Do you have to have a certain view about creation to be a Christian?
Christians believe that when understood correctly there will ultimately be harmony between God’s word the Bible and His world because He is the author of both. Christians don’t believe that there is a contradiction between Christianity and the way creation was carried out. Although, various Christians believe various things regarding evolution and the age of the earth.
Also, it is important that we remember that evolution does not entail the beginning of the universe. Evolution does not offer a reason for the existence of space, time, or matter. In biology, evolution is an explanation of how and why various species have the characteristics they have. Evolution seeks to explain the evolution of different forms of life, not necessarily the origin of life. Christians believe, as the Bible clearly states, that God made the world out of nothing. They, however, disagree on a lot of the particulars.
Christians have Various Views
Various Christians, for example, have various explanations as to the age of the earth. Christians don’t believe that science contradicts the creation accounts. Even while Christians hold various views as to their understanding of the creation accounts. I will say though that this is a topic that many are very dogmatic about. Avowed atheists as well as many evangelicals. Many disagree on the dating of the earth but they’re doubled-down on their dogmatism.
I, however, think a healthy dose of humility is helpful. As well as a willingness to listen to and even learn from and be sharpened by those that come from a different direction.
Again, it’s important that we realize that there are Christians with opinions on both sides of the age of the earth and evolution spectrum. The Bible’s position on the creation of the earth and the humans that inhabit it is not a contradiction. Confusion for some, confidence for many, and consternation for others, yes, but that does not at all prove a contradiction.
Here’s a flawed analogy: A buffet of food doesn’t prove there is no right choice, it just makes finding the right food maybe a little bit harder. I think we can appreciate that there are options and be patient with the person that picks salad.
Here is ‘the buffet’ of choices regarding how humans and the world got to now. I believe there is one choice that is clearly at odds with Christianity, and others that I don’t find as compelling but the presence of choices shouldn’t stop a person from considering Christianity.
This is a naturalistic explanation that has no place for God. The philosopher Alvin Plantinga would say this view is incompatible with Christian belief. I agree. I also believe it is false (see “If God created the universe, what created God?“).
This view advocates that there is a creator/designer of some sort. “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible: namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.” This view can support a deist or Christian view of the world. It certainly doesn’t prove Christianity, but it doesn’t necessarily contradict it either.
This view holds that God used evolution to make the world, or at least life forms, the way they are.
Advocates of this view believe that God created the world over a period of ages or epochs. They believe the account given in Genesis is a faithful poetic explanation of the earth’s origins. The Hebrew word for ‘day’ (yom) used in the Genesis creation account can mean various things (e.g. a period of 24 hours, a vague amount of time, a year, long age).
This view holds that the earth was created in six literal days six to twelve thousand years ago.
God certainly could have created all things in six literal days, or He could have used a process to bring humans to the state that they are now. “God may have created organic life directly or he may have evolved it from inorganic life by natural processes; nothing we know for sure in either theology or science, God or nature, makes us absolutely certain of either answer.”
There is more than one plausible interpretation of the creation account. So, people interpret the Genesis account in different ways and believe different things regarding how old the earth is. I personally believe we should hold our beliefs regarding the creation of the world with charity.
Christianity does not regulate what one’s belief must be regarding the specific age of the earth. Or how exactly humans got to now. This is a topic Christians can and do disagree on.
Yes, Christians answer differently. But that does not disprove Christianity. Christians believe that there are faithful ways to understand what science says with what Scripture says, even if they sometimes disagree on what those faithful ways are. One Christian author even said, “Whether [God] completed the job in six literal twenty-four hour days or over a longer period does not really matter (Christian opinions differ over how we should interpret Genesis 1). What is important is the fact that God is the creator of all things.”
 Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press, YEAR), 12.
I recently read Peter Kreeft’s book Back to Virtue. Kreeft is a Roman Catholic philosopher, theologian, apologist, and a prolific author. He is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King’s College.
Here are some quotes from Back to Virtue that stuck out to me:
“We control nature, but we cannot or will not control ourselves. Self-control is ‘out’ exactly when nature control is ‘in’, that is, exactly when self-control is most needed” (Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue, 23).
“Nothing is so surely and quickly dated as the up-to-date” (Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue, 63).
“It is hard to be totally courageous without hope in Heaven. Why risk your life if there is no hope in Heaven. Why risk your life if there is no hope that your story ends in anything other than worms and decay” (Kreeft, Back to Virtue, 72).
“The only way to ‘the imitation of Christ’ is the incorporation into Christ” (Ibid., 84).
“There are only two kinds of people: fools, who think they are wise, and the wise, who know they are fools” (Ibid., 99).
“Humility is thinking less about yourself, not thinking less of yourself” (Ibid., 100).
“God has more power in one breath of his spirit than all the winds of war, all the nuclear bombs, all the energy of all the suns in all the galaxies, all the fury of Hell itself” (Ibid., 105).
“We can possess only what is less than ourselves, things, objects… We are possessed by what is greater than ourselves—God and his attributes, Truth, Goodness, Beauty. This alone can make us happy, can satisfy the restless heart, can fill the infinite, God-shaped hole at the center of our being” (Ibid., 112).
“The beatitude does not say merely: ‘Blessed are the peace-lovers,’ but something rarer: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’” (Ibid., 146).
“There is only one thing that never gets boring: God… Modern man has… sorrow about God, because God is dead to him. He is the cosmic orphan. Nothing can take the place of his dead Father; all idols fail, and bore” (Ibid., 157).
“God’s single solution to all our problems is Jesus Christ” (Ibid., 172).
“An absolute being, an absolute motive, and an absolute hope can alone generate an absolute passion. God, love and Heaven are the three greatest sources of passion possible” (Ibid., 192).