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Origin of the term "evolutionary creation"
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8/28/2012 at 4:33:09 AM GMT
Posts: 16
Origin of the term "evolutionary creation"
At the recent ASA meeting at Point Loma a few of us were discussing the origin of the term "evolutionary creation" as an alternative to "theistic evolution". Obviously, Denis Lamoureux's 2008 book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution which was based on Denis's earlier use of the term in a 2003 paper, made the term common-place in the evolution-creation discussion.

When Denis was asked about the term, he referred to Howard Van Till who had told Denis that the term had been used in Reformed circles for some time. I've been trying to track that down with little success.

While I can hardly believe that I coined the term, I first used it in a 1994 essay written as part of the tenure process at Calvin College entitled "Can a Christian Be an Evolutionist?" That essay is on-line at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Physical%20Science/Gray1999.html and at http://grayt2.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/can-a-christian-be-an-evolutionist/  Paragraphs from that essay were used in later papers, for example a noontime seminar at Calvin College in 1995 at http://www.asa3.org/evolution/noontime.html  I think Denis Lamoureux was still an anti-evolutionist at that time. 

Here is the line from that essay.

Since the term "theistic evolution" seems to be suspect for some reason, perhaps we should call it an "evolutionary creation". This semantic shift makes creation the noun rather than evolution, perhaps for the better.

My personal recollection for writing that the term "theistic evolution" was suspect had to do with the very negative way the term "theistic evolution" was received in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church during 1992 and 1993 when the controversy over my views of evolution first began.

I don't find the term in the 1991 "Report on Creation and Science" from the Christian Reformed Church (on-line at http://www.crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/resources/synodical/creation%20and%20science%20agenda%201991.pdf ) where I might expect to see it if it had been used in Reformed circles since they summarized discussions in the Dutch Reformed world in that report. I don't find the term in Richard Bube's 1971 essay "We Believe in Creation" in Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 23:121-122 (1971) (on-line at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1971/JASA12-71Bube.html ) where the phrase would have been a fitting way to reclaim the term creation as distinct from "fiat" creation. I also don't find the term in Jan Lever's 1958 Creation and Evolution. Lever was a biologist and was an early advocate in Dutch Reformed circles for some acceptance of evolutionary theory.

Lever does cite an 1899 essay by Abraham Kuyper who uses the term "evolutionistic creation" (the English translation). This essay entitled "Evolution" which can be found in English translation in the Calvin Theological Journal 31:11-50 (1996) (on-line at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Kuyper.html ). In section X Kuyper writes:

And that same difference would also distinguish such a divine evolutionistic creation from the Darwinian theory. Evolutionistic creation presupposes a God who first prepares the plan and then omnipotently executes it...

So while Kuyper uses the same idea, in English translation he does not precisely use the term "evolutionary creation". Perhaps in the Dutch there is no difference between "evolutionistic creation" and "evolutionary creation".

Can anyone help with this puzzle?


Last edited Tuesday, August 28, 2012
8/28/2012 at 10:11:33 AM GMT
Posts: 60
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8/28/2012 at 3:57:56 PM GMT
Posts: 130

James Buswell pointed out in 1955 that Bernard Ramm has a footnote in his famous book (page 282, footnote #29) which includes the sentence "The issue is between fiat creation and theistic evolutionary creation." So it appears with the adjective "theistic" but has "creation" as a noun. That footnote refers to an article by George McReady Price. Does anyone have this issue ?

George McCready Price, "Revelation and Evolution: Can They be Harmonized?," Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 57 (1925): 167-190. [Being The Langhorne Orchard Prize Essay For 1925



8/28/2012 at 5:18:52 PM GMT
Posts: 16

Randy, Perfect. That's just the sort of response I was hoping for.



4/7/2013 at 12:42:07 PM GMT
Posts: 41

Its listed here http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/articles_jtvi-03.php with no link to it yet.  Thanks for promoting the phrase.  I like it over theistic evolution to convey what is most important, "creation", but without the "ist" or "ism".  

But, it isn't searched as much on the Internet yet (per Google Trends).  So, when setting up social media, you need to have "theistic evolution" in keywords for people to find you.  Btw, my Twitter handle is @EvoCreatn if anyone wants to join me there.