Post Author: Bill Pratt
Trick question! There isn’t one, despite what some people will tell you. You see, the issue of exactly how God brought forth life on earth is just not something that is part of the essential teachings of Christianity. What are the essential teachings of Christianity? Those doctrines that were elucidated by the creeds and councils of the first five centuries of the church. The question of how life formed was never a central part of these creeds and councils, so we can safely assume that the apostolic tradition was not particularly concerned with it.
Today, there are a great variety of views on the formation of life within orthodox Christianity. Tim Keller gives a nice survey of the wide spectrum of views:
Some Christians in the highly publicized Creation Science movement . . . insist that Genesis 1 teaches that God created all life-forms in a period of six twenty-four-hour days just several thousand years ago. At the other end of the spectrum are Christians who take the independence model and simply say that God was the primary cause in beginning the world and after that natural causes took over. Other thinkers occupy the central positions. Some hold that God created life and then guided natural selection to develop all complex life-forms from simpler ones. In this view, God acts as a top-down cause without violating the process of evolution. Others, believing there are gaps in the fossil record and claiming that species seem to “appear” rather than develop from simpler forms, believe that God performed large-scale creative acts at different points over longer periods of time.
I tend to lean toward the last view Keller mentions, but I am not completely certain and stand ready to hear differing points of view.
Why am I bringing this up? Because there are too many non-Christians who are letting the question of evolution get in the way of their turning to Christ. My plea is simple. Focus on the central teachings of Christianity first. Take a good look at Jesus Christ – who he is and what he accomplished. After getting those things straight, you may want to investigate the origins of life to try and figure out how God created all the organisms we see around us. Please put first things first and don’t let the debates over evolution divert you from the most important decision you’ll ever make.