Choices, Choices, Choices
I was talking with a group of parents at a homeschooling event yesterday about the issue of Creation vrs Evolution. "Why are there so many options and which one is right?" blurted out one mom. I explained it this way. There are really only 2 or 3 choices to make that lead to the possibility of four big options. Deciding where to land can depend on your answer to three foundational questions:
One of the questions essentially asks "Did God create the universe, everything and everyone in it, or not?" The answer sorts the options this way: Three pro-God choices on the one side, one anti-God option on the other. Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism and Theistic Evolution all represent pro-God choices. Naturalistic Evolution is the odd-man out when looked at that way.
Question number two asks "What's the best way to explain how God brought things into existence?" When God made everything, did he leave any fingerprints that point to how he did it? Looked at this way, one must decide how sound the case for evolution as an explanation is. Some are convinced God used a process very much like evolution to bring things into being, yet do not believe the assumptions Naturalism makes that God does not exist. These are Theistic Evolutionists. Pro-God, Pro-Science, Pro-Evolution ... to a point. Young Earth and Old Earth Creationists agree against evolution as the best way to explain how God did it and point out its many weaknesses.
The third question puts a finer point on the two Creationist views by asking "How long did it take?" Young Earth Creationists put forward an age of the earth somewhere between 6 and 10 thousand years based primarily on biblical genealogies. Old Earth Creationists attempt to answer the question by comparing scientific data with the Bible asking "How much of what science seems to tell us can we integrate with scripture?" The Old Earth view holds to as much science as possible in agreeing with the apparent age of things as we observe them. Both views in fact must do this. Both views believe the information we have in the bible, but interpret it differently.
God or No God?
Evolution or No Evolution?
Billions or Thousands?
If you're unfamiliar with the views, I encourage you to ask these three big questions with an open mind as you explore the options. Non-believers who run into Christians typically are seeking credibility for the God question with science as a given authority base. It's generally not helpful for Christians to show little understanding of the options while forcefully pushing their view.
Christian believers often look at the issue the other way around wondering how much science to believe with God as our starting point. If we're aware of the possible clash of interests we can have much more helpful and respectful conversations about it.