Keathley begins the first essay by noting that the Southern Baptist statement of faith is silent on how God created the universe. But he goes on to say that Southern Baptists' very literal interpretation of Scripture leads many in the denomination to hold the view that God created the world in six, 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago.
. . . Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler, a young-earth creationist, has called the attempt to reconcile evangelicals to evolution a "direct attack upon biblical authority." Keathley, meanwhile, calls himself an old-earth creationist who accepts that the universe is billions of years old, but also believes that God directly intervened at certain points in natural history.
Falk and two other writers state respond that science tells us "there was never a time when the human population from which all modern humans descended was as small as two individuals." Instead, they suggest the possibility that "God began a covenantal relationship with a real, historical first couple who brought about spiritual death as a result of their disobedience."
Keathley also points out that for some Christians, evolution presents a problem because it implies that suffering and death have been with the world from the beginning, rather than resulting from rebellion against God. "Young-earth creationists ask, 'What does this do to the nature of God if God created the world with pain and suffering from the beginning?'" Keathley said in an interview.
. . . Falk and others say in their essay that the problem of evil is a challenge, but that "Scripture does not take a universally negative view of suffering and death in the present age. Rather it is recognized as being both a tragedy and a creative force."
Editor: Emphasis added. I have to commend the Houston Chronicle for the careful way in which it handled the two sides.