Beliefs re the Origin of Life

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See Abiogenesis.

Evolutionary Creationism Old Earth Creationism Young Earth Creationism
without "gap" with "gap"


  • creation — making; implying a maker, a creator
  • Creationism
    • the belief that all living things have been created; or
    • a set of beliefs that new species of living things cannot arise naturally
  • biogenesis — the first origin of life; sometimes understood to be "breathed in" by God
  • abiogenesis — a postulated first origin of life from non-living matter
  • Biology — the study of life and living things
  • natural selection — the way living things thrive and have offspring in good conditions
  • Evolution (specifically in this context, biological evolution) — the postulated origin of new species by reproduction and natural selection
  • chemical evolution — the postulated origin of all life by abiogenesis

Confusion of terminology

Many creationists (in the second sense of "creationism" above) confuse evolution and abiogenesis.


Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

From the Wikipedia page about Young Earth Creationism:

Young Earth creationism (YEC) is a form of creationism which holds as a central tenet that the Earth and its lifeforms were created in their present forms by supernatural acts of the Abrahamic God between approximately 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Clearly, this is based on a reading of the first chapter of Genesis. YEC usually understands the seven-day week literally; thus life originated on the third, fifth and sixth days of the creation week.

Old Earth Creationism (OEC) with "Gap"

According to this view, untold ages are understood to have passed by before God spoke the creative word "Let there be light!" (Genesis 1:3).* These ages of chaotic darkness are the "gap", during which there was no life. Vegetable life begins on the third day (Genesis 1:11-13) and vertebrate life begins on the fifth and sixth days, culminating in Adam or humankind. Many, but not all, believers in "OEC with Gap" understood that these days are to be understood in the modern 24-hour sense, notwithstanding the creation of the Sun on the fourth day. See The "Gap Theory".

*Believers in "OEC with Gap" often understand Genesis 1:1 in the usual way derived from the LXX, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." However "OEC with Gap" is equally compatible with understanding it from Hebrew scholarship as describing the moment of the creative word "Let there be light!". See Bereshith in construct form for details.

Old Earth Creationism (OEC)

Believers in Old Earth Creationism do not read the creative week of Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 literally — though it could record a literal week of visions or revelations — but believe that God created each of the living things in their "kinds" long after the Universe itself was created, and the Earth on a cosmological time scale. The creation of living things could have occurred over all of geological time. Genesis is taken as a summary of this, and reproduction of living things "according to their kinds" is understood to exclude evolution.

Evolutionary Creationism (EC)

In common with other creationists, Bible believers who accept evolution believe that God has created everything — the entire universe and all life within it — see, for example, Nehemiah 9:6.

Questioning Mainstream Science
evolution and biogenesis

They resent claims that evolution seeks to explain the origin of life as a misrepresentation.

Charles Darwin's Religious Beliefs

People who assume that evolution and atheism go together often assume that Darwin was an atheist, and even use the word "Darwinism" to mean atheism. On the contrary, Darwin believed that life originated miraculously. In 1859, in correspondence with Charles Lyell, and answering Lyell's question "must you not assume a primeval creative power which does not act with uniformity . . . ?"  Darwin replied

We must under present knowledge assume the creation of one or of a few forms in the same manner as philosophers assume the existence of a power of attraction without any explanation.

— CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley, Yorkshire, October 11th [1859]

Darwin went on to reject as "quite unnecessary" subsequent intervention, in a passage which is often quoted to back the claim that he would not agree with theistic evolution! An example of such misquotation is here.

Did Darwin believe in God?

A wikipedia page is dedicated to the "Religious Views of Charles Darwin". Of interest to Christadelphians is that he was raised a non-conformist Unitarian — which may explain some of his opposition to the Church of England, at least it's a better explanation than atheism, which he denied. From a letter written three years before he died, quoted on the same wikipedia page:

"In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind."

Creation in On the Origin of Species
The first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, in its grandiloquent last paragraph, described life as having been "originally breathed into a few forms or into one . . . " — an appropriate account of the miracle of the creation of life. It was published on 24 November 1859, six weeks after this letter. The second edition, including corrections, was published on 7 January 1860, and explicitly added "the Creator" to this description: "originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one . . . " The entire paragraph is reproduced in this wiki at Entangled Bank.

See Wikipedia's entry on On the Origin of Species for other additions made by Darwin in this second edition: they are described as "in response to religious objections" — but perhaps they are also a result of conversations such as this one with Charles Lyell, which took place before the book was published.

Bruce (talk)

See also Abiogenesis.