1. Naturalistic evolution
Evolution is a general term including both cosmological and biological evolution. It teaches that a primeval explosion (big bang) of elementary particles caused the formation of gases which developed into stars and planets. At least one planet developed the conditions for life, and by a process of chemical and molecular evolution single-celled living matter transformed into multi-celled plants and animals and eventually man. The mechanisms for this transformation are random chance, natural selection and mutation
2. Theistic evolution
Theistic evolution adheres to the same process as natural evolution, the only difference being that the process is held to be programmed by God.
3. Progressive creation
Progressive creation holds that the fossil record displays the development envisioned by all forms of evolution, but instead of God having given matter the ability to produce new and more complex types of species at the beginning, God intervenes to produce them when the conditions are right.
All three systems require enormous periods of time. Systems 2 and 3 are compatible with system 1 because they respect the big bang, the geological time-scale and the fossil record as a relic of long ages. For this reason students holding to one of these two systems can be assimilated into the earth science classes at school without disclosing their belief in divine causality. They therefore have much in common with naturalistic or atheistic evolutionists. Those who believe in special creation and a short earth history have nothing in common with any of the three systems.