Book Review - 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution

Image of 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution (40 Questions & Answers Series)
by Kenneth Keathley, Mark Rooker
Kregel Academic 2014
Paperback 432

Of the many contemporary debates pushing and pulling on the Church today, the Creation and Evolution debate is perhaps the most alarming. The New Atheists like Richard Dawkins try to lump any Bible believer in with the crackpots and loonies, while some of the most high-profile creationists spare no punches as they condemn the vast majority of Evangelicalism for any of a number of compromises on this question.

For folks in the pew, the situation is tense: Science continues to raise large questions, and the Church often seems to provide few answers. Many of our youth are pressured to abandon the faith as they encounter new arguments against creation. With at least four major views in Evangelicalism, there is not a strong unified position to lean upon. Most books on the topic defend their particular view and often take aim directly on other sectors of Christianity. These books do more to perpetuate the polarized nature of the debate than provide a clear way forward. And meanwhile it seems that the scientific consensus only continues to become an even larger stumbling-block to Christian faith.

In this context, a variety of new attempts to integrate science and faith have been proposed. Yet for conservative Christians this only raises new questions: How far is too far? What are the limits of integrating faith and science? How important is the age of the earth? Are all forms of evolution out-of-bounds for Christians? What about the Flood—must it be universal? Could animal death have preceded the Fall? What are we to think about Adam and Eve?

These questions and more are addressed in an important new book from Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker, professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution (Kregel, 2015) charts a course through the debate, raising the right questions and providing many answers. A big burden behind this book is just to survey the positions that are being adopted by Evangelical leaders today. The authors carefully lay out the evidence (good and bad) for each of these positions. Keathley approaches the matter from a young-earth creationist (YEC) perspective, and Rooker adopts an old-earth (OEC) view, but each author takes pains to speak charitably of the other positions and honestly about the difficulties of his own view. Their irenic candor and careful grappling with the major positions makes this book a joy to read.

Overview

Each chapter functions as a stand-alone treatment of a particular question. These questions are loosely arranged by topic. The first two parts focus on the doctrine of Creation in general (and its role in Scripture), and then in particular about the exegetical details in Gen. 1-2. Following this is a section on the Days of Creation. Here the following positions are examined:

  • The Gap theory
  • The Day-Age theory
  • The Framework theory
  • The Temple Inauguration theory
  • The Historical Creationism theory (or Promised Land theory)
  • The Twenty-Four Hour theory

Following this is a section on the age of the Earth. Here the genealogies and the arguments for and against an old earth are examined. In addition, the question of distant starlight gets special treatment. Included here is an examination of the mature creation argument. The next section focuses on the Fall and the Flood. The image of God and the idea of Original Sin are fleshed out here. The final section focuses on evolution and intelligent design. A history of Darwinism is provided along with its key supporting arguments. Challenges to evolution are also presented (often from atheistic scientists who still hold to common descent). The question of theistic evolution is also addressed. Finally discussion of the “fine-tuning argument” highlights the special place our Earth holds in the universe.

Highlights

This book is over 400 pages long, so I only have time to point out some highlights.

Careful Analysis of the Debate: I was struck by the careful analysis of why Evangelicals disagree so much on this issue. Concordism and non-concordism are addressed, and so is the matter of presuppositions. The authors stress that while old-earth creationists (OEC) share many of the same presuppositions as young-earth creationists (YEC), they do not share the view that a YEC interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is the “only interpretation available to the Bible-believing Christian” (p. 20). YEC adherents really do often hold this as a presupposition and so their position is basically fideism: “if one’s presuppositions are unassailable, then his approach has shifted from presuppositionalism to fideism” (p. 21). OEC proponents allow more room for empiricism, which “allows experience and evidence to have a significant role in the formation of one’s position” (p. 21). This philosophical difference lies beneath the OEC vs. YEC debate and recognizing this can help in understanding the mindset of each alternate view.

Helpful Discussion of Each Major View: The discussions of each view are extremely helpful. Careful arguments are presented for each view, and then answered. The authors show how most scholars have good reasons to reject the Gap theory today, but they point out the fascinating history of this position (which dates back to the seventeenth century). By the mid-twentieth century, Bernhard Ramm could say that the gap theory was “the standard interpretation throughout Fundamentalism” (p. 112). The Day-Age theory is dismissed as treating “Genesis 1 as though its purpose is to provide a detailed, scientifically verifiable model of cosmic origins,” which hardly seems in keeping with “its ancient context” (p. 126). The Framework theory doesn’t have “a single theological truth” dependent on its unique reading of the text (p. 134). The authors have an uneasy assessment of the Temple Inauguration theory. They seem to revel in the connections between Eden and the Temple, but think Walton’s particular view says too much without enough explicit textual warrant. I note the odd argument that it makes “more biblical sense” that the Israelites believed “God lived in heaven both before and after the creation week” (p. 145). This prevents us from seeing creation as God’s need for a physical habitat to rest in. But didn’t God create heaven in the creation week? The authors seem intrigued by John Sailhamer’s Historical Creation theory. They raise objections but imagine others finding satisfactory answers to them. The Twenty-Four Hour theory certainly is more clearly defended, but strong objections are also raised. A mediating view is also presented that may well be Rooker’s own view: that the 24 hour days are to be seen as literally 24-hour days, but used metaphorically in the text. This whole section is worth the price of the book - the debate is laid out and dispassionately treated in a clear manner that provides directions for further study in a variety of directions.

Excellent on the Age of the Earth: I also appreciated the discussion of the age of the earth. The authors point out that the young-earth/flood geology position has only recently become the predominant Evangelical view. Prior to The Genesis Flood by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris (1961), there had been over a hundred years of Evangelical Christians who held to an old earth. Some discussions of the history of the YEC position devolve into an all-out mockery of the YEC position. This book is honest about the history (and the large role played by George McCready Price, a Seventh Day Adventist and geologist), but does not smear the YEC position with “guilt-by-association.” The major arguments put forth in Whitcomb and Morris’ book continue to be widely repeated today, but many of them have been forsaken by modern YEC proponents: the water-vapor canopy, a “small universe” (to allow for distant starlight), the Fall causing the second law of thermodynamics (entropy), and even the human and dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy River (p. 196). The scientific arguments for a young earth are actually quite tenuous. On the flip side, the scientific arguments for an old earth seem quite strong. Having studied this issue in some depth previously, I still found new arguments and considerations presented here. The authors also quote YEC authors who are also honest about the weakness of the scientific evidence. As an example, John Morris (Henry Morris’ son and successor) has admitted “he knows of no scientist who has embraced a young earth on the basis of the empirical evidence alone” (p. 198). The Biblical case for a young earth, in contrast, is quite strong. Even though the genealogies in Scripture are by no means air-tight nor intended to be strictly chronological, “we still have the impression… that not an enormous amount of time has passed since the beginning of creation” (p. 176). The authors conclude on this matter: “The conclusion must be that, though a cursory reading of Scripture would seem to indicate a recent creation, the preponderance of empirical evidence seems to indicate otherwise” (p. 224).

Conservative yet Open on the Effects of the Fall: The book does draw hard and fast lines, and one of them is the historicity of Adam and Eve. This is ultimately a matter of “biblical authority” (p. 242), and it becomes a “litmus test” for Christians who would want to advocate some evolutionary position (p. 378). The question of the Fall and its impact is perhaps the most important question that divides the OEC and YEC views. They see the Fall as the historical moment of Original Sin, yet animal death before the Fall and the Fall’s impact on the natural creation are more open to reconsideration. The “notion of animal death existing prior to Adam’s fall does not appear to be, theologically speaking, an insurmountable problem” (p. 261). On the Fall’s impact on creation: “YEC proponents seem to be dogmatic about a position which, upon closer examination, appears to be more speculative than they have been willing to admit” (p. 269-270).

Critical of Evolution: As an eager reader of the book, I was challenged by this section, perhaps the most. The discussion on evolution will not encourage any simplistic acceptance of evolution. The authors’ introduce many of the problems to the standard Darwinian model that have been raised of late. Intelligent design is also carefully explained. More space could be given to scientific responses to these new challenges, perhaps, but the section does a good job pointing out the questions which still surround the mechanics of evolution. As for Christians wanting to embrace some sort of evolutionary model (not based on naturalistic Darwinian assumptions), the authors present three essential points that must be maintained:

  • The uniqueness of the human race to possess and reflect the divine image.
  • The unity of the human race.
  • The historicity of the original couple and their disobedience. (p. 378)

Assessment

This book will prove to be helpful for those who want to survey the state of this debate in Evangelicalism today. The authors don’t sugarcoat the controversy and are at times painfully honest. They bring a wealth of research together, surveying the historical background to the controversy and marshal an impressive array of scientific arguments for and against each major position. Some may not appreciate how certain positions are embraced tentatively. Yet others will see this as a strength. Some will fault the authors for going too far, others will scoff at some of the attention drawn to what they consider obscure arguments for a young earth. The book will challenge those pushing the envelope and vying for unflinching acceptance of evolution in all its forms. It will also challenge those who pick and choose among the scientific studies - cherry picking anything that supports their YEC position and ignoring the rest. Above all, the book brings us back to the Bible and the text itself - what exactly does it affirm and how should that shape our consideration of these questions.

Ultimately this book calls for greater unity and charity in this debate. It is precisely here that this book is most needed. YEC proponents too often come across as abrasive, and their arguments seem to lack “tentativeness” or humility. OEC apologists can easily get caught up in the intramural debate and continue the caustic harsh tone. All of this is not only off-putting, but unhelpful. This book presents an alternative and a possible step forward. I trust it will make a contribution toward more light and less heat on this perennially thorny issue. I highly recommend it.

About the authors

Kenneth D. Keathley (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of theology and director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was previously professor of theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Keathley is also the author of Salvation and Soverignty: A Molinist Approach.

Mark F. Rooker (PhD, Brandeis University) is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has previously taught at Moscow Theological Seminary, Criswell College, And Dallas Theological Seminary. Rooker is Author of several books on Old Testament and Hebrew language topics.

Bob Hayton Bio


Bob Hayton has a BA in Pastoral Theology with a Greek emphasis and a MA in Bible from Fairhaven Baptist College and Seminary in Chesterton, IN. He is a happily married father of seven who resides in St. Paul, MN. Since 2005, he has been blogging theology at FundamentallyReformed.com, where he has also published over 190 book reviews. He can also be found occasionally at KJVOnlyDebate.com.

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There are 72 Comments

Mark_Smith's picture

That in Christianity one looks to the Bible to see how nature works, no one even bothers to ask a scientist who presumably has spent a long time observing nature more than the average person. This promotes "true Christians" to realize science isn't a subject appropriate for them. Of course, science then becomes increasingly secularized, and we act surprised!

Why do I bring this up? Both authors are theologians.

And, as you might recall I teach astronomy and physics at a secular university. By the way, I would work at a Christian school if any of them actually wanted a physicist, but they don't. (The lone exception is BJU, but the pay is horrible) From the reaction I usually get from being introduced as a physicist/astronomer, I would do better being introduced as a pimp. At least I then stood a chance of being redeemed!

One final reason, while I work at a secular university, it is in the "Bible belt" and most students claim the title of Christian. This part the semester we always talk about things like the age of the earth/universe etc. Trust me, most hate even thinking about the earth/universe being billions of years old. They literally scoff at it. They utterly reject the idea, even when I bring up ways to measures distances in the universe, or talk about isotopic dating methods. My intent isn't to convert them to believing in an old age, but to equip them so they aren't mere scoffers. It doesn't work. You can hear them when I talk about it, laughing at the idea of old age, etc... Now if you pastors could get them to be so convinced about homosexuality being sinful, or fornication/adultery, we would really be on to something!

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, gotta say that you're my "favorite pimp" .  :^)  (sorry, couldn't resist)

But seriously, I'd love to see something from your perspective on this kind of thing if you can get the time to do so.  You want to see arguments from scientists--hey, can I beg you to step up to the plate?   I agree 100% that scientists, engineers, and other "nerd-Americans" ought to have more to say.....let's both start.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bob Hayton's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

That in Christianity one looks to the Bible to see how nature works, no one even bothers to ask a scientist who presumably has spent a long time observing nature more than the average person. This promotes "true Christians" to realize science isn't a subject appropriate for them. Of course, science then becomes increasingly secularized, and we act surprised!

Why do I bring this up? Both authors are theologians.

Mark, they actually bring in a lot of science and do admit they are not scientists. I was encouraged that they shared the complexity with their audience and showed the weight of scientific evidence for or against various views. They do basically discredit most scientific arguments for a young earth/universe ultimately depending on the mature Creation argument - even though they are honest with its weaknesses.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

dgszweda's picture

I would agree that there is very little scientific evidence for Creation.  The only ones that are at least of some credibility is that 1) there is a lack of evidence for some of the evolutionary models, 2) the complexity of the order defies some elements of evolution, and 3) there are many things present that cannot be explained solely on an evolutionary model such as beauty.

But in general I think it is a mute point to try to argue for creation by trying to rectify scientific models and try to offer alternative views to the current scientific models.  I think the arguments appear silly in the end.

I think it just comes down to Hebrews 11:3 "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

The authors conclude on this matter: “The conclusion must be that, though a cursory reading of Scripture would seem to indicate a recent creation, the preponderance of empirical evidence seems to indicate otherwise” (p. 224).

Of course, this is one point where many YEC are going to get hung up in the discussion. Once again, we are asked to accept human reasoning over the clear expression of scripture. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Bert Perry's picture

It is worth noting that we infer origins, but do not prove them.  Hence we know that with the cosmic "fudge factors" we have, the universe appears to be billions of light-years in dimension--we do not know why.  We know that the amount of salts in the oceans appears to be consistent with millions of years with a uniformitarian (Lyell) hypothesis--but we also know that the great fossil beds of the world are not consistent with this.  If you bury critters quickly, you get fossils--otherwise it all gets eaten.  We know that with a uniformitarian hypothesis, the Grand Canyon ought to have been carved much more quickly than its "standard" age--is this because it was more of a desert previously, or because it was actually carved by the collapse of a great lake?  Or something else?  What about the molten nature of the center of the earth?  Is this because it's young, or because radioactive decay keeps it hot?  What about the decay of radioisotypes and their ratios?  What was the starting ratio?

Or, put gently, geology is incredibly dependent on one's initial suppositions.  I'm happy to see Mark and others of the scientific mood to dig into this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bob Hayton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

The authors conclude on this matter: “The conclusion must be that, though a cursory reading of Scripture would seem to indicate a recent creation, the preponderance of empirical evidence seems to indicate otherwise” (p. 224).

Of course, this is one point where many YEC are going to get hung up in the discussion. Once again, we are asked to accept human reasoning over the clear expression of scripture. 

Chip - not really. The conclusion is honest. Scientific evidence seems to suggest an old earth, the Bible seems to suggest a young earth. Both OEC and YEC proponents have admitted as much. So this book is primarily making an honest conclusion when it comes to the evidence. Wayne Grudem has a very similar conclusion in his discussion of this question in his Systematic Theology.

So with this conclusion as to the nature of the Scriptural and Scientific evidence before us, one author of this book sides with an OEC view, the other author sides with a YEC view, and both agree that there is enough wiggle-room and remaining questions about the nature of both the Scriptural evidence and the Science that they can continue to have meaningful fellowship and agree to disagree on this issue.  That is really what their conclusion is all about. Not about picking sides but admitting the thorniness of the debate.

Hope that helps some.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Bob,

By your account, both sides acknowledge the scripture says one thing. That is the end of the discussion unless we are prepared to abandon sola scriptura. When scripture makes a statement, we have no liberty to simply agree to disagree, and there is nearly universal acknowledgment that the plainest understanding of scripture presents a YEC scenario. If we abandon that hermeneutic, we also abandon the authority of scripture. Instead, it becomes a loose guide at best that can be interpreted in any way the reader desires, no differently than the allegorical approach of the Catholic Church or the eventual rewriting of meaning being done by the Mormons or actual rewriting of text being done by JWs.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Bob Hayton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Bob,

By your account, both sides acknowledge the scripture says one thing. That is the end of the discussion unless we are prepared to abandon sola scriptura. When scripture makes a statement, we have no liberty to simply agree to disagree, and there is nearly universal acknowledgment that the plainest understanding of scripture presents a YEC scenario. If we abandon that hermeneutic, we also abandon the authority of scripture. Instead, it becomes a loose guide at best that can be interpreted in any way the reader desires, no differently than the allegorical approach of the Catholic Church or the eventual rewriting of meaning being done by the Mormons or actual rewriting of text being done by JWs.

Again - not quite like this. It is more like an intramural debate between the day of the week Jesus died on. Each position has Bible support Wed, Thur, and Fri. But there is also more historical support for Thur and especially for Fri.  There is not a lot of evidence and it is not especially clear.  That is the nature of this debate. There is not a lot of evidence for the earth's age in the Bible - and it is not especially clear, and the historical record found in the rocks and the size of the universe can factor into how we assess the data and how we conclude.

Remember, it sure seems from Joshua 10 that the Sun is moving literally around the earth, and a lot of other Scriptural evidence about the pillars of the earth and its fixed place, could support a geocentrist view. But nature stands up and speaks, and that causes us to reassess the teaching of Scripture and we find that these points are metaphors and side-notes - not a clear central teaching. Scripture is not attempting to affirm geocentrism and so we clarify our position.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Mark_Smith's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

The authors conclude on this matter: “The conclusion must be that, though a cursory reading of Scripture would seem to indicate a recent creation, the preponderance of empirical evidence seems to indicate otherwise” (p. 224).

Of course, this is one point where many YEC are going to get hung up in the discussion. Once again, we are asked to accept human reasoning over the clear expression of scripture. 

 

Chip I appreciate that this statement makes you uncomfortable, but it really is true. Despite AiG, Discovery Institute, etc, claims, there simply is not physical evidence that the Universe is young. If you stick to the clearest evidence, which is astronomy, the fact that you see light from stars hundreds of thousands of light years away, all the way out to galaxies millions of light years away, makes this claim simply obvious.

There are ONLY 2 ways in which YEC can be true:

1- God used some kind of time dilation effect to allow time to elapse differently on Earth that in the universe . The problem with this is the Earth itself appears old...

2- The Mature Universe model which effectively kills most physical science if true and makes those disciplines pointless. After all, what is the point in studying stars if what you see about stars has nothing to do with the physical processes operating in them but instead they are all direct products of individual miracles making them operate.

Mark_Smith's picture

I think the old universe model has problems:

1- The Bible clearly implies, if not directly states, that the Universe is young. Attempts to show otherwise go down interesting paths... I have read many of them.

2- I know not all agree with this, but Romans 5:12 is a real problem for me. Death before the Fall is a serious theological/Biblical problem. Paul's arguments here, and in 1 Cor 15 as another example, state that physical death is connected with sin and Jesus' resurrection defeated it.

3- There are physical problems as well: examples, where did Earth's Moon come from? There is no great physical answer though there are many attempts to explain it. How did stars form? No physical model we have come up with explains how a star collapses under gravity, causing it to heat up and expand. Every model we have has the expansion being greater than the collapse... thus no stars form! I could continue but won't.

Mark_Smith's picture

OK. But how do you Biblically justify an old universe? When was the Earth made? Seems like a "gap theory" would be needed.

 

From the science perspective you still have the problem of the Earth having age. Examples include the varying magnetic fields of iron deposits in the Atlantic ocean floor requiring time to deposit. The enormous amount of coal is also a problem for a young earth (even in a flood model). 

Bert Perry's picture

948 billion short tons of reserves (Wiki) is equivalent to a layer of organic material on the earth only 2.1 mm thick, if I'm doing the calculations correctly.   Oil reserves of top 17 producers are about 210 billion cubic meters, or a fraction of a mm thick.  If one assumes huge tracts of forests--and that is exactly what you would assume from looking at coal--this is not a huge issue.

In fact, for all that organic material to become preserved, you need a catastrophe.  Lyellian uniformitarianism does not get you there.

Again, I'm going to say it; there are a LOT of assumptions that modern geology makes that need to be examined.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:

 

Not about picking sides but admitting the thorniness of the debate.

 

I just don't see the thorniness of the debate.  Even this book makes clear that Scripture is clear.  To me a thorny debate would be that two pieces of Scripture may not be clear about a certain subject.  To take a look at something that is very clear in Scripture, is not a thorny debate.  We are not talking about the nuances in the verses.  So when we compare the sun standing still, geocentric...  This is not an apples to apples comparison of this debate.  If I were to start arguing detailed specifics regarding a certain activity during a day of creation and trying to reconcile that with science, than we can say something is thorny.  We are not.  What we are saying is that Scripture is clear that God supernaturally created a real first human being and that the universe is relatively young.  This is not a belief that is supported by a single verse in Scripture, but is peppered consistently throughout Scripture.  In addition, many of our theological doctrines such as original sin hinge on this underlying clear belief.  To me there should be no debate here, because no where does Scripture contradict this view.  We are hung up because science doesn't agree with this view.  But just because the world doesn't agree with it, doesn't mean it is a thorny issue.

The thorniness of the debate begins to occur when we try to imply or infer what is scientifically happening during creation days or resolve elements with science, in places where Scripture is silent.  As long as Scripture is silent, we should be silent.  We believe in Sola Scripture, and even the secular world understands that Scripture is clear here and/or that the authors clearly understood it to be this way.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:

 

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 

Bob,

By your account, both sides acknowledge the scripture says one thing. That is the end of the discussion unless we are prepared to abandon sola scriptura. When scripture makes a statement, we have no liberty to simply agree to disagree, and there is nearly universal acknowledgment that the plainest understanding of scripture presents a YEC scenario. If we abandon that hermeneutic, we also abandon the authority of scripture. Instead, it becomes a loose guide at best that can be interpreted in any way the reader desires, no differently than the allegorical approach of the Catholic Church or the eventual rewriting of meaning being done by the Mormons or actual rewriting of text being done by JWs.

 

 

Again - not quite like this. It is more like an intramural debate between the day of the week Jesus died on. Each position has Bible support Wed, Thur, and Fri.

Apples and oranges, Bob. Here you have disagreement over two parts of scripture. In our discussion on this thread you have disagreement between what scripture presents and what man's reason has concluded. Again, the issue is whether you really believe sola scriptura or not. Certainly we can use reason to help us investigate our universe to better or more fully understand what scripture says, but we may not use reason and our investigation of nature to override what scripture says. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Mark_Smith's picture

I'm really not trying to go anywhere with this... but you used an assumption (huge tracks of forest). Then said geology has a lot of assumptions.

Coal isn't everywhere, it is concentrated in places...but I really don't want to talk about coal.

 

I am simply pointing out things that are hard to justify in a YEC model since most people don't like or respond to my astronomy examples.

dgszweda's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 

Apples and oranges, Bob. Here you have disagreement over two parts of scripture. In our discussion on this thread you have disagreement between what scripture presents and what man's reason has concluded. Again, the issue is whether you really believe sola scriptura or not. Certainly we can use reason to help us investigate our universe to better or more fully understand what scripture says, but we may not use reason and our investigation of nature to override what scripture says. 

 

Agree here on this one Chip.  I think the problem is the ability to have a clear view of sola scriptura, what general revelation really means and combining both of these with a world view.  I find that most people are clear on this, but in their mind the entire model breaks down when they start discussing science.  For some reason  good Christians have a real difficulty with issues where science and the Bible may disagree and how to resolve that issue in their mind.

Bob Hayton's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 

Bob Hayton wrote:

 

 

Not about picking sides but admitting the thorniness of the debate.

 

 

 

I just don't see the thorniness of the debate.  Even this book makes clear that Scripture is clear.

No - the book makes it clear the debate IS thorny. Scripture is clear on original sin and historical Adam and Eve, and on special creation by God. But not so clear on age of the earth and other matters.

The YEC author of this book doesn't say "sola Scriptura" and end the book after 2 pages.  

It IS more complicated than that, and there are Scriptural arguments worth *hearing* and at least interacting with. YEC adherents who think YEC is just a matter of sola Scriptura would benefit from this book and learn to appreciate that there may be more thorns here than first meets the eye. This then allows them to at least understand OEC people better and not consign them to purgatory upon first glance.

Smile

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Bob Hayton's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I'm really not trying to go anywhere with this... but you used an assumption (huge tracks of forest). Then said geology has a lot of assumptions.

Coal isn't everywhere, it is concentrated in places...but I really don't want to talk about coal.

 

I am simply pointing out things that are hard to justify in a YEC model since most people don't like or respond to my astronomy examples.

This book points out the coal problem for YEC and quotes several YEC authors admitting that as a problem. It offers as a response the idea that prior to the flood there were large floating dense-vegetation islands that covered large proportions of the world's oceans, as a hypothetical scenario to help account for all the coal.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Bob Hayton's picture

Mark,

I'd encourage you to read this book. You have in other threads lamented the state that YEC proponents do not admit the scientific challenges for their theory. This book does admit that. It also entertains biblical arguments for an old earth and scrutinizes them (doesn't just blindly accept any old position). It also helpfully frames the debate with some clear biblical fences around areas of clear and key doctrine - historical Adam/Eve, historical Fall, etc.

I hope the book encourages healthy interaction between OEC and YEC, and offers a way forward in this discussion.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I'm really not trying to go anywhere with this... but you used an assumption (huge tracks of forest). Then said geology has a lot of assumptions.

Coal isn't everywhere, it is concentrated in places...but I really don't want to talk about coal.

 

I am simply pointing out things that are hard to justify in a YEC model since most people don't like or respond to my astronomy examples.

But Mark, coal is found all over.  Plus, if the standard uniformitarian hypothesis about the formation of coal is true, we ought to see coal being formed wherever large forests have existed--between the Missippi and the Atlantic, in the Rockies and Sierras, Amazon River basin, central Africa, rainforests of south Asia,a nd the like.  We ought moreover to see a LOT of it in these areas.

We don't because most biomass rots without a catastrophe that will bury it.  We seriously need to challenge some of these assumptions--if we have 560 billion tons of living biomass today (about half the weight of our fossil fuel reserves), is it that irresponsible to contemplate that biomass in an era when Sue wandered a tropical rainforest in South Dakota might have been much greater?  I dare suggest that part of the success of the evolutionary party is the fact that people aren't checking their assumptions.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

OK

 

FYI- I am trying to grade 120 term papers...so I can't devote any more time.

Mark_Smith's picture

I appreciate that about this book.

pvawter's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Bob,

By your account, both sides acknowledge the scripture says one thing. That is the end of the discussion unless we are prepared to abandon sola scriptura. When scripture makes a statement, we have no liberty to simply agree to disagree, and there is nearly universal acknowledgment that the plainest understanding of scripture presents a YEC scenario. If we abandon that hermeneutic, we also abandon the authority of scripture. Instead, it becomes a loose guide at best that can be interpreted in any way the reader desires, no differently than the allegorical approach of the Catholic Church or the eventual rewriting of meaning being done by the Mormons or actual rewriting of text being done by JWs.

Again - not quite like this. It is more like an intramural debate between the day of the week Jesus died on. Each position has Bible support Wed, Thur, and Fri. But there is also more historical support for Thur and especially for Fri.  There is not a lot of evidence and it is not especially clear.  That is the nature of this debate. There is not a lot of evidence for the earth's age in the Bible - and it is not especially clear, and the historical record found in the rocks and the size of the universe can factor into how we assess the data and how we conclude.

Remember, it sure seems from Joshua 10 that the Sun is moving literally around the earth, and a lot of other Scriptural evidence about the pillars of the earth and its fixed place, could support a geocentrist view. But nature stands up and speaks, and that causes us to reassess the teaching of Scripture and we find that these points are metaphors and side-notes - not a clear central teaching. Scripture is not attempting to affirm geocentrism and so we clarify our position.


Bob,
You are right that the Bible does not attempt to answer the question of geocentrism vs heliocentrism, and that is why I don't think your example offers any support for your position. The Scripture does make very direct and clear statements about creation and the plain sense interpretation of them strongly points to a young earth. There simply should not be any real reason to entertain an old earth position for a Christian.

dgszweda's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:

 

This book points out the coal problem for YEC and quotes several YEC authors admitting that as a problem. It offers as a response the idea that prior to the flood there were large floating dense-vegetation islands that covered large proportions of the world's oceans, as a hypothetical scenario to help account for all the coal.

And herein lies the futility of most Christians.  We have two theologians throwing out a poorly thought through scientific idea, one in which they are immanently not capable of creating as theologians and throw it into the face of much better thought through science, one in which is created by those trained to create the models, to try a prove a biblically based model.  This is the flaw that most YEC individuals make and one in which has created such create theories as the canopy theory.

dgszweda's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:

 

 

No - the book makes it clear the debate IS thorny. Scripture is clear on original sin and historical Adam and Eve, and on special creation by God. But not so clear on age of the earth and other matters.

The YEC author of this book doesn't say "sola Scriptura" and end the book after 2 pages.  

It IS more complicated than that, and there are Scriptural arguments worth *hearing* and at least interacting with. YEC adherents who think YEC is just a matter of sola Scriptura would benefit from this book and learn to appreciate that there may be more thorns here than first meets the eye. This then allows them to at least understand OEC people better and not consign them to purgatory upon first glance.

Smile

Scripture presents no thorny issues here.  Nor does the book point out the thorny, difficult and competing theories clearly laid out in Scripture.  Instead the thorny issue is rooted in the authors trying to explain how on earth a biblical truth has issues with a scientific model.  I appreciate the authors laying out the various theories, but I still struggle with where the thorn is.

 

pvawter's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

If you stick to the clearest evidence, which is astronomy, the fact that you see light from stars hundreds of thousands of light years away, all the way out to galaxies millions of light years away, makes this claim simply obvious.


Mark, the problem here is that the "clear evidence" to which you allude is interpreted based upon your presuppositions. That is the key element in this discussion. If you presuppose a 16+ billion year old universe, then of course you will interpret background radiation and red shifts in keeping with those assumptions. The danger, however, is if you never question your presuppositions, then you cannot even know if you are reasonably interpreting the evidence or if your conclusions are skewed in favor of your biases.
If you begin with the presupposition that Scripture is God-breathed, then you must interpret everything you see through that prism. Rather than being a weakness, however, this is a strength, since God's word is the only sure source of truth.

Mark_Smith's picture

And like I said in the above post, and a dozen times here at SI, if you assume a young universe with an appearance of age, you throw out the ability to learn anything about it. Measuring distances--- you can't do it. What powers a star--- you can't answer it. On and on. Just admit it. That is all I want honest YEC believers to do. If you accept YEC, you lose the ability to learn about the universe.

Will you do that?

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