Twelve of the Most Annoying Arguments Used Against Biblical Creation, Part 2

(Read Part 1.)

4. Arguing that “since scientists do not yet understand a natural phenomenon, God must have done it” is a fallacious “God of the gaps” argument.

Why It Sounds Good

This type of argument actually is a “God of the gaps” argument and sadly, in church history, many have used this approach.

Why It Is Annoying

There are two significant problems. First, creationists, as a whole, rarely argue this way any longer. Rather, creationists have increasingly been arguing for creation from what we do know about the universe. For example, in philosopher William Lane Craig’s1 version of the Kalam Cosmological argument,2 he states:

  1. “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” This certainly matches our experience and observations. There are no gaps here.
  2. “The universe began to exist.” Craig uses the impossibility of an actual infinite, not simply a mathematical one, and the second law of thermodynamics, which demonstrates that the amount of useable energy in the universe is running down, to illustrate this. Again, this is arguing from what we do know. There are no gaps here either.
  3. “Therefore, the universe has a cause.” If both of the previous premises are true, the conclusion follows.

There is no gap here. Further, Craig argues that this cause, in keeping with this formulation, must be “uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial” (a direct attack on the “Well then, who created God?” question). If the cause created time, matter, and energy, then it is by definition timeless, immaterial, and powerful.

Another example is the idea that information, such as is found in the DNA code of life, only comes from intelligence. Philosophers and apologists Norman Geisler and Frank Turek have written, “When we conclude that intelligence created the first cell of the human brain, it’s not simply because we lack evidence of a natural explanation; it’s also because we have positive, empirically detectable evidence for an intelligent cause.”3 The issue at hand is that DNA is not just information, but it is usable information. It is not simply like pulling out B, A, T from a hat at random. It is doing so in a way that is usable and spells BAT to the person drawing the letters. DNA is coded information and that only comes from intelligence. Even if one can argue against these assertions, the fact remains that there is no “God of the gaps” thinking present.

Second, this type of argumentation is actually a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. In other words, evolutionists use the same strategy at times, only instead of saying, “We don’t know, so God did it,” they say, “We don’t know, so evolution did it.” For instance, when approaching the issue of how life can arise from non-life, there is no observable evidence to confirm evolutionary theory. But these scientists simply argue that they should be given more time. After all, even if we do not yet know how it happened, we are still here, so it must have. Evolutionists sometimes justify this practice under the heading of “making predictions,” but the fact remains that they are employing the same “gap” mentality they attack creationists for.

Why would evolutionists respond in this manner? Because the issue really is not evidence; it is the beliefs brought to the table. If a person is convinced a system is true, he or she will use it to interpret evidence that seems out of place, employing a “rescuing device” to justify the belief. The bottom line is discovering what worldview can rationally account for the ability to think logically about a uniform universe and to report findings ethically.

5. The majority of scientists hold to evolution.

Why It Sounds Good

It is, frankly, true. The majority of professional scientists do hold to evolutionary theory, or at least a theistic view of evolution. In a 2009 Pew Research Poll, 95% of scientists polled held to either unguided or guided evolution, while only 2% of scientists polled held to YEC.4

Why It Is Annoying

There is a reason that an appeal to the majority is labeled as a logical fallacy. The fact is that before the Darwinian era, the majority of scientists held to creation. Was Darwin then wrong for challenging it? The majority is often wrong. The point of science is to continually examine one’s thinking to align it with evidence and reality.

6. Intelligent Design isn’t science. It is simply veiled creationism.

Why It Sounds So Good

There is no denying that Intelligent Design (hereafter ID) holds implications for creation theory. If it is true that intelligence is required for building life as is seen around us, that means something for the realms of philosophy and theology.

Why It Is Annoying

This characterization misses the difference between implications and evidence. As Stephen Meyer, leading ID proponent, has pointed out, this mistake is made by those who “confuse the evidence for a theory with the implications of a theory.”5

Now, ID has its own problems to be sure. Since it moves from science to the Bible, it can be guilty of reinterpreting the Bible according to what modern science can prove. Thus, many ID proponents hold to an old earth and to common descent. So the case could really be made that ID isn’t theology at all, but is only science! Many creationists would disavow themselves of the methodology of such work,6 even if some of the arguments are of value.7

A second important issue is that one of the reasons evolutionists label ID as pseudoscience is that they claim it is not falsifiable. For something to be scientific, it needs to be shown that if x is true, then y will be true. This is called making predictions. But conversely, if y is not true, x is not either. This is falsifiablity. This principle is very useful because the claim that cannot be proven wrong has no way to prove its validity. It is claimed that ID does not make claims that can be tested as to their accuracy. But at the same time, others claim they have proved ID claims wrong. Either it isn’t falsifiable or it has been proven wrong. You cannot have it both ways.

7. God could have used evolution.

Why It Sounds Good

This type of argument seems very committed to the power of God. After all, if God is so powerful, He could do anything He wishes. This argument is often used to demonstrate that YECs limit God’s potential.

Why It Is Annoying

Imagine that you are on the stand for murder. When it is time to question you, the prosecuting attorney asks if you own a gun. When you respond in the affirmative, the attorney notes that the victim was killed with a gun and so he pleads with the jury to find you guilty because you could have done it. That would be a grave injustice. The issue is not whether or not you could have killed the individual; the issue is whether or not you did kill the individual. Of course creationists understand that God could have used evolution. But the issue is whether or not God did do so. Did God use a process to create man that was built on billions of years of suffering, the strive to survive, and death in stark contrast to the claim He makes in His Word that death came by sin and sin came by Adam (Romans 5)? Creationists argue that He did not.

8. Genesis 1 and 2 represent two different accounts of creation.

Why It Sounds Good

Doing so enables us to treat Genesis 1 as poetry while treating Genesis 2 as history. The usual evidences given are that in Genesis 1, the name “Elohim” is used for God and in Genesis 2, “Yahweh” is used, showing different authors. Further, Genesis 1 teaches that the animals came before Adam, whereas Genesis 2:19 teaches that the animals came after Adam, revealing a contradiction. Thus, either these two accounts were written by different people, or Genesis 1 is poetic, teaching theological truth, while Genesis 2 is historical, teaching what actually happened.

Why It Is Annoying

Genesis 1 uses “Elohim” because that is the generic word for “God.” This makes sense because in Genesis 1, God is the creator of all. In Genesis 2, the name “Yahweh” is used, which is God’s personal revealed name. This makes sense of the context because Genesis 2 describes God’s personal work with mankind.

Further, Genesis 2:19 does not say that God created the animals after Adam, but that He brought the animals to Adam at that time.

There is no good reason to think these ideas are contradictory. Rather, the passages blend much better when one views Genesis 1 as being an overview and Genesis 2 as being a focused look at the sixth day.

© Jeriah Shank, 2014. All rights reserved.

Notes

1 To be sure, William Lane Craig is not a Young Earth Creationist, but this argument used by him has been used by Young Earth Creationists as well.

3 Geisler, Norman L.; Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist. Crossway Books, 2004. P. 157.

4 Evolution, Climate Change and Other Issues. PewResearch. 2009-07-09.

6 For example, see Purdom, Georgia. “Is The Intelligent Design Movement Christian?”

7 For instance, the work of Michael Behe in describing the concept known as Irreducible Complexity.

Jeriah Shank Bio


Jeriah Shank is pastor of First Baptist Church of Monroe, Iowa where he has served since 2010. Jeriah researches and writes in apologetics, science, faith and other topics and enjoys counseling at Iowa Regular Baptist Special Camp. He and his wife, Shawna, are blessed with three daughters. Jeriah blogs at The Song of the Redeemed.

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T Howard's picture

Quote:
The phrase, in Hebrew, begins with a waw disjunctive, showing that it is actually a parenthetical idea, not a consecutive one.

There are several uses for a waw disjunctive. You cannot assume the conclusion that it serves as a marker for a parenthetical idea without making the exegetical argument.

Jeriah Shank's picture

T. Howard-

Thanks for posting! You are right that there are other uses for the waw disjunctive and it is dangerous to assume a particular meaning of a word or syntax structure in one context based on the possibility that it could be that. If I may, could you briefly give an exegetical argument to show that it isn't a parenthetical phrase?

T Howard's picture

Well, I guess I could take the time if there were a waw disjunctive at the beginning of verse 19, but it's actually a waw consecutive.

TylerR's picture

Editor

It'd be nice if comments would center around the substance of the article, instead of Hebrew grammar. It's always nice to appreciate grammar and have a commitment to get it right, but can't we be a bit more charitable? I noticed the other day that, in one of the footnotes to myself in a sermon manuscript, I made mention of an aorist middle participle, when it was actually a present middle. Perish the thought! I made a mistake! Imagine - I (along with the author of this article) am a human being after all . . .

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jeriah Shank's picture

T. Howard,

As I am looking over the passage, you are right. This is a waw consecutive, and not a disjunctive. But it does seem to be a pluperfect and still gives the same meaning as I am intending to convey, namely, that God had previously created the animals and at this point, He brought them to Adam. See Leupold, H.C. Exposition of Genesis and Keil and Delitzsch Commentary On The Old Testament. Thanks for pointing this out! 

 

T Howard's picture

Tyler, if you don't want comments about how you're misusing Hebrew or Greek grammar, then don't refer to Hebrew or Greek grammar in your article or sermons, especially if it's your only or main support for the argument you're making.

T Howard's picture

Jeriah Shank wrote:

T. Howard,

As I am looking over the passage, you are right. This is a waw consecutive, and not a disjunctive. But it does seem to be a pluperfect and still gives the same meaning as I am intending to convey, namely, that God had previously created the animals and at this point, He brought them to Adam. See Leupold, H.C. Exposition of Genesis and Keil and Delitzsch Commentary On The Old Testament. Thanks for pointing this out! 

Again, I would encourage you to "show your work" rather than make the assumption that "it does seem to be a pluperfect" with "the same meaning" of a waw disjunctive. That's really the point of the debate regarding this verse, isn't it?

Jeriah Shank's picture

T. Howard,

I understand that what you are pointing out is not simply that this was not a waw disjunctive, but that I hadn't fully given an explanation of why I am taking it the way I am. But rather than explain all of my reasons about it in an article that is supposed to be short summaries of the issue, I have included, in the comment that you copied and pasted of mine, two authors explaining why the passage should be taken as a pluperfect. For the purpose of our conversation, I think that will suffice. If you disagree, go right ahead. If you want to know why I think this is the best translation, go read them because they do a better job of explaining it than I will on this format. Thanks for your posts and have a great day! 

Ron Bean's picture

Meanwhile, some guy in the pew is thinking, "What in the world is this guy talking about?" "I thought "waw" was that place where I got coffee and gas. Oh, that's "Wawa". Nevermind."

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

T Howard's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

Meanwhile, some guy in the pew is thinking, "What in the world is this guy talking about?" "I thought "waw" was that place where I got coffee and gas. Oh, that's "Wawa". Nevermind."

That's why pastors shouldn't quote Greek and Hebrew from the pulpit. There are very few times when mentioning matters of Greek or Hebrew grammar or syntax is needed to be able to communicate the meaning of the passage to your people. Perhaps I'm more sensitive to the error in this article than I should be, but that comes after reading/hearing pastor after pastor misuse and abuse the original languages to advance their arguments (Johnny Mac included). Of course, people who don't know better just accept what is being taught to them at face value and marvel at the knowledge and wisdom of their pastor.

I notice that this article was originally written in 2014. Yet, the waw disjunctive argument was never challenged until today. How many people in that time just accepted the argument as written? BTW, I appreciate why this article was written. I just wonder now what else in the article that is stated as fact is not correct.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I think some allowance needs to be made for simple mistakes, without resorting to doubt. For example, I see from Dr. Rodney Decker's blog that, before he passed away, he had been maintaining a list of places where BDAG had mistakes. The list was growing. I don't think anybody is ready to burn their BDAG's for fear of unreliability. By the way, if you are tempted to burn it, I suggest you sell it instead . . . 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

TylerR wrote:

For example, I see from Dr. Rodney Decker's blog that, before he passed away, he had been maintaining a list of places where BDAG had mistakes. The list was growing. I don't think anybody is ready to burn their BDAG's for fear of unreliability. By the way, if you are tempted to burn it, I suggest you sell it instead . . . 

Clearly digressing now, but Dr. Decker would also warn us about BDAG entries where Danker's Lutheran theology was clearly on display.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Just to further confuse the issue, to me it's a vav, not a waw.... "vav, waw, vav, waw, let's call the whole thing off..."

Biggrin

Actually, I appreciate the review of some Hebrew concepts that had gotten really, really dusty. And sometimes much hinges on what we do with a waw/vav. 

But the point there is "There is no good reason to think these ideas are contradictory." Hebrew scholars, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it true that even without reliance on pluperfect there, that waw/vav does not have to indicate subsequence in time? 

See, now I'm going to have go digging... which is good.

(Some time later...)

A little bit of digging... didn't turn up a really succinct statement on the flexibility of the vav. But I'm pretty sure it's what is technically known as really super flexible.  But there is another problem with taking the passage simply as "then God brought forth animals." 

I haven't read Jeriah's links on the pluperfect so it may be that this point is already made there... but it seems like you have to take the reference to creating and taking animals before Adam as a kind of flashback, otherwise, it would pretty much have to be God conducting a failed experiment--as though He found Adam alone, decided he needed a mate, then made animals as a first try... but it didn't work out.

Ge 2:18–20 ESV 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now [or "then" in a strict vav consecutive scenario] out of the ground the Lord God had [or "God formed" in the same vav consec. sense] formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

It's interesting that ESV goes with some sort of past perfect idea there. It's really the only option that makes sense, or you end up saying...

"I will make a helper fit for him." Then ... God formed every beast and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them [he might call one of them wife?]...

So there are narrative factors other than the vav that really make a rigid sequential reading there pretty weird.

T Howard's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

But the point there is "There is no good reason to think these ideas are contradictory." Hebrew scholars, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it true that even without reliance on pluperfect there, that waw/vav does not have to indicate subsequence in time? 

I don't claim to be a Hebrew scholar, but according to my copy of William's Hebrew Syntax, 3rd ed. "...The imperfect waw consecutive is a controversial topic, and the literature about it is voluminous. [It] typically refers to a complete action, like the perfect conjugation. It typically is part of a temporal sequence in past-time narrative, although sometimes an imperfect waw consecutive is still used when the narrative takes a jump back in time to replay the events from another perspective. It sometimes has other nuances as well, such as expressing the result of a previous clause." (p. 75)

Given the "controversial" nature of the imperfect waw consecutive and given that it typically is part of a temporal sequence in past-time narrative (Gen 2:19, anyone?), I would think anyone who uses it to prove an argument in an article or sermon would need to "show their work" in order to claim that the imperfect waw consecutive = parenthetical comment or flashback. At least include a footnote.

Bert Perry's picture

....that my kindergarten level toddler level (no insult intended to Israeli toddlers) Hebrew is not sufficient to address some of these things.  But let it be said that even if a pastor makes a mistake, I appreciate it when he refers to the original languages.  It at least sets the stage where we can discuss these things.  :^)

My take on the list presented here:

4, 6-8.  Straw man

5.  Appeal to authority

Again, if the evolutionist cannot be trusted with the basic premises of informal logic, we can conclude that their scientific conclusions will have the same accuracy as a broken clock.  They will stumble upon a right, or nearly right, answer by accident, but we will want to take a very serious look at the evidence.

If, of course, they will permit.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that the strongest argument for the unity of the two accounts of the creation story is not the particular function of the Hebrew conjunction, but rather the obvious parallelism and non-contradiction of the two accounts.  It's a picture from a different angle, but still the same subject, really.  Now the question of whether the vav (I'm with Aaron here--we English speakers need to update our transliteration from what Luther would have used, IMO) functions in the mode(s) noted is interesting, but it's hardly the only indication we have that the accounts are in fact unified.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Now the question of whether the vav ... functions in the mode(s) noted is interesting, but it's hardly the only indication we have that the accounts are in fact unified.

Agreed. So why mention the Hebrew grammar at all to support the argument, especially given that the imperfect waw consecutive is not at all decisive as to the interpretation of the passage?!?! Even if it were a waw disjunctive (as the article incorrectly claims), it's still not decisive as to the interpretation of the passage. Quite honestly, I think the author's response to this particular "annoying argument" needs to be reworked completely.

Mark_Smith's picture

I appreciate Jeriah's effort, even if flawed in one place.

 

I also think T Howard was rude in his approach to Jeriah.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm just sad that nobody liked my picture . . .

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I also think T Howard was rude in his approach to Jeriah.

Not at all. Jeriah positions himself as a learned creationist apologist with a working knowledge of the biblical languages. I pointed out an error in his article and with one of his arguments and asked for more exegetical rigor. I didn't do it with a mean spirit or by attacking him personally. We are sharpening iron around here, aren't we?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The text of the article has been edited now to remove ref. to waw disjunctive.

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