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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Are We Here by Chance or Design?

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Don Stewart
As we begin to examine the subject of the Bible and its relationship to modern unbelieving science, the central issue before us concerns our identity as human beings. Is our universe the result of blind chance or has it been supernaturally formed by a Creator? Is humanity the product of a series of fortunate, accidental circumstances or have we been specially designed and created by an all-powerful God? Are we here by chance or design?

Two Basic Possibilities

There are two basic possibilities regarding the origin and development of life. Either life on earth was supernaturally created by an all-powerful God or we are here as a result of blind chance. There is no realistic third possibility. Evolutionary scientist D. J. Futuyma writes:

Creation and evolution, between them exhaust the possible explanations for the origin of living things. Organisms either appeared on the earth fully developed or they did not. If they did not, they must have developed from pre-existing species by some process of modification. If they did appear in a fully developed state, they must have been created by some omnipotent intelligence (D. J. Futuyma, Science on Trial, New York: Pantheon Books, 1983, p. 197).

The theory of evolution holds that life arose by a series of chance happenings without any intervention by God. Life is still developing from simple forms to more complex ones. The following is a typical way the theory is described:

Living creatures on earth are a direct product of the earth. There is now little doubt that living things owe their origin entirely to certain physical and chemical properties of the ancient earth. Nothing supernatural was involved-only time and natural physical and chemical laws operating with the peculiarly suitable earthly environment (Paul B. Weisz, The Science of Biology, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959, p. 21).

Created By God

The Bible, on the other hand, says that mankind and the universe were created by an infinite personal God. God designed and created the universe out of nothing. The Bible says God has finished creating and the universe is now complete. Nothing new is being created.

The biblical doctrine of supernatural creation and the modern atheistic theory of evolution cannot be harmonized because they teach two totally different views about our origin. It is a choice between mindless chance and intelligent design.

Apart from biblical teaching of special creation and atheistic evolution, there are two other views that attempt to explain the origin and development of the universe: (1) theistic evolution and (2) creation by some unknown Life-Force.

God And Evolution

There are some Christians who opt for a middle ground where God used chance evolutionary methods to bring about life as we know it. This is known as theistic evolution. One Old Testament scholar has written:

Is it possible to be a theist and accept the theory of evolution? Yes. The options are rather to be a theistic evolutionist or an atheistic one. In either case, evolution stays (Mark Hillmer, The Genesis Debate, Ronald Youngblood Ed., Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986, p. 106).

Unfortunately, theistic evolution fits neither the Bible nor science in its attempt to find a middle ground between the two. Darwin made it clear that the supernatural was unnecessary in his theory. The Bible excludes naturalistic evolution. Theistic evolution tries to ride two horses, creation and evolution, which are going in opposite directions. A thorough study of Scripture will find the two ideas impossible to harmonize (we consider the issue of theistic evolution in detail in question 20).


There are some individuals who reject evolution yet do not want to accept the ideal of a personal Creator-God. They attribute the universe as the creation of some unknown Life-Force. The idea of a Life-Force has an impersonal god or Mind creating the universe and then backing off from its initial creation. This view has gained favor with those who feel the need to maintain that creation was the work of some Life-Force but do not want to have to answer to this entity. C. S. Lewis calls this idea "Creative Evolution":

One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen? (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan, 1965, p. 35).

Just who or what this "Mind" is we do not know because it has not bothered to reveal itself to us. We do not know if it is one god or a series of gods. Consequently, it is of no help in sorting out the ultimate questions of our existence.

Furthermore, an unknown impersonal Life-Force cannot adequately explain the world as we know it. If mankind is the creation of some impersonal Life-Force why do we have personality? Why do such things as love, hate, and personality exist? An impersonal Life-Force cannot account for these things.

Both Explanations Inadequate

Theistic evolution and the Life-Force theory attempt to avoid the conflict between biblical creationism and naturalistic evolution. They are both inadequate explanations to the question of our origin and development. In this book, therefore, we will concentrate on the biblical outlook and compare it to the popular theory of chance evolution.


The modern atheistic theory of evolution and the biblical teaching of special creation are the two basic ways that we can view the origin and development of life. Compromise suggestions such as theistic evolution or the Life-Force theory are inadequate explanations.

Are we here by Gods supernatural design or are we a product of mindless chance? The answer to this question is the focus of the rest of this course.
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