Stephen E. Jones

My Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Creation: Progressive (Mediate) Creation

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Q. What is Progressive (Mediate) Creation?

Progressive Mediate Creation (or just Progressive Creation) is what I call my basic position on the Creation-Evolution spectrum.

That is, I believe (on the basis of Genesis 1) that God created the raw materials of the universe immediately from out-of-nothing, and thereafter He created mediately by working (both naturally and supernaturally) through natural processes and existing materials.

I take the name from the great evangelical Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge:

"Mediate and Immediate Creation. But while it has ever been the doctrine of the Church that God created the universe out of nothing by the word of his power, which creation was instantaneous and immediate, i. e., without the intervention of any second causes; yet it has generally been admitted that this is to be understood only of the original call of matter into existence. Theologians have, therefore, distinguished between a first and second, or immediate and mediate creation. The one was instantaneous, the other gradual; the one precludes the idea of any preexisting substance, and of cooperation, the other admits and implies both. There is evident ground for this distinction in the Mosaic account of the creation. ... It thus appears that forming out of preexisting material comes within the Scriptural idea of creating. ... There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate, progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second causes." (Hodge C., "Systematic Theology," [1892], James Clark & Co: London, Vol. I, 1960, reprint, pp.556-557)

The same idea has been expressed in the distinction between primary or immediate creation and secondary or mediate creation:

"The phrase Creatio prima seu immediata signifies the originating act of the divine will whereby he brings, or has brought into being, out of nothing, the principles and elementary essences of all things. The phrase Creatio secunda seu mediata signifies the subsequent act of God in originating different forms of things, and especially different species of living beings out of the already created essences of things. The Christian Church holds both." (Hodge A.A., "Outlines of Theology," [1879], Banner of Truth: Edinburgh, Second Edition, 1983, reprint, pp.238-239)
"'Creation out of nothing', which we may call primary creation does not cover every occasion of creation. Scripture also uses the term creation for what we may call secondary creation, where God uses previously created materials in his creative work, as in the forming of man (Gn. 2:7) or the beasts and birds (Gn. 2:19)." (Milne B., "Know the Truth," Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, 1988, reprint, p.73)
"At the same time, however, it is clear that the idea of primary creation contained in the formula creatio ex nihilo does not exhaust the biblical teaching on the subject. Man was not created ex nihilo , but out of the dust of the ground (Gn. ii. 7) and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air were formed out of the ground (Gn. ii. 19). This has been called secondary creation, a creative activity making use of already created materials,ials, and stands alongside primary creation as part of the biblical testimony." (Douglas J.D., ed., "The New Bible Dictionary", Inter-Varsity Fellowship: London, 1965, pp.269- 270)

Progressive Mediate Creation (PMC) lies between Theistic Evolution (TE) and Progressive Creation (PC) on the Creation-Evolution spectrum. TE tends to deny (or downplay) God working supernaturally through natural processes, while PC tends to deny (or downplay) God working naturally through natural causes.

Probably the main difference between PMC and PC is that some PCs believe that God created some things ex nihilo after the original creation of Genesis 1:1. PMC would maintain that God created everything mediately (i.e. not ex nihilo) after the original immediate creation of the raw materials in Genesis 1:1. That is God created by modifying existing materials, working (naturally and supernaturally) through natural processes. An exception to this might be the infusion of man's soul.

The difference between PMC and TE is less clear because it is hard to know what TE is anymore. Much of what passes for TE is really Deistic Evolution (DE), or even just Naturalistic Evolution (NE) held by those who also happen to be Christians. The original TE position was that God did create one or at most two things supernaturally after the original ex nihilo creation, e.g. the origin of life and/or man's soul. But the modern TEs in my experience deny any supernatural intervention in natural history, and their position is, scientifically equivalent to NE. The main difference between PMC and the original TE would be that PMC would not limit God's supernatural intervention to only one or two events in the history of life. PMC would consider the possibility that God intervened/guided supernaturally working through existing materials and natural processes in the origin of life and major so-called `macroevolutionary' events in the history of life.


Copyright © 2000-2010, by Stephen E. Jones. All rights reserved. This page and its contents may be used for non-commercial purposes only. If used on the Internet, a link back to my home page at would be appreciated. Created: 17 October, 2000. Updated: 12 January, 2010.