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Creationism is the religious belief that the Universe and life originated "from specific acts of divine creation." For young Earth creationists, this includes a biblical literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and the rejection of the scientific theory of evolution. As the history of evolutionary thought developed from the 18th century on, various views aimed at reconciling the Abrahamic religions and Genesis with biology and other sciences developed in Western culture. Those holding that species had been created separately (such as Philip Gosse in 1857) were generally called "advocates of creation" but were also called "creationists," as in private correspondence between Charles Darwin and his friends. As the creation–evolution controversy developed over time, the term "anti-evolutionists" became common. In 1929 in the United States, the term "creationism" first became associated with Christian fundamentalists, specifically with their rejection of human evolution and belief in a young Earth—although this usage was contested by other groups, such as old Earth creationists and evolutionary creationists, who hold different concepts of creation, such as the acceptance of the age of the Earth and biological evolution as understood by the scientific community.
Today, the American Scientific Affiliation, a prominent religious organisation in the US, recognizes that there are different opinions among creationists on the method of creation, while acknowledging unity on the Abrahamic belief that God "created the universe." Since the 1920s, literalist creationism in America has contested scientific theories, such as that of evolution, which derive from natural observations of the Universe and life. Literalist creationists believe that evolution cannot adequately account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on Earth. Fundamentalist creationists of the Christian faith usually base their belief on a literal reading of the Genesis creation narrative. Other religions either share the Genesis creation myth or have different deity-led creation myths,[note 1] while different members of individual faiths vary in their acceptance of scientific findings.
When scientific research produces empirical evidence and theoretical conclusions which contradict a literalist creationist interpretation of scripture, young Earth creationists often reject the conclusions of the research or its underlying scientific theories or its methodology. This tendency has led to political and theological controversy. Pseudoscientific branches of creationism include creation science, flood geology, and intelligent design, as well as subsets of pseudoarchaeology, pseudohistory, and even pseudolinguistics. Most commonly, creationists reject the scientific consensus on evolution and common descent, the geological history of the Earth, the formation of the Solar System and the origin of the Universe.
Theistic evolution, also known as Evolutionary Creationism, is an attempt to reconcile religion with scientific findings on the age of the Earth and evolution. The term covers a range of views including Old Earth creationism.
- 1 History
- 2 Types of creationism
- 3 Theistic evolution
- 4 Religious views
- 5 Creationism by country
- 6 Prevalence
- 7 Criticism
- 8 Organizations
- 9 See also
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The term "creationist" to describe a proponent of creationism was first used in a letter by Charles Darwin in 1856. In the 1920s, the term became particularly associated with Christian fundamentalist movements that insisted on a literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and likewise opposed the idea of human evolution. These groups succeeded in getting teaching of evolution banned in American public schools, then from the mid-1960s the young Earth creationists promoted the teaching of "scientific creationism" using "Flood geology" in public school science classes as support for a purely literal reading of the Book of Genesis. After the legal judgment of the case Daniel v. Waters (1975) ruled that teaching creationism in public schools contravened the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the content was stripped of overt biblical references and renamed creation science. When the court case Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) ruled that creation science similarly contravened the constitution, all references to "creation" in a draft school textbook were changed to refer to intelligent design, which was presented by creationists as a new scientific theory. The Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005) ruling concluded that intelligent design is not science and contravenes the constitutional restriction on teaching religion in public school science classes. In September 2012, Bill Nye ("The Science Guy") expressed his concern that creationist views threaten science education and innovations in the US.
Early and medieval times
The first-century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria admired the literal narrative of passages concerning the Patriarchs, but in other passages viewed the literal interpretation as being for those unable to see an underlying deeper meaning. For example, he noted that Moses said the world was created in six days, but did not consider this as a length of time as "we must think of God as doing all things simultaneously" and the six days were mentioned because of a need for order and according with a perfect number. Genesis was about real events, but God through Moses described them in figurative or allegorical language.
The early Christian Church Fathers largely read creation history as an allegory, and followed Philo's ideas of time beginning with an instantaneous creation without the convention that a day was the conventional time period. Christian orthodoxy rejected the second-century Gnostic belief that the Book of Genesis was purely allegorical, but without taking a purely literal view of the texts. Thus, Origen believed that the physical world is ‘literally’ a creation of God, but did not take the chronology or the days as ‘literal’. Similarly, Saint Basil the Great in the fourth century while literal in many ways, described creation as instantaneous and timeless, being immeasurable and indivisible.
Augustine of Hippo in On the Literal Meaning of Genesis was insistent that the Book of Genesis describes the creation of physical objects, but also shows creation occurring simultaneously, with the days of creation being categories for didactic reasons, a logical framework which has nothing to do with time. For him, light was the illumination of angels rather than visible light, and spiritual light was just as literal as physical light. Augustine emphasized that the text was difficult to understand and should be reinterpreted as new knowledge became available. In particular, Christians should not make absurd dogmatic interpretations of scripture which contradict what people know from physical evidence.
In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas, like Augustine, asserted the need to hold the truth of scripture without wavering while cautioning "that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should not adhere to a particular explanation, only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing."
Impact of the Reformation
From 1517 the Protestant Reformation brought a new emphasis on lay literacy. Martin Luther taught young Earth creationism, that creation took six literal days about 6000 years ago. John Calvin also rejected instantaneous creation, but criticised those who, contradicting the contemporary understanding of nature, asserted that there are "waters above the heavens."
Discoveries of new lands brought knowledge of a huge diversity of life, and a new belief developed that each of these biological species had been individually created by God. In 1605, Francis Bacon emphasized that the works of God in nature teach us how to interpret the word of God in the Bible, and his Baconian method introduced the empirical approach which became central to modern science. Natural theology developed the study of nature with the expectation of finding evidence supporting Christianity, and numerous attempts were made to reconcile new knowledge with the biblical deluge myth and story of Noah's Ark.
In 1650 the Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher, published the Ussher chronology based on Bible history giving a date for Creation of 4004 BC. This was generally accepted, but the development of modern geology in the 18th and 19th centuries found geological strata and fossil sequences indicating an ancient Earth. Catastrophism was favoured in England as supporting the biblical flood, but this was found to be untenable and by 1850 all geologists and most Evangelical Christians had adopted various forms of old Earth creationism, while continuing to firmly reject evolution.[not in citation given]
From around the start of the 19th century, ideas such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's concept of transmutation of species had gained some supporters in Paris and Edinburgh, mostly amongst anatomists. The anonymous publication of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation in 1844 aroused wide public interest with support from Quakers and Unitarians, but was strongly criticised by the scientific community, which called for solidly backed science. In 1859, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species provided that evidence from an authoritative and respected source, and within a decade or so convinced scientists that evolution occurs. This view clashed with that of conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, but their attention quickly turned to the much greater uproar about Essays and Reviews by liberal Anglican theologians, which introduced into the controversy "higher criticism" begun by Erasmus centuries earlier. This book re-examined the Bible and cast doubt on a literal interpretation. By 1875 most American naturalists supported ideas of theistic evolution, often involving special creation of human beings.
At this time those holding that species had been separately created were generally called "advocates of creation," but they were occasionally called "creationists" in private correspondence between Charles Darwin and his friends. The term appears in letters Darwin wrote between 1856 and 1863, and was also used in a response by Charles Lyell.
Types of creationism
Several attempts have been made to categorize the different types of creationism, and create a "taxonomy" of creationists. Creationism (broadly construed) covers a spectrum of beliefs which have been categorized into the general types listed below.
|Acceptance in the US||Humanity||Biological species||Earth||Age of Universe|
|Young Earth creationism||40%||Directly created by God.||Directly created by God. Macroevolution does not occur.||Less than 10,000 years old. Reshaped by global flood.||Less than 10,000 years old, but some hold this view only for our Solar System.|
|Gap creationism||Scientifically accepted age. Reshaped by global flood.||Scientifically accepted age.|
|Progressive creationism||38%||Directly created by God, based on primate anatomy.||Direct creation + evolution. No single common ancestor.||Scientifically accepted age. No global flood.||Scientifically accepted age.|
|Intelligent design||Proponents hold various beliefs. (For example, Michael Behe accepts evolution from primates.)||Divine intervention at some point in the past, as evidenced by what intelligent-design creationists call "irreducible complexity."||Some adherents accept common descent, others not. Some claim the existence of Earth is the result of divine intervention.||Scientifically accepted age.|
|Theistic evolution (evolutionary creationism)||Evolution from primates.||Evolution from single common ancestor.||Scientifically accepted age. No global flood.||Scientifically accepted age.|
Young Earth creationism
Young Earth creationists believe that God created the Earth within the last ten thousand years, literally as described in the Genesis creation narrative, within the approximate time-frame of biblical genealogies (detailed for example in the Ussher chronology). Most young Earth creationists believe that the Universe has a similar age as the Earth. A few assign a much older age to the Universe than to Earth. Creationist cosmologies give the Universe an age consistent with the Ussher chronology and other young Earth time frames. Other young Earth creationists believe that the Earth and the Universe were created with the appearance of age, so that the world appears to be much older than it is, and that this appearance is what gives the geological findings and other methods of dating the Earth and the Universe their much longer timelines.
The Christian organizations Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and the Creation Research Society (CRS) both promote young Earth creationism in the US. Another organization with similar views, Answers in Genesis (AiG)—based in both the US and the United Kingdom—has opened the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, to promote young Earth creationism. Creation Ministries International promotes young Earth views in Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, the US, and the UK. Among Roman Catholics, the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation promotes similar ideas.
Creation science, or initially scientific creationism, is a pseudoscience that emerged in the 1960s with proponents aiming to have young Earth creationist beliefs taught in school science classes as a counter to teaching of evolution. Common features of Creation science argument include: creationist cosmologies which accommodate a Universe on the order of thousands of years old, criticism of radiometric dating through a technical argument about radiohalos, explanations for the fossil record as a record of the Genesis flood narrative (see Flood geology), and explanations for the present diversity as a result of pre-designed genetic variability and partially due to the rapid degradation of the perfect genomes God placed in "created kinds" or "Baramin" (see creationist biology) due to mutations.
Old Earth creationism
Old Earth creationism holds that the physical universe was created by God, but that the creation event described in the Book of Genesis is to be taken figuratively. This group generally believes that the age of the Universe and the age of the Earth are as described by astronomers and geologists, but that details of modern evolutionary theory are questionable.
Old Earth creationism itself comes in at least three types:
Gap creationism, also called "restoration creationism," holds that life was recently created on a pre-existing old Earth. This theory relies on a particular interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2. It is considered that the words formless and void in fact denote waste and ruin, taking into account the original Hebrew and other places these words are used in the Old Testament. Genesis 1:1-2 is consequently translated:
- "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Original act of creation.)
- "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
Thus, the six days of creation (verse 3 onwards) start sometime after the Earth was "without form and void." This allows an indefinite "gap" of time to be inserted after the original creation of the Universe, but prior to the creation according to Genesis, (when present biological species and humanity were created). Gap theorists can therefore agree with the scientific consensus regarding the age of the Earth and Universe, while maintaining a literal interpretation of the biblical text.
Some[which?] gap theorists expand the basic theory by proposing a "primordial creation" of biological life within the "gap" of time. This is thought to be "the world that then was" mentioned in 2 Peter 3:3-7. Discoveries of fossils and archaeological ruins older than 10,000 years are generally ascribed to this "world that then was," which may also be associated with Lucifer's rebellion. These views became popular with publications of Hebrew Lexicons such as the Strong's Concordance, and Bible commentaries such as the Scofield Reference Bible and the Companion Bible.
Day-age creationism states that the "six days" of the Book of Genesis are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather much longer periods (for instance, each "day" could be the equivalent of millions, or billions of years of human time). Physicist Gerald Schroeder is one such proponent of this view. This theory often states that the Hebrew word "yôm," in the context of Genesis 1, can be properly interpreted as "age." Some[which?] adherents claim we are still living in the seventh age ("seventh day").
Strictly speaking, day-age creationism is not so much a creationist theory as a hermeneutic option which may be combined with theories such as progressive creationism.
Progressive creationism holds that species have changed or evolved in a process continuously guided by God, with various ideas as to how the process operated—though it is generally taken that God directly intervened in the natural order at key moments in Earth history. This view accepts most of modern physical science including the age of the Earth, but rejects much of modern evolutionary biology or looks to it for evidence that evolution by natural selection alone is incorrect. Organizations such as Reasons To Believe, founded by Hugh Ross, promote this theory.
Neo-Creationists intentionally distance themselves from other forms of creationism, preferring to be known as wholly separate from creationism as a philosophy. Neo-creationism aims to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, policy makers, educators and the scientific community. It aims to re-frame the debate over the origins of life in non-religious terms and without appeals to scripture, and to bring the debate before the public.
Neo-creationism sees ostensibly objective mainstream science as a dogmatically atheistic religion. Neo-creationists argue that the scientific method excludes certain explanations of phenomena, particularly where they point towards supernatural elements. They argue that this effectively excludes any possible religious insight from contributing to a scientific understanding of the Universe. Neo-creationists also argue that science, as an "atheistic enterprise," lies at the root of many of contemporary society's ills including social unrest and family breakdown.
The intelligent design movement arguably represents the most recognized form of neo-creationism in the US. Unlike their philosophical forebears, neo-creationists largely do not believe in many of the traditional cornerstones of creationism such as a young Earth, or in a dogmatically literal interpretation of the Bible. Common to all forms of neo-creationism is a rejection of naturalism, usually made together with a tacit admission of supernaturalism, and an open and often hostile opposition to what they term "Darwinism," meaning evolution.
Intelligent design (ID) is the pseudoscientific view that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." All of its leading proponents are associated with the Discovery Institute, a think tank whose Wedge strategy aims to replace the scientific method with "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions" which accepts supernatural explanations. It is widely accepted in the scientific and academic communities that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and is sometimes referred to as "intelligent design creationism."
ID originated as a re-branding of creation science in an attempt to avoid a series of court decisions ruling out the teaching of creationism in American public schools, and the Discovery Institute has run a series of campaigns to change school curricula. In Australia, where curricula are under the control of state governments rather than local school boards, there was a public outcry when the notion of ID being taught in science classes was raised by the Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson; the minister quickly conceded that the correct forum for ID, if it were to be taught, is in religious or philosophy classes.
In the US, teaching of intelligent design in public schools has been decisively ruled by a federal district court to be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Kitzmiller v. Dover, the court found that intelligent design is not science and "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," and hence cannot be taught as an alternative to evolution in public school science classrooms under the jurisdiction of that court. This sets a persuasive precedent, based on previous US Supreme Court decisions in Edwards v. Aguillard and Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), and by the application of the Lemon test, that creates a legal hurdle to teaching intelligent design in public school districts in other federal court jurisdictions.
Obscure and largely discounted beliefs
In astronomy, the geocentric model (also known as geocentrism, or the Ptolemaic system), is a description of the Cosmos where Earth is at the orbital center of all celestial bodies. This model served as the predominant cosmological system in many ancient civilizations such as ancient Greece. As such, they assumed that the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets circled Earth, including the noteworthy systems of Aristotle (see Aristotelian physics) and Ptolemy.
Articles arguing that geocentrism was the biblical perspective appeared in some early creation science newsletters associated with the Creation Research Society pointing to some passages in the Bible, which, when taken literally, indicate that the daily apparent motions of the Sun and the Moon are due to their actual motions around the Earth rather than due to the rotation of the Earth about its axis for example, Joshua 10:12 where the Sun and Moon are said to stop in the sky, and Psalms 93:1 where the world is described as immobile. Contemporary advocates for such religious beliefs include Robert Sungenis, co-author of the self-published Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right (2006). These people subscribe to the view that a plain reading of the Bible contains an accurate account of the manner in which the Universe was created and requires a geocentric worldview. Most contemporary creationist organizations reject such perspectives.[note 2]
The Omphalos hypothesis argues that in order for the world to be functional, God must have created a mature Earth with mountains and canyons, rock strata, trees with growth rings, and so on; therefore no evidence that we can see of the presumed age of the Earth and age of the Universe can be taken as reliable. The idea has seen some revival in the 20th century by some modern creationists, who have extended the argument to light that originates in far-off stars and galaxies (see The "starlight problem").
Theistic evolution, or evolutionary creation, is a belief that "the personal God of the Bible created the universe and life through evolutionary processes." According to the American Scientific Affiliation:
A theory of theistic evolution (TE) — also called evolutionary creation — proposes that God's method of creation was to cleverly design a universe in which everything would naturally evolve. Usually the "evolution" in "theistic evolution" means Total Evolution — astronomical evolution (to form galaxies, solar systems,...) and geological evolution (to form the earth's geology) plus chemical evolution (to form the first life) and biological evolution (for the development of life) — but it can refer only to biological evolution.
Through the 19th century the term creationism most commonly referred to direct creation of individual souls, in contrast to traducianism. Following the publication of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, there was interest in ideas of Creation by divine law. In particular, the liberal theologian Baden Powell argued that this illustrated the Creator's power better than the idea of miraculous creation, which he thought ridiculous. When On the Origin of Species was published, the cleric Charles Kingsley wrote of evolution as "just as noble a conception of Deity." Darwin's view at the time was of God creating life through the laws of nature, and the book makes several references to "creation," though he later regretted using the term rather than calling it an unknown process. In America, Asa Gray argued that evolution is the secondary effect, or modus operandi, of the first cause, design, and published a pamphlet defending the book in theistic terms, Natural Selection not inconsistent with Natural Theology. Theistic evolution, also called, evolutionary creation, became a popular compromise, and St. George Jackson Mivart was among those accepting evolution but attacking Darwin's naturalistic mechanism. Eventually it was realised that supernatural intervention could not be a scientific explanation, and naturalistic mechanisms such as neo-Lamarckism were favoured as being more compatible with purpose than natural selection.
Some theists took the general view that, instead of faith being in opposition to biological evolution, some or all classical religious teachings about Christian God and creation are compatible with some or all of modern scientific theory, including specifically evolution; it is also known as "evolutionary creation." In Evolution versus Creationism, Eugenie Scott and Niles Eldredge state that it is in fact a type of evolution.
It generally views evolution as a tool used by God, who is both the first cause and immanent sustainer/upholder of the Universe; it is therefore well accepted by people of strong theistic (as opposed to deistic) convictions. Theistic evolution can synthesize with the day-age creationist interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative; however most adherents consider that the first chapters of the Book of Genesis should not be interpreted as a "literal" description, but rather as a literary framework or allegory.
From a theistic viewpoint, the underlying laws of nature were designed by God for a purpose, and are so self-sufficient that the complexity of the entire physical universe evolved from fundamental particles in processes such as stellar evolution, life forms developed in biological evolution, and in the same way the origin of life by natural causes has resulted from these laws.
In one form or another, theistic evolution is the view of creation taught at the majority of mainline Protestant seminaries. For Roman Catholics, human evolution is not a matter of religious teaching, and must stand or fall on its own scientific merits. Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church are not in conflict. The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments positively on the theory of evolution, which is neither precluded nor required by the sources of faith, stating that scientific studies "have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man." Roman Catholic schools teach evolution without controversy on the basis that scientific knowledge does not extend beyond the physical, and scientific truth and religious truth cannot be in conflict. Theistic evolution can be described as "creationism" in holding that divine intervention brought about the origin of life or that divine laws govern formation of species, though many creationists (in the strict sense) would deny that the position is creationism at all. In the creation–evolution controversy its proponents generally take the "evolutionist" side. This sentiment was expressed by Fr. George Coyne, (the Vatican's chief astronomer between 1978 and 2006):
...in America, creationism has come to mean some fundamentalistic, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis. Judaic-Christian faith is radically creationist, but in a totally different sense. It is rooted in a belief that everything depends upon God, or better, all is a gift from God.
While supporting the methodological naturalism inherent in modern science, the proponents of theistic evolution reject the implication taken by some atheists that this gives credence to ontological materialism. In fact, many modern philosophers of science, including atheists, refer to the long-standing convention in the scientific method that observable events in nature should be explained by natural causes, with the distinction that it does not assume the actual existence or non-existence of the supernatural.
As of 2006[update] most Christians around the world accepted evolution as the most likely explanation for the origins of species, and did not take a literal view of the Genesis creation myth. The US is an exception where belief in religious fundamentalism is much more likely to affect attitudes towards evolution than it is for believers elsewhere. Political partisanship affecting religious belief may be a factor because political partisanship in the US is highly correlated with fundamentalist thinking, unlike in Europe.
Most contemporary Christian leaders and scholars from mainstream churches, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, consider that there is no conflict between the spiritual meaning of creation and the science of evolution. According to the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, "...for most of the history of Christianity, and I think this is fair enough, most of the history of the Christianity there's been an awareness that a belief that everything depends on the creative act of God, is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time."
Leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches have made statements in favor of evolutionary theory, as have scholars such as the physicist John Polkinghorne, who argues that evolution is one of the principles through which God created living beings. Earlier supporters of evolutionary theory include Frederick Temple, Asa Gray and Charles Kingsley who were enthusiastic supporters of Darwin's theories upon their publication, and the French Jesuit priest and geologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin saw evolution as confirmation of his Christian beliefs, despite condemnation from Church authorities for his more speculative theories. Another example is that of Liberal theology, not providing any creation models, but instead focusing on the symbolism in beliefs of the time of authoring Genesis and the cultural environment.
Many Christians and Jews had been considering the idea of the creation history as an allegory (instead of historical) long before the development of Darwin's theory of evolution. For example, Philo, whose works were taken up by early Church writers, wrote that it would be a mistake to think that creation happened in six days, or in any set amount of time. Augustine of the late fourth century who was also a former neoplatonist argued that everything in the Universe was created by God at the same moment in time (and not in six days as a literal reading of the Book of Genesis would seem to require); It appears that both Philo and Augustine felt uncomfortable with the idea of a seven-day creation because it detracted from the notion of God's omnipotence. In 1950, Pope Pius XII stated limited support for the idea in his encyclical Humani generis. In 1996, Pope John Paul II stated that "new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis," but, referring to previous papal writings, he concluded that "if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God."
In the US, Evangelical Christians have continued to believe in a literal Genesis. Members of evangelical Protestant (70%), Mormon (76%) and Jehovah's Witnesses (90%) denominations are the most likely to reject the evolutionary interpretation of the origins of life. The historic Christian literal interpretation of creation requires the harmonization of the two creation stories, Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25, for there to be a consistent interpretation. They sometimes seek to ensure that their belief is taught in science classes, mainly in American schools. Opponents reject the claim that the literalistic biblical view meets the criteria required to be considered scientific. Many religious groups teach that God created the Cosmos. From the days of the early Christian Church Fathers there were allegorical interpretations of the Book of Genesis as well as literal aspects.
Christian Science, a system of thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, interprets the Book of Genesis figuratively rather than literally. It holds that the material world is an illusion, and consequently not created by God: the only real creation is the spiritual realm, of which the material world is a distorted version. Christian Scientists regard the story of the creation in the Book of Genesis as having symbolic rather than literal meaning. According to Christian Science, both creationism and evolution are false from an absolute or "spiritual" point of view, as they both proceed from a (false) belief in the reality of a material universe. However, Christian Scientists do not oppose the teaching of evolution in schools, nor do they demand that alternative accounts be taught: they believe that both material science and literalist theology are concerned with the illusory, mortal and material, rather than the real, immortal and spiritual. With regard to material theories of creation, Mary Baker Eddy showed a preference for Darwin's theory of evolution over others.
According to Hindu creationism all species on Earth including humans have "devolved" or come down from a high state of pure consciousness. Hindu creationists claim that species of plants and animals are material forms adopted by pure consciousness which live an endless cycle of births and rebirths. Ronald Numbers says that: "Hindu Creationists have insisted on the antiquity of humans, who they believe appeared fully formed as long, perhaps, as trillions of years ago." Hindu creationism is a form of old Earth creationism, according to Hindu creationists the Universe may even be older than billions of years. These views are based on the Vedas, the creation myths of which depict an extreme antiquity of the Universe and history of the Earth.
Islamic creationism is the belief that the Universe (including humanity) was directly created by God as explained in the Qur'an. It usually views the Book of Genesis as a corrupted version of God's message. The creation myths in the Qur'an are vaguer and allow for a wider range of interpretations similar to those in other Abrahamic religions.
Islam also has its own school of theistic evolutionism, which holds that mainstream scientific analysis of the origin of the Universe is supported by the Qur'an. Some Muslims believe in evolutionary creation, especially among liberal movements within Islam.
Khalid Anees, president of the Islamic Society of Britain, at a conference called 'Creationism: Science and Faith in Schools', made points including the following:
Writing for The Boston Globe, Drake Bennett noted: "Without a Book of Genesis to account for ... Muslim creationists have little interest in proving that the age of the Earth is measured in the thousands rather than the billions of years, nor do they show much interest in the problem of the dinosaurs. And the idea that animals might evolve into other animals also tends to be less controversial, in part because there are passages of the Koran that seem to support it. But the issue of whether human beings are the product of evolution is just as fraught among Muslims." However, some Muslims, such as Adnan Oktar (also known as Harun Yahya), do not agree that one species can develop from another.
But there is also a growing movement of Islamic creationism. Similar to Christian creationism, there is concern regarding the perceived conflicts between the Qur'an and the main points of evolutionary theory. The main location for this has been in Turkey, where fewer than 25% of people believe in evolution.
- "Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?"[Quran 21:30 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)]
- "Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: 'Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.' They said: 'We do come (together), in willing obedience.'"[Quran 41:11 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)]
- "With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of space."[Quran 51:47 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)]
- "The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed),- even as We produced the first creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfil it."[Quran 21:104 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)]
The Ahmadiyya movement activey promotes evolutionary theory. Ahmadis interpret scripture from the Qur'an to support the concept of macroevolution and give precedence to scientific theories. Furthermore, unlike orthodox Muslims, Ahmadis believe that mankind has gradually evolved from different species. Ahmadis regard Adam as being the first Prophet of God – as opposed to him being the first man on Earth. Rather than wholly adopting the theory of natural selection, Ahmadis promote the idea of a "guided evolution," viewing each stage of the evolutionary process as having been selectively woven by God. Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has stated in his magnum opus Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth (1998) that evolution did occur but only through God being the One who brings it about. It does not occur itself, according to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
For Orthodox Jews who seek to reconcile discrepancies between science and the creation myths in the Bible, the notion that science and the Bible should even be reconciled through traditional scientific means is questioned. To these groups, science is as true as the Torah and if there seems to be a problem, our own epistemological limits are to blame for any apparent irreconcilable point. They point to various discrepancies between what is expected and what actually is to demonstrate that things are not always as they appear. They point out the fact that even the root word for "world" in the Hebrew language—עולם (Olam)—means hidden—נעלם (Neh-Eh-Lahm). Just as they know from the Torah that God created man and trees and the light on its way from the stars in their observed state, so too can they know that the World was created in its over the six days of Creation that reflects progression to its currently-observed state, with the understanding that physical ways to verify this may eventually be identified. This knowledge has been advanced by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, former philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins University. Also, relatively old Kabbalistic sources from well before the scientifically apparent age of the Universe was first determined are in close concord with modern scientific estimates of the age of the Universe, according to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and based on Sefer Temunah, an early kabbalistic work attributed to the first-century Tanna Nehunya ben HaKanah. Many kabbalists accepted the teachings of the Sefer HaTemunah, including the medieval Jewish scholar Nahmanides, his close student Isaac ben Samuel of Acre, and the David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra. Other interesting parallels are derived, among other sources, from Nahmanides, who expounds that there was a Neanderthal-like species with which Adam mated (he did this long before Neanderthals had even been discovered scientifically). Reform Judaism does not take the Torah as a literal text, but rather as a symbolic or open-ended work.
In the creation myth taught by Bahá'u'lláh, the Bahá'í Faith founder, the Universe has "neither beginning nor ending," and that the component elements of the material world have always existed and will always exist. With regard to evolution and the origin of human beings, `Abdu'l-Bahá gave extensive comments on the subject when he addressed western audiences in the beginning of the 20th century. Transcripts of these comments can be found in Some Answered Questions, Paris Talks and The Promulgation of Universal Peace. `Abdu'l-Bahá described the human species as having evolved from a primitive form to modern man, but that the capacity to form human intelligence was always in existence.
Creationism by country
Creationism is widely accepted and taught throughout the Middle East. Although it has been prominent in the US but not widely accepted in academia, it has been making a resurgence in other countries as well.
Creation science has been heavily promoted in immigrant communities in Western Europe, primarily by Adnan Oktar. On October 4, 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted The dangers of creationism in education, a resolution on the attempt by American-inspired creationists to promote creationism in European schools. It concludes "The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism closely linked to extreme right-wing political movements... some advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy... If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists."
In 1978, British Professor A. E. Wilder-Smith, who came to Germany after World War II and lectured at Marburg and other cities, published a book arguing against evolution with a secular, well known publishing house, titled The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution (1978). At the end of the year Horst W. Beck became a creationist. Both an engineer and theologian, he was a leading figure in the "Karl-Heim-Gesellschaft" (Karl Heim Society) and had previously published articles and books defending theistic evolution. Together with other members of the society, which they soon left, he followed the arguments of Willem Ouweneel, a Dutch biologist lecturing in Germany. Beck soon found other scientists who had changed their view or were "hidden" creationists. Under his leadership, the first creationist society was founded ("Wort und Wissen"—Word and Knowledge). Three book series were soon published, an independent creationist monthly journal started (Factum), and the first German article in the Creation Research Society Quarterly was published.
In 2006, a documentary on the Arte television network, Von Göttern und Designern ("Genesis vs. Darwin"), by filmmaker Frank Papenbroock, demonstrated that creationism had already been taught in biology classes in at least two schools in Giessen, Hesse, without this being noticed. During this, the Education Minister of Hessen, Karin Wolff, said she believed creationism should be taught in biology class as a theory, like the theory of evolution: "I think it makes sense to bring up multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary problems for discussion." In 2009, an article on the German news site Spiegel Online stated approximately 20% of people disbelieve evolutionary theory in Germany. More recently, a 2011 Ipsos poll commissioned by Reuters found 12% of Germans identify as creationists.
In Romania, in 2002, the Ministry of Education approved the use of a biology book endorsing creationism, titled Biologie clasa a IX-a – Măiestrie şi strălucire divină în biosferă ("Biology Class IX – Divine Mastery and Light in the Biosphere"), in public high schools. Following a protest of the Romanian Humanist Association the Romanian Ministry of Education replied that the book is not a "textbook" but merely an "accessory." The president of the Association labeled the reply as "disappointing" since, whether a textbook or an accessory, the book remains available for usage in schools. Reports indicate that at least one teacher in Oradea did use the book.
Russia is home to the Moscow Creation Society. The department of extracurricular and alternative education of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation has cosponsored numerous creationist conferences. Since 1994, Alexander Asmolov, the previous deputy minister of education, has urged that creationism be taught to help restore academic freedom in Russia after years of state-enforced scientific orthodoxy. In February 2007, a 16-year-old girl and her father launched a court case against the Ministry of Education and Science, backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, challenging the teaching of just one "theory" of biology in school textbooks as a breach of her human rights.
A 2005 poll reportedly found 26% of Russians accepting evolution and 49% accepting creationism. But a 2003 poll reported that 44% agreed with "Human beings are developed from earlier species of animals," and a 2009 poll reported (PDF) that 48% of Russians who "know something about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution" agreed that there was sufficient evidence for the theory. The 2009 poll indicated that 53% of Russians agreed with "Evolutionary theories should be taught in science lessons in schools together with other possible perspectives, such as intelligent design and creationism," with 13% preferring that such perspectives be taught instead of evolution; only 10% agreed with "Evolutionary theories alone should be taught in science lessons in schools."
On September 7, 2004, the Serbian Minister for Education and Sport, Ljiljana Čolić, temporarily banned evolution from being taught in the country. After statewide outcry she resigned on September 16, 2004, from her post.
A 2006 international survey found that 30% of the Swiss reject evolution, one of the highest national percentages in Europe. Another survey in 2007, commissioned by the fringe Christian organization Pro Genesis, controversially claims 80%. This resulted in schools in the Canton of Bern printing science textbooks that presented creationism as a valid alternative theory to evolution. Scientists and education experts harshly criticized the move, which quickly prompted school authorities to revise the books.
Since the development of evolutionary theory by Charles Darwin in England, where his portrait appears on the back of the revised Series E £10 note issued in 2000, significant shifts in British public opinion have occurred. A 2006 survey for the BBC showed that "more than a fifth of those polled were convinced by the creationist argument," a massive decrease from the almost total acceptance of creationism before Darwin published his theory. A 2010 Angus Reid poll found that "In Britain, two-thirds of respondents (68%) side with evolution while less than one-in-five (16%) choose creationism. At least seven-in-ten respondents in the South of England (70%) and Scotland (75%) believe human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years." A subsequent 2010 YouGov poll on the origin of humans found that 9% opted for creationism, 12% intelligent design, 65% evolutionary theory and 13% did not know.
Speaking at the British Science Association's British Science Festival at the University of Liverpool in 2008, Professor Michael Reiss estimated that about only 10% of children were from a family that supported a creationist rather than evolutionary viewpoint. Richard Dawkins has been quoted saying "I have spoken to a lot of science teachers in schools here in Britain who are finding an increasing number of students coming to them and saying they are Young Earth creationists."
The director of education at the Royal Society has said that creationism should be discussed in school science lessons, rather than be excluded, to explain why creationism had no scientific basis. Wales has the largest proportion of theistic evolutionists—the belief that evolution is part of God's plan (38%). Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of people who believe in 'intelligent design' (16%), which holds that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." Some private religious schools in the UK teach creationism rather than evolution. The British Humanist Association and leading scientists campaigned to make creationism illegal in state funded schools from 2011 onwards. In 2014 they achieved their goal when the Department for Education updated the funding contracts of Academies and Free Schools to this effect, and at the same time, clarified that creationism being taught as science contravened existing 'British values' requirements.
A 2007 study of religious patterns found that only 8% of Egyptians, 11% of Malaysians, 14% of Pakistanis, 16% of Indonesians, and 22% of Turks agree that Darwin's theory is probably or most certainly true, and a 2006 survey reported that about a quarter of Turkish adults agreed that human beings evolved from earlier animal species. Surveys carried out by researchers affiliated with McGill University's Evolution Education Research Centre found that in Egypt and Pakistan, while the official high school curriculum does include evolution, many of the teachers there do not believe in it themselves, and will often tell their students so.
Currently in Egypt, evolution is taught in schools but Saudi Arabia and Sudan have both banned the teaching of evolution in schools. In recent times, creationism has become more widespread in other Islamic countries.
The results of a survey of the adherence to creation science of 5,700 teachers from 14 countries was presented during the 2008 XIII IOSTE Symposium in Izmir, Turkey. Lebanon, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria had 62% to 81% of creationist teachers (with no difference between biologists and others). Romania and Burkina Faso had 45% to 48% of creationist teachers in Romania and Burkina Faso, with no difference between biologists and other in Romania, but a clear difference (p<0.001) in Burkina Faso (with 61% of creationists for the not biology teachers). Portugal and Cyprus had 15% to 30% of creationist teachers, with no significant difference between biologists, but a significant difference in Portugal (p=0.004, 17% and 26%).
Iranian scientific development, especially the health-related aspects of biology, has been a goal of the Islamic government since the revolution of 1979. Since Iranian traditional practice of Shi'a religion is not preoccupied with Qur'anic literalism as in case of Saudi Wahhabism but ijtihad, many influential Iranian Shi'ite scholars, including several who were closely involved in Iranian Revolution, are not opposed to evolutionary ideas in general, disagreeing that evolution necessarily conflicts with the Muslim mainstream. Iranian pupils, since 5th grade of elementary school, learn only about evolution, thus portraying geologists and scientists in general as authoritative voices of scientific knowledge.
Since the 1980s, creationism in Turkey has grown significantly and is now the government's official position on origins. In 1985, the conservative political party then in control of the country’s education ministry added creationist explanations alongside the passages on evolution in the standard high school biology textbook. In Turkey, unlike in the US, the public school curriculum is set by the national government. In 2008, Richard Dawkins' website was banned in Turkey. However, the ban was lifted in July 2011. In 2009, the Turkish government agency Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), publisher of the popular Turkish science magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology), was accused of stripping a cover story about the life and work of Charles Darwin from the March 2009 issue of the Council's publication just before it went to press. The planned portrait of Darwin for the magazine's cover was replaced and the editor of the magazine, Çiğdem Atakuman, claims that she was removed from her post. Most of the Turkish population expressed support for the censorship. In 2012, it was found that the government's internet content filter, designed to prevent the public having access to pornographic websites, also blocked the words 'evolution' and 'Darwin' on one mode of the filter.
In the late 1970s, Answers in Genesis, a creationist research organization, was founded in Australia. In 1994, Answers in Genesis expanded from Australia and New Zealand to the US. It subsequently expanded into the UK, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. Creationists in Australia have been the leading influence on the development of creation science in the US for the last 20 years. Two of the three main international creation science organizations all have original roots within Australia—Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries. Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, Jason Lisle, Jonathan Sarfati and Tasman Bruce Walker  have all had significant impact on the development of creationism in Australia, and have brought their teaching to the US.
In 1980, the Queensland state government of Joh Bjelke-Petersen allowed the teaching of creationism as science to school children. On May 29, 2010, it was announced that creationism and intelligent design will be discussed in history classes as part of the new national curriculum. It will be placed in the subject of ancient history, under the topic of "controversies." One Australian scientist who adheres to creation science is Dr Pierre Gunnar Jerlström.
Professor Ian Plimer, an anti-creationist geologist, reported being attacked by creationists. A few public lectures have been given in rented rooms at universities, by visiting American speakers, and speakers with doctorates purchased by mail from Florida sites. A court case taken by Plimer against prominent creationists found "that the creationists had stolen the work of others for financial profit, that the creationists told lies under oath and that the creationists were engaged in fraud." The debate was featured on the science television program Quantum. In 1989, Plimer debated American creationist Duane Gish.
Since 1981, the Korea Association for Creation Research has grown to 16 branches, with 1000 members and 500 Ph.Ds. On August 22–24, 1991, recognizing the 10th anniversary of KACR, an International Symposium on Creation Science was held with 4,000 in attendance. In 1990, the book The Natural Sciences was written by Dr. Young-Gil Kim and 26 other fellow scientists in Korea with a creationist viewpoint. The textbook drew the interest of college communities, and today, many South Korean universities are using it.
Since 1991, creation science has become a regular university course at Myongji University, which has a centre for creation research. Since that time, other universities have begun to offer creation science courses. At Handong Global University, creationist Dr. Young-Gil Kim was inaugurated as president in March 1995. At Myongji University, creationist Dr. Woongsang Lee is a biology professor. The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is where the Research Association of Creation Science was founded and many graduate students are actively involved. In 2008, a survey found that 36% of South Koreans disagreed with the statement that "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." In May 2012, publishers of high school science textbooks decided to remove references to evolution following a petition by a creationist group. However, the ensuing controversy prompted the government to appoint a panel of scientists to look into the matter, and the government urged the publishers to keep the references to evolution following the recommendation of the panel.
Brazil has had two creationist societies since the 1970s—the Brazilian Association for Creation Research and the Brazilian Creation Society. According to a 2004 survey, 31% of Brazil believe that "the first humans were created no more than 10,000 years ago."
In the US some religious communities have refused to accept naturalistic explanations and tried to counter them. The term started to become associated with Christian fundamentalist opposition to human evolution and belief in a young Earth in 1929. Several US states passed laws against the teaching of evolution in public schools, as upheld in the Scopes Trial. Evolution was omitted entirely from school textbooks in most of the US until the 1960s. Since then, renewed efforts to introduce teaching creationism in American public schools in the form of Flood geology, creation science, and intelligent design have been consistently held to contravene the constitutional separation of church and state by a succession of legal judgments. The meaning of the term creationism was contested, but by the 1980s it had been co-opted by proponents of creation science and Flood geology.
Most of the anti-evolutionists of the 1920s believed in forms of old Earth creationism, which accepts geological findings and other methods of dating the Earth and believes that these findings do not contradict the Book of Genesis, but rejects evolution. At that time only a minority held to young Earth creationism, proponents of which believe that the Earth is thousands rather than billions of years old, and typically believe that the days in chapter one of the Book of Genesis are 24 hours in length. In the 1960s, this became the most prominent form of anti-evolution. From the 1860s forms of theistic evolution had developed; this term refers to beliefs in creation which are compatible with the scientific view of evolution and the age of the Earth, as held by mainstream Christian denominations. There are other religious people who support creationism, but in terms of allegorical interpretations of the Book of Genesis.
By the start of the 20th century, evolution was widely accepted and was beginning to be taught in American public schools. After World War I, popular belief that German aggression resulted from a Darwinian doctrine of "survival of the fittest" inspired William Jennings Bryan to campaign against the teaching of Darwinian ideas of human evolution. In the 1920s, the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy led to an upsurge of fundamentalist religious fervor in which schools were prevented from teaching evolution through state laws such as Tennessee’s 1925 Butler Act, and by getting evolution removed from biology textbooks nationwide. Creationism became associated in common usage with opposition to evolution.
In 1961 in the US, an attempt to repeal the Butler Act failed. The Genesis Flood by Henry M. Morris brought the Seventh-day Adventist biblically literal Flood geology of George McCready Price to a wider audience, popularizing the idea of young Earth creationism, and by 1965 the term "scientific creationism" had gained currency. The 1968 Epperson v. Arkansas judgment ruled that state laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which prohibits state aid to religion. and when in 1975 Daniel v. Waters ruled that a state law requiring biology textbooks discussing "origins or creation of man and his world" to give equal treatment to creation as per the Book of Genesis was unconstitutional, a new group identifying themselves as creationists promoted 'creation science' which omitted explicit biblical references.
In 1981, the state of Arkansas passed a law, Act 590, mandating that "creation science" be given equal time in public schools with evolution, and defining creation science as positing the "creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing," as well as explaining the Earth's geology by "the occurrence of a worldwide flood." This was ruled unconstitutional at McLean v. Arkansas in January 1982 as the creationists' methods were not scientific but took the literal wording of the Book of Genesis and attempted to find scientific support for it. Louisiana introduced similar legislation that year. A series of judgments and appeals led to the 1987 Supreme Court ruling in Edwards v. Aguillard that it too violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
"Creation science" could no longer be taught in public schools, and in drafts of the creation science school textbook Of Pandas and People all references to creation or creationism were changed to refer to intelligent design. Proponents of the intelligent design movement organised widespread campaigning to considerable effect. They officially denied any links to creation or religion, and claimed that "creationism" only referred to young Earth creationism with Flood geology; but in Kitzmiller v. Dover the court found intelligent design to be religious, and unable to dissociate itself from its creationist roots, as part of the ruling that teaching intelligent design in public school science classes was unconstitutional.
The percentage of people in the US who accept the idea of human evolution declined from 45% in 1985 to 40% in 2005. A Gallup poll reported that the percentage of people in the US who believe in a strict interpretation of creationism had fallen to 40% in 2010 after a high of 46% in 2006. The highest the percentage has risen between 1982 and 2010 was 47% in 1994 and 2000 according to the report. The report found that Americans who are less educated are more likely to hold a creationist view while those with a college education are more likely to hold a view involving evolution. 47% of those with no more than a high school education believe in creationism while 22% of those with a post graduate education hold that view. The poll also found that church attendance dramatically increased adherence to a strict creationist view (22% for those who do not attend church, 60% for those who attend weekly). The higher percentage of Republicans who identified with a creationist view is described as evidence of the strong relationship between religion and politics in the US. Republicans also attend church weekly more than Democratic or independent voters. Non-Republican voters are twice as likely to hold a nontheistic view of evolution than Republican voters.
Among US states, acceptance of evolution has a strong negative correlation with religiosity and a strong positive relationship with science degrees awarded, bachelor's degree attainment, advanced degree attainment, average teacher salary, and GDP per capita. In other words, states in which more people say that religion is very important to their lives tend to show less acceptance of evolution. The better the education of individuals, their educational system, or the higher their income, the more they accept evolution, though the US as a country has a comparatively well educated population but lower acceptance of evolution than other countries.
Most vocal literalist creationists are from the US, and strict creationist views are much less common in other developed countries. According to a study published in Science, a survey of the US, Turkey, Japan and Europe showed that public acceptance of evolution is most prevalent in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden at 80% of the population. There seems to be no significant correlation between believing in evolution and understanding evolutionary science.
A 2009 Nielsen poll showed that almost a quarter of Australians believe "the biblical account of human origins." Forty-two percent believe in a "wholly scientific" explanation for the origins of life, while 32 percent believe in an evolutionary process "guided by God."
A 2012 survey by Angus Reid Public Opinion revealed that 61 percent of Canadians believe in evolution. The poll asked "Where did human beings come from — did we start as singular cells millions of year ago and evolve into our present form, or did God create us in his image 10,000 years ago?"
In Europe, literalist creationism is more widely rejected, though regular opinion polls are not available. Most people accept that evolution is the most widely accepted scientific theory as taught in most schools. In countries with a Roman Catholic majority, papal acceptance of evolutionary creationism as worthy of study has essentially ended debate on the matter for many people.
In the UK, a 2006 poll on the "origin and development of life" asked participants to choose between three different perspectives on the origin of life: 22% chose creationism, 17% opted for intelligent design, 48% selected evolutionary theory, and the rest did not know. A subsequent 2010 YouGov poll on the correct explanation for the origin of humans found that 9% opted for creationism, 12% intelligent design, 65% evolutionary theory and 13% didn't know. The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, views the idea of teaching creationism in schools as a mistake.
There continues to be scattered and possibly mounting efforts on the part of religious groups throughout Europe to introduce creationism into public education. In response, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has released a draft report titled The dangers of creationism in education on June 8, 2007, reinforced by a further proposal of banning it in schools dated October 4, 2007.
Serbia suspended the teaching of evolution for one week in September 2004, under education minister Ljiljana Čolić, only allowing schools to reintroduce evolution into the curriculum if they also taught creationism. "After a deluge of protest from scientists, teachers and opposition parties" says the BBC report, Čolić's deputy made the statement, "I have come here to confirm Charles Darwin is still alive" and announced that the decision was reversed. Čolić resigned after the government said that she had caused "problems that had started to reflect on the work of the entire government."
Poland saw a major controversy over creationism in 2006 when the Deputy Education Minister, Mirosław Orzechowski, denounced evolution as "one of many lies" taught in Polish schools. His superior, Minister of Education Roman Giertych, has stated that the theory of evolution would continue to be taught in Polish schools, "as long as most scientists in our country say that it is the right theory." Giertych's father, Member of the European Parliament Maciej Giertych, has opposed the teaching of evolution and has claimed that dinosaurs and humans co-existed.
According to a 2014 Gallup poll, about 42% of Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Another 31% believe that "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,"and 19% believe that "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process."
Belief in creationism is inversely correlated to education; of those with postgraduate degrees, 74% accept evolution. In 1987, Newsweek reported: "By one count there are some 700 scientists with respectable academic credentials (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth and life scientist) who give credence to creation-science, the general theory that complex life forms did not evolve but appeared 'abruptly.'"
According to a study published in Science, between 1985 and 2005 the number of adult North Americans who accept evolution declined from 45% to 40%, the number of adults who reject evolution declined from 48% to 39% and the number of people who were unsure increased from 7% to 21%. Besides the US the study also compared data from 32 European countries, Turkey, and Japan. The only country where acceptance of evolution was lower than in the US was Turkey (25%).
According to a 2011 Fox News poll, 45% of Americans believe in Creationism, down from 50% in a similar poll in 1999. 21% believe in 'the theory of evolution as outlined by Darwin and other scientists' (up from 15% in 1999), and 27% answered that both are true (up from 26% in 1999).
In September 2012, educator and television personality Bill Nye spoke with the Associated Press and aired his fears about acceptance of creationist theory, believing that teaching children that creationism is the only true answer and without letting them understand the way science works will prevent any future innovation in the world of science. In February 2014, Nye defended evolution in the classroom in a debate with creationist Ken Ham on the topic of whether creation is a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era.
In the US, creationism has become centered in the political controversy over creation and evolution in public education, and whether teaching creationism in science classes conflicts with the separation of church and state. Currently, the controversy comes in the form of whether advocates of the intelligent design movement who wish to "Teach the Controversy" in science classes have conflated science with religion.
People for the American Way polled 1500 North Americans about the teaching of evolution and creationism in November and December 1999. They found that most North Americans were not familiar with Creationism, and most North Americans had heard of evolution, but many did not fully understand the basics of the theory. The main findings were:
In such political contexts, creationists argue that their particular religiously based origin belief is superior to those of other belief systems, in particular those made through secular or scientific rationale. Political creationists are opposed by many individuals and organizations who have made detailed critiques and given testimony in various court cases that the alternatives to scientific reasoning offered by creationists are opposed by the consensus of the scientific community.
Many Christians disagree with the teaching of creationism. Several religious organizations, among them the Catholic Church, hold that their faith does not conflict with the scientific consensus regarding evolution. The Clergy Letter Project, which has collected more than 13,000 signatures, is an "endeavor designed to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible."
In his 2002 article "Intelligent Design as a Theological Problem," George Murphy argues against the view that life on Earth, in all its forms, is direct evidence of God's act of creation (Murphy quotes Phillip E. Johnson's claim that he is speaking "of a God who acted openly and left his fingerprints on all the evidence."). Murphy argues that this view of God is incompatible with the Christian understanding of God as "the one revealed in the cross and resurrection of Christ." The basis of this theology is Isaiah 45:15, "Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour."
Murphy observes that the execution of a Jewish carpenter by Roman authorities is in and of itself an ordinary event and did not require divine action. On the contrary, for the crucifixion to occur, God had to limit or "empty" Himself. It was for this reason that Paul the Apostle wrote, in Philippians 2:5-8:
- "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Murphy concludes that,
"Just as the Son of God limited himself by taking human form and dying on a cross, God limits divine action in the world to be in accord with rational laws which God has chosen. This enables us to understand the world on its own terms, but it also means that natural processes hide God from scientific observation."
For Murphy, a theology of the cross requires that Christians accept a methodological naturalism, meaning that one cannot invoke God to explain natural phenomena, while recognizing that such acceptance does not require one to accept a metaphysical naturalism, which proposes that nature is all that there is.
Teaching of creationism
Other Christians have expressed qualms about teaching creationism. In March 2006, then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's Anglicans, stated his discomfort about teaching creationism, saying that creationism was "a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories." He also said: "My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it." The views of the Episcopal Church - a major American-based branch of the Anglican Communion - on teaching creationism resemble those of Williams.
The National Science Teachers Association is opposed to teaching creationism as a science, as is the Association for Science Teacher Education, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Anthropological Association, the American Geosciences Institute, the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, and numerous other professional teaching and scientific societies.
In April 2010, the American Academy of Religion issued Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K‐12 Public Schools in the United States which included guidance that creation science or intelligent design should not be taught in science classes, as "Creation science and intelligent design represent worldviews that fall outside of the realm of science that is defined as (and limited to) a method of inquiry based on gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning." However, they, as well as other "worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry that is appropriately studied in literature or social sciences courses. Such study, however, must include a diversity of worldviews representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others."
Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner, from the biology program at the University of Minnesota, reflect on the relevance of teaching creationism in the article The Creationist Down the Hall: Does It Matter When Teachers Teach Creationism? They conclude that "Despite decades of science education reform, numerous legal decisions declaring the teaching of creationism in public-school science classes to be unconstitutional, overwhelming evidence supporting evolution, and the many denunciations of creationism as nonscientific by professional scientific societies, creationism remains popular throughout the United States."
Science is a system of knowledge based on observation, empirical evidence, and the development of theories that yield testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena. By contrast, creationism is often based on literal interpretations of the narratives of particular religious texts. Some creationist beliefs involve purported forces that lie outside of nature, such as supernatural intervention, and often do not allow predictions at all. Therefore, these can neither be confirmed nor disproved by scientists. However, many creationist beliefs can be framed as testable predictions about phenomena such as the age of the Earth, its geological history and the origins, distributions and relationships of living organisms found on it. Early science incorporated elements of these beliefs, but as science developed these beliefs were gradually falsified and were replaced with understandings based on accumulated and reproducible evidence that often allows the accurate prediction of future results. Some scientists, such as Stephen Jay Gould, consider science and religion to be two compatible and complementary fields, with authorities in distinct areas of human experience, so-called non-overlapping magisteria. This view is also held by many theologians, who believe that ultimate origins and meaning are addressed by religion, but favor verifiable scientific explanations of natural phenomena over those of creationist beliefs. Other scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, reject the non-overlapping magisteria and argue that, in disproving literal interpretations of creationists, the scientific method also undermines religious texts as a source of truth. Irrespective of this diversity in viewpoints, since creationist beliefs are not supported by empirical evidence, the scientific consensus is that any attempt to teach creationism as science should be rejected.
Creationism (in general)
Young Earth Creationism
Old Earth Creationism
- Biblical inerrancy
- Cosmological argument
- Flying Spaghetti Monster
- Teleological argument
- Watchmaker analogy
- Patton & Doniger 1996, p. 147. While the term myth is often used colloquially to refer to "a false story," this article uses the term in the academic meaning of "a sacred narrative explaining how the world and mankind came to be in their present form."
- Donald B. DeYoung, for example, states that "Similar terminology is often used today when we speak of the sun's rising and setting, even though the earth, not the sun, is doing the moving. Bible writers used the 'language of appearance,' just as people always have. Without it, the intended message would be awkward at best and probably not understood clearly. When the Bible touches on scientific subjects, it is entirely accurate."
- McComas 2002, p. 436
- Gunn 2004, p. 9, "The Concise Oxford Dictionary says that creationism is 'the belief that the universe and living organisms originated from specific acts of divine creation.'"
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The belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution.
- Haarsma 2010, p. 168, "Some Christians, often called 'Young Earth creationists,' reject evolution in order to maintain a semi-literal interpretation of certain biblical passages. Other Christians, called 'progressive creationists,' accept the scientific evidence for some evolution over a long history of the earth, but also insist that God must have performed some miracles during that history to create new life-forms. The theory of Intelligent Design, as it is promoted in North America is a form of progressive creation. Still other Christians, called 'theistic evolutionists' or 'evolutionary creationists,' assert that the scientific theory of evolution and the religious beliefs of Christianity can both be true."
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All Christians in the sciences affirm the central role of the Logos in creating and maintaining the Universe. In seeking to describe how the incredible universe has come to be, a variety of views has emerged in the last two hundred years as continuing biblical and scientific scholarship have enabled deeper understanding of God's word and world.
- Numbers 1998, p. 55, "'Creationists of today are not in agreement concerning what was created according to Genesis.'" — Russell L. Mixter, Creation and Evolution (1951) OCLC 40774047
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- For the biological understanding of complexity, see Evolution of complexity. For a creationist perspective, see Irreducible complexity.
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Theistic Evolution is the old earth creationist belief that God used the process of evolution to create life on earth. The modern scientific understanding of biological evolution is considered to be compatible with the Bible.
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...for most members of the mainstream scientific community, ID is not a scientific theory, but a creationist pseudoscience.
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Creationists are repackaging their message as the pseudo-science of 'intelligent design theory.'
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- "Creationism" at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Michael Ruse
- "How Creationism Works" at HowStuffWorks by Julia Layton
- "TIMELINE: Evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design" Focuses on major historical and recent events in the scientific and political debate
- PDF (204 KB) by Warren D. Allmon, Director of the Museum of the Earth
- "What is creationism?" at talk.origins by Mark Isaak
- "The Creation/Evolution Continuum" by Eugenie Scott
- "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense" by John Rennie, editor in chief of Scientific American magazine