Reviewing Navigating Genesis [6]

Noah’s Flood: Global or Local?

I come to my sixth review of Hugh Ross’s book, Navigating Genesis, and specifically to his study of Noah’s flood.

Ross spends four chapters, 15-18, laying out his apologetic for a local flood, while at the same time debunking the idea of a worldwide flood. It is imperative for him to demonstrate that the text of Genesis 6-8 is recording the history of a local flood because he must sustain his commitment to a deep time reading of the creation narrative. If the fossil record, along with all the major, geological formations found all over the earth, can be explained by a year long, worldwide flood as recorded in Genesis, that presents a severe problem to a ministry whose sole endeavor is to harmonize the Bible to the secular, evolutionary interpretative time frames of earth’s history.

Ross is insistent that the Bible requires us to believe that Genesis teaches a local flood. The whole point of Genesis 6-8, he suggests, is to give us a theological picture of the wickedness of man’s sin and God’s grace containing sin in one geographical area. God sent a localized flood thus preventing man from spreading his corruption to the whole globe.

His position hinges on what he believes are the limits of sin and the boundaries of God’s judgment [see chapter 15]. God only judges man’s sin and what it has defiled. Ross writes, “The extent of the Genesis flood, according to the principle laid out in Scripture, would have been determined by the spread of human sin,” [143]. In his view, ancient, antediluvian men never traveled outside the immediate vicinity of Mesopotamia. So, if for example man never reached Antarctica, there would be no need for God to send a flood there and no need for penguins to travel to Noah for preservation on the ark, [ibid].

In order to prove his local flood theory, Ross employees one chapter worth of strained and out of context grammatical exegesis that revises the plain meaning of the text. A second chapter is selected appeals to dated scientific research that he believes discounts the common, worldwide flood view.

I’ll spend the bulk of my review addressing the exegetical and theological arguments. The so-called scientific arguments he raises are many, and beyond what I can cover in one review article. They are dealt with in detail in such works by Andrew Snelling, Kurt Wise, Jonathan Sarfati, and John Whitmore, so I would refer readers to their material.

Two things disappointed me with Ross’s discussion of Noah’s flood. First, as I have already mentioned in previous reviews, he doesn’t bother engaging any dissenting works that would refute his views. That is also true in these sections on Noah’s flood. There is no real engagement with proponents of a worldwide flood. What passing references he does make with any detractor is shallow (no pun intended), never truly interacting with any published books or technical research that would answer his challenges.

Secondly, a number of his criticisms against a worldwide flood also come from the play books of atheists and amateur internet skeptics. In fact, there are times he sounds just like the nay-saying atheist critics attacking Answers in Genesis. For example, opening chapter 18 that discusses the passengers on the ark, Ross lays out four bullet points against the ark that swirl around in the fever swamps of online atheist forums. For example, “How could eight people possibly care for all the ark’s animals?” and “How could a wooden ship of the dimensions outlined in Genesis possibly be seaworthy?” One is left wondering if he actually wants to defend the testimony of Scripture or just ridicule young earth Creationists.

The Exegesis of Genesis 6-8

Ross devotes chapter 16 at attempting to explain away the biblical language affirming a global flood. In the opening paragraphs of this chapter, he writes that the wording of Genesis 6-8 describes how the flood impacted all humans, all animals, and all the mountains. Additionally, he notes, the words “all,” “every,” and “everything,” appear more than 40 times in the three chapters recording Noah’s flood, [145]. He then makes the astonishing comment, “On this basis, it seems no wonder belief in biblical truth demands belief in a global deluge,” [ibid]. In other words, I know the Bible clearly says the flood was global, but don’t believe your lying eyes!

The rest of the chapter is Ross redefining the clear, universal language employed by the text and reinterpreting Noah’s flood as regional, not global. I’ll consider just a few of his more prominent examples.

The use of universal language

As he noted in his introduction, the Genesis record of the flood uses a number of words that speak of the universality of the event. Such words as all, every, and everything. Ross presupposes, without any serious warrant, that modern readers need to frame the narrative in the mind of ancient man. Rather than thinking the whole earth, as in a spherical, blue globe, because our modern space age has taught us to think that way, ancient man thought of the whole earth as being what he could immediately see. From the mountains on the horizon to the visible boundary of the desert meeting the sky, that was the “whole earth” as far as ancient man was concerned.

Ross then provides some examples from Scripture when regional events like the famine in Egypt (Genesis 42:5-6) and Caesar Augustus’s taxation decree (Luke 2:1) were described as “worldwide” or the “entire earth,” [146-147]. We know from the facts of geography, he argues, that the famine was only Egypt and the surrounding nations and Rome’s world was the Mediterranean nations they conquered. Those events could hardly be called the whole world in the sense of the entire, global earth. Likewise when we understand the use of universal terms in Genesis 6-8.

There are some significant major flaws with his argument, however. One of the first questions I think Ross should consider is simply this: How exactly would the Bible convey the idea of a flood covering the entire globe if not for the use of universal terms? That is a question he seems to ignore.

More to the point, the Genesis record is emphatically clear with the use of repetitive universal terms that the flood was covering the entire world, not just a regional location. Genesis 7:19 specifically states that the flood waters increased upon the earth so that “all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered.” It is one thing to say all the high hills were covered, but to couple that phrase with “under the whole heaven” is exactly the language we would expect if God wants to convey the global extent of the flood.

Additionally, in Genesis 7:20ff. we find the same use of all to describe the extent of the destruction killing all life on the earth. Everything that breathed, man, woman, child, animals, swarming things, etc. Only Noah, his family, and everything on the ark was left alive. How else is one to understand such concise language? Even Ross acknowledges that, “the text would appear” to have universal extent [149], but of course he rejects that appearance.

One final note. The Apostle Peter uses the flood as an illustration of the coming judgment on the earth when Christ returns. In fact, Peter employs the word kataklusmos in 2 Peter 3, which translates the Hebrew word mabbul in Genesis 6:17. If the flood was a local, regional flood, does that mean Christ’s judgment is limited to Israel and the surrounding nations where the climatic battle of Armageddon takes place before His return? It would be an odd illustration if the flood only covered one small portion of the world, whereas the final judgment is the whole world.

The permanence of dry land

Ross claims that Psalm 104, along with a number of other passages, like Job 38 and Proverbs 8, teach that God declared during the creation of the land that it will never be covered in water again. In other words, when God brought dry land out of the waters, He Himself precluded the notion of a worldwide, earth destroying flood. The oceans had a set boundary and their waters will never cross over on to dry land, [147].

The problem, however, is that none of the passages he cites supporting his notion teach what he claims. All of them are either recounting God’s general care for His creation with really no mention of the permanence of dry land. Psalm 104:6-9 comes the closest, but those verses speak to the certainty of God’s post flood promise not to flood the earth again. Psalm 104:6-9, in fact, parallels the flood narrative: Genesis 7:19,20 (Psalm 104:6), Genesis 8:1, 3, (Psalm 104:7), Genesis 8:5 (Psalm 104:8), and Genesis 9:11 (Psalm 104:9).

The failure of mankind

One of Ross’s major presuppositions for his view of the local flood is the idea that mankind never dispersed upon the earth. As I noted above, Ross teaches that the flood was sent to judge man’s sin and everything he defiled. Because man never spread out from the Mesopotamian valley, there was no need to flood the entire world. He bases that presupposition upon God’s command to Adam to multiply and fill the earth, and then His command to Noah to multiply and fill the earth after the flood. By the time we come to Genesis 11, man is still disobeying God’s command, and so God confuses the languages at Babel, and only then did man disperse like he was supposed to.

There are some significant problems with his assumption. First, is Ross limiting God’s command to “fill the earth” to only Mesopotamia? Or does he believe God meant the whole earth, as in the entire world? Put another way, is the phrase “fill the earth” universal in scope? If that is the case, then why isn’t the universal description of earth in God’s command the same as with God flooding the earth? Distinguishing between a universal use of fill the earth to mean a global dispersion, with a supposed local flood that is described as covering all the earth, makes Ross’s view wildly inconsistent with itself.

Second, he assumes that man didn’t disperse when God initially commanded them to do so. Ross is suggesting that Adam’s progeny remained in the Mesopotamia region from the time of creation to the time of the flood. According to Ross’s own calculations, Adam and Eve lived anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 years ago, and Noah’s flood was some 40,000 years ago, [75]. That is at least 60 to 20 thousand years between Adam’s creation and God’s command to fill the earth and the flood of Noah. Ross would have us believe that mankind only remained in Mesopotamia for that length of time. Considering the spread and advancement of culture just from the time of Egypt to our present day, roughly four to five thousand years, insisting that all of mankind remained in one small location on earth for at least 20 thousand years, is rather incredible.

One last problem. Secular anthropologists date several cultures older than Ross’s date for Noah’s flood at 40,000 years ago. For instance, the Aboriginal culture is considered the oldest, dated at 50,000 years ago. Some even date them older than that.

The key, theological component to Ross’s local flood view is that man did not disperse beyond the boundaries of Mesopotamia from the time of Adam’s creation to Noah. God judges man’s sin and what it was he defiled with his sin, and so the flood could not be global because man had not yet defiled other parts of the earth with his sin. If the flood of Noah happened 40,000 years ago according to Ross’s calculations, where exactly do the Aboriginal peoples fit in? Are they sinless? They obviously pre-date Noah’s flood according to secular anthropologists.

Here is another clear example of how Ross’s dependence upon the claims of secularists severely conflict with Scripture. God’s “truth” revealed in the 67th book of nature, as Ross affirms, creates a massive problem with God’s truth as revealed in Scripture. Regrettably, the truth of Scripture gives way to the so-called “truth” of the 67th book of nature in Ross’s apologetic.

Reviewing Navigating Genesis [5]

How Far the Fall? Genesis 3 – Chapter 11

After a bit of a break, I’m returning to reviewing Hugh Ross’s book, Navigating Genesis. The four previous reviews can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Skipping ahead to chapter 11, I’m addressing how Ross deals with Genesis 3 and the consequences of Adam’s fall, especially death.

Before I work my way through this chapter with a review, we need to acknowledge what the Bible tells us about death. It is clear throughout its pages that death is an intrusion into God’s creation brought here by Adam’s disobedience in the garden. Physical death demonstrates God’s judgment, and death is likened unto an enemy, (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The first death recorded in Scripture was that of an animal from which God made skins to cover Adam and Eve immediately after they had sinned. With that death of an animal, God demonstrated the need for atonement that turns His judgment away from man and restores divine fellowship. All of creation, without exception, has been touched by Adam’s sin. Because of his fall, the entire creation groans, longing to be set free from its bondage to corruption, (Romans 8:20-21). Physical death of all living things is a stark and grim reminder of the creation’s bondage to that corrupting curse.

Ross, on the other hand, rather than teaching that physical death is a curse upon all of God’s creation, teaches that death is beneficial. Death was originally one of the good aspects of God’s creation because it was necessary for God to care for the carnivorous animals by allowing them to eat other animals to survive. Death was never intended for mankind, however, and became a curse for men when Adam disobeyed. That is the position Ross attempts to defend in chapter 11.

Review and Analysis

Ross opens his chapter briefly mentioning the rebellion of Satan. Why that is relevant to his discussion of Adam’s fall and the impact of death is unclear. I take it that he is contrasting Adam’s rebellion with Satan’s, because he states in a previous chapter that Satan rebelled first, [91].  His comments appears as if he is attempting to explain away physical death as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Like he is saying, “Well, Satan rebelled first, so Adam’s fall really has nothing to do with death.”

He does make this baffling assertion, though, “Whether it [Satan’s rebellion] occurred before or during God’s creation of Earth the Bible never says, but we do know it predated Eden,” [109]. If the Bible never says when Satan’s rebellion happened, how exactly does Ross know it predated Eden? But I digress.

His chapter is outlined in four main sections. I’ll consider each one in turn.

Adam and Eve’s Expulsion from Eden

This section recounts the scene of Genesis 3. Ross provides a fair summary of the events: God forbidding the first couple from partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, Eve being tempted by the Serpent and eating, and then Adam following his wife in disobedience, and the consequences of their banishment from Eden. He then makes some comments about how Adam’s one, small act of eating a forbidden fruit leads to the avalanche of sin in the world. However, physical death overall was not a part of that consequence as he will go on to explain.

Did the Fall Change Physics?

It is in this section that Ross’s egregious apologetics on death begin to surface. He builds his presentation on strawman arguments against young Earth creationists and illogical category distinctions.

First, he focuses a lot of his discussion on the false notion that YEC teach that the second law of thermodynamics was initiated at the fall. He seems to assume that it is the commonly held view of all creationists. Now, it could be that Ross has engaged a few young earthers in the past who held to that perspective, but the idea that the second law of thermodynamics was initiated at the fall has never been the standard position of the YEC community.

In fact, sloppy, out-of-date research is probably one of the biggest problems with this entire chapter (as well as the book). His objections to his detractors are built upon material he published back in the 90s in his book, Creation and Time, and The Genesis Question, the first edition of Navigating Genesis, published in 2001. If he had bothered to spend time reviewing and updating his work, he would have discovered that creationists have written quite a bit in the intervening 20 years or more answering those sorts of false charges. See HERE for example.

Continuing his case for the second law of thermodynamics, Ross mentions Paul’s words in Romans 8:20-22, but his understanding of those verses are so wildly off target I wonder how he can be taken seriously as a Christian apologist. He believes Paul is describing the affects of the second law of thermodynamics, referring to “the whole of creation” “right up to the present time,” [112]. In other words, the work of the second law of thermodynamics has always been a necessary part of God’s created order from the very beginning. “The thermodynamic laws are good,” he writes, “in spite of the “decay,” “frustration,” and “groaning,” [113]. They are part of God’s plan for preparing people for eternity and the new creation.

Ross, however, over looks the one, crucial point Paul makes in Romans 8:20-22. The apostle writes that the creation was subjected unwillingly to that state of frustration, corruption, and groaning by the very sin of Adam. His sin wasn’t limited to only impacting humanity, but it corrupted the whole of creation. That key, theological element seems to fly entirely over Ross’s head.

He also manufacturers a category error. He writes, “Some people presume that the natural tendency toward decay (the second law of thermodynamics) and carnivorous animal behavior, for example, must be attributable to human sin, not to God’s design,” [111], and then a little bit later he writes, “The universe and its physics have not changed, as some suggest,” [ibid]. He cites Jeremiah 33:25 and Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 as proof-texts for his assertion.

The problem, however, is that the changed nature of men and animals due to Adam’s fall is unrelated to the principles of physics governing our world. That would be such things noted in Jeremiah and Ecclesiastes, like the fixed orbits of the sun and the stars, and the water cycle. We can also include the laws of thermodynamics as well. No creationist is arguing that the laws of physics changed after Adam’s sinned. However, the fundamental nature of men and animals did. Men are called in Scripture, “by nature, children of wrath,” in Ephesians 2:3.

It is impossible to separate man’s sin nature from manifesting in the physical world. Men were changed from a state of innocence to a state of guilt, shame, and hostile rebellion against their Creator when Adam fell. Adam’s fall did bring the creation into the bondage of corruption, physical death being the key element to that corruption.To deny that reality is ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture.

Did the Fall Initiate Death and Predation?

Ross firmly rejects that Adam’s sin had anything to do with physical death. Instead, he understands human death to be connected to man’s separation from God. It is not that physical death is bad, but physical death for humans that is bad. I’ll discuss his position a bit more when I review the next section.

He also rejects that Adam’s fall has anything to do with animal death and carnivorous animals preying on other animals. He cites Psalm 104:21 and Job 38:39 that speak of God providing prey for the lions as proof-texts. But he seems to assume that those two passages are talking about animals in their original, created state. That predator animals were created to be predators. But we have clear revelation that predation was not God’s original intent.

Genesis 1:29-30 states that God gave to man and to animals every seed bearing plant as food. That restriction was not limited to only human beings or plant eating animals in Eden, but was given to every animal on the surface of the earth. The only logical conclusion is that included ALL animals without exception.  Ross makes the absurd passing remark that all animals are dependent upon and eat plants when the carnivorous animals kill and eat the herbivorous animals. But that is just a painfully strained view of what Genesis 1:29-30 clearly states.

Additionally, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a Messianic kingdom when predatory animals like wolves and bears will dwell with non-predatory animals like lambs and oxen (Isaiah 11:6ff. and 65:25ff.), so the prophet’s words seem to indicate that animal nature was impacted by Adam’s fall and that will be reversed in the future. Hence, something had to have changed in the nature of the animals so that they became predatory and began eating meat.

The Death Benefit

Lastly, Ross closes out the chapter by reiterating that death is only a bad thing for mankind to experience. At the same time, physical death is good and beneficial. For instance, Ross writes that, “It limits the amount of harm those who reject God’s offer can do to themselves and to others,” [114]. He then ends with the comment, “The story of Adam and Eve’s sons paints a horrific picture of what it can do — and of physical death as essential for the preservation of life,” [115].

Essential for the preservation of life? I personally find it a stunningly bizarre comment that claims physical death is a benefit to God’s creation. The Bible identifies death as an enemy. It is considered corruption from which men need liberation (Romans 8:22), as well as the wages of sin (Romans 6:22). How can something that is the result of God’s curse ever be thought of as a good thing?

Even more to the point, if death is beneficial, what is in need for the creation’s liberation from that corruption? Christ’s death accomplishes the redemption of mankind from death, but their redemption directly effects God’s creation according to Paul in Romans 8:20. The apostle John even reiterates that truth in Revelation 22:3 when there is no longer anything that is accursed.

Ross’s apologetic for death is extremely problematic, in my opinion. It comes precariously close to altering the doctrine of Christ’s redemptive work. For if death is a good and necessary benefit to God’s creation, what is the point of Christ defeating something that God has made good?

Reviewing Navigating Genesis [2]

 

creationChapter 1 – Personal Journey

Summary

I have taken up reviewing Hugh Ross’s book, Navigating Genesis. My introductory post explaining my reasoning can be found HERE.

Ross opens up his book recounting his personal journey as a young man putting the Bible to his rigorous scientific testing. As an apologist, he encounters many people these days who complain that the Bible is an ancient book full of scientific nonsense and blatant contradictions. When he asks folks for examples of that scientific nonsense, many of them cite Genesis 1-11.

Ross, however, sees their rejection of Genesis as an opportunity, because “the scientific discoveries of the past few decades…present some of the most persuasive evidences ever assembled for the supernatural authorship, accuracy, and authority of the Bible,” [9]. He goes on to explain how Genesis can withstand rigorous scientific and biblical testing, and because of that those first 11 chapters of Genesis present some of the most persuasive evidence of the divine authority of the Bible.

He tells how when he was a young man, his singular passion was science. He was particularly drawn to astronomy and he specifically believed the big bang model of cosmology was the best model ever conceived that fits the observational data, [11]. That led him further to be convinced that the big bang model implied that a creator existed.

When he turned his attention to studying the world’s religions, the one religious book that stood out above all the others as a reasonable explanation of that scientific data was the Bible. The “scientific method was clearly evident in Genesis chapter 1 as in a modern research paper,” [12]. After reading the entire Bible he failed to discover anything within its pages that could be label as a verifiable error. Once his study was completed, and he saw that the Bible lined up with everything he knew scientifically, he gave his life to Christ as his savior. The book, Navigating Genesis, is his attempt to navigate the record of Genesis with his reading audience, while answering challenges raised by skeptics, both inside and outside the church.

Review

With this introductory recounting of his personal faith journey, Ross announces that he will build the argument in his book upon a number of what are clearly faulty premises. Let me highlight a few important ones that will direct the trajectory of my forthcoming reviews.

To begin, he is going to treat the book of Genesis, a book that is a historical record of God’s creation and the events of the early earth that lead up to the call of Abraham, as if it is a scientific research paper. He writes, “As a scientist I would say these events beg to be tested,” [9]. But how exactly does one scientifically test events recorded in a historical document? Ross believes those events are a record of the past, but unless he has access to a special Delorean, he cannot possibly scientifically test them. All he can do, and what he will do throughout his book, is force upon the historical record of Scripture modern presuppositions from secular science he unquestionably accepts as valid. That is not doing science; that’s gaming the facts.

Additionally, he attempts to distinguish his scientific test for the events recorded in Genesis from miraculous events like the Virgin Birth and Jesus turning water into wine. He seems to think that the miraculous, divine interventions recorded in Genesis like the creation week, Noah’s flood, and the confusion of languages at Babel, are scientifically testable, but the resurrection of Lazarus is not. He assumes that verifying the miracle of creation according to the various scientific disciplines, will somehow verify those other miracles.

Yet all of those events, the creation, Noah’s flood, Christ feeding the 5,000, and His bodily resurrection, are all equally miraculous. For some reason, Ross believes we can scrutinize the miracles recorded in Genesis because they apparently fall into the realm of the scientific disciplines, whereas the other recorded miracles do not. (Why wouldn’t a Resurrection fall into the realm of medical science, for instance). What he fails to inform the reader is that he will evaluate those Genesis events according to the various presuppositions of secular science and the conclusions of secular science tend to deny the miraculous and explain it away.

Ross also notes three biblical tests he believes are important to his presentation. How exactly those biblical tests come together with the scientific tests just mentioned is not really explained. The reader is expected to roll with the disconnect.

First he notes what he calls the Berean test taken from Acts 17:11. Like the noble Bereans (who were unbelievers, by the way), who tested all the claims made by Paul about Jesus, all the biblical passages that parallel and overlap Genesis 1-11 must cohere with what ALL of Scripture teaches. That raises the question as to whether or not when those biblical passages contradict the scrutiny of the so-called scientific disciplines used to evaluate the events of Genesis, what gives way? The biblical testimony or the scientific discipline evaluating that testimony?

If Scripture cannot be broken as Ross asserts, can the scientific discipline in conflict with the point of Scripture be broken? He writes, “…understandings of Genesis 1-11 that contradict any other part of the Bible must be rejected,” [10]. But does that apply to any of the scientific disciplines?

Next is the spirit test that the apostle John writes of in his first epistle. Christians are to “test the spirits” to see if whether they come form God. But lots of the scientific scrutiny comes from “spirits” that are hostile and opposed to God. In fact, a number of modern practitioners of the scientific disciplines do not care for God at all. If they are religious, they tend toward synchronizing Darwinian evolution with what religious faith they may have to produce some weird, unbiblical theistic evolutionary hybrid. There certainly is a spirit behind such overt hostility to God.

Thirdly is the biblical language test. Ross writes, “A precise understanding of the text is crucial for interpreting the scientific and historical details as well as the theological context,” [10]. He goes on to explain that a precise understanding includes knowledge of the original language, the grammar, and its usage in various passages.

The problem, however, is that as one works his way through his book, nothing indicates that he has a working grasp of the original languages or the grammar. He is dependent upon secondary sources, which is understandable, because many writers and theologians may not have a full, working knowledge of the original languages. But his dependence, as I noted in my first review, relies almost exclusively upon the Theological Workbook of the OT. In fact, his appendix B, which is a breakdown of all the important Hebrew words in Genesis 1 is taken solely from the TWOT.

While I would certainly agree that the TWOT is a fine reference work, if you are an apologist who is writing a book length treatment advocating your unique apologetic of creation and the book of Genesis, and insisting to your readers you alone have the correct understanding of the text, it would behoove you to expand your sources beyond just one resource, albeit a good one. Moreover, the TWOT is limited in its scope in that it doesn’t cover grammatical and syntactical matter of the Hebrew texts under consideration. A number of Ross’s assertion about how the original language should be understood doesn’t even take into mind those grammatical and syntactical nuances.

And then one final, faulty premise is Ross’s “Nature is a 67th book of the Bible” argument. Ross, and the RTB apologists, believe that nature is a unique revelation all unto its own that is self-sufficient and self-authenticating. In one of his earliest books that sets forth his apologetic, Creation and Time, Ross writes that,

“the Bible teaches a dual, reliably consistent revelation. God has revealed Himself through the words of the Bible and the facts of nature…So, God’s revelation is not limited exclusively to the Bible’s words. The facts of nature may be likened to a sixty-seventh book of the Bible. Just as we rightfully expect interpretations of Isaiah to be consistent with those of Mark, so too we can expect interpretations of the facts of nature to be consistent with the message of Genesis and the rest of the canon.” [Creation and Time, 56-57]

He states that he is NOT putting nature on equal footing with the authority of the Scripture, but he does just that when he assigns nature, or better, secular interpretations of nature, the authority to correct and/or re-interpret Scripture so that it conforms to the scientific consensus.

Richard Mayhue takes apart Ross’s 67th book presupposition with a withering analysis in the book, Coming to Grips with Genesis, pages 105-129. He points out a number of flaws with Ross’s overreach with general revelation, but the one that is particularly problematic is that it presents an open canon. In other words, rather than the biblical canon closing at the writing of Revelation, it suggests the canon is still very much open and incomplete as new, and yet to be discovered, scientific discoveries present the possibility of reshaping our understanding of Genesis and creation.

God’s revelation is then not settled and fixed as the historic, Bible-believing church teaches, but is still in flux as modern science allegedly discovers new understandings of origins. Such a position leads one precariously close to heresy.

Reviewing Navigating Genesis [1]

genesisPreliminary Remarks 

I want to embark on a new blogging project with this post.

For sometime now, I have been reading through the book Navigating Genesis: A Scientist’s Journey Through Genesis 1-11 by Hugh Ross, founder of Reasons to Believe ministries (RTB). My goal is to provide a review and critique on what he teaches regarding Genesis, creation, and deep time over the course of a series of blog articles. I am not entirely sure how long my series will be. I won’t commit to a chapter-by-chapter review, but I certainly will work through the major arguments presented in the book from beginning to end.

With this introductory post, I’ll explain why I want to go through it.

Those who are frequent readers of my blog know that I have published a lot on the topics of Genesis, creation, and evolution since I began writing in 2005. I have a number of articles that can be found HERE. Additionally, I have taught three series on matters of origins, Genesis, creation, and evolution (one that specifically interacts with Hugh Ross’s progressive creationism) that can be downloaded from my other website, Fred’s Bible Talk. I am convinced that what we as Christians believe regarding origins is foundational to our overall biblical worldview and our apologetic engagement with unbelievers

For a while now, I have noticed a heavy dependence upon Ross and RTB among a number of online apologetic web hubs and social media groups as the default, go to expert authority when defending Genesis and creationism against evolution and scientism.

If one were to scan over the reposted articles at such sites as The Poached Egg, Apologetics 315, or the Christian Apologetic Alliance, for instance, the overwhelming majority are written by Ross, or RTB staff, or bloggers sympathetic to his old earth views of Genesis. For example, search the category tag “creation” at The Poached Egg site. All the articles that pop up addressing the topic are written by RTB team members or surrogate bloggers and favor Ross’s deep time interpretation of the book of Genesis.

Moreover, Ross and members of his staff, like Kenneth Samples and Fuz Rana, are frequent commentators on apologetic radio programs and podcasts. They will be interviewed about the latest evolutionary/creation controversies on such programs like Stand to Reason and the Bible Answer Man. Often, their particular brand of progressive creationism and their views of Genesis is the only perspective many listeners are ever exposed to.

I personally think that is a troubling trend for a number of reasons which is why I wish to offer some reviews of this book. I’ll note three areas of concern,

First, the mishandling of Scripture on the part of RTB apologists is appalling, especially the book of Genesis and other texts that recount the creation event. I will demonstrate this as I move through my series. Suffice it to say, RTB and their associates are essentially training a generation of apologists in sloppy exegesis that takes passages out of context and violates any number of simple rules pertaining to hermeneutics. Ultimately, that diminishes the authority of God’s Word, not to mention making those apologists to appear foolish to anyone who actually does know how to handle God’s Word.

Secondly, RTB apologists allow the conclusions of mainstream science to govern their interpretation of Scripture. That is because they adhere to an erroneous hermeneutic about nature being a 67th book of the Bible that is an equal authority with Scripture. Because nature is God’s nature (He created it, after all), it is self-evident and sufficient as a source of truth in the same way Scripture is. Thus, when the consensus of scientific researchers make authoritative claims about the age of the universe or the formation of the oceans or whatever, if what Scripture states on the matter appears to be at odds with the scientific “truth,” it is Scripture that is often adjusted in order to fit around that so-called truth.

That apologetic talking point of RTB can be inconsistently applied at times. For instance, on the one hand, scientists will dogmatically insist that overwhelming evidence proves no global flood could ever have happened, the view held by the RTB apologists. Yet on the other hand, those same exact scientists will also insist the overwhelming genetic evidence proves modern man share a common evolutionary ancestor with chimpanzees, a view obviously rejected by RTB apologists. Why is the application of their “nature is a 67th book of the Bible” hermeneutic appropriate in the first example about a global flood, but rejected in the second example regarding men and chimps? That clearly comes across as cherry picking what fits your presuppositions and makes the whole idea of “all truth is God’s truth” to be subjected to the whims and fancies of men.

Thirdly, because of that “nature is a 67 book of the Bible” hermeneutic, they believe general, secular science, represents a fairly accurate understanding of events in earth’s historical past. Their commitment to those conclusions often times leaves them no other choice but to accommodate biblical revelation to that misplaced certainty in those so-called scientific authorities. Thus, the plain teaching of Scripture is typically adjusted to account for the “science.” That, however, results in their apologetics manufacturing troubling theology.

One significant illustration of their troubling theology is RTB’s views regarding what they call “soul-less hominids.”  Secular anthropologists have cataloged the remains of a number of man-like creatures that supposedly represent an ancient relation to modern human beings. Hence, according to their research, evolutionary theory is affirmed as true. Ross, and RTB, on the other hand, teach those so-called ape-men are to be understood as extinct, soul-less hominids that predate the creation of Adam and Eve by hundreds of thousands of years if not more. Neanderthals, then, would be one of those extinct soul-less hominids.

However, forensic anthropologists have shown what appears to be a genetic connection between Neanderthals and modern humans. That, in turn, creates a problem for the RTB view of soul-less hominids. Rather than recognizing that Neanderthals are more like an isolated ethnic group of people who went extinct after the dispersion from the events of the flood and the Tower of Babel incident, what young earth creationists believe, they developed a stunning apologetic talking point to explain that data. They basically state that humans and Neanderthals mated and the mating was sinful per Leviticus 18 and the prohibitions against bestiality. Their response, however, creates some terrifically bad theology regarding what the Scriptures teach about the sin of Adam and the imputed righteousness of Christ to all humanity as I document in this article HERE.

I’ll flesh these points out as I move along in my series, but it is those areas of concern where I see a need to address this book.

Overview

Now, just to give a quick overview so as to close out this introductory post. Navigating Genesis is an updated reprint of Ross’s The Genesis Question published in 2001. The book is a study of Genesis 1-11 in 23 chapters. Topics covered,

Chapters 1-2 – Ross’s personal testimony and the reasons why people resist Christian belief because of what Genesis says.
Chapters 3-9 – An overview of the creation week itself.
Chapter 10 – A spiritual perspective on creation from Genesis 2.
Chapter 11- The fall of man from Genesis 3.
Chapter 12 – The Cain and Abel events.
Chapter 13 – The genealogies from Genesis 5-6 and the possible explanations for their long lives.
Chapter 14 – A study on the Nephilim in Genesis 6.
Chapter 15 – The boundaries of God’s wrath and an introduction of the flood events.
Chapters 16-18 – Ross’s defense of a local flood and critique of a global flood.
Chapter 19 – The origins of the nations and races.
Chapters 20-23 – A discussion about higher criticism, “creation science” (in scare quotes), and new criticisms of creation.

Three appendices round out the book.

I have to admit that I was expecting way more from this book than what I found. The only original language work he seems to be familiar with is The Theological Workbook on the OT. He cites it frequently throughout his book for the definition of specific words. I would think if a person was going to insist upon a particular way to read the creation account, he would do much more than cite repeatedly from one lexical source for the background to the OT text.

However, the real let down was how he ignored the apologists and theologians who are young earth creationists. In fact, that was rather surprising. I believe if he would have engaged their arguments in greater depth it would have improved this book tremendously.

The original edition was published in 2001, and in the dozen years between the original and the new, updated version published in 2014, there has been a lot written in defense of the positions of young earth creationism. At least three major creationist apologetic ministries have come to the forefront of this discussion, Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and ICR.  All of them have published some excellent material in both print and media content providing a sound presentation of creation in 6 ordinary days. For instance Andrew Snelling’s massive two-volume work on the flood, Terry Mortenson’s work on the history of early earth geologists, and Jonathan Sarfati’s detailed critique of Hugh Ross himself and the RTB apologetics, Refuting Compromise.

Yet Ross seems to be oblivious to the existence of any of those works and others like them. Granted, he references some things in the footnotes; but he either never fully interacts with their objections to his position at all, or does so in a shallow fashion. And the objections to his apologetics is rather solid. I am not talking about simple, “Oh, we could look at creation this way” kind of arguments. Sarfati’s book, Refuting Compromise, is a devastating rebuttal to the RTB apologetic. Other than providing a general citation of the book, he doesn’t even attempt to offer anything close to a refutation to any of his arguments.

My desire with my reviews is not to needlessly bash Hugh Ross and RTB. I don’t question his salvation, or that of his co-workers at his ministry. I do, however, wish to raise alarms to what I see is an a-biblical approach to defending the Christian faith and the creation account. I maintain that the secular, deep time interpretations of earth’s history can never be synced with what Scripture tells us about creation. They are two entirely different worldviews at odds with each other. Ross’s apologetic that attempts to marry them ultimately has a  deleterious impact upon the Christian faith and evangelism. The RTB apologetic does much greater harm for the Church that Ross and his surrogates believe, and Christians should be warned away from it. That is what I hope to demonstrate with my reviews.

My Neanderthal Article

My article I wrote about a month or so ago interacting with a Reasons to Believe apologist and their weird human-Neanderthal hybrid ideas, was picked up by Creation Ministries International.

Neandertal-human hybrids: Apologetics Gone Real Bad

I appreciate the opportunity that allows my writing exposure to a much broader audience. I was also grateful for the way Jonathan Sarfati and the folks at CMI helped with punching it up with more details and links I hadn’t supplied in the original.

Neanderthal-Human Babies: Old Earth Apologetics Gone Real Bad

lawyerSo recently on twitter, I had a back and forth with a Reasons to Believe apologist.

It began this way:

I tweeted out the following,

ross1The next day, an associate of Reasons to Believe, tweeted to me the following response,

Ross2Now in fairness, he is absolutely correct. I had mis-tweeted, as it were. Technically, Ross, and RTB apologists, argue that there were soulless hominids that pre-dated the creation of Adam. Those hominids were a lot like modern man, but they lacked the image of God Adam and all his descendants have. They were animals, much like a higher functioning version of the great apes.

None the less, I responded by asking the following,

Ross3A bit of background is in order to explain my question.

More and more every year, researchers are inadvertently proving what biblical, young earth creationists have always maintained: that Neanderthals are an extinct group of people that lived shortly after the Tower of Babel incident and eventually died out. In fact, the very day my RTB Twitter protagonist and I were sparring back and forth about Neanderthals, researchers reported uncovering some underground structures in France probably built by Neanderthals. That discovery demonstrates that they were much more than high functioning great apes.

However, while RTB rightly rejects the evolutionary interpretation of the so-called “science,” they still persist in their commitment to the conclusions of the data, insisting that Neanderthals were non-human animals. That commitment to the non-human aspect of Neanderthals has led them to advance a rather strange, a-theological and unbiblical apologetic that touches the doctrine of Adam’s sin.

Along with discovering Neanderthal artifacts, researchers have also identified that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans. Do a search and you will find a number of articles discussing it. Neanderthal DNA is even identifiable in some modern people groups living today in Europe. Evolutionary propagandist claim it is proof that Neanderthals and humans share a common evolutionary ancestor. Creationist have always said it merely proves Neanderthals were humans all along, descended from Adam and Eve.

The fact that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans (according to the secular evolutionary view) is a major problem for the RTB “biblical model” that has been developed by Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana to explain hominid fossils and other early man-like creatures. As far back as 2004, when DNA research was just beginning with Neanderthals and there was no specific proof of so-called Neanderthal-modern human interbreeding, Fuz Rana wrote this for the RTB blog,

Despite compelling evidence, a minority of paleoanthropologists still believe (as do some Christians) that Neanderthals made a genetic contribution to modern humans through interbreeding. If Neanderthals interbred with modern humans, then by definition, they must be human. (Emphasis mine. Full article HERE).

Now, one would think that once it was discovered that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred, RTB would modify, or even better, entirely retool, their model and apologetic talking points. I mean, RTB apologists insist that they want to acknowledge the clear evidence of the 67th book of the Bible, right? Nope. They dug in.

I recall vividly back in 2010 a Stand to Reason podcast (listen HERE) on which Fuz Rana discussed with Greg Koukl the biblical worldview (well, the RTB “biblical” worldview) of how Christians can explain the genetic interbreeding evidence. He appealed to bestiality, and explained that the abomination of Leviticus 18 regarding bestiality may possibly have had in mind the previous interbreeding of humankind with Neanderthals.

I was gobsmacked. Seriously? I couldn’t believe what was coming out of my earbuds. As of last year, their stance has remained pretty much the same. If you go to RTB’s website, search for “Neanderthals,” the top link to pop up is a 30 minute podcast Rana did explaining the RTB position on them. Again, he pushed the interbreeding/bestiality angle.

My twitter opponent responded to my question with the same line of argumentation,

ross5

Ross4He goes on to explain in a later tweet that Neanderthals are similar enough to humans that they could reproduce together, but that the mating itself would be considered sinful.

Yikes!

Here is where I have a serious problem with the RTB apologetic for Neanderthals. That view has major ramifications against the imputation of Adam’s sin, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and what it means to be a person created in God’s image.

First, the Genesis account clearly states that when God created the sea creatures, birds, and land animals, He did so “after their kinds.” See specifically Genesis 1.  In other words, God created abundant and diverse creatures to fill the earth, and it is implied that when they reproduce, they do so “after their kind.” Meaning, animals can only reproduce with other similar animals “after their kind.”

The general point that Genesis records is that like animals reproduce with like animals, i.e., horse+donkey=mule. God has set a genetic boundary, as it were, upon the creatures He made. So sharks for example, will not reproduce with dolphins, or wolves with badgers, or human beings with chimps, or any high functioning great ape. It doesn’t matter if there is similar DNA, we are not the same “kind” as a chimp or orangutan.

Contrary to my twitter opponent, if Neanderthals are similar enough so that they and humans can mate and produce children, they are of the same kind, meaning, human beings, descended from Adam, bearing the image of God. Even Fuz Rana, back in 2004 when he originally wrote on Neanderthal interbreeding with human beings, acknowledged as much when he stated that if proof of interbreeding comes forth, then Neanderthals are people.

Given RTB’s adoption of secular time tables for Neanderthals living on the earth for roughly 5,000 years with modern man some 40,000 years ago, why would it be sinful for human beings at that time to mate with them? Seriously? The prohibition against bestiality is given to Israel as they entered the land of Canaan. God specifically condemned Canaanite false worship practices, the participation of bestiality being one of those practices. Would bestiality with Neanderthals even enter their mind when Moses gave that prohibition?

If the RTB model is true, and that at some point in the past modern human beings bred with Neanderthals, a profound, theological difficulty emerges. Humanity, according to Scripture (Romans 5 specifically), inherit Adam’s sin and guilt from his disobedience in the garden. All of his progeny (you know, the entire human race) has Adam’s sin imputed to them. Where exactly does that leave the first generation Neanderthal/human hybrid offspring? Is that human-Neanderthal baby identified with Adam’s sin? Like that old Puritan grammar book, “A is for Adam in whom we all fall.” Is it part of the fallen human race in need of redemption? Or is it excused because it is half man, half animal?

oinkA half man, half Neanderthal Jerry!

That would also raise the question as to when the offspring actually begin to be identified with Adam’s sin. Meaning, when the half man, half Neanderthal mates with another human, will that Neanderthal offspring with the 1/4 Neanderthal blood now be considered guilty of Adam’s sin? Or does the “Neanderthal” have to be bred out sufficiently before the person is an actual person and has Adam’s sin imputed to him?

The most serious theological consequence with RTB’s view of Neanderthal-human hybrids is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, again Romans 5, as well as 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ could impute to His people His righteousness because He is our kinsman redeemer. He is a kinsman in that when he took on humanity, He is now considered our “next of kin.” He has the judicial authority to be our substitute in our place before God. The problem is that no Neanderthal-human hybrid could ever have Christ’s righteousness because it would be animal and not human. In short, given RTB’s view of Neanderthals, if they reproduced with human beings descended from Adam, they could not be saved. Of course, that is assuming they are considered “in Adam” to begin with.

The reason I am even addressing the subject is that Reasons to Believe and their old earth apologetic is often times the default, go-to resource for creation/evolution issues among the classical, neo-apologetic ministries and blogger groups I encounter on social media.

Twitter feeds, for example, like the The Poached Egg, Stand to Reason, Ratio Christi, and a host of others, will occasionally link and promote the OEC position of RTB because they have been told they are the reasonable ones when defending Genesis and the creation narrative. They don’t put unnecessary stumbling blocks before unbelievers like telling them they have to believe God created the world miraculously in 6 days.

Yet in their efforts to appear reasonable before the world, as noble as they may be, a central, core doctrine of the Christian faith is adversely effected. Now RTB claims that is not the case at all, and in point of fact, would probably say I am blowing their views of Neanderthal-human hybrids way out of proportion. But given what the Bible clearly states about the imputation of Adam, the work of Christ, and that God has so ordered His creation so that animal kinds cannot reproduce with other animal kinds, the RTB Neanderthal hybrid apologetic is not just a strange view, but comes perilously close to being described as heresy.

Historical Vs. Origin Science – A Rejoinder

uglycatBack a few months ago I posted a theological geeky article entitled, Historical Science, Observational Science, and Creation. I was interacting with the challenges of an old earth proponent by the name of Luke Nix who maintains his blog called Faithful Thinkers.

Luke claimed in his initial post that the categories historical/origin science and observational/operational science are a false dichotomy. Young earth creationists, like Ken Ham and those Answers in Genesis folks, regularly distinguish operational science from origin science when they respond to their critics.

But, as Luke goes on to suggest, when they make that distinction and try to argue for their position, YEC are simply arguing falsely and are really just giving a reason for Youtube atheist to point and laugh at Jesus. Most importantly, it also cuts against his old earth views that he insists are necessary to make Christianity look rational in the eyes of the skeptic.

In my critique of his article, I tried to show that Luke had manufactured something of a strawman. He starts with inaccurate definitions of what origin and operational science means and from there forward the major criticisms he levels against YEC its use of the distinction falls rather flat. Not only that, but I noted two major pioneer books in the debate between evolutionists and creationists that addressed the very topic of origin science vs. operational science. They specifically utilized the distinction as a key, apologetic talking point and they were written by old earth creationists years before AiG even came into the worldview arena.

I notified Luke for his feedback after I posted my article. I didn’t hear back from him at first, and it wasn’t until around Christmas break that he acknowledged my post. He thanked me for the critique and said he’d respond. And true to his word, he did shortly after the new year. His rebuttal attempts to take me to task,

Historical Science, Observational Science, and Creation – A Clarification and a Critique

I have to confess I was a bit disappointed with his response. Primarily because he didn’t even attempt to interact with my review and rebuttal of his major arguments he claims refutes the alleged false dichotomy YEC make distinguishing between historical and operational science.

I will say, however, that I was appreciative of the fact that he at least reluctantly acknowledged the philosophical implications of his position. In other words, he acknowledges the fact that YEC consider (rightly, in my mind) historical science inadequate as a source of knowledge and truth. That’s because historical science relies heavily upon indirect, circumstantial evidence. Indirect, circumstantial evidence must be interpreted and so the majority conclusions that are often times extrapolated from those interpretations are heavily dependent upon the presuppositions of the person making them.

Luke, however, totally rejects that historical science is fraught with those philosophical notions. So much so that he charged me with misrepresenting the authors of those two works I noted. He even claims they affirm his position. That got me all riled up and I am going to show you that such is hardly the case.

Let me begin with The Mystery of Life’s Origins written by Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen. Again, a scanned PDF of the book is available online HERE.

The authors spend a number of pages in the epilogue discussing the distinction between origin/historical science and operational science. I didn’t provide any citations in my first article because that wasn’t my point; but seeing that Luke insists I’m misrepresenting those men, I’ll provide selective quotes.

First, regarding the definition of operational science the authors write,

Notice, however, that this approach to testing theories only works if there is some pattern of recurring events against which theories can be checked and falsified if they are false. Through repeated observation attention is focused on a class of events, each of which is similar. The equations describing the behavior of the class would be applicable to any of its individual members. Let us say,for example,we have a theory about earth orbiting the sun and we propose to test it by predicting a solar eclipse. Although a particular eclipse would be the focus of the experiment, the result would apply to solar eclipses as a general class. Because there are recurring patterns of celestial movements we can test the theory. Such theories are operation theories. That is, they refer to the ongoing operation of the universe. We shall call the domain of operation theories operation science for these theories are concerned with the recurring phenomena of nature. [Mysteries, 202 (of the printed edition)].

That definition is my definition; the definition of the folks at AiG.

But what about origin/historical science? The authors write,

On the other hand an understanding of the universe includes some singular events, such as origins. Unlike the recurrent operation of the universe, origins cannot be repeated for experimental test. The beginning of life, for example, just won’t repeat itself so we can test our theories. In the customary language of science, theories of origins (origin science) cannot be falsified by empirical test if they are false, as can theories of operation science. [Mysteries, 204 (of the printed edition)]

They continue by explaining that the only way to investigate origins is similar to sleuthing a murder. Why that sounds exactly like what Luke is saying. The authors, however, go onto to write,

Such scenarios of reconstruction may be deemed plausible or implausible. Hypotheses of origin science, however, are not empirically testable or falsifiable since the datum needed for experimental test (namely,the origin) is unavailable. [ibid]

In other words, one has to bring his interpretations to the evidence. Interpretations fall into the realm of philosophical presuppositions. For the average, secular old earther, that excludes the supernatural and God creating.

Now coming to the second book, Origin Science by Norman Geisler and Kerby Anderson (excerpts are available online HERE, specifically the introduction that lays out the thesis), Luke says I make the “grave error” of ignoring four key categories of science the authors mention by zeroing in only upon the third category, historical science, and conflating it with origin science.

Really? That is a rather puzzling accusation. The authors identify only two major approaches to science (not four “types” of science as Luke states), observed and unobserved. Those two approaches are then each broken into two further categories: singularities and regularities. The category of singularity is broken into two further categories, primary causes and secondary causes. See this diagram,

scientificapproachLuke is faulting me for ignoring the concept of “regularities” under the first category of the unobserved past and conflating them with the concept of “singularities.” In Luke’s view those so-called historical regularities like geology are dependable for providing us knowledge about the ancient world. Hence, geological forces that we see today are analogous to geological forces 40 million years ago, so it is erroneous to call that “origin science” and that the historical science is unreliable. That way he can maintain his views of deep time and accommodate secular views of an ancient earth and Reasons to Believe can keep chugging along.

However, Geisler and Anderson both acknowledge that historical science in the past is based upon assumptions experienced only in the present and applied to the past. In other words, philosophical presuppositions. They write,

A science about the past does not observe the past singularity but must depend on
the principle of uniformity (analogy ), as historical geology and archaeology do. That is, since these kinds of sciences deal with unobserved past events (whether regular or singular), those events can be “known” only in terms of like events in the present. [Origin Science, 14]

It’s that “known only in terms of like events in the present,” part that is problematic and what YEC like the speakers of AiG object to. That’s because what is always “known” in the present may not be what happened in the past. Sure, it may be the probable, educated guess, but again that is an assumption. That is especially true if the science is laying out a radically different story of historical events than what is revealed in Scripture.

And then one last comment before closing out. Luke claims I am ignoring Jeremiah 33:25,26 in support of his take on the reliability of historical science. Jeremiah writes,

Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.

Jeremiah states something similar in 30:35-37. The idea being that God’s promise to restore Israel through the New Covenant of Christ is as certain as the fixed order of the astronomical events like the sun rising and setting.

But is Jeremiah’s revelation really affirming the wildly unbiblical apologetics of Reasons to Believe and other so-called old earth creationist attempts to accommodate the reading of Scripture with secular science? Of course not.

Why this is an important discussion is because of what Luke’s disagreement ultimately comes down to. He believes, for example, that the secular geological “evidences” against a global flood of Noah are reliable and should be accepted. Hence, the biblical text of Noah must be interpreted to be just a regional flood, not a global one.

Yet what exactly is the authority, then? Do we read the biblical account and understand the geological evidence in light of what the inspired biblical text emphatically states, that Noah’s flood was worldwide in its extent in spite of consensus “expert” opinion? Or do we re-read the Bible in light of the evidence, accommodating the claims of secular geologists who by default exclude a worldwide flood?

Now Luke, along with other deep time creationists, will say there truly isn’t any conflict. They’ll insist they never have to relinquish the authority of Scripture. They are merely harmonizing it with God’s “general revelation” or some such nonsense. But where exactly does that harmonization end?

The pseudo-Christians of Biologos insist all the genetic evidence stands opposed to a real, historical, biblical Adam uniquely created as a full formed man. They’ll equally insist they are using the same principles of induction and past regularities established by analogy in the present just like Luke says are reliable. But surely he will not follow them to their conclusions that the Bible is errant or we must re-interpret the Genesis account according to some fabricated genre that strips it of any historical reality? I don’t believe that is a direction even he is willing to take.

By the way, Neil still thinks you’re an idiot,

neil

Historical Science, Observational Science, and Creation

originsIntroduction

Several months ago, I stumbled upon this post over at a blog called, Faithful Thinkers written by a fella named Luke Nix, a Reasons to Believe fan,

Observational Science vs. Historical Science?

It is meant to be an “apologetic” corrective to the sloppy thinking of young earth creationists, particularly the folks over at Answers in Genesis, regarding their articulation of historical science and observational science.

For those who may not be in the “know” regarding those terms, I’ll provide a brief definition of each. A lengthier study can be found HERE.

The idea of observational science, or what is also known as operational science, is that science done in the present. It involves experimentation in controlled situations and deals with evidence that is repeatable, verifiable, and observable in order to identify patterns of recurring behavior in the physical world. Mechanical physics, chemistry, and medicine are good examples of observational science.

On the other hand, historical science, or what could also be termed origin science, is men utilizing present day circumstantial evidence along with what is believed to be reliable eye-witness testimony to figure out the cause of some past, singular event. A singular event would be any event that is non-repeatable, like creation. They then take that circumstantial evidence and supposed reliable eye-witness testimony and concoct an interpretation in order to explain that singular event.

Historical science is the idea of evolutionists cleaning off a bucket of bone fragments and building an entire species of humanoid that is said to have lived millions of years ago and declaring that those fragments represent an ancestor to mankind.  In that case, the science is really making wild-eyed, speculative guesses about the history of the past with the handful of evidence available. Historical science is more philosophical in nature, and is premised upon one’s presuppositional interpretations and overall worldview.

With those definitions in mind, I wanted to focus upon Luke’s attempts to “debunk” the distinction between observational/historical science especially as it is articulated by young earth creationists. I’ll provide a brief overview of the arguments he sets forth that rejects the observational/historical science distinction and then offer a critique of my own.

Overview

Briefly, Luke asserts that the idea of there being observational science separate and distinct from historical science is utterly false.

In fact, when young earth creationists raise the argument of observational and historical science, no one in the scientific community ever takes them seriously. (Read that with a smug expression and a pinky finger raised as you sip your Intelligentsia coffee and watch Neil Tyson Degrasse call religious people stupid on the Bill Maher Show).

smug

Neil thinks you’re a moron

The observational vs. historical science argument, says Luke, is a real stumbling block and no one should ever have to defend that bird-brained position with his scientifically-minded friends when he attempts to evangelize them. Because we all know that once those scientifically-minded friends are convinced of the rational, scientific evidence favoring the Christian faith, they’ll all bow their knee and make Jesus Lord of their lives, right? We’ll talk with them about all that miracle stuff at a later time.

He then offers a positive case and then a negative case against the distinction.

With the positive case, Luke points out that the laws of physics are constant and have never changed through time. Everyone agrees that events in the present are repeatable, verifiable, and falsifiable. Since theories based upon the laws of physics have been repeatedly tested, verified, and shown to be true, it only goes to show that those laws can be extrapolated into the past, or what we know as history. Hence, there is no historical/observational science distinction.

But he goes on. Presenting the negative case, he lists three key points he confidently insists devastates the young earth creationists dependence on the absurd observational/historical distinction.

First are the events in our own lives. We have memories of past events in our lives, like our first kiss, getting married, buying a new car, and for a Christian, the moment of our salvation. Since it is unreasonable to doubt any of those past events (and in the case of a believer’s salvation, such would be disastrous), because as Luke notes, our memories are not repeatable, verifiable, or falsifiable, we should trust those unverifiable mechanisms of memories for those past events.

Secondly, we have past empirical records of scientists that are no longer repeatable and it is believed those records are trustworthy. Think of Newton’s experiments, for example.

Third, our dependence upon our current Bible cannot be trusted if we cannot trust the reliability of the transmission of the biblical text of Scripture in the past. We weren’t there to see the Bible being written or transmitted; the events are consigned to history and no longer repeatable.

He then concludes that YEC has used the historical/observational science distinction as a weapon of doubt against dissenting understandings of the universe’s history. Yet, because the Scripture itself tells us the past can be known with certainty through our human senses, as well as the logical bankruptcy of that distinction, the historical/observational distinction must be flatly rejected and abandoned as an apologetic argument.

Analysis

Luke gives his readers the impression that the historical/observational science distinction is an apologetic argument developed and used exclusively by young earth creationists. In other words, no sharp-minded, faithfully thinking Christian (who would obviously be an old earth creationist) would ever use it in a discussion with a community college atheist about the book of Genesis, origins, and evolution for fear of embarrassing Jesus.

He seems to be unaware of one significant fact, however.  The argument was put forth years before Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis was popular on the internet by none other than old earth creationists during their battles in the market place of ideas with evolutionists.

The first real treatise on the topic can be found in the book The Mystery of Life’s Origin, a crushing evaluation and debunking of chemical evolution, written by Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olson published in 1984. A pdf scan of the book can be found online at The Mystery of Life’s Origin.

In the epilogue, from pages 202-206 in the printed edition, there is a discussion of the distinction between origin/historical science and operational/observational science. To my knowledge, none of those three men are young earth creationists. Charles Thaxton, the principle researcher for the book, is a fellow with the Discovery Institute, and writes for their Center for Science and Culture. The last time I checked, the Discovery Institute was hardly an advocate for the young earth position and typically distances itself from well known YEC proponents.

Secondly, Norman Geisler and J. Kerby Anderson wrote an entire book on the subject of historical/observational science, aptly entitled, Origin Science: A Proposal for the Creation-Evolution Controversy. The six page introduction makes a compelling case why the distinction between origin and operational science must be recognized and maintained. The last time I checked, Norm Geisler is a convinced old earth creationist. He’s even listed on Reason to Believe’s web article naming Christians opened to progressive creationism.

I find it a bit humorous that the very argument Luke so stridently insists is false was initially formulated by individuals who hold to his exact same position on deep time for earth’s history. Not only that, they believe it is a key apologetic point!

Moving along to his presentation, Luke isn’t interacting with the real argument. He seems to have created something of a strawman view of what it is HE thinks Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis speakers are saying when they talk about historical/operational science. He comes across confused in his presentation, identifying operational science done in human history, say for example Michael Faraday’s experiments with electromagnetism, with the concept of historical/origins science. The two are hardly the same.

Remember, historical or origin science speaks to singular, unrepeatable events. The most obvious being the creation of the world. For biblical creationists, creation was a miraculous, supernatural event. It is what put into function the laws of physics to begin with. We cannot say those laws are applicable in discovering the history of that singular event in the same way they are with discovering something like gravity or electromagnetism. The only way we know about creation is if we have the creator tell us what happened. Because that is an event that cannot be repeated and tested, operational science does not apply to it.

Big bang cosmology exists in the same category if one thinks about it. It’s an unrepeatable, non-testable singular event. Proponents of the cosmology have to rely on their interpretation of what they perceive is evidence observed in deep space. Since big bang cosmology heavily depends upon presuppositions and other subjective interpretations to make sense of the alleged data, YEC believe it is inappropriate to read big bang cosmology onto the Bible in order to frame a particular model of creation. In this case, progressive creationism and its appeals to deep time.

Luke then appeals to three eccentric arguments that are utterly irrelevant to the historical/observational science discussion. Since he has misidentified the argument to begin with, and has in essence erected a strawman version in its place, what he has labeled as “historical” science is really just observational science accomplished in history. That means the science experimentation can be evaluated presently, even if the work was initially done 600 years ago. Let me consider each of his points in turn.

He first claims that our own memories are not repeatable, verifiable, or falsifiable, hence because it is unreasonable to doubt those past events in our own lives, it is unreasonable to doubt how we understand other past events like those that took place in deep time 2 billion years ago. I don’t know about the reader, but that is a bit of a stretch in logic.

Again, keep in mind that historical science deals specifically with singularities, not just past events in history like the accumulation of receipts from purchases. Luke provides a couple examples he believes demonstrates his point with the idea of a marriage ceremony and an adoption, and while it is true those events are singularities in that they happened once (at least for many people), they do not fit the definition of singularities in the concept of historical/origin science. Marriages and adoptions exist in the present and can be verified via observational means even if they happened years ago.

Let’s consider an extreme example. If a guy awakens one morning with a bout of amnesia, and lying next to him is a woman he faintly recognizes, one can easily appeal to the observation of church records, a marriage certificate, multiple eye-witnesses, next of kin, and numerous amounts of photographic evidence to verify that this woman is indeed his wife. That is observational science that is distinguished from origin/historical science.

Next, Luke states that historical science is saying we can’t depend upon the past empirical records of scientists because we have no ability to verify the data of their original experiments. Knowledge of observational science depends necessarily on knowledge of historical science, he claims, and if historical science cannot produce knowledge, then neither can observational science.

Again, he is misidentifying what is really observational science with origin science. Contrary to what he asserts, we most certainly can duplicate those original experiments, so they exist in the present for us to observe. When the YEC distinguishes historical science from observational science, what he means is scientists now, in then present, taking data from those experiments, reading it back into deep time, and then fabricating an alternative history for life on earth than what is revealed in Scripture. Science of that nature is dependent upon philosophical presuppositions, not experimental data alone.

timetraveler

Lastly, he says that if historical science cannot be trusted we cannot trust our Bibles, because all the evidence we have for the reliable transmission of the biblical text cannot be known to be what was actually written. The argument, however, is completely unrelated to what is termed historical science.

The writing of Scripture was not a singular event. The community of God’s people were involved in its writing, transmission, and canonization. We have tangible, physical copies of the biblical text that can be observed. Critics can reconstruct, in the present, what was originally written. There are multiple copies of other translations of the original text. All of that evidence is verifiable by observation now in the present. Why he believes this argument supports his thesis is truly a mystery.

Parting Thoughts

Luke wants to believe he has offered some mighty blow against YEC apologetics, but his critique begins with a wrong understanding of what it is he is evaluating and so his trajectory directs him wildly off course. Hence, his arguments really fail on their own.

Additionally, as one considers the debate between secular evolutionists and creationists, the more one will see how philosophical presuppositions play into the disagreements. Just like Thaxton and Geisler, two of the original articulaters of the origins vs. operational science distinction argued, deep time ideology isn’t merely one of brute fact and pure evidence, but is governed by how that evidence is interpreted. That is what the idea of historical/origin science clearly reveals.

And then finally, as much as he wants to keep his evaluation of historical vs. observational science away from the exegesis of the creation week as recorded in Genesis, ultimately, Luke has to engage the text. In my opinion, it does not provide him the basis to prop up the progressive creationist constructs he insists must be embraced.

Suicide Solution

I wrote this up several years ago when Earth Day was becoming a social media phenomenon. Still relevant and timely.

molech

A group calling itself the Optimum Population Trust claims humanity is having way too many babies.

All the extra children are badly ruining the carbon offset of our planet and hence having an impact upon global warming.

The math is simple: More babies = higher CO2 levels = higher global temperatures = more displaced polar bears floating around on itty-bitty icebergs.

The solution to this problem offered by the OPT is for people to stop having babies. If you must have a baby, maybe one is okay; possibly two, but certainly not three.

My family, by the way, has already broken the quota.

The fine folks of the Sea Shepherd Society also believe humanity has become a disease of sorts upon mother earth. Like a raging flesh eating staph infection or an Ebola outbreak, the presence of all these people is causing the earth to break out into a fever.

I must say I believe this is a disturbing ideology, but I see such suicidal tendencies as a logical conclusion to radical, secular humanism. When a worldview places the material world in higher value over human life so that one is willing to deprive him or herself of the blessing of children, and their own existence, nihilistic atheism has reached its end game. The final step is to ask for volunteers to sacrifice themselves for the earth by committing mass euthanasia. If none are prepared to come forward, and this environmental death cult were to have governmental power, they could always extinguish any extra children by force.

I didn’t know environmentalists were so down on kids.

Soylent Green is People!

In truth, an environmentally friendly, child-free world is becoming a reality. This suicidal humanism has already taken firm root in the hearts and minds of Europeans and is slowly doing the job suggested by the Optimum Population Trust. In a society totally abandoned to cradle-to-grave welfare, living carefree lives, working no more than 28 hours a week, attending nude beaches during that paid, month long, mandatory vacation, having children around can really cramp your style.

Couples are having no more than one child as it is. If the trend continues, Western Europe will have bred itself out within 40 to 50 years. That mindset is growing here in the good old U.S. of A. as well, particularly in the finger waging from our university elite. So, Americans are slowly coming up from behind and closing in our European kin.

I believe the environmental global warming scare is the secular atheists pagan religion.

The physical earth is the god worshiped. It is a god that can be proven, because it is a tangible object men can physically witness and test.

Evolution is the religion used to explain this god, how it birthed life and takes care of its creatures. Occasionally, the god acts displeased and displays its fury against the sinful creatures by means of storms, floods, and famine.

However, specific, often self-appointed holy men or prophets, say for example Al Gore, claim to have special knowledge about how the god has been sinned against. The only thing that will appease the god is a sacrifice of some sort. In this case, the appeasement is a radical change in our standard and way of living, including the sacrifice of a the third child if necessary.

But this god is capricious and fickle and certainly unpredictable when it comes to issues of morality. Why should I even obey it in the manner the Optimum evangelists preach? If suicide is the only viable solution to appease this god, I think I will enjoy the love and laughter of my extra kids and take my chances.

Hard Truths For Theistic Evolutionists [3]

creationGenesis as absolute beginning out of nothing

Christianity has historically affirmed that the first chapter of Genesis describes God speaking the material universe into existence for the first time out of nothing. What is traditionally called creation ex nihilo by divine fiat. So: when Genesis 1:1 states In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, this was God speaking into existence the absolute beginning of all things both in space and on our planet earth. Nothing in our known, material universe existed before Genesis 1:1. There was only the eternal, Triune Godhead.

The doctrine of creation ex nihilo has been held by the Christian Church since its formation on the day of Pentecost. Early Christian apologists clarified and defended the absolute beginning of creation ex nihilo against the pantheistic cosmologies when they interacted with the Roman-Greco philosophies that entailed belief in gods creating out of eternal matter. The Shepherd of Hermas, written sometime between 90-150 A.D., was one of the first extra-biblical, non-canonical sources affirming creation ex nihilo. The second book of The Shepherd called Commandments, under the first command states,”First of all, believe that there is one God who created and finished all things, and made all things out of nothing.” This view of creation was articulated and defended by such men as Tatian, Irenaeus, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine.

Even the major theological creeds and confessions of the Christian Church affirmed the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. For instance, the opening lines of the Nicene Creed state, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”

Later, during the time of the Reformation, many of the major confessions affirmed the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. The Belgic Confession under Article 12: The Creation of All Things, states, “We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word– that is to say, by his Son.” The Westminster Confession of Faith 1646, in Chapter 4 on creation, even expands on the understanding of creation by affirming six day creationism. It states,

  1. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

The same is affirmed in the cousin confessions of The Philadelphia Confession of 1742, and The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

During the last two and half centuries, however, uniformitarian philosophy and Darwinian evolution have ascended as the governing principles over the various scientific disciplines. Since that time, the truth claims made by scientists regarding the origin and history of the world have been granted a certain intrinsic infallibility that allows those claims to not only challenge Scripture, but to also correct the biblical record of creation. As a result, the Church has slowly conceded the propositional teaching of creation as revealed in Scripture to those so-called scientific constructs. Across the broad spectrum of denominational conviction, what the historic creeds and confessions have taught about creation has largely been abandoned, or radically modified and redefined.

Instead, accommodational perspectives have been adopted in order to find common ground between modern, scientific ideas about origins and the Genesis narrative.

Typically, the opening chapters of Genesis are re-interpreted in some manner so as to fit in the millions and billions of years of earth’s history the scientists proclaim is undeniable. One of those re-interpretative methods is to say Genesis 1:1 is not addressing the absolute beginning of the creation. Rather, what is being outlined in Genesis 1 is a re-creation of some sort or a re-telling of creation in a theological fashion modeled after ancient near-eastern cosmologies. Theologian, John Walton, who is one who takes the position of a re-telling in Genesis 1, states that though God certainly was the original creator billions of years ago, Genesis is not recording that initial event in the first 2 chapters. It is an event that just hasn’t been revealed to us.

But is that view sustained by the whole of biblical doctrine? Or is it merely a clever capitulation to what has been misperceived as scientists speaking authoritatively regarding the “inerrancy” of the alleged “scientific” evidence? I believe a clear, comprehensive survey of God’s Word teaches without doubt that Genesis 1:1 is a statement of God creating from an absolute beginning out of nothing. There are six reasons I say that:

startThe Hebrew phrase In the beginning speaks to an absolute beginning. There are a number of reasons why the Hebrew phrase bereshith, or as is translated in our English versions, In the beginning, means an absolute beginning. I’ll highlight two important ones.

First, the word “beginning” is often paired in the O.T. with its antonym, “end,” acharith. For example, Job 8:7, 42:12, and Ecclesiastes 7:8. The idea being that the author, in the case of Genesis, our Creator, the LORD God, has at the outset initiated specific activity that has a beginning with a future goal intended, or what would be an end. This is particularly seen in Isaiah’s contrast of God with the pagan false deities in chapters 40-50 of his prophecy. Isaiah 46:10 states, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.

A second reason comes from the history of translation. Since about 1920, a few liberal oriented modern translations like the New English Bible and the Anchor Bible render bereshith as a temporal clause so that the opening verse reads something like, In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth. That translation has more to do with the higher critical idea that Genesis reflects ancient, near-eastern cosmology like the Babylonian Enuma Elish, rather than the actual exegesis of the text.

The implication of rendering Genesis 1:1 as a temporal clause would be the possibility that some matter pre-existed the creation narrative and thus God used pre-existing material to shape the earth. That in turn supports the reconciliation of Genesis with the idea of the earth being 4 billion years old as maintained by modern science.

Even though one can still affirm Genesis 1:1 as absolute beginning if the verse is rendered as a temporal clause, the grammatical grounds to translate the verse as such is problematic. Theologian Robert Reymond points out the reasoning for translating Genesis 1:1 as a temporal clause cuts against the vast majority of translations of Genesis both ancient and modern that regarded bereshith as an absolute. He further notes that bereshith is accented with a disjunctive accent indicating that the word has its own independent accent and was constructed by the Masoretes as an absolute noun [Reymond, 390]. Isaiah 46:10, noted above, is constructed in the exact same way. Isaiah makes it clear that God has established an absolute beginning and distinguishes that beginning from an absolute end that is the stated goal of His counsel.

The uniqueness of the word bara to God’s creative activity. The word bara, or “create” in our English translations, is use 38 times in the Hebrew Qal stem and 10 times in the Niphal stem. The word bara in those two stems is used only of God. The biblical writers reserved bara exclusively for God’s creative activity.

As it pertains to creation, God’s activity must be supernatural and miraculous. Meaning Genesis must be the initial creation of the heavens and earth and not some event of re-creation. A re-creation implies matter was already in existence from which God formed or fashioned the world and its inhabitants. Such would mean matter existed eternally with God, which would make God no longer unique as a creator as He is revealed in Scripture.

If God’s “creating” in the Genesis narrative was from matter He had created billions of years before as John Walton and other theistic evolutionists suggest, that would cut against the entire testimony of the Old and New Testaments that places the creation of the world at that starting point of Genesis 1:1.

The testimony of the Old Testament. Genesis is not the only place in the O.T. addressing God’s creative activity. Throughout the entire O.T., the writers of Scripture clearly identify God as the unequaled, sovereign Creator. They contrast His eternality and power as the sovereign creator to the impotence of the false gods of the pagans and they mark creation at the beginning as recorded in Genesis. Allow me to point out a small handful of passages.

For example, Psalm 90:2 states, Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Psalm 33:6-9 speaks of God’s creation by divine fiat, or the creation directly by His Word, By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

Citing the Genesis narrative, God explicitly tells Moses in Exodus 20:11 that everything created in the heavens, the earth, the sea was created during that sequence of activity as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2, For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. The phrase “all that is in them” covers the entire created realm in the physical universe. Exodus 31:17 further reaffirms that truth.

The testimony of the New Testament. The N.T. also has an exhaustive list of references to Genesis 1:1 being the absolute beginning point of creation ex nihilo. I’ll focus our attention upon some key passages.

Acts 4:24 reads almost word for word as Exodus 20:11, So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. The testimony of the primitive church was one that recognized God as the ultimate creator who put His creative activity at the first week of Genesis 1.

Revelation 4:11 is a doxology identifying the creation of all things by the hand of God, what the Christians, as we just saw, affirmed in Acts 4:24 which was taken from Exodus 20:11, You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created. Again, the phrase “all things” is all encompassing: everything in the known universe and the world.

Probably one of the clearest proclamations of the absolute creation of the world ex nihilo in Genesis 1 is recorded in Hebrews 11:3. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

That verse is direct in affirming what Genesis 1 says regarding the creation. First it states that “all things” are created by God. “All things” being a comprehensive expression describing the entirety of the whole created realm. Next, it affirms creation by divine fiat, or by God’s very word, when it says the worlds were framed by the word of God. Then lastly, the verse affirms creation ex nihilo when it states that the things seen (the material universe) were not made of things which are visible (or pre-existent matter or eternal matter).

earthThe phrase “Before the foundation of the world” as a marker for absolute creation. A more narrow piece of biblical evidence placing the absolute beginning of creation in the first verse of Genesis is the phrase, Before the foundation of the world. It is used in the N.T. at least 10 times. Its primary use is tied to the work of God’s salvation through Christ in at least 8 of those instances: Matthew 25:34, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3 and 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, and Revelation 13:8 and 17:8. The use of the expression in relation to redemption is noteworthy, for within the next two chapters after the record of creation, Adam fell into sin. God had purposed the redemption of sinners before He created the world, a redemption tied directly to the first man’s sin.

The obvious question to ask is: What “foundation of the world” is being referenced in those passages? And, what does the writers mean when he writes that those things took place “before” that foundation of the world? If the initial creation of God was billions of years ago yet is never really revealed in Scripture as some theistic evolutionists argue, the expression would be strange; especially in light of God’s redemptive purposes in Christ. The only “foundation of the world” in the minds of Christian readers could only be the creation as recorded in Genesis. Colossians 1:16, 17, when identifying Christ as our Creator, states And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

The testimony of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Then of course, the ultimate testimony to the absolute creation of the world in Genesis 1:1 is our very Lord and Savior Himself and His apostles who wrote the N.T. documents. This is an important point to consider, because a good many Christians adhering to and promoting some form of theistic evolution or other deep time views of the world are Reformed in their theological convictions and put a high premium upon a Christological hermeneutic where the N.T. interprets the O.T. The words of Jesus and the apostles should have some significance upon this issue.

Probably the greatest testimony concerning Christ and creation is found in John 1:1. The apostle clearly connects the person of Christ to the creation in Genesis when he opens his gospel in the exact same way as Genesis, In the beginning was the Word… John goes on to state this Word was Jesus Himself and John says the Word was our creator: All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Throughout the pages of all four gospels, the truth regarding the creation is utilized by Jesus and the apostles. The expressions “From the beginning” and “The beginning of creation” are used by both Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 19:4, 8, 24:21; Mark 10:6, 13:9; John 8:44), and the apostles who used similar expressions in their epistles (Romans 1:20; Ephesians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrew 1:10; 2 Peter 3:4; 1 John 1:1, 2:13, 3:8; Revelation 3:14).

With this brief overview, I believe it is clear the Bible, God’s infallible Word, teaches the following as summarized by Robert Culver, 1) The world, including heaven and earth, all that exists, was created by God, and 2) the world had a beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, at which moment both time and space came into existence [Culver, 147].

The doctrine of creation ex nihilo also has significant ramifications upon our view of biblical infallibility and inerrancy, because Scripture provides chronological markers with the various genealogical lists recorded in the book of Genesis, 1 Chronicles, and Luke. Though there is a possibility some gaps exist between the names, there is no indication whatsoever long, deep time gaps exist allowing for hundreds of thousands, even millions of years old earth advocates need for their system to work. From the point of the creation week to the coming of Christ is no more than a few thousand years.

Also, Andrew Kulikovsky notes Isaiah 45:18 where the prophet states God did not create the earth to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited. [Kulikovsky, 175]. Yet old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists would have us believe the earth was uninhabited for billions of years, a direct contradiction to what Isaiah wrote.

For a Christian committed to the infallible and inerrant authority of God’s Word, any evolutionary explanation of earth’s history appealing to deep time of billions of years is unsupportable by the biblical data. The two systems cannot be harmonized and it is foolish to think they can. When two opposing “authorities” compete for the acknowledgement of a believer’s convictions, one has to give way to the other, for they cannot be united. Regrettably, for a good many Christians, the “inerrancy” of the so-called evidence takes precedence over the clear teaching of Scripture.

Sources:

Commentaries on Genesis

Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis: From Adam to Noah
Davis, From Paradise to Prison
H.C. Leupold, Genesis 1
Kenneth Matthews, Genesis 1-11:26
Brian Murphy, Genesis 1:1-2:3: A Textual and Exegetical Examination as an Objective Foundation for Apologetic and Theological Studies

Theological Resources

Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical
John Feinberg, No One Like Him
Andrew Kulikovsky, Creation, Fall, Restoration – A Biblical Theology of Creation
Jaroslav Pelikan, Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)
Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology
John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One