The origin and development of species
Theistic evolution: one of three models
This essay describes theistic evolution belief systems. Other essays in
this section describe the other two main belief systems: creation science and
Some theistic evolution models:
These accept that biological evolution happened, but insist that God had a
major role to play in the process:
Theistic evolution: (a.k.a. process
creation, and multiple creation.) This is similar to
naturalistic evolution. The universe is
believed to be about 14 billion years old; the earth is over 4
billion years old. However, most theistic evolutionists believe that God created the first one-celled animal. Species developed
from that source in increasing complexity as observed by science.
Followers of this belief system state that new species evolve by natural processes.
God is seen as performing a supervisory function, intervening as needed,
nudging evolution to
make certain that it progresses in the right direction. These beliefs are common among
mainline and liberal
Christian faith groups. 1
Progressive creationists: (a.k.a. Rossist position) agree in an old earth, as do
theistic evolutionists. However, they deny that natural processes can
produce new species by themselves. Thus, without God's interventon, a
species cannot evolve into a more complex life form. Some believe that God
alters the DNA of an existing species in order to develop each new type of
animal; others believe that God starts from scratch whenever he creates a new
species. This view has been promoted by Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to
Believe. 2 He has been supported by some mainline and liberal
Christian leaders. He accepts many of the findings of earth and
biological scientists, that:
- The universe originated about 14 billion years ago, at the "Big
- After creating the universe, God controlled the development of a
hundred billion trillion (10**23) stars; created planets, including
the earth; created species of life over billions of years on earth;
allowed other species to go extinct.
- Death, disease, sickness, physical attacks etc. occurred
throughout the history of life on earth.
Noah's Flood was a local event.
- Radiometric dating methods are accurate.
- Pre-humans lived tens of thousands of years ago.
About ten to 25 thousand years ago. God replaced them with Adam
and Eve. Unlike previous human-like species, they had souls and thus
could attain heaven or hell after death. 2,3
Roman Catholic belief: This church takes the view
scientific discoveries make theistic evolution more than a hypothesis. However, they believe that God initially
created of the universe, and has been subsequently responsible for the creation of each
human soul. Evolution has been taught by the church's parochial schools in
the U.S. and separate schools
throughout Canada for decades. More details.
Other related essays dealing with evolution & creation science:
"What is progressive creationism?" ChristianAnswers.net,
"Reasons to Believe" has a web site at:
http://www.reasons.org/ They publish a
quarterly periodical called: Facts for Faith. Subscriptions can be
ordered on their web site.
Ken Ham, "What's wrong with 'progressive creation'?," Answers in
Copyright © 1995 to 2008, by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on 1995-NOV-3
Most recent update and review: 2008-NOV-23
Author: B.A. Robinson