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Creation Belief Alive and Well—New Zealand Survey

Adrian Bates

25 April 2006

A recent survey by the high-circulation New Zealand magazine Listener showed that almost a quarter of the 1000 respondents believed God made the world in 6 days.1 Such a percentage of Bible-believers in a so-called secular society is heartening.

Over half those surveyed believed Intelligent Design should be taught in schools. This result comes as no surprise, as multiple overseas surveys over the past decade have confirmed a deep-seated preference among the general public for teaching both sides of the creation/evolution debate.2 This, despite the strident opposition of academic elites wedded to an evolutionary belief system. To the average person it is just plain common sense to allow students to hear both sides of the argument so they can make up their own minds.

If ever there was a clear-cut issue, surely it is this debate over origins.  Either God created  everything or everything created itself.  The Bible insists in Genesis 1 and John 1 that God created all things.  Romans Chapter One tells us that each and every human at some level consciously knows that there is a Creator, and it is untrue (and therefore inexcusable) for any individual to claim they do not  have this innate knowledge of God.  This uncomfortable assessment by the Bible goes a long way to explaining why the creation/evolution debate is befogged by deep-seated prejudice.

A favourite pejorative term in the debate is ‘Creationism’—as for example in, ‘ID is just closet Creationism’ (shock, horror!).   Of course ‘Creationism’ actually just means a belief in God as creator.  Ironically, this label is now used to flag someone as having an unacceptable and extreme view. However when we peel the onion a little we find that what it really refers to is someone who dares believe the Bible’s account of creation in six ordinary days and who therefore has a young-earth position.

This explains why the current Intelligent Design movement is cold-shouldered by most evolutionists.  ID attempts to use the lever of science to argue for the existence of a designer, although for strategic reasons they decline to enter discussion as to the nature of this master designer.  This somewhat naively overlooks the real nature of the battle in the creation/evolution debate.  It is not ultimately an argument over the inferences of perceived design.  At the most primal level the debate is really, ultimately about an existing commitment to either accept or reject God.  That is the message of Romans 1.

Notwithstanding the above, design remains a powerful argument for a Creator and it should surely be permissible to examine this line of evidence in formal teaching situations. The Listener magazine article quotes evolutionists Sir David Attenborough  and Dr Graeme Finlay as both  protesting that any evidence supporting design is a form of the ‘God of the Gaps’ argument (i.e. using ‘God’ to conveniently plug up gaps in scientific knowledge, which will anyway be plugged as science progresses, they say).  

Actually, it is quite the reverse. It is when a biological structure is well understood that the inherent and obvious design becomes a compelling argument.  Likewise, anyone who argued against the intelligent design of a man-made structure  ( eg. the Space Shuttle) would be flying in the face of ‘common sense’.  The survey results show that most people realize this.

So should there be freedom (not obligation) to teach intelligent design in schools?   The common-sense majority verdict from this survey is ‘Yes’.  Fortunately, in NZ that freedom presently exists.  However, the ID  movement  needs to realize that it is equally common sense not to fudge the issue of who the Creator is.  And not to shy away from the Creator’s account of the early history of this world He created—or else design arguments can actually lead away from God.  (see CMI’s views on the Intelligent Design Movement).  Young Earth Creationists are on far more solid (if less popular) ground in frankly arguing that the cosmic designer  is the God of the Bible. Certainly, Creationists have nothing to fear from an open debate of the issue of design—and the Designer.  And judging by all the ‘flak’ from the opponents, they know that the Designer (and by implication our accountability to Him) is what it’s all about, anyway—for them as well as for us.  

References

  1. Sarah Barnett, By accident or design, New Zealand Listener 203(3440), 15–21 April 2006, <http://www.listener.co.nz/issue/3440/features/5870/by_accident_or_design.html>. Return to text.
  2. Jerry Bergman, The attitude of various populations toward teaching Creation and evolution in public schools, Journal of Creation 13(2):118–123;, 1999. Return to text.

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