Updates on the Creation Wars
Recently, Tim Challies posted “Why I Am a Six-Day Creationist.” The reasons he gave were:
- The Bible teaches it.
- The other Bible writers believed it.
- Science confirms it.
After these assertions, he states his conviction:
I believe the Bible speaks with greater clarity and greater authority than what I believe I see or what I believe I experience. Where many interpretations of science appear to contradict a literal six-day creation, I am not ready to re-interpret a clear and natural reading of Scripture to make it fit with these observations. The Bible is infinitely more stable than science and infinitely more reliable.
There has also been another chapter in the back-and-forth between Biologos and Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis.
- First, Biologos ran a testimony by Daniel Hamlin, “Evolution and Faith: My Journey Thus Far.”
- His statements prompted Ken Ham to reply on his blog with “Nazarenes Helping Evolution’s Destructive Effects.”
- In turn, Biologos penned a brief editorial that included a personal reflection by Hamlin on the controversy.
I encourage you to read the original pieces, but here’s a summary of what has been said.
In 2006, Daniel Hamlin got involved in a local debate about evolution and creationism as a defender of the young earth creation perspective. He soon realized he didn’t know much about evolution. So he determined to learn all he could so he could answer it more effectively. Except that he became convinced of the other position: “After months of reading and studying numerous books, online articles and scientific journals, I realized that the Theory of Evolution accurately described the development of life on earth.”
This caused him to seriously question his faith. He almost threw it out, but he simply couldn’t deny what God had done in his life. So Daniel Hamlin began to try and reconcile his inner conflict. One of the most fundamental questions involved the Bible. He began to see that the writers of the Hebrew Bible were writing from within their own worldview and reflecting an ancient understanding of the universe and its makeup. After further consideration of how Christ became incarnate and was both fully God and fully human, he started thinking about the Bible in an incarnational way.
“The original authors recorded God’s self-revelation as he interacted with humanity and the people of Israel. As these interactions were recorded, they were written within the worldview of the author and in terms that the original audience could understand. Because of this, parts of scripture contain evidence of an ancient understanding of the world. However, God accommodated this understanding so that his story could be told, his message understood, and his love displayed.”
Daniel Hamlin is now a blogger for Nazarenes Exploring Evolution.
Ken Ham excoriates Nazarene universities for having compromised on creationist teachings, and responds to Hamlin’s testimony by saying, “With such disregard for the authority of God’s Word on creation by many Christian college professors, it’s no surprise when I read testimonies like Hamlin’s and see the destructive effects of evolutionary ideas on one’s Christian faith.”
Ham notes Hamlin’s automatic instinct to reject Christianity when he accepted evolution and implies that the two are indeed mutually exclusive — accepting evolutionary teachings will most certainly undermine the Bible’s authority. He then rejects Hamlin’s “accommodation” view of the Scriptures:
This is a false argument, and it is certainly not a new argument. BioLogos regularly claims that God “accommodated” His Word to the supposed primitive understanding of the Israelites. In essence, all that means is that God lied to His people, that the One who created language wasn’t able to communicate His own message truthfully to humans in a way we could understand. This is a clear example of man’s word being lifted above God’s Word. Such a view also undermines the perspicuity of Scripture. [Note: the link here will take you to an AiG page explaining their view of this doctrine.]
He contends that Moses wrote under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to counter the ancient myths of the nations by writing Genesis as history, and links to another article from AiG which makes this argument. Ken Ham thinks people like Daniel Hamlin, who don’t agree with this, are undermining Biblical authority, will lead many away from the faith, and will one day have to answer to God for it.
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And so the creation wars continue, especially here in the U.S.
Today, I will try to follow Tim Challies’s example of brevity and give you a few main reasons why I am NOT a six-day creationist.
1. The Bible Does Not Teach It
Genesis 1 is not a historical report designed to explain how God created the universe in a scientific sense.
Genesis 1 is a creative theological meditation on how God, the King of the heavens and earth, formed a good land out of an uninhabitable wilderness to be his Temple, filled it with living things, and appointed human beings to be his priestly representatives and to multiply his blessing throughout the world. When God had finished his work, he rested and began to rule.
This theological meditation reflects both Ancient Near Eastern cosmology and Ancient Near Eastern creation myths and served as:
- A reflection of the way people viewed the natural world at that time,
- A polemic against the gods of the nations (the one true and living God alone is Creator).
Genesis 1 and the complementary creation story in Genesis 2-3 were also shaped to reflect Israel’s history.
Genesis 1-3 anticipates the entire First Testament story of Israel –
- this chosen people who were brought through water and out of the wilderness,
- who entered into a covenant with God the King, and settled in a good land.
- There they disobeyed, and were exiled from that land among their enemies to the east.
- Yet God promised his continued care and a future.
The Hebrew Bible was formed into its final shape after the Babylonian Exile. The early chapters of Genesis (1-11) were fashioned using terms, themes, and myths from Babylonian sources to communicate to the post-exilic community.
After the exile, Israel faced the same choice as the first covenant people, Adam and Eve: God has brought them back to the land. Will they eat from the tree of life and know God’s blessing?
A “clear and natural” reading of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 means reading them in the context they were given and letting them fulfill the purposes for which they were written.
There are actually seven great Creation accounts in Scripture (Gen. 1, Gen. 2-3, Job 38-41, Psalm 104, Proverbs 8, passages in Ecclesiastes, Isaiah 40-66). They are written using different genres and reflecting various traditions. They complement each other and communicate truths appropriate to their contexts within the Bible’s overall narrative.
Let the Bible tell its story.
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2. The Bible Was Not Given to Teach It
Genesis 1 and other Bible texts about creation have nothing to do with what scientists find through observing the natural world.
- The universe is the arena of God’s general revelation. To understand it, we use methods designed for observing and analyzing its natural materials and processes. The focus is entirely on the “stuff” of creation and what it tells us.
- The Bible is the primary source for studying and understanding special revelation about God and his plan for humankind and all creation in Christ. Beginning in Genesis, we find that this is summarized in the prayer, “May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as in heaven.” The fulfillment of that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tim Challies doesn’t give any reasons for his conviction that science confirms a six-day creation, and it is not really my place to answer such arguments anyway. That kind of evidence is beyond my pay grade, and as in so many areas in life, I must learn to trust those who do the study and hard work and become experts in the field. So I’m not going to make any comments here about the science.
What I will say is that the Bible should not come into the discussion at all when analyzing the science.
This is not a matter of choosing to trust the “authority” of science over the “authority” of the Bible. That suggests the two are designed to speak to the same subjects. They are not.
Let the scientists do science and help us understand how the world works.
Let the Bible work faith, hope, and love through Jesus Christ and bring us to God’s new creation.