Tag Archives: Howard J. Van Till

Evolutionary Creationism (EC) vs. Theistic Evolution (TE)

In one of my previous posts, Steve asked a question regarding my use of the term “evolutionary creationism,” or EC. I figured I’d let Denis O. Lamoureux from St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, speak to the differences between EC and “theistic evolution” (TE) in his outstanding essay “Evolutionary Creation”:

The term ‘evolutionary creation’ to most individuals seems like a contradiction in terms. This would be the case if the words ‘evolution’ and ‘creation’ were restricted to their popular meanings. That is, if the former is bound to an atheistic world view, and if the latter refers exclusively to literal 6 day creation. However, evolutionary creation moves beyond the common use of these terms and the simple ‘evolution vs. creation’ debate. The most important word in this category is the noun ‘creation.’ Evolutionary creationists are first and foremost thoroughly committed and unapologetic creationists. They believe that the universe is a created reality that is absolutely dependent for its every moment of existence on the will and grace of the Creator. The qualifying word in this term is the adjective ‘evolutionary,’ indicating the method through which God created the world. This view of origins is often referred to as ‘theistic evolution.’ However, that categorization places the process of evolution as primary term and makes the Creator secondary as only a qualifying adjective. Such an inversion in the order of priority is unacceptable to evolutionary creationists.

 Clearly, some may use the two terms synonymously, but I prefer Lamoureux’s distinction. Even Howard J. Van Till, in Zondervan’s Three Views on Creation and Evolution, prefers not to use the term “theistic evolution”:

Although the author of this chapter finds this label [“theistic evolution”] to have serious shortcomings, the editors have nonetheless chosen to employ it. . . . the author asks that his position be known, not as theistic evolution, but as the fully gifted creation perspective. (p. 161; emphasis in the original)

I believe the EC term to be fairly recent, and considering Van Till’s use of the term “evolutionary naturalism” to describe atheistic evolution (pp. 164-165), I feel justified to assume his approval of the term “evolutionary creationism.” In fact, in the same chapter, Van Till states:

. . . I have sometimes used the label evolving creation for my perspective. I think it’s a much better term that theistic evolution . . .

However . . .

. . . but it still has the problem of having to deal with all the negative attitudes that a majority of Christians have toward anything that even sounds like “evolution.”

Van Till has a point, but his term “fully gifted creation” does not succinctly describe his view very well. But back to what makes EC, well, EC. Lamoureux writes:

. . . evolutionary creationists claim that through an ordained and sustained evolutionary process God created the entire universe and all of life, including human beings. . . . God’s actual creative method is found through scientific discovery and not by reading the opening chapters of Scripture. . . . Three features distinguish evolutionary creation from other positions on the origin of the universe and life. This view of origins firmly: (1) believes in a personal Creator and the evolution of the world, (2) upholds the foundational principles of conservative Christianity and modern science, and (3) rejects the ‘God-of-the-Gaps’ [i.e., Intelligent Design —Mike Beidler]. . . . evolutionary creationists predict that as biology advances, fine-tuning arguments for the evolution of life will be discovered. Therefore, instead of looking for ‘gaps’ in nature where God purportedly intervened to create living organisms, these Christians see the Creator’s glory expressed in the robust continuum of life from the first cells to human beings. The faith of evolutionary creationists is strengthened with every new finding in biological evolution because each discovery declares the faithfulness of God to His living creation.

 

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