An Intentional God

by Hannah Ihms | Tonight our study group was talking about science and religion. At the outset, the gal leading the study asked us all to talk about our positions on creation/evolution. She went first, and described how she views God as involved in the world, but using evolution at the outset. Then it was my turn. I decided to talk about the continuity of Scripture, and how the six days of creation mentioned in Genesis are cited repeatedly throughout other passages. For example, in the Ten Commandments, God explains why He’s setting up a system of seven days with the seventh day being the Sabbath. It’s because He created the world in six days.

As we went around the table, everyone talked about their beliefs. It turned out that there were four people who strongly identified themselves as theistic evolutionists, three people who strongly identified themselves as creationists (two who were firmly decided on a literal six-day creation period, and one who was undecided on that point), one person who leaned toward theistic evolution, and a final person who leaned toward creationism.

Of the people who were strongly theistic evolutionists, three of the four talked about the creation story being just that — a story. One gal mentioned the Hebrews’ oral tradition; Adam and Eve did not write down what happened to them, but it was passed down orally. Another guy went so far as to say that the entire creation story was just an allegory.

What we all agreed on was that God was involved, and that humans are the pinnacle of His creation. What we disagreed upon was the method which God used.

Now that I’m out of the discussion, I’m kicking myself that I did not grasp what was really at issue here. Three of the four people who strongly believe that God used evolution diminished their view of Scripture in order to do this.

There are two things that I think are key in this area:
1) The act of substituting evolution for creation depends on a person’s view of Scripture, and of God Himself. God has not yet revealed the mechanism by which He created the world, but He has supplied a framework, an outline of how creation progressed. Evolution is in conflict with this outline, and so one must decide what he values more: the words of men, or the words of God. If I am convinced that the words of man are more reliable, then I will bend or snap God’s words in order to fit them to the words of men. If I dismiss the creation account as an oral tradition that got somewhat garbled in the translation, I am saying that God does not care enough about His word to safeguard the version that was distributed en masse.

2) God is or is not a God of intentionality. The idea of evolution was designed to take the credit of this world and lay it at the feet of an impersonal process instead of a personal God. To say that God used evolution is to defer, not answer the question of “Why is creation the way that it is?” The theistic evolutionist or the atheistic evolutionist credits (albeit to differing degrees) an impersonal process with the formation of life forms, and the function of the immune system, the eye, and the mind. The atheistic evolutionist is at least spared the tension of trying simultaneously to credit God and evolution with the same phenomenon, or to divvy up the phenomena to one or the other, personal or impersonal. The creationist has no point of tension. Everything was created by God and for God. That the eye functions is not a testament to random, undirected processes over the course of millennia, but a testament to the thoughtfulness and intentionality of a God who created a man who, when his eyes opened for the first time, saw creation and His Creator clearly.

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