Analysis of the Major Christian Creation Organizations

(This is part one of a seven part blog series that I am doing on the topic of creation, evolution and the age of the earth. This has unfortunately been a highly divisive topic within Christianity and if the topic makes you uncomfortable or you do not think that you can handle a discussion on it, I suggest you skip this series. However, anyone who wishes to voice an opinion on the topic, needs to have a basic understanding of the arguments from all sides. This is a huge area of uncertainty for many skeptics and struggling believers, anyone who wishes to be able to engage with the skeptic or struggling believer needs to be aware of the different positions. I have sought to do that and to develop my own studied position. This series will overview what I believe to be seven of the most important or interesting things that I have learned.)

Within Christian circles there are three dominant organizations relating to creation: Answers in Genesis, Reasons to Believe and BioLogos. Each will be looked at in turn. 

Answers in Genesis (AiG): AiG is the biggest and most familiar creation organization in evangelical circles. They are also the most well funded, drawing in nearly $32.5 Million in 2014.1 AiG is most famous for their Creation Museum with their built to size Ark Encounter. AiG is a dogmatic Young Earth Creationists (YEC) ministry. They have drawn very strong boundary lines and seek to fight not only evolutionary creationism (theistic evolution) but also Old Earth Creationists, both are seen as enemies to be defeated. Ken Ham is the founder of AiG and promotes arguments made famous by Henry Morris who was the primary leader of the Young Earth Movement that began in Evangelical circles in the late 1950’s. (Prior to this movement the majority of Evangelicals held to Old Earth views during previous 100 years)2 Morris co-authored a book called the Genesis Flood in 1961 which gave the movement a strong footing. The majority of evidences in the book have been refuted and conceded by YEC, yet the arguments have been adapted and the position of a Young Earth is still the dominate position among Evangelicals today. The dogmatic stance of this ministry against anti-evolutionary Old Earth groups is a bit ironic as AiG promotes a form of evolutionary power “that would make Richard Dawkins blush.”3 This form of evolution is needed to explain the vast diversity of species we have today in the short amount of time following the flood. Furthermore, many AiG leaders do not fully support the Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy and Hermeneutics. (CSBI and CSBH) These statements were signed by D.A. Carson, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul and many others Evangelical leaders of high respect and they consist of one of the first systematic creed-like statements on conservative Biblical interpretation and authority.4 In AiG’s eyes, to believe in Biblical inerrancy is to believe in their literal interpretations only, nothing else will do.

Reasons to Believe (RTB): RTB was founded in 1986 by astronomer Hugh Ross. Ross is known for his conversion to Christianity after studying big bang cosmology and then searching the “holy books” for the most likely account, in his eyes the Bible won the day.5 RTB drew in $7.5 million in 2014, making it a significantly smaller player than AiG6. However, RTB is an Old Earth Creationist organization (OEC) and the most influential of it’s kind. This means they support an interpretation of Genesis that allows for the universe to be billions of years old, animal creation to be millions of years old, and humanity to be anywhere from 50,000 years old to 200,000 years old7. They do not believe in macroevolution but compare the Genesis account with scientific evidence in the fossil record that shows nearly instantaneous appearances of new species (instantaneous from a geological standpoint) and believe that Genesis is describing these events of special creation. Perhaps their most controversial belief is the belief that animals died before the fall. Several other important beliefs that they promote are a historic Adam and Eve who were supernaturally created from the dust, an interpretation that allows for a local flood that wiped out all humans on the earth, except those who were on the ark, but that the flood was not global8 and they are the only one of these three creationist ministries that fully affirms the CSBI.9  Although RTB will use science to see if a certain Biblical interpretation could be reinterpreted they hold that Scripture is their final authority.

BioLogos: BioLogos is a relatively new player in the game, having been founded only in 2007 by Francis Collins. Collins was formerly the head of the Human Genome Project and is the current director of the National Institutes of Heath.10 In 2014 they drew in $3.7 million in fund-raising.10 BioLogos fully endorses evolution, including the evolution of all human beings and they endorse common decent. Common decent meaning the belief that all living things have evolved from one original cell. They reject a naturalistic or even a simply deistic view of evolution and refer to their view as Evolutionary Creationism. (Typically called theistic evolution by those outside their circles) They profess that they hold to historic Christianity in their belief of the Bible’s inspiration and authority, that all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that Jesus Christ was both man and God, and they believe in miracles that cannot be explained naturally.12 However, their stance of Biblical inspiration is not to be confused with believing in inerrancy. They state that a believer does not have to give up inerrancy but BioLogos has no problem posting articles defending that there are errors in the Bible including the highly provocative article “After Inerrancy,” written by Kenton Sparks.13 In this blog post he goes so far as to say that holding to inerrancy is an “intellectual disaster.”14 But of course Sparks doesn’t just have scientific concerns, but calls into question large portions of the the Bible’s ethics and theology. He claims many parts of Scripture have broken elements and it is up to the reader to discern which parts are broken.15 Sparks, in a similar work, even says the following when discussing Jesus’s views on hell: “where that first-century theology was limited in its vision, so too was the theological vision of Jesus.”16 Theology does not get more liberal than claiming that the Son of God incarnate had a “limited theology.” Works like “After Inerrancy” and authors like Sparks should be having polemics written against them (Titus 1:13) by organizations claiming to hold to historic Christianity. However, BioLogos sees fit to post resources like this as positions to be considered. Furthermore, BioLogos is willing to post (and seems to believe) articles adamantly denying that human beings have all descended from common parents, that Adam and Eve are not historical persons, that our morals evolved from animal emotions, that our belief in God evolved as well17, that sin mystically entered the world and humans “gradually developed an awareness of their sin.”18 Many of their articles sound very Darwinistic in their thinking and greatly deviate from any kind of historic Christianity that I am aware of. To be fair BioLogos does post articles arguing some of these points such as Tim Keller’s article (who holds to a version of theistic evolution19) where he defends the need to maintain the belief in the historicity of Adam, Eve and the Fall.20 Overall, I believe Cabal sums up BioLogos’ views well: “Evolution is true, but we’re not sure about all of the Bible, and we’re hard at work now to figure out how to retain as much traditional evangelical theology as possible.”21 Due to BioLogos’ very lose boundaries in key Evangelical doctrines Cabal concludes (and I for one agree) that “based on its extremely loose doctrines of the Bible, I could never recommend BioLogos as a constructive resource for the church.”22

In conclusion, the three big players in the Christian creation debate are Answers in Genesis, Reasons to Believe, and BioLogos. AiG is a YEC group that holds zealously to their interpretation of Genesis as the only allowable interpretation to anyone wishing to remain Biblically faithful. Reasons to Believe is an OEC group, that in my opinion, although not without some faults, has shown the most wisdom in where to draw lines in this debate. BioLogos believes in evolutionary creationism and has very lose boundaries as to what is doctrinally acceptable for an organization claiming to be orthodox. (It should be noted that there are other evangelicals and scientists that hold to theistic evolution and who agree with Tim Keller on where to draw boundaries. My critique is not necessarily against BioLogos’ stance on evolution but their stance on where to draw necessary boundaries within Christian orthodoxy.)

  1. Controversy of the Ages: Why Christians Should not Divide Over the Age of the Earth, Theodor J. Cabal and Peter J. Rasor II, (Weaver Book Company, Wooster, OH, 2017), “Science and Theology at War,” 22
  2. Ibid. “American Response to Darwinism,” 93
  3. Ibid. “Do Young Earth Creationists Practice Evolutionary Science” 165; quoted from: R.A. Peters, “Theodocic Creationism: Its Membership and Motivations,” in Geology and Religion: A History of Harmony and Hostility, ed. Martina Kolbl-Ebert, Geological Society Special Publication no. 310 (London: The Geological Society, 2009), 321
  4. Ibid. “Biblical Inerrancy and the Age of the Earth,” 171-180
  5. Ibid. “American Response to Darwinism,” 93
  6. Ibid. “Science and Theology at War,” 22
  7. Who Was Adam? A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man, Fazale Rana, Hugh Ross, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2005), 64-67
  8. https://www.reasons.org/about/faq
  9. Controversy of the Ages, Cabal and Rasor, “Biblical Inerrancy and the Age of the Earth,” 175
  10. bid. “American Response to Darwinism,” 95
  11. Ibid. “Science and Theology at War,” 22
  12. https://biologos.org/about-us/our-mission/
  13. Kenton Sparks, “After Inerrancy: Evangelicals and the Bible in a Postmodern Age,” The BioLogos Foundation, https://biologos.org/uploads/static-content/sparks_scholarly_essay.pdf , 5
  14. Ibid. 5
  15. Controversy of the Ages, Cabal and Rasor, “Biblical Inerrancy and the Age of the Earth,” 180-185
  16. Kenton Sparks, Sacred Work, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 27
  17. Controversy of the Ages, Cabal and Rasor, “Theological Triage,” 213-217
  18. Jim Stump, “Evolution and the Fall,” BioLogos, November 04, 2015, http://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/evolution-and-the-fall
  19. 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution, Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker, (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 2014), “Question 38: Can a Christian Hold to Theistic Evolution,” 378
  20. Tim Keller, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople,” 9, www.biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf (accessed 02/02/11)
  21. Controversy of the Ages, Cabal and Rasor, “Theological Triage,” 213
  22. Ibid. 213

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Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “Analysis of the Major Christian Creation Organizations

  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    Liked by 1 person

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