The Pew Research people have conveniently gathered on their website a list of official positions of major religions and denominations regarding their beliefs on origins. Specifically, it lists if they believe in short-age creation or long-age evolution as God’s way of making things. Their website on this is here.
What does this compilation show? The Roman Catholic Church “generally accepts evolutionary theory as the scientific explanation for the development of all life.”
Popes Pius XII and Benedict XVJJ have stated this. The only proviso is that God is still credited with the supernatural creation of man’s soul. This is the “in the image of God” part of their view. I have wondered what this does to their older views on Original Sin. Does this mean at a time in the past, God created a soul and put it in some kind of proto-human, who eventually sinned and became the source of original sin? Was that Adam? The evolution viewpoint makes it hard to explain the origin of sin.
The following churches have stated that evolutionary views on origins do not conflict with either their theology or their doctrines: the Episcopal Church (much affected by Darwin), the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are the largest churches in the world. Hinduism generally finds it compatible with their beliefs, too. So do many Jews, save their most conservative associations.
And what groups still believe in a literal, recent creation? The Missouri Synod Lutherans, Southern Baptists and conservative Muslims do. Seventh-day Adventists can be added to the group, but oddly were left out of Pew’s study.
It is sad to see such a large majority of Christians with a low view of scripture. Such a view of the Bible naturally includes a low view of God, the worst consequence of any questionable doctrine. Such a view imagines God to be both not caring enough to successfully communicate accurately how He made us and/or incapable of preserving a reliable record of that origin. When you open up the possibility that His Word isn’t historical, you automatically make man’s intellect superior to it.
This isn’t how Jesus viewed scripture. Quoting Moses, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). After this, He again quoted Moses in defeating Satan’s temptations. He apparently thought that the books of Moses, and that includes Genesis, were God’s words and not man’s.
This common low understanding of scripture leads me to view the prophecies of Daniel that foretells religious trends in the last days. In particular, I’m looking at Dan. 7:25, which speaks of the little horn power. “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.”
Adventists have tended to interpret “times and law” as the only law with a time element in it — the Sabbath. But where that is certainly correct, might it also reference another related subject to origins … the age of life on earth? Does this little horn power challenge the literal understanding of the creation story of Genesis and promote others to share their views?
How much more significant, then, is our call to share the First Angel’s Message of Rev. 14:6–7: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth … saying with a LOUD voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”
The theology of creation, that we were made in the image of God and thus have a special purpose and place in God’s universe, is indeed good news. This is news that will help bring light to this dark world. Let’s just make sure our voice is clear and loud!