October 31, 2014

Updates on the Creation Wars

1. The Disney-ization of Christianity continues apace.

Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, famous for Pastor John Hagee and his over-the-top dioramic teaching on prophecy and the End Times, is about to treat us with a 28,400 square foot building portraying Noah’s Ark, complete with “true-to-size animatronics animals…to underscore the Bible’s authenticity.” Here’s the promotional poster on their website:

theArk

In case you missed our post from a couple of years ago that is linked above, here is my description of “Disney-ization”

But I know what Disney is and what they do — They take classic stories and make cartoons out of them.

Disney does not fool me into thinking what they do is great art containing profound insights into life and the human experience. I accept and enjoy them for what they are, no more. Their artists and animators are first class and what they do, they do well. But whether you are talking about their films, their theme parks, or their pervasive merchandise, the bottom line is that Disney is an animation corporation. They take stories that are classic because of their universal themes and dumb them down so that the kids can enjoy them with mom and dad. They remove all the messiness, complexity, nuance, and grit from these tales and sanitize them for a G or PG-rated modern entertainment audience. They are enjoyable, but as subtle as a punch in the face; as deep as the puddle in my driveway after a light rain.

I guess if your goal is to sell a product, Disney is the way to go; after all, they’re pros at it.

If your goal is to follow Jesus, I’m not so sure.

homeschool-top-thumb-615x380-115338

2. In more hopeful news, some Christian home-schooling households have apparently had enough with pseudo-science. The Atlantic reports that a growing number of these families is now requesting that the textbooks they use teach mainstream modern science, including the evolutionary model.

The article quotes one such parent, Erinn Cameron Warton, an evangelical Christian who homeschools her children. Warton, a scientist, says she was horrified when she opened a homeschool science textbook and found a picture of Adam and Eve putting a saddle on a dinosaur. “I nearly choked,” says the mother of three. “When researching homeschooling curricula, I found that the majority of Christian homeschool textbooks are written from this ridiculous perspective. Once I saw this, I vowed never to use them.” Instead, Warton has pulled together a curriculum inspired partly by homeschool pioneer Susan Wise Bauer and partly by the Waldorf holistic educational movement.”

A few textbook companies are starting to listen, and the article cites examples of some (including our friend Scot McKnight) who are starting to provide materials and encouragement to those who think both believing the Bible and a recognizing the facts discovered through scientific methods is legitimate and preferable to the one-sided approaches of those who claim any acceptance of theories like evolution automatically equals “disregarding the Bible.” Other parents are using public school textbooks for the science portion of their curricula. Jen Baird Seurkamp, an evangelical who homeschools her children, avoids textbooks that discredit evolution. “Our science curriculum is one currently used in public schools,” she says. “We want our children to be educated, not sheltered from things we are afraid of them learning.”

bill-o-reilly_custom-199fa1098e9db7dc21f0ad3d574382f6d4759d97-s6-c10Ken_hampastor

3. In more news from Texas, Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas recently went toe-to-toe with Fox TV commentator Bill O’Reilly about whether or not some of the narratives in the Old Testament are written as factual history or as stories. O’Reilly is from a Roman Catholic background and says he was taught that one may legitimately understand these accounts as allegorical or mythical in some sense without denigrating the truthfulness or authority of Scripture.

Jeffress disagreed, and trotted out arguments that, in my view, don’t hold water. “Here’s the problem, Bill,” Jeffress said. “If you start labeling these stories as fictitious or fable, where do you stop? It’s like peeling the layers of an onion, you end up with nothing.”

This is the illegitimate “slippery slope” fallacy so common in these debates and in all culture war fear-mongering. It only works if one holds an extreme view of inerrancy that fails to recognize the complex mixture of genres in the Bible and the human elements involved in its composition, editing, and arrangement. To use another analogy, the Bible is not a balloon that, if pricked in one small spot, gets blown to bits. Each narrative and portion of Scripture must be examined and understood as it has been given, and recognizing that Jonah may have been a Hebrew folk tale or Adam and Eve a mythic retelling of Israel’s beginnings does not have an automatic impact on the resurrection narratives or Paul’s interpretation of Christ in the epistles.

One Christian site reported this encounter with this headline: “Dr Robert Jeffress Crushes Bill O’Reilly On ‘Allegory’ Assertions Of The Old Testament.” Really? Please. Dr. Jeffress’s arguments are the ones that blow up with a tiny pin prick.

One person Jeffress didn’t impress from the interview was Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham, who made it clear he did not appreciate the fact that, despite his Biblical literalism, Jeffress said he can accept scientific findings such as an old earth. Here’s what the Dallas pastor said to Bill O’Reilly that Ham found so offensive:

“The Bible does not contradict true science. It may contradict the passing fads of scientific theory that are always evolving. For example, it used to be thought that the cosmos always existed. But, then we had Sir Frederick Coyle, who named the Big Bang Theory, who said, ‘Guess what? The universe had a beginning 13.7 billion years ago,'” Jeffress said, adding that he believes that might be true.

“One of the things fundamentalist Christians mess up on is they try to say the earth is 6,000 years old. The Bible never makes that claim.”

This is, of course, heretical compromise to Ken Ham. So he responded with his usual rant about how people like Jeffress are accepting the “fallible” findings of modern science as their authority over God’s “infallible” Word.

Ken, how about we change our terms and discuss “general” or “natural revelation” vs. “special revelation,” the specific purposes for both, the different ways we learn from both, and how there are many areas not addressed by Scripture that are covered by the former? How about if we discuss the genre of Biblical passages, their cultural and historical background and the context within the Bible itself of creation passages, as well as the human elements involved in composing, editing, and arranging the materials in the Bible? Or shall we simply keep up the drumbeat of propaganda? Ham is thoroughly docetic when it comes to his view of Scripture and he and his organization have nothing to do with the advancement of genuine science. It is pure separatist fundamentalism.

I had to laugh, though, at one line in Ken Ham’s critique of Jeffress: “This pastor in my opinion really just sent a signal to the church not to listen to people like those of us at AiG. He really sent a signal not to support the Creation Museum and our resources.”

Hmmm.

Comments

  1. “But, then we had Sir Frederick Coyle, who named the Big Bang Theory, who said, ‘Guess what? The universe had a beginning 13.7 billion years ago”

    Well, slight corrections necessary here. (1) It’s Sir Fred Hoyle, not Coyle. (2) And yes, he gave the theory its popular name of ‘the Big Bang’ but he neither invented nor supported it; he was in the opposite camp, that of the “steady state” theory (3) It was actually proposed by a Belgian Roman Catholic priest (also an astronomer and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain), Fr. Georges Lemaître.

    The Catholic angle is probably grounds enough to discredit it :-)

    • And the more specific figure of 13.7 billion is only of very recent vintage — from the 1990s, I believe. Neither Hoyle nor anyone of his time actually said anything so specific.

      It’s interesting that the current estimate actually runs to four decimal places: 13.72 billion years. Were Ken Ham to actually care about such crunchy estimates himself (oddly, few YECs seem to worry about nailing down the precise age of the earth), he’d be working with Bishop Ussher-like estimates of 4004 BC.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Yes, and Fr Lemaitre caught hell when he first proposed the Big Bang — something about trying to introduce Religion (i.e. Genesis) into Science.

      And as for Fred Hoyle, he was infamous for proposing outrageous theories — Steady State, Panspermia — and daring everyone else to prove him wrong. Over several decades, a lot of astronomical research (and resulting discoveries) was motivated by “Prove Fred Wrong”.

      • I read an article recently that some physicists are now calling into question the Big Bang theory. IIRC, they’re positing that our universe came into being by interaction with a parallel universe that is only meters away from ours, and that their interaction has caused the repeated creation and destruction of our universe multiple times, and will continue to do so. The theory apparently resulted as an explanation for “dark matter” among other things.

        • I’ve read about the same thing… Of course, the obvious question is how did the parallel universe come into existence? That seems to be the problem with a purely deterministic worldview. It’s hard to get around Aristotle’s “first cause” arguments.

          • Robert F says:

            Reminds me of a story: Two scientists say to God, “We know how to create life from dirt. We don’t need you for a hypothesis about how life first generated.” God responds, “Let’s have contest then: we’ll both create life, and whoever finishes first wins. If you finish first, then you must be correct, and I’ll retire.” The scientists agree. As one of the scientists bends down to gather some dust to start the contest, God says,

            “But you have to get your own dirt…..”

        • This is the point about science. Discoveries lead to interim conclusions, not permanent ones. They prompt other discoveries and new ways of looking at things. Science is not mean to lead us to a creedal kind of commitment to a particular “belief” about the natural world. Science is meant to keep discovering, to keep replacing limited knowledge with more informed knowledge which is, in itself, still limited and subject to change. Science is not about religious “truth,” in other words. It is about discovery and appreciation of the wonders and mysteries that we can explain and that we may never be able to explain.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Ever notice how the three cosmology theories duking it out in the Sixties and Seventies all had much older philosophical underpinnings?

          The Steady State theory echoed Aristotle’s idea of the Eternal Cosmos.

          The Big Bang resembled Jewish ideas of a Point of Creation and Linear Time.

          The Pulsating Universe was like the time-as-endlessly-repeating-cycle of Hindu & Buddhist thought.

          • Robert F says:

            Hindu and Buddhist cosmologies also anticipated the multiple universes hypothesis suggested by scientists today; only, unlike our scientists, they weren’t trying to explain (away) the anthropic principle.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “Explain away”? Every time I’ve heard that expression (and I first heard it in 1960s UFOlogy), it has always implied an ulterior motive to deny reality or deny truth. Usually with an accompanying Conspiracy Theory.

          • So then you don’t believe that the Illuminati have been controlling the course of inter-universal development from the liminal states between metaphysical epochs ? So naive.

      • Is “Proving Fred Wrong” anything like “You Don’t Know Jack”?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I don’t know, but from my reading (primarily (gasp) Steven Jay Gould), Hoyle had a rep for challenging other scientists like that.

  2. I think the Creationists do more harm to the Christian cause than they realize with their insistence on *censored* literalism. It seems to lead people to treat the Bible as a history text, rather than a religious text; as a text whose goal is to explain all of life to us rather than point us to the one who created life. Now certainly the Bible does record history (and Christianity has as its basis an historical event), and it does explain life to a certain extent (e.g. we live in a Fallen world), but its ultimate goal is to point us to the Author of life and history.

    It’s like they (creationists) feel the need to explain everything and absolutely cannot tolerate any type of mystery whatsoever. The problem with this is that NO ONE can explain everything and anyone (regardless of their religious views) that attempts to do so ends up looking ridiculous in the end.

    What is so hard with admitting that we (humanity) don’t know how we got here? It seems that they’re focusing so much on answering this question, a question which no one is really asking themselves in the end anyway that they end up neglecting the question that everyone really is asking themselves: WHY am I here? Its like they don’t realize that Christianity is not an answer to HOW humanity exists, it is the answer to WHY humanity exists.

    Alright its late and I need to go to sleep so I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    • Tom…to this old Catholic, the reasoning is pretty clear; albeit HORRIBLY flawed and practically silly.

      **************************************************************************************************************************
      If I am a YEC innerancy-beleiving evangelical Christian, my entire faith is based on the bible and the bible alone. All that foolishness about “tradition” and liturgy and sacraments are just tricks of satan to keeping a real believer from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, mano to mano, with the Lord speaking through the bible and the bible alone.

      The bible is the hand-written Word of God, controlled by the Holy Spirit being in charge of each human who took the dictation straight from God’s lips.. If it isn’t completely 101% truthfull and accurate, my faith is built on quicksand. If one sentence is wrong, the whole bible “might” be wrong, and then what am I to beleive in?? NO, that cannot be right, as the bible is never wrong.

      Therefore, every word is the literal truth exactly as it happened and dictated (probably in English) to the humans who wrote it all down for God. “The bible says it and I beleive it!” Problem solved.

      Oh, you say you don’t agree with this??? Then you are NOT a Christian and are undermining the faithful with your crazy talk about “allegories” and evolution. I smite you……

      ***************************************************************************************************************************
      WELL…that is what it sounds like from where I am sitting!!

      • Matt Purdum says:

        Thanks for those insights. It’s so awful the way that fear and insecurity seem to be the subtexts underlying YEC and literalist fundamentalism in general.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If I am a YEC innerancy-beleiving evangelical Christian, my entire faith is based on the bible and the bible alone.

        The bible is the hand-written Word of God, controlled by the Holy Spirit being in charge of each human who took the dictation straight from God’s lips

        “The bible says it and I beleive it!” Problem solved.

        Short form: “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! AL’LAH’U AKBAR! AL’LAH’U AKBAR! AL’LAH’U AKBAR!”

        Oh, you say you don’t agree with this??? Then you are NOT a Christian and are undermining the faithful with your crazy talk about “allegories” and evolution. I smite you……

        Short form: “DIE, INFIDEL! DIE, HERETIC! AL’LAH’U AKBAR! AL’LAH’U AKBAR! AL’LAH’U AKBAR!”

        • HUG, please tell me that this caricature does not represent how you really view Muslims.

          • I’ll answer that, Gerald, in case HUG is over at Wartburg Watch.

            No, that caricature is how HUG views fundamentalist Christians.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            More like you find common attitudes & behaviors in both.

            Because I have observed when Christianity goes sour, it comes to resemble Islam. And when Extreme Christianity goes sour, it resembles Extreme Islam.

            Especialy the Young, Restless, and TRULY Reformed types (i.e. Hyper-Calvinists). Because both Calvin and Mohammed emphasized God’s Omnipotence and Will and stressed Predestination. This solves the paradox of Evil by putting God beyond Good and Evil, i.e. God wills Evil and we call it Evil because we are mere creatures and He is The Creator so shut up and worship. Which, in the words of Christian Monist, results in “a God who is Omnipotent but NOT benevolent.” With a side effect of defining God’s primary attribute as Omnipotent Will, i.e. POWER. So becoming Godly becomes confused with Power Over Others. You can see where that could lead.

            And years ago at a party, someone who’d worked Army Intel in Iraq told me of working with Iraqi Muslims. How no matter how educated and articulate they were, there seemed to be a point in their mind where you could question the Faith no further. He described how you could almost see the wall in their mind slam down, after which there was only “It is Written! It is Written! It is Written! Al’lah’u Akbar!” And I have seen that phenomenon among Christians as well, including the use of praise-phrases as thoughtstoppers.

            My initial introduction to Christ was by means of Jack Chick tracts (specifically “This Was Your Life” and “The Beast”) when Hal Lindsay was at his peak. (And according to Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, YEC is usually found in combination with Pre-Trib Dispy.) Within five years I was a burnout like Eagle. Chesterton described Christianity as a dynamic balance of often-contradictory ideas, some of which in isolation could lay waste a world, and I have seen them out-of-balance.

            Now both Calvin & Mohammed went out-of-balance in the area of making God’s Will the Supreme Divine Attribute. Marx and his fanboys adopted the prophetic “Woe to the Rich!” and “Liberation of the Oppressed Poor” in isolation and ran with it. Lindsay took Eschatology and pushed it to where it eclipsed everything else. And Chick took Decision of Salvation Uber Alles and justifying anything to achieve it. And all went out-of-balance in destructive ways.

          • More like you find common attitudes & behaviors in both.

            Because I have observed when Christianity goes sour, it comes to resemble Islam. And when Extreme Christianity goes sour, it resembles Extreme Islam.

            Sorry to misrepresent you, HUG. And I agree. I said a few weeks ago on this blog that Fundamentalism crosses boundaries of religions, that it’s not exclusive to Christianity.

            ,,,With a side effect of defining God’s primary attribute as Omnipotent Will, i.e. POWER. So becoming Godly becomes confused with Power Over Others. You can see where that could lead.

            Yes, I can see where that could lead, and I’ll tell you why. I got mixed up a few weeks ago (possibly as a result of the same iMonk post I mentioned above) with Blog on the Way, whose author, Jeri Massi, works to expose abuse within Fundamentalist churches and to assist victims. I ordered her book Schizophrenic Christianity and am halfway through it, annotating as I go because that’s what I do with books that really make sense. I think you’d connect with it too. One of her main premises is that Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches have the structure and lack of accountability that attract and cultivate a kind of sociopathy in leadership, claims to authority and loyalty that must not be questioned—which can lead to abuse (physical, sexual, spiritual) and consequently protection of the abuser, cover-up, and blame-the-victim.

            Knowing that you hang out over at Christian Monist and Wartburg Watch (heck, even if you didn’t), I highly recommend her book.

      • UmiUmiSumi says:

        +1!!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It’s like they (creationists) feel the need to explain everything and absolutely cannot tolerate any type of mystery whatsoever.

      Both the original Internet Monk and Chaplain Mike wrote on that very subject.

      Internet Monk about Evangecalism’s “MAO Inhibitors”, stripping Mystery, Awe, and Otherness from God.

      Chaplain Mike theorized that during the Age of Reason and Industrial Revolution, the Bible came to be seen as a spiritual engineering manual of Fact, Fact, Fact.

  3. “…the Bible is not a balloon that, if pricked in one small spot, gets blown to bits.”

    Amen. Otherwise, their argument makes the Bible look like a house-of-cards: barely breathe on one and the whole thing collapses.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In this, Ken Ham and Richard Dawkins are in complete agreement.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        This is hardly surprising. Militant atheists frequently are strict Biblical literalists. I have on more than one occasion had one argue with me that my reading of Scripture is unacceptable. One has to appreciate the irony.

        • cermak_rd says:

          Militant atheists? Do they carry guns or wear bombs?

          Most of my friends who are atheists are former Catholics so they get the idea of Genesis as allegory. I think some of the atheists who are former evangelicals insist on literalism. Many times, they cite learning the age of the earth as a de-conversion point in their lives. Former Catholics atheists are more likely to cite a lack of belief in the Resurrection or in Transubstantiation.

          Still others look upon Sophisticated Theology (such as that held by Rowan, the former ABC) as muddled goo. If there never was a real fall then what was the point of the Resurrection? And what do you mean by the VIrgin Birth wasn’t an event but a process?

    • It is theology painting God into a corner. Al Mohler said it best. “It would be nonsense to affirm real contradictions in the Bible and then to affirm inerrancy.”

    • That is exactly the snippet I was going to applaud. Beat me to it.

    • Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens to young evangelicals when they get to college, or even out of youth group. The pin pricks the balloon and the whole house of cards comes down (pardon the mixing of metaphors). The answer is, of course, to better indoctrinate those young people so they can are better equipped to ignore the errors they will hear in college, or send them somewhere that will give them more indoctrination (read sarcasm here, for all the Sheldon Coopers out there).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The answer is, of course, to better indoctrinate those young people so they can are better equipped to ignore the errors they will hear in college, or send them somewhere that will give them more indoctrination (read sarcasm here, for all the Sheldon Coopers out there).

        Just like the cure-all of a crumbling Soviet Union:
        “INCREASE POLITICIAL CONSCIOUSNESS!”

  4. It’s encouraging to see home schoolers move away from young earth creationism. Home schoolers seemed to be the engine driving a lot of this – especially at a grass roots level within churches.

  5. Matt Purdum says:

    Give ‘em 2 out of 3 falls with a one-hour time limit.

    • Donalbain says:

      Even simpler, just see which of the two methodologies, successful oil companies use. An oil company that drills based on the idea that the earth is just 6000 years old, will have far less success than a company that drills based on their geologists understanding of deep time.
      And since the only thing holier than the Bible is the Free Market, that proves that the deep time model is the best!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I wonder if one factor in YEC Uber Alles is fear of Deep Time and Deep Space.

        Because a 6017-year-old, ending-tomorrow-at-the-latest, Earth-and-some-lights-in-the-sky Punyverse is small and safe and cozy.

        Never mind that of the three Abrahamic monotheisms, Christianity has the most elegant solution to Deep Space and Deep Time in its doctrine of the Incarnation. Because no matter how Big the Cosmos gets, no matter how Bigger God has to be, God remains on a one-to-one human scale Incarnated as Christ.

        • Never mind that of the three Abrahamic monotheisms, Christianity has the most elegant solution to Deep Space and Deep Time in its doctrine of the Incarnation. Because no matter how Big the Cosmos gets, no matter how Bigger God has to be, God remains on a one-to-one human scale Incarnated as Christ.

          HUG: the book. Get on it. Get writing. You can self-publish these days, and Amazon sells stuff.

  6. Christiane says:

    I have wondered what happens to home-schooled children brought up in the pseudo-science programs.
    I would think it would be extremely difficult for them to go to a university or college that was not run by fundamentalist evangelicals.

    • Exactly….to question is to have one’s faith snatched away. Ignorance is bliss. Therefore, when they know better, these kids don’t just reject the YEC craziness, but sadly they tend to reject God and all things church relationed lock, stock, and barrel.

    • It depends upon how much other material one is exposed to outside of school. I grew up in an essentially YEC home and would have been homeschooled had it been socially acceptable at the time. Instead, I and my siblings attended a small church school that espoused the standard, if not particularly hard-line, YEC viewpoint.

      But… my parents (who both taught at said school) gave me a home in which learning from the stack of astronomy, paleontology, archaeology, etc. books I’d take home from the public library every week was completely normative. They never censored my reading and insisted that I and my siblings learn to make up our own minds. So we have.

      Unsurprisingly, neither I nor my sisters had any difficulties whatsoever in college. More importantly, Pattie’s observation that a rejection of YEC “craziness” may lead to complete rejection of God never materialized for us either.

      • AndreaBT says:

        This is ultimately how I teach my three children about creation. I did homeschool for a while, mainly the oldest. My approach is to tell them that some people believe a literal interpretation of Genesis; here are the understandable reasons they do that, here are the problems with it. Other Christians interpret differently, and believe the earth is much older than that: here are some scientific reasons to back it up; here are some possible problems with that.

        The truth is, I don’t really KNOW. I tend to lean Old Earth, but although I don’t think the Young Earth side is very good at presenting their side, I can see some things that could back them up. Again, though…I think science backs Old Earth, and in no way do I think that negates the bible or the fact that God’s very hand was on creation.

        So I teach them both sides. They are all now in public school, but I don’t fear that my influence is any less.

      • My experience is similar.

        We home schooled, and by that route quickly found our way inside of fundamentalist/evangelical communities where many people were diehard creationists. The bigger “Christian curriculum” suppliers and fundamentalist leaders in the movement push this line very hard as well. I bought YEC hook, line, and sinker and was enthusiastic for it, as I loved science and quickly worked my way through most of the books.

        However, my parents never home schooled the intention to keep us to a particular curriculum. I was mainly educated by the public library, and so understood the mainstream arguments as well, even though I did not initially appreciate them. So while fundamentalism taught me to spend a time feeling emotionally wound up about my potential apostasy and the culture wars, I had some of the knowledge and tools I needed to reconsider my position and change it. And that is what happened. It happened very quickly. And it happened on a number of fronts (not just evolution), leading me to a period of perceived personal crisis. But it happened & no doubt the fearless passion for truth to which fundamentalists subscribe and a good education enabled that shift to take place.

        I’ve known a lot of evangelicals from private Christian schools, home schools, and public school, and whether they feel free to experiment intellectually (on this issue or other ones) tends to come back to individual churches, educations, and people.

  7. Mike the Geologist says:

    Chaplain Mike: I’ve got some good news from the ‘Creation Wars” front. Last year I put together a small group class on “Science and the Bible” for my very evangelical church. I had gone to the pastor and told him that Christians should not stick their heads in the sand and should take a realistic look at these controversies. I told him that the answer to atheist propaganda is not Christan propaganda. He encouraged me to put the class together; it was a gutsy move for him as he was aware of my position and the controversy it could create. Well, tonight I start my second class; the first one went very well; beyond my expectations and the pastor himself took the first class. The church is a blue-collar working class church; I’m one of the few professionals who are members. I’m very proud of them. I did not dumb the science down; but neither was I confrontational. The spirit of the class was; “Look, these controversies are not going to go away and your kids are going to have to grow up and deal with them, so let me use my science background to help you deal with them in a way that does not minimize the science or denigrate the Scriptures.” And they dealt with on that basis.

    • Good for you. I commend what you are doing wholeheartedly.

    • Jennifer E. says:

      Mike, that’s beautiful! What a great way to share your gifts and engage others in a pursuit of intellectually honest dialogue.

      “I told him that the answer to atheist propaganda is not Christan propaganda.”

      So insightful.

    • I attend an Evangelical Covenant church–we had a four week class in January addressing this issue. Week one was focused on having good dialogues on issues we might dissent on, weeks 2 and 3 were presentations by an YEC and an evolutionary creationist and week 4 responses and issues related to each perspective. I really enjoyed it and love the fact that the ECC encourages amicable discussion of these issues within the church.

      • We did an 8 week compare and contrast class at my former church. It split up the class and a few long term friendships and got those of us who didn’t follow the YEC party line labels as poor misguided souls who may not really be christians.

    • We need more of this!

    • Best of luck to you. There may yet be turbulence ahead. Introducing change in churches is not the business of those who enjoy being safe.

    • Wow Mike. That is the most awesome thing I have heard in a long time in a church. You are right. Their kids are going to be presented with this and best to be informed no matter which way you sway. It is not a salvic issue.

      You might want to see about marketing your curriculum.

  8. The biggest problem that I see is that both sides of the controversy are essentially doing the same thing. There is little to no reasoned discourse. I have seen some interesting points on both sides. Unfortunately, if either side can point to a handful of “reasons” to discount the other side, then the thinking process is suddenly turned off. And the training of public school and many home school curriculum’s seems designed to train the students to this lack of thought, rather than questioning, discovering, verifying, validating. (Hey, it is starting to look a lot like politics!)

    • I don’t think so Chris. If you compare a site like BioLogos with Answers in Genesis, I think you see a clear difference between “reasoned discourse” and political propaganda. The last thing AiG and people like Ken Ham want is “questioning, discovering, verifying, validating…” They start with a settled conclusion based on their view of the Bible and then work backwards. That is not science.

      • I would think that comes closer to proving my point (although BioLogos is much less reactionary – and does not repeatedly show up in the media). For a lay person to determine what is valid, what is truth, is extremely difficult. There are “scientific” evidence for and against on both side and interpretations become the main arguments. To a lay person that has not the time/inclination/etc to sort through these, they may tend to just go with the majority. If that majority is “evolution disproves Christianity” (IE: not BioLogos, or Answers in Genesis) or some other philosophy that may come along… My concern/question is what should be taught/how should this be part of the education for training up a child the way he should go?

        • Chris, I don’t think it proves your point at all. Answers in Genesis and other creationist promoters do not practice science. Period. They start with a bottom-line conclusion: The Bible, literally understood, tells us creation happened in 6 days by direct intervention of God. Etc. They then try to make all evidence fit the conclusion they have already drawn.

          What I would tell my children is: if you are going to do science, do science and let it take you where the evidence leads you and then draw the best conclusions. That’s the way God made the world — to be discovered in such a way that our understanding of the natural world and the universe grows as we learn more.

          These are two entirely different approaches which are incompatible with each other.

          The Bible is not about science and discovering the natural world. To start there is to disavow true scientific method.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Answers in Genesis and other creationist promoters do not practice science. Period. They start with a bottom-line conclusion: The Bible, literally understood, tells us creation happened in 6 days by direct intervention of God. Etc. They then try to make all evidence fit the conclusion they have already drawn.

            i.e. Reality must conform to Ideology.

            That is not science (latin for Knowledge).
            It’s The Party Line, Comrade.
            It’s INGSOC.

    • It’s not simply a matter of picking sides, as if it were analogous to choosing what sports team to root for. It’s a matter of not demanding that Christians engage in intellectual dishonesty in the name of being a Christian. I actually think it’s hardly fair to refer to the parties engaged in these discussions as “sides”. The type of propaganda and ad hominem attacks coming from Ken Ham and his ilk seem to be pretty unique to them.

      • Agree. There are “sides”, and then there is AiG. Ken Ham has made himself wealthy systematically lying to people.

  9. Can I just say that you know that something is amiss with your side when you’re debating with Bill O’Reilly and he ends up sounding like the reasonable one…

  10. We all walk around with our chosen axioms guiding our worldview. It’s a battle for our minds. (And our vacation dollars).
    As a kid the Judeo/Christian creation story fascinated me. Now, the scientific view fascinates me and makes more sense.
    I choose to look to the Bible for spiritual direction and to science for explanation of the natural world.
    In the end, it’s ALL very nebulous and when I die I will gain a whole new perspective. (Which I won’t be able to share with my friends, or anyone for that matter).

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Jeffress disagreed, and trotted out arguments that, in my view, don’t hold water. ”Here’s the problem, Bill,” Jeffress said. “If you start labeling these stories as fictitious or fable, where do you stop? It’s like peeling the layers of an onion, you end up with nothing.”

    “If no Witches, then no Devil.
    If no Devil, then no God.”
    — Witchfinder quoted by Fr Von Spee during the Thirty Years’ War

    • Let’s see. Let an onion sit on the counter and it rots, often from the inside out.

      Peel the layers off, give them a course chop and sautte. Add some garlic, tomato and spices. Serve it over pasta.

      Why do we have the onion? To let it go to waste? To use it as it was designed (food), the foundation of a meal to give us life?

      Either way, you don’t have an onion any longer. One just fulfilled the purpose of an onion is all.

  12. I’m not a Biblical inerrantist (though I may be a Biblical infallibilist, if that means that the Bible infallibly reveals and discloses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the truths of salvation even though it contains factual error in other areas), but one of the main problems raised by a non-literal reading of Genesis, the creation accounts and the Garden of Eden drama, is how to account for the fall of the human race and by extension the necessity for a savior. If the good creation that God made did not come to ruin the way outlined in Genesis, and sin and death did not enter the creation through the original sin of Adam and Eve, then how did it happen? At what point did the description “good” when applied to creation stop being adequate and have to be replaced by “good but fallen”? And how do you answer that without simply psychologizing the fall on the one hand or postulating a pre-mundane or transcendental fall, which would make creation merely a provisional stage to work out non-physical spiritual fallenness (which is not what Genesis means in calling creation “good”) on the other? Remember that in any theory, the necessity of a savior must be preserved, otherwise Jesus is redundant. How do we non-inerrantists answer these questions?

    • “Good” doesn’t mean perfect or even complete. I think Christians tend to look back on the Creation story and read a lot into the text. It’s as if people believe that Adam and Eve were plopped into the Garden and existed in a state of Platonic perfection. I don’t see that sort of reading supported by the text. For one thing, when God put them in the Garden, He gave them work to do. Genesis 2:15, for example, says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Why would a perfect Creation need someone to care for it and further work on it?

      I think if you look at Adam as a proto-Israel, a lot of the problem you mention kind of go away. Adam was given a job, and he failed at it. Israel was given a job, and failed. Jesus, yet another Israel, was given a task and He succeeded where Adam and Israel had failed. He brought completion and fulfillment to Creation where Israel failed. He brought the blessing of God to all nations, and He initiated a New Creation by doing so.

      • Good concise summary, Phil.

      • Robert F says:

        But why was the job dying on a Cross? Why suffering love and not love embodied in an earthly Messiah and King? What privileges the Passion as central to Redemption if creation is not fallen along with human nature? Why so much predation and blood, red in tooth and claw? Jesus task has a cosmic dimensions not corresponding to Adam or Israel, and that dimension relates to how the whole creation groans for redemption, as Paul says. I don’t think the core spiritual/cosmic issues problems go away as a result of your explanation; it’s a required part of any comprehensive explanation, but not sufficient.

        • There’s a number of ways I could respond to this, but I don’t want to get too far off the original subject of the post. One thing I’d say is that one reason for the Incarnation and the Cross has to do with God revealing to us what His true nature was. God’s Kingdom isn’t like an earthly kingdom where brute force and power win the day. God defeats His enemies by dying for them, not by killing them. The Cross was in essence the way that God show us what He was really like.

          As far as the cosmic dimensions of the Cross, I’d say those can be addressed in a coherent way that doesn’t require a YEC view or even a literal Adam and Eve. There are a number of good explanations I’ve read. A good place to start is God at War by Greg Boyd.

          • Robert F says:

            I think I”m not making my point clear. I don’t disagree with you that a natural, literary (not literal) reading of Genesis does not yield a coherent doctrine of the fall, or the death or predation; our forefathers and mothers brought certain questions to the text of Genesis that it may not be able to answer. But the questions they brought to the text are universal religious questions that human being bring to religion and religious texts. Buddhism, with which I am familiar, asks the same questions: why do we suffer? Why is there death? Why disease? Buddhism gives a cosmic answer to these cosmic questions: the cause of suffering is desire. I don’t agree with the answer, but it is an answer. Earlier Biblical interpreters were seeking answers for the same kinds of questions. To the degree that de-historicizing the text of Genesis makes the text unable to answer , those very fundamental questions go unanswered. But they still exist. So we end up with a religion that doesn’t fill one of the primary function of religions: making the world as it is morally intelligible in a plausible way.
            If our God’s Kingdom isn’t “an earthly kingdom where brute force and power win the day,” then when did he create a world full of brute force and power and death. If he didn’t create it that way, then it became that way after creation through some kind of primeval calamity, which is what Christians traditionally have found in a reception of the Genesis text that makes it an historical account.
            Now, I don’t view the Genesis creation accounts or the Garden stories as historical; but that leaves me unable to locate the primeval calamity that treating it as such made possible. So the primary questions that I approach religion with cannot be satisfactorily answered, and if a non-believer asks me how I can believe in a good God when the universe is cruel and full of suffering, I can not give an answer that fully answers the cosmic scale of their question. I’m reduced to guesswork, more or less informed. I will check out Boyd, but I get the feeling that if he is like the others I’ve seen trying to fill in the gaps, he’s guessing too.

          • Robert F says:

            That is, “then why did he create…”

          • Boyd may surprise you… Another author who write on similar subjects is Terence Fretheim. He’s Lutheran, but his theology is in the “open theism” vein as well.

            Regardless, I don’t see how holding to a more literal interpretation of Genesis necessarily answers the questions you’re asking with any more clarity. You could say we’re told why human’s sinned, but we’re left many of the same questions. Why did God create them if He knew they would sin? Why was the serpent in the Garden, and what are His origins. These metaphysical questions are there regardless of how historic Genesis is.

            I think this is why when the Apostle Paul and the Church Fathers later on addressed these issues, their starting point was always Christ. They interpreted the OT narrative through Jesus’ death and resurrection rather than trying to go about it the other way. I do think narrative theology is useful, but I think the starting point has to be Christ.

          • Robert F says:

            Thanks, Phil. I do see your point about the traditional position not answering the need. I’ll check out Boyd and the other guy.

          • cermak_rd says:

            I don’t know that the Scriptures are meant to answer the question of why is there evil and suffering in the world. After all, if there was an answer, wouldn’t it have been supplied at the end of Job? Instead we get a mind your own business (Who are YOU?) answer from the Almighty.

          • Robert F says:

            It was that kind of mind-your-own-business attitude from Christians acting as the mouthpiece of the Almighty that sidetracked me into the study of Zen Buddhism for about a decade. Job is a profound book, but if it weren’t for the insistent presence in my life of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, I would have gone the way of Jung’s “Answer to Job,” with its coincidence of opposites and gnosticism stemming more or less directly from the semi-satanic nonsense of “Seven Sermons to the Dead.”

            “I believe so that I may understand,” Anselm of Canterbury.

          • cermak_rd says:

            Interesting. I had never heard of Jung’s “Answer to Job”. It seems to be Christian based so I’ll pass it by. In my case, the Holy Spirit was the first element of the Christian deity that I doubted. In the end, after all the spiritual journeying, I have a thin belief in a deep deity. But the questions of evil and suffering are strongly woven into the religious heritage I’ve chosen as a Reform Jew. And I won’t be bounced out for questioning or probing.

          • Robert F says:

            And as much as I dislike the “progressive” Christianity of much of the Episcopal Church, I do like and need the openness to discuss difficult issues and doubts without censure.

            Ironic, because sometimes I feel as if all I have is a deep belief in a weak God, as per John Caputo. I could easily end up becoming Quaker (non-evangelical, of course).

    • We start by understanding Genesis and the other creation stories in the Bible and what they are trying to teach us in the context of the Torah and the other locations where they are found in the First Testament, with faithfulness to their genres, historical and cultural backgrounds, and keeping in mind the canonical editing and arrangement of the Tanakh. This is the kind of work people like my mentor John Sailhamer did and that people like Peter Enns are trying to do today.

      • The more I digest Sailhamer’s work, the deeper my understanding. God added laws because of Israel being terrified to come near and be a nation of priests. God added a covering to Adam and Eve in the form of an animal that was sacrificed and they no longer were able to walk with God as they had done before. The very fact that the geographical description was the same should raise some eyebrows. It’s almost like Adam and Eve prophesied what would happen in the nation of Israel. This may even explain why there was a priest before the priesthood was established.

    • Dana Ames says:

      As per Phil, below. (Good summary, Phil.)

      As per J. Sailhamer. As per the way N.T. Wright describes 1st century Jewish thoughts about creation.
      As per “On the Human Condition” by St Basil the Great, who trained as both a doctor and a lawyer.
      As per “On the Incarnation of the Word of God” by St Athanasius, who wrote his 2 great theological works before he was 25.

      The ancient Christians were not stupid. The understood “literal” to mean, Yes, these things *happened* some time in history. But it was the *meaning* of these things in connection with the death and resurrection of Christ that they were trying to explain, not any scientific process. Ad fontes, especially for hermeneutics.

      Excellent commentary on this by Dr. Jeannie Constantinou (MA, JD, MTh Holy Cross Seminary, MTh Harvard, PhD U/Laval, Quebec) in her podcasts “Search the Scriptures” on Ancient Faith Radio.

      Dana

    • Yep. 6 day 24 hour creation isn’t the only literally correct reading of the text, but it’s very hard to understand the narrative of the fall and redemption without a historical Adam.

      • Wasn’t it Augustine who suggested that God created a world that was ever changing, well before Evolution entered the picture?

        Does the historical Adam have to be a single person though? Or can “he” and “Eve” be representative of a humanity comprised of hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of people? I believe C.S. Lewis held a view similar to this.

        One of these days I’ll have time to do a study on this, or at least read someone else’s study…

    • Robert F- not sure if you saw my reply about nuns on the other thread…

      Basically, the nuns that I knew were only too painfully aware of the kinds of nuns that you knew.

      A *lot* of people who went into the religious life back in the day were not fitted for it, nor were they fitted for the professions they were made to go into (teaching, hospital work, etc.).

      Some orders – and locales – were better than others, but it sure seems as if an awful lot of people were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      Unfortunately, given the hierarchies that ran things, it was all but impossible to get problems resolved. Things have changed a lot; at least, for the most part, they have. (In the US; can’t speak for or of other countries, though my view of that is far from sanguine…)

      • Robert F says:

        numo,
        I’m glad things are changing, but I’m tempted to say “Finally, after 2000 years!”

        • Gosh, I think it’s a lot less than 200 years – at least, for most orders of nuns. And they’re who I was thinking about, mainly… besides that, most orders were cloistered until fairly recent times. so they weren’t exactly out there running parochial schools.

          But then, most parochial school teachers are lay people, and often not Catholic, these days.

          • Robert F says:

            numo,
            Well, the same personality dysfunctions that would make them ill fit for teaching children would make them ill fit for cloistered community life; and I’m sure that monastic institutions and convents were full of highly dysfunctional people under highly authoritarian systems of rule. Read the biography “The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton,” by Michael Mott, and you’ll get an idea of just how hellish such a system can be, driving even a relatively integrated person nearly to despair.

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Wait a minute….
    28,400 sq ft (about 100′ x 300’/30 x 80m) building…
    Life-size animatronic animals…
    Custom wood-plank carpeting…
    Carnival rides…
    Bible stories by costumed Bible characters…
    Concession stand (hot dogs, kettle corn, cotton candy)…

    Just how much $$$$$ did this Christianese Disney Attraction cost?

    And this is on church grounds?

    Oh, Dallas Megachurch. That explains everything.

    I look forward to seeing this — on next season’s “Good Christian Bitches.”

    • SAN ANTONIO Megachurch. John Hagee is too vulgar for Dallas. We only have Ed Young.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Of Seven Day Sex Challenge fame.

        (Speaking of which, I was checking a list of GCB episodes and one of them has a Megachurch Pastor character issuing a Seven Days of Christian Sex Challenge.)

        Still, it sounds like a GCB or South Park episode pitch.

    • That Other Jean says:

      It’s not realistic unless there are is life-size animatronic poop and smell-a-vision to go with the life-size animatronic animals, though. And bad-tempered, seasick members of Noah’s family trying to get everything on the ark fed and cleaned up in spite of the wretched weather. Not the sort of thing you’d want to take the kids to see.
      Good thing there’s also face painting and clowns making balloon animals.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Not even mentioning the Katrina-on-Steroids universal death and devastation outside the Ark’s hull.

        Send in the balloon-animal clowns!

    • “I want you to send whatever you can afford. If you’ve got a thousand dollars in the bank, don’t be afraid to send the whole thousand dollars. I need your money. Bibleland is only halfway there. Bibleland…The most important attraction since the crucifixion itself.” – Jimmy Lee Farnsworth (Fletch Lives)

    • That calculation of the square footage of the Ark and the real-life animatronic animals leads me to share a poem with you all on that Biblical topic:

      Wine and Water by G.K. Chesterton

      Old Noah he had an ostrich farm and fowls on the largest scale,
      He ate his egg with a ladle in an egg-cup big as a pail,
      And the soup he took was Elephant Soup and the fish he took was Whale,
      But they all were small to the cellar he took when he set out to sail,
      And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
      “I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

      The cataract of the cliff of heaven fell blinding off the brink
      As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down a sink,
      The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of hell to drink,
      And Noah he cocked his eye and said, “It looks like rain, I think,
      The water has drowned the Matterhorn as deep as a Mendip mine,
      But I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

      But Noah he sinned, and we have sinned; on tipsy feet we trod,
      Till a great big black teetotaller was sent to us for a rod,
      And you can’t get wine at a P.S.A., or chapel, or Eisteddfod,
      For the Curse of Water has come again because of the wrath of God,
      And water is on the Bishop’s board and the Higher Thinker’s shrine,
      But I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.

  14. OTOH, I don’t think that people who believe in Transubstantiation (to reference a recent post here) or that Jesus turned water into wine or that Jesus took a man born blind and gave him sight such that he didn’t even seem to need any time at all for his brain and nervous system to adjust so that he could walk around and talk with people, etc., should automatically and wholesale dismiss the thinking and reasoning of Young Earth Creationists who hold that God can and did create the world in 6 days with the appearance of age and all the necessary biological and astronomical and atomic-level physical and chemical interrelationships, etc. Sure, God’s Genesis 1 act was literally on a universal scale, and the other actions took and take place on a much smaller space, but size and scale are irrelevant when it comes to God.

    • Not the point, Eric.

      The point is that the Bible is not talking about the natural world in a scientific way. The Bible is giving us a creed to believe. Science gives us models to keep testing so that we can keep discovering and understanding what we will never fully understand.

  15. Marcus Johnson says:

    Here’s something that can put explanation of Cornerstone Church in perspective:

    1. A 2009 report showed that almost 19.8% of native-born residents, and 22% of foreign-born residents, in the San Antonio area live below the poverty level.

    2. 8600 students (mostly people of color) in the Bexar County system dropped out of school in the 2011-12 academic year.

    I can list a plethora of additional factoids about the significant need for financial support and community involvement in the San Antonio area, but I’ll leave it to other folks to do their own research.

    Now, check out the Ministry of Helps section for Cornerstone Church–a simple three-paragraph description with no contact information, and no real focus on community outreach and servicing underserved populations. Cornerstone had a great opportunity to serve their surrounding community, and it seems obvious that they had the resources to do it…

    …but, instead, they built a huge friggin’ ark. Must have cost a lot.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Like I said above, 28,000 sq ft building, life-size animatronics, carnival rides…

      Sounds about the size and elaboration (and expense) of a typical Disneyland attraction.

      Let the Poor of San Antonio de Bexar eat cake! We have more Christian things to do! How dare those Dallas Megachurches have more bling-bling than us! Culture War Without End, Amen!

      • And they probably financed it with a mortgage. Either way, what a tremendous squandering of money, when 17 percent of Texans are at or below poverty level, and Texas has the nation’s highest percentage of persons without health insurance. When church is preoccupied with stuffed animals, what does that say about “the least of these” and a calling as those being sent out as the living presence of Christ?

        • The poor you will have with you always…Build a Theme Park…or at least a gym…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            As long as it’s a CHRISTIAN(TM) Theme Park or CHRISTIAN(TM) Gym…

            (Tip: If something can be best described as “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, that is NOT a good sign.)

      • Isaac and/or Obed says:

        I live in the San Antonio area. We’ve got several mega-churches, most of which are within a couple miles of each other. All are on the far north side of town where folks are relatively affluent, and mostly white. Our numerous poor parts of town are very far away from those places.

        OTOH, even in the poorest parts of town there are churches on every street corner. Those ones tend to either be Baptist or Catholic (with some older mainlines mixed in), and not well attended. Some just have aging members who don’t match the surrounding demographics and will likely disappear in a few years. Others do reach out into the neighborhoods surrounding them and are doing really good things, almost completely off the radar, of course.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I live in the San Antonio area. We’ve got several mega-churches, most of which are within a couple miles of each other.

          1) I assume this “Cornerstone” is one of them?

          2) You know, WalMart and Lowe’s don’t put their big-box stores too close to each other; otherwise they’d cut into each other’s customer base. I assume all these Megas in close proximity are in direct competition for each others’ sheep?

          All are on the far north side of town where folks are relatively affluent, and mostly white. Our numerous poor parts of town are very far away from those places.

          3) Nice to know these Megas won’t be contaminated by the presence of the poor or brown.

          • Walmart and Lowes?

            Did you mean Home Depot and Lowes?

            The ones I visit most here are within 1/2 mile of each other. If you can’t find it at one you go to the other. :)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I meant WalMart spaces out WalMarts and Lowe’s spaces out Lowe’s within each chain’s stores. Stores within a chain are spaced so as not to interfere with each other’s business.

            Now Home Depot and Lowe’s do try to put their stores near the other guy’s to draw off their customers.

  16. Bill Metzger says:

    The parts of the Bible that are written as literal history truly are history. The example of the bones of Joseph Caiaphas being discovered in Jerusalem in the 90’s, chariot wheels in the Red Sea, the reality of the historic King David through business transactions on clay tablets, etc. lend to the authenticity of historical narrative in the Bible. The crucufixion is an historic fact. The Jewish historian Josephus as well as the Roman historian Tacitus are very clear regarding the historicity of the crucixion under Pontius Pilate (another historic figure!). Those portions of the Bible that are written as poetry or allegory are exactly what they say they are. Is the Bible a history book? In matters pertaining to the histroic redemption story, yes. Would faith be compromised if one took the opposite view point? I believe, yes, it would. If Jesus did not REALLY die then my real sins were not really forgiven. There is a reason why the crucifixion took place in a real location at a real time in history-to show that God has really saved us through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. Luke 2:1-20 is another example of “naming names, setting dates, and locating locations”. It’s one of the things that sets Christianity apart from all other religious systems (allowing for Judaism being the “parent” of Christianity).

    • You’ll get no disagreement from me about what you say, Bill. That, however, does not mean that all narratives in Scripture are “historical” in the sense that we take them to be.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I understand the “Chariot Wheels in the Red Sea” turned out to be bogus. Like Gideon’s Lost Day, probably an urban legend mistaken for fact.

      • Correct. I would add that actual historians put no stock in the works of Flavius Josephus.

      • Chariot Wheels in the Red Sea

        I’d dig deeper into it if they found them in a reed sea / ancient marsh.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      Look at this way, Bill; history can be verified empirically to a limited (not absolute) extent. There is good reasonable evidence for the resurrection. Can it be proved? No. Can it be doubted? Of course. When Jesus turned water into wine at the Cana wedding it had the appearance of age; or, if you will, an apparent history. But you didn’t see Jesus create a bill from the wine shop to put in the house ledger, or create wineskins in the garbage out back, or create an invoice from the vineyard to the wineshop, etc. No, the history of the wine ended at the water jars- period. So if the earth or the cosmos has a detailed, coherent, and discoverable history then it is probably real and not apparent. Let me give you an example. Chaplain MIke and I both live in Indiana (in fact, CM, you live in the town my eldest son lives in). If you take the interstate to Chicago, I-80 will cross over the huge Thornton quarries; visible from both sides of the interstate. The Thornton quarries have been active since the late 1800s and have revealed in glorious 3-dimensions a coral reef. We know how a coral reef grows and how long it takes for one of that size to grow. So when was northern Indiana-the Chicago area a shallow tropical sea for 4,000 years? It seems more reasonable to me to believe that is real history not apparent but YMMV. You could say that God created that fossilized coral reef in place to look like it grew there during the creation week. But personally, that is a level of deception I’m uncomfortable attributing to God.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Sure, there are literal narratives within the Bible that can be proven with archaeological discoveries and other contemporary resources. You can also use a Bible as a paperweight, and you can use it to teach linguistics and composition, but none of those uses speak to the true purpose of the text. Remember, nowhere in the Bible is Scripture referred to as “fact”–not because there are no fact-based narratives, but because Scripture was given to us as truth, not fact, and the verifiability of the narratives do not add to or take away from its use as fact.

  17. Slippery slope is not a fallacy, it’s an argument that depends on the strength of evidence and the logical connection between the unwanted result and the decision at issue. I’m one who thinks the slippery slope argument is absolutely correct, and the history of Christianity since the enlightenment proves this. Any church body that permits the teaching that Scripture contains errors slides quickly into irrelevance. The issue is not how much time passed during the 6 ‘days’ of creation, contra the YECers, but whether God’s Word has power and is reliable.

    Scripture, that is, God’s Word, is the foundation for Christianity, and especially so for sacramental churches. Christ is the Word, the Word creates through the power of the Word alone. The Word conveys forgiveness and justification to those who hear it, it brings forth a new man in baptism, it turns bread and wine into Christ’s very body and blood for the strengthening of faith. The Word is the only source of teaching, of faith, and for assurance for Christians.

    If the church itself says the Word doesn’t mean what it says, or treats it differently than Christ and the Apostles themselves did, then the church has cut itself on from its own foundation and set itself up as a Judge of Christ.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Slippery slopes are not fallacies? I understand if you want to take the belief that a flexible approach to the creation story damages the credibility of Scripture, and call that concern something other than a slippery slope fallacy. However, slippery slopes are, by their very definition, a type of informal fallacy; that’s Logic and Philosophy 101.

    • Truth and error need to be applied within context. To say that the Scriptures are true and without error is non-sensical. We need to ask – true in what sense? Are the scriptures true as a history text? As a science text? As a moral text? What context? Same applies when speaking of error. Simplistic defenses place one on a slipperly slope.

      • “True and without error” juxtaposed that way presumes a certain epistemology which has to be proven on its own merit and stands outside of and apart from Scripture. It presumes a linkage between veracity and precision. Personally, I don’t think the presumption can hold.

        • Well, then I have a question for John – how do we know if the Bible is saying is true? Does the concept apply at all in any manner?

          • That’s a good question, Gregory. I think how one answers will depend pretty heavily on one’s epistemological presuppositions. I think the historic Christian position is that Jesus is the truth – and that God’s written record of that Revelation is also true. I.e., it is presuppositionally presumed true.

            As to the link between veracity and precision, ask your family to describe the last family reunion. You will get different stories from different folks. The incidental details will not match, and the perspective will shift, but no reasonable person would call their stories “un-true”. This is similar to what we find in the gospels. In the same way, I don’t think any reasonable person would call the Bible “un-true” just because it describes rabbits as chewing their cud. it is possible for a thing to have an error (deviation from a standard) without being “un-true”. It depends on one’s epistemological foundation.
            Its a great conversation.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’m one who thinks the slippery slope argument is absolutely correct, and the history of Christianity since the enlightenment proves this. Any church body that permits the teaching that Scripture contains errors slides quickly into irrelevance. The issue is not how much time passed during the 6 ‘days’ of creation, contra the YECers, but whether God’s Word has power and is reliable.

      The Wahabi, Salafi, and Talibani say the exact same thing about the Koran. And they take action — in blood — to prevent the slippery slope. Ask any Christian who had to live in an Islamic Republic. Are you willing to go that far to protect your Holy Book?

    • I’m afriad you’re correct, Boaz.

      It troubles me that there is a major disconnect between what (many non-fundamentalist) clergy learn in their seminaries, and what they feel it necessary to tell the people in the pews. In seminary, they learn that no, the Virgin Birth (for instance) didn’t actually happen *literally.* A woman called Mary didn’t *literally* give birth without having normal human intercourse. The Virgin Birth story was just one of many ancient middle eastern stories about miraculous births of heroes, and the early Gospel writers attached it to Jesus’ story, not in a spirit of fabrication but because it is a myth that fit into the culture of the time and so seemed reasonable. But still (the seminary teaching continues), the Virgin Birth story is *true,* because it represents the greater point that Jesus was a great, divine man, and so the writers felt His birth needed to match up with that fact.

      Therefore, the seminary concludes, when clerical folks are asked by the people in the pews if they believe in the Virgin Birth, they should answer “Yes,” with no qualms, because the clergy believe it is true that Jesus is a great divine man, and the Virgin Birth story is just part of that definition. But the clergy folks certainly should NOT elaborate that the Virgin Birth story is “true” because it is an ancient human myth! That would confuse and distress the pew-sitters. Clergy should just say “Yes, I believe in the Virgin Birth” and let it go at that.

      This rather slippery approach to “truth” is applied, as far as I can see, to most stories of Jesus life. Turning water into wine is “true” in the sense that Jesus can turn ordinary lives into wonderful ones. But no, He didn’t really turn literal water into literal wine. Giving sight to the blind man is “true” in that Jesus’ presence opens new ways of seeing and insight for us. But no, he probably didn’t really regenerate an optic nerve. And so on to the Resurrection. It’s “true” that Jesus arose from the grave, in the sense that His spirit is alive to all believers. But no, He didn’t really exactly die and then revive again a few days later. He may have “appeared” to the apostles, as a not-uncommon hallucination brought on by grief, but there was no bodily recovery.

      Clergy taught in this manner no doubt convince themselves that they are not being deceptive with their congregations, in teaching that Christ’s virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection are true, without explaining what they mean by “true.” And I don’t mean to condemn them as harshly as this sounds. What else are they going to say? Once your mind has been opened, by evidence and logic, to the extreme improbability of something like Noah’s Ark, or the Resurrection, it’s generally impossible to go back and close your mind up again.

      But I think such a faith, which simply psychologises all strange things in Scripture, is not the faith for which the saints have died. I have no answers, obviously; it just makes me sad, sometimes, that my own mind has been “opened” (though I’m definitely not clergy!)

      • “It’s generally impossible to go back and close your mind up again,” and it’s kind of difficult to start a new career when you owe so much in student loans and you have a family who need a roof and stability; and after all, what is “truth?” Wait…..where have we heard that before?

      • Matt Purdum says:

        Regarding miracles, NT Wright has some really good and insightful things to say in “Simply Jesus” (Chapter 11 specifically) — some of it was fresh even to me.

  18. I have to tell you that I am stunned by how thigns are going in this area. Over the past 6 or 8 months i have been wadding into church again. Its been a nerve wacking experience. When I’ve heard some of the topics raised in comign talks – sex, marriage, evil, and creationism I have cringed. Duirng my deep valley of doubt what bothered me was seeing all this majesty and not having anyone to thank. When at the church I was attending they announced they were going to discuss creaion. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach, and paniced. I’ve come so far and was frightened that i’d hear someone say, “You need to believe in a literal 6 day creation of you can’t be a Christian at all…”

    Those 18 words fill me with such dread. I know many of you guys have dealt with this issue. When the pastor expaliend that the series is based off John Walton’s “Origins Lost World Of Geneiss One” I was in a panic in church. In the audirorium my Android had no reception. So after the servide I raced out to the car and Googled John Walton and what came up? :-D A blog post by Kenn Hamm trashing Wheaton Professor John Walton as a heretic. I almost screamed for joy! Things can continue (I want this to work out so bad!…You guys have nooooooooooooooooooooo idea ;-)

    So my move back into faith is continuing and it wasn’t hijacked by YECs.

    In closing I have to say that I’ve leanred that condemnations by Ken Hamm or John Piper have pointed me in the right direction. What John Piper has condemned has actually been a sign that its probably healthy. You can learn to read some of these fundagelicals!

    • Eagle, you’ve got some serious guts to try going back to church, after your past experiences

      I remember going “back to church” after a hiatus, and seeing things that I really didn’t want to become part of. Certain ways I did not want to bend with the cultural winds. It was difficult, but I survived, and I’ve learned to be more discerning, and less fearful about disagreeing vocally with party line. I can only credit the Holy Spirit for these changes.

      Good luck, and grace be upon you.

    • I wasn’t sure if you are speaking generally here about John Piper’s theology or his views on creationism being similar to Ken Hamm’s. From what I understand, his views on creation have been heavily influenced by John Sailhamer (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/what-should-we-teach-about-creation). Praying for you as you attend this new church.

      • No…I’m not linking the two. All I am saying is that when someone like John Piper or Ken Ham recommends something, that means it’s rejected. When they attack something as being “UnBiblical” that means its healthy.

    • Perhaps you are choosing your churches from too narrow a pool. How about the Catholics or Episcopalians? Their approaches to marriage and evil would be completely different, while creationism is just not on. (Sex would not usually be discussed from the pulpit, but there are encyclicals and such.) Or UCC, Quakers, etc.? Most people experience church not as “nerve racking,” but as soporific.

  19. Matt Purdum says:

    A most excellent discussion so far! A pleasure to read.

  20. I was looking around the Cornerstone’s website (you can get the URL off the “poster” on the photo at the top of Chaplain Mike’s post) and I saw this on an article when you click on “Israel” in their menu: “Jesus Christ, a prominent Rabbi from Nazareth said…”

    That seemed like an odd way to describe Jesus if this is a “super-Christian” site.

    • Isaac and/or Obed says:

      Cornerstone is one of the biggest “Christian Zionist” joints in this part of Texas. They love everything Jewish and regularly host “A Night to Honor Israel” events. Ironically, they’ve got a reputation for being hostile to Messianic Jewish groups and other groups that emphasize missions and evangelism toward Jews.

      • Oh, OK, Isaac, thanks. I guess they need Jews to STAY Jews, in order to make all the other prophecies they emphasize work for them.

        • I think very few Christian Zionists have ever engaged a Jew is serious conversation. They would not know one of the Hasidim if he bit them on the backside. And try explaining that 1/3 of them must die.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Christian Zionist…
        AKA Anti-Semitic Zionist.
        Israel is In The Land, Fulfilling End Time Prophecy, and Can Do No Wrong. Anything else is Rebellion Against God and his Timetable to Armageddon. Support Israel, breed that Red Heifer, and “Immanentize the Eschaton”, i.e. Jump-Start Armageddon.
        Where Israel is nothing more than an End Time Prophecy fulfillment, and its people nothing more than a piece to move about on the End Time Prophecy gameboard. And the end result of this from Hal Lindsay’s heyday: Christians For Nuclear War.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Which would be a subject for a post in and of itself. (I first encountered “Christian Zionism” in the Seventies, during the heyday of Hal Lindsay. Except back then I didn’t know it had a name.)

        Suffice it to say that the Jews in Israel have to stay Jews to fulfill some End Time Prophecy or other, after which they are superfluous. Can’t interfere with the Armageddon Checklist and Rapture Countdown — tick tick tick tick tick tick tick…

        • As somebody once said (maybe Joe Bob Briggs?), “ya’ll keep the place looking nice for us until the J-man comes back.”

  21. The “Disney-ization” theme hasn’t been much discussed so far. Should I laugh or cry at the the way some YECers trivialize the very things they’re trying to defend? It’s like a vacation Bible school program unaccountably got a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. So many questions…

    Are these sorts of exhibits ultimately effective? Do they merely entertain?

    Are they likely to change anyone’s mind, or are they basically just an opportunity for worldview reinforcement for those who’ve already bought in?

    Do you come away from such exhibits wanting to know more about God’s Creation, or is the basic message just to proclaim “God is Great” whenever you observe something fascinating in nature?

    Do you emerge with more questions than answers, questions which spur you to learn more, or are the answers you find there sufficient?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Are they likely to change anyone’s mind, or are they basically just an opportunity for worldview reinforcement for those who’ve already bought in?

      Definitely the latter. It’s a form of fanservice, reassuring the Faithful that “You, Dear Reader, are Right all along”.

      Do you come away from such exhibits wanting to know more about God’s Creation, or is the basic message just to proclaim “God is Great” whenever you observe something fascinating in nature?

      “AL’LAH’U AKBAR! AL’LAH’U AKBAR! AL’LAH’U AKBAR!”

  22. Dan Crawford says:

    Every time I read the various pronouncements of fungelicals about God, the Bible and Creation (to say nothing of politics) I become more firmly convinced that they regard invincible ignorance as a dominical sacrament, almost on the level of Biblical “inerrancy”.

    • My take-away is fear. I am coming to think that much of popular evangelical belief is built upon fear – fear of the Other, fear of the empirically unknowable, fear of death – and fear is demonic, not the Spirit of Christ.

  23. It is interesting how many narrow-minded fundamentalistic types there are who reject YEC for no other reason than “science tells me differently.” Their minds are unwilling to accept that there is an alternative explanation that actually makes sense, deals with the data, and corresponds to the Scripture.

    And then we have someone here in the comments actually admit what we all know … that science keeps changing as we discover new stuff. Which means that everything science teaches us now can’t really be trusted because it will soon change (as it constantly has). Yet people put their faith in it and let it cause them to walk away from God.

    It would be far better and more academically and intellectually honest to wrestle with reality, and to deal with the problems of evolution that find scientific answers in YEC.

    Now I will make a prediction that the fundamentalists here will scorn me for speaking up. And it will show that the mindset of fundamentalism lives on.

    • LTc, I’m sorry to say your comment proves my point about how mixed up the thinking of YEC’ers is.

      1. I, for one, did not reject YEC because “science tells me differently.” I rejected it because it is not good Biblical interpretation.

      2. YEC most definitely does not deal with the data, at least in any kind of legitimate scientific fashion. It only views the data through the lens of a particular Bible interpretation.

      3. Of course science keeps changing because our understanding of the natural world will always be incomplete. That has nothing to do with the legitimacy of science.

      4. When you say “everything science teaches us now can’t really be trusted” you betray the false idea that science is something to be “trusted” like religious truth. Science is not something people “put their faith in” and if they do or think that’s what we’re supposed to do, they are misunderstanding what science is all about.

      5. YEC has no scientific answers, only religious answers.

      I will say what I said before. The Bible has absolutely nothing to do with teaching scientific content. That is not its purpose. It is designed to lead us to faith in the true and living God through Christ.

      Science, on the other hand, is not designed to lead us to “faith” but to help us discover how the universe works and to appreciate the wonders of the natural world God created.

      These should not be mixed together. Keep science out of the Bible and keep the Bible out of science.

    • …narrow-minded fundamentalistic types… Their minds are unwilling to accept that there is an alternative explanation that actually makes sense, deals with the data, and corresponds to the Scripture.

      I and others I know have spent a lot of time a few years back digging into Ken Ham’s and others’ claims about the scient of YEC. The best that can be said about it is it is bad science. A better description is “ignore all the data we can’t fit into our theories”.

    • I’d like to know how it happens that people put their “faith” in science and then walk away from God.

      Can one put one’s faith in science at all? Isn’t science by definition a discipline that requires firsthand observation, which rules out faith?

      Most people walk away from God because they decide they can’t deal with a God who allows evil, or something like that. If science were the culprit, there would be no such thing as a Christian practicing in a scientific discipline.

      • If science were the culprit, there would be no such thing as a Christian practicing in a scientific discipline.

        Not really. The culprit is not science but YEC. Many young adults that I’ve seen walks away were raised that YEC was a requirement of being a Christian. In college they decided YEC was a lie and thus to remain a Christian they had to either reject what they had been told was a requirement or walk away. Many walked away.

  24. What an excellent post and an excellent thread. Y’all be rockin’ like Dokken!

  25. “Keep science out of the Bible and keep the Bible out of science.”

    Wow, Chaplain Mike. That’s quite a position. Sounds like the Bible shouldn’t be interacting with the real world! Or is it that science shouldn’t be interacting with the real world? Or should the Bible be interacting with one part of the real world and science should be interacting with another part of the real world? If so, when they trespass on each other’s turf, who wins?

    I guess it might be that the Bible just doesn’t speak to the whole of life. Or is science not part of real life?

    Wow.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      That’s a gross oversimplification of the argument being made here, primarily with the idea that the Bible can’t “interact with the real world.” What Chaplain Mike, and several other folks (including myself) are saying is that the Bible is not a textbook on biology, geology, law, psychology, etc., and when we start trying to use it as such, it loses its purpose. Besides, the Bible is not supposed to “interact” with anything; it sets guiding principles for the church on how we are supposed to interact with the “real world.”

      By the way, building a freakishly overpriced ark display instead of driving 20 minutes down the highway and serving some of the desperately poor in your community (here’s looking at you, Cornerstone!) is the epitome of not “interacting with the real world.” Now that I think of it, wouldn’t Cornerstone’s actions be a form of idolatry, as they basically built a graven image to represent the god that brought them out of the land of Egypt?

      • Yes indeed. Lifesize animatronic animals which are designed to “underscore the Bible’s authenticity” is a graven image. No doubt about it.

      • Marcus, no, not an oversimplification. I’m responding to the idea that the BIble and science should never meet. Poppycock. You don’t even have to be a 6 day creationist to see that’s wrong. Your assertion that the Bible is not a textbook is true, I have said the same elsewhere. However, it does purport to be true, and therefore shoud line up with real life.

        And if you think I’m making an oversimplification, maybe oversimplified comments should be avoided.

        (Again, with the poor. We humans have an amazing capacity for multitasking. Such a criticism reminds me of the falacious accusation against missionaries of the past who should have been relieving the poor in the countries they went to instead of preaching the gospel, completely ignoring the fact that they did both! Quite apart from that, should there be neglect in one area does not mean another area is unimportant and should not be done. Likewise, just because one group of creationists is doing something you think is unwise does not mean their main purpose for existing is faulty.)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I used to get asked “You are on-scene where somebody’s shot and is bleeding out in front of you. Are you going to stop the bleeding and save his life or preach to him and Save his Soul?”

          A lot of Christians on the radio either answered or strongly directed the answer of “Save his Soul.”

          I always answered “What prevents me from doing both? Then I’ve got both bases covered.”

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          However, it does purport to be true, and therefore should line up with real life.

          That syllogism does not follow through. Something can be “true” and not “line up with real life.” The parables that Jesus told were “true,” in that they accomplish the purpose that Jesus intended them to accomplish, and that their inherent principles are accurate portrayals of God’s will, and can cross cultures and individual experiences. Whether they are factually sound and empirically provable are irrelevant. No one goes looking for evidence of a prodigal son, and no one has attempted to look for evidence of a shepherd in 1st century Israel that literally left 99 sheep in search of one.

          Again, with the poor….Quite apart from that, should there be neglect in one area does not mean another area is unimportant and should not be done?

          Yes, again with the poor. On and on with the poor. I’ll beat that drum all day long. We were never mandated to build a large ark with life-sized, animatronic creatures to affirm the six-day creation theory, or to insist that our state governments mandate the teaching of creationism in the public school system, or even to attempt to “prove” that the Bible is fact. We were specifically told, in both the Old and New Testament, over and over again, to take care of the poor. We were also told through Scripture, over and over again, that the way we treat the underserved among us is a greater demonstration of our faith than any sermon or image that we can conceive of.

          …just because one group of creationists is doing something you think is unwise does not mean their main purpose for existing is faulty.

          You’re right; one does not follow the other. I am asserting something different, though: that creationists are doing something I think is unwise AND their main purpose for existing is faulty.

  26. “5. YEC has no scientific answers, only religious answers.”

    I’m sorry, I’m going to comment on that, too. It’s clear you haven’t actually read YEC materials, or if you have, only poor ones. Try Creation Ministries International (creation.com). To claim YEC has no scientific answers is outrageous when you actually read their premise, read their material and see the calibre of the scientists who write for them.

    You don’t need to agree with YEC, but at least don’t misrepresent them.

    • Some of us have read them in depth. PHD’s in math, biology, etc… And at the end of the day it’s just a fallacy to call what they promote as science.

      Sorry. But tis so.

      • .Ali, most of us are quite aware of YEC “proofs” for that position, and it is, sadly, horsehockey. God’s love and power cannot be proven by science, but geological, biological, and physical facts sure can be. No God that I could ever worship would set up the physical world as a “trap”, with false-leads (like fossils) “planted” to trip up non-beleivers. God is total truth……and YEC is NOT.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The idea that God created everything with a false appearance of great age is called “Omphalos”, after the Greek word for belly-button. It was first proposed seriously by Gosse in Victorian times (during the first dust-up over Darwin), and didn’t go far. Gosse got piled on by both sides and afterwards wrote tabloid true-crime instead. Much less hassle.

      • Sorry, but ’tis not. ;)

        In fact, if you did read carefully, you’ll see a distinction made between operational science and “origin” science, and they put both creation and evolution in the latter camp. It’s all a bit more nuanced than your bald assertion.

      • David, sorry. Missed you out. Of course, I’m not sure exactly what you were saying. Who has PHD’s in math, biology etc? This crowd at creation.com? What about international awards for making the most accurate clock on earth like John Hartnett?

        Sorry, mate. Perhaps you should read their understanding behind creation science, ie. that creation science and evolution are both “origin” science. I’m not sure what you’ve read, and neither am I sure what you’ve understood. Perhaps a discussion on exactly what they consider both creation science and evolution to be would be useful.

        • I’ve read a lot of the creation science lit. Bought some of the books. So have many of my friends. And their friends. And many of these are PHD’s or Masters in science, biology, medicine, math, physics, engineering, etc… And we have all come to the conclusion that what the YEC/Creation/whateveryoucalli adherents call science that backs up a young earth is basically bogus. (If we want to be polite we call it misguided.)

          Most of what looks good at first glance ignores a lot of evidence that contradicts it. And then there’s all those things like you can’t trust Carbon dating and on and on and on.

          Two people I know personally were young earth adherents. They supported the subject. Then they started getting deeper into and realized they had been had. The facts were just not there. And any facts that contradicted the young earth paridyme were just “bad measurements or data”. Ignoring that the “bad” data was 10 to 10,000,000 times more plentiful than their cherry picked data. One of these folks was attending a church sponsored class on how to present YEC to Christians and after a while was asked not to come back due to he kept bringing up facts that contradicted what we being sold at the front of the room.

          Sorry, YEC is a dog that just doesn’t hunt.

    • Sorry Ali, but the fact that someone talks about science and has a degree doesn’t mean they are actually following scientific method. If you start with the conclusion already set, it simply is not science, it is apologetics.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ever heard of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko? Comrade Stalin’s pet bioscientist, who completely conformed genetics to The Inevitable Marxist-Leninist Dialectic and whose dead hand dominated Russian biology (with the enforcement of The Party) for decades in the name of Ideology.

        “The Soviet political leadership had come to view orthodox science as offering empty promises, as unproductive in meeting the challenges and needs of the Communist state. Lysenko was viewed as someone who could deliver practical methods more rapidly, and with superior results.[5]

        “Lysenko himself spent much time denouncing academic scientists and geneticists, claiming that their isolated laboratory work was not helping the Soviet people. By 1929 Lysenko’s skeptics were politically censured, accused of offering only criticisms, and for failing to prescribe any new solutions themselves. In December 1929, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin gave a famous speech praising “practice” above “theory”, elevating the political bosses above the scientists and technical specialists. Though for a period the Soviet government under Stalin continued its support of agricultural scientists, after 1935 the balance of power abruptly swung towards Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was put in charge of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Soviet Union and made responsible for ending the propagation of “harmful” ideas among Soviet scientists. Lysenko served this purpose by causing the expulsion, imprisonment, and death of hundreds of scientists and eliminating all study and research involving Mendelian genetics throughout the Soviet Union. This period is known as Lysenkoism. He bears particular responsibility for the persecution of his predecessor and rival, prominent Soviet biologist Nikolai Vavilov, which ended in 1943 with the imprisoned Vavilov’s death by starvation. In 1941 Lysenko was awarded the Stalin Prize.”

      • Again, Chaplain Mike, actually reading their material is quite useful if you don’t want to misrepresent a group. Quite apart from their much more careful explanations (this is merely a blog comment, after all) all science starts with an hypothesis. And evolutionist scientists begin with the conclusion set that evolution is true and refuse to look at other interpretations of their evidence.

        I’m sorry, but clearly you have begun with a conclusion set that creation scientists do not do science and are not really wishing to look at what the people you are discussing are actually saying. I wouldn’t be suprised if you didn’t realise that creationists accept natural selection.

        • Ali, pardon me, but I have been dealing with this stuff since the 1970’s. And you are simply incorrect in what you say.

          1. A hypothesis is different than a conclusion.
          2. I have not begun with the conclusion that creation scientists do not do science. That is my conclusion after being exposed to their materials. Anyone who names their organization “Answers in Genesis” has already told you what they are about. They are not about science. They are about using scientific materials to practice apologetics defending a particular interpretation of the Bible. The pursuit of scientific knowledge is a matter of engaging the natural world, not special revelation. A person of faith who is a scientist doesn’t start with the Bible — she does experiments in the stuff of creation.

          I would agree that there are those who hold to naturalistic or materialist philosophies who use evolutionary science to prove their non-theistic beliefs too. That is fundamentalism on the other side and it is just as inappropriate. Science is not a religious undertaking, except in the broader sense that everything we do is done under God as a vocation given by him, and that studying anything in the natural world can increase our sense of wonder at God’s handiwork.

          That is not what we are doing here. We are saying let’s recognize the Bible for what it is and what it was designed to do and let us recognize scientific enterprises and what they are and what they were designed to do. The Bible was not given so that we might discover the natural world and its workings. Nor was natural revelation in the world and universe given so that we might find salvation in Christ. We should not mix these up.

          • It’s good to hear you have read creation materials, but I still would assert that CMI escapes many of the generalisations you level at 6 day creationists. What I do notice in your responses, however, is a very strong dichotomy which I think is leading you to wrong conclusions. The world is not so easily divided into natural and special revelation and never the twain shall meet. The Bible itself refers to creation as being enough to hold mankind accountable.

            In all honesty, I’m happy for you to hold a non-6 day creationist position. I far prefer someone to trust in Christ and hold to evolution (inconsistent though I consider that to be), than to hold to 6 day creation and not trust in Christ (yes, there are some). My reason for commenting was that you went further and made assertions about Creation Science that I consider to be quite inaccurate and ungenerous. You may still hold to those characterisations, I still hold that you are wrong about them.

            To all – Thanks for the chat. I have no time to continue. Another time, maybe.

    • Donalbain says:

      Creation Ministries International do not do science. It really is as simple as that. When you have a statement of faith that you say can NEVER be wrong, then you are not doing science.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Again, Reality must bow to Purity of Ideology. Because Ideology Can Never Be Wrong.

        Just like Stalin and Pol Pot.

        • LOL Really?

          I’m sorry, HUG, are you a Christian? I’ll understand your comment far better if that is the case.

          There seems to be a huge mistaken assumption that ideology does not exist in the evolutionist camp. Sorry, but that’s complete rubbish.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’m sorry, HUG, are you a Christian?

            Not by your standards, obviously. Not only am I Catholic (catechized as an adult), I am vehemently *NOT* YEC.

            And “Evolutionist” or “Fundamentalist Evolutionist”, like “Macro-Evolution”, is characteristic of the YEC dialect of Christianese.

          • No “reply” button under yours comment HUG, so I’ll reply to mine :).

            I’m amazed at your ability to determine my “standards” via a few comments! For the record, I do not automatically consider someone non-Christian because they are Catholic and do not agree with YEC. My question was motivated by your comparing the usage of the Genesis creation story as “ideology” comparable with the use of atheistic ideology by Stalin and Pol Pot. Usually you hear that sort of accusation from aggressive atheists.

            Mine was a question, not an assertion. Thanks for the answer.

            (I don’t know why you mentioned the terms at the end there. I think I used “evolutionist”. Perhaps you think the other terms will evolve out of that one ;) ).

          • Ideology exists in all human endovors. The trick to to try and recognize it and deal with it. We’re discussing ideology of YEC here. And HUG was referring to the statement of faith comments that exist with most (all?) fo the YEC organizations. That not matter what science claims to find it cannot contradict OUR reading of the Bible.

  27. Chaplain Mike,

    Kindly, my friend, that’s just disingenuous. I didn’t make any comment about why you personally rejected it. I said it was interesting how many rejected it for that reason. And if you read and interact with other material like you did with my comment, it is easy to see how you can say the other things you say.

    I will leave it at that, but suffice it to say that you are misrepresenting YEC. You are misleading people on biblical interpretation, and it’s not because of the Bible. And you are misrepresenting what I said.

    Please stop all three.

    • I honestly don’t think so, LT. In my personal experience I have not met a devoted YEC advocate who is willing to seriously be open to any other views without seeing them as compromise of biblical faith or capitulation to science. And remember that I am saying this as one who used to hold the position and was taught it thoroughly at a college level.

      It is pure and unadulterated fundamentalism, period.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Also like “YEC — Ees Party Line, Comrade!”

      • And you know a lot of evolutionists who are open to other views? I didn’t think so. I don’t either. That’s my point. Both sides are not open to other views. It’s not science. It’s faith … on both sides. There are many people who are being snowed under by evolutionists citing “science,” but they don’t know enough to understand the questions they should be asking … the questions that evolutionists have no answer for other than “We believe …” or some similar statement.

        • evolutionists who are open to other views?

          Yes. But they have yet to see an alternative that works better. And understand that many that I have met who are not rote adherents have trouble with some of the bits of evolutionary theory. But again, they’ve not seen anything put forward that fits the DATA better. ID doesn’t. A 6 day creation doesn’t. So when presented with these two options they can appear to be somewhat dogmatic in their rejection of them.

          • Actually, there’s no currently known data that doesn’t fit into a six day creation as the Bible describes it (as compared to how some people say the Bible describes it). There are some things that are hard to understand, but that exists for both sides.

            There are really (at least) two issues here:

            1) Presuppositions. Evolutionists have presuppositions against the six day creation, and as a result, cannot accept it. So their problem is not data; it is presuppositions that they hold. For instance, many believe (wrongly) that if they acknowledged God as creator, it would stifle the furtherance of science. The reason is that once you admit God you no longer look for explanations. Well, that is simply untrue. God is the only one that makes any knowledge or science possible. To refuse to acknowledge God (as many evolutionists do) is to practice science on borrowed capital.

            2) Limited understanding. We are too often tempted to declare truth or lack of truth based on lack of understanding. It reminds me of my six year old who’s new favorite saying is, “That doesn’t make sense.” To say that the six-day creation doesn’t fit the data may be more a statement about the narrow-mindedness of the person saying it rather than a testimony to the truth. It may simply be that their minds are not big enough, and not thinking carefully enough about the issues.

            We have all seen instances in science history where evidence was held up as proof, only later to be refuted. What happened was a problem of limited understanding. When we knew more, we had to say the previous “truth” was not actually true. The question is, What do we not know now that would change what we say? Only time will tell. But until then I find it unwise and academically stifling to shut down discussions with dogmatic pronouncements against six-day creation, particularly when it gives a consistent and clear and explainable paradigm of understanding.

          • LT, even if you were right (and I think you are profoundly wrong with regard to the science), we then have to deal with the fact that a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1 is not a good interpretation and that there are far more teachings in Scripture about creation that don’t mesh with a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1.

            YEC is not only pseudo-science, it is very bad Biblical interpretation.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            LT – ” Actually, there’s no currently known data that doesn’t fit into a six day creation as the Bible describes it (as compared to how some people say the Bible describes it). There are some things that are hard to understand, but that exists for both sides.”

            That is pure garbage – I’m not going to be polite here. I started out as a YEC – till I discovered that nothing fits into that model. Nothing.

            BTW, I’m a practicing geologist. With well over a decade of experience, various commodities, two continents, etc etc.

          • Mike, I am not sure how you are using “literalistically” there. Historically, that has a meaning in bibliology (see Kevan’s article in Revelation and the Bible, edited by Carl F. H. Henry), and I am certainly not guilty of that usage. Literal? yes. It’s the same way that you and I are communicating here. Without literal interpretation, communication is impossible. But literalistic? No.

            I am not sure how familiar you are with Genesis 1 and the exegesis and the studies of it. My experience is that most people in this discussion don’t actually know much about Hebrew or the exegesis of it. Furthermore, they confuse interpretation of the text with concordism (how do we make it fit with what we think we see in the world around us).

            Couple of quick points.

            1. Gerhard Hasel addressed the exegetical issue conclusively in an article entitled “The ‘Days’ of Creation in Genesis 1: Literal ‘Days’ or Figurative ‘Periods/Epochs’ of Time?” in Origins 21 (1994). There is no answer to the exegesis he presents.

            2. Bruce Waltke said, “To be sure, the six days in the Genesis creation are our twenty-four days” (“The Literary Genre of Genesis Chapter One,” Crux 27 (December 1991): 8, though he goes on to say that “they are metaphorical representations beyond human comprehension and imitation.” I am not even sure what that means since he goes on to disagree with his own conclusion about what the days are. Now, no one that I know of questions Waltke’s ability to exegete Hebrew. And if they do, they should hide in embarrassment. He is one of the foremost Hebrew scholars of our day and he says that the text itself in Genesis 1 should be understood to be our twenty-four hour days. So those who agree with Waltke aren’t misreading the text.

            3. A newer book entitled “Coming to Grips with Genesis” has also interacted in depth with these things and show that there are good reasons to be a YEC.

            So to call it “psuedo-science” seems to me to be, at best, unfamiliarity with the issues. Generally labels like that are used to marginalize opponents so that one doesn’t have to deal with the arguments, though I am not accusing you of that. This is a bad forum for this discussion to be sure. But it is a sort of ad hominem. IMO, it stems (as I said above) from presuppositions: People decide before what they will believe. So they avoid dealing with the arguments by calling them names like “psuedo” or similar.

            So let me ask you this: If you could be shown that the word “YOM” as used in Genesis 1 always and only means a 24 hour solar day, what would you do? If you say, I would still reject it, then you are have presupposition that prevents you from receiving an alternative. Even once you get there (as Waltke shows) it doens’t mean you accept 24 hour days. But it does mean you reject the use of the argument that YEC is “bad biblical interpretation.” It still may be wrong, but if so, it is wrong for a different reason.

            The idea that YEC is “bad biblical interpretation” is a very new idea. If you simply exegete the text, you come up with YEC. Now, dispute YEC if you wish. But I don’t see how you can call it “very bad biblical interpretation.” It’s not. It never was. And some of the brightest minds in exegetical studies have shown that to be true, even if they think that the text is wrong.

            My plea, for both sides, is simple respect and honesty with the other. So much of this discussion deteriorates into the wrong thing, as has happened even here. I would urge my brothers and sisters to treat others with respect, even if you think they are wrong.

            And with that, I will give you the last word. (Nice of me, I know, since it is your blog :) ). Thanks, Mike

          • Actually, there’s no currently known data that doesn’t fit into a six day creation as the Bible describes it (as compared to how some people say the Bible describes it). There are some things that are hard to understand, but that exists for both sides.

            Piling on here but total and utter nonsense. Head in the sand. Whatever. Even AIG agrees there are some hard issues to be worked out but they would never state what you’ve said.

            The only way you can make your statement true is to throw out entire branches of science.

            And the problem with throwing these out is that much of our modern technology works due to apply these same areas oi of science to build things that we all use every day. Microwaves, GPS systems, the integrated circuits that you use with your TV, cell phone, LEDs, …

            You’re more than happy to use these devices but say the science that was used to develop them is bogus?

          • LT

            One thing you seem to do is tie the age of the earth to evolution. They are related (you can’t have evolution with a 6000 year old earth) but they are really separate things.

          • LT, I have been studying Genesis seriously since the early 1980’s. If you look under the Archives, there is a pull down menu with “2010 Series by Chaplain Mike.” In June/July we did a “Creation Week” series in which I set forth some of my views. You are welcome to read them, and I appreciate your participation.

            Your statement, “If you simply exegete the text, you come up with YEC” is, in my view, quite wrong.

          • @LT

            OK. I’ll ask politely.

            Actually, there’s no currently known data that doesn’t fit into a six day creation as the Bible describes it

            How do you make dating via radioactive decay fit into a 6 day creation about 6000 years ago? I’ll settle for 10,000 years ago also.

            And if you can’t explain it point us to where it is explained.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      NO “problems” of evolution find answers in YEC. YEC is a myth, a doctrine of men that was invented by 19th century fundies enslaved to a rationalist-engineering mindset that’s incapable of reading ancient texts properly. Such minds must flatten literary texts something literalist, vulgar, and ultimately powerless. YEC is a lie, and no one spouting is deserves the ear of any Christian, period.

      • A great illustration of my point, Chaplain Mike. Here’s one of those narrow-minded fundamentalists who cannot entertain anything that doesn’t fit into his preconceived worldview. Yet he mixes in a few big words intended to intimidate, calls a few names, and claims those who disagree are incapable of reading ancient texts properly. I am going to go out on a limb and wonder aloud if Matt Purdum can even read an ancient text. My guess is probably not. He only reads other people’s translations and explanations of ancient texts.

        So whichever side is right, let’s at least admit that both sides are fundamentalistic in their approach … anything that doesn’t fit is thrown out. No alternative explanations are tolerated.

        • LT, it is not appropriate to address me when talking about Matt. If you have something to say to him, say it.

          Yes, there are fundamentalists on both sides. This is not at issue in this post.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “Both Sides Are Fundamentalistic” sounds an awful lot like “Everybody’s Doing It.”

  28. ‘Jeffress said. “If you start labeling these stories as fictitious or fable, where do you stop? It’s like peeling the layers of an onion, you end up with nothing.”’

    This sort of an argument makes me wonder if the person has ever chopped an onion in their life. Does he start peeling the onion and end up with nothing because he lacks basic discernment and a knowledge of what he’s doing? Every time you want to use an onion in a recipe you *must* peel it! You take off the papery outer layers and that weird skin that just slides off anyway and you get to the good stuff!

    We can peel back layers of allegory to get to the deeper truth behind a story. Where do you stop? Where your understanding of language, literature and common sense tell you!

    Of course unlike the onion, the layers of allegory aren’t discarded as useless, they are treasured for the wonderful ways they can illustrate and sum up the profound truth of God’s word. How do I decide what is allegory and what is not? I use my brain!

  29. Mike the Geologist says:

    Ali/LT: Here is what CMI says about the Thornton reef I mentioned in an earlier comment: “Another alleged ‘reef’ exposed in Thornton Quarry, near Chicago, does not match any of the characteristics of a modern reef. The ‘core’ shows no growth structures and is the wrong shape, the angle of the ‘reef’ is too steep, reef binding organisms are absent, a solid foundation rock is absent, and the reef is riddled with fossil tar, indicating rapid deposition, not slow growth.”

    But in fact, the primary corals are colonial rugose corals, and they are interbedded and in growth position. The coral colonies grew preferentially toward the southwest, yielding an asymetrical shape to the ridge. As in modern framework reefs, the developmental stages exhibit complex 3-D architecture with lots of natural cavities. There are no anomalous taxa such as fossil plants or mammals, as you would expect from a jumbled flood deposit. The overall fabric is held together by the encrusting platy corals and calcerous sponges. Calcite cement with void spaces are structurally similar to those in modern shallow, well-circulating water typical of reef environments. The overall upward transformation in the character of the buildup and the strong lateral variations in organic composition and degree of buildup closely mimic modern ecological zonation in well-studied reefs.

    Now, did I misrepresent their position? No, they are misleading lay people who don’t have the necessary background to judge the actual science. They are bearing false witness, I don’t care that their intentions are to defend the bible, they aren’t defending it, they are discrediting it. And those of us who are professional scientists and Christians need to stand up and tell the truth to our fellow believers.

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Everybody:

    Compare and contrast the Cornerstone Church ARK attraction (incl moon-bounces, face-paintings, and balloon clowns) with the next day’s IMonk posting — Holy Family Cathedral in Barcelona. Need I say more?

  31. Regarding CMI and reefs (and a whole bunch of other arguments), both side make bad ones. So what? There are as many bad arguments on the evolutionist side or the OEC side as on the YEC side.

    Regarding the appearance of age, someone connected it with teh Greek word for bellybutton, which is pretty ironic since the bellybutton is connected with the appearance of age. The Bible says that God created things with the appearance of age. Why would someone dispute the possibility? The irony is that people sometimes ask if Adam had a bellybutton. Probably not. But he did have the appearance of age.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Now is the time to bring up my favourite phrase:

      Last Thursdayism.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      LT, since there are many (according to you), name me 5 current bad arguments from “evolutionists”. Not ones which were discarded by scientists themselves due to new data, peer review etc.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        I’d be interested in hearing this one, too.

        • I don’t know LT and I may be wrong but he sounds like someone repeating talking points from YEC literature. And has never looked behind the curtain.

          A group of us did about 10 years ago and found there wasn’t any there there.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You know, every time I have heard the word “Evolutionist”, it’s always been from a YEC.

        Just like “Macro-Evolution” and “Micro-Evolution”, it seems to be a word only used in Christianese.

  32. I hope Christians will become clear about Jeffries’ ” signal (a la Ken Ham) not to support the Creation Museum and our resources.” But his onion argument does much damage to fragile faith. when someone sees a layer of onion that has to be given a different approach, they may indeed believe the whole onion has to go. God knows that many Christians have trumpeted that time and again.

    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/