October 20, 2017

iMonk Classic: Answers Not in Genesis

Classic iMonk Post
by Michael Spencer
From March 1, 2006

Nothing discourages me about the future of evangelicals like “young earth creationism,” Hamm style.

Josh puts it well in this post at Here We Stand: “Every time I read someone saying it’s the Christian’s duty to refute biology and physics with the Bible, something inside me just dies a little.”

I’m feelin’ that as well. The army of preachers who have proclaimed themselves the new Lords of Science make me ever more convinced that evangelicalism is souring fast.

Joel Hunter responds to Josh here, and recalls a previous discussion here. Joel was commenting on the LA Times story on the “Ministry” of creationist superstar Ken Hamm. I’m sorry folks, but reading the description of Hamm’s pure propaganda rallies- teaching children to take on teachers with “Were you there?”- makes me ashamed and discouraged.

In a recent post on “The Proper Use of the Bible,” David Wayne communicates well some of his own growth regarding the Biblical narrative and how that narrative relates to the use of the Bible. Wayne’s discovery of the nature of scripture is wonderful. I would wish it for everyone. Wayne quotes his teacher on a three-part description of the nature of scripture:

Dr. Tripp pointed out that the Bible is a story, not a compilation of many stories, but one story with many mini-dramas comprising the story. More specifically, he defined the Bible as a theologically annotated story. The Bible has three parts which can be distinguished but not separated:

1. Narrative -the story itself.
2. Propositions – The theme of the story formed into generalized truth statements that help you understand the plot of the story.
3. Principles – The themes of the story applied to the situations of daily life to help you live within the plot.

Young earth creationists believe that Biblical propositions contain scientific descriptions of the age and beginnings of the universe. Hamm teaches students to fight their Biology professors with Bible verses and to taunt them because they “weren’t there” at the events described in the texts, and therefore must take an epistemological back seat to Christian fundamentalists.

My own experience with creationists indicates that maintaining a view of scripture that includes scientifically valid propositions about the age of the earth, the origin of species and the nature of geology/astronomy and physics is just as important as any Biblical statement about Jesus or the Gospel. Use of the Genesis account of creation and the fall anywhere in the Biblical narrative means that all the propositions, theories, explanations and extrapolations of the young earth creationists are assumed to be true, Biblical and the standard test for orthodoxy.

I could cite any number of blog comments that indicate a complete “domino” theory: Inerrancy = young earth creationism = orthodoxy = the Gospel. It’s not much trouble to find advocates of this view who will say departure from the “truth” of Hamm’s version of creationism equals abandonment of the Bible, the Gospel, the truth and righteousness.

As one sending Christian students off to colleges and universities, this is depressing. While advocates of ID are valiantly working to make a case for intelligent design, the advocates of YEC continue to make fideism and acceptance of the entire YEC canon a cardinal tenet of being a Biblical Christian. The shape of their resistance to debate and discussion appears to be increasingly unethical and incompatible with a Christian witness and intellectual integrity.

Contrast this with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on these same subjects. (Catholic Answers has a good article, but the Catechism is the crucial statement to read.)

I’ve blogged my own position in the YEC debate in the past, and gotten all the expected reaction. Saying that the Bible is about Jesus, God’s Final Word of salvation, and not about geology and astrophysics is still a minority view.

We must develop a way to talk about scripture that does not create this situation. The rise of Ken Hamm’s approach to Genesis has been largely blessed by the culture warriors whose influence in evangelicalism ties every available issue together, making those who would doubt YEC to be honorary pro-abortion activist Democrats in favor of gay marriage.

Clearly, we need to hear voices like Conrad Hyers who rescue our use of the Bible from the claims of the creationists. The false dichotomies, death-or-surrender tactics and propagandizing techniques of one segment of evangelicalism is making it more and more difficult to bring the intelligent, bright young people of our churches with us into serious discipleship. This is not an issue that will be solved by preachers throwing Bibles around in protest of the insidious errands of anti-Christian educators. If the YEC approach wins the day in evangelicalism, the movement will lose. It will lose thousands and thousands of young minds, who will go where the relationship of science and scripture is less hazardous.

Comments

  1. Very timely given the Biologos meltdown across the blogosphere. Even more amazing is watching some tie salvation to one’s views of Genesis….anyway, good selection.

  2. I find it interesting that so many apologists for various doctrines fall into the domino theory that Michael describes. The associative thinking is almost like the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. “Give me a word, any word, and I show you that the root of that word is Greek.” Name a doctrine, any doctrine and I’ll show you how you can’t be saved without believing as I do.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      AKA Spiritual One-Upmanship. Forcing MY Will on You and claiming it’s God’s.

      (Which I believe was the original primary application of “taking God’s name in vain.”_

  3. I haven’t always agreed with everything on iMonk, but I have to agree completely on this issue. I’m an undergraduate in engineering, and this issue is a huge reason why young people my age leave Christianity. Young Earth Creationism essentially says that we must choose between the Bible and reality, and it should be no surprise when people, especially curious young scientists like myself, choose reality. This is a false choice, but unfortunately many people do not realize it.

    Also, Hamm’s ‘Where you there’ rhetoric is actually completely refuted by astronomy. All astronomers have is the past.

    • Michelle says:

      “Young Earth Creationism essentially says that we must choose between the Bible and reality”

      Excellent point. And there’s quite a few things that could be substituted for “YEC” here–like domestic violence, patriarchy, divorce, etc. Being forced to choose between the Bible and reality runs across the board in Christendom. IMO, the Bible should be seen as something that supports reality, not something that alters it.

    • I agree, but instead of the term “reality” I would suggest using the term “the preponderance of generally accepted scientific evidence.” Overwhelming scientific evidence is the result of multiple sources of information which often slightly differ in the result. Geologic strata data, continental drift rates, fossil dating, ?Cesium dating, and astronomical information need to be looked at generally since each branch of science uses different measuring tools.

      YEC’s are looking for any inconsistency in the data in order to throw it all awau.

  4. I have to say, were I a teacher and some smart-ass little brat piped up to me with “Were you there?”, I’d smack them down with Job so fast their little pointy heads would spin.

    Of course, I’d be looking for another job in the morning, but still. 🙂

    • wow…fllash back to my RCC grade school days …. 🙂 but I lived thru it…. you’d have been a great Sister Mary Martha…..

    • Lukas db says:

      Such brats as that were the role models we were taught to emulate in fundie school. I remember a fictional child being presented for our admiration once, whose claim to fame was that he called his hosts ‘dogs’ when they didn’t pray before eating. See, dogs don’t pray before they eat either.

  5. Cynthia Jones says:

    Being a historian who is only 40 years old, the bulk of the history I might teach could be refuted with the “Were you there?” argument. Good grief! For THAT matter, one could not even pass down FAMILY HISTORY if all it took to refute something was the question, “Were you there?” How many of us were “there” the day our parents met?

    I have ALWAYS had a problem with the young earth creationism school of thought. I don’t have to put God in the box of MY FEEBLE UNDERSTANDING of how things work! I trust that he can do anything, and that he could — and DID — choose to create the earth and all that is in it however he wanted to do so! Whether the earth is 6,000 years old or billions of years old does not affect my salvation ONE BIT!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Isn’t that one of the differences between animals and people?

      Animals can’t pass down ideas or histories from generation to generation.

      Animals can only know something If They WERE There.

      (Listen to the Furry Freak: 20+ years of recreationally thinking about :nonhuman/semihuman people who resemble animals” and you develop an idea of the difference between animal and people and what “makes you human”.)

    • To a YEC: Were you there when Moses wrote the Torah or received the Ten Commandments? How do you know there even was a Moses? Or that he even received tablets from God? Huh? Huh? WERE YOU THERE?

      Were you there when Jesus was crucified? Were you there when He rose from the grave? Huh? Huh? WERE YOU THERE?

      Dumb-da-dumb-dumb.

      Dumb.

      • Yeah, that’s the point: how is it they can’t see that their question can be turned back on them?

        “So how do we know there was a Jesus?”

        “Oh, yeah? Were you there when they wrote the Gospels?”

        “So what happened to these stone tablets Moses brought down from Sinai, huh?”

        The whole point of God asking Job “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” is to rebuke human wisdom as to the purposes and mind of God – and that goes as well for Job’s friends who are explaining to him exactly how he has offended God, because they know so well what God intends.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “A fanatic is someone who does what God would want — If God only KNEW what was REALLY going on.”
          — don’t remember where I heard that, but it’s good

          • Joshua Nieuwsma says:

            A lot of people on here are unfortunately putting up straw men arguments instead of actually interacting with the Young Earth creationis viewpoint. For example, the point of asking ‘were you there’ is because the evolutionary scientist/theologian is challenging the biblical narrative (evolution’s story of creation is easily refuted on the face of it – death before Adam is impossible, and none of the commentors on here can honestly answer that issue). You can’t turn that question back on them, and neither can evolutionists, to claim things like ‘were you there’ when Christ arose, because the whole point of the question is to hold up the Bible as paramount. Obviously YEC apologists trust the Bible to be telling us the truth about the resurrection account, and the same thing goes for the creation account and flood account that the New Testament apostles and Christ viewed as historical, not just mythology. I’m disappointed in the caliber of disagreement from fellow Christians – I expect better.

          • Lukas db says:

            There’s no-one here for us to disagree with, it seems. No one in this thread is arguing for a YEC viewpoint – at least, not many are. Hard to have a good one-sided argument.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        To a YEC: Were you there when Moses wrote the Torah or received the Ten Commandments? How do you know there even was a Moses? Or that he even received tablets from God? Huh? Huh? WERE YOU THERE?

        Let’s take this one step further, to the Ultimate Omphalos Argument:

        WERE YOU THERE TEN MINUTES AGO? HOW DO YOU *KNOW* GOD DIDN’T CREATE EVERYTHING EX NIHILO TEN MINUTES AGO? WITH ALL YOUR EXISTENCE UNTIL TEN MINUTES AGO CREATED EX NIHILO? WERE YOU THERE? HUH? HUH? HUH?

        • I was just born, fully formed, adult in age, with intact memories of a personal past (a la DARK CITY?). Y’all here and your comments, etc., just have the appearance of age. PROVE ME WRONG.

  6. Visit the Grace To You blog (linked on another IM post recently) and you’ll see the domino theory in full force around this issue as well as others. They may win the battles and skirmishes, but they’ll lose the war, so to speak, ultimately. Then they will wonder how it all happened.

    And I agree with Martha that the “Were you there?” question is just bratty. I used to teach English literature and if someone had asked me if I was there when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet or when the Norman invasion occurred I would have smacked them down also, and fast. Happily, I never had to do that. The teenagers I taught were respectful and generally open to ideas. I wish I could say as much for the fundamentalist/YEC crowd these days. It’s not only young people who are being driven from the church by nonsense like this; some middle-aged folks like me are getting pretty tired of it, too.

    • To be fair, I think everybody is ignoring the point of the “Where you there?” question. The question is supposed to be backed by the idea that science is based on repeatable observation and experimentation, is it not? The idea, then, is that if you didn’t observe evolution or whatever billions of years ago, then you can’t (being bound by the scientific method) make any authoritative *scientific* statements about origins. The YEC would have the same problem, of course, except that revelation doesn’t rely (or claim to rely) on observation and experimentation.

      So, I don’t see how turning their question around to address history or the origins of scripture does anything but show a misunderstanding (or strawman building) of the argument, since the argument assumes the context of the scientific method.

      Disclosure: Not YEC. Wouldn’t argue about the whole thing if you paid me. 🙂

  7. This cultic fervor of the Ham party really annoys me, and they set themselves up as the ultimate arbiters of Scripture, more infallible than the pope. And this fallacious argument “Were you there?” is the ultimate of folly, and does more harm than good to the cause of Christ. It can be quickly refuted by turning their own argument back on them.

    “Were you in on the secret counsels of God?”

    Of course, they will say no.

    “Then how do you know that your interpretation of Genesis 1, making it a scientific rather than theological account is the only true one? Were you there when Moses wrote it and knew his intent?”

    This literalistic approach to something that is really about worship again does more harm than good. Using that hermeneutic, one could argue, and it has been argued in the distant past, that the earth is the center of the universe and the sun, moon and stars revolve around it, the earth is flat, has four corners and is supported by pillars. And I can give chapter and verse for those things. It is the reductio ad absurdum to Ham’s argument.

  8. One issue has never been addressed to the satisfaction of my attorney’s mind. Namely, transmission. Accepting the Biblical account, we are informed about antediluvian time solely through Noah. And he “wasn’t there”. Anything we know of the pre-Flood world pivots on him. The theory that a written record was passed down through generations from Adam to Noah is dubious. How was it preserved other than a sachel of clay tablets carried from Mesopotamia by nomads over centuries. That seems somewhat a stretch. In any event, Noah as a tiller of the soil was doubtless illiterate. The same goes for the early Patriarchs. They had no need for written language, but if so, it was probably far removed from the Hebrew of Moses. So it seems to me the first few chapters of Genesis are a product of a lengthy span of oral tradition that passed through a number of cultures and languages along the way. This is less than an iron-clad way to preserve the truth. On the other hand, one might propose that God delivered all this background information to Moses to be recorded as special revelation, although I don’t see that documented anywhere in Scripture. I’ve heard many conservative ministers conjecture on any number of aspects concerning the pre-Flood earth, but evidence is just not there to support many cherished assumptions. To counter evolutionist theory, advocates of YEC must fill in some awfully wide gaps which are perhaps more of a leap in their own right than those assumptions on science or history they try so desperately to refute.

  9. I have a solution to this deblitating debate.

    Take the grounded facts of scientific unquiry and the stories of Christianity and synthesize a new faith tradition. It would be called BioLogos faith, a scientific-mysticism that acknowledges both Science and God and the vergence of both in mankind. Instead of a person saying, “I am a scientist” or “I am a Christian,” they would say, “I am BioLogos.”

    There would be a need for a religious text, a theology, hymns and worship traditions, but it could be the next evoltionary step for people’s understanding of their world and God. It also could be a global, ecumenical movement for people from all religous and non-religious communities.

    It is a BioLogos world.

  10. I have a few statements that bear on this discussion in various ways.

    Christians seldom argue over the words of Scripture; it’s the interpretation, the meaning of the words, that they argue over. Well, scientific data has to be interpreted, too; scientists are not too good about admitting this, and they don’t like to air their arguments over interpreting the data in our hearing.

    The interpretation of data and Scripture is subject to assumptions that most neglect to talk about: Is there a God, or not? Are the natural processes today the same as they were at the Big Bang? Is the Universe a closed system, or open to interference by a Creator? (Evolution, and the geological development theories with it, are based on the assumptions of a Uniformity of Natural Causes in a Closed System.) These assumptions are the starting points and are often not acknowledged. If you’re driving from Indianapolis to Chicago, getting on I-65 South will take a long time to reach the right destination.

    One of the corollaries of the doctrine of the Fall of Man is that we are affected not only morally, but also physically (death, disease, etc.) and even mentally. Thus, none of us is as smart as he likes to think he is, whether Christian or scientist. And Christianity has an explanation for why Christians do not always act like Christians, but scientists have to borrow from us to explain why scientists don’t always act like scientists (The recent furor over the Climategate emails and apparent cherrypicking of data by the global warming proponents illustrate this.)

    Charles Darwin himself was not a trained scientist in the modern sense. He had gone to university and trained for the Anglican ministry, but was never ordained. A good concise source on Darwin’s own life and the background of his theory and its early promotion is “Darwin: Before and After” by Robert E.D. Clark (Paternoster Press, Devon,England, 1966 and Moody Press, Chicago, 1967) I do not know what its availability is like now, have had my copy since about 1970 and have not looked for it since.

    C.S. Lewis, one of the great Christian writers and apologists of the 20th century, had been an atheist and accepted evolution as a matter of course, even after his conversion. As a scholar in literature, he understood the use of metaphor, genre and figurative language in Genesis. But in later life he apparently began to have misgivings about evolution. His depiction of Creation in Narnia in “The Magician’s Nephew” and his friend Tolkien’s Creation of Middle Earth in “The Silmarillion” are not Biblical, but are creative (small c) and beautiful pictures. Lewis did keep and promote a certain humility about God’s workings; in “Perelandra” in his science fiction trilogy, the hero asks a question of an angelic being and is told “There are no receiving places in your mind for the answer to that.”

    • Lukas db says:

      David Berlinski’s book The Devil’s Delulsion is a good popular discussion of, among other things, the role of base assumptions and interpretation in science. Basically an atheist author wondering if most atheist arguments are nonsense. It tries a bit too hard to be edgy, but I like it.

      He especially belabors the scientific history of the Big Bang. At first, most scientists recoiled from the idea as from a flame. Oh, they had very good justifications; in the end, though, it was all about how the big bang seemed to imply a sudden creation. And so now physicists try pretty much any theory that gets them around that. With not a shred of evidence, multiverse theories and other oddities abound, and are surrounded by deafening praise from other physicists. It’s all rather odd.

  11. If anyone is wondering about my own position in the light of what I posted above, I believe, along with Dr. Francis Schaeffer (“Genesis in Space and Time”), in a literal Adam and Eve at a definite time and place (even if we do not now know exactly when and where that was). I do not demand a 6,000 year age for the earth, but I am more inclined to a special creation rather than chance evolution. But on this and a lot of other theological controversies (End Times, Predestination, you name it) I have made up my mind that if I get to the Other Side and find out God did not do something the way I thought He would, I am NOT going to get in a hissy fit, stomp my foot and walk out of Heaven over it. We all need to keep a certain humility in our opinions, because God is the final Interpreter of both Scripture and Science, and nobody is going to get very far arguing with Him.

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      I think that’s a good place to be. My own views are pretty much, “I don’t know.” But I do deny a young earth. It makes no sense to me. I also deny that a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 is necessary. I don’t believe that the Hugh Ross/concordist view on Genesis 1-2 is correct either. I have no favored interpretation of Genesis 1-2, but I tend to believe that it was meant to convey theological truths about God and man, rather than historical or scientific ones.

      I have no problem with evolution from a theological or Biblical point of view — though I do think it complicates some things. 🙂 I do have a problem with a completely Darwinian (unguided) evolution. I just don’t think the RM + NS makes sense. So, I tend to be in the ID camp on that… but closer to someone like Behe. Some evolution makes sense to me — in fact it seems undeniable, but purely natural explanations for the origin of species doesn’t make much sense to me. I have no theological problem with God front-loading the whole process, but it seems like the origin of things like DNA couldn’t have been merely natural consequences. I don’t know. I’m neither scientist nor theologian.

  12. There is one more thing about this controversy that I have seldom seen applied: the standard Jesus set forth in Matthew 7:15-20, summed up as “You shall know them by their fruit.” And while I would agree that this applies to the YEC proponents, I see very few people applying it to the theory of Evolution and its adherents over the last 150 years (I think this is part of what began to disturb C.S> Lewis’ acceptance of Evolution).

    What has been the fruit of the Theory of Evolution in Western Civilization since 1860? Can anyone honestly say it has consistently promoted righteousness and Godly living everywhere it has been taught? How about a roll-call of prominent people who accepted it: Nietzsche, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, and lesser folk like Margaret Sanger and other early eugenicists? For that matter the “robber barons” of late-19th century American industry saw themselves as “social Darwinists” rather than as Biblical Christians. Evolution has been used to justify racism and oppression from its beginning–the 19th century imperialists saw the black man as “less evolved” than the Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic stock, and applied this both in Africa and the southern US (Yes, the Southern racists used the Bible as justification before 1860, but it is the Bible that first taught that all men were created from one stock, not many), and later in the “master-race” theories adopted by the Nazis. It also, by denying the creation of man in God’s image, has led to the devaluing of human life in all kinds of situations. (Chaplain Mike, your hospice work might be considered wasteful by an evolutionary ethicist.)

    Some might think this evaluation smacks of utilitarianism, but if we call ourselves followers of Jesus, we should at least take a serious look at the advice He gave us for figuring things out. The “Scientific Method” has its limitations. In its basic form, taught in the “hard sciences” like physics and chemistry, it applies strictly to the present and relatively recent past, and is useless for most historic and pre-historic events.

    So ask yourselves this: has the Theory of Evolution really done anything to make the world a better place? Or has it made things worse?

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      I think no one is discussing it because it doesn’t have merit. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone interpret this passage to mean evaluating scientific evidence.

      But besides that, your evaluation falls flat, because it amounts to a straw man. Pick all the people who did evil and believed in evolution and show how that proves evolution must be untrue. Simultaneously, ignore any of good people and ignore the bad creationists.

      By your own standards, creationism would also be false doctrine because of the evil committed by those who believed it. Pro-life would be a false doctrine because of abortion clinic bombers. Taking care of the environment is a false doctrine because of ELF and other environmental terrorists.

      • Kenny Johnson says:

        Also,

        The Bible has been used to justify slavery, polygamy, racism, and many other things.

        • But if you check out any particular instance I think you will find that in each case the person involved took verses out of context or ignored the totality of the Bible’s teaching that affected the topic. Eg., the OT recognized (not endorsed) slavery, but put the Israelites under more restrictions about it than any other culture of the time, including the chance for freedom after 7 years.

          I still think Jesus expects us to use that principle in most areas of life. And as I mentioned in a post farther up, the failures of Christians (and Jews) to live up to what they ought to be is explained by the doctrine of the Fall; but I am unaware of any other religion, ideology or philosophy that recognizes as clearly that its own adherents will fall short.

          • But if you check out any particular instance I think you will find that in each case the person involved took verses out of context or ignored the totality of the Bible’s teaching that affected the topic.

            One person’s doctrinal proof-text is another person’s out-of-context use of a text. I.e., it’s just YOUR OPINION (or maybe yours and some or many others’ opinion) that I am misusing a text or taking it out of context or ignoring “the totality of the Bible’s teaching” (whatever that means in terms of that somehow enabling you to always and accurately being able to determine what applies when and in what ways). E.g., Egalitarians and Complementarians come to different conclusions about men vis-a-vis women because they read and understand “the totality of the Bible’s teaching” on the pertinent subjects differently from each other. A large list could be made of things on which different Christians disagree – sometimes 180 degrees from each other – though each would claim and demonstrate that their teaching is based on “the totality of the Bible’s teaching” on the subject.

          • ATChaffee says:

            But if you check out any particular instance I think you will find that in each case the person involved took verses out of context or ignored the totality of the Bible’s teaching that affected the topic.

            By the same token eugenics of any kind is also taking natural selection out of context. It is called Natural selection, not Engineered selection, and is a description rather than a proscription. Survival of the fittest refers to species, not individuals. So the finches with the longest beaks are able to get some food the others can’t, and their offspring tend to survive and breed faster and dominate. Darwin did not say that the strong finches ought to round up the weak ones and shoot them.

            A more appropriate modern application would be the general inabilty of geeks to get dates, although the money some geeks make does even the score a little.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The Bible has been used to justify slavery, polygamy, racism, and many other things.

          “Men of Sin” will glom onto any cosmic-level authority — Bible, Koran, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nature, whatever — to give Cosmic-level Justification for what they wanted to do anyway. Doesn’t matter what the cosmic-level authority is, just so long as it elevates “What I Want” to Cosmic Importance.

    • “….has the Theory of Evolution really done anything to make the world a better place? Or has it made things worse?”

      There are many people who would ask that question about the Bible.

      If you’re searching for the prime mover behind how we’ve devalued life, capitalism might be a good place to start. The value of your life is represented by how much money you have.

      The topic of how science threatens the Bible is irrelevant to me, because I see no conflict. What is of much more immediate importance is how we use the Bible to justify worshiping money.

  13. Is it wrong that I’ve been an avid reader of IMonk for years, and the only time I decide to comment is to say that David Gray grew up in Wales, not Ireland?

  14. I remember hearing about a book that Ken Hamm wrote called “already gone” or something similar. It is about how young Christians raised in fundamentalism are already jumping ship during the teen years instead of the college years as is traditionally believed.

    I thought to myself, “good.”

    • Joel, as a college professor, I’ve had to superintend the funerals for the faith of probably dozens, maybe scores, of kids who grew up being told that their faith was in a literally true Bible, all or nothing.

      One semester in earth sciences, or biology, based on nothing but what their eyes could see and evidence that was open for anybody’s inspection (if they cared about the truth), showed them that their parents and pastors had no intellectual integrity whatsoever.

      They pick up very, very quickly that they’re being asked to choose between spiritual and intellectual suicide, and the threat of hell hovers over that choice for too many of them.

      If Christianity had any discipline or authority, “Answers” in Genesis would have to answer for propping up that intellectual and spiritual catastrophe.

  15. Joshua Nieuwsma says:

    I have to say I find this post and the many comments on it t be largely discouraging, but in the opposite direction. The biblical narrative needs more defenders like Ken Ham (not Hamm, fyi). Nearly everyone on here is really missing the point, committing fallacies and mocking brothers in Chist instead of being thoughtful about the issues.

    Why should Christians be ashamed when little kids don’t just accept the teachings of Darwin and his followers and propogators, a man who by the end of his life found no joy in it because he had removed God from his understanding of the world? When the atheist tells you there is no God, and by the way that means the world is all random chance, see here in the fossil records, why should you believe half of his story and trust his ‘evidence’?

    The evoluionary theory is incapable of being truly ‘scientific’, because it is completely speculation and interpretation. That’s why its always changing so much. Whereas classical sciences like physics, optics, etc were empirically decided and tested thousands of times all around the world, evolution cannot be. The point for asking ‘were you there’ is to reveal the underlying assumptions. It is classic apologetics, the scientific equivalent of ‘why’? Why should we believe that modern man has discovered nearly all mankind until the 19th century was completely mistaken about earth’s origins? That is analogous to Joseph Smith’s claims to have dscovered the ‘true’ interpretations of Scripture – an interpretation that flips many aspects of Scripture on its head (such as the idea that committing murder is an unforgivable sin).

    One fundamental Scriptural teaching that Evolution completely fails to resolve is the Biblical teaching that Eve was created out of Adam. How does evolution explain this? Through convoluted death and destruction over millions of years until finally asexual reproduction turns into male/female reproduction, and slowly ‘builds’ towards man, producing ape-like creatures, then pre-humans, and at some undisclosed point, ‘Adam’, and ‘Eve’. The question is not whether the Bible can be used to inform scientific study, but whether the Bible itself is telling us the truth. Did or did not Adam fall into a deep sleep while God shed his blood to provide him a bride? Evolution/old earth teaching (dates relying on the ‘fossil record’ and evolutionary dating methods) denies that Adam ever existed, or wrote the first love poem, or that God specifically created Adam and Eve, separate and in dominion over the flora and fauna.

    Another specific aspect to Genesis being inexplicably ignored by the commentors on this post is the fact that passages of the Bible give us evidence as to how they are to be interpeted – whether primarily practically (do not muzzle the ox as it treads out the grain), theologically, or in the case of Genesis and other sections of the Bible, historically. Genesis starts out with the most powerful declarative, historical statement you can imagine. God created. It tells us how he created (by speaking), in a matter-of-fact way, as if you were describing how to make a pizza. ‘Take flour and water and yeast…’ It gives us the order of events, in just the same way that we are told that Saul hid among the baggage and was undiscovered until Samuel inquired of the Lord. It even tells us the time frame, evening and morning, a concept that only makes sense to mankind on the earth, not to angels. After all, the Bible was given to man. In any other context, this story of Creation would not even be under discussion, but because evolutionists, who proclaim themselves ‘bright’ and ‘intelligent’ and who are very highly credentialed in worldly wisdom, claim that the Biblical teaching of a young earth created ex nihilo is embarassing for Christians, many modern evangelicals shuffle their feet and sit down at the feet of the evolutionary scribes, asking no questions but instead nodding and using white-out to eliminate problem passages.

    Even if we were to believe the story is purely allegorical/theological instead of factual, stll the principle of ex nihilo, the claim that man is made in God’s image, and the wages of sin are irrefutable and integral to the Gospel message. If God is not the world’s sole creator ex nihilo, He is unjust. If man is not made in God’s image, but is fundamentally a really advanced bag of protoplasm with an ancestral history shared by rats and viruses and weeds (another bag of worms for the theistic evolutionist – why are weeds in the fossil record if weeds are a consequence of sin), then we are not lords of creation, but mere animals. And if death came before sin, then the Christian God does not exist.

    Finally, I saw several examples of people trying to excuse their old earth/evolutionary leanings by saying ‘God can do anything’. This is clearly a weak argument, since as atheists so often like to point out – God can’t create a rock he can’t lift. In this case, God can’t create a world using a means that is antithetical to who He is. Evolution and its compatriot, belief in an old or ancient earth (since there’s no reason for an old earth of many thousands, millions, or billions of years without Evolution as the focal point), require aeons of death, burial, and more death before sin ever enters the world. So we have to chose – either the fossil record ‘reveals’ to our scientist priests the truth that God lied about His abhorence of sin and His righteous wrath bringing consequential death and destruction on His ‘very good’ creation, or the myriads of fossils heaped up all over the world are from God’s judgment of the earth for man’s wickedness.

    Fundamentally, bowing down to ‘compatible’ evolutionary teachings in order to bring on board the “intellectual, bright students’ is both short-sighted and mistaken. As I explained above, these teachings attack fundamental biblical teachings, they are not just improvements in scientific and philosophical understanding. Explaining away Genesis for the sake of the evolutionist is not serious discipleship, but will continue to weaken the evangelical community as it has already done on this blog. Holding to a strong truth of Genesis 1 and 6 will not drive away the young people such as myself, but will rather show them why they should believe Christianity, rather than other ‘strong’ and fast growing religions, such as Islam or Mormonism.

    I hope this comment will provide some balance for any wandering viewers like myself who come here occasionally but may not know what to say in response to the numerous attacks present in the above comments. And, for the record, I am a reformed evangelical catholic (small C) Christian. I believe the earth is somewhere between 6 and 8,000 years old, evolution is a crock which is having its last legs along with global warming, and future generations of Christianity will wonder why the history books reflect that so many Christians abdicated their responsibility to defend God’s truth in favor of half-baked ideas from those who wouldn’t believe, but taught anyhow.

    • Lukas db says:

      Another specific aspect to Genesis being inexplicably ignored by the commentors on this post is the fact that passages of the Bible give us evidence as to how they are to be interpeted – whether primarily practically (do not muzzle the ox as it treads out the grain), theologically, or in the case of Genesis and other sections of the Bible, historically.

      This ‘aspect of Genesis’ is hardly being ignored; it is being refuted. Much of the argument surrounding this post and others on the topic is whether or not Genesis is historical. The issue is hardly so black-and-white as you make it out to be. There are many indications that the Genesis accounts are replies or theological counterarguments to existing pagan creation myths, down to the use of ‘Elohim’ to mean ‘God’ in the first verse. I’m not saying the case is closed; far from it. But it is unjust to portray opponents of your viewpoint as opponents of the Bible.

      And if death came before sin, then the Christian God does not exist.

      You’re staking a lot on a single claim here. Is it really utterly impossible to reconcile death with sinlessness, in any shape manner or form? Again, the answer to this question is not nearly so obvious as you suppose. It is true that theistic evolutionists do struggle with the idea of death. But struggling with hard questions is hardly a new occupation within Christianity. Just because something doesn’t have an easy answer doesn’t mean we need to start flinging about anathemas. It is in asking the hard questions that we learn the most about God. Let us ask: is there any such thing as good or proper death, for beast or man? Or, to put it another way: how can living systems function without death? For anything to eat, something else must die. For anything to grow, old cells must die to be replaced by new. Death seems to be fundamentally built into life. Trying to explain life without death is at least as problematic as explaining death without sin.

      You contend that understanding Genesis non literally is a reaction to modern science, a sell-out to an intellectual fad. But the opposite is true. The ‘literal’ reading of Genesis is a quite recent development; before about 200 years ago, Genesis was never regarded as a factual, historical account. Read Augustine, for example. The bulk of church history is in favor of a non literal reading.

      You seem to believe those who disagree with you are ducking, dodging, falling into worldviews that are more convenient at the expense of truth. This is not the case. Many Christians who accept even the possibility of evolution do so with the knowledge that it will be very inconvenient for them. It often leads only to anger, rejection, and hostility among friends, relatives, and church members. You think we are ransoming the integrity of the Bible to be fashionable. But we find the Bible makes more sense, is immeasurably enriched, by an open discussion of its meanings, its genres.