinian evolution under the control and guidance of God as the Intelligent Designer.

Theistic Evolution

This model can also be called Evolutionary Creationism and perhaps that clarifies the topic. Some people also call it Christian Darwinism! This theory differs from ID by saying that God steps in at appropriate times to guide the evolution. Acceptors of this model hold that the Genesis record of chapter one was an era of unknown length of time and that God used evolution to accomplish His goal of creating life as stated in that chapter. Theistic Evolution is not a new view among Christians. James Orr, one of the original authors of "The Fundamentals” published in 1909 from which the term "Fundamentalism" arose, accepted evolution as the method by which God created life and didn't hold to a 6-day literal interpretation of Genesis 1. Some well-known authors who support this theory include Bernard Ramm, C.S. Lewis, Pope John Paul II, J.R.R. Tolkien and John Polkinghorne. One model of TE states that God was involved in many aspects of the natural evolutionary process. Naturalistic evolution (NE) has a tree of life that states that fish became amphibians which became reptiles and from them came birds and mammals, etc. TE states that where NE could not make some of these natural processes occur that God stepped into the process to make it happen as He desired. With this interpretation of TE, it is clearly a God-of-the-Gaps model.

However some proponents of the model do not utilize the inclusion of God in the “gaps” but just state that the process is not scientifically understood yet but that God planned the evolutionary process by providing the appropriate laws of nature and the necessary material to allow the processes to continue to their planned conclusions. The basic steps of TE that is mainly accepted and that eliminates a God-of-the-gaps inclusion are the following from Francis S. Collins “The Language of God”, Free Press, 2006, page 200:

  1. The universe came into being out of nothingness, approximately 14 billion years ago.
  2. Despite massive improbabilities, the properties of the universe appear to have been precisely tuned for life (the anthropomorphic principle).
  3. While the precise mechanism of the origin of life on earth remains unknown, once life arose, the process of evolution and natural selection permitted the development of biological diversity and complexity over very long period of time.
  4. Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.
  5. Humans are part of this process, sharing a common ancestor with the great apes.
  6. Humans are unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout history.

Of course there are some problems involved in trying to reconcile NE and TE. One problem is that the Genesis account says that sea creatures and birds were both made on day five and land creatures were made on day six, however NE states that the birds evolved from the land animals. Science states that our solar system and the earth were created much after the creation of the universe but Genesis 1:1 seems to state that the earth was made at the beginning of creation. However, the verse reads:
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This verse does not explicitly state that the heavens and the earth were created at the same instant of time, just that they were created as an act of the beginning of creation. NE states that there would have been much time lapse between the creation of animals and man so that there would have been much death before the creation of man. Literal creationists state that the Bible says that death entered at the sin of man. But again, let us see what the Bible really states regarding death.
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned

This verse relates to the death of man and not the death of any creatures so an old-age view of earth does not preclude that animals died and left fossil records covering many years before the advent of man.


This theory was proposed by Dr. Francis S. Collins who coined the word “BioLogos”. His contribution appears to be only in renaming theistic evolution (TE) in the hope that the theory would be more widely accepted since BioLogos and TE have the same postulates. He reasons that scientists and theologians would recognize “Bios” as the Greek word for “life” and “logos” as Greek for “word”. Thus he proposes that people think of the origin of life as God causing the life to exist by the proclamation of His word. He then states that BioLogos is not a separate theory since it utilizes evolution for the cause of life. Instead of claiming this to be a creation theory, he says that, by virtue of its name, it includes theological answers to questions such as “How did the universe get here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What happens to us after we die?” The serious Christian may still be bothered since the theory behind this concept is still Darwinian evolution. However, the basic “theory” is not ‘just’ evolution because theistic evolution (the real basis for BioLogos) claims that God set up all the initial conditions for evolution so that, from His perspective, the end result of man was guaranteed and not based on any random occurrences. Given the initial physical laws and His created matter of the universe and earth, the result of the evolutionary process was set. I would give the following Scripture as a reference for this process:
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying,' My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';

Dr. Collins obviously also does not understand Biblical faith since one of his objections to intelligent design is that:“If believers have attached their last vestiges of hope that God could find a place in human existence through ID theory, and that theory collapses, what happens to faith?”

Remember the beginning of this article concerning faith and the apologetic reason for creation models to understand that the above quoted question is without merit. A true Christian has faith as a gift from God and it is not based upon any human reasoning so the collapse of any theory will not affect true faith from God. All Christians should be warned by the following admonition from Paul:
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

There seems to be no difference between the models of theistic evolution and BioLogos except that Dr. Collins hopes people will more clearly see God involved in the model with the new name.

Creation Science

This theory includes the postulate that God created the universe and all that is in it in six literal 24-hour days so that the world is only about 6000 years old and the universe is only about 8000 years old. Supporters of this theory say that it results from a literal interpretation of the first chapter of the book of Genesis. The time period is determined from the genealogies given in Genesis although such genealogies are never given as absolute and many gaps are seen. Supporters of this theory interpret the Hebrew word “Yom” as a literal 24-hour day. The theory has almost no match with science in terms of geology or astrophysics. Geological formations argue for an earth that is several million years old. The best astronomical observations argue for a universe that is about 18 billion years old. The distance to the astronomical objects are determined with considerable accuracy and depend upon the speed of light being constant. It seems that the only way this theory and science can be accommodated is if God made everything with the appearance of age. Among other things, He made a tree with rings; rocks with radioactive elements strategically placed within them; placed the astronomical objects far away from earth at the beginning and caused light to reach earth at essentially an infinite velocity; and caused the Genesis Flood to be worldwide causing much of the geological structures interpreted as containing age. Certainly God could have done all of this but it seems that He would have been deceptive in doing so and certainly deception is not one of His characteristics.

This Creation Science model has been strongly supported by Dr. Henry Morris who wrote the book, “The Genesis Record”, to explain this model. Dr. Morris credits Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) with dating the start of creation at 4004 BC. He does state that there is some uncertainty in the Biblical chronology, but states that the Bible cannot support a date for the creation of man before about 10,000 BC. Since he takes the days to be literal 24-hour days, the creation of the universe must have been started somewhere between 4004 BC and 10,000 BC. Many fundamentalists expand this date by inferring the “Gap Theory”, which is that there is an indeterminate time lapse between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and such allows for creation time to be more in line with science. Dr. Morris strongly argues against this gap theory.

As stated at the beginning, a Biblical interpretation that does not fit with science is not to be absolutely rejected but we need to be certain that we have the best Scriptural interpretation for our primary test of an interpretation.

Another Model of Creation

Another model of creation is proposed that is entirely Biblical, but that also matches positively with science in many aspects. Proposed first, in concert with many theologians, is that “Yom” does not necessarily mean a 24-hour day. The same word is used in Psa 90, also written by Moses, where we read:
Psa 90:4 For a thousand years in Thy sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.

We can then read the first chapter of the book of Genesis without a preconceived notion of a day having to consist of 24 of our hours. Most of western civilization has a linear concept of time but such was not standard for people living in the area occupied by Moses at the time of the writing of Genesis. Their view of time was in a cyclical nature and so they would have viewed the creation account from an entirely different perspective than those of us living in the U.S.A. today. Some theologians such as Gordon Spykman (“Reformational Theology”, Eerdmans Publishing, 1992) have theorized that time did not have its unique meaning during the total creation period as it does now. Such theologians call the time during creation “creating time” and the time after the seventh “day” “creational time”.

Gen 1:1 reveals that God created the heavens and the earth. The Bible always considered “heavens” as including all of the material of the universe and not just the space of the heavens as some interpret. Therefore God created all of space, time, and all material including our sun, earth, and moon on “day” one. On that “day” He saw that the earth was without form and void so He let light impinge upon it (it had already existed as part of total creation) and gave names to day and night since there would be regions of the earth that received light and some that did not receive this light. Since the sun and moon had not yet been placed to define days, the light must have arrived from many of the astronomical objects as well as from the sun and moon, whatever their location. Thus, considering the speed of light as fixed, there could have been a considerable time lapse occurring on day one as light impinged upon the earth from many sources.

On “day” two He separated the water in the atmosphere from the water on the land and called the atmosphere heaven, what the Jews called the first heaven (the second heaven is space and the third heaven is the dwelling place of God).

On “day” three God named the dry land earth and the gathered waters seas. He also commanded the earth to sprout vegetation of many varieties.

On “day” four God set the sun and the moon and the stars in their current relative orientations to earth. He said that they would then determine the days and years and seasons. Thus the Bible clearly states that “Yom” could be measured in 24-hour increments from some part of day four forward. The total time lapse from the beginning of creation until day five is unknown. Some theologians argue that whatever the worldly concept of day is used it should be consistent throughout the chapter. They then argue that the unknown duration of “day” should continue past this new point even though a literal 24-hour day is now possible with the placing of the moon and the stars. This Biblical time standard for day and night and the unknown time period from creation then both allow for a match with the time considerations of science without first making science the standard. This total creation account then allows for the universe to be 18 billion years old.

On day five God then created (the Hebrew word “bara” that is translated “created” appears only on days one, five, and six (for man) and it means either created out of nothing or an original type of creating) the animals in the sea and in the sky.

On day six God stated that the earth would bring forth living creatures, but the word “created” is not used. We can only speculate as to what is meant by the earth bringing forth living creatures. Some people postulate that this statement allows for some sort of development of these creatures over a long time period that was culminated on day six. On this same day God created man in His own image as male and female. Mankind was then to rule over the rest of creation and they, as well as all of the other creatures, were given vegetation and fruit for food.

Day seven marked the end of creation and the beginning of “normal” time as we now know it. Notice that there is no mention of an end to this day as was noted in all the other days by the saying “there was evening and there was morning, the ____ day.” Gen 2:2-3 And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Since God did not state an ending for this seventh day as He had for the others, the Sabbath rest is of an indeterminate length. As we know from Col 1:17 God’s rest is only from creation and not from other work. His creation is complete but He maintains it and interacts with His people such as indicated by Rom 8:28.

The second chapter of Genesis is an elaboration of some of the events discussed in the first chapter.

What do we now do with the appearance of animals on earth? It seems from Genesis that the animals in the sea and sky were made on day five and the earth-dwelling animals were allowed to form on day six. However the meaning of the words can be interpreted as the sea, sky, and land animals as they were known at the time of Moses. Thus it is perfectly allowable to postulate that animals began to appear on an evolutionary basis beginning on day three when vegetation appeared. Also remember that the 24-hour day was not ordained until “day” four so many thousands or hundreds of thousands of years could have passed between “day” three and “day” four during which many types of animals such as what we call dinosaurs appeared. There could also have evolved early man without having the breath of life as is found in archeological excavations.

On day six God did make a unique man from preexisting material (Gen 2:7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.) Adam was given the breath of life from God and so he would be a distinctly different creature from any type of man that may have previously appeared. God also made a suitable companion for Adam (Gen 2:21-22 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.) The Hebrew word (tsela`) translated “rib” can actually connote a basic component. This woman was thus of the same substance as Adam and also unique from any other creature. Thus God miraculously made Adam and Eve to rule the creatures of His creation (Gen 1:26). This Scripture does not rule out the possibility that there could have also been many other humans on earth outside of the Garden of Eden at this time accounting for Cain’s fear of people who might kill him (Gen 4:14) and for his finding a wife in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Since the OT and Paul refer to a literal Adam (the genealogy of Jesus is also traced back to Adam in Luke 3:23-38), we also must accept Adam’s creation by God and the account of the fall into sin in Gen 3. However there is a lot of “wiggle” room relating to other humans on earth.

Another interesting thought regarding man is that Adam had a son in his own image/likeness:
Gen 5:3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

We then read in Genesis of the lineage from Seth to Noah. After the flood we could conclude that there were no people who were not of the lineage of Seth from Adam. This conclusion assumes that the flood was world-wide and not local or that the flood was local but there were not yet any humans outside of the local flood area. All humans except for Noah and his family were then killed by the flood. We can then postulate that all the humans today are descendents of Adam and thus not of any possible humans who existed from a strictly evolutionary process. This theory correlates with Scripture teaching that all men are born with the sin nature of Adam, but it allows for the possibility of other humans not of the lineage of Adam existing before the flood.
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—

What about the possibility that the flood was local and humans did exist outside of the flood area? One speaks of a phenomenological and a noumenological presentation of information. A phenomenological presentation is based upon the observations of the person in the area as from Noah’s perspective in the example of the flood. A noumenological presentation is based upon the observer being external to the situation and thus viewing the event from a much broader perspective as would God in observing the flood. We cannot be absolutely certain as to the perspective presented in the Genesis account of the flood. In such a local flood scenario there would be humans existing today who are not direct descendents of Adam and humans who were of mixed ancestry between descendents of Adam and descendents of those people outside of the flood zone. This possibility would also correlate with Scripture about the sin nature of Adam since any people outside of Eden would have not had the breath from God giving them a spirit essence.

This possible explanation for the creation of everything is developed from Genesis and does not violate any Scripture. It is also in agreement with scientific observations. It may not be correct but it allows for Christians to have intelligent discussions with non-Christians about important spiritual matters relating to their salvation without being stopped from further discussions because of what are perceived as incredibly wrong statements about the age of the universe. Once a petroleum engineering student came into my office and began a conversation with me. He said, “I know that you say that you are a Christian and I want to ask a question. What is your understanding about the age of the universe and the earth?” I replied, “I don’t know. It may be that God created all that we see in a literal 24-hour, six-day week or He may have created it all in approximately 18 billion years. I tend to believe that all creation is very old.” He looked at me and said, “Thanks for that answer. If you had said that the universe was only about 10,000 years old the conversation would have been over. But now I would like to talk with you about your faith because I would like to have that same faith.” Because of my answer, I was able to talk with that young man about Jesus Christ and what He did for us. I do not know if he became a child of God but I know that I would not have had the opportunity to talk with him about Christ if I had been a proponent of a young earth.


It is my opinion that there are many issues of Christianity that are not primary issues and one is the age of the earth. Another such issue is the time of the Eschaton (End Times) and the precise nature of events at that time. I know people who say that if we do not believe in a young earth we cannot be Christians, but I know of no Scripture to support that statement. Primary issues include the creation of everything from no pre-existing material including time by God, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, the full humanity and deity of Jesus Christ, His living a perfect life on earth, His physical death, His physical resurrection, and His return to consummate the Kingdom of Heaven. Several of those primary issues seem just as incredibly impossible to an unbeliever as a young earth but they must be accepted as fact for a person to say that he is a Christian. Once we get over the barrier of the age of the earth, the primary issues can be discussed.