Does Genesis Really Describe Evolution?

A Response To Theistic Evolutionist Glenn Morton

by Ross Olson

Glenn Morton, a previous young earth creationist, changed his position to Theistic evolution because of what he considers to be overwhelming scientific evidence. He has a large website with his writings on a wide variety of topics and corresponds extensively with both allies and opponents.

The following is a response to one of those pages, described as a synopsis and which circulated to a number of Christians, generating a wide variety of reactions. The paper to which I am responding is posted at http://home.entouch.net/dmd/index.htm. Scroll down and look for the title "A Theory for Creationists: A suggestion for the Creation-Evolution Debate."

Mr. Morton was invited to respond to this paper -- even to host a debate page on our site -- and he declined. For those who wish to find out his reactions to these thoughts, he can be contacated at glennmorton{at}entouch.net and I am sure he would be happy to correspond.

For those who are interested, see my correspondence with two theistic evolution / long age creation advocates at http://rossolson.org/creation/theistic_evolution_1.html and http://rossolson.org/creation/theistic_evolution_2.html.

Critique of Glenn Morton's "A Theory for Creationists:

A suggestion for the Creation-Evolution Debate"

by Ross Olson

Glenn Morton is a Christian. I expect to see him in heaven some day. But I think he is wrong on this issue -- although well motivated. (And in heaven, this will be the cause of some of the tears that will have to be wiped away.) He wants to preserve the gospel from ridicule by the scientific mainstream. But the picture this gives us of the nature of God and the way it teaches us to interpret Scripture (in order to allow the accepting of long ages and evolution) places a time bomb in ones theology.

For every person who is comforted by his assurance that you can accept all the current paradigms and be a Christian, there are two or three others who turn away from a God Who uses a clumsy and wasteful method to create, a method that involves a lot of death and suffering. Many will go on to use the "scientific" method of interpretation on the rest of Scripture and decide, for example, that the statements against homosexuality are not about what we see today and can be disregarded since we now "know" that it is normal.

Morton interprets the "And God said" parts of statements in Genesis 1 to be remote from the actual appearance of those things and not necessarily in the order they happened (for example to avoid having plants around for millions of years before insects.) They are just statements of intent, he says. For instance, in verse 3, where it says, "Then God commanded, 'Let there be light,'" God simply told us that He had decided that eventually, there would be light. This is the "Days of Proclamation" theory which is espoused by others as well.

While this supposedly allows the long ages the long ager thinks he needs, it makes me wonder why God is such a bad communicator. Morton says that the second part of the verse, "and light appeared," was commentary by Moses noting that light, by his time, had been created. If that is true, what about verses 4 and 5? There it says, "God was pleased with what He saw. Then He separated the light from the darkness, and He named the light 'Day' and the darkness 'Night.' Evening passed and morning came -- that was the first day." It sure sounds like it is happening and being refined in a continuous process.

Morton has to use lots of flashbacks between the command (or announcement that there will eventually be a command) and the carrying out of it and then God's pleasure with it, and finally,between that and whenever in the world is was that first evening and morning actually occurred. This problem recurs with each "and God was pleased" or, "and God saw that it was good."

Of course, God dwells in eternity and is not bound by our constraints, but this sure is confusing to those of us who are locked in time. If God had wanted to tell us that He used a Big Bang and Billions of Years, I think that He is fully capable of doing so. If you have Moses words be less accurate than God's words, then the whole concept of inspiration is being rejected. Why use the expression "evening and morning" if there is no connection to what we know as evening and morning? To say that the early people are primitive and could not understand the real truth begs the question, because the Bible portrays them as very intelligent right from the beginning.

In all this, Morton feels he has to find room for billions of years because the Bible will not be scientifically credible if tied to young age. But I think he has given up too soon. There is a very credible case for a young earth. Some data is actually very difficult to explain as taking millions of years. He clearly accepts at face value essentially all the ages published by mainstream science and yet a closer examination of those dates reveals a lot of fudging, selective publication of dates, not to mention a lot of assumptions going into the whole design of the dating methods.

The layers in the Grand Canyon, for example, go on for hundreds of feet uniformly and then abruptly change to a different type of material. Does that make sense, if these were shallow seas, that they would have no change in the character of the sediment for millions of years and then suddenly have a new type of deposit? It is much easier to see it as rapid deposits of a very turbid worldwide flood with mixing of many slurries and solutions. And, of course, "polystate" fossils seen in some places (tree trunks stretching vertically through 10's of feet of deposits) are not going to refuse to rot while waiting to get covered. Also, the Grand Canyon has preserved pollen in the Pre-Cambrian layers, when according to evolution there should have been only algae, certainly not flowering plants. (Note: in February 2004, those articles were posted. See the article archive.)

Also, the sedimentary layers are so widespread that it becomes difficult to figure how so much of the globe could be sinking to receive sediment for so long and still leave enough of the land at higher elevations to be eroded to donate sediment and do it without variation for tens of millions of years. In the flood model there is undersea volcanic activity spewing incredible amounts of material into the atmosphere to be dissolved, suspended, sorted, and ultimately precipitated and deposited all over a completely covered globe with tidal waves from earthquakes and unobstructed tides because the land masses do not block them. This would produce massive erosion and then a series of deposits, modified by local topography and confluence of currents.

Gentry, in "Creation's Tiny Mysteries" shows radioactive halos in coal deposits that indicate the layers were folded rapidly so that there are elliptical halos of the early phases and round halos of the late phases of radioactive decay of small fragments of polonium. These changes had to occur over weeks, but are seen identically in three coal deposits on top of each other. The coal deposits are supposedly separated by tens of millions of years but it is not possible that they could all be identical unless the whole deposit was rapidly laid down, deformed and then solidified.

The mineral content of the sea indicates that it cannot be millions of years old or it would be more saturated than the dead sea. The pressure in oil wells would have dissipated in 100,000 years. The mountains on the moon would have settled due to the viscosity of rock and the dust on the moon would be hundreds of feet thick if it were billions of years old.* (*Note: since this letter, the moon dust argument has been withdrawn.) Even human population growth, at very conservative growth rates, would have reached today's exponential phase long ago if humans were around for hundreds of thousands, much less one or two million years.

I do not have specific answers for his claim of animal burrows at all levels of the rocks. But sometimes the burrows are of water creatures burrowing in unconsolidated sediment and could occur between tidal changes in the deposits. Also, sometimes deposits are misinterpreted, as in some "fossil reefs" that on closer examination were fragments of reef material piled into large deposits but NOT a continuously growing coral reef that required a stable environment for thousands of years.

Regarding "after their kind," I can't say if the original language means "made as many kinds" or "reproducing their own kind." But genetics shows us that there are impenetrable barriers between genetic groups. It is not at the "species" level, which is quite an arbitrary division after all, but is higher and does not correlate with a specific classification, since our system is imperfect. For example, buffalo and cattle can interbreed. Lions and Tigers can interbreed. One "kind" does not blend into another "kind" in living populations. And the same is true of fossils. You get all shapes of Nautilus shells in the fossil record -- they are part of one kind -- but no transition to another kind, such as an oyster.

Morton's interpretations of genetics are trendy but arrogant. So-called "pseudogenes" seem to have no function, so they are called useless. But a couple of generations ago, vestigial organs were claimed everywhere -- useless remnants of the evolutionary past. Now they all are known to have functions. I think the same will be true of the genetic material for which there is no known function. Even if it contains part of a gene, it is not necessarily a broken gene. The relationships between genes and other portions of the genetic material are only beginning to be worked out. You have to have an evolutionary bias to say, "I don't know what this is for -- let's toss it out."

You would not get far fixing your car by removing parts you thought were useless or by deleting all programs on your computer that you couldn't identify. If you find a computer file that contains parts of other files, can you immediately conclude that it is a corrupted file? It seems presumptuous especially if the computer seems to be working just fine? Maybe a very knowledgeable expert might make such a determination, but I sure wouldn't. And with computer questions, my experience is that even the experts are somewhat tentative. So why do arrogant non-experts insist that the incredibly sophisticated machinery of the living cell is full of junk?

Morton's ideas on death may have some basis, but he carries them way beyond the Biblical evidence. There is a legitimate concern about whether bacteria or plants are considered alive in the biblical sense. But clearly God said that all animals in the garden were to eat plant material -- fruit and seeds, grass and leaves (Genesis 1:29 and 30). (Now that can be done without killing the plant, I will note.) It sure doesn't sound like there were carnivores around in that time and place, and the long age scenario would have had violent deaths going on for eons. Maybe Morton would say this vegetarianism was only present in the Garden, but if death is part of God's method of creation and is no big deal, why would He do it different in the Garden?

I think that the present rates of reproduction -- which can quickly fill the world with creatures -- need not have been the same before the fall as after the fall. Alternatively, there may have been the ability to change the rate of reproduction when the environment filled up -- there are hints of this with some creatures.

But human death had to come as a result of sin and Morton sees that -- something many old age creationists and theistic evolutionists fail to see. If it were only spiritual death that came from sin, then all the Old Testament laws about touching dead bodies -- the treatment of death an an intruder -- would seem out of place. But if it is only humans who died as a result of the fall, the use of an innocent animal to die as a sacrifice in place of the sinner loses some of its force.


n head size and hydrocephalus, Morton is very mixed up. Hydrocephalus gives a big head, not a small head and if unchecked produces brain damage and retardation. Someone with a thin rim of brain from internal pressure of hydrocephalus is rarely normal or even near normal. Microcephaly means a small head, with many possible causes from genetic problems to damage in the prenatal or neonatal period and below a certain size makes normal intelligence impossible.

Pygmies tend to have small heads but more proportioned to very small bodies and have normal intelligence. Australopithecines are clearly extinct apes with no evidence of human-like activity. "Bones of Contention" by Marvin Lubenow gives a very good look at the view that the so called hominid family tree shows only true humans and true apes with variations of humans but no sub-human forms. There are indeed people running around or driving sports cars or selling real estate who look a lot like Homo erectus.

On genealogies, it is not enough to say there might be gaps. The record says, "Adam was 130 years old and had a son, Seth" and then "Seth was 105 he had a son, Kenan" and so on. Even if you say that maybe Seth was the grandfather of Kenan, what do you do with the age? It seems like the numbers are there to give you a chronology and turn out to add up to about 6000 years for the age of the human race. And Jesus says that man and woman were created "in the beginning" (Matthew 19:3-5) not "14.999994 billion years after the beginning."

And, as to a local flood, even if it covered all the civilized world, which just happened to be limited to what is now the Mediterranean Sea, why did God have Noah spend 100 years to build an ark rather than just climb out of the basin which was the danger area? Do you make the ark just a story? Was the building of it not really necessary but a "symbol" of salvation? If so it is not a good one because there would have been other ways to be saved.

In short, I think there is a great difficulty harmonizing the Bible with present day scientific views. But I think that present day scientific views are also in great difficulty with the real, unmassaged scientific data. It is apparent from the things that are made that there was a Maker and some of His characteristics can be seen. So, as Paul writes in Romans 1, those who fail to accept are without excuse. And further, the Biblical record is accurate to a far greater degree than many believers realize. For example, at one time the existence of Jericho at the time of Joshua was doubted. But those who said, "No, I don't think it is just a story," were right because when the dating got straightened out, the destruction of the city could be seen from the appropriate strata to be exactly as the Bible described.

Ross Olson