Almost all Christians would have held a similar view until Charles Darwin published his book, On the Origin of Species in 1859. After that, many of them assumed that science had contradicted the Genesis account. Some adopted a view known as “Theistic Evolution,” that taught that evolution was true, but that God guided the process. The problem with this idea was that it defined the Bible’s Creation story as a myth, and opened the door for loose interpretation of any portion of Scripture that society found difficult to accept. Thus miracles, moral standards, and even the substitutionary work of Christ in dying for our sins, were all explained away by theologically liberal teachers.
The Young Earth Creation theory blossomed after the publication of the book, The Genesis Flood, by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris in 1961. Whitcomb had a Doctorate in Theology and Morris had a Doctorate in hydraulics and hydrodynamics, which made him an expert in the effects of floods. They demonstrated that the Genesis Flood actually occurred, and that it provided a better explanation for the geological data than the prevalent view of very gradual changes. This synthesis of literal biblical interpretation and science has shaped the worldview of most evangelicals during the past half-century, and it has given rise to a host of apologetic sites on the Internet that deal with the subject.
Another train of thought was introduced by Philip Johnson, a celebrated law professor from Berkeley. His series of debates with evolutionists in various universities exposed the failures of Darwinism to live up to its projections of “missing links” and beneficial mutations during the past century. It also introduced amazing new scientific evidence that demanded belief in some cosmic designer. This spawned the “Intelligent Design” movement, and attracted a host of scientific experts. Their “Discovery Institute”, and a flurry of new books, demonstrated the complexity of the cell, the incredible computer-like program found in the microscopic DNA, inconceivable “motors” like the one that drives the whirling flagellum of a single-celled bacterium, and the mind-blowing vastness of the Universe with its perfectly balanced forces of nature. This view celebrates the advances of science while it demands belief in an intelligent designer. That designer would likely be the God of the Bible though some would posit some other creative force.
Lately there has been yet another variation in the debate about Creation. Francis Collins, the head of the human genome project, and others influenced by him, think that the similarity in the building blocks of biological life argue for “evolutionary creation.”
Christianity Today has become a sounding board for this “evolving” debate about Creation with the publication of a major article, A Tale of Two Scientists: What Really Happened ‘In the Beginning.’ Check it out.