Aug 15

Brother Dennis opened up some thought processes when he made some comments regarding a book that I reviewed by Dempski called The End of Christianity. In particular, he comments on God sticking His fingers into the process of Creation/Evolution by saying “This is a key issue between intelligent-design theorists and evolutionary creationists. Why God should have to tinker with the creation after he establishes the laws of the universe along with initial conditions is unclear. Has he not gotten it right from the start?”.

Simultaneous with Dennis’ comments, I receive an e-mail from NH, a physician and Christian thinker whom I respect dearly. His note is as follows…

“I would commend to you a careful reading of these two items:

in which 8 geologists appeal to the PCA to accept the “old earth view.”  It is a pitiful piece when looked at from a theological perspective, and actually quite poor from a scientific perspective (the analogies in particular are often invalid). Hopefully when you read it you will anticipate the arguments made in this point-by-point rebuttal by another geologist:

Both the links are worth reading, the second article being a rebuttal of the first. You may determine for yourself the strength of his rebuttal, though I consider it as standard classical argument of young-earthers.  Clearly, NH is a 7-literal day creationist. I am very reluctant to trash either Dennis’ or NH’s comments, yet offer a slightly different approach.  The first difficulty is in creating a discussion. The 7-day creationist (if you wish, young-earth folk) consider their stand as a litmus-test of orthodoxy, and any disagreement is considered either an inability of believe the Scriptures or inability to hold Scripture as the infallible word of God. The old-earthers look at disdain at young-earthers as somewhat scientifically naive and guilty of the sins that possesses many medieval theologians that fought against Kepler and Galileo. Neither side is right.

I proffer several foundational statements.

1. The word “day” in Genesis 1-3 does not necessarily denote 24 hour spans. This argument is ably developed by both Hebrew scholars and biblical scholars that look at the use of the word “day” throughout Scripture.

2. The genre of Genesis 1-3 is neither strictly poetic nor strictly literal-historical. Those who develop the construct of Genesis 1 as simply being an apologetic against the Egyptian gods are wrong, though an apologetic is implied by the structure of how Moses constructs Gen. 1. Nor does it utilize language and terms that suggest an accurate detailed historical approach to creation.

3. The implication that God commands events to happen in each of the days of creation suggest a divine interference on a “daily” basis. Dennis’ comments, of which I’ve heard many times before, suggests that there is a “anthropomorphism” in the very substance of the atomic structure of the universe, that demanded that this is the sort of universe only that could have come out of the “big bang”. This seems to lean dangerously to Deism, if not Animism, whereby Nature itself is offered the source of personality, and that the universe, once wound up, can take care of itself.

Thus, there remain a few questions of relevance…

1. What is the level of involvement of God in the process of creation/evolution? At what stage, or, at what time in history, did God decide to cease active interventional work in the universe outside of the laws of nature, and thus work through the “laws of the universe” in his actions in the world, including his miracles as described in Scripture? This is simply an unanswerable question. Scriptures give us no clues, and science could never answer such questions.

2. Is it morally deceptive of God to create things that are aged? To what extent would he have done that? In my opinion, it is neither right nor proper to ask such questions.

3. Do the questions of creation/evolution really need to recruit discussions of a universal flood? Are these not ultimately separate questions?

4. Can we ultimately claim an exegetical basis for establishing the genre-type of Gen 1-3? I bring this up, because young earthers wail long and hard about the abandonment of a strictly literal interpretation of the Scripture. Yet, John Gerstner, in Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, waxes long and hard against dispensationalists who force literal interpretations when the genre doesn’t permit a literal interpretation.

My own personal stance leaves me neither a strictly young nor old earth creationist. I feel that we assume too much when we attempt to engage in the creation argument. I feel that discussions have not allowed for a plastic middle position, and focused on how far from that middle one needs to go before one falls off the edge. It could happen both ways. I feel that Dempski falls off the edge, when he removes God from the much of the processes of creation. Morris from the Creation Research Institute falls off the other edge by pushing his agenda so hard he simply does poor science. It would be better for Morris to simply be a fideist than an apologist. Yet, I also accept that much of science will eventually be proven wrong, that our standard tools such as carbon dating will be replaced, and that new paradigms will replace old. Like Hugh Ross, and others of the conservative old-earth school, I see how we may use science as an apologetic for a Christian worldview, even though the science may evolve with time. As an example, the red-shift observation in the stars led to the “big-bang” theory, which is entirely consistent with Christian thinking that there was a time when the universe was not, and then came instantly (almost) into being. The intelligent design argument wonderfully argues against a laissez-faire universe explained entirely by random events. God clearly interfered with natural processes at all stages throughout the development of this world, though we will never know the balance of interference/natural process nor the speed/acceleration by which he had natural processes occur. To me, the arguments sit around trying to tell God how He did things. I’m sure He’s not so amused at our undertakings.

Since we are on the topic of God interfering with nature, there is one more thing that bothers me. I just wish to know why Jesus didn’t turn the water into beer rather than wine.

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