October 23, 2017

The Skinny on Science and Creation

Creation of Man, Chagall

By Chaplain Mike

We Christians continue to have quite a discussion on the early chapters of Genesis and how they relate to the scientific findings of the past couple hundred years. The heat of the current debate was turned up a notch in the past few days with the release of Christianity Today’s cover story on the historical Adam.

Here at Internet Monk this week, we have brought out some old and new posts to address the issue, and today we will conclude our focus on the subject for awhile.

Despite the passion many feel regarding this matter, apparently younger generations are yawning. Matt Rossano’s article, “The (Lack of) Conflict between Science and Religion in College Students” cites a Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion study that surveyed 10,000 students from 200 colleges and universities across America and yielded some surprising results. Students were questioned during both their freshman and junior years so that changes in their attitudes could be tracked. Here is what those doing the study found:

Results showed that nearly 70 percent of college freshman saw the science/religion relationship as one of either independence or collaboration. The minority who saw science and religion in conflict were roughly evenly split between those who sided with religion (17 percent) and those who sided with science (14 percent). Even more interesting was the fact that when students changed their opinion over time, the most likely change was moving from a conflict position to one of non-conflict (either independence or collaboration). For example, 70 percent of those who as freshmen said they were on “religion’s side” had changed to a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors. Similarly, 46 percent of freshmen who said they were on “science’s side” had adopted a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors. By contrast, only 13 percent of freshman who took a non-conflict position changed to one of conflict by their junior year (5 percent to religion’s side, 8 percent to the side of science). For most students, more education means less science/religion conflict, not more.

Perhaps young people are tired of the fight. Perhaps they are finding ways to synthesize their understanding. Some might warn that this is a sign we are losing are youth to “secular humanism” and ungodliness. Others might bemoan that our young don’t seem to care anymore. At any rate, even with these findings, I don’t think the issue is going away any time soon.

Today, I will set forth my “State of the Union”—an overview and summary of my position. This will draw together a number of different thoughts that have been expressed separately since I’ve been blogging here and at other sites. I won’t do a lot of explanation or present detailed arguments, but simply state and summarize each point.

Adam and Eve, Chagall

THE SKINNY ON SCIENCE AND CREATION

1. I am not a concordist. That fancy word means someone who tries to integrate contemporary science into their interpretation of the Bible. However, the early chapters of Genesis do not address modern scientific issues. A simple example of how folks force scientific concepts on the Bible is when they try to harmonize the “days” of creation with long geological ages. The author of Genesis had no such conception and we should not impose it on him. A day is a day, and just because some think the earth is old, we should not look for syntheses with modern scientific findings in ancient Scripture. Such efforts disrespect the text.

Note: Despite this, I made an effort the other day in my post, “Paul, Christ, and Adam,” to attempt some synthesis between a scientific understanding of an old earth and Paul’s teaching about Adam. The more I think about it, the more I don’t like what I wrote, and the less comfortable I am with the approach. I am leaving it online (lame as it is) only as an exhibit of my lack of enthusiasm for this method.

2. I am not a Young-Earth Creationist (YEC). The reason I do not hold the YEC view is that I don’t think it accurately represents the teaching of Scripture. It does not respect the genre and literary form of the text. It fails to recognize the purpose of the text in the context of the Torah. It dismisses the ANE cultural background of the text. It falsely asserts that the text is simple and straightforward, when in fact it presents great challenges to interpreters. It does not adequately consider additional texts in the Bible that teach other perspectives on creation. It holds to notions of strict inerrancy and literalistic interpretation that I find insufficient and wrongheaded. Without appealing to science at all, I find the YEC view completely lacking.

3. My first commitment is to reading the Biblical text carefully. I believe the narratives of Genesis 1-11 are: (A) Theological in nature, not scientific or even “historical” in the sense that we have come to expect in modern terms; (B) Written in the genre of Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies that reflect the “science” of the day, not of our time; (C) Written to be read in the context of the story of the entire Torah with language and lessons appropriate to its target audience, and can therefore be understood fully only by appreciating the setting and author’s intention; (D) Written primarily to point us to Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the New Creation.

Job Praying, Chagall

4. I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know.” How does the “creation” account in Genesis 1 fit with the evolutionary findings of science? I have a few ideas, but bottom line—I don’t know. How does the story of God creating Adam fit with the evolutionary development of human beings? I made an unsatisfactory effort the other day to figure it out, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t know. How does death before the Fall fit with Paul’s assertion about the consequence of Adam’s sin? Again, I don’t know. I have some thoughts to share, we can talk about it, and I’m always happy to learn more, but I don’t imagine we are going to find fully satisfying answers to such questions from either Scripture or scientific discoveries. Fiery dogmatism is therefore unwarranted. We could all use a bit of Job’s humility when pondering the marvels of creation.

5. I do not think that “science” is as flawed and misguided as YEC’s and other charge. If YEC’s are correct in their interpretations, it is not just the specific discipline of biological evolution that is wrong, but all the scientific disciplines. The entire scientific enterprise from astronomy to zoology is built upon models of understanding how the universe and world work that contradict the narrow Biblical literalism of YEC proponents. But tell me, who should I, a lay person, believe when it comes to scientific claims? Someone like Francis Collins or John Polkinghorne? Or someone like Ken Ham and those who write the articles at Answers in Genesis?

I do not deny that science has its zealots and anti-religion folks, maybe even more than its share. And their side is not without guilt when it comes to playing political games and launching attacks against those who hold other views. Also, it is certainly true that the scientific consensus should be continually challenged. (In fact it is, all the time, as scientists do their work, publish articles for peer review, and push for new understandings. That is the nature of the scientific process.) But to this educated layman’s perspective, I don’t see much that offers a genuine challenge to the basic models by which current scientific disciplines analyze and interpret nature’s processes—and certainly nothing leading to findings that would confirm a YEC viewpoint.

6. Fear and political warfare threaten to trump scholarship, listening, and imagination. It is easier for the “fundamentalists” on both extremes of the culture war spectrum to loudly proclaim their positions and fight for strategic advantage over their opponents than it is for them to listen to folks on the other side and treat them as neighbors who disagree rather than enemies. Both the “new atheists” and folks like the YEC proponents have invested much in keeping the battles going. Neither side listens very well and both sides see any sign of generosity toward the other position as dangerous compromise. Perhaps one inference to be drawn from the study noted above is that young people are tired of ducking shrapnel. On the Christian side, I would heartily welcome more Francis Collinses in science and Bruce Waltkes in Biblical studies to challenge us toward a rigorous, respectful ongoing discussion.

7. It’s time to grow up. This is another area where the evangelical community can learn from the Roman Catholic Church. Read the Catechism. Read solid articles like “Adam, Eve, and Evolution” from Catholic Answers. Note the ability to distinguish between fundamentals and non-fundamentals in Catholic teaching about the Bible and the findings of science. Note how they encourage discussion and allow a range of acceptable interpretive options. Above all, note how Roman Catholic institutions are recognized as being at the forefront of respected scholarship in the world. Compare that with the sideshow some evangelicals sell tickets for, and the contrast between mature, serious study and spoon-fed dogma becomes apparent.

I will conclude with some words I wrote in April, 2010:

I am not saying, “Let’s all get along,” or “Let’s just give in” to a certain position. I’m saying, let’s love the Lord with all our minds, people. Let’s learn to talk to one another. Let’s learn to pick our battles, and when we identify them, let’s fight them with the Lord’s own weapons of humility, love, and service. Let’s learn how to be followers of Jesus in the real world.

  • First, if you think science presents important issues for Christians and you want to sound off about those issues, get a sound science education. Read deeply and broadly, be humble and patient. Take the place of a learner before you start spouting your “convictions.” Learn to recognize sloppy scholarship and biased research, and refuse to let yourself be taken in by propaganda on any side of the issues. Hold your positions with an open mind until you know enough to be convinced, and even then, commit yourself to being a lifelong learner. The scientific endeavor is one of continual reevaluation and change. Don’t stop growing.
  • Second, with all the resources available today, there is no excuse for anyone being ignorant of the Bible, how to study it, the history of its interpretation, and the various ways its passages may be understood. Don’t let anyone tell you there is only one way to faithfully interpret a passage like Genesis 1. Think and study for yourself, and listen to the voices of those who have grappled with it before you. If it’s important enough for you to “take a stand” on an issue, it’s important enough to devote yourself to serious study with regard to that subject. That means reading and listening to positions you may not agree with. That means being able to talk to other people without getting all defensive and calling them names.

I am so over this aspect of culture war Christianity. Let’s grow up.

Comments

  1. Amen. As Reverend Dr Laurence Keene says, “There’s nothing wrong with having a fifth-grade understanding of God [or the Bible], as long as you’re in the fifth grade…”

    Genesis is a folk tale, a myth, that somehow–miraculously, mystically–shines brilliantly with the light of God. I’m 23, and I don’t understand why folks can’t just accept that parts of the Bible are holy BECAUSE they are myths. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has read both chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Genesis that the creation stories are conflicting in narrative. I would much rather look for nuance in the text–for instance, the fact that in the Genesis 2 account, the Hebrew language used suggests that God first created an androgynous being, and that only after the creation of Eve do the sexes appear. Indeed, there is a rabbinic tradition that maintains a human is not a whole being until male and female are reunited.

    I say this not to spark another debate, but just to point out that the scriptures have so much more depth than what we give them credit for when we just argue about their historicity. We watch movies and read books because there is something in them that speaks to us, something true and–we hope–universal. Suspension of disbelief works for us in these cases without spoiling the truths that they hold, so why can the same standard not be applied to critical readings of the scriptures?

    Thanks for this beautiful and eye-opening post, Mike.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’m 23, and I don’t understand why folks can’t just accept that parts of the Bible are holy BECAUSE they are myths.

      Someone on one of these threads (maybe Chaplain Mike himself) theorized that this was crossover fallout from the Enlightenment/Age of Reason/Industrial Revolution. That early 19th Century ideas and approaches of Logic and Engineering crossed over into Theology and Bible interpretation, to the point the imagery and power of Myth were lost and there was only an Engineering Manual of FACT, FACT, FACT.

      “His mind is made of wheels and metal.”
      — Treebeard re Saruman

  2. David L says:

    You seem to be where I’m at. You’re just much better at articulating it.

    Of course one side will call you a foolish believer in fairy tales while the other will consider you a heretic.

    How does it go? You must be doing something right if everyone is mad at you?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When you’re taking friendly fire from both sides, you’re probably on the right path.

  3. …yes please…can we just grow up???

    really???

    • Someone in the I-Monestary needs to do a Rodney King impersonation on behalf of the creationism debate!!! 😯 Can we all just get along?

  4. I think you nailed it Mike. A little humbleness and open-minded sentiment is the way to go with early chapters of Genesis. It’s immediately clear that the first bit of Genesis is so, so different from the rest of the Bible in terms of literary type and interpretative model. Such dogmatism as YECs use in regards to it is simply not justified, and the (fallacious) slippery slope argument does not apply.

    • The forgetfulness of recent Church history is really disconcerting to me…

      There were basically two branches of Protestantism in the late 1800’s, based on their reaction to Modernism (including Evolution).

      The “mainstream” Protestants – who are now typified by PCUSA, ELCA, and the (self-destructing) Anglican and Episcopalians.

      “Fundamentalists” – who are now known as Evangelicals (I would group elements of PCA and LCMS in here).

      These churches are now completely destroyed in terms of their Gospel presentation and adherence to orthodox doctrines. Was it evolution? Maybe, maybe not. But you can’t overlook it.

      • Both sides of this split were entrenched in modernism. It was simply a matter of what things they emphasized. The liberals moved toward trying to rationalize the miraculous and supernatural, and ultimately started questioning the very nature of Christ. The fundamentalist side was beholden to rationalist thought in its own way. That’s how views of Scripture that came to emphasize inerrancy and literalism came about.

        • Ok, so then adopting the same (or similar) positions as the Liberals isn’t a “slippery slope” – it’s failing to learn from history.

          • The problem with the “liberals” was that they abandoned the gospel.

          • Sure, but they didn’t start on day 1 saying “Let’s throw out the Gospel”. In fact, even today, they think they have the Gospel (they’ve forgotten what the Gospel is).

            They started wanting to be “relevant” and in-line with modern science.

          • The issue wasn’t so much that the liberal were for evolution, it’s that the fundamentalists framed the argument so that evolution became a litmus test. The lesson we should learn is that when we divide ourselves on issues that aren’t about the Gospel, we all lose.

            I really don’t think the reason why the mainstream churches you mentioned are losing membership/influence is their views on evolution.

          • Sure, the problem is that people have a bunch of ideas – some good, some bad, some indifferent. So we can say, “Don’t be like the liberals, look where they ended up”. Now, which ideas contributed to that, which ones were dependent (or logical followed), etc.

            I think the heart of it is the foundation of Scripture. When you start to question things in the Bible “based on what everyone knows to be true”, you can come to all sorts of bad conclusions.

            • “I think the heart of it is the foundation of Scripture.”

              That’s my field, Nedbrek. And if you notice, my criticism of certain interpretations is based solely on interpretive issues, not “based on what everyone knows to be true.”

          • Well of course the foundation is Scripture, but it’s way too easy to make Scripture say something it’s not really saying. We can’t approach the Bible in naivete and expect to simply come away with the correct understanding of all issues that may arise from reading it. If a Christian believes that God created the earth, I believe that’s enough of an understanding to go from. What he thinks about the actual processes involved are relatively unimportant.

            I also don’t want to be the person judging the motivations of Christians on this issue. If a Christian believes evolution is the most plausible view for the mechanism involved in creation, I don’t think it’s fair to convict of not taking Scripture seriously or as a foundation to their faith. Nor do I think that all who do believe in evolution will become liberals.

          • The problem I’ve seen is that most of the people doing the deep theological work on reconciling Evolution with Christianity are liberals. The non-liberals tend to say “I haven’t developed everything so far”.

            Now, the question is then, does developing things all the way cause a shake-out (where liberals continue, and orthodox reject Evolution)…

          • I can think of several theologians, writers, and pastors offhand who aren’t liberals who at least lean towards an evolutionary perspective. People like N.T. Wright, Alister McGrath, and Greg Boyd come to mind immediately, but I’m sure I could think of more given time. These men aren’t liberals, and they’ve done “deep theological work” to use your term. I just don’t see it as nearly a slippery slope as you seem to.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “The problem with the “liberals” was that they abandoned the gospel.”

            True, but we should keep in mind that this is a very specific use of the word “liberal”, in “liberal theology”. “Liberal” is tossed around very loosely, in both religious and political contexts. If a church, for example, ordains women this might be described as “liberal” but it has nothing to do with “liberal theology”. Female clergy don’t seem all that liberal? (After all, some Pentecostals have been ordaining women all along.) Then substitute gay. It still has nothing to do with “liberal theology”.

            True liberal theology has, at least to me, a rather quaint air to it. I might expect it from a theologian of a certain age (and perhaps with Birkenstocks and a pony tail now very very far back on his head) but I would be very surprised to hear it from the pulpit, or in private conversation for that matter, from a clergyman active in parish ministry.

            Liberal theology as an Evangelical bugaboo has a sad air to it. That fight is over. The Evangelical side won, and I am glad of it. Refighting it endlessly is like a rock band making a career of touring playing their four hits from thirty years ago.

          • N.T. Wright – what I’ve seen from him seems embroiled in a debate about justification, not issues of Creation

            Alister McGrath – I don’t get him. I read “Reenchanting Nature” but it didn’t make much sense to me.

            Greg Boyd – he’s an Open Theist. IIRC he denied that Heaven is a real place in his interview with Todd Friel (can’t find the transcript, only video links right now).

          • Seems like you think anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a “liberal”… I’ve read books from all these men – Wright and Boyd extensively, almost everything both of them have written, and I can assure you that they are completely orthodox in their views.

          • Ned…so what is the alternative? Using the Bible as a Biology text book in high school? I think Chaplin Mike is spot on. Fundegelicalism is going to have to think on its feet because science is advancing at a rate that could choke the Christian faith if people don’t contemplate. Take some of the issues today…

            1. What if science finds an explanation for homosexuality? What will the church do…sticl their head in the ground?
            2. Say NASA or some government space agnecy finds proof of an alien human race outside our Solar System. What will that do for the concept of original sin? And salvation related issues?
            On and on it goes…..

          • The obvious solution is that science cannot tell us anything about history. Let history be history (reliant on written accounts). Let science be science (observe and repeat).

            Then there is no conflict.

          • Phil, would you agree that Boyd is an Open Theist?

          • Sure, Boyd is an open theist – he self-identifies as one. Heck, if pushed to label myself, I probably would call myself that too. To me, it seems to make the most sense of the Biblical narrative, and it just seems to square with the way we actually experience the world. Anyway, I don’t see how that matters to any of this conversation. Although, Boyd does do a good job of putting forth a coherent theodicy as it relates to creation, evolution, etc., in his book Satan and the Problem of Evil.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “…science cannot tell us anything about history. Let history be history (reliant on written accounts). Let science be science (observe and repeat).”

            This is true in one sense of the word “history”. In this sense we can talk about how history begins with the Sumerian invention of writing. Everything before that is pre-history.

            But if we are using the word “history” in the broader sense of stuff that happened in the past, then the notion that science cannot tell us anything is pure nonsense. To pick an easy example, repeated observation tells us the rate of decay of carbon 14 and its decay products. So if we examine a sample of material and observe carbon 14 and its known decay products in a particular proportion, we can infer something about its past. There are complications in interpreting what exactly it is that we can infer (in much the same way that there are complications about how we read ancient texts) but this does make it illegitimate to use this as one tool of inquiry into the past.

          • Even among the conservatives at Princeton Theological Seminary there was a difference of opinion on evolution. B.B. Warfield illustrates the case: “I do not think that there is any general statement in the Bible or any part of the account of creation, either as given in Genesis 1 and 2 or elsewhere alluded to, that need be opposed to evolution.”

            Its overly simplex to say acceptance of a particular interpretation of origins automatically means that one must, out of necessity, willy-nilly adopt a host of novel doctrines or methods. It would be more accurate to note, simply, that modern thought has presented Christianity with a number of challenges or questions (new models of origins being just one), and that people have offered a number of potential responses ranging from wholesale adoption to utter repudiation. One is not automatically on a “slipper slope” toward one extreme or the other. (It is not even strictly clear that liberal Protestantism and fundamentalist Protestantism are even polar-opposites on a spectrum; I imagine that a total outsider would likely observe our theological debates and notice many similarities in the assumptions of both sides.)

          • “So if we examine a sample of material and observe carbon 14 and its known decay products in a particular proportion, we can infer something about its past”

            And if God intervened in the past, how would you know?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            So Liberal Modernism (TM) and Evangelical Fundamentalism (TM) were both reactions to the social stress of 19th Century thought. And like Communism begetting Objectivism, they became funhouse mirror reflections of each other in a Zoroastrian eternal opposition.

            And if God intervened in the past, how would you know?

            That’s a variant on the Omphalos Argument, and the Omphalos Argument is literally unprovable and un-disprovable. Because any evidence against YEC is explained as “God Intervened to Create that Evidence”, and everything was Created with a perfect chain of evidence backstory. It’s literally untestable.

            Plus, the Omphalos Argument has this gut feeling of Dishonesty. For me, it’s too much like a DM caught in an inconsistency by his players trying to frantically handwave it away. Or Star Trek Voyager with its Unknown Space Anomaly of the week technobabbling away.

          • “It’s literally untestable.” So? Why does everything need to be testable?

            “this gut feeling of Dishonesty” The changes would have related to initial Creation and the Flood, which doesn’t make it seem dishonest at all. God had a purpose to fulfill and He did it, directly and powerfully. There were significant effects, which we see today.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “And if God intervened in the past, how would you know?”

            Science is the study of nature. By definition, it does not address the supernatural. So if we are discussing matters such as the resurrection, where a supernatural event takes place within nature, then you have a good point. If we are talking about the creation of nature, then we have a young natural world created by God to be indistinguishable from an old world where the same laws of nature have always applied.

            In an abstract sense, why should we care? If the world is six thousand years old, but indistinguishable from a much older world, then isn’t God’s creation still worth studying? And aren’t the various ways in which it appears older part of this study? If someone wants to study evolution with a qualifier in his mind, that he is actually studying the manner in which God made his creation appear older, that is fine. It makes no practical difference.

            If, on the other hand, the point is to throw our hands up in the air and declare that nothing is knowable, because God can intervene any time and makes things look different, then I would note that this is as true of written texts as it is of carbon 14 decay. Yet you seem willing to accept the authority of texts for the study of history.

          • Right, if you read the guys at AIG, ICR, etc. they take the studies seriously and they try to figure stuff out (they make a lot of mistakes too). No one is saying “don’t do science”.

          • David L says:

            As long as the AIG has this statement of faith:

            2. The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of creation.
            5. The view, commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of biblical teaching, that knowledge and/or truth may be divided into secular and religious, is rejected.
            6. By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

            Then any evidence that contradicts their interpretation of the KJV of the bible is to be rejected. Which means they are NOT doing science.

            Read the entire statement here:
            http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith

          • It depends on how you define science (and knowing/epistemology).

            If science means naturalistic materialism, or the assumption of neutrality, rationalism, higher criticism, or any man-centered doctrine – then you’re right, no YEC organization will ever do that.

            If you mean test and observe, then there is no conflict.

          • David L says:

            There is no conflict for them because they basically reject any observations that lead to results they do not like. They do observe but then claim the observations were invalid.

            If you’re going to explore the natural world you have to take the data that you find. Not reject it because it doesn’t fit the pre-defined answer. In science when you get such data you are supposed to figure out how to account for such data. With AIG they account for it by saying miracle or bad data. And to them most data these days is bad.

          • Whatever AIG is doing, it’s not science…

          • So, for the faith-based crowd, it is not a conflict between faith and science, but between “bad science” which contradicts scripture and “good science” which upholds it. Of course, any course of inquiry which takes that approach cannot be defined as science. It’s more selectively parsing data to prove the Bible is true than a no-holds-barred inquiry into the foundations of our world.

  5. I am tired of the slippery slope arguments. “If we believe….our whole system of faith will collapse” If our faith is really that weak, we have bigger problems than YEC.

    • Fundementalist authoriterian systems thrive by it. Our way or the highway, all or nothing. It leads people to make huge decisions. For example in my case it was be a fundy and believe xyz about the rapture, etc or be nothing. I decided on the nothing part. Actually Allen late this June will mark the third anniversary of walking away from the dog and pony show that some fundys call…church.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I am reminded of a comparison of the American and Soviet Russian systems made by a Russian expat during the late Cold War. Both used the image of a ball rolling around in a trough which if it broke free of the trough would collapse the system.

      In the American system, the trough was wide and its walls were high and steep, with a lot of tolerance for movement. The ball could roll around freely (and often violently) but not hard enough to roll up the steep walls and break out of the trough.

      The Russian system had a bowling ball in a small angle-sided notch, with little tolerance for movement. (As in a slippery slope where any movement brought imminent danger of escape and collapse.) The only way to keep it from jumping out was to prevent it from rolling at all, by strapping and bolting and screwing it down so it couldn’t move at all.

  6. Excellent summary, CM. Note that your statement

    ‘Take the place of a learner before you start spouting your “convictions.” ‘

    is true of just about anything. Too many (and I’m guilt myself) pontificate and want to argue with the experts when they’ve never even cracked a real book on the subject. To be fair, many are well meaning and simply quote writings of people they trust. From my own experience, I’ve often found that when I went directly to the real sources and studied them, it turned out that those people I trusted had their own agendas and didn’t really give the whole story. Until one has actually read and studied the subject, better to humbly listen and not vigorously defend positions based on speculation or make assumptions about the motivations of those on the other side.

  7. I have been studying these scriptures in both a Torah study at our synagogue and in the Bethel study at my church. I think we have to read these chapters for whom they were written and the time in which they were written. We have to think of this as a story not a scientific paper. I like all the back and forth that has been happening this week. We are just finishing a discussion of “Seeing Gray in a world of Black and White” this week. i think this will be part of our discussion. Thank you all for sharing your opinions and beliefs.

  8. Great job, CM. I think the best point here is #4…being able to say “I don’t know”. It’s difficult for a pastor, who should be an assumed “expert” on all things spiritual, to admit that “Hey, I wasn’t there when the world was made, so I don’t know all of the intimate details.” My wife and I had a long discussion about this the other night…we both believe in a literal six day creation, but really aren’t concerned about young earth, gap theories, and whether 6 days means 6000 years. We’re pretty much comfortable with the idea that if we get to heaven, God isn’t going to zap us with lightning or send us to purgatory over where we stand on the age of the earth. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Switchfoot’s “Economy of Mercy” asks the pertinent question…”Where was I when the world was made?”

    We live in a college town, where, if you begin talking about faith with someone, the conversation often drifts toward politics or creation theories. I do the best I can to keep conversations on the person of Christ, but it’s difficult at times. So, I try to be well informed on both sides of the argument. I avoid the regurgitation of bullet points I learned on a day trip to a Noah’s Ark theme park…Doing so comes across as haughty and snarky, and you just don’t win people to Christ by being a horses’ behind about non-essentials.

    I once worked with a pastor that told me a person couldn’t be saved unless they believed in a literal six day creation, because you have to believe in the literal entirety of Scripture to be saved. It’s dangerous water to swim in, and I think possibly a good IM topic for another time, but I would like to hear how other IM posters feel about this. I agree that if we pick apart the Bible, and choose only the Scriptures that appeal to us as truth, then we can become Deists, and not necessarily Christians…but is there room for some of the historical OT writings to be viewed as snippets of a grand narrative, a part of a larger story, where some of the smaller details aren’t as essential as foundations of faith?

    • Much as I support inerrancy, statements like

      “you have to believe in the literal entirety of Scripture to be saved”

      to me miss the forest for the trees. There’s a big difference between understanding and accepting that Jesus rose from the dead and the question of how many people exactly went with Jacob from Canaan to Egypt or how many donkeys were in Ezra’s entourage. That’s how this IM poster feels about it, at least.

      • My thoughts exactly…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “you have to believe in the literal entirety of Scripture to be saved”

        Scripture (TM) is Christianese for Koran?

      • “you have to believe in the literal entirety of Scripture to be saved”
        It’s a wonder how anybody got to heaven in the centuries before the New Testament was cannonized.

        • When you realize that it has only been 500 years or so that mass-produced books have been around and only a couple of hundred years that most laypersons might have owned their own copy of the Bible, it is amazing how dogmatic many have become about believers being bibliophiles.

          • Wonderful, wonderful point, CM. I humbly venerate (but don’t worship) your wisdom :o)…

          • Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…I like that. I would be fascinated to know how Christinaity survived or functioned when Bibles wee not easily accesible? Don’t tell me Christian history went from Jesus teaching to suddenly a Bible in every home. How did Christians worship, live, teach, etc…when the technology didn’t exist to make the Bible physically accssible.

          • I understand where the comment about wide accessibility is coming from, but I tend to see that the church has been a people of Scripture right from the beginning, even if there wasn’t a Bible in every home. The early church fathers quoted Scripture as Scripture extensively and we’re told that Scripture was read in churches regularly—every Christian was thoroughly exposed to the Bible. So were “heretics” for that matter because they made arguments from the same Scriptures as the orthodox—not a Bible in every home, but widespread use of Scripture. Gibbon in the history of Constantinople mentions that from the least to the greatest, questions of Scripture and theology were on everyone’s lips.

            We’re perhaps poor stewards of the abundance of Biblical wealth we have today in ways CM has documented so well, but I don’t think there’s ever been a time in Christianity where the church was not a “people of the Book.”

      • Arthur Gonzerelli says:

        If the Creation story from Genesis can be some kind of symbol, and not something that happened literally, then why can’t we say the same about the Resurrection? Is it just because our religious culture needs this story, but not so much that other one, to be true?

        • Well, our faith is centered around the death and resurrection of Christ, not the age of the earth or the exact mechanism of its creation. Trying to make a specific view of creation a cornerstone of the faith is like choosing to buy an entire car based on the floor mats.

          • Arthur’s response is what I meant by “dangerous water to swim in”. Creation, I believe, is a major sticking point for non-believers…If we say it’s a non-essential belief, then it’s confusing to the seeker, and they’ll wonder if resurrection or virgin birth is essential (see Velvet Elvis). It creates a conversation where you’re answering questions with questions…”Do you believe in a six day creation?”…”Does it really matter?”…We do this, and our conversations with non-believers become fodder for Brian McLaren’s next book.

            I think it’s probably an easier task for a mature believer to adhere to Eugene Peterson’s take on Hebrews 3:1…”So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe..”…than it is for a non-believer. I say that with the knowledge that there are tons of seasoned pastors who would rather preach creationism than Christ…heavy sigh…I guess seasoning and maturity aren’t always the same thing, though…

          • I agree with CM…the Catechism is a great thing for us all to be familiar with, in terms of essential beliefs…

        • Apple and oranges

          • I think his question is how do you decide which stories you take at face value and which ones do you rework. What is the standard?

          • “What is the standard?”

            Easy. Which story was presented as historic prose, and which one as (mythic?) poetry? For me, at least, this one’s a no-brainer.

          • Nedbrek, the resurrection narratives are apologetic in nature, giving many direct evidences that what the apostles were witnessing to really happened and that Jesus really was physically alive in their midst. The creation narratives are not trying to “prove” anything by evidence. They are declarative, explanatory cosmogonies. They teach who created and why, tell what place human beings have in God’s world, and what went wrong with us.

            No one is “reworking” anything. The goal is to read Scripture according to its genre and authorial intention.

          • I guarantee, if you work through all the implications of Evolution you will find it is incompatible with any notion of sin.

            • I admitted in the post that I don’t know how to reconcile that, Nedbrek. Your objections to evolution are clearly theological. I respect that and at this point don’t have a complete answer for some of those theological questions. That does not mean, however, that I automatically reject what appears on the other hand to be a solid consensus of opinion regarding scientific findings, especially when Christian thinkers much smarter than I am agree with that consensus. I know my limitations, my lack of expertise and knowledge at this point, and am willing to engage in discussion rather than take a strong stand in relative ignorance. This has happened before, after all, with Copernicus and Galileo, and it did not turn out well for the church.

        • I don’t think Chaplain Mike was saying that the creation story is all symbolic. I think that he believes it contains both actual history and God-breathed metaphor.

      • I heard this line of thinking from a fundegelical mega chruch empire in the DC area about the pre-tribulation rapture. A needless and pointless way to look at things. Not only that it entraps people.

  9. Clay Knick says:

    Mike, The only thing I do not like about this post is that I did not write it. What a breath of fresh air.

  10. Mike – sorry, but what does ANE stand for?

  11. One more Mike says:

    Put me (at 50+) with the college kids…although I am about to complete my Masters so I am a college kid, sort of. I do not care. You can believe the earth was created 6000 or 15 billion years ago or was vomited up by the great drunken crocodile last weekend and that’s fine with me because your personal “beliefs” don’t change my personal relationship with word and sacrament; unless I have to hold your “beliefs” on these, what I consider, non-essentials, or you won’t commune with me; or that I am wrong or not a christian because I don’t agree with you. I refuse to take BS philosophy tests anymore. At this stage of my life, I don’t need programs or fellowship or “help” and life is too short to argue with convinced true believers anymore. I can truly take it or leave it and have left evangelicalism and am presently “unchurched” (in “church growth” parlance) because of the damned silliness and the silliest of the many silly things is the creation wars. No one wins, the church universal is losing and souls are being lost because so many churches would rather be comfortable philosophical ghettoes than the body of Christ. And this is not just evangelical churches, and “creationism” is not the only war, there’s plenty of asininity splashing about. We’ve learned nothing from the past, the church is no closer to being “one” and the creation war is a stumbling block to many. And that’s a shame.

  12. scrapiron says:

    As a veteran public school science teacher, heres my (admittedly cynical) perspective on why the college students mostly don’t care about the supposed controversy between science and religion and why they care even less as they progress through their college years. Mainly, I think it’s because they mostly don’t care about anything. They’ve been raised by people who care most about 1) making money 2) being comfortable and 3) being entertained. They notice that and, even though every teenager wants to be rebellious, they pretty much come to value the same things. They’re certainly not going to do something radical like read a book or some journal articles, so they can make intelligent decisions about things like science and religion. That’s like, for nerds.

    The small fraction of kids who start their college careers valuing the contorversy were probably either raised by fundamentalists and were the dorky kids in school who were always asking their high school science teacher stupid questions like “Were you there? (TM)” or were raised by militant athiests and were the equally annoying kids in high school that were always telling everyone how much better the world would be if no one believed in anything. Eventually, most of them come not to value the controversy. The fundamentalist kids because their professors will make mincemeat of them if they try the same Ken Hams tactics that their high school teachers had to put up with and the athiest kids because they’ll fall in love or see some injustice in the world that they can’t turn away from and come to realize that they really do believe in something after all.

    Christianity Today has opened a huge can of worms here, IMO. I don’t know how it is going to all shake out, but I’m guessing that lots of new lines are going to be drawn in the sand and we are going to see a lot of reasonable people leave fundagelical churches. The sad thing is that many of them will leave the church entirely. I hope my kids are not among them.

    • my eldest son just graduated from college as a construction management major…

      he is a very observant individual that can read people pretty well & has no tolerance at all for hypocrisy or hubris…

      his ‘Christian’ high school youth group indoctrination was what soured him of the manner church & culture wars were waged. his youth group leader has now ‘come-out-of-the-closet’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) 😀 according to his facebook page. the real falling out of many former practicing Christian youth has to do with the problems they have experienced themselves in the church/home environments they were raised in. being taught YEC as the ‘only’ correct view of the cosmos intellectually confining & once the opportunity later as young adults to think outside the ark-sized box happens, they discover there is more to be appreciated outside in the dark, scary world they were so earnestly warned about…

      if their faith has not been grounded in the gospel without it hinging on Genesis, the higher learning phase will be less threatening IMHO. i would like to know just how many college-aged youth have been convinced of YEC viewpoints by touring Ham’s Creation Museum. how many have been convinced such a theory plausible & worth considering? the approach is not a good method for representing Christianity, let alone the singular shrine of one man’s creationist crusade making Ararats out of, well, you get the point… 😀

      • Life is hard and can be filled with plenty of “shit happens”. When you take such a limited and authoriterian viewpoint you are going to be setting yourself up for hurt. Not only on the creation debate but so many others. Ie…evil, exclusive salvation in Christ alone, etc..

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Life is hard and can be filled with plenty of “shit happens”.

          Isn’t that what Christ pretty much said about that tower collapse in Siloam?

          • yeah, but He said it in red letters…

            at least in my bible… 😉

          • good consideration HUG…

            do you think the 18 that died in that architectural failure equally divided between YEC & OEC?

            9 for a literal Genesis account & 9 for a more relaxed understanding of the text?

            hmmm…

    • You’re right about one thing… that was cynical!

  13. Many evangelicals would say there is no conflict between the Bible and science. They would instead say that evolution (like global warming) is bad science.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      And many other Christians would also say there is no conflict between the Bible and science. They would instead say that objections to evolution (like global warming) is bad religion.

    • Which evangelicals? I’m not aware of too many working scientists who think that evolution is bad science. Even the ID’ers tend towards the idea that evolution counts for most of it with God stepping in here and there (or front-loading). Even working YEC scientists don’t all think that evolution is bad science – Todd wood being the notable example here. He’s a seriously qualified geneticist and he rejects evolution on theological not scientific grounds and has written in many places that evolution is good science.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      They would instead say that evolution (like global warming) is bad science.

      If Good Science is Science That Agrees With Me and Bad Science is Science that Doesn’t Agree With Me, how does that differ from Science in the old Soviet Union? Like Stalin’s court geneticist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko?

      • I’m not familiar with that example, but one difference might be the evident presence today of a secret cabal of secular scientists who meet to develop an anti-Christian agenda and then run their findings in that direction 🙂

    • David L says:

      The problem is that the KH/AIG crowd also says you can’t trust radiometric decay (Carbon dating) such things. In the end they basically say you can’t trust any empirical science.

      • I don’t see why you would jump from not trusting radiometric dating to not trusting any empirical science.

        • As a former YECer, they don’t trust ANY empirical science, just selective stuff. That is, anything that goes against a literal 6 day creation and a 6000 year old earth. Their position is that because this is what the Bible teaches (what they think it teaches anyways), then anything that suggests otherwise MUST BE bad science.

        • Donalbain says:

          Because radiometric dating is based on a quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics explains pretty much everything we understand that is not about gravity. If you throw out radiometric dating, you are throwing out quantum mechanics. If you throw out quantum mechanics, you are throwing out the single best tested idea that any human being has ever had, and with it you are throwing out the idea that science goes where the evidence leads.

          • The problem isn’t with QM, it’s with developing a model based on time, then running the model backwards. Models are hard enough to run forward and be correct. They cannot be run backwards reliably (there is no way to test them). I used to develop models.

          • David L says:

            Yes quantum models can be run/extrapolated back in time. But then again not if you believe that God was messing with the structure of the universe.

          • Donalbain says:

            No.. the only real problem is that people are perfectly happy to use the scientific method except when it comes up with answers they don’t like. And as far as time goes, T symmetry is pretty well understood. But you can pretend otherwise if you like, just stay the hell away from science curricula.

  14. Amen! And I gotta say, Chaplain Mike re: # 3 My first commitment is to reading the Biblical text carefully. — you’re SUCH a Lutheran. I’m saying that as one Lutheran to another. The Bible is the manger for the Christ child. It all points to Jesus. Great post.

  15. Michael H. says:

    Scientifically based doubts about the tenability of Macro-evolution are not limited to folks like Ken Ham. That is the point that is often overlooked in these discussions. Consider, for example, the book “Evolution: a theory in crisis” by biochemist Michael Denton (which I highly recommend). The discussion is so often construed as “faith versus science;” I wonder whether this does justice to the complexity of the issue. I also wonder if macro-evolution would be so prominent in the academy if it weren’t for the presuppositions of philosophical naturalism. That might explain why I hear evolutionists say things like, “evolution is the worst theory of cosmology–except for every other theory.” (ie, because other theories [read:intelligent design] bring in the supernatural) Maybe that explains it, maybe it doesn’t, but the question is worth asking.

    • I take your point, but we are certainly talking about a small minority, and if they do good work and come up with verifiable results, eventually their theories will gain approval. I’m not being naive and suggesting there are no politics involved, but there is no vast conspiracy of evolutionism. Again, I reference someone like Francis Collins or John Polkinghorne.

      • I’ve only read Polkinghorne’s “Science and the Trinity”, in it, he comes across as an Open Theist (“God does not yet know the unformed future” – page 54).

        Is there some better example of his work?

        Collins strikes me as very new to the faith. In his “Language of God” he basically argues “I’m a Christian and I believe in Evolution, therefore they are compatible”.

        • Collins has been a Christian for several decades. Don’t have “Language of God” right in front of me, but I recall him discussing his conversion experience toward the end of the book.

          • I believe Collins was in graduate school when he became a Christian, so yeah, he’s not what you’d consider a new Christian.

          • Our level of maturity as Christians correlates very poorly to our time since becoming a Christian.

        • Denis Lamoureux is another scientist/theologian. He’s an evangelical with phDs in evolutionary biology and theology. Not sure I agree with everything he says, but he’s another one out there.

      • Michael H. says:

        Chaplain Mike: I agree with you. I am not trying to suggest that opposition to macro-evolution has some kind of established place in the scientific community. My only point is that in some folk’s minds, it is a debate between the likes of Ken Ham (with all of the connotations which are–fairly or unfairly–involved) and educated people who deserve to be taken seriously, and that there are examples of dissent that don’t fit the former category, for one reason or another.

        • I hear you, Michael. But one must recognize that the loudest voices out there making this an issue of faith vs. unfaith within the evangelical community are the Ken Hams, Al Mohlers, and John MacArthurs of the world. That’s why we point to them here.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Though I have only heard the term “Macro-Evolution” used by Young Earth Creationists.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        For good reason. It is not a concept from evolutionary biology. It is a concept created to address the embarrassing fact that some evolution happens quickly enough to directly observe.

        • Michael H. says:

          Not at all. I refer you to the book by Jeffrey S. Levinton, (described as a Neo-Darwinist) “Genetics, Paleontology and Macroevolution.” Or just go to a large enough library and do some searching. Now whether the YEC folks are using it in the same sense or for what motive is a different question.

        • Daniel Routh says:

          Technically, “Micro-evolution” is the term Young Earthers use for evolution that is observable. They believe that God created the DNA with the inherent ability to change and develop within fixed parameters (they might commonly cite the Chihuahua and St. Bernard). “Macro-evolution” is the term they use to label the theory that one species can change into a completely new species, genetically speaking. Macro-evolution is more about (widely supported) theory and less about observed fact.

    • It should be noted that Michael Denton’s book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, was published in 1986. Denton stands rather alone in his arguments, and the fact that a book this old is routinely cited by creationists testifies to that fact.

      • Michael H. says:

        Certainly. My point was to bring clarity to the question of what kind of persons dissent, not to suggest that a consensus does not exist among scientists, because obviously it does.

    • I had a boss with a doctorate in economics from one ivy league school, a law degree from another and a masters in engineering on top of that. The most brilliant person I have ever been around, but he delighted in opposing the scientific consensus. If papers were being published on how the sun will rise tomorrow, he would write a paper proving it wouldn’t, and he would defend that position very well. That is just academia. You get no glory for agreeing.

  16. David Cornwell says:

    “My first commitment is to reading the Biblical text carefully. ”

    All our studies should begin at this point. And recognizing that the presuppositions that we bring with us should be held in abeyance. This includes presuppositions that originate with the Church, the Church fathers, Evangelical leaders, or parents. That doesn’t mean they are wrong, it just means they don’t belong in a study beginning at this point. Neither do commentaries.

    This reminds me of a wonderful old lady in the church I served in my student days. A nearby facility was facing a strike. During a discussion of the strike, she said that striking was not biblical, neither were unions. I asked why. Her answer was this:

    “Not given to wine, no striker…”. (1 Timothy 3)

    For her it was a settled matter.

    • Funny story.

      Reminds me of when I was kid and asked a Sunday school teacher about a phrase in (I think) Matthew 24 where it said there would be “earthquakes in divers places”. The King James version I had spelled the word “divers” whereas we typically spell it now “diverse”. I took the word to mean something to do with people who dive in the ocean rather than just meaning “various”. My teacher agreed with me and I ended up thinking that there were going to be earthquakes out under the sea.

      • I knew an guy in his 70s who liked to listen to the Bible on cassette, but would not read it for himself (even though he was literate). I asked him why, and he said because “Paul says in Romans that faith comes by HEARING”.

        I did not bother to ask him what he thought about the salvation of deaf people in our church.

    • I like this David!! 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “For people are people, and the world is full of tricks and twistiness yet undreamed of.”
        — One of the Whole Earth Catalogs

        And People Can Get So Clueless…

  17. Brady: It’s not an opinion. It’s a literal fact — which the good Bishop arrived at through careful computation of the ages of the prophets, as set down in the Old Testament. In fact, he determined that the Lord began the Creation on the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C. at, uh, 9:00am.

    Drummond: [Is] that Eastern Standard Time? Or Rocky Mountain Time? It wasn’t Daylight Saving Time, was it, because the Lord didn’t make the sun until the fourth day.

    Loving point four. Sometimes it’s okay to say I don’t know………

    • David Cornwell says:

      Indiana time, which only the cows understand.

      • that’s technically Bovine Standard Time (BST). it is the cattle equivalent of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) & more relevant to the farmer than anything a nuclear clock could track or measure… 😀

        • When I was a kid, I thought Greenwich Mean Time was an hour of the day when all the bad kids in England beat up smaller children. Seriously.

          • David Cornwell says:

            And Chaplain Mike wonders once again, How did my creaton stray off in such a strange direction?
            From the Creation itself he hears a voice saying, But I like it here, it’s so interesting.
            And another says, It’s so much fun.
            And another, But now its getting so dark.
            White yet another says We can’t possibly find our way back.
            Finally one says, I don’t even know who this Creator is now, or what the Subject was about and I’m afraid.

            And on and on the conversation went until…

          • David: it is all a clear example of thread evolution. wow. we have definitely got a case here folks!

            however, whether it is mico or macro other more authoritative types must determine…

            and such rabbit trails regarding bovine time keeping a much more pastoral pasttime, no? 😉

            p.s. now it is definitely certain though that God did make the bovine clock, correct? or did He just wind it up & let it go “mooooooo……”?

            hmmm. theological considerations follow us no matter which path we take…

  18. I’ve browsed this blog for a while, but this is the first time I’ve decided to comment.

    To put my thoughts into perspective, I’m an ex-Baha’i turned cautious-deist. I generally tend to reject the strident/vociferous forms of Christianity, but work hard to remember that even though they seem to take center stage, they’re most likely a minority.

    I find much in your post here that I both like and identify with, Mike. I too believe that the attempts to scientifically explain the Bible are (mostly?) futile, and that doing so is more a consequence of absolutism than it is a respect for the truth of the text. I personally believe there’s value in Scripture, but this value gets trampled by folks eager to vindicate their specific interpretation of it.

    I too will readily admit when I don’t have an answer for a question or conundrum, whether it be with something I’m critical of, or with my own ideas.

    It seems as if you’re generally rejecting the notion of “squaring” the Bible against contemporary understanding of science (biology, cosmology, etc). Part of me suspects this can’t be true, but that you’re instead picking and choosing which battles to fight (yes, I realize this is what you wrote, in part). If so, can you explain a bit as to where and how you draw that line? How do you decide when there’s value in referencing scripture in regards to contemporary issues, vs avoiding trying to fit a square peg in a round hole (so to speak).

    Thanks in advance

  19. Richard Hershberger says:

    “If YEC’s are correct in their interpretations, it is not just the specific discipline of biological evolution that is wrong, but all the scientific disciplines.”

    Oddly enough, scientists get this from post-modernists of the academic left as well. The idea is that all viewpoints are equally valid, so we should not privilege the viewpoint called “science”. There are books going to extraordinary lengths to try to show that scientific opinion is merely a social construct. There is remarkable agreement in conclusion, if nothing else, with the YEC crowd.

    The problem with this, from either direction, is that modern science works: not just in esoteric laboratory environments, but in everyday contexts. You are reading this on a computer, which is designed based on esoteric principles of physics developed in the 20th century. If you want to deny those principles you have to essentially claim that the designers are wrong in their beliefs about physics, but the computer works anyway because, umm…. , coincidence? Or something.

    Up until fairly recently you could semi-plausibly look past this. The operating principles of, say, a 1950s Chevy could be comprehended by a shade tree mechanic. Kids used to build radios from hobby kits, and even televisions back in the tube days could be figured out by the guy at the corner repair shop. So these inventions could be interpreted as the result of someone tinkering in his garage. This is wrong, of course. That 1950s Chevy had a lot of sophisticated metallurgy and combustion chemistry and so forth behind it. Going backwards, it is not a coincidence that practical steam engines weren’t developed until the theoretical scientists had worked out the principles of how gases act in varying temperature and pressure. But once the design is done, you don’t have to think about it anymore, and a tinkerer can perform maintenance and repair.

    This naive understanding of technology is less plausible nowadays with microchips. Anyone who sits at a computer and denies that science works believes instead in magic, even if he prefers not to call it that.

    • There is no piece of technology today that relies on the assumptions that the present is the key to the past, and that all organisms derive from a common ancestor.

      Those are the issues in play.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        The point, as I understand it, of the sentence I quoted is that science isn’t a collection of separate boxes, with each individual box available to be accepted or rejected. Science is a collection of intellectual tools for seeking out and evaluating facts. The same collection was used to create the theory of evolution as were used to create the physics underlying the chips in your computer. Of, if you want a closer tie, the genetics used to create genetically engineered crops. The scientists who worked out the modern genetics used to create those crops were working in the intellectual framework of evolutionary theory. They found it to be useful in their work. This is a remarkable coincidence, if evolution is bogus.

        • I don’t find it to be a remarkable coincidence because deep time matters very little in day to day affairs. When designing a microprocessor or doing genetic engineering, you don’t care about what happened 1e6 ya, you care about what you can see and make happen now.

          Similarly, common descent. Common descent is somewhat applicable when it comes to looking for shared functionality and DNA sequences. But that can be explained by common design. You might predict it or not predict it in either system, but no one is denying there is common functionality.

          • The Singular Observer says:

            nedbrek: Geology changed with Lyell & co. Old earth Geology has, is and will continue to help us understand the crust of this planet. Which means that OE science can be thanked for vast mineral discoveries over the last 200 years. These discoveries powered the economic engine, creating the modern world. They continue to do so. YEC’ist geology cannot tell us anything that will lead to the discovery of mineral deposists.

            Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

          • David L says:

            “When designing a microprocessor or doing genetic engineering, you don’t care about what happened 1e6 ya, you care about what you can see and make happen now.”

            You’re debating the issue backwards. The same physics that allows the design of repeatable working electronics is the same physics that points to an old universe. All of it. So when you say “use it to design my iPhone, my TV, my microwave, my GPS, the power grid, nuclear anything, any chemistry, etc… but ignore it when looking at the age of the earth” you’re indulging in major cognitive dissonance.

            And when I say chemistry, I mean the physical chemistry that explains things. And it applies to your clothes, cars, bikes, books, food, etc…

          • Ok, and how does science explain the Resurrection?

          • The Singular Observer says:

            nedbrek: It doesn’t have to. Why should it? Miracles are singularities. That’s why they are called miracles.

            Also, you are avoiding the answers here very nicely.

          • The Creation and the Flood were miracles too, no?

          • The Singular Observer says:

            Nedbrek: Christ’s resurrection did not deceive: He dies (witnesses), He came back to life (witnesses). No deception, but revelation. Same with other miracles. Indisputable. Note that we have several accounts (4 Gospels).

            Flood and Creation, while also very clearly different types of literature, point to Christ typologically, and didactically.

            Why are you still ignoring the previous answers??

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “And then A Miracle Happened… And then A Miracle Happened… And then A Miracle Happened…” as the Ultimate Eternal Trump Card.

            Miracles, like all paranormal phenomena, are by definition rare and unusual. When you can’t go two minutes without Another Miracle Happening, they’re no longer Miracles. They are what’s normal (like the Unknown Space Anomaly of the Week on Star Trek V’ger), and everything is Animism. (Or Q’s messing with us again.)

            And it all becomes handwaving. And miracles become superstitions. And we’re back to primitive Animism, where the sun rises and sets because of a Miracle, and you get sick because of a Curse. And the Waters of Chaos cover the Earth and all that dwell upon it once more, because Everything has a Supernatural Cause.

          • What answers? You say the geology makes the world go round. I say that engineers do what works. You’ve constructed a hard science fiction story and convinced yourself its the truth. I’m not impressed.

          • HUG, I have two miracles in my bag – Creation and the Flood. They’re in the Bible.

        • The Singular Observer says:

          Well, nedbrek, engineers need matter to work with. Or do you think they merely wave their wands and produce oil, gas, gold, copper, iron, vanadium, uranium, rare earths, copper, potash, platinum, silver, diamonds, coal, lead, etc. ??

          Wish I had one of those engineers on hand.

          • Sure, but it is said you can fit an equation with seven variables to any data stream. That’s what you’ve done. You’ve developed a system that matches the data (under the assumptions of materialistic naturalism). You then say “this is truth”. That’s not how truth works in my Book.

          • The Singular Observer says:

            Nedbrek, please inform us as to your science education. Because you really need to ask for your money back.

    • Great comment!

  20. Richard Hershberger says:

    “Also, it is certainly true that the scientific consensus should be continually challenged. (In fact it is, all the time, as scientists do their work, publish articles for peer review, and push for new understandings. That is the nature of the scientific process.)”

    There is a joke about alternative medicine: What do you call alternative medicine that has been shown to actually work? “Medicine”. Actually, it’s not really a joke so much as a straightforward observation.

  21. My take is that I think young people are tired of the either/or approach. There is no middle ground on some of these issues. When I was a Christian and new to it all, this topic of creationism wasn’t even an issue. As time passed Christians got loud and started to force this more and more. I think that’s why some people leave. There are a good number of fundys who seem to have this siege mentality that like and like for conflict. Maybe they need it to feed their faith. This can be no differnet thna the way some Christians just know how to nit-pick and find the flaws of another.

    Also if its not relevant there’s going to be no interest and greater apathy. Modern times is going to present Christinaity with more challenges. It already lacks intellectualism, and scholarly analysis. The little that exsits has to be very narrow in its approach.

  22. Lump me in with your yawning students. How God created the earth is of zero interest to me. It was obviously done with a lot of loving care – I love the way Genesis describes him crafting the solar systems of the universe in such a way to provide measurable signs and seasons. I bet if he has other sentient life in this galaxy with us, he made our solar system good for their seasons too,and they appreciate it just as much. Now that we know something about how our solar system works, I am immensely grateful that he blessed us with the giant asteroid and meteor catcher Jupiter, just as I am daily thankful that he went with taste buds that bring pleasure instead of some kind of purely functional “is food good for sustanance” filter.

    I think the literal Adam/Eve question is much more important, not yawn worthy at all. Arguing whether days were literal in Genesis or if guided evolution counts as creation ultimately leads to the same story: in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and it was good. He is capable of changing carbon decay rates and creating fossils, but he is also at work in every genetic combination (forming in mother’s wombs) out there and capable of preventing the natural effects of inbreeding. Whatever! But if Adam is suddenly a tribe of people, that does muddle the story up. Now whoever ate of the forbidden tree (or type of tree???) has ancestors, and what was their deal with God? If it is an old earth with young humanity, what is the meaning of those fossils that suggest homo otherthings? To me, those questions have a lot more theological implications.

    Ultimately, though, I’m satisfied to find out how that all worked from our Lord himself, and much more excited to see what redeemed creation looks like. As augustine commented, if our fallen creation can have this much beauty, what the next will be like boggles my imagination.

  23. CM – Thanks for this. It’s a tough place (the Evangelical world) to take a stand on a position like this. I appreciate your willingness to talk about it and to even say something as drastic as… I don’t know.

  24. The Singular Observer says:

    Due to the CT article, there have been debates about YEC/evolution all over the blogosphere – and I because I’m both a Christian (Lutheran) and a geologist, I seem to be drawn in….

    Also, reader beware – apparenly I’m also a dangerous evil heretic (with knobs on), because I am not a YEC’ist, and do not take the literalist view on Genesis1 – 11.

    But basically:
    1. There is plenty of textual evidence to suggest that Genesis 1-11 is not literalist history.
    2. “Creation Science” is not credible. In my own field, I can say with confidence that you cannot trust these people, AT ALL. They conveniently misinterpret, exclude contrary data, and misinform.
    3. The amount of evidence for an old earth/universe, and evolution, and all that implies, is so high, that to deny that evidence, or make it off as some wrong theory, is to deny the vary nature of all rational inquiry.

    Thus you are left with 3 options:
    1. A non-literal Genesis 1 – 11, an old Earth, with the Gospel still being the Gospel, with a God that loves us etc etc.
    2. A God that deceives us by making everything appear old, and then want us to believe the contrary. This is not in character with the Trinity, I believe.
    3. Reason is defective – ie,as my good friend “Webmonk” puts it, we are living in a ultrapostmodernist’s wet dream. Reason is useless, language means whatever you want it too, and everything is an illusion….

    Guess which option I prefer?

    Note: A non-literal understanding was there since the early days of the Church (Augustine, St Basil, Origen and others). It is not a new thing. And interestingly, the Ancient Church never made it an issue either – it did not come up in Councils at all. Shouldn’t this tell us something??

    • You may be aware of this, but there is a “semi” 4th way, at least for understanding Genesis 1. John Walton has a book out called The Lost World of Genesis One. He argues that a *more* literal understanding of the first chapter of Genesis is to see it as a functional creation rather than a material one.

      Just throwin’ it out there.

      • The Singular Observer says:

        Can you sum it up n a couple of lines?

        • I’ll try, with two caveats. 1) I’m no Walton expert, 2) it will necessary be a reductionist view. 🙂

          The ANE perspective is one that has a functional ontology (that is, something exists when it functions). That is, they aren’t ignorant of material (who could be, it’s everywhere), but it wasn’t important (it just is). Genesis, being written in an ANE culture, shares this perspective. The work God does in Genesis 1 is about giving creation functionality rather than giving it material form.

          To defend this would take a book (obviously since Walton wrote one, and I think he’s working on another one that goes in more detail. He states that it was textual issues that drove him to these conclusions, not something external (like science). By way of example, Walton examines the Hebrew verbs bara & asa in the work to aid in his analysis.

          I’ve got a three part look at his work on my blog, if you’re interested in a little bit more (http://evolutionarycreation.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/john-walton-on-the-creation-act-and-functional-ontology-part-one/ is the first part).

          Hope that helps!

        • I should add (I don’t cover it in my blog) that Walton sees Genesis 1 as a temple creation story overall.

          • The Singular Observer says:

            Ahh – I have seen this before, but only briefly. But from your description, it could fit quite well into Option 1.

          • Yeah, it could fall under option 1, the only difference is Walton wouldn’t say he’s being non-literal. He thinks he’s being literal in his interpretation. Might be a difference in opinion over the term “literal”, which is itself ambiguous.

          • I read Walton’s book and found it very persuasive

          • FYI, I did a sermon on the meaning of Genesis one, based largely on Walton’s exegesis. I won’t post the link, but if you google “the meaning of genesis one” it should be the third result. I also have some diagrams there.

            One of the things I pointed out was that YEC interpretation of Genesis 1 is incompatible with the doctrine of creation ex nihilo.

  25. dumb ox says:

    I have to admit, as one who has been more or less sympathetic but not dogmatic regarding a six-day creation scenario, that I am really befuddled on day three. How are sun, moon, and stars created after the earth – unless geocentrism is correct? The earth went from being a lone object in the endless space, then suddenly it was wizzing as satellite caught in the orbit around a newly-born the sun, along with other planets which weren’t there the day before, or other solar systems and galaxies? And these sudden gravitational forces didn’t rip the earth to shreds? I shudder to think that Ham probably has an answer.

    • Just checked answersingenesis. Yup! The earth is three day older than the stars and planets. No explanation. Hey Rocky: watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.

      • dumb ox says:

        Oh, wait. The stars and moon weren’t created on the fourth day; rather, they were created on day one and day 4 the cloud cover broke. Huh? Is it possible to give the impression of literalism while actually shredding the biblical text?

    • this is known as the YEC whiplash effect. a corollary to the Coriolis effect maybe? left over from God putting everything together too hastily? i’ve really wondered if God was really in a hurry. makes the Time Bandits theology a bit more acceptable… 😀

      • dumb ox says:

        Made my day. Love Time Bandits!

      • dumb ox says:

        Maybe the stars were already there but hadn’t come through the wormhole yet. Yeah! that’s the ticket! The props were there but off-stage behind the curtain of the space-time continuum. Brilliant! I think I’ll have another Guinness and see what else I can come up with. [end sarcasm…except about the Guinness 😉 ].

    • It simply astounds me that someone, anyone, could believe that the earth is three days older than the stars and planets. I think that goes beyond faithful study of scripture to willful delusion. There is an agenda there that is much different than seeking the truth. We do God no favors when we believe things like that.

      • The moderately large church I used to attend was putting this forth in their creation classroom that all the kids cycled through on an annual basis. When I discovered this is when I started educating myself on what was being taught. And yes astound is a valid word.

        And if you’re wondering this kind of thing is one reason I’m against churches growing to much past 1000 in regular attendance without splitting. Too many things can go on without people realizing it. This creation classroom didn’t exist when my kids were in grade school. It popped up when they were in middle/high school. But I don’t remember the announcement. In hindsight there likely was no announcement. The mindset of the pastors had become “we’ll fix em even if their parents don’t agree with what we are teaching”.

        This is also my major reason for avoiding elder/pastor led churches where the pastors/elders are a closed loop system with no real accountability to the general congregation.

        Congregational led churches can be messy at times but you don’t have stuff being done “behind the back” of the congregation very often.
        http://www.internetmonk.com/articles/B/bizmtg.html

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          In hindsight there likely was no announcement. The mindset of the pastors had become “we’ll fix em even if their parents don’t agree with what we are teaching”.

          Isn’t this the same thing those same pastors SCREAM about when it’s a matter of Sex, Homosexuality, and Socialism in “Those Government Schools (TM)”?

    • dumb ox says:

      “(B) Written in the genre of Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies that reflect the “science” of the day, not of our time;”

      EXACTLY!!!

  26. See how many comments this post received? This is why we need internetmonk forums! I want to keep this conversation going.

    • I agree! It’s been a great conversation so far.

      Although, I’ll admit, I’m a little sickened that for a moment we seemed to be trailing down the “everyone-who-doesn’t-believe-in-a-literal-genesis-is-a-liberal” path. Some folks just need to take a good epistemology course.

  27. dumb ox says:

    “The first step toward the non-religion of the Western world was made by religion itself. When it defended its great symbols, not as symbols, but as literal stories, it had already lost the battle. In doing so the theologians (and today many religious laymen) helped to transfer the powerful expressions of the dimension of depth into objects or happenings on the horizontal plane. There the symbols lose their power and meaning and become an easy prey to physical, biological and historical attack.

    “If the symbol of creation which points to the divine ground of everything is transferred to the horizontal plane, it becomes a story of events in a removed past for which there is no evidence, but which contradicts every piece of scientific evidence. If the symbol of the Fall of Man, which points to the tragic estrangement of man and his world from their true being, is transferred to the horizontal plane, it becomes a. story of a human couple a few thousand years ago in what is now present-day Iraq. One of the most profound psychological descriptions of the general human predicament becomes an absurdity on the horizontal plane.”

    – Paul Tillich, from “The Lost Dimension of Religion” (Saturday Evening Post 230, no. 50 (June 14, 1958)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This sounds a lot like a comment thread over at Slacktivist’s page-by-page critique of Left Behind.

      The comment was that in making LB “realistic — It Could Happen Tomorrow”, LH&J discarded all the surreal mythic imagery of Revelation and without the power of Myth were left with an imitation technothriller, seriously undercutting the very story they were trying to tell. (The scene commented on was LH&J’s staging of “The Two Witnesses” scene from Revelation, AKA “The Trip-and-Fall Guys”.)

  28. dumb ox says:

    I was looking this afternoon at the comparisons of Genesis and the Babylonian creation story in the Enuma Elish. There are several similarities:

    Primeval chaos
    Light emanating from the gods
    The creation of the firmament
    The creation of dry land
    The creation of luminaries
    The creation of man.
    The gods rest and celebrate.

    What seems missing from Enuma Elish are the creations of vegetation and animals.

    Similarities do not mean sameness. It appears many scholars believe the Genesis author would have known of and even borrowed from Enuma Elish in writing Genesis (it may have been in existence even before Moses). What strikes me about the genesis account is the form: why those specific delineations and why in that order? One explanation is that the author took the Babylonian account and gave it a monotheistic spin showing the superiority of the God of Israel.

    It just seems that the arguments for or against a historical Genesis account prevents getting to the heart of why it is in the Bible in the first place.

  29. “My first commitment is to reading the Biblical text carefully”

    I would say that this is the most important point. The big problem lurking in the background is that too many evangelicals are wedded to overly simplistic readings of the Bible because of their cultural prejudices and not because of any desire to read their Bibles carefully and faithfully. Consider the following:

    (1) The notion that the entire Bible must be read “literally [whenever possible]” is patently ridiculous as the Bible is an extremely complex collection of various literary works that spans many different genres (some of them non-literal!) and comes to us from the ancient world, yet many conservative evangelicals insist that we do just that.

    (2) 19th century dispensationalists couldn’t find the word “church” in the OT and concluded on that basis that the redemption of the gentiles as revealed in the NT was a “mystery” that was completely disconnected from God’s plan of redemption as revealed in the OT, never mind the fact that this plainly contradicts what Paul taught in his epistles. Amazingly enough, most conservative evangelicals still hold to this thoroughly unbiblical theological system because of its appeal to literalism.

    (3) Ironically enough, the greatest weakness of the YEC camp is rank hypocrisy in that they are more committed to a particular literalistic interpretation of the Bible than to the Biblical text itself. Psalm 104:5-9 plainly teaches that Noah’s couldn’t have been global. Hebrews 4:1-10 plainly indicates that the promise of entering God’s seventh day rest is a present reality, which doesn’t make any sense if the seventh day spoken of is a 24-hour past event. Genesis 1:14-19 plainly indicates that it was by the sun, moon, and stars that God gave light to the earth and separated Day from Night on day one, contrary to the typical YEC reading of the text.

    (4) Of course, the one time we aren’t supposed to take the Bible literally is when Paul writes in one of his didactic epistles that, “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5) or when Jesus says in one of his sermons, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). I know that this point may not apply to the neo-reformed but it’s nonetheless true that the vast majority of conservative evangelicals who are staunchly committed to literalism do not interpret much of the NT’s teaching on election in its plain sense out of rank prejudice. Amazingly enough, many of these people would insist on interpreting Genesis 1-3 and the complex visions found in the book of Revelation “literally” before they would the NT’s didactic teaching on election. Talk about hypocrisy!

    • Returning to the original question of science and Scripture, once we leave behind the kindergarten antics of fundamentalist hermeneutics whole new interpretive vistas become available to us in our attempt to craft a Biblical theology that will survive the 21st century and beyond.

      Personally, as a professional mathematician who does high-level research and is not intimidated by abstract jargon, I do not believe in the evolutionary story of how life on earth developed over time. There is no good reason to believe that the mechanisms of natural selection and random mutation are sufficient to account for the development of life on earth and in fact there is much evidence to the contrary. The Darwinian claim that fittest survive when fitness is defined in terms of survivability is amounts to little more than an embarrassing tautology that is vacuous in content. The best explanation for the dominance of Darwinism in the academy is almost certainly not the success of the theory itself but the academy’s prior commitment to naturalism. If the academy were to admit the truth that science has yet to provide a good story for how life developed on this earth it would be the deathblow to naturalism.

      With respect to the question of Adam and Eve and the account of Gen 2-3, I would say that it’s more reasonable to suppose that the human family began with a single primal couple than with an initial group population. As a matter of faith, we know [!] that there is a spiritual component to human life that separates from the body at the time of death and is passed down to our progeny through reproduction so therefore any story of life’s development that only takes into account the outer biological form is at best incomplete and probably wrong. Moreover, if there is a spiritual component to our nature that survives bodily death and is passed down through reproduction then it is much more reasonable to suppose that the human family began with a single primal couple than with an initial group population. Finally, there is scientific evidence that points toward a single primal couple in the form of mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam, any explanation of this genetic phenomena other than a single primal couple seems rather implausible; more generally, the findings of modern science confirm the Biblical claim of single source monogenism even if it disagrees on the location of humanity’s origins (East Africa vs Mesopotamia).

      For these and other reasons, I hold to a non-literal OEC reading of Gen 1-3 that understands Adam and Eve to be a historical primal couple from which humanity was born.

  30. Daniel Routh says:

    I don’t read blogs, perhaps for the same reason C.S. Lewis hated reading newspapers and felt he had to pick up a good novel afterwards to brush the taste of it out of his mouth.

    However, this posting has my finger considering the Subscribe button for the first time in my life.

    My father became a Christ-follower in college. He was a physics major, and later went on to complete a Ph.D. studying the human brain and Artificial Intelligence. After he believed in Jesus, he began to read the Bible and came to the conclusion, on his own, that according to the Bible God created the world out of nothing and evolution was mistaken. He revised his beliefs accordingly. And his studies of the human brain have left him with an unshakeable belief in the existence of God and His direct creative power. He tells me the human brain is such a delicate and infinitely complex miracle that any ideas of random processes creating it become simply ridiculous at some point.

    Now, before you begin chewing your underwear in anxiety to hang me up as a dreaded YEC, let me say I am personally quite open to letting God be God and do it however he saw fit to bring it about. I personally suspect God did use some processes over millions of years to set the stage, and I am thankful Mike gives us permission to say “I Don’t Know.” But I have two points I do want to leave with. (Applause)

    1) Francis Schaeffer said modern people since Kant have separated the “Spiritual” from the “Material” (upper story and lower story in his phraseology). Our philosophy and religious beliefs today often have their own box completely disconnected from the actual physical world we live in. In other words, believe what you want about God as long as you don’t try to connect him to the actual world we touch and live in. Could we be under the sway of our modern presuppositions in the way we desire to handle Genesis?

    2) Those of us who profess to be Christ-followers, if we believe that He will come soon and destroy this world with fire (as He personally promised), and then create, from scratch, a new heaven and earth–those of us fools who believe this should at least be respectful of those “fundegicals” who cling to the ridiculous belief that He created this current world by the word of His power in so few days. They may be wrong, but when we meet Him face to face, they may get the glory for their simple belief at first reading, and the rest of us may be shifty-eyed for our constant attempts to excuse His foolishness to the unbelieving world.

    • Those of us who profess to be Christ-followers, if we believe that He will come soon and destroy this world with fire (as He personally promised), and then create, from scratch, a new heaven and earth…

      I would say that this isn’t what Christians historically believe about eschatology – perhaps some do, now – but, the Christian hope is for the renewal and restoration of all things, the healing of creation. It’s not for the destruction of the earth. Now I do think that Scripture teaches that there will be a purging and/or purification of the earth, but that doesn’t imply its destruction. I also don’t know what leads you to claim Christ said He would come and destroy the world.

      So, I don’t believe having an attitude of “it’s all gonna burn” is ultimately helpful or Biblical.

      • I attempted to put that first paragraph in blockquote format, but it didn’t seem to work. Anyway, that first paragraph was a quotation from Daniel Routh’s post ahead of mine.

      • Daniel Routh says:

        Phil, I felt very grateful that you took the time to reply to my posting.

        And after thinking it over, I realized I was probably fudging one thing: I can’t think of any place where Jesus Himself explicitly said He was going to destroy this current world. He certainly said He would separate the sheep from the goats and send some to the fire and worm that never die. But I realized I had been playing fast and loose claiming he said he would destroy the earth itself. Thanks for the check.

        I think what I had in mind was actually the passage from 2 Peter 3:

        “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly…

        But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

        Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. ”

        And of course Revelation 21. “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

        I did re-read both of these these passages from your perspective of “purging” rather than “destroying and remaking.” And I say: maaaybe. It’s seems a stretch. I’m open to further enlightenment.

        • Daniel,
          My short answer would be that in that passage from 2 Peter that you’re quoting, Peter is referencing back to the flood. In the flood, the earth itself wasn’t destroyed, as in the planet obliterated. It was purged, or wiped clean so it could be renewed. So I don’t think Peter is describing the earth being completely destroyed as much as he’s pointing to the renewal of the present creation. Indeed, this seems to fall into the Jewish worldview of what would happen at the end of the age.

          Also, I would note that there’s a lot of discussion about what the word that’s translated to “elements” actually means. When we see that word, we tend to imagine the periodic table, or think of the building blocks of creation. There’s good evidence to suggest that it as more to do with the powers and systems that oppose Christ – we might use the phrase “the powers that be” or something like that.

          That’s just my opinion based on different things I’ve read over the years.

          • Daniel Routh says:

            Phil,

            I read your reply several times. I admit I’m not completely convinced, but I’ll put your thoughts it into the brain-stew to brew over the next few years as I look at these issues. Thanks for the appreciated input.

  31. I tell my Bible students straight up on day 1 that Genesis will not answer all our questions. Rather than come to the Bible with a list of demands, I highly encourage them to approach with as blank slate as possible and give God a chance to share with them what it is that he is trying to say.

    It may sound like a cop out, but hear me through. We read the six day creation account, and I ask them “Is the earth 6,000 years old? Is the earth 4.5 billion years old?” And honest to goodness my answer is “Don’t know, don’t care.” I know more about the Bible than I can share with them in 4 9-week quarters. I’ve been studying the Bible since age 12, and know way more about Jesus than I can get out in a 25 minute sermon. If God thought we needed a science book then he would have given us one. Same with biology, astronomy and so forth. We need to be listening to what the Bible IS TELLING US, rather than making unreasonable demands about what (we feel) has been left out.

    I understand the need for both apologetics and that of having intelligence responses to legitimate criticisms. But anything we argue over until we’re blue in the face keeps us from sharing the Gospel.

    • Daniel Routh says:

      Really good point that we should be listening to what the Bible IS telling us rather than demanding it spill the beans about the things we’re curious about. Thank you

  32. Darn, missed all this action, great series of posts though.

    In my case, I switched from the “religion’s side” to a non-conflict position around Junior year of college. Switch came for many reasons. Am I yawing at these debates? Not quite, but they are getting a bit old, especially on a young-earth timeline 🙂