Standing on Genesis
God’s purposeful design of the Earth is the foundation of WORLD’s origins coverage
Listeners to WORLD’s daily podcast, The World and Everything in It, have probably noticed a semi-subtle musical riff from the opening line of the hymn “This Is My Father’s World.” WORLD’s reporting has always reflected what we believe: This is God’s world because He made it.
Scientific debates and questions about the world’s origin have always been central to WORLD’s coverage. The doctrine of creation provides the factual backbone supporting the idea that, as Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
Debates over origins are contentious and complex because they involve complex scientific data and deal with ultimate questions about religion and metaphysics. Some scientists, both Christians and non-Christians, have tried to define away the conflict by insisting religion and science operate in completely different spheres.
WORLD takes the Bible’s claims seriously, so we don’t consign them to a narrow part of life and insist Scripture has nothing to say about science. Over the years, our coverage has sought to stand firm when the Bible is clear while leaving room for debate among serious-minded Christians when it is not.
Mainstream biologists say an updated version of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (generally known as neo-Darwinism) is true. They often denigrate opposing arguments as anti-science. Their pop-science drumbeat: Life resulted from a combination of random genetic mutation and survival-driven natural selection. Any objections, the common story goes, arise from religious motivation and have no basis in the evidence.
The Bible, though, shows that God made the universe and the life that inhabits it with purpose. Darwinism insists that everything is purposeless. The Bible starts with a statement of intention: “In the beginning, God created” (Genesis 1:1). Darwinism starts with a mechanism of accident: random selection. The Bible posits design: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Darwinism holds out historical contingency: Some conglomerations of cells survived and others did not. The Bible views the world as a testament to the goodness of a loving Creator. Darwinism paints a cruel and godless picture. God says His world was created “very good.” Darwinism says nature is red in tooth and claw.
Some Christian scientists have tried to split the difference by advocating what is popularly known as theistic evolution (some refer to it as evolutionary creationism). Theistic evolution grants the entire Darwinian description of how life originated and evolved, then asserts that God was at work through the process. Though these theorists may be quicker to claim God is responsible for the origin of the first life or perhaps the Big Bang, the basic picture they paint of biological life on Earth differs very little from an atheistic one.
Practically, that means theistic evolutionists must throw out almost the entirety of the Genesis account besides “God created.” And they grant evolutionary theory a believability it doesn’t deserve. The complexity of cellular life, gaps in the fossil record, unexplained evolutionary anomalies like the Cambrian explosion, and the careful balances in biology, physics, and more that allow life to exist, all illustrate care and intentionality, not random chance. Theistic evolution forfeits the game too readily and loses most of the Christian story along the way.
WORLD stands with the Genesis account that God created the world. He made it and its creatures very good. He fashioned man and woman in His own image. Man’s fall brought sin into the world. That framework forms what we regard as a medium-size tent. From there WORLD has reported with balance on the debates Christians have about how God chose to carry out His plan.
The most prominent disagreement among creationists regards the age of Earth. Young-Earth creationists say the planet is somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old and point out that the science of geologic timescales is more unsettled than mainstream science admits. This version of creationism insists on six literal days and sometimes relies on Genesis’ genealogies to estimate when creation might have occurred.
Old-Earth creationists agree the Genesis account is true but think that doesn’t necessitate throwing out longer timescales. Often, they think the six “days” of creation could be metaphorical and can cover those large spans of time. They usually maintain that the special creation of man happened much more recently than mainstream scientists would think the first Homo sapiens arose.
Another major theory, intelligent design, differs from all the others in that its central claim isn’t metaphysical at all, though it has metaphysical implications. Intelligent design’s main contention is material: Evidence points to the world’s design. Besides that, it maintains its own big tent with many ideas about who that designer may be. Many Christians have found an intellectual home at intelligent design’s main hub, the Discovery Institute. (Disclosure: I worked there for three years.) But so have practicing Jews and even agnostics, which is what makes it such a powerful opponent of neo-Darwinism.
The intelligent design community’s existence contradicts the notion that science equals evolution: You don’t have to have a prior commitment to Christianity (or any other religion) to recognize that the world didn’t spring from random mutation and blind selection. And that is a distinctly Biblical idea: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20).
WORLD’s reporting has highlighted how standard evolutionary theory contradicts Scripture. We have introduced readers to scientists arguing against Darwinism. Their arguments tackle ideas from Darwinism’s theory of common descent of all creatures and its classification of humans as mere matter, to its account of the origin of life. Social Darwinism, or the theory as applied to society, gave birth to horrific abuses, including eugenics.
As WORLD strives to cover events in God’s world in a Biblically objective way, we always start with affirming that this is God’s world. He made it and sustains it by His power. That’s why we have always prioritized scientific coverage and will continue to do so.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to support WORLD's brand of Biblically sound journalism, click here.