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      Spectrum of Creation Beliefs


From Flat Earthism to Atheist Evolutionism

This Spectrum shows some of these differences between major types of creationism.  Beliefs in the table are listed from most conservative to most liberal biblical interpretations.

Type of Creationism Allows for Faith? Literal Reading
of Genesis?
Allows for Evolution?
1  Flat Earth Yes Yes No
2  Geocentrist Yes Yes No
3  Young Earth Creationism Yes Yes No
4  Old Earth Creationism Yes Longer Timeline Varies
4a        Gap Creationism Yes Longer w/ with Gaps No
4b        Day-Age Creationism Yes Longer Days No
4c        Progressive Creationism Yes Longer + Interventions Microevolution
4d        Intelligent Design Yes Longer + Interventions Microevolution
5 Theistic Evolution Yes Varies Yes
5a        Evolutionary Creationism Yes Outside Normal Time Yes
5b        Theistic Evolution Yes No Yes
6  Deistic Evolution Maybe No Yes
7  Agnostic Evolution Maybe No Yes
8  Atheistic Evolution No No Yes


1. Flat Earthism

Flat Earthism is more than a type of creationism; it is an extraordinarily conservative worldview holding to strict biblical literalism held by a very small number of people.  In addition to believing in an exact interpretation of Genesis, Flat Earthers believe the earth is a circular disc rather than a sphere.

This belief is based on scriptural references such as angels standing at the "four corners" of the earth.  Most modern creationists consider flat earthism absurd and founded on a misinterpretation of scripture, so it's doubtful the movement will long survive the eventual passing of its modern leader, Charles Johnson and his International Flat Earth Society. [G] [+]

2. Geocentrism

Geocentrism is a belief that the sun rotates around the earth, which is itself at the center of the universe.  Like Flat Earthism, this is based on a literal interpretation of certain biblical passages, particularly the following (from

  • Joshua 10: 12-13: "Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." (emphasis added)
  • Isaiah 66:1: "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" (emphasis added)

Most modern creationists consider Geocentrism less than credible and founded on a misinterpretation of these and other scriptural readings.  As noted on Answers in Genesis, "While geocentrists present some interesting scientific results, their scientific arguments are often based upon improper understanding of theories and data.  Much of their case is based upon a misunderstanding of general relativity and the rejection of that theory.  While geocentrists are well intended, their presence among recent creationists produces an easy object of ridicule by our critics."1 (emphasis added).

This rational is very similar to the arguments made centuries earlier by Saint Augustine in opposition to biblical literalism.  In De Civitate Dei (The City of God), he says, "But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible... For Scripture, which confirms the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, teaches not falsehood..." (Book 16, Chapter 9, emphasis added).  In other words, St. Augustine argued against general biblical literalism in much the same way modern creationists argue against Flat Earthism and Geocentrism. [G] [+]

3. Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

Also known as Creation Science or Scientific Creationism, YEC is a belief that the earth is roughly 6,000 years old—as determined by literal interpretation of biblical timelines.  One commonly cited timeline was published by Bishop James Ussher's Annals of 1650, where he claims the earth was created on the evening before October 23, 4004 BC.

YEC is commonly associated with Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, and with fundamentalist Protestantism.  Creation Science as been part of an historical effort to frame creationism in scientific terms so that these Christian beliefs can be taught alongside evolution in public schools.  The very limited success of this effort appears to be one of the main drivers behind the development of Intelligent Design. [G] [+]

4. Old Earth Creationism (OEC)

This is a type of creationism that allows for a very old age for the earth, as determined by geology and other sciences, while remaining doubtful about evolution and, particularly, macroevolution.  There are several variations of OEC, including Gap Creationism, Day-Age Creationism, Progressive Creationism and Intelligent Design. [G] [+]

4a. Gap Creationism

Gap Creationismalso known as Gap Theory, Restitution Creationism, and Ruin-Resurrection Creationism, Gap Creationismrepresents an efforts to bring science and religion together by looking between the lines of Genesis to see where geologic (but not evolutionary) science might fit.

Geological exploration and research exploded in the 1800s, providing almost limitless proof that the Earth is older than the 6,000+ years allowed for by biblical timelines.  Gap Theory addresses this by inserting much of geological time (millions or billions of years) between either (1) Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 or (2) Genesis 1 and 2 (the creation of Adam and Eve).

Because Gap Theory allows for an almost literal reading of the bible, retains the 24-hour days of creation, and rejects evolution, it is considered one of the more conservative interpretations of Genesis—but is still ejected by biblical literalists.  Gap Theory is easily confused with the distinct term, "God of the Gaps". [G] [+]

4b. Day-Age Creationism

Day-Age Creationists believe that the days of Genesis are not 24-hour days and can be read more accurately as years (thousands, millions or billions of years).  This is considered a more liberal interpretation of Genesis because of this change in the length of the days of creation; however, Day-Age Creationists are not necessarily any more receptive to evolution. [G] [+]

4c. Progressive Creationism

This is a somewhat liberal interpretation of Genesis that allows billions of years for cosmic evolution, including the Big Bang.  Progressive Creationists also allows some roll for natural development of life forms (microevolution), but only after God has stepped in to create the major species at various points in timeculminating with the creation of man.  Intelligent Design restates many Progressive Creation ideas in scientific terms. [G] [+]

4d. Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design, a modern adaptation of Paley's Argument from Design and slight variant of Progressive Creationism, supposes that some biological systems are so complex and/or unlikely that the randomness of evolution cannot explain their existence or function.  To solve this problem, ID offers up an unknown Intelligent Designer, but offers no related scientific research or experimentation to help define this designer or how he/she/it acts on the natural world.

Intelligent Design, like Progressive Creationism, is generally accepting of microevolution.  The science of ID (described as pseudo-science by many evolutionary scientists) is brought to bear in a direct attack on macroevolution.  This attack comes in three main forms: irreducible complexity, specified complexity and the anthropic principle.  Opponents of ID contend that it is just Creation Science in scientific clothes, which is why ID is often called stealth creationism or Neo-Creationism.  This position is strongly supported by ID's history, the creationist beliefs of many ID advocates, and the Wedge Document of the Discovery Institute. [G] [+]

5. Theistic Evolution

Evolutionary Creationism and Theistic Evolution proper are both forms of Theistic Evolution.

5a. Evolutionary Creationism

This is a conservatives take on Theistic Evolution.  EC holds that evolution and Genesis can both be true, with biblical events taking place outside of normal time.  Because natural events are held to be fully controlled by God, EC retains teleology (direction in evolution) without requiring any evidence within the material world. [G] [+]

5b. Theistic Evolution

This is a belief that evolution is just like any other science and is completely compatible with Christian beliefs, but not with a literal interpretation of Genesis. Theistic evolutionists tend to believe that God set the wheels of cosmic and biological creation rolling at the dawn of creation and then stepped back, letting things unfold as they may.  This lack of teleology (direction) to theistic evolution is one major reasons for its rejection by conservative creationists. [G] [+]

6. Deistic Evolution

A subset of theistic evolutionary belief wherein God started the universe off (with a Big Bang, if you will), and let it run on its own without further interference.  The outcome of evolution and other processes are not, therefore, deterministic (they lack teleology). Some deists believe God ceased to exist or otherwise distanced himself from the material world after setting the universe in motion. [G] [+]

7. Agnostic Evolution

A somewhat arcane term, this refers to the evolution-related beliefs of those who, like Thomas Huxley, support evolution but (1) do not wish to take a position on related issues of faith and Genesis or (2) don't think there is any necessary relationship between evolutionary science and religious issues.  Agnostic evolutionists may be atheists, agnostics or have strong religious beliefs; they are simply "agnostic" with respect to any connection between scientific and religious realms.  See also Non-Overlapping Magisteria.  Agnostic evolutionists are sometimes contrasted with supporters of atheist evolutionism. [G]

8. Atheistic Evolutionism

Also known as humanist evolutionism or materialist evolutionism, this is a belief that evolutionary science is the only correct "story" of biological creation and specifically obviates the need for God.  The infamy of some atheist evolutionists such as Karl Marx has led many to assume that evolution is synonymous with atheism and evil.  Atheist evolutionists are sometimes contrasted with supporters of agnostic evolutionism. [G]


Dr. Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) offer a different take on this spectrum, called "The Creation/Evolution Continuum".

1 Danny Faulkner, "Geocentrism and Creation," Answers In Genesis, Nov 29, 2005.

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