The Greatest Pursuits blogger Ed "What the" Heckman has chosen the above topic as his Vox Apologia challenge of the week. Evolution vs. Creation - so what, indeed? What difference does it make if one chooses to believe in outdated myths about the origins of man, versus placing one's faith in a solidly scientific theory that has stood the test of time? That, I am sure, is what goes through most folks' heads, especially if they have no interest in religious things at all. Of course, such thinking is overly simplistic; dismissing creationism out of hand as a bunch of religious fables, it displays a singular ignorance of creationism's factual basis and ascribes scientific (near-) infallibility to evolution, which in turn places a burden on evolution greater than any scientific theory (which, by definition, is unproven) can bear. For the irreligious, however, no amount of discourse is likely to persuade them that this topic is anything other than a tempest in a teapot.
Hence, I will not direct my post to the irreligious. Specifically, I will address this question to those who consider themselves Christian. What is the big deal about evolution/creation? One can be a professing Christian and yet adhere to evolution, so what's all the brouhaha?
At a superficial level, belief in creation is not necessary for salvation. Indeed, there are many denominations that choose to interpret the first eleven chapters of Genesis in a non-literal way. However, I posit that to do so is to do violence to essential Christian teachings, for it is in these first chapters of Genesis that we find the basis for all major (not to mention a number of minor) Christian doctrines. In other words, without Genesis 1-11, we have no foundation for Christianity, and it becomes little other than a moralistic code of conduct.
The first thing that can be said about creation is that it is the result of exegeting Genesis 1-2: letting the passage speak for itself, not in a wooden literal sense, but in the sense that it was intended. Evolution, on the other hand, does not arise from a plain reading of Scripture, and must therefore be imposed upon the text.
Without a literal Genesis 1-11, there is, of course, no creation of man by God, and other passages dealing with creation (e.g., Psalms) are rendered into mythical metaphor. No hint about man being created "very good" (Gen. 1:31), no hint about man's fall from grace and descent into sin (Gen. 3). No hint about the sons of Adam being begotten in his own likeness, after his own image (Gen. 5:3), thus passing the indelible stain of sin to the rest of the human race. And if there is no fall, no sin nature passed on from generation to generation, then the death and resurrection of Christ is rendered superfluous. If sin is nothing more than learned behavior, then salvation can be achieved through one's own efforts (aka Pelagianism), and the role of Jesus Christ is reduced to that of a superior moral example. Consequently, the atonement of Christ becomes the insane result of the desires of a sadistic demiurge, and not the "power of God to salvation" (Romans 1:16). Likewise, prophecies such as Gen. 3:15 become obscure, poetic hyperbole.
Not only does denial of creation result in a logical negation of the crucial Christian doctrines of the fall of man and the atonement, it wreaks havoc on other doctrines as well:
1. Without a literal Genesis 1-11, there is no basis for the uniquely Christian view of man as bearing the imago Dei (and, as I pointed out in a previous Vox Apologia, this opens the door for euthanasia, abortion, and other crimes against humanity).
2. Without a literal Genesis 1-11, there is no basis for the oneness of the human race; thus, denial of creation actually lends credence to those who would ban miscegenation.
3. Without a literal Genesis 1-11, there is no basis for the sacred institution of marriage, and it becomes defined instead by man-made, judicial fiat - as we are finding out in contemporary society. (Additionally, it should be mentioned that this redefinition of marriage is not only a mockery of true marriage, but it borders on blasphemy, I believe, since marriage is ultimately a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church, Ephesians 5:22-33.)
4. Without a literal Genesis 1-11, there is no basis for the seven-day week, with its cycle of work and rest; there is no reason to have a day of rest, which, to the Christian, is symbolic of his rest in Christ.
5. Without a literal Genesis 1-11, there is no basis for a pending universal judgment, wherein the wrath of a righteous and holy God is visited upon a rebellious world; Jesus Himself indicated that the days of Noah were a foretaste of His second coming (Matthew 24:37-39).
Evolution vs. creation - is it a big deal? Only if the truth of Christianity is a big deal to you. On the other hand, if you're satisfied with a feel-good, moralistic religion, then no, it doesn't matter.