Progressive creationism (also called “process creation”) is the belief that God created the heavens and the earth over a period of billions of years, not the six 24-hour days that is the basis for the traditional creationism view. Progressive creationists can be liberal or conservative in their theological belief system, but they generally agree on the following:
• The “Big Bang” was God’s way of producing stars and galaxies through billions of years of natural processes.
• The earth and universe are billions of years old, not merely thousands of years old.
• The days of creation were overlapping periods of millions and billions of years.
• Death and bloodshed have existed from the very beginning of creation and were not the result of Adam’s sin. Man was created after the vast majority of earth’s history of life and death had already taken place.
• The flood of Noah was local, not global, and it had little effect on the earth’s geology, which shows billions of years of history.
Progressive creationism is a belief that opposes both atheistic evolutionism and young earth creationism. The teachings of progressive creationism are not new, but in recent years they have received favorable publicity through Christian radio, television, magazines, and books.
In our view, the error of progressive creationism rests on the assumption that the biblical account of creation in Genesis 1–2 is not meant to be understood literally. According to progressive creationism, the “days” in Genesis 1 are not literal, 24-hour days but actually long periods of time, amounting to millions or even billions of years (see our article on the days of creation). Progressive creationists accept the evolutionary viewpoint of the age of the earth, which we feel is in error (see our article on age of the earth).
Another disagreement we have with progressive creationism is that it posits that death existed prior to the Fall, which undermines the teaching that all physical death is a result of sin (see Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).
In some circumstances, progressive creationism is an attempt by some Christians to harmonize the teachings of modern science with the Bible. However, the theory actually precedes modern evolutionary thinking and was suggested by some of the earliest Christian writers. While we disagree with progressive creationism, it is a view held by a sizable proportion of the Christian community.
All that being said, the traditional interpretation of Genesis has mostly been that of young earth creationism, not progressive creationism. This is because the strongest evidences suggested for progressive creationism come mainly from the field of science, not directly from the words of the Bible.