November 19, 2017

How I Became a … Theistic-Evolutionist

dna_helixOver the next few Fridays I will be bringing you a series entitled “How I Became a…” They will give an insight into some of the views that I hold, and how I arrived at those views. We will begin the series with “How I Became a… Theistic-Evolutionist.”

Despite my Evangelical upbringing I have always believed in an Old Earth. I can credit/blame my Father for much of that. He has been the biggest theological influence in my life. Not necessarily in regards to specific topics, but because he was always willing to go against the flow and challenge the status quo. He taught me to question what I was taught to see if it fit what scripture had to say and to see if it fit what I observed with my own logic and reasoning.

When it came to matters of creation, my father believed in an Old Earth. He felt that Youth Earth theories didn’t mesh with the biblical record and didn’t mesh with what he observed in nature. He supported was is known as the “Gap Theory”, that is, that there was a large expanse of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. That is, there is much room between “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth” and “God said, ‘Let there be light.'” In between that time “Earth was without form and void.” He pointed out to me that Genesis doesn’t talk about the fall of Satan, we have to go to the book of Job for that, and that Satan (in the form of a serpent) shows up in the Garden of Eden very early in the story. He conjectured that perhaps the battle with Satan and Satan’s subsequent fall destroyed an original or previous creation of God and caused the Earth to become without form and void, and that what we read about in Genesis 1 is in fact a recreation.

The Gap theory had largely arisen as Christian geologists in the late 1800s and early 1900s sought to harmonize a literal understanding of the creation of Genesis with the geological world around them. By the 1950s it had become the predominant view among Christendom. My father was the first one in his family to become a Christian, and it coincided with the heyday of the Gap theory. My father would answer those who claimed that God had created the world to look old, by asking, “Are you saying that God is a deceiver, making something look old that is in fact new?”

Young Earth Creationism began to over take the Gap theory, and the Gap theory fell out of favour for other reasons as well. However, my belief in an old earth remained.

One of the reasons was the idea of starlight. If a star is one million light years away, then it takes one million years for the light to reach our eyes. If we see a stellar event, and if the universe is only 6000 years old, we are seeing an event that didn’t actually happen. Again it makes God out to be a deceiver.

I have always been someone who has been willing to change his mind on a topic when presented with enough evidence. I have changed my views on a lot of different theological topics (more on this in the weeks to come), but the old earth ideas have always stuck with me. Much of this has to do with the fact the evidence considers to stack up in a one sided manner (and yes I have read material from both sides of the issue.)

In my earlier years one of the books that influenced me the most in this area was in fact a series of essays written by members of the Evangelical Theological Society. “The Genesis Debates: Persistent Questions about Creation and the Flood” assured me that there was more than one way to understand Genesis and still be an Evangelical Christian. This book was originally published in 1990, and while much has happened in the fields of science and theology since then, it demonstrated that there were valid theological options 25 years ago. (There has since been a similarly named book published since then, don’t confuse the two.)

When it comes to evolution, the field of genetics has revolutionized the discussion. It has been used to discover how humans came to populate the earth. It showed the European based populations interbred with Neanderthals. While evolutionists once speculated at the relationship between humans and other great apes, genetics showed how similar we are. By looking at the rate of genetic change that still occurs, we can extrapolate backwards and find a date for a common ancestor. In the case of of our closest genetic cousin, the Chimpanzee, we can determine that a common ancestor of both humans and chimpanzees lived about 6-8 million years ago.

One of the most influential people for me to arrive at my position on this topic is Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian who was also head of the Human Genome Project. I would highly recommend his book “The Language of God.” His book helped reassure me that acceptance of evolution was compatible with belief in a Creator God, just with a change in understanding of how he creates.

There were of course theological issues that arise out of this. How are we to understand Adam? Is there a historical Adam? Was Adam the first man, the first human with a God consciousness, the one designated to be the start of God’s working with Israel, or a literary device in a creation story? What about the fall and Paul’s comments in Romans 5 that through Adam sin and death entered the world? While I have not firmly landed on a position on much of this discussion, Peter Enns book, “The Evolution of Adam“, has convinced me that I do have theological wiggle room to be faithful to scripture where ever I might end up on the topic. Despite the topic, this is not a book about evolution, but rather a discussion about “what the bible does and doesn’t say about human origins.”

I have had had many other influences along the way, but these have been some of my key ones. I would encourage you to read the latter two books as they are both both very current in terms of scientific or theological understandings on the topic. My own thinking continues to “evolve” as advances in both the theological and scientific worlds continue.

So that has been my journey in a nutshell. What have your experiences been in this area? What has influenced you? Where have you landed, or are you still looking for a place to find your feet?

Comments

  1. I grew up Fundamentalist, and a young-earth creationist. After a brief flirtation with Intelligent Design (which I ultimately rejected because it largely consists of the YEC crowd, trying to slip their theory into academic and scientific discussions) I wound up in the theistic evolution camp as well.

    What actually led me away from YEC was their insistence on biblical literalism. You know, of course, if you take Genesis 1 literally, you have to believe there’s either a flat earth with the sun, moon, and stars within the atmosphere and a wall holding back the waters above; or you have to believe in an infinitely large amount of water on the far end of space, wherever that is. Yet somehow most YECers fudge the idea the firmament is below outer space; or was, ’cause God expended it to flood the earth.

    That and, like you said, if God created a old-looking young earth, he’s trying to deceive us. Much easier to believe creationists are trying to deceive us. And themselves.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > , if you take Genesis 1 literally,

      If you take it “literally” it just doesn’t make much sense at all, and then it is followed by Genesis 2 with does not really jive with Genesis 1 at all.

      Nobody takes it “literally”. “Literally” is just a badge to be applied to ones own *interpretation*.

      But I was never YEC, so I do not have to contend with the baggage that entails. I have YEC-lite, sorta former-YEC, friends you clearly struggle with it; trying to reconcile a vision of the world they held for a long time and means a lot to them psychologically, but is just intellectually untenable. It is clearly a hard spot to be in.

  2. I like to say I started at the cross and worked my way back to Genesis. I had a dramatic conversion experience and came over to the faith from a position of atheism. I was also a geologist. So for me the reality of Jesus was the starting place. I converted about the time the Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris was gaining popularity in evangelical circles. So for a long time I had to keep my thoughts about an old earth to myself. The thing that finally pushed me to be open about my old earth beliefs was the fundamental dishonesty of much of YEC geology. Telling people half-truths or witholding key evidences when speaking to uninformed audiences so one could score rhetorical points was just lying for Jesus. I couldn’t abide it. Mark Noll’s “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” was influential in this regard. Michael Spenser’s refering me to Conrad Hyers really helped to clarify the biblical/theological issues. As I’ve mentioned before in these comments I put together a small group class so that my fellow congregants could discuss these “Science and the Bible” issues in a reasonable manner without fear of being labeled “unfaithful to Scripture”. I have just finished the third time of holding this class. I am pleased beyond all expectations at how well this class has been received. A lot of credit must be given to the senior pastor. His humility and willingness to allow people to grapple honestly with these issues deserves accolade. I could have caused him no end of grief but he stuck with me and trusted me that in the end the Lord would be glorified.

    • Hi Mike,

      I tried to find a link to your blog this morning as I was writing this piece as people like you on this forum have been an influence as well.

      By the way, I noted your interest in Karst Hydrogeology. I live next door to Steve Worthington, and my brother-in-law shared a house with Derek Ford, two of the foremost experts in Canada on Karst Hydrogeology.

      • Mike: My son set the blog up, he wants me to blog on hyrdrogeology to increase my visibilty- I haven’t got around to it- I’d rather come here. OMG- small world- Steve is a friend of mine, I hired him as a consultant and we worked together on one of the PCB Superfund sites I was responsible for. Groundwater and contaminant flow in karst is often a “black box”. You know where it starts and where it ends up but the actual pathways are a mystery unless you can physically enter the system i.e. caving. Steve and I tried to take the “black box” apart and we darn near succeeded. Tell him to drop me a line.

        • Totally off the subject but how does this (karst) apply to contaminates tracking in fracking. I have a student (Montessori “3rd” grader) who is looking at the topic and is interested in rock types and mini-cave cracks/groundwater. I hadn’t really thought about Superfund sites a way to enter the idea of karst before (as we were thinking bottom to top not top to bottom).

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      Mike, I really appreciate this post. I have a strong background in science, but I was raised Christian in mostly fundamentalist churches. The thing that really confused me as a teen was the way in which supposed YECers would just lie about the physical evidence we have. The first time or two I thought, “Huh. I never heard that before.” And I would go look it up. After the first few encounters of discovering that the data was being misrepresented, I just sort of tuned out. But the fact that self-proclaimed Christ-followers would just make things up (and make a lot of money doing so) almost drove me away from the faith. You see, I didn’t (and don’t) particularly care if someone believes the earth is only 6000 years old, or a hologram, or The Matrix. That is their business. But be intellectually honest and rigorous, and don’t lie to make a point. Thankfully I met some very wonderful Christians who explained that I had only been exposed to a very small subset of Christianity, and that many – probably most – Christians loved Jesus and took their faith seriously and accepted the evidence for what it was. I’m just thankful that the crusade of a few zealots didn’t shipwreck my faith.

  3. Richard Hershberger says:

    “While evolutionists once speculated at the relationship between humans and other great apes, genetics showed how similar we are.”

    “Speculated” isn’t quite right. Evolutionary biologists (so far as I know, only Evangelicals call them “evolutionists”) *inferred* the relationship between humans and other great apes. They weren’t simply staring off into space and coming up with a nice story. The inference was made from the evidence of the fossil record. What modern genetics has done is add considerably to the evidence, coming from a different field, with the new findings consistent with the old inference.

  4. “Are you saying that God is a deceiver, making something look old that is in fact new?”

    This is a very poor line of reasoning. You are basically insisting, on principle, that God can and should not ever, under any circumstances, do anything that might contradict your observation (experience), and reason.

    “I observe the world to be old. My science shows me that the world must be old. If the world is not, in fact, as my experience and reason synthesize it to be through science, then God has lied to me by making it appear so.”

    Try this: “I observe the deceased to remain so. Science shows me that corpses must stay in the ground. If dead men do, in fact, rise, then Jesus is a liar.”

    It doesn’t fit with the Gospel. I’m not saying that a denial of YEC is a denial of the Gospel, that would be silly. But to say that “God can’t, because it goes against how I observe the universe to work” ignores the fact that he is transcendent beyond it and does not answer to the laws of nature: He invented them, and He is either allowed to operate above and outside them while still being considered honest, or he is not able to intervene and bring us back from the grave. You can’t have it both ways.

    • I tend to lean towards “God won’t.” God won’t violate his laws of creation. He has, he did, he won’t now nor should I ever expect him to or pray for him to; if I did, my faith constantly be challenged and disappointed.

      God is bound by the laws of his creation. Willfully bound, but bound. We can quickly go off the deep end when we start thinking about an infinitely powerful God who can do whatever he wants…yet we have a Bible and history and a mission from Him that says he won’t.

      • You haven’t addressed the argument. Are you saying the resurrection is natural?

        • I’m saying the resurrection is a one off event that is very special but also just the first in what will be many events at the end of time. The resurrection was supernatural. Apart from the super element, no one will ever raise from the dead. Not until we have the science perfected in the 23rd century for Spock.

          The resurrection tends to be the “mentioning Hitler” in these types of discussions. Oh you deny young earth creationism? Then you deny the resurrection. What? No! I don’t even…lol.

          • Again, this isn’t Ken Ham YEC. It’s not just the resurrection. Take the entire Apostles’ Creed. Virgin births defy science. God the Father creating heaven and earth is a non-scientific statement. Do we throw them all out just because our laboratory results indicate otherwise?

          • No, of course not. But it’s not YEC = resurrection. Or even evolution = no miracles.

            No one is throwing them out because a lab can’t replicate a miracle. Dr. Frankenstein is still working on it.

          • Ah, yes. “Have faith in Science, it will eventually explain every question of the universe to us.” Bill Nye fundamentalism.

            The YEC’er insists that every word of scripture is literally true and must be defended against “bad science,” because if science turns against their flat literal reading of Genesis 1, then you might as well throw out the whole book. In other words, Paul was wrong when he said “If Christ is not risen we are indeed to be pitied among man.” Instead, in the YEC’er paradigm, there is nothing special about the resurrection of Jesus, ’cause if you can disprove ANYTHING in the Bible whatsoever, then the resurrection probably didn’t happen either.

            My position is that even though I view Genesis 1 as poetic and not a scientific treatise, because of Jesus and Paul I still see the earth as somehow young. I am open to a different reading of them, but until somebody can harmonize Romans and Corinthians with Genesis, no amount of scientific evidence is very troubling to me. I’m sure those research professors did their very qualified best work and obtained reliable results. As far as they’re concerned, the tree can be 100 years old, I don’t have a problem with that.

        • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

          C’mon Miguel. You’re smarter than this.

          What is the difference between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’? Statistical analysis? Or is ‘natural’ what happens when God doesn’t take an active interest in something and decides to allow it to pursue its own course?

          Even the Resurrection is not as sui generis as some would like it to be. There are plenty of stories about elders and manifesting post-resurrection body abilities while still in the “body of this death”; being simultaneously in two places at one, moving through doors, etc.

          ‘Created’ and ‘uncreated’ is a better polarity than ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’.

          • “Natural” in this case being the assertion of human reason and experience as having epistemological priority over scripture and tradition. Not how Jesus and Paul did theology. Obviously, the true “nature,” or fundamental reality of the universe, is God himself, and his eternal Word.

            I’m not interested in stories of supernatural phenomena. I’m interested in what the New Testament says about a particular few instances of it.

            Just because God gave us our natural senses it doesn’t follow that their purpose is for us to use them to dictate what He can and can not do. Yes, God takes an active interest in everything, but why should we expect it to always make sense to our investigation? Can he do nothing beyond our ability to analyze, categorize, systematize, and predict? Such a creature cannot be a God.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Again, the one-to-one link between YEC and the Resurrection.

      • if I did, my faith constantly be challenged and disappointed.

        Only if you are expecting a bunch of miracles that are never promised you.

        we have a Bible and history and a mission from Him that says he won’t.

        Actually, we have a Bible chock full of numerous examples where He did, and a skeptical culture who insists that none of those stories can be true, not even the resurrection. Believe me, I’m not banking on God to bail me out with any sort of miracle today. That would set one up for constant disappointment. The only “divine interventions” I am open to are the ones in Scripture. But I don’t have any idea how our “history and mission from Him” show that he won’t violate the laws of nature.

        I could even go as far as to say he won’t do it anymore, apart from the resurrection of the dead.

        • I could even go as far as to say he won’t do it anymore, apart from the resurrection of the dead.

          Absolutely.

          And fair point about a bunch of miracles not promised to you. Yet there’s whole industries trying to convince us they are. So why wouldn’t we believe the sun will stand still if we pray for it? Or god will supernaturally heal cancer or grow a leg or do any number of things?

          • And that is one of the bigger problems with much of Pentecostal and Charismatic theology. They exegete very sloppy, reading scriptural narratives as examples of what to expect today. Perhaps I should leave some room for God to work in ways beyond our ability to understand, but we shouldn’t proclaim these occurrences are regular expectations or promises from God. This is, at the end of the day, a subtle prosperity Gospel dressed up in pietistic enthusiasm.

          • <em a subtle prosperity Gospel dressed up in pietistic enthusiasm.

            Miguel you are easily one of the most quotable people here on IM. Love it!

        • On a more personal note because I find you honest and to the point Miguel. Do you hear his voice inside you at times speaking clearly. Have you had things that are of a personal note that are outside ordinary that you know have come from him. Simple answer is enough or if you want elaborate. Thank you

          • No. No voice in my head, no unexplainable coincidences or “supernatural experiences.” I was raised in a tradition that taught us to seek and expect these things. My only choice was to either reject that tradition or become an atheist. I am a firm believer that if you hear voices in your head, you should see a psychiatrist and not try to spiritualize it. Not saying that God can’t or won’t, but I remain convinced that he isn’t right now.

          • Thank you!

            No, seriously. I have waited years for someone to say what I’ve been saying since 9th grade. My high school was a pretty conservative evangelical “party line” (as HUG would say) place, and I was -consistently- given strange looks for saying that G-d did not “speak” to me. No voice. No “deep inner certainties”. No unexplained coincidences.

            Even today my mother says she prays for me because I do not “hear His Words”. I just tell myself its an evengelical-ism that means something different than I think it does.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            No voice. No “deep inner certainties”. No unexplained coincidences.

            No “Burning in the Bosom”, no “Special Shiver in the Liver from the Water Tower Monster”?

          • No voice in my head, no unexplainable coincidences or “supernatural experiences.”

            This. I realized after many years I couldn’t fake it and I couldn’t keep lying to myself. Any and all voices in my head were put there by pastors or were just myself. The times I thought it was God led me down some dark, destructive paths. Thus, rejection and daily fight against atheism.

          • Thank you all for the response. I didn’t say inside my head. It was just that for me this is how I first met Him. No one led me in a prayer nor did anyone ever know what to do with me since. Now I am sad. Looks like another long night and walk on the mountain.

          • Don’t be sad, W. I’ve known a good many faithful Christian brethren who are utterly convinced that they have heard the voice of God. The more believable ones limit those experiences to what they can count on one hand, and are much older than I. Like I’ve said elsewhere in this discussion, I don’t want to get into the habit of telling God what he can and can not do on the basis of my theology, philosophy, or science. God is perfectly capable of speaking directly do you. That can be one of many ways of explaining the experience you had. I just think it is dangerous to the faith of others to formulate doctrine based on these experiences and teach others to expect the same. If some sort of intervention altered your life and set you on the path of following Christ, then rejoice and be glad because of it! And be open to the idea that we might not fully understand what happened in that moment.

            Sorry if it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. For the sake of consistency, us Lutherans say that God does not deal with us apart from Word and Sacrament. But depending on how you understand that phrase, your experience, whatever it is, could be some sort of extension of the Word. But be very careful with any communication you receive outside the Word, always bring it to the Word and submit it to the Word. There’s a lot of other voices out there, and we are all wise to be skeptical, but foolish to discount any voice that proclaims to us the Gospel of Christ. That voice has lovely feet.

          • W: You are not alone or nuts. I’ve had a prophetic ministry for over 20 years. Words of knowledge. Prophecies. Healings. I’ve even heard God’s audible voice on two occasions. Yeah, I know, I’m sure I’ll take heat for this, but, oh well. I also know, and have met lots of unbalanced and extreme people in the sphere I walk in. But that’s the norm in every tradition and theology. But nonetheless God talks to his children, He has since Adam and still does today(sorry, cessation guys).

          • I just spent a half hour crying and my heart has dumped and in the midst of all I sense His love for you all.

          • Practicing his presence. Cultivating intimacy. Meditating on scripture. Listening prayer. Hearing his voice.

            These spiritual formation practices saved my faith, and probably my marriage and my life. And what do you know, it has led to being able to pass on good stuff to others in the prophetic manner that OldProphet just described above. And that’s all on the other side of my own Pentecostal baggage that I turned away from many years ago. Now it’s just a relationship thing.

            He is with us continually.

            I’m glad you spoke up, W & OldProphet.

          • w and OldProphet…I’m sorry. I really am. It sounds beautiful. But every encounter I have with that type of thinking or people who are “walking” in it…it’s like a toxic acid dump on my soul. And I don’t know what the cure is other than some amazing supernatural experience that I cannot ask for and must be completely 100% from God.

            I’m waiting, Lord.

          • w,

            There’s a long line of Christians who have heard the voice of God, or the equivalent. Most of them (us) are unknown and not written up, but some of the famous ones include St. Paul, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley.

          • Ok, Ted, I wasn’t going to chime in, but you clearly do not understand Luther’s theology. He was completely against “enthusiasm,” or the idea that God imparts revelation directly to us. And Edwards was as crazy as Piper, as far as I’m concerned. And Piper would take that as an extreme compliment. Paul was an Apostle, and thus an exception to the rule in many ways, and I’m really not sure which events you are referring to with Augustine and Wesley. If you refer to “take and read” and the heart being strangely worm, then your definition of the “voice of God” is liberal enough for me to live with. Those are relatable enough to my life experience. I just wouldn’t call it God speaking, as if he were inspiring me to write the next Epistle.

            StuartB, I’m with you on this one.

            Sean, “Practicing his presence, Cultivating intimacy, Listening prayer, and Hearing his voice” are silly inventions found nowhere in scripture (and aside from that first one, I believe, relatively recent inventions). I’m a big fan of meditating on scripture. I’m not saying you should never do these things. If they bring you inner peace and strengthen your faith in Christ, by all means, dive right in! But please, do be mindful of how the teaching of these doctrines have destroyed the faith of many for whom they do not “work.” I was nearly one of them. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked with who have given up on Christianity because they tried those things and they didn’t “work.”

          • And again I say, amen.

          • Miguel,

            You’re right. I don’t understand Luther’s theology much beyond sola fide. But as for the Holy Spirit speaking to him, perhaps his tower experience qualifies. See last two paragraphs in this article:
            http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1519luther-tower.asp

            As for St Augustine (tolle lege) and Wesley (the heart strangely warmed), that’s exactly what I meant.

            I’m reading a children’s novel (written by my uncle-in-law’s nephew’s wife) about Hildegarde of Bingen. Visions and voices all over the place. And extreme headaches. It took 1000 years but she’s now a saint, thanks to Benedict.

            Piper would indeed consider it a compliment to be as crazy as Edwards.

            I’ll pick up on something you said in an earlier comment—that we don’t want to tell God what he can or can’t do.

            And if we restrict the Holy Spirit too much in our theologies we dismantle the Trinity. He’s more than a silent partner.

            But I hear you on being a tad skeptical. There’s a lot of abuse, and discernment is still an important gift of the Holy Spirit. Probably the one I lean on the most.

        • I find it sad that people think one cannot hear the voice of God.

          I have never heard it verbally. But I have heard it, and expect that I will. But then, that’s what it took for me to become a Christian

    • I like this take on things it would tend to make you wonder what God considers a young earth and maybe this is. Seems man is so in love with his own thoughts and has to prove them. I alway find it funny when Ham moves things around to fit his line of thinking but in our theologies we have been doing the same things for thousands of years including old testament thinking. All through the OT God went outside what we would consider the laws of creation. Jesus did it on a regular basis. Maybe the laws aren’t what we think they are. Often it has amazed me when a very intelligent doctor sees something totally out of the normal simple shake his head and say I don’t know why and quickly move on. Now for the sake of the next who needs treatment I understand but for a researcher maybe there is something to laws we don’t understand yet. Though it might behoove us to stick our head in the sand and just say it doesn’t exist when we have so much to say to the contrary. I’m fairly certain there is more to us than meets the eye or why would God want to become a sacrifice so we could know him. All through time there have been men in all faiths doing extraordinary things. Maybe within the sciences we will find that they always have been pointing to him we just haven’t been looking at it right. It is good thought Miguel

    • “This is a very poor line of reasoning. You are basically insisting, on principle, that God can and should not ever, under any circumstances, do anything that might contradict your observation (experience), and reason.”

      I don’t see how you are drawing that implication from the argument. The argument does not presume that God is *unable* or *shouldn’t* “contradict observation and reason.” The argument asserts that is reasonable to assume that God would create a universe in which our observation of the physical universe yields some knowledge of it. Conversely, it is less reasonable to assert that God would create the universe in such a way that our observation of it was fundamentally untrustworthy.

      You could also see it a case to which you can apply occum’s razer: the simplest explanation is the best. Here’s a simple explanation: There is overwhelming evidence for an old universe because the universe is in fact old. Here’s a bizarrely complicated and fuzzy explanation that serves no purpose except to prop up Ken Ham’s exegesis: God created the universe to look old because … well, God … and maybe it would be cool if we could see stars? To test whether we have enough faith? [Another favorite of mine: Dinosaur bones were bured in the earth by either God or Satan because … God and Satan.]

      There is no way to prove that our observations turn back reliable data about physical reality. One presumes this, or one does not. However, most of us assume that observation does tell us something, or know that we have to live with that assumption; that is, we are comfortable with the foundational assumptions of modern science. That includes creationists.

      So, according to assumptions most people make — *including* the creationists — it is far wonkier to say that God created the universe to seem old, when it is not, than it is to reject the young earth creationist argument.

      I don’t think anything I have written above forces anyone to believe or disbelieve in specific miracles. Your parallel examples don’t seem parallel at all to me. They involve very different arguments.

      • Regarding your parallel examples:

        Argument 1: An old-looking universe is really old. Implication: The information we gather about the operations of the natural world is trustworthy.
        Argument 2: The Resurrection occurred. Implication: The information we gather about the operations of the natural world are trustworthy. But a supernatural force can intervene in that process.

        The two arguments are compatible. In fact they are complementary. It is because the natural world operates according to predictable laws that I will call an interruption in the process a miracle. It is a surprise. I should be delighted or terrified. I will also expect natural laws to resume when the miracle is “over.”

        Here’s what isn’t compatible, or at least curious:

        Argument 3: An old-looking universe is really young; a whole lot of data we are getting about the natural world is basically misleading.

        That doesn’t relate to or support our argument about the Resurrection at all. I might as well argue:

        “It looks as though creatures die and decay every single day. You claim that Jesus rose from the dead, and it this surprises and delights you. But I say this is all poppycock. People don’t really die every day. It just looks that way. Your senses are tricking you.”

        • The two arguments are compatible. In fact they are complementary.

          Indeed! I trust science, but I trust the Word of Christ more, and when they seem to conflate, we submit one to the other and use the other to interpret the one. Giving science precedence, however, with intellectual consistence, eventually leads to the ruling out to the ruling out of the miraculous entirely. See Liberal Theology.

        • a whole lot of data we are getting about the natural world is basically misleading.

          Well, unless you want to argue that science is infallible, that has always been the case. The “age of the earth” is constantly shifting, and granted the scientific consensus is that it is very old, that is simply one relative area of inquiry where I remain skeptical. I can even trust that the dating methods work and produce reliable results. I’m just not broken-hearted if we get to heaven and find out that certain things of the physical world, but not all, were illusory. In fact, I do expect to find that human observation, for all its utility, is far less all-encompassing than we would like to believe. There are whole levels of reality that remain invisible to us, and I do not think they should be dictated by what is visible, even if the visible realm does give us many good indications.
          I will be very disappointed, however, if I do not receive forgiveness through the merits of Christ in the same way I was condemned in the trespass of Adam. No amount of science can talk me out of that doctrine, but I am certainly open to new ways of harmonizing science with it.

        • It still is amazing to me how far we have come in just the past 100 years compared to where we were pior. Although the last 100 were built upon the base of those prior. It is hard for me to conceive at this point where we might be 100 to 150 years from now but I imagine putting some models together would hint of such things. So in what we observe as incomplete as it is and as amusing as it might seem it is terribly flawed. So in gravity and all the grand mathematical equations we use to work this all out it took only a word to bring it forth. On a scale of creator and created we seem to have a long way to go yet. I certainly am glad that there are those who are called to do the research as I am not. I do have a strong belief that it will lead to God but is not limited to it. It seems here debate and thought become addicting. How profitable is what I’m on the fence about. I heard a Biological researcher say on the radio how he hates when the lines are drawn because he believes he research is peering into the hand of God. He stated that when he watches the DNA of a cell transfer to another the only thing he can say is that end of the day I saw the hand of God. It was then I realized why my aging father in-law has never been able to except God. You see he is very intelligent and a doctor who read the Bible twice and still just couldn’t seem to get it. I often wonder if he flipped through the TV channels and watched that because I am sure he would see it as nonsense. This man on the radio made sense I so wish I could hook the two up for My father in-law is on his last time here and I want him there really bad. I would wager that even in the next couple of decades there will be more of an emphasis on the spiritual aspect of our being and what that truly means as to the laws we currently observe. I saw this child prodigy who painted Christ’;s portrait. Her parents were atheists. I can’t remember what age but it was early say 5 or 6. What a tremendous gift she has and I wonder and hope she runs a good life to His glory.

      • is reasonable to assume that God would create a universe in which our observation of the physical universe yields some knowledge of it.

        Yes! Absolutely. Please don’t hear me saying anything to the contrary. It’s just the key word “some.” Orthodox Christian theology demands particular exceptions to the expected normal conclusions of observational inquiry, and I think it is important to have a consistent criteria as to which exceptions to allow.

        My criteria is the Gospel. Therefore, IMO, old-earth does NOT put you outside orthodoxy, I just don’t understand now to reconcile it wit the NT treatment of Genesis. But I’m certainly open to learning more about it.

        So our observation isn’t fundamentally untrustworthy. I just submit it to a higher source of truth, for critical review, if you will: The eternal Word.

        Occam’s razor is useful when it isn’t being used as an intellectual cop out. Your simplest explanation starts with science. My simplest explanation starts with the New Testament. They are only in conflict for those who insist the “appearance of age” is deceitful, as if the age of the earth were a more important truth than the relationship between the first Adam and the new creation in Christ.

        • Miguel, I don’t see that the NT argument requires us to take Genesis “literally,” i.e that this is a factual, journalistic account of events that took place just as described. I hope to write a post about this soon.

          • Neither do I. I keep saying that I believe Genesis 1 to be poetic. The only two that seem “literal” to me are the words “and God said,” and the person of Adam.

      • Now I’m not saying the universe isn’t old relative to the way I view time. I am saying that the universe might be very young to the way God exists outside of time and encompassing time.

      • Best comment in the discussion.

      • @ Danielle. It’s more than that the universe looks old; it is almost as if the universe has old memories of being a child. Perhaps it would not be so odd if Adam were created with a body that looked as if it were old, even though it had been created a few minutes before by God; but it would be extremely odd if Adam had been created with memories of being a child, even though he had never been one.

    • First, I don’t know of any old earth types who would insist that God could not have made the earth in a short time. But the physical and scientific evidence doesn’t seem to support that he did.

      And the attempt at an analogy of this with the Bible’s explicit insistence of the resurrection and our observations of death doesn’t hold up because the Bible simply does not anywhere explicitly insist on a young earth creation.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      I disagree for one very important reason. We have the physical evidence to examine. We observe light that is objectively 13 million years old. If were in fact only 6000 years old, then it doesn’t necessarily make God a deciever, but it does necessarily mean that we can’t trust our senses and observations in the real world, which is actually a threat to our whole faith. Christianity is based on historical fact – Jesus actually rose from the dead.

      And I don’t think your analogy works with the virgin birth or the resurrection and ascension of our Lord for the simple fact that the physical evidence is not with us (insert inappropriate communion joke here). But it was in the past – the disciples physically examined and experienced and verified the risen savior. It absolutely was empirically verified.

      • I, too, am a proponent of evidential apologetics, specifically on the resurrection. I am more certain of the resurrection than the young earth, there is no way to put those two on equal footing. A young earth is not the basis for Christianity. It just seems the the assumption of certain NT writers, including Jesus, without with their anthropology and harmitology become shaky. And these are a part of the basis for Christianity. So it’s a second level implication from the Gospel. I could be misreading Jesus and Paul, but I’ve yet to here a compelling case for a reinterpretation of them that doesn’t seem more like wishful speculation.

        If you had to choose between certain physical evidences, not all, just a small, particular set, and the clear teachings of Christ, I hope that wouldn’t be a very difficult decision. I’m still waiting for somebody to explain to me how that’s an unnecessary choice, beyond “read the book by Enns.” Executive summary, anybody?

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        As you say – using the virgin birth etc are really bad arguments. If everything is a miracle, then nothing is a miracle. For a miracle to be a miracle, it has to be contra the natural order. Hence, a natural order must exist Hence…..

    • On principal then…, if God created a universe with apparent age, who is to say when that apparent age began? Six thousand years ago? Two thousand years ago? Or maybe 15 min. ago… Who can say?

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        3 mins ago, you heretic! 🙂

      • My paleontology prof said the devil put fossils there to deceive man. (facetiously I assure you)
        I infer they did not really exist, they were created in situ as they are. God wanted to test our faith.

        He also created the universe with light already on the way from the stars. In fact all the massive mountain of evidence for an old earth is just a test.

        Its kind of like the guy describing something 4 legged with a big bushy tail that eats nuts and runs around trees. The kid say ‘sounds like a squirrel but I am going to say Jesus’

      • If God created a historical Adam as described in Genesis, wouldn’t Adam have looked to be 20 or 30 years old on the day he was created? Eve also? Both of them would have appeared, on the day they were created, to be adults with a history, not infants.. I do not understand how this startling fact, if it is a fact, leads human beings to conclude many years later that that makes such a creating God a deceiver and a liar. Please explain.

        • I don’t understand this argument. Gen. 2 is clearly metaphorical, picturing God as a potter working with clay. Just as Gen. 1 portrays God as a King, building a Temple. There are clear parallels in the Ancient Near East literature. The author/editors are obviously telling their story in the context of that time and those myths. Reading it literally as a journalistic report of the “facts” the way they actually happened is, in my opinion, ludicrous. As is any attempt to compare these accounts with scientific models. It’s a story, folks, a story that tells the truth about Israel first, and about humanity in general second.

          • But you see, part of the problem with taking a dogmatic stance on the metaphorical nature of certain OT texts is that the scriptures are full of stories of tremendous symbolic value that actually did happen. Everything is typology, and everything points to Christ, but that alone is not enough to make a myth out of story with supernatural elements, theologically speaking. The problem I have with asserting that certain stories must be myth is that it is usually on the criteria of reason, not on the criteria of the internal harmony of the text. We tend to want to allegorize whatever seems unreasonable to us, and everybody draws the line differently. On one extreme, you have the AiG types who insist that there is not one story in the Bible that can be understood as myth, otherwise the whole book is a farce, and on the other you have the liberal theologians who insist the resurrection story is a myth. In-between you have those who can or can’t accept the miracles of Jesus, the crossing of the Red sea, the story of Jonah, etc… I’m pretty sure there’s a line in there that ought not be crossed, and I always find it better to lean towards the side that Jesus was on, because you don’t have to entirely reject science in order to do this.

            The other problem I have is with the parallels in the Ancient Near East literature. I’m assuming Enns’s book can bring me up to speed on those? But to buy into that I would have to know for certain that the other documents are in fact older than the Genesis account. Similarity doesn’t have to mean causation, though it certainly seems very possible. In the little I’ve read, it seems to me that any similarity is too often taken as conclusive proof of causation, which sounds like an ulterior motive pushing to a rushed verdict. It reminds me too much of the book “The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors.”

        • There is probably a difference between creating a 20 year old man and creating a planet with a detailed and complex geological structure that looks like it is had a history down to the left over skeletons of creatures that lived (they only ‘appeared to live’).

          The volcano that erupted through sedimentary layers – just an appearance, did not happen. Massive salt domes left from primordial oceans, didn’t happen, just made to look like it.

          I became convinced this thinking was balderdash when studying geology at university. I went in as a YEC and every question/objection I had to science was answered on the basis of the evidence itself.

          And my thinking changed because I knew that as a Christian studying science I had to be honest with the evidence if I was to keep my integrity.

          • a difference between creating a 20 year old man and creating a planet with a detailed and complex geological structure that looks like it is had a history

            Not if the problem is that it makes God “dishonest.” Either one would qualify.

            I had to be honest with the evidence if I was to keep my integrity

            You’re going back and forth. One second you’re arguing the “appearance of age” doesn’t work, the next you’re arguing the conclusiveness of the evidence. Evidence proves age, “appearance of age” concedes the evidence.

  5. I taught Biology for 30.5 years. I have seen science gradually changed from the 1957 Time-Life book series. Something that is interesting to me is the emerging field of epigenetics. It seems that we may owe Lamarck an apology. I tend to think in terms of “interventions of God” regarding the creation days. When we read Scripture it seems God acted in interventions and not micromanagement.

  6. AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

    The guy in the next cube over has an MS in Genetics. He is also a Young Earth Creationist. I asked him if those two facts didn’t create some cognitive dissonance, but he went right on the attack. The arguments have turned personal. His grasp of the science is obviously better and more recent than mine, so I’m genuinely puzzled.

    I have a hard, hard, hard time with Biblical literalism. I always have. First of all, I have no access to pre-scientific minds and their contents. The idea that a Bronze Age writer would have the ability to weigh in on questions of a scientific nature is puzzling to me, even if God were involved in the process. I also have a hard time with strictly modernist prejudices against pre-modern explanatory models, as if they were just plain wrong or ignorant. The ancients were not stupid, or even ill-informed. What their psyches look like to me when I read Homer or Plato or the Epic of Gilgamesh is strange and wonderful, almost dreamlike, as if they weren’t yet fully awake. This is the mentality that produced the earliest parts of the Old Testament, and most certainly the Psalms.

    As an Orthodox Christian, I have a hard time squaring the rise of empirical science in what I call the Filioquist Quadrangle (the vertices roughly being Edinburgh, Valladolid, Bologna and Warsaw) with my prejudices of the rightness of Orthodox theology vis-a-vis the theologies of the West. Empirical science is, quite bluntly, the most powerful explanatory engine yet discovered (constructed?) by the human mind. Using philosophy or theology to criticize it is like throwing a road atlas out the window on a cross-country road trip and depending on the local geographical knowledge of randomly encountered inhabitants.

    Nevertheless, empirical science seems to be the most powerful explaining inert, so-called dead, matter, and loses its flexibility as it ascends into living beings, plants, animals, man (homo rather than vir). It loses nearly all of its power when you cross over the into the immaterial universe of which man is the threshold. The first borderland region here is the study of language, the only means by which we have any evidence of the existence of other minds. Syntax is as rigorous as biochemistry, but its method of verification is nearly as inaccessible as mysticism.

    It is in this “immaterial” realm that I have found Orthodox theoria, or the theology encoded into its innumerable services, prayers, and hagiographies, to have an explanatory power approaching that of empirical science on the other side of the wardrobe.

    Thank you for letting me ramble.

    • his arguments turned personal

      This right here is huge. It’s why I never talk about it with anyone, especially friends and family. It’s instant apostasy and holy war.

      • Agreed. My annoyance comes when it’s implied that I must not be Christian because I’m not YEC. Ugh. Nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus said, “Believe in a 6,000 year-old earth or else.” It’s a horrible add-on to the Good News of the Gospel. YEC believers are keeping people who don’t believe in YEC from entering into a deeper relationship with God, and me-thinks they are a bit like the folks Jesus rants about in Matthew 23.

        And why YEC-ers think that YEC is a hill Jesus has asked them to plant the flag and die on is beyond me.

        • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

          It has to do with the reliability of the Bible. The whole issue revolves upon the question – “Can I, just plain ol’ Aw-Shucks-Bob with my plain ol’ horse-sense, trust what I think this Book is telling me, or am I going to be dependent on a layer or more of hoodoo-men, ‘splainers, and shysters to tell me what’s what?”

          Aw-Shucks-Bob doesn’t have a Bronze Age mythological mind. He has a literal, scientific mind, and that is all the problem.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “When you point at something with your finger, the dog sniffs your finger. To a dog, a finger is a finger and that is that.”
            — C.S.Lewis

            “His mind is made of Wheels and Metal.”
            — Treebeard re Saruman

            Chaplain Mike once postulated that the Industrial Revolution and Age of Reason caused a shift in how we view the Bible: From the Old, Old Stories of God and Man to a Spiritual Engineering Handbook of Fact, Fact, Fact.

          • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

            But if the problem is that there is no way to link Bronze-Age Bobbus with modern-day Aw-Shucks-Bob, then, yeah, we have effectively lost the Bible.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            And yet when we read books written just a century or two back, we need annotations to make sense of them. We read, for example, that a character orders his coach-and-four. What the heck is that? We can get from context that it is a “coach” in the sense of a horse-drawn vehicle. We might guess that the “and-four” means it is drawn by four horses. Working our way through the matter, we might figure out that this would be an expensive form of transportation, implying that the character is wealthy. So we might painfully work out what was immediately obvious to the original readers. But then another character is driving a Phaeton, and we have no hope without assistance of figuring out the implications.

            The cultural distance between, say, Jane Austen and today is infinitesimal compared that that between today and Biblical times. The idea that we don’t need readers’ aids to figure out scripture is patently absurd.

            Someone once challenged me by asking if I thought that people two thousand years ago were smarter than we are today, since I claimed that informed commentary was important to understanding scripture. My response was no, they weren’t any smarter (or dumber) in those days, but they were being spoken to in their own idiom. The “smarter” argument is like suggesting that French children must be geniuses: just look how well they speak French, while others need to struggle to learn it.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > Aw-Shucks-Bob doesn’t have a Bronze Age mythological mind

            This

            And Aw-Shucks-Bob is probably also filled to the brim with his own prejudices and blind spots. That is one of the points of from-many-councilors-comes-wisdom meme. Or the Open Source meme of With Enough Eyeballs All Bugs Are Shallow.

            At the bottom of Aw-Shucks-Bobism is Towering Arrogance.

            The truth is I need a *lot* of help to understand just about anything of significance. Aw-Shucks-Bobs just cannot bring themselves to admit that.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Small grap.e

            “When you point at something with your finger, the dog sniffs your finger. To a dog, a finger is a finger and that is that.”
            – C.S.Lewis

            On this particular point Mr. Lewis was wrong. Canids pass theory-of-mind trials with a higher score than human children – it takes a long time for a human to acquire these powers. They observe, anticipate, and are aware of other-perspective [that another agent has awareness other than theirs]. As a cooperative predator the presence of such skills doesn’t surprise, but “science” denied them for a l-o-n-g time.

            Canids understand pointing and engage in “gaze following” both amongst themselves and with companions of other species.

            Recent studies have demonstrated that Gila Monsters – reptiles! – engage in gaze following amongst their own kind – but not other kind. Mindfulness may be a very wide spectrum.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

            @Adam

            I think Lewis was just making a point. Anyone who has ever worked with dogs, especially hunting dogs, knows this is complete hogwash. I actually have a squirrel out back trained so that I can lay peanuts out in the field for him to find in the morning and I can point to them and he will find them. I am trying to work on signaling him to go around objects to find his treats, but no success so far.

          • “When you point at something with your finger, the dog sniffs your finger. To a dog, a finger is a finger and that is that.”
            – C.S.Lewis

            Nine out of ten dogs will sniff the finger. Let’s not split hairs over the trained hunting dogs.

            N.T. Wright used this analogy too, and furthered it by comparing the bible to a signpost. The signpost leads people to a destination, as the bible leads people to God. If people dwell on the signpost too much they fail to reach the destination and become idolaters as well.

          • Ah. No. Maybe 1/2. But at least 1/2 of all pups will learn what pointing means with little effort on the part of the human. Now some of those “bred to be pretty but stupid came with it” may have issues.

            I’m guessing at the 1/2 but most dogs not bred stupid learn to look where someone points at a very early age.

    • “It loses nearly all of its power when you cross over the into the immaterial universe of which man is the threshold.”

      Science does and it does not loose power when talking about man. There is an entire physical reality about man that can be observed by empirical science. Simultaneously, there is an entire spiritual or mystical reality about man where science has absolutely no power. The two realities should not be divorced from one another.

      It too seems puzzling to me to about your co-worker with the MS in genetics. There are questions that have yet to be answered (often termed “gaps” or “falsifiable evidence” by YEC), but that doesn’t mean evolution is false. The evidence is overwhelming and to pin point all evolutionary theory on these few questions is a construct done only by YEC. They see these unanswered questions as the foundation upon which all evolutionary theories rest, forming their arguments as a vertical tower that can be toppled over by ruining the foundation. In reality, it’s more accurate to view evolution in light of time, as a horizontal progression and that there are pin holes in the timeline that have yet to be answered. This timeline is fluid and is modified as empirical evidence is discovered.

      • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

        What I meant is that science loses power to exhaustively describe entities as you move up the Chain of Being. If I step off a precipice, it makes sense to treat me as an object falling at an acceleration of 9.8 mpsec/sec, and point to the sudden torrent of adrenaline as the source of my panic, but I can’t help feeling that something vital is missing.

        • Depending on the ground’s surface and the distance you travel, science can also predict the state and location(s) of your physical entity from that particular fall.

          Out of curiosity, what does your co-worker think is the single most prevalent problem with evolution? Or conversely, what physical evidence do they consider to be outstanding proof for Creationism, other than the Bible?

          • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

            If the subject ever comes up again, which It probably won’t given his avoidance of me since we had the conversation, I’ll let you know.

            Most of his arguments are based on presuppositions which, if pursued, would destroy any possibility of knowledge of the world outside of our immediate environment in space and time. atomic decay not being uniform, etc.

            But I am not a scientist. He is.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “first borderland region here is the study of language,”

      No, science – particularly mathematics – does very very well here. Natural Language systems are flourishing and solving all kinds of day-to-day problems, proving they work. Machines will have Natural Language quite possibly within a decade.

      • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

        Precisely, because it is a borderland, somewhat like medicine is.

      • I’ve heard this prediction since I got interested in computers in the early 70s. I expect to hear it till I’m dead. 🙂

    • For years I shut my face at church because I knew that speaking up against YEC was a heresy and would raise flags. Finally I grew so sick of it all that I will say something sometimes.

      I heard Ham in the debate against Bill Nye. It was embarrassing. If he wouldn’t mention Jesus it would be fine with me. then I could put him in the same pantheon as the other greats:

      Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn and Ken Ham

  7. A number of factors have made me (I guess) a theistic evolutionist. I don’t know enough about evolution to really be comfortable saying anything about it, but I know I’m firmly anti or post YEC.

    1. Scripture. It doesn’t back up YEC except through the strictest, narrowest, most literalistic reading of the text. You have to jettison all your elementary, high school, and college literary/English/composition education to get there too.

    2. the Creationists themselves. I caught them in their own lies. They’d be confronted with new data, apologize and agree to study, then repeat the same mistake year after year. AiG even has a list of “don’t teach this” on their website, things that were for years taught to me as proof and TRUTH and yet had to now be backpedaled on. But no two creationists are in agreement, so the mistakes keep occurring.

    3. Other Believers. I found believers who I knew were (insert qualifiers like “spirit filled”, “biblical”, “educated”, etc) theistic evolutionists. Their faith was no less real. Their testimony no less solid. Their love for Christ and others often dwarfing their YEC fighting kin. As a result, I discovered, yet again, that I was being lied to by my YEC leaders.

    4. The Rhetoric. All non-YEC believers are apostates. All non-YEC believers can’t even be saved because they lack a firm foundation. Evolution is THE great end times deception that will cause many to fall away from the church. If you question YEC you will lose your faith. Elevating man’s thinking over the bible. Evolution is atheism. Evolution is just an excuse for man to do whatever they want with no consequences from a God.

    5. History. The creation of the YEC position and also the Global Flood Theory. Ellen White’s prophetic visions. Things influencing Price, Morris, Whitcomb. Views throughout the church on creation. The role christianity had in science up to a firm hard date (basically the Scopes trial) and then…nothing. No notable advances in science or anything have ever come from a YEC.

    I’m sure there are more. But that’s 5 good ones. YEC is a recently made up doctrine that came from a misunderstanding that evolution is nothing more than scientific atheism and has born no good fruit and much evil for the church.

    Also, here’s a soft 6 – I saw YEC be a stumbling block and destroy the faiths of my friends. When 24/7 your entire christian life you are told “if Genesis can’t be trusted then nothing is true”, your faith will get shipwrecked. And their souls are on those people’s hands, whether good intentions or not.

    • ->”I saw YEC be a stumbling block and destroy the faiths of my friends.”

      Exactly. I made a similar comment elsewhere in this comment stream. Jesus’ “Woe to you”-s in Matthew 23 seem to be aimed at folks (ones who should know better) who keep people from entering into His kingdom. Me-thinks YEC-ers fall into that category.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      5. History. The creation of the YEC position and also the Global Flood Theory. Ellen White’s prophetic visions.

      The same Ellen White who built the Seventh-Day Adventists out of the wreckage of the Millerites’ end-of-the-world date-setting fizzles. Who these same Fundagelicals denounce as a CULT CULT CULT founder.

      • Pull on a thread in history and see how modernity unravels.

      • IF i were to accept that God grants supernatural visions/prophesies to modern day believers, I probably could accept YEC. I could also accept anything Joseph Smith says.

        But since i DON’T accept God grants supernatural visions/prophecies to modern day believers, I CANNOT accept YEC because of it’s foundation, no matter how many layers and coats of paint have been added.

        Ergo…

        I’m an apostate.

        • I believe God gives visions/prophecies to us because I have them. I don’ believe in a young earth. I am a charismatic evangelical l also believe that you Stuart, are a brother in Christ. I don’t think you’re an apostate

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The RCC calls such supernatural visions/prophecies (if legit) “Private Revelations”. They are binding on those who have had the Private Revelation, but not on anyone else. All others may voluntarily follow the vision/prophecy, but it is not required.

          • The RCC may have been talking about Julian of Norwich. I’ve been voluntarily following her revelations this afternoon. Great stuff and no discussion of YEC.

          • YEC seems, in itself, asks to be seen as cult-like when it shuts the door to God being also ‘the God of the Natural World’

            we, who accept God as the Creator of the Universe ‘ex nihilo’ and also as the Ruler of the natural order, are unable to close our eyes to the mysteries within the natural world that defy our efforts still at discovery

            are there in existence ‘the thin places’ where the boundaries of the ‘natural’ world cross over into the boundaries of the supernatural world ?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            are there in existence ‘the thin places’ where the boundaries of the ‘natural’ world cross over into the boundaries of the supernatural world ?

            “Window Areas” in paranormal jargon.

        • StuartB,

          Your argument above at 11:21 am is good. Don’t ruin it by insisting that visions/prophecies have to be tied to YEC. False dichotomy.

  8. Five more problems in the “young earth makes God a liar” type of reasoning:

    1. It isn’t like God didn’t write a book talking about how he brought the world into being. Sure, there’s 500 ways you could interpret Genesis 1, but the kind of scientific argument we’re hearing for an old earth literally came thousands of years after. Christians for centuries were not offended by this “lie” until Darwin came along. Yes, even Augustine was open to the idea of an old earth, but he was not so bold as to put God into a box insisting that the earth MUST be old. He just didn’t want to seem like an ignorant anti-scientist. Luther said something to the effect that we ought to marvel not that God created the world in 6 days. We should, rather, wonder why it took him so long. I mean, consider the scope of who we’re talking about before we begin telling him what he could or could not have done.

    2. You are asserting, without support, that an earth created 6-15 thousand years ago MUST not look old. This raises two fundamental problems: First, why? “It would make God a liar” is just a severely underwhelming justification. Got anything else? Second, what would a young earth look like? If God had created the earth recently, without the appearance of age, what should we expect? You can’t answer that, we cannot conceive of that. It would probably be formless and void.

    3. Jesus clearly had no problem with a young earth. He treated Adam and Eve as literally the first two people. Of course, what did he know, right? Had he the benefit of a modern scientific education, he clearly would have thought otherwise, right? Ok, snark aside, I understand the argument that Jesus was speaking to a pre-scientific audience through their own paradigm of the universe, and could have, in his divinity, actually known otherwise. But again, this is assertion without support. I think it foolish to build our theological castles in the sky of what Jesus probably thought or would have meant if he were speaking to us. It is better to lean on what he actually did say.

    4. Death: An old earth with an evolutionary model of creation insists that death is a natural part of the cosmos, and used by God for the improvement of things over time. So death is basically a good thing. I say death is bad, it is the result of sin, it was not part of God’s original good plan, and Christ bore his cross to defeat it. How does your model of the universe allow for these essential truths of the Gospel?

    5. To insist that a young earth makes God dishonest places his being true to how we perceive the universe as a priority over being true to his divinely inspired Word. Seriously, for God to be honest, is it more important that our recently invented dating methods dictate how we read scripture, or that the New Testament dictates how we read the Old? The misplaced prioritization here works against the analogy of faith, which seeks to harmonize scripture rather than pit certain passages against others. Is it more important that Romans 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 be fully, unequivocally true (as they deliver the Christian hope that is the core of our faith), or that we bend them over backwards at the risk of their own integrity to accommodate our modernist re-reading of Genesis?

    I’ll take a God who lies to me through nature about the appearance of the earth’s age over a God who lies to me in His Word that death is not the end and that in Christ I can have eternal life. Please don’t give me any more scientific evidence, I’m not siding with Ken Ham. I can accept that the best efforts of our most brilliant scientists are good for where they have achieved with certainty. I just don’t begin my theology, philosophy, or reason there, and demand Scripture conform to it.

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: If God creates a tree on Tuesday, you chop it down on Thursday, and it has 100 rings, how old is it? Scientifically, 100 years, but theologically, 2 days. “But that makes God a liar!” Puhleeze. Suppose he actually told you “I created the tree two days ago.”

    “No! My scientific reasoning tells me that these 100 rings MUST mean it is 100 years old, and if you argue with that, God, you’re a liar!”

    Just sounds silly.

    • 3. Jesus clearly had no problem with a young earth.

      How would Jesus during his earthly ministry, fully God and fully man, know any better? Was he aware of His being at creation? Did he know all and remember all?

      I have a hard time answering those questions except with a no, because otherwise he was more God than man. Jesus had the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t omniscient.

      Similar, how would Paul know any better? He had the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

      4. Death

      Define death. Entropy? Decay? Physical death? Spiritual death? It’s only a hop away to assert that Jesus died to save us from all physical death too, so let’s go on a healing crusade.

      Lastly…in a way, death is the end. I don’t believe we have eternal life with Christ after death. There’s resurrection after death into a new body that will have eternal life. But they are two different things. Life after death. Not eternal life “within” death.

      • I have a hard time answering those questions except with a no, because otherwise he was more God than man.

        Actually, you are saying that he is more man than God, which is equally wrong. In his divinity, he is omniscient. In his humanity, he is limited in his knowledge. In his humiliation, he refrained from full access to the attributes of his divinity, but not from any access. Early church theologians, in an effort to avoid Nestorianism’s teaching that the two natures were completely distinct and separate, and to avoid the opposite extreme that the divine and human natures were combined to form a new, distinct, third nature, approached it in these terms: The two distinct nature of Christ, with their separate attributes, have an “interpenetration of attributes.” An example of this might be walking on water. Did Christ do that in his humanity, or his divinity? Well, both. We know that natural men cannot walk on water, yet Jesus did so with his own natural body. The how, like the hypostatic union, must remain a mystery.

        So did Christ know these things? Of course he did. Did he avail himself of this knowledge? We don’t know, and therefore it is shaky Christological ground to build our theology on speculation there. We should go with what he actually said, for we can know that to be his faithful and true teaching.

        how would Paul know any better? He had the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

        You are reducing Christ and Paul to equal footing here. Not a good idea. Nonetheless, are you saying that Paul is wrong, or that the Holy Spirit misled him?

        so let’s go on a healing crusade.

        Jesus DID die to save us from all physical death. It doesn’t follow that therefore you and I have magic powers. You’re arguing against a fundamentalist Pentecostal paradigm of signs and wonders here, which is not in the same ball park I’m arguing from.

        Jesus literally saves us from death. That is what the resurrection is all about. But in order to be resurrected, you must first die. Christ promises death to us all, but that death shall not be the final word. This is the Christian hope, not “healing crusades.”

        I don’t believe we have eternal life with Christ after death. There’s resurrection after death into a new body that will have eternal life. But they are two different things.

        Exactly. Excuse my sloppy shorthand there. I meant to refer to “the resurrection of the body.”

      • Gonna break this comment down to get past mod.

        I have a hard time answering those questions except with a no, because otherwise he was more God than man.

        Actually, you are saying that he is more man than God, which is equally wrong. In his divinity, he is omniscient. In his humanity, he is limited in his knowledge. In his humiliation, he refrained from full access to the attributes of his divinity, but not from any access. Early church theologians, in an effort to avoid Nestorianism’s teaching that the two natures were completely distinct and separate, and to avoid the opposite extreme that the divine and human natures were combined to form a new, distinct, third nature, approached it in these terms: The two distinct nature of Christ, with their separate attributes, have an “interpenetration of attributes.” An example of this might be walking on water. Did Christ do that in his humanity, or his divinity? Well, both. We know that natural men cannot walk on water, yet Jesus did so with his own natural body. The how, like the hypostatic union, must remain a mystery.

        • It’s a distinction I’ve been struggling with for years, the equal god/man part. Bare with my rough edges!

          • You and 2000 years of the rest of Christianity. Don’t feel bad, it will never make sense. It is better to learn to live with the tension of the paradox, the trouble all happens when we try to explain it away. That’s where all the early church heresies came from (and Calvinism! 😛 ).

          • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

            People still struggle with this? Here, I thought it was settled once and for all at Chalcedon. Even for the non-Chalcedonians, who are making the right sorts of noises after 1500 years.

      • So did Christ know these things? Of course he did. Did he avail himself of this knowledge? We don’t know, and therefore it is shaky Christological ground to build our theology on speculation there. We should go with what he actually said, for we can know that to be his faithful and true teaching.

        how would Paul know any better? He had the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

        You are reducing Christ and Paul to equal footing here. Not a good idea. Nonetheless, are you saying that Paul is wrong, or that the Holy Spirit misled him?

        • False choices, not saying either. Paul was right in as much as he could be right. So in a way, Paul was wrong, but didn’t know it. And honestly I find nothing wrong with saying Paul was wrong on something because it’s not better interpreted/understood in full context (his writing, scripture, and life/world). Avoiding fully the slippery slope arguments of “you determine what is right/wrong”, “if Paul was wrong on this he could be wrong on that”, etc. Apples to oranges.

          What does it mean to interpret Scripture in context? Probably nothing if we can’t also interpret scripture in light of the context of this whole creation we live in.

          • Ok, Stuart. What you’re saying here, whether you realize it or not, is planting a very specific dogmatic flag re the issue of Biblical inspiration. It is very much like Christology. You’re saying that the Christian scriptures had so much of the human element involved in it that it completely obscures the ability of the Holy Spirit to supersede the kind of errs you accuse Paul of having. Listen, I’m not arguing for strict fundie inerrancy here, but I do think the inspiration of the Scriptures was a bit more complex and mysterious than that. The human and divine elements are not so easily distinguished from one another. You’re saying that the text is 100% subject to the critical review of scientific process. I’ll give you 49%, and no further. It’s not a slippery slope argument, it’s quite on the face of it: Yes, scripture has a context. But “Paul was a ignorant first century caveman” is not context, it’s elitism, presumption, and unbelief. All the authors of scripture clearly demonstrate knowledge beyond what they could have naturally known. Either they had help, or they probably had no clue what they were talking about. I’m giving you an either/or, not a slippery slope.

      • so let’s go on a healing crusade.

        Jesus DID die to save us from all physical death. It doesn’t follow that therefore you and I have magic powers. You’re arguing against a fundamentalist Pentecostal paradigm of signs and wonders here, which is not in the same ball park I’m arguing from.

        Jesus literally saves us from death. That is what the resurrection is all about. But in order to be resurrected, you must first die. Christ promises death to us all, but that death shall not be the final word. This is the Christian hope, not “healing crusades.”

        I don’t believe we have eternal life with Christ after death. There’s resurrection after death into a new body that will have eternal life. But they are two different things.

        Exactly. Excuse my sloppy shorthand there. I meant to refer to “the resurrection of the body.”

      • so let’s go on a healing crusade.

        Jesus DID die to save us from all physical death. It doesn’t follow that therefore you and I have magic powers. You’re arguing against a fundamentalist Pentecostal paradigm of signs and wonders here, which is not in the same ball park I’m arguing from.
        Jesus literally saves us from death. That is what the resurrection is all about. But in order to be resurrected, you must first die. Christ promises death to us all, but that death shall not be the final word. This is the Christian hope, not “healing crusades.”

    • “4. Death…. I say death is bad, it is the result of sin”

      Cell death occurs before sin and the fall. Plant life was eaten. This at least has to influence how we understand death.

      • Those are good points, and reasonable challenges. However, you haven’t provided a complete alternative perspective with them, you have only shoehorned ambiguity into the equation, which, I do not believe will withstand critical scrutiny. And that’s how these “old earth orthodoxies” all seem to work. “Let’s insist on getting our science into our theology, and we can work on how to integrate the theology of the New Testament as we go along.” No thank you, I’m gonna start with the New Testament, and when you have an old earth that can square with all of its teachings, I’m listening.

        Cell death and plant death ARE scientific, physical death. However, that is not Biblical or theological death. I do not presume do know how the laws of science may have worked before the fall of man. We have to accept that the former creation was good, and then it was cursed and death, of some kind or another that was previously absent, was introduced. I don’t think it reasonable to insist the universe operated the exact same before this curse as it did after, otherwise what is this “curse” that Christ supposedly overturns?

        I am very skeptical of haphazard harmonizations of science and theology that play fast and loose with core teachings of the Gospel. It is too important for me to play those kind of games with it.

        • I do not presume do know how the laws of science may have worked before the fall of man.

          Nor can we nor should we just put that as a gray area, wave our hands, “God happened”, and accept it. Science, by necessity, has to remove God from the equation because they are only looking at the natural. Christians, by necessity, have to remove God from the equation too, but because he gave us this earth and told us to operate it and learn from it, and not just mysteriously say “God happened” with things. We’re poor stewards then.

          what is this “curse” that Christ supposedly overturns?

          Physical death? Is that all it is? By his stripes we are healed so now we never need to die…

          Spiritual death is more likely.

          Or is it both? I don’t know.

          • You don’t know, yet you dictate how Christian theology must work in this issue?
            This not “god of the gaps.” It is simply recognizing the limitations of human wisdom. Surely our investigation is not the all powerful ultimate source of answers. This doesn’t make such investigation pointless or undermine its worth. It simply keeps it in perspective and, I would add, keeps us flexible for the paradigm alterations science periodically goes through. Science is the opposite of dogma, it must remain flexible for new discoveries to overturn previous ones. Therefore we shouldn’t put all our marbles in that basked as if our faith were driven by it.

            It is not poor stewardship. It is “stewardship” of God’s Word and the Gospel first and foremost, which is very fertile ground, history will show, for stewardship of the sciences.

            The question you have to answer if you want me to consider an old earth is: Is Paul wrong in Romans 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, or what does he mean? I’m not willing to suspend passages like that in limbo, and neither should anybody who understand the Christian faith.

          • …and plus, you are asserting again, without reason or proof, that the author of the laws of nature is incapable of permanently altering them. You are essentially asserting that the laws of the universe are eternal. Why should I believe this? That belief is not Christian, but rather, flows from either pantheism, or deism.

          • Therefore we shouldn’t put all our marbles in that basked as if our faith were driven by it.

            I don’t think anyone who names the name of Christ is.

            that the author of the laws of nature is incapable of permanently altering them. You are essentially asserting that the laws of the universe are eternal.

            Not in the least and forgive me if I seemed to! God created a good universe. It got corrupted by sin and death and decay (somehow. it happened, that’s all that matters for this at the moment). But it’s still his craftsmanship. God is powerful enough to create a system that can sustain itself. It’s not closed in any way as he’s altered it and entered it and done things, but he’s so powerful and perfect already that it doesn’t NEED his hand at work to make it run.

            Can God perma alter the laws of physics? Sure, he created them. Will he? Doubtful except in the cases of miracles. From that stance, we need to avoid Last Thursdayism. Thus, it’s reasonable to assume the laws of physics have been the same since the creation. He more than likely didn’t alter physics during the Flood as well.

            Unless there is a metaphysics version of the Rainbow we don’t know about…

          • Nobody is saying that God continues to redefine the laws of physics as we go. One time: the earth was cursed. Prior to that the ground did not bring forth thorns, mankind did not die, and childbearing was not painful. One cataclysmic event, not two. I am more open to a localized flood than an old earth. So much for the rainbow.

            So it isn’t exactly the same as Last Thursdayism (which I find a very non-complling argument. Even if Last Thursdayism were true, it would technically change nothing. You’d still have to live in whatever universe you find yourself as if it was the only reality, because as far as your knowledge is concerned, it would not be possible to escape from the Matrix.).

        • I appreciate what you’re doing by splitting the “Theological truth” of the 100 ring tree being a 2 days old, and the “Scientific truth” of the 2 day old tree being 100 rings old.

          Why can’t you do the same with death?

          Surely, there is a “Theological truth” to death being caused by sin. We experience a death because of our sin.
          It is equally “Scientifically true” that death is a part of how the world works and has always (to our knowledge) worked. Before the fall, there was fruit that was eaten. Eating a fruit implies trees had reproductive organs that were “killed” for our consumption.

          This is how I “square” the Theological and Scientific truths surrounding the narrative. Death is an observable non-sin-related part of existence on this planet. The very same mechanisms that “power” life require an awful lot of “death”. But “Life” is more than mere existence, and “Death” is more than mere non-existence.

          To say that though, implies both that my eyes are correct and my heart is correct about that tree. In a very real sense, that tree is 100 years old. In a very real sense, that tree is 2 days old.

          • Hmmmm…. this seems to be going somewhere.

            I think that is what I am doing with death. Using the tree illustration, however, the “theological truth” remains the objective reality of the situation, whereas the “scientific truth” remains our best conjecture based on the evidence. I’d be more than happy to say that in reality the earth is young and created without sin and death, but to the best of our scientific ability it seems that it did evolve through survival of the fittest.

            Eating a fruit implies trees had reproductive organs that were “killed” for our consumption.

            In a post fall-of-man cosmology. I’m proposing that the fall of man was such a universe shattering cataclysmic event that we can count on very little to have been the same before. It was, after all, an Edenic paradise, which God called “very good.” There is much about the haggard remnant of creation today about which it is very difficult to say that, thought there still remains much that is good in the world.

            We have to ask ourselves: What is the primary reality? The reality of what my eyes see, or the reality of what God says in His Word? Both are true, but one is a higher truth, I say.

          • I suppose I can admit my imagination is a bit small :). I can’t imagine a more perfect world, absent the people. My dad made me listen to too many John Denver songs.

            The way I’ve always thought about it was that Christ’s death bought us back into Eden, and it’s our duty to spread the word that we’ve returned. The world around us is not corrupted by sin in a mechanical sense, merely in a physical sense. Christ bears the scars of our sin, the world does too, but (in theory) neither are mechanically different from a pre-fall state.

            But if I think of the fall corrupting not only mankind, but also the world around us? Then yeah, I don’t even know what the world would exist like. My whole cosmology would be affected. And yeah, I would think it strange to assume that fruits now are anything like fruits before.

          • Christ has brought us back into Eden, but not entirely just yet. We still sin, the ground still produces thorns by which cause us to eat only by the sweat of our brow, and women still experience pain in childbirth. We can’t imagine a world where those things are not so, but it will be that much and better in the new heaven and earth.

          • The fruit of the tree was the knowledge of good and evil it doesn’t say it was a physical thing. In other parts of our text fruit has nothing to do with fruit as we see in the physical. In a poetic sense they had all that they needed and enjoyed with God. All His fruit was available to them. Fallen well now that would be this world filled with death but also life. In between. Tweeners…lol…. The Bible talks of wealth but immediately are thoughts go to what we think wealth is. Amazing that we could ever conceive the things that are fading away as wealth. Even this limited knowledge we now play with on the keys of a computer. The prosperity Gospel is not so far away it just focuses on the wrong things. Wealth as we know it just isn’t worth anything but wealth as it is in the Fathers hand is everything we ever dreamed of and more. Maybe fruit needs to be looked at differently then it is here.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            In a post fall-of-man cosmology. I’m proposing that the fall of man was such a universe shattering cataclysmic event that we can count on very little to have been the same before. It was, after all, an Edenic paradise, which God called “very good.”

            You’re proposing Schrodinger’s Cat on a cosmic scale.

      • I realize it was dishonesty on my part and others to somehow separate “human death” from “animal/plant death”. That was a brick out of the wall.

        • So, then, in the story, what does it mean when God says, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die?”
          …and what’s with the dead sheep after that? Fig leaves weren’t fashionable enough?

    • 1. It isn’t like God didn’t write a book talking about how he brought the world into being. God didn’t write any books. The men whom he inspired believed the earth was the center of the cosmos and wrote so in the Scriptures. Later we discovered they were mistaken and now nobody interprets that description as “literal.”
      2. You are asserting, without support, that an earth created 6-15 thousand years ago MUST not look old. But it not just appearance of age, Miguel, it is a complex, coherent, discoverable history of landscapes and landforms, of volcanoes and earthquakes and continent-sized thrust faults; of coral reefs and river systems and ecological assemblages and glorious monsters that no longer exist. I know you don’t want to argue the science but there is a preponderance of evidence that cannot be dismissed.
      3. Jesus clearly had no problem with a young earth. He treated Adam and Eve as literally the first two people. I have no reason to believe that Jesus knew any more science than any other Palestinian Jew of that time. I have even less reason to believe that 21st century scientific concerns even crossed His mind. We know the purpose He came.
      4. Death: An old earth with an evolutionary model of creation insists that death is a natural part of the cosmos, and used by God for the improvement of things over time. So death is basically a good thing. This is your strongest point. I have not yet heard a convincing theological argument from Scripture from an evolutionary perspective despite Enn’s and Lamoureux’s best efforts.
      5. To insist that a young earth makes God dishonest places his being true to how we perceive the universe as a priority over being true to his divinely inspired Word. I get this, Miguel, I really do and I have friends who have taken my Science and the Bible class and this is where they are. I respect that position and I respect them and you. But for me, personally, the preponderance of geologic knowledge in my mind would make God dishonest in my perspective. Peace, brother.

      • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

        DEATH BEFORE THE FALL

        This is something which I think I see in St Maximus. I believe he teaches it. According to what I think St Maximus teaches (how is that for qualifying?) Adam and Eve did not ‘lose” immortality when they sinned. They had been given the opportunity of unending communion with and contemplation of God, Who is Life. This communion and contemplation would have been enough to maintain their physical bodies indefinitely, but they turned away from this, and death was the result. No other creature was awarded this privilege, ergo plant and animal death, although once again it appears to me that St Maximus taught that man in his responsibility of priest of creation, would have eventually extended this as far as it could be extended.

        But I understand St Maximus about as well as I understand General Relativity. I can discern some broad outlines, but that’s about it.

        • This is a very fascinating proposal. It helps clarify the seeming allegorical symbolism of the two trees without insisting they did not actually exist. I think I like it!

      • Mike, I appreciate your response and actually dealing with my points. However:

        1. This is a radically different view of the OT Scriptures than Christ and the Apostles had. You are making sweeping generalizations about the nature of inspiration and Christology that are not supported by the majority of Christian orthodoxy. Yes, it may explain how you reconcile an old earth with the Old Testament, but I propose that your hermeneutic plays loose enough with the text to jettison the majority of the Creeds should they become equally inconvenient. It is not a “slippery slope” argument. It’s a “look at the mainlines” argument.

        Yes, science does continue to refine how we understand the scriptures. However, the heliocentric universe doesn’t touch on issues connected to the Gospel in the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. The age of the earth does. I’m not saying they can’t be reconciled, I’m just saying that “the authors of scripture were wrong” is not an acceptable answer for disciples of Jesus. Geocentricism and young earth are not on equal footing in the scriptures. One is much easier to explain away. Most importantly, though, I’m not arguing for a “literal interpretation.” I’m not pushing AiG style YEC that insists the evidence lines up with treating Genesis 1 like a scientific treatise. I’m just saying that Jesus and Paul should be the primary lenses through which we approach the OT entirely, not the recently developed scientific method, even if it DOES have valuable contributions to make to the process.

      • 2. I accept the evidence as reliable. I’m just saying can you really assert that God can not have created a universe with matured characteristics? I’ll grant you that the earth appears very mature. But I’d also insist that we are stuck in a linear dimension of time over which an omnipotent and omniscient deity probably has the remote control. I don’t want to minimize the grandeur of nature. Just consider, though, that it is a reflection of an even more glorious creator who still exercises jurisdiction over it.

      • 3. See my response to StuartB re: Christology. I don’t know how you can assert so authoritatively what Jesus did or did not know. Can you really see into his mind? Those of us who can not will just have to lean on what comes out of his mouth. He was with God in the beginning, and all things that were created were created by him. That might teach him a thing or two about science, no? But yes, he clearly didn’t come to give us a science lecture! Else he got really distracted by that death and resurrection thing. But I think we’re trying to “peek under God’s robe,” as Luther would say, if we try to dictate exactly how much of the omniscience of Christ’s divinity was present in the incarnation at what time. It is not given to us to know, therefore we shouldn’t build our perspective on such assumptions.

        • Miguel, I don’t post very often but do visit this site every day. I appreciate all your contributions to this thread. My theological concerns regarding old earth creationism are almost identical to yours. Thank you for taking the time to articulate so well many of the very issues that I have been studying and working through. Grace and peace to you.

      • 4. This is also my greatest concern. A strong, coherent proposal to address this would greatly open my mind to alternatives for the others.

        5. That’s cool, many people really insist God be consistent in this way. After all, the heavens proclaim the glory of God and all creation testifies to his character.

        But you can never go from “general revelation” to Christianity. It won’t take you there. It can only take you to a monster who sends Tsunamis. We must go to Christ, the visible image of the invisible God, to see what God’s character really is, and therefore I believe this “particular revelation” must take precedence in determining the character of God over and, if necessary, against our best inferences from general revelation.

        When we disagree on this, at least one of us is misreading Jesus, but I don’t think it will be on the quiz at the pearly gates.

      • Another solid comment. Thanks, Mike.

      • Mike – I’m not a geologist, but I’m aware of some of the complex sedimentary rock features. I thought you might find this video helpful since it is experiment based and addresses phenomena not normally covered in geology textbooks.

        http://vimeo.com/8779461

    • Also, God WILL NOT create a tree on Tuesday. That argument is nothing since it will never happen again, and if it had, was 6000 years ago. It’s a mental fantasy argument that doesn’t reflect scripture/history/tradition. It’s no different than imagining all the possibilities of everything an infinitely powerful God “could” do.

      Were you there to chop the tree down? lol sorry, Ham.

      • Lol. Took me a few seconds to get that last line. Unfortunately, Ham would insist that if God created a tree on Tuesday and you chopped it down on Thursday, it must have zero rings.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Anyone with a basic knowledge of science will quickly realize that essentially everything in creation points to an old universe – starlight, the pebbles underneath your feet, the DNA in our cells, the make-up of the atmosphere, etc etc etc.

      If everything is “deceptive”, ie, if we cannot trust our senses, then we have a serious epistemological problem. How did you learn about Scripture, theology, the Sacraments etc etc? If it was through your senses, you have a problem. If you cannot trust your senses (by and large), you cannot trust that the data / message on the page reaches your brain “intact”. You cannot trust that the words the pastor uttered are the ones you heard. Moreover, if our reason is horribly fallen in our understanding of nature, then it must be so about everything else.

      Essentially, your entire argument is epsitemologically nihilistic. And invalid.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Completely agree. Christianity is an historic religion based upon empirically verified physical evidence. Mind you, I’m an “old earther” because of the science, but from a philosophical position, YEC is epistemological suicide.

      • Nah, your caricature of my argument is nihilistic, but that is certainly not what I am saying. I don’t understand why the old earth is your epistemological lynchpin, without which nothing can be known. Your universe might crumble that easily, but mine would require the corpse of Christ to undo.

        I keep saying over and over that the sciences are true and trustworthy, to a point. New sciences are more true and trustworthy than the older ones they invalidated. But just because they are reliable doesn’t mean they’re infallible and inerrant. See flatland fundamentalism.

        There is a time and place to question what we see with our own eyes, and how we understand what we see. If this sort of question were not permitted, we wouldn’t have science.

        You’re arguing from evidence that the earth is old, a point which I have repeatedly conceded. As far as the scientific reality is concerned, I am ok with an old earth. If that is the only reality you contend with, you are not a Christian.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          No, you don’t understand. EVERYTHING points to an old universe. If you cannot trust your senses and your reason, then bang goes your knowledge of Christ and Scripture and everything. That is what you don’t get. There isn’t science over here, and then this chasm, and then Christianity over there.

          The old earth is not a linchpin. But this utter bs which some Lutherans (yes, the only other people |I have ever met espousing this were Lutherans, why I don’t know) that somehow we should disregard our senses because God could have made everything appear old just 6000 or 10000 years ago, destroys epistemology. It is a rather pathetic attempt to not sound scientifically illiterate, and yet hold on to literalism. And yes, it is nihilistic.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            It is called “The Omphalos Hypothesis”, first proposed by Gosse in mid-Victorian times, during the first Evolution-vs-Creation fights.

            It didn’t fly then, and it doesn’t fly now; Gosse got piled on from both sides and switched to tabloid true crime — much less hassle.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            I prefer – Last Thursdayism as a name for this nonsense. Although, I believe, there is an equally pernicious idea called Last Tuesdayism. 🙂

          • what happened last thursday I can’t remember let alone last tuesday

          • There isn’t science over here, and then this chasm, and then Christianity over there.

            …so you’re telling me that Christianity is 100% scientifically verifiable? That’s a first.
            And I’m sorry, but not all of science points to an old universe. There are other laws it deals with. The age of the earth is a niche interest of the scientific community, the vast majority of research is far more pragmatically oriented. The cure for cancer is far more important than some abstract number.

            Lutherans don’t “disregard our senses.” We’re major proponents of the sciences. Our “appearance of age” view frees up to enjoy them fully without reservation, I don’t see how that could aggravate you so.

            I suggest your problem isn’t with the appearance of age, but with creation “ex nihilo.” If God created Adam as a fully grown adult, in your view, this is deceptive. What is his other choice, to create him as an embryo?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            I do not believe in a literal Adam. But that is beside the point here – read Enns or Lamoureux if want to follow that type of argument.

            What I am saying is that I am an intelectual monist, ie, I recognise different levels of uncertainties in data, etc etc, but tyat the rules of logic and reason, such as they are, apply to all. We do not have different black boxes, labelled science, philosophy, theology, history, etc etc.

            Your ignorance of science shows – the ag of the earth, for instance, is connected to physics, is connected to chemistry, is connected to biology, is connected to biochemistry, is connected to medicine, is connected to agriculture is connected to economics, is connected to politics, is connected to religion, is connected to… the history of the earth, is conected to the age of the earth, is connected to the age of the universe…..

            I think this is where your problem lies. You have yet to step back and see the forest, which also happens to be an interconnected ecosystem…

          • I am with you on this one Klasie. Some of my thoughts exactly.Undermines our entire epistemology because I can no longer know what I can take seriously as being ‘real’.

            Makes the universe a giant paper mache creation just created as a backdrop that has no real integrity

      • A tough comment to disagree with. Well said, Klassie.

  9. Faulty O-Ring says:

    A “theistic-evolutionist”? Oh my. You mean, you think God evolves, like in Process Theology…?

  10. Essentially, you believe that God is the source of punctuated equilibrium and not chance, being so ridiculous in its odds. That isn’t a bad general argument, if all you are doing is dealing with theory and not the details because it gets really, really messy for all theories when one begins to attempt to fill in the gaps God left blank.

  11. While evolutionary theory isn’t without its own flaws, I tend to drift toward theistic evolutionist, too. One of the things that keeps me drifting there is when I consider my own existence. One could say that God created me exactly how I am, the way I am, knew exactly what He was making when He knitted me in my mother’s womb, etc. etc. There are scriptures that suggest I was created, just suddenly came to be.

    However…look at the length of time and process He used to form me. If the Bible is to believed, my origin began back in the Garden with Adam and Eve. They had kids, those kids had kids, those kids had kids. I am a product of thousands of years of seemingly random couplings and relationships. Some of those may have been out of love, some may have been arranged, some may have been forced. Sometimes I wonder if, when I popped out, He didn’t say, “Hmm…you weren’t quite what I was expecting, but okay…”

    I MARVEL at the process God used to bring me into being! In a sense, I evolved. Maybe at one time my ancestors were apes and maybe they weren’t, but there’s no doubt if God used thousands of years of seemingly random couplings to create me, I think He probably used a similar process to create other things.

    (This is another reason why I’m not YEC. I think God LIKES using time to work the things He wants to work.)

  12. My beliefs in theistic evolution left me feeling ostracized by my evangelical community. It wasn’t so much due to the fact that I believed Creation happened differently but by the fact I questioned what had come to be regarded as standard biblical interpretation. If I couldn’t interpret the beginning and simplest part of the Bible correctly, should not my other interpretations be met with skepticism? Whenever the subject was brought up, my questions and evidence were ignored and I was told that those were secondary or open-handed issues not important to doctrine. The pastor made fun of Christians who believed in such things and said those fellow brothers should be loved and their beliefs monitored.

  13. At the end of the day, can we all agree that all Christians believe God created the heavens and the earth?

    • There it is. I don’t know how He did it, but He did it. Same as “Jesus saves.” I don’t know how He saves, I just know He saves.

      • Funny how after all the intellectual, scientific, and theological discussion is over, we all end up at the same place we started….. simple trust in Jesus…. faith like a child.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        >> can we all agree that all Christians believe God created the heavens and the earth
        >There it is. I don’t know how He did it

        Yes, but I do not even really know what that means.

        • I can’t speak for Rick, of course, but I think he’s saying that some things will always be a mystery. We don’t have to try to have things all figured out. Sure, we can rule out b.s. theories, but there’s just some things we may never know.

    • At the end of the day, can we all agree that all Christians believe God created the heavens and the earth?

      Best thread yet in this discussion.

  14. OT –

    Miguel, I really appreciate this –

    Not saying that God can’t or won’t, but I remain convinced that he isn’t right now.

    That sums it up perfectly. Not can’t or won’t, isn’t. And I would add we should expect him to, otherwise every moment we will be hopefully asking “is it real?” over and over again, and to those of us who are convinced he isn’t, that’s a 100% failure rate. Soul and spirit crushing. So I’d say we shouldn’t expect it either.

    • And if God would, he’s powerful enough to sweep me aside like he did Paul. Wait on him. Don’t keep asking “is that you, Lord?”

  15. Can I throw another apple into the air?

    How many Adams and how many Eves were there?

    • How are you so sure it was an apple? It was a fig, I tell you! 😛

      • It was a mango. I’ve had ripe mangos in Mexico, and they make temptation irresistible.

        • You’ve clearly never had a Japanese white peach. It makes Mexican mangoes taste like bath water. It’s like a top shelf pina colada with a hint of Mexican mango. Make sure you try one!

          • All right then, a Dominican mango.

            I can’t say as much for the Ecuadorian ones because they don’t seem to be in season when I’m down there.

            I’ll try a white peach if I ever make it to Japan. Absolutely no sense buying one at the supermarket here. Hell, I don’t even buy mangos here.

            [Here the moderator deleted six paragraphs of diatribe on the state of mass-marketed mangos at stores in the US.]

          • Just to be clear. I didn’t delete anything. Think Ted is just pulling your leg.

            But to be even more clear. My grandparents backyard in Zambia contained a Mango grove… Think I might write a book about my experience in that grove. Call it “Heaven is for real”, or some silly name like that.

          • Looking forward to it, Mike.

            You might use Tony Bird for theme music. “What time is it? It’s mango time!”
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSqFBxyckrE

            (“And when you finish the mango please you plant the seed; so everybody in the future have a mango tree.”)

          • “You’ve clearly never had a Japanese white peach. It makes Mexican mangoes taste like bath water.”

            I’ve never tasted bath water.

    • Whats the recent estimate for creating a genetically stable population? 50 / 500 members to survive / thrive?

      I’ve always liked the “who is Cain afraid of” hypothesis. As in, Cain slays Abel when there are only 4 mentioned people in all of creation (Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel), and yet the first thing Cain asks for is for G-d to mark him to protect him from all those barbarians that would kill him for being a murderer. “I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me”. And G-d says yes! Who are these people Cain is afraid of?

      In this theory, there would be plenty of people on the planet. Thousands even. All of them irrelevant in a sense 🙂

  16. Dammit, Mike, you done got me all wound up with diarrhea of the keyboard AGAIN. You do that on purpose, don’t you? You sit there in your comfy Canadian home, looking for essay topics, with a sinister chuckle to yourself as you think “Oh, it’s about time to get Miguel all wound up and going again, isn’t it?” You know exactly what topics to pick. I’m on to you.

    You want to know the extreme irony of the situation? I had today off of teaching classes only because my LCMS church/school took the entire student body to a local Ken Ham event. I’m not lying. Somebody shoot me, as if that incidence wasn’t bad enough, the coincidence is freaking unbearable.

    • LOL

      That is two coincidences for the day. The first was Mike the Geologist being friends with my next door neighbour!

      I have some other doozies coming up. Not intentionally to get anyone would up, but just to tell my story in bite size pieces.

      By the way read the recommended book by Peter Enns. It will certainly open some theological eyes.

      • By open theological eyes. He addresses the question of Romans really well.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That is two coincidences for the day. The first was Mike the Geologist being friends with my next door neighbour!

        Better start checking your closets for either Rod Serling or a Chinese dragon made of mismatched parts with a voice like John DeLancie…

  17. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    I grew up YEC. My father was a science educator, and I always loved science, but my sectarian upbringing demanded YEC. I was introduced to ICR even before Ham was famous (I grew up in South Africa). I even got under the influence of really radical creationists, who not only insisted on YEC, but also geocentrism.

    But I always wanted to study science, so after high school I went off to (normal, secular, state) University to study geology. I kept my views to myself. I quickly realized that the majority of YEC arguments are bs, but did not abandon the idea. In my first position after university, I got involved with a geochronology lab, in order to understand how it works – I wanted to disprove it. Of course I quickly realized that that was not going to happen either. About this time I left the sect, and had to make up my mind.

    So, for the next 5 or so years I became an extreme post-modernist, epistemologically – not that much different to Miguel here. Except I did not believe in a mature creation, but in a messy, basically contradictory creation, that was somehow young, but also with old evidence. Eventually, I gave that up – about 8 years ago I came to the realization that my position is completely untenable – countered not only by evidence, but also by actual Scripture (it took a long time to break away from simplistic literal readings), and most of all, epistemologically. I could not hold my position and claim any knowledge of anything whatsoever. I was, in fact, to be blunt, bullshitting.

    Now I have gone further, but that is another story for another day.

    • It’s not very often I receive the insult of “extreme post-modernist,” but in this case, I’ll take it as a compliment towards my open mindedness. Personally, I thought my position here would come across as far more medieval!

      Cliche philosophy joke: The pre-modern umpire says: “I calls it as I sees it!” The modernist umpire says “I calls it as it is!” The post-modern umpire says “It ain’t nuthin’ ’till I calls it!” You’re saying I’m the last guy? Could of swore I was the first. Meh. 😛

      FWIW, I got my undergrad from ICR university, and I reject nearly all their tenets. And I view Genesis 1 as poetic, and not literal. But seriously, your journey is far more fascinating than mine! I shall read your rebuttals much more carefully.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Yes, we all tend to have a pre-conceived idea of our opponents in these debates. And it is difficult not to keep on attacking those charicatures, because it is always easier to defeat such, than to dialogue with a real complex person (preaching to myself too here, in case you wondered).

  18. Off Topics –

    [Moderator note: Yes it was]

  19. Somebody help me out here. I was always under the impression that wisdom and knowledge were amalgamated from various academic disciplines, that all were worthy studying and had the potential to inform and sharpen other disciplines.

    Since when did the natural sciences become the de facto dictator of the world of thought? It seems that these days science is not open to being challenged or informed by any other discipline, be it theology, history, the arts, or philosophy, but rather, it asserts itself as automatically right whenever challenged by an outside school of thought, even though it owes its very existence to many of those other disciplines and depends on them to continue functioning!

    Doesn’t anybody see how not only close minded this is, but also fundamentalist? It seems assumed here that science is so infallible and inerrant, everything else must answer to its claims and it is above any form of questioning. It treats the current state of scientific knowledge the way Ken Ham treats the Bible (despite science’s historic tendency to overturn some of its own long held beliefs every now and then). Instead of any differing interpretation of Genesis resulting in the whole Bible being suspect and we might as well throw it all out, what I’m hearing here is that if the scientific evidence for an old earth is possibly subject higher understanding of reality, then NOTHING scientific can be trusted and all our senses are futile. Only what can be known scientifically can be known with certainty? Why must it be all or nothing?

    I understand that the other disciplines use our empirical senses. But science also uses logic, and mathematics, and cannot exist without them. It’s not so simplistic and reducible to “science says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Reality is more complex than that, and so should our understanding of it be.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Miguel, you very clearly did not understand the arguments myself and others used earlier. Personally, I treat evidence and reason rather monistically, ie, i don’t have strict categories for science here, history there etc. No matter how many times I have used the word epistemology, you seem to have missed it.

      What I for one have been saying is that your views in particular, destroy all epistemology. Not because of science. But because of the basic principles of logic. If you cannot trust evidence presented to your senses say about the age of a tree, then neither can you trust that the words on a page actually mean something. This is an argument from /first Principles, not an argument about science lording it over something else.

      When it comes to philosophical ideas for instance, they are fine, unless they are clearly shown to be false either be internal logic, or by external evidence.

      Nobody here that I have seen is treating the current state of scientific knowledge the way Ken Ham treats the Bible – because science grows by new discoveries etc – science is a Bayesian process. Nobody denies that – that is a straw man you have made.

      Methinks the problem is much more to do with the fact that the LCMS (and the LCC) is in fact YEC. Walther denied heliocentism till the 20’s, because that is how he read Luther. I cannot enter LCMS/LCC congregations anymore, after many have told me that I am almost considered a heretic because I deny YEC. If I claim Genesis 1 etc is not literal, my salvation is in doubt. Yes. Having escaped from a sect / cult in my youth, I have no desire to go through that hell again.

      • The LCMS is not YEC. YEC is just popular in it, but not officially required of her ministers. I can introduce you to one (who used to write for this blog) who was a career scientist and is not YEC.

        Also, you are neglecting to distinguish between two forms of belief in a young earth. The Ken Ham doctrine teaches that all the evidence points to a young earth. Others of us believe the evidence does not, but support the “appearance of age.” These are very different ways of looking at it, and speaking on behalf of the latter group, nobody in it considers dissenters heretics. That usually only applies to the first kind. The second kind is, from my experience, far more popular with LCMS ministers.

        Nobody here that I have seen is treating the current state of scientific knowledge the way Ken Ham treats the Bible

        You just have. Right here:

        If you cannot trust evidence presented to your senses say about the age of a tree, then neither can you trust that the words on a page actually mean something.

        Right there. It’s either evidence gets the final and only say, or you can not know anything whatsoever. There is no other direct source of reliable knowledge, and to question any particular evidence is to decide that none of it is ever reliable for anything.

        No matter how many times I have used the word epistemology, you seem to have missed it.

        You are clearly not getting it. My whole point is that there is more to epistemology than simply observable evidence. You keep insisting that if an epistemology has room to treat any evidence as suspect, then evidence has no place in it. That’s an all or nothing scenario. You’re saying it destroys all epistemology to suggest that hard evidence is not the only factor worth considering.

        I’m saying you can trust the evidence about the age of a tree. But at the same time, there could be other things we don’t know about going on. If the tree was created on Tuesday, 100 rings would mean it is a hundred years old, that is the scientific truth. But the theological truth, being that it is only Thursday, is that the tree is only 2 days old. You’re insisting that the scientific truth is the only truth there is and therefore the only truth that matters. I’m saying that epistemology is not necessarily that simple, because there is a supernatural world outside the realm of evidence. …unless you’re one of those atheist fundamentalists who refuses to believe in God until his existence can be proven.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          We are clearly speaking past each other.

          As to the LCMS: Read the denominational writings on the subject. They play around with the langauge a lot, but reading between the lines, their position is clear. The documents are actually quite entertaining in that regard, George Orwell would have got a kick out of it.

          As to your second point. If humanities’ senses are so untrustworthy, in that we are daily deceived about the world around us on a massive scale, then they are certainly too untrustworthy to (for instance, read, never mind interpret, words on a page). And stop insulting my sports team! 🙂

          And yes, you delightfully proved my point, in that your insistence on literalism makes all of us atheist fundamentalists. No one here was arguing for atheism. All I was arguing for was for you to stop assaulting reason and evidence, because without those, you are not merely left by yourself holding your bible – you are left holding nothing whatsoever.

          • but reading between the lines, their position is clear.

            Functionally, it’s really more of an “unofficial position.” Many of our ministers dissent.

            If humanities’ senses are so untrustworthy

            They’re not. I don’t know why you keep insisting that I’m saying that. I’ve bent over backwards to insist that they are trustworthy. I only insist that they are not the sole factor to consider.

            we are daily deceived about the world around us on a massive scale

            Like the rest of humanity prior to the 18th century? I don’t understand how this one issue, the earth’s age, is the sole factor upon which the validity of all our senses hangs. Or any one issue in particular. Why can’t something that is fundamentally reliable have exceptions? Because you insist that it is all or nothing.

            your insistence on literalism

            You are really not reading me at all. I don’t insist on literalism. Not in Genesis 1. It’s poetic, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think that in you’re mind you’re able to distinguish what I’m saying from AiG style YEC, ’cause you’re using the same arguments against it.

            stop assaulting reason and evidence,

            Show me where I have once done that. You can’t. I’ve affirmed it at every step. You are simply asserting a reductionist epistemology which, though very popular today, is not the only viable epistemology. The universe is not completely random and senseless if one rejects positivism. That is one of many schools of thought considered viable at various times in the history of philosophy. I see no reason to rule out the possibility of the metaphysical, and there’s no reason those considerations can not exist alongside reason and evidence. Or at least, you haven’t given me one, other than that everything supposedly crumbles.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Miguel, you are assaulting reason and evidence: You just don’t realize it. See my remark higher op the thread about intellectual monism etc.

            Nobody said anaything about disregarding the metaphysical. But it is easy to be deceived about the metaphysical too. Why then disregard the physical in favour of a theory of biblical interpretation that is not necessary?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            In fact Miguel, maybe explain your insistence on holding on to Omphalos etc., while it has been clearlg demonstrated that it is not necessary to do thus to remain orthodox. You also claim that one need not be YEC etc to be LCMS – why your vigorous insistence that others that are theistic evolutionists are so very wrong then? Please help us understand that.

          • The problem with your approach is that, without adequate evidentiary or logical defense or justification, and without necessity, it isolates the Biblical texts (and, I think, the Lutheran confessions) from all other sense data and experience, as if the Bible is history-less and cannot be made accountable to any epistemological criteria outside itself (and, it seems to me again, the Lutheran confessions). By so doing, you seem to bifurcate the nature of truth, and turn the Bible (and the Lutheran confessions), and the faith rooted in it, into a gnostic phenomenon, unfalsifiable and untestable because unlike anything else that exists; I believe that such a hermeneutics and theology is traditionally called fideism.

            Now, of course, you may proceed on this basis if you like, but you should also be aware that in arguing from this basis, you will appear to be saying this: The Bible is always correct because it cannot be incorrect. Period. To those who disagree with you, you will appear to be avoiding any real dialogue, because what they are really questioning, though they may not be aware of it or make it explicit, is how you justify your presuppositions on the basis of ordinary, everyday logic and evidence, that is, how you can argue your case in the realm of ordinary discourse. Because, you see, you are not arguing on the basis of the language of ordinary discourse: You are making an argument and defending a position using an esoteric form of discourse available only to the initiated, and not to outsiders.

          • Just to be clear: I also privilege the Bible, because it witnesses to Jesus, and it tells us who Jesus was and is and shall be. Without it, I would know nothing about Jesus, and my heart tells me that I must know Jesus (I suppose this heart prompting is the work of the Holy Spirit). But when I speak in this way, I’m using a form of discourse that is not universal, and that may appear to the ears of others to be unfairly weighted and closed and esoteric. This is unavoidable and necessary, but as much as possible, I want to eliminate the scandal that unnecessarily esoteric discourse produces in dialogue with others. The question each of us has to ask ourselves and our traditions and each other is whether or not we have done all we can to eliminate the unnecessary scandal in our discourse. Have I, have you?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Robert F said it very well in his first comment (11:35) comment.

          • Klasie,

            Your ignorance of science shows – the ag of the earth, for instance, is connected to…

            You’re talking as if I were arguing with the evidence. Which part of “I accept that the physical evidence points to an old earth” don’t you understand?

            I don’t understand why when it comes to our senses, “reliable” must be synonymous with “inerrant.” Perhaps this is where we have differing definitions of “err.”

            Yes, it is easy to be deceived by the metaphysical. But I don’t understand how your epistemological system, with evidence being the first and final word, leaves any room for it whatsoever. I’m with you on this: We should not disregard the evidence in favor of unnecessary biblical interpretation. I would go as far as to say to lean on the evidence in every case possible, and take exceptions rarely and very selectively. Creed level dogma, and such.

            It just sounds to me like you are saying that the only way God could have crated a world recently would be for him to have done it without hills and valleys, rivers and trees, and to include those would make God a conniving trickster (as if he did not give us Genesis long before the scientific method) and result in a universe where absolutely nothing is certain. That is just sounds laughably narrow and reductionistic.

            Not to mention, I believe we do live in that universe. You’re epistemology may seem so bullet proof certain that you never have doubts, but I suggest that is because you are not willing enough to question empirical phenomenon. Some of us have a healthy dose of Cartesian doubt that prevents us from always believing that everything is as it seems, even if we usually believe it. There has to be a higher source of reality and authority on truth beyond my perception, even if it must be encountered through my perception.

            You certainly don’t reject everything that flies in the face of evidence, because you believe the basic supernatural claims of Christianity. The question you have to answer is, by what criteria do I suspend my belief in evidence to accept religious claims?

            I get that the resurrection and miracles of Jesus are one off events that only require individual lapses, where as a young earth requires too many lapses to count. But it’s not as if the quantity makes it more difficult for God, and it is still a violation of the reductionist principle either way.

          • Robert,

            Lutheran epistemology (about which I intend to write an essay soon) is not so much about isolating the Biblical text as it is making them primary. I think any honest Lutheran would have to own the Wesleyan quadrilateral, however, we take great pains to prioritize scripture far above all the others, especially reason and experience, which we remain terminally skeptical of. Luther called reason “the devil’s whore” for good reason. 😛

            The confessions are not necessary for epistemology, they merely provide executive summary of the Scriptures. Scriptures are the “rule and norm” of the Christian faith, and the confessions are the “normed norm.”

            Lutheran epistemology IS similar in many ways to fideism, yet different in very crucial ways. Of course we believe that, as the Bible is God’s Word, it is never wrong, but we also recognize major interpretative difficulties (outside the 6 chief parts, which is all the confessions really deal with besides condemning the Pope and friends). Most of Christendom believes the Bible is true, in some way or another.

            We wouldn’t teach “outsiders” that they must believe the earth is young. Since it is scientifically old, the theological truth doesn’t have to be dealt with unless we’re working out atonement theory. I repeat: when talking with an outsider, I do not posit a young earth as a pillar of christian faith. It is a second level implication from the Gospel, which no man will be condemned for missing. However, once you get into Biblical theology that deep, I believe it is the conclusion that not only fairly handles the sum total of the text, but also serves to strengthen faith rather than undermine it. More on that in my next easy, I suppose.

            We will never eliminate all unnecessary scandal in our discourse. The important thing is that we proclaim Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. Whatever else we get wrong, there is power behind that proclamation that can do things our rhetorical finesse is not capable of. Thank God.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Knowlede of the metaphysical would depend on the physical. Words, language, text, scripture, these things are physical. Without a trustworty physical world, there cannot be a trustworthy metaphysical world. I would think that the concept is fairly simple to grasp?

          • I agree with Klasie, because our metaphysical concepts arise out of analogical comparisons to everyday experience. Luther said that the finite contains the infinite, but it can be said with more justification that the physical expresses the metaphysical. If trustworthy correspondence cannot be found between experience, which includes scientific observation and measurement, and the truth about the nature of the physical, then there can be no basis on which to trust anything about the metaphysical.

          • Klassie, the knowledge in our heads of the metaphysical world is arrived at through the physical, but such knowledge, if it is indeed true, stands true objectively whether we arrive at that knowledge or not. It is not dependent upon our comprehension of it to make it true.

            “Our metaphysical concepts” arise out of analogical comparisons to every day experience, Robert? What about objective metaphysical reality?

            Neither of you are addressing my argument. How trustworthy must the physical world be? Must it be absolutely inerrant, or do we make exception for particular supernatural phenomena that go directly against universal scientific consensus? You’re posing an either/or, and all or nothing, and I don’t see how this provides room for your own religious views.

          • Actually, I do see your point, Miguel. The problem I have is that you seem to be saying that no amount of scientific evidence would convince you that death existed before the Fall, which you then insist had to be precipitated by Adam on the basis of Paul’s words in the Epistles.

            I go with you this far: Humanity was delivered to death (however death is defined for these purposes) by disobedience, and somehow the entire creation is implicated in that Fall (though not in the disobedience). Whether or not Adam is only symbolic or is also a single biological father of the human race is a point of disagreement between us, but it’s not divisive, at least from my perspective.

            Where you lose me is in saying that you will not accept that animal (and vegetative?) death existed before the Fall, no matter how much scientific evidence is produced. This seems obscurantist to me, and it seems to me to be where you join the fundamentalist YEC people. Do you really mean that no matter how much evidence science produces you will not believe in death existing before the Fall? If so, then why wouldn’t you also buy the fundamentalist, woodenly literal approach to all Biblical texts?

          • Robert, I really don’t think you do see my point, because you still have not addressed it.

            “I see what you’re saying, but what about this over here, that is totally unrelated to the argument you’re actually making…”

            You’re getting me wrong on so many points, but I suppose that’s the burden I have of cutting past the YEC stereotypes and accumulated baggage to show a different perspective.

            Scientific evidence convinces me of a good many things. I do not remember saying that I do not accept animal and plant death before the fall, maybe I did, but that’s not a sticking point with me either way, provided that we can concede it possible for an omnipotent deity to pull of that feat some way or another, whether he actually did it aside. The only need for me there is for the phrases “in the day you eat of it, you will surely die,” and “death entered the world through sin” to be true. We can play with the definition of “death” in that context to make it fit, if you like.

            It’s not about rejecting evidence. I accept it all. Period. I just do not rely on that as the ultimate foundation for my perspective on objective truth. Science is not all powerful, it is a limited discipline. See Daniel Jepsen’s excellent essay here: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/five-things-science-cannot-prove-but-are-necessary-for-science-to-work. Reliable? Yes. But inerrant?

            Why don’t I buy into a fundamentalist, woodenly literal approach to all Biblical texts? Because I’m Lutheran. We reject Biblicism. As I’ve said repeatedly, I am convinced Genesis 1 is a poem. I don’t care if God took a literal week or millions of years. As Luther said, we should marvel not that God created all in six days, we should wonder why he bothered taking that much time at all. Omnipotence is as omnipotence does, and dictating terms to it is rather preposterously contradictory.

            Now back to my point: If the preponderance of evidence showing an old earth settles the matter conclusively because to not defer to it would shatter the knowability of reality, then on what basis can we accept any other of the supernatural claims of religion? What is your criteria for making exceptions to this rule, why some and not others?

          • More on Lutherans and Biblicism:

            Consider this post:
            http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/how-pervasive-is-biblicism

            I am fairly certain that confessional Lutheranism rejects at least 7 of those 10 points.

            For a more entertaining look at the issue, see Lutheran Satire:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFX8i8RQPEU

            If we are Biblicists, we are so in our own unique way that is very distinct from anti-intellectual fundamentalism. We cling to particular words and phrases that distill the goodness of the message, as you will see at the end of that clip. A Biblicists has to cling to every word and phrase in the text equally. Ken Ham thinks that if any phrase in scripture cannot be understood literally, none of it can be trusted for anything. The Lutheran hermeneutic is far more complex than that. See Walther’s “Law and Gospel.” The text is the master, but learning to rightly understand it is a lifelong journey “taught by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.”

          • More on Lutherans and Biblicism:
            Consider this post:?http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/how-pervasive-is-biblicism
            I am fairly certain that confessional Lutheranism rejects at least 7 of those 10 points.

          • For a more entertaining look at the issue, see Lutheran Satire:
            ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFX8i8RQPEU
            If we are Biblicists, we are so in our own unique way that is very distinct from anti-intellectual fundamentalism. We cling to particular words and phrases that distill the goodness of the message, as you will see at the end of that clip. A Biblicists has to cling to every word and phrase in the text equally. Ken Ham thinks that if any phrase in scripture cannot be understood literally, none of it can be trusted for anything. The Lutheran hermeneutic is far more complex than that. See Walther’s “Law and Gospel.” The text is the master, but learning to rightly understand it is a lifelong journey “taught by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.”

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Miguel, I had a really nice long answer, and then it disappeared….

            Short one: Our senses are not perfect. But that argument cuts both ways – even more against the metaphysical side, because we can test, experiment and find more data on the physical side, but our sources are limited in the metaphysical side. Bayesian analysis is your friend here.

            The crux for you, as Robert notes, is the death before the Fall issue. Through the first Adam came death, and through the second Adam came life, yes? But we still die. So the life is spiritual life everlasting, yes? Life after death? And the first Adam brought – spiritual death? As someone said earlier, the very act of eating implies death. Microbiology has taught us that. Think about that as a way around your conundrum, instead of trying to twist all of creation into an epistemological Moebius strip.

          • When I said I see your point, I meant that it seems to me to be true that my argument against you was not leaving room for my own religious view. I was cutting the ground out from beneath my own feet.

            But if you don’t object to the idea that plant and animal death existed before the Fall, I’m not sure what we’re arguing about. If there is room in your thinking for an old earth, and for death before the Fall, then I don’t why you object to the idea that the process of evolution was how living organisms developed.

            I have a question for you that is outside the main discussion we are having here, though tangentially related: You refer to these Pauline texts, Romans 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, as the reason that you believe in the existence of a literal Adam, which I understand to mean a single common ancestral father of the entire human race through whom we inherit original sin and death. But if Christ was able to bring life, salvation and the resurrection of the dead to us without being our biological father, why could not Adam bring the curse, fallenness and death to us without being our common biological human ancestral father?

          • Klassie,
            Your longer comment in mod will probably come through, eventually. I just had a comment appear twice, in three pieces.
            Yes: The physical is subject to far more due process, which leads to stronger degree of certainty. Certainty, however, does come in matter of degrees, and not in absolutes.
            But you still have to answer: How does Christianity fit within an epistemology that rules out, on principle, anything that contradicts science? It doesn’t. Therefore, if we allow God the prerogative to take exceptions to the natural order without being deceitful, the “appearance of age” isn’t necessarily an offensive idea in that regard. I can understand defending an old earth from YEC types who think they can prove it young, futile though the attempt may be.
            How somebody as intelligent as yourself can be so content in such an epistemological “flatland” is quite puzzling. See Rob Bell’s entertaining summary of that concept:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JmMTobaM68

            The crux for you, as Robert notes, is the death before the Fall issue.

            Close, but not quite. That belief can be as overturned as easily as obtaining a new understanding of Paul. I find the options I’ve encountered severely underwhelming, but I haven’t ruled it out.

          • Thanks, Robert. Yeah, I’m really not sure about plant life. I suppose that whatever kind of death came as the result of the curse is the only kind I don’t allow before the fall, theologically speaking.
            Just throwing this out there: How about the idea that evolution took place under a more elastic time framework in order that what appears to have been a nearly eternal process actually happened somewhat recently, by how we measure time? Not an idea I’m committed to, just thought of it.
            For the Pauline texts, I’m really going to have dig deeper into a study of them (like reading Enns or something) before I really alter my views of them, but offhand your idea leaves me with one reservation. A literal Adam doesn’t necessarily have to be the common ancestral father. God could have created other humans at the same time, outside of the Garden of Eden. I’m sure our study of genetics may not line up with that sort of data, and especially not of Noah’s family being the common ancestral father after the flood, which is why I’m skeptical of a global flood. (You may notice here that I’m skeptical of far more than I’m confident in. Perhaps what I refer to as a “healthy dose of Cartesian doubt” is really overdoing it just a tad. 😛 )
            For your last question: It’s all about birth, not necessarily genetics. We are “born” into Adam, and “reborn” into Christ. However, there’s more than one way to look at that scenario. Suppose God created humans all over the earth, but only put Adam in the garden. Adam then could be an archetype of God’s covenant with humanity while at the same time being a real human. Perhaps he served, in a way, as a priestly representative of the human race. His sin, after all, cursed the entire earth, and barred the Edenic paradise of open fellowship with God. I think the parallels to Christ could line up.

          • Robert and Klasie,
            This exchange has taken more than just a few twists and turns, but remember my original contention with the post: The idea that a young earth with the appearance of age making God dishonest is based on reductionist epistemology that doesn’t leave room for matters of faith. So while the earth may be old, I cannot accept that line of reasoning as a sound objection to its merely appearing old.
            My beef is this: If certain conclusions are settled before we even approach the text of scripture, then we’ve already crafted presuppositions about what God can and can not say. This causes us to come to the text as an authority, allowing God to tell us some things but not others. In this method, our reason is the authoritative arbiter of truth into which God gets a voice. Lutherans call this the “magisterial use of reason,” and it is a hallmark of Reformed and sacramentarian protestantism (and also the true reason why the words “this is my body” can not be believed by them: it is an offense to reason). Lutherans endeavor to have a “ministerial use of reason,” that is, we do not deny that we engage it in order to experience and understand the text, but our reason must serve the text, not dictate terms to it, but rather seek to understand what it is actually saying in order that God’s Word might be believed by us. To come to scripture with so many presuppositions about God is something we all do, but Lutherans are committed to working at getting past those. To say that God’s general revelation in the order of the cosmos, or our perception and understanding of it at least, trumps God’s special revelation through Christ and in the scriptures is completely backwards, imo, and not exactly receiving God’s word with fear and trembling. When God speaks, our job is not to interpret him (though we will eventually), our job is first to receive that word, letting its truth do its work in us that we might fear, love, and trust in God above all things. So if God says the earth is young (which it seems like to me), then scientific evidence to the contrary must be taken with a grain of salt, or find some other way to harmonize the contradiction that protects the integrity of the text.
            So I suppose that in some sense, I’m more against the idea that the earth CAN’T be young than I am insistent that it MUST be young. But like I’ve said, those offering reinterpretations of the relevant NT passages too often seem to be playing more fast and loose with the text than Jesus did.

          • That’s exactly what I was thinking of, Miguel, Adam as a priestly intermediary and representative for the entire race existing at that time and since, elected by God to act on behalf of all humanity, and bringing the curse down on all humanity throughout all time. Christ then also acts as priestly intermediary and representative of the entire race throughout all history, elected by God (himself) to undo the curse, bringing redemption and life to the entire human race in all times and places.

    • AsinusSpinasMasticans says:

      It isn’t science, per se, that is giving you problems. It is epistemology. It’s positivism pure and simple, That, and the NEED for a Federal view of mankind/creation in order to support Anselm’s propitiatory theology’s readings of Romans 5.18 and 1 Cor 15.21. I don’t know about the Catholic church, but the Orthodox Church does not teach that creation was perfect, just “good”, and subsequently lost her prophet, her priest, and her king.

      Maybe having out-and-out fiction in our Bibles, such as Judith, Tobit, and -c’mon admit it – Daniel, preserves us Cathodox from the need for twisting ourselves in such epistemological pretzels as you have shown yourself capable of doing.

      • You call Daniel fiction before Jonah? That’s a new one on me. Daniel seems rather tame and believable by OT standards.

        I’m open to an Orthodox take on Genesis, Lutherans have been increasingly leaning on Orthodox theologians for the last 150 years. There’s a lot less Reformational baggage between us, so it cuts past a lot of the historical situations behind our confessions.

        Heck, I’d like to read an Orthodox take on Romans and Corinthians. Penal sub is, imo, a more minor theme in the scriptures, compared to Christus Victor, but there are too many passages that must be explained away without it. However, it is a teaching that is too often poorly learned and turned into its own caricature. As I told the board who interviewed me for my commissioning, I believe that the point of Penal Sub ought only be for the comforting of troubled consciences.

        As I said over and over today, I am certainly open to an old earth, just as soon as somebody tells me what to do with those verses.

    • Miguel: I always make perfectly clear in my Science and the Bible class that I do not believe in Science, I believe in Jesus; I do not have faith in Science, my faith is in God and His Word. Science is a successful and pragmatic METHODOLOGY for the orderly systematizing of natural-physical-material phenomena. It is ALWAYS provisional and subject to new data. Science is not the only type of knowledge either; there is logic, aesthetic, morality. Often, in modernity, when science is brought to bear on areas outside of its proper sphere it becomes reductionist. Love- merely brain chemistry. Aesthetic truth- merely brain chemistry. Morality- survival value and brain chemistry. I don’t buy the reductionism. And I don’t buy the false dichotomy that says once you’ve explained something in terms of natural phenomena you’ve done away with “the god hypothesis”. We are all here due to a natural biologic process; your biological parents had sex, a sperm fertilized an ovum, you passed through the zygote, embryo, fetus stages and then you were born. Does that mean that God didn’t create you? Of course not.
      I know you don’t want to be told to read another book; so google Gordon J. Glover and his Science and Christian Education series of videos. They are short, usually about 10 minutes and there are 16 of them. They will be of great interest to you as a teacher as well. In the Proximate vs. Ultimate Cause video he gives an example; there is a tea kettle on a stove. The question is asked; why is the water boiling? The proximate answer is: water is boiling because heat from the burner is transferred to the water raising the energy level of the individual water molecules until they overcome the latent heat of vaporization and undergo a phase change from liquid to gas. The ultimate or teleological answer is: because I want a cup of tea. Neither answer is contradictory to the other; they both are “true”. So he makes the point that the Bible is not the big book of proximate causes but the big book of ultimate causes. It is the teleos that is true because the teleos of the Bible is Christ. That is why the “science” of the ancient near east people doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter they thought the sky was a dome with an ocean above it, it doesn’t matter they thought the earth was the center of the cosmos. Heck, it doesn’t matter that Jesus thought the mustard seed is the smallest seed even though an orchid seed is 1/10 the size. That minor technical detail does not change the point of the parable one jot or tittle. Nor does it invalidate the fact that God breathed out His Word.

      • Thank you. Good explanation, I’ll be sure to look those up (and at this point I’m fairly certain I’ll be reading Enns too).
        You seem to be very articulate in navigating between faith and science. My only quibble: I’m not defending a young earth on account of a literal reading of Genesis, I’m defending it on account of how the New Testament reads Genesis, and I can perfectly accept Genesis 1 as poetic. I get that it was written to a very pre-scientific community.

        Does that mean that God didn’t create you? Of course not.

        Well, of course. However, I’m just not entirely certain that I can say that God created me in the same way that he created Adam and Eve. But you’ve given me something to think about.

        • How does the New Testament read Genesis? Does it only read Genesis in one way? What are the texts you are referring to? And, whether or not they may imply a literal reading of Genesis, do they require a literal reading of Genesis to remain meaningful?

          • The problem comes not in our interpretation of Genesis, but in Paul’s interpretation of Genesis.

            More specfically: Romans 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:21.

            “18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.”

            21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

            These seem to put events in Genesis in a very literal framework.

            This is what Peter Enns addresses in his book. (I will attempt to do a summary of the key points of the book, though I won’t be able to get to it in the next two weeks.)

          • These texts can be ready typologically, and not literally, and can be primarily seen as testimonies not of the literal truth of Genesis, but witnesses to the salvific and eschatological power of Jesus, who is the literal archetype from which all other types emerge, including literary and figurative types like Adam, even though they come before him chronologically. Even though he is at the end, Christ is the beginning. In fact, there is no reason to assume that Paul was writing of a literal Adam; even if he was, the text does not demand a literal Genesis, because it can be read in a christological way that retains its traditional meaning while jettisoning the literal understanding of human origins.

          • I meant “antitype,” not “archetype.” Oy!

          • Thank you, Mike, for summarizing my concerns so well.
            Robert,

            there is no reason to assume that Paul was writing of a literal Adam

            I’m not so sure. If the metaphorical reading has a 2000 year precedent and was the common Jewish understanding in the first century, that would hold a ton of weight with me. I just don’t know that’s the case, all I have is the text, and the text doesn’t read very metaphorically.

            And I don’t need a literal Genesis. There’s only two things in the first 11 chapters of Genesis that I “need” to be literal: the words “and God said,” and the story of the fall. I don’t need creation to be 6 24 hour periods to fit with the writings of Paul and Jesus (though there is that part about the Sabbath in Exodus, I think, but I find that much easier to be flexible on as it is more a matter of law than gospel).

          • I’m not so sure. If the metaphorical reading has a 2000 year precedent and was the common Jewish understanding in the first century, that would hold a ton of weight with me. I just don’t know that’s the case, all I have is the text, and the text doesn’t read very metaphorically.

            The funny thing is, the idea that death began with Adam doesn’t have an antecedant before Paul. It is not to be found in the Old Testament, nor is it to be found in other Jewish writings.

            We have to remember that Paul’s main point has do with Christ, not with Adam.

          • “We have to remember that Paul’s main point has do with Christ, not with Adam.”

            Yes. Adam and his story are being used by Paul as a way of highlighting and underlining Jesus Christ. Paul is appropriating and using the traditional material at hand, in an innovative way not in keeping with tradition, to point to Jesus Christ; in so doing, he is setting the pattern for way the Church subsequently used a very free hand in appropriating and using the entire Old Testament to point to Christ. Paul is not giving a history lesson, he is proclaiming Christ.

      • Gordon Glover rocks.

  20. I’m late to this discussion, and if it’s been dead-horsed, I apologize, but it seems to me that there is little to no value in calling evolution “theistic”. If theism can be left out of the current understanding of the theory of evolution without detracting from it, then, per Occam’s Razor, it should be left out. In my opinion, one might as well speak of theistic auto repair or theistic dentistry–the concept of being “theistic” adds no value.

    • This is why Francis Collins book “The Language of God” was helpful and important to me. As a Christian I recognize the hand of God in Creation. I see too much evidence for God to be a straight evolutionist. I believe it was Francis Collins who said something along the lines of “Science tells me the how, theology tells me the who and the why.” That is why I marry the terms.

  21. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    New comment, since the earlier nested threads are getting too messy. I made a comment earlier as to the LCMS / LCC and YEC. Miguel disputed that. Here is the evidence – from “What about Creation and Evolution”, by DR AL Barry, erstwhile president of the LCMS. Available for download from the LCMS web page:

    “The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod believes, teaches and confesses that Adam and Eve were real historic individuals and that the Genesis account of Creation is true and factual, not merely a “myth” or “story” made up to explain the origin of all things.”

    and

    “Evolution cannot be “baptized” to make it compatible with the Christian faith. Those who attempt inevitably wind up watering down the teachings of the Bible”.

    Earlier, there is incredible statements like the following:

    “As much compelling evidence as there is for a young earth and a worldwide hydraulic cataclysm (the Noahic flood, which explains much about our planet’s geology and paleontology), ……”

    Most of the rest of the document could just as well have been written by Ken Ham.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Matthew Harrison here confirms that Theistic evolution is out, and all but confirms YEC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEnV0QR0kz4

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Earlier i mentioned Walther – it was actually the LCMS theologian, Pieper, which still adhered to geocentrism in the twentieth century. Why? Based on biblical literalism THE SAME PHILOSOPHY which makes people into YEC:

      “It is unworthy of a Christian to interpret Scripture, which he knows to be God’s own Word, according to human opinions (hypotheses), and that includes the Copernican cosmic system, or to have others thus to interpret Scripture to him.”

      “No matter what size, compared with the earth, men may ascribe to sun, moon, and stars, these celestial bodies have no independent history and no independent meaning and function, but their history and significance or function are dependent upon the earth. These facts are positively taught in Holy Scripture.”
      Christliche Dogmatik,1924

      (BTW, I lifted those quotes from a modern day, Lutheran geocentrist blog – there really are all sorts out there! 🙂 )

      • Yes the Tychonian geocentrists seem to be making a comeback. And their knights seem to be quantized redshifts, the ‘axis of evil’ and even Einstein’s general theory of relativity (as opposed to the special theory of relativity). Their foot soldiers are removing Lithium-7 and antimatter as we type.

    • Papers and speeches from the president don’t draw the mandated doctrinal lines for the synod. The only thing our pastors are required, for their ordination, to believe, teach, and confess, are the Lutheran confessions. I’m sure our denom website hosts plenty of other papers of similar YEC content, and there’s even been a commission to study and recommend YEC to the synod, which was “received” by a synodical convention. Funny, though, our YEC rejecting ministers are so easily tolerated. It may be the position that the synod endorses, but to the best of my knowledge, it isn’t the position they require.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        But try sit in the pews, the catechism classes, the informal conversations, where day after day you are being told, directly or indirectly, that you are an evil horrible heretic. And probably should not be taking communion… Just try that.

        • That would suck. I told my pastor up front that I didn’t agree with his literal views on Young Earth Creationism. He was cool with it, though I suspect partially because he expects to change my mind. There were no issues of heresy or communion over it, however, we’re in the Atlantic District of the LCMS, so we’re not exactly the most conservative wing of the denom.

          …of course, I also at the same time told my pastor that I believed in the perseverance of the saints, the Reformed doctrine, and he was successful at talking me out of that one. Having strict, specific beliefs doesn’t necessarily result in being rude about it all the time. Though I’m not gonna sit her and deny that happens all the time, even in the LCMS.

          Ultimately, it depends on the specific pastor, but I’d be willing to wager the number willing to make a serious stink over this issue are not the majority. Heck, too many of our pastors are not willing to make a serious stink over far more important issues, when I would think they certainly should!