January 15, 2021

Update on the Creation Wars

By Chaplain Mike

MOD NOTE: Comments are closed.

I’ve been too busy with truly important matters, like work and family and sharing in the grief of friends, to get back to this subject for awhile, but folks, we’ve got to talk.

A few weeks ago I posted a video (no longer available for viewing), produced by BioLogos, featuring Dr. Bruce Waltke, one of the foremost evangelical Old Testament scholars in the world. In that video, Waltke appealed to the church to stay engaged in the discussion when it comes to science and particularly the subject of evolution.

Here is the commentary from the BioLogos blog about what Dr. Waltke said:

In this video conversation Bruce Waltke discusses the danger the Church will face if it does not engage with the world around it, in particular with the issue of evolution, which many evangelicals still reject.

Waltke cautions, “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.”

We are at a unique moment in history where “everything is coming together,” says Waltke, and conversations—like those initiated by BioLogos—are positive developments. “I see this as part of the growth of the church,” he says. “We are much more mature by this dialogue that we are having. This is how we come to the unity of the faith—by wrestling with these issues.”

Waltke points out that to deny scientific reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world. For us as Christians, this would serve as our spiritual death because we would not be loving God with all of our minds. It would also be our spiritual death in witness to the world because we would not be seen as credible.

While Christians may still disagree with one another on some issues, Waltke emphasizes that it is important that we are really interacting in a serious way—and trusting God as truth. Testing these things but holding fast to that which is good will bring greater understanding and unity among Christians.

If we don’t do that, Waltke cautions, we are going to die. If we refuse to engage with the greater cultural/scientific dialogue, we may end up marginalized and that would be a great tragedy for the Church.

I commended Dr. Waltke for his sensible, courageous words. The church cannot hide its head in the sand. We cannot merely stick our fingers in our ears and cry, “False! False!” whenever the concept of evolution is discussed.

If certain groups of Christians doubt that the evidence leads to the almost universally accepted conclusions of the scientific community, I suggest that we should be encouraging believers to pursue scientific vocations, to gain credibility by practicing honest accountable research, to do the hard work of coming up with compelling alternative models, and to make their case in the public arena.

Alas, this is not what “creationists” do.

  • Creationists don’t use the scientific method to discuss science, but rely on a priori judgments. They start with their conclusions fully formed—based on their interpretation of Genesis 1-11—and then work backward to reject any evidence that appears to contradict that.
  • Creationists look for scientific findings that appear on the surface to contradict some small aspect of the evolutionary model and then declare that the whole thing must be false.
  • Creationists use straw man arguments, asserting that because some hardcore atheists are evolutionists, accepting evolutionary theory must equal accepting naturalistic explanations of the universe and life.
  • Creationists use scare tactics, blaming the scientific model of biological evolution as the root of all the evils in our “secularist” culture, from abortion to pornography to youth rebellion to the breakdown of the nuclear family to gay marriage to euthanasia to President Obama’s policies on health care reform. (Maybe we’ll find out it’s the real source of the designated hitter rule.)
  • Creationists are propagandists. They don’t build museums to display their scientific findings to the world, updating their collections when new evidence is found. They build creationism apologetic centers. No science. Just their own narrow interpretations of the Bible and imaginative recreations of what it must have been like “in the beginning.”
  • Creationists ignore the complex history of interpretation when it comes to critical Biblical texts like the early chapters of Genesis. To them, there has only been one accepted view of the creation narratives throughout the ages, until some geologists started suggesting that the earth might be older than previously thought, which led to “liberal theology” and all its resultant social ills.
  • Creationists ignore the history of their own views. They fail to understand, for example, that the theory of a worldwide flood that changed the actual physical structures of the earth has its roots in “visions” by Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White, a teacher most Bible-believing Christians would find wanting in terms of theological acumen.
  • Creationists have politicized this issue to such an extent that it is nearly impossible in many places to have a civil and thoughtful discussion about the subject. They have made this a zero sum game. There is no room for debate. If you’re not for us, you’re against us.

Creationism has become a main plank in the platform of conservative Christian culture warriors. As a result, this issue has become more than a debate among Bible scholars who differ on their interpretations of Genesis. It has become a “litmus test” issue for many, identifying who is and who is not a faithful Christian.

So, unfortunately, despite the fact that Bruce Waltke’s views on these matters have been published in his writings for years, the BioLogos video was too provocative in the culture of fear that marks today’s climate in American Christianity.

First, Dr. Waltke asked that the video be taken down off the internet.

He later issued a statement of clarification and said removing the video was his own decision, done out of a desire not to hurt the church by causing misunderstanding. However, it has been documented that there was pressure to do this from the leaders of the seminary where he taught, Reformed Theological Seminary.

A short time later, Dr. Waltke resigned from RTS.

To his credit, through the whole ordeal, Waltke has taken responsibility for his own words and not placed any blame on the seminary, wishing them only good. Here is a letter exemplifying Dr. Waltke’s gracious spirit. At last report, he will move to Knox Theological Seminary.

In an article entitled, “The Video that Ended a Career,” on Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik comments,

Waltke is a big enough name in evangelical theology that the incident is prompting considerable soul-searching. On the one hand, his public endorsement of the view that believing in evolution and being a person of faith are not incompatible was significant for those who, like the BioLogos Foundation, support such a view. Waltke’s scholarly and religious credentials in Christian theology were too strong for him to be dismissed easily.

But the fact that his seminary did dismiss him is viewed as a sign of just how difficult it may be for scholars at some institutions to raise issues involving science that are not 100 percent consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Of course, a leading voice of creationism, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, had to comment on the situation. In his view, Waltke, BioLogos, and even RTS (because they do allow some latitude in their interpretation of Genesis) are rank “compromisers” with the pagan religion of our age who undermine the authority of God’s Word.

Decades from now, when the Evangelical church in America has ended up like it has in Europe (especially the United Kingdom where the culture is now almost spiritually dead), she will hopefully wake up to what happened. Because the church leaders of this age compromised God’s Word with the pagan religion of the age (evolution and millions of years), they undermined the authority of God’s Word. We hope she will look back at those compromised church leaders (who have to answer for contributing to why so many young people left the church and why the Christian structure was so weakened) and realize how they need to stand uncompromisingly on God’s Word beginning in Genesis….

Evolution and millions of years are really the pagan religion of the age to explain life without God. …We need to pray that these compromised church leaders will repent of their compromise and return to God’s Word.

Of course, this is patent nonsense.

Reformed Theological Seminary is part of an honored conservative Reformed tradition, looking back on such foundational theologians as Augustine, who did not believe in a literal understanding of Genesis over 1500 years ago. When the issue of evolution began to be engaged by the church back in the 1800s, fine evangelical Reformed theologians such as Strong, Shedd, and Warfield saw no “compromise” in taking a theistic evolutionary position. Who is Ken Ham, to take RTS to task?

Also, one would be hard-pressed to find a more thoughtful, careful, and devoted scholar of the Word of God than Bruce Waltke. That a propagandist like Ken Ham, neither a Bible scholar nor a scientist, should have the chutzpah to call Dr. Waltke to repentance over issues of Biblical interpretation is laughable. Ditto his condemnation of the scholars and scientists at BioLogos.

So, is this how it’s going to be, church?

I am not saying, “Let’s all get along,” or “Let’s just give in” to a certain position. I’m saying, let’s love the Lord with all our minds, people. Let’s learn to talk to one another. Let’s learn to pick our battles, and when we identify them, let’s fight them with the Lord’s own weapons of humility, love, and service. Let’s learn how to be followers of Jesus in the real world.

  • First, if you think science presents important issues for Christians and you want to sound off about those issues, get a sound science education. Read deeply and broadly, be humble and patient. Take the place of a learner before you start spouting your “convictions.” Learn to recognize sloppy scholarship and biased research, and refuse to let yourself be taken in by propaganda on any side of the issues. Hold your positions with an open mind until you know enough to be convinced, and even then, commit yourself to being a lifelong learner. The scientific endeavor is one of continual reevaluation and change. Don’t stop growing.
  • Second, with all the resources available today, there is no excuse for anyone being ignorant of the Bible, how to study it, the history of its interpretation, and the various ways its passages may be understood. Don’t let anyone tell you there is only one way to faithfully interpret a passage like Genesis 1. Think and study for yourself, and listen to the voices of those who have grappled with it before you. If it’s important enough for you to “take a stand” on an issue, it’s important enough to devote yourself to serious study with regard to that subject. That means reading and listening to positions you may not agree with. That means being able to talk to other people without getting all defensive and calling them names.

I am so over this aspect of culture war Christianity. Let’s grow up.


  1. I am a former Creationist and current Theistic Evolutionist, and let me tell you I get criticisms from Christians and non-believers alike.

    The complaints from Christians are obvious, I’m a compromiser, I don’t have true faith, I must not really believe the Bible, blah blah blah.

    But oddly enough I’m getting serious flak from non believers in the same vein. I am cherry picking my Bible, I am trying to hold on to the “ridiculous” notion of a God in today’s world where he’s been disproven. I’m trying to marry science to fantasy etc.

    It seems that the only Christianity the non-believing world wants to engage is hardcore fundamentalism. My guess is because they are the easiest group to debunk and rip apart.

    There’s no room in American Culture for reasonable Faith.

    • I have been bumping into a lot of it, too. It shows just how well religion has been defined by the very conservative: many people assume that if religion is true, than fundamentalist religious claims will be true. And the converse.

      I suspect that the prevalence of fundamentalism and neo-evangelicalism in US is responsible for this. I also know a great many people who are getting this impression from Dawkins, who also treats Fundamentalism as the True religion and everything else as irrational cherry-picking.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Dawkins is as Fundamentalist as Ken Ham et al, just one-eighty in the other direction.

        I’ve seen the same dynamic outside of religion, in Furry Fandom’s hangers-on of Pathological Furry Haters. (Yes, I’m again drawing parallels to “one of the weirder Internet fandoms.”) They are just as over-the-top Foaming Fanboy as the “Furverts” they denounce at great length at 4Chan/SomethingAwful/YiffInHellFurfags, just flipped one-eighty from Total Blind Adoration to Total Blind Hatred.

        And both end up as funhouse-mirror reflections of the Other. (Come to think of it, didn’t Dante Aligheri’s Divine Comedy devote an entire level of Hell to these “Sullen and Wrathful” opposing True Believers locked into fighting each other forever?)

    • Don’t give up hope. You’re not alone in your thoughts.

    • I think the flak from nonbelievers highlights one of the really harmful effects of this whole situation. Because the conservative culture warriors seek and receive a great amount of publicity and attention, their positions become for many observers the definition of Christianity. So when a thoughtful Christian differs from one of those positions, even unbelievers question it because they have been given a skewed impressionof what Christianity is.

      This is what makes me so sad about the whole thing, and it’s the reason I’ve really become a conscientious objector both to the culture wars and to the whole end times/revelation interpretation and prediction games. (Well, that and the fact that all too often Jesus is nowhere in sight in these circuses).

      Waltke’s removal and the dustup surroundiing it from the creation warriors (yes, I know it was a resignation, but if you don’t believe there was pressure given the timing and the publicity, etc., I have some swampland in Florida you’ll just love) ironically and sadly goes a long way toward proving the truth of many of his comments.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Because the conservative culture warriors seek and receive a great amount of publicity and attention, their positions become for many observers the definition of Christianity.

        As in “Who died and made Fred Phelps/Ken Ham THE media spokesman for ALL American Christians?”

  2. The fact that you can get dismissed from a conservative seminary just for stating what ought, by now, to be fairly obvious is just sad. The fact is, virtually everyone in the scientific community agrees that the evidence points a certain direction, and they have a significant body of scientific literature to back them up. This means that evangelicals must, if we claim to love truth, begin accept that scientists are studying something that is both interesting and important. We ought to be thinking about what the data, as we imperfectly understand it at this time, might mean. Some of us ought to be studying this stuff academically — not because we have a religious ax to grind, but because we want to know how or world works and more about its history.

    I believe that a lot of rank-and-file creationists are sincere, but “creation science” is really quite farcical. Chaplain Mike sums up very nicely above what is wrong with it — it is a religious apologetic propping up a controversial modern interpretation of a piece of ancient near eastern poetry. (Even if you believe this poetry is an inspired text that Really Awesome Near Eastern Poetry, this fact still sounds.) Creation scientists are not asking or solve any interesting scientific questions. It’s just an exercise in grabbing the language of science and using it, ironically, to claim that science is unscientific, for religious ends.

    If creationists can really produce some actually insightly research — research directed to scientists, not well-meaning construction workers and pastors — then I will be happy to listen. But as long as all of its efforts involve mobilizing ordinary people by feeding them straw man arguments about the scientific literature, it not only has no intellectual claims, but is also guilty of misleading many concerned and well-meaning people.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The fact that you can get dismissed from a conservative seminary just for stating what ought, by now, to be fairly obvious is just sad.

      Ever heard of the word “Thoughtcrime”, Danielle?

      Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles is now Ex Cathedra Dogma, and All Heretics Must Be Burned.

    • Ken Hamm vs. Richard Dawkins. Sounds like a Monday Night Football game with the two giants battling for the Superbowl. Too much excitement and sensation in all of this.

  3. A few things:
    1.Can you show that he was pressured to leave? By his own admission in his letter he chose to leave.
    2. What kind of creationism are you talking about? There are at least 3 major views and they all tackle Genesis in different ways. Add Framework Hypothesis, John Collin’s view, Intelligent Design and Historic Creationism (advanced by John Sailhammer and now Mark Driscoll) and you get a few more views.
    3. I do see that in some ways theistic evolution becoming more mainstream, but as Christians, to say that the consensus can’t be challenged, I think is giving up too easily.

    4. And finally, I would recommend Carl Truman’s words (Westminster Seminary)on the subject http://www.reformation21.org/articles/life-on-the-cultic-fringe.php

    [E]very theological discipline has its own point of whackiness. Perhaps evolution is where Old Testamentlers feel the pinch. Homosexuality would be the hotspot for contemporary Christian ethicists. For me as a historian, it is the resurrection: my friends in the secular history world will always regard me as a mediocre, or, perhaps more charitably, methodologically inconsistent, historian because I believe the tomb was empty. I am guessing that scientists would probably regard that belief as ridiculous too: the empirical and theoretical evidence for bodies being resurrected after traumatic execution and days of decaying in a tomb is, to say the least, not very compelling. Let’s face it: opposition to homosexuality and belief in the resurrection are whacky views in today’s climate, enjoying little or no support from the scholarly scientific world. Do we therefore change our views on these in order to avoid being seen as a cult? Even more dramatic, perhaps, is the increasingly strident voice of the aesthetic atheists, of whom Hitchens and Dawkins are just the most famous. As aesthetic atheism gains ground, any form of theism will increasingly be regarded as idiotic and cult-like. What will we do then? Cultural acceptability is a cruel mistress.

    • First, the administration wrote letters to Waltke, asking for removal of the video.

      Second, none of the other views you mentioned are “creationism” in any way, shape, or form. What in the world are you talking about?

      Third, read the post again. In no way am I advocating that Christians should be begging for approval from the culture. I simply cannot endorse the chosen ignorance and despicable tactics of the creationists. Furthermore, I abhor the entire premise of their culture war Christianity and the schisms that it causes in the Body of Christ.

  4. I’m struggling with this, because my son is currently studying evolution in biology at a Christian highschool. He is frequently frustrated when the text explains things, such as that whales evolved from dogs. It defies his sense of logic and reason. And I’m the one who has to tell him to keep an open mind and learn the material, but not necessarily believe it. He does not have problem with science; he is actually quite talented scientifically and mathematically. But I do have to agree: what has whales evolving from dogs have to do with science?

    There has got to be a better response to evolution than either trying to make Christianity compatible with evolution or trying to prove Genesis in a test tube. How can some of these evolution fairy tales be any less irrational than believing in Genesis? Sorry for begging the question.

    • It is worth remembering, of course, that a concept doesn’t have to be intuitive to be true or scientifically useful. A lot of important concepts don’t make sense at first glance, or make us mentally umcomfortable. Sub-atomic physics is full ideas that seem downright crazy in terms of our direct personal experience. Of course, a high school text book is also bound to do a terrible job at presenting pretty much any topic, delicate scientific concepts most of all.

      If your son is curious, he might want to take a look at some scientific literature that is a little more interesting and detailed. There’s a really good list of stuff here:

      A lot of the links are to Dawkins and Gould, who are both really gifted at presenting scientific concepts.

      Stephen Jay Gould also write a good essay, “Nonoverlapping Magisteria,” on his experience as a palaeontologist visiting the Vatican:

      • I don’t have problem with the incomprehensibility of many scientific concepts; the theory of light is a popular example. The problem is when science lives in a realm in which the word of scientists must be accepted based upon their authority. Evolution is for the most part a product of the enlightenment; however, the enlightenment may also be its undoing. When answers are placed out of the grasp of individuals but are imposed by force by authority, it challenges the concept of autonomy and begs for revolution. That could be part of what is driving creationism: a quasi anti-establishment movement. The answer, as Chaplain Mike suggests, requires investigation, study, and discussion, but evolutionists need to consider trying to meet half-way. Rather than treating challenges against evolution as backwater, hayseed ignorance and superstition, they might try better to educate in a winsome, amiable, humble fashion. Once a teaching is considered to be forced upon people by coersion, truth and fact become secondary. Ironically, they could learn a lot from mistakes made by the church.

        • I hear you, dumb ox. But how can a reputable scientist meet a creationist “half-way”? For the creationist it is not really about science or even about the Bible, it’s about the culture war. If the scientist is worth his or her salt, it’s about the science.

          There certainly are “fundamentalist” evolutionists who make it just as difficult from the other end, and I in no way mean to absolve the scientific community for any blame they may deserve in this conflict, but Christians and conservatives are the ones who invented the term “culture war” and we need to clean our own house first.

          • I guess I was being charitable and perhaps suggesting how there could be a fair, balanced discussion between creationists and evolutionists, not that at the end of the day we will agree on anything. But their quirks aside, creationists come to the free market of ideas with a distinct disadvantage. I can question the existence of God, but I don’t think I have the same luxury when it comes to questioning the existence of evolution. That creates a sense of frustration and oppression. If evolutionists addressed that, they probably could disarm a lot of the tension in debates with creationists.

          • We just had a 2 to 3 month long series on this entire subject in the church class I’m currently in. Attendance for the Tuesday night sessions surged to over 70 for a while from what seems to be a normal 30 or so.

            A friend put it best. To be able to really discuss this in depth from the science side requires more than trivial CURRENT knowledge in about 8 fields ranging from quantum physics to paleontology to molecular biology. And the ability to understand how they relate and impact each other. And keep up with current discoveries. Books published 5 years ago can look stale in many areas of this debate.

            And on the other side you need to know church history of the last 2000 years in much greater depth than a few quotes from church leaders over the centuries plus an understanding of ancient Hebrew and how it has evolved (couldn’t resist) over the centuries and how it has been translated and interpreted at various times.

            And the problem is very few people have this knowledge or even care to try and acquire some of it. They just want “the answer” that fits their emotional needs and a few talking points to back it up.

            As to middle and high school biology text books, most in use just now were written based on understandings 8 to 15 years ago. This makes them incredibly out of date for the current debate. And many are grinding axes just as hard as the Ken Ham adherents.

            This entire issue is very frustrating.

        • I agree that hiding behind creationism, for good or ill, is a inveterate suspicion of elites. American evangelicalism has long had this populist element, ever since the Second Great Awakening.

          However, I don’t think evolutionists are telling people to swallow the belief based on their authority. They tend to bring up the fact that they are scientists because their interlocutors tend to set themselves up as spokespersons for science. And for a while now, there’s been a definite attempt to explain evolutionary concept to the average, intelligent reader.

    • There is only one answer, and that involves doing the actual hard work of investigation, study, and discussion.

    • How can some of these evolution fairy tales be any less irrational than believing in Genesis?

      And so far, for me, Archeaopteryx changing from a system of scales to feathers (gradually, I know) or even more sensational, Tiktaalik going from one respiratory system to another is still a fairy tale. Call me stubborn and anti-science all you want, but to me utterly (SO FAR) unconvincing, but I’m a self-confessed Michael Behe fan. (and NON-scientist, I’ll readily admit)

      • Greg R,
        As far as Archeopteryx being a part of the chain from scales to feathers, it’s not the only one. There have been over a dozen different types of fossils found that are of creatures which are part way between being fully feathered and fully scaled.

        It’s hardly “sensational” in the meaning of “beyond belief” since there are a scores of fossils showing in-between stages.

        And for the understanding of Tiktaalik as a “fairy tale”, then you disagree with Answers In Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research – both as hard-core, fundamentalist, 6-24 Creationists as you can find, and both of them AGREE that it is an “intermediate” animal moving from one respiratory system to the other.

        It’s not a fairy tale to them that it is changing between respiratory systems. Of course, they hold that the animal changed like that all in the first couple hundred years after the Flood, but they don’t disagree that it is indeed an animal that was changing from one respiratory system to the other.

        There have also been a couple papers put out by ICR that are beginning to suggest that SOME birds really did evolve from more lizard-like ancestors, of course that all happened between 4000 BC to 2000 BC. So be careful what you say about things being “fairy tales” or too sensational to believe – you’re starting to disagree with the biggest groups of most ardent defenders of a young-earth Creation.

        • thanks, I’ll look into that;

          from the top of my head , the ICR position doesn’t seem too logical to me; if I could believe in an entire repiratory system evolving to a radically different kind of system, I would have NO problem with evolution between species, becuz what’s the diff, really ?? Add up enugh big changes and you have a new species……but I run a fork lift for a living, who asked me ???

          thanks for the push to grow into the topic
          Greg R

          • I’ve stated this below, but I’ll put it up again. The AIG and ICR position is that it was pairs of animals equivalent to the Order classification that went onto the Ark. That means that all the different species of animals (on land and birds) in the world today came from those original (roughly 1000 pairs) of animals on the Ark.

            That means that animals like the dog, otter, bear, panda, weasel and skunk all came from the same pair of animals on the ark.

            Ditto for the camel, llama, giraffe, pig, hippo, sheep and others – all from the same pair of animals on the Ark.

            In ICR and AIG’s defense, they don’t have any problem with change between species, obviously. That’s something that is more of a common misunderstanding among most rank-and-file YEC people.

            ICR and AIG don’t hold to species fixity, they hold to “kind” fixity. And “kinds” are roughly equivalent to the Order classification.

    • Donalbain says

      They are less irrational because they have EVIDENCE. Well, not whales from dogs.. that is either a very bad textbook or a son who hasn’t understood it properly; but the evolution of whales from terrestrial mammals is well documented in the fossil record.

    • “It defies his sense of logic and reason.”

      Just shows that reality is weirder than we think. The problem is how did ocean-dwelling mammals such as whales come to exist? In other words, why are whales mammals and not fish? To answer this, we then have to hypothesise that land-dwelling animals returned to the water and, in stages, their descendants adapted to a fully-aquatic existence. Then we look for evidence – what structures present in whales are also present in land mammals?

      And that’s how you get whales evolving from dog-like ancestors:


      I agree that there are some ‘evolutionary fairy tales’ out there (mostly on the popular science/newspaper level of understanding) and I think that, for instance, genetics is being used as the modern equivalent of what the mediaevals believed about astrology, but sometimes the weird stuff is true.

  5. Kenny Johnson says

    If your son’s textbook is teaching that whales evolved from dogs, maybe that’s some Christian conspiracy theory to purposely misinform Christians so that they will reject evolution.

    As far as I know… no one believes that whales evolved from dogs.

    • From what I’ve heard, they postulate that it was a ‘wolf’ type creature. Suggesting that whales were sea creatures that adapted to land in that fashion, and then returned to the sea, addressing partly the air breathing nature of them.

      • My connection through my family to the actual science of evolution runs more through the genetics side of the science. As a result, I’m more familiar with that aspect. But it’s been long known that Cetaceans bear a closer relationship to land mammals than they do to any of the native sea creatures. It’s a reduction but the older theory based on the evidence did indicate that whales may have evolved from ancient dog-like creatures (actually more like wolves with hooves and not an ancestor of wolves or dogs, but of many hoofed mammals). However, more recent discoveries point more toward an ancient ancestor of the family that includes hippos. As we discover more, theories evolve to reflect the available data. That’s how science works. So your son’s textbook reflects the best theory from the not too distant past. That’s always the problem with textbooks of any sort. Even at their best, they represent scientific knowledge, data, and theories at a particular point in time. And since we are constantly learning more, the textbook begins to become dated as soon as it’s printed.

  6. I amazed at the action required to calculate the ‘age’ of the earth as it happens in the face of a literal reading of the bible. We rely largely on genealogies for the calculating of the ‘age’ of the earth:

    1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

    Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

    • Those are two great passages, Tom R. Thanks for reminding us.

    • What do either of these verses have to do with the current discussion? If these verses are examined in context you find that Paul was dealing with false teachers. Many were demanding people leave the church because they did not comply with Jewish law, hence an emphasis on genealogy (which was very important to the Jewish people) and “strivings about the law”. You seem to be twisting scripture.

      • And you think that people today aren’t being asked to leave churches because they don’t comply with the 6000 year old earth which is determined by genealogy?

        Paul was directly talking to people who

        “were demanding people leave the church because they did not comply with Jewish law, hence an emphasis on genealogy”.

        I think it’s pretty safe to say it applies without twisting to people who

        “are demanding people leave the church because they do not comply with 6000 ya creation, hence an emphasis on genealogy”

  7. I dont’ know if I’m going to add much to this post or not, the creation/evolution ‘war’ doesn’t interest me like it did 5 or 6 yrs ago. I greatly appreciate your last two paragraphs, underscoring the need for lifelong humility, honest scholarship, and the attitude of a continual learner.

    Maybe this is nitpicky, but Ken Ham and those like him speak for a very small (but VOCAL) pecentage of those who hold to some form of creationism. I know for a fact that the Seattle Institute (Intelligent Design) crowd do not care for him one little bit. They think his science is a sham. My point: Be careful about painting with too broad a brush when using the word “creationist” or “creationism”. There is an advancing number of ID folks who deplore much, or all,of what you deplore, and yet hold to a form of creationism. And yeah……to Ken, they are all sell outs and compromisers as well. I know that Philip Johnson (Darwin on Trial; The Wedge of Truth) was public enemy maybe #3 of AIG.

    You could just as easily white out “creationist” and put “rabid materialist evolutionist” and keep your list intact. Propaganda ? Have you read any Eugenie Scott or Hitchens lately ?? Even Dawkins, a first rate biologist, is a hack propagandist, and wanders away OFTEN from what he does best/ So this goes both ways.

    More later, maybe. I’m NOT selling equal time for ID in the schools or anything, to me the gospel is the big deal for disciples…..this stufff (important as it is) should be on the periphery, and discussed with charity , again, much like Phil Johnson was able to do with Gould and others.

    • I am so sick and tired of this cagefight between Fideism (on the one hand) and Scientism (on the other),. and that’s only over here in Europe.

      It’s edifying for neither science or faith.

    • “Maybe this is nitpicky, but Ken Ham and those like him speak for a very small (but VOCAL) pecentage of those who hold to some form of creationism. I know for a fact that the Seattle Institute (Intelligent Design) crowd do not care for him one little bit. They think his science is a sham.”

      In some parts of the country it’s hard to find a non RCC church that isn’t either a Ken Ham fan or one that would be considered extremely liberal by most any measurement. And these parts are not small, but cover entire states in some areas.

  8. Dr. Waltke’s critics fail to acknowledge his thoughtful humility. He’s eager to love his Lord with all his mind. Evangelicals have a tough time with uncertainty. But I believe our God lives in uncertainty because faith is not about raw propoositional data. Faith is about Him.

  9. “Think and study for yourself, and listen to the voices of those who have grappled with it before you. If it’s important enough for you to “take a stand” on an issue, it’s important enough to devote yourself to serious study with regard to that subject. That means reading and listening to positions you may not agree with. That means being able to talk to other people without getting all defensive and calling them names.
    I am so over this aspect of culture war Christianity. Let’s grow up.”

    This is precisely the attitude I wish I could find among evangelicals re: same sex couples. The militant stance of “the Bible says it, I believe it, the end” keeps any conversations from taking place. I do not believe God created me this way only to suffer and deny what is in my dna for all of my days on earth. I believe Him when He says He loves me, and I was made in His image. I have a full life with Christ, and my one desire is to do my Father’s work. It’s too bad I won’t be able to band with my former fellow worshippers in the Southern Baptist church to do this. They are trapped in their judgements, and in deciding who among us is worthy to inherit the Kingdom. It breaks my heart, but I do pray that those who have ears to hear will hear the cries from the wilderness of those they have abandoned and condemned and do as Christ commanded. Stop the judging and get back to loving our neighbors as ourselves. Who among those in the pews would ever want to be treated the way they treat the young gays and lesbians among them?

    • Glad to see that you are still interacting here Debra. I was thinking about you the other day and wondering if your voice was still going to be heard.

      • Hello Eclectic One…yes, still here, but mostly in lurker mode lately. Missing IMonk terribly. I was stunned how affected I was by his passing as I had only been visiting his site less than a year…months at best. It shook me to my core, his passing.
        Thanks for thinking of me.

        • You sounded very hurt when you last interacted here, and I hated for that to happen.

          In terms of your own particular situation, I don’t think there are any easy answers. But thank you for asking the questions.

          On a further note, you might enjoy the book “Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women” which looks at the interplay between scriptural interpretation and culture, and how the bible has been used for justification for a number of things, that we now view as incorrect.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The militant stance of “the Bible says it, I believe it, the end” keeps any conversations from taking place.

      Every time I hear the three-line sound bite “God Said It; I Believe It; That Settles It”, I always ask “Why don’t they go all the way and add the fourth line: ‘AL’LAH’U AKBAR!’?”

      • I have often considered that stance as one that can be met head on with an equal statement, if one can muster such a statement, to foster the environment for conversation. I believe that adopting that mentality does not hedge one into any particular corner. I can see the trepidation that builds with hearing someone say that, as they are most likely stuck embroiled in the Law. But I take comfort in the fact that Christ expounded the Law perfectly for our sake, and that will be the undoing of any entanglements with those that are chained to the Law. In other words, I believe – Christ and His Apostles trump Moses and his scribes every time.

  10. Great post, Mike! But let’s be realistic. Those who really need to hear this are so entrenched in their own mindset and circular reasoning that any challenge to their present belief will be seen as just another attempt of the devil trying to lure them onto the slippery slope of what they would perceive as doubting God’s Word.

    Fundamentalism in cults and fundamentalism in AIG type creationism is really not that different when it comes to indoctrination and painting a clear and scary picture of the enemy and the warnings to engage the enemy’s arguments. It takes a lot more than an urgent appeal to shatter the epistemological box of someone who is convinced it is impossible that he could be wrong.

  11. “those compromised church leaders”

    Like St. Augustine of Hippo?


    “Augustine took the view that the Biblical text should not be interpreted as properly literal, but rather as metaphorical, if it contradicts what we know from science and our God-given reason. While each passage of Scripture has a literal sense, this “literal sense” does not always mean that the Scriptures are mere history; at times they are rather an extended metaphor. In The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, St. Augustine wrote:

    It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.

    – De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [408]

    With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about these matters [about the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation.

    – De Genesi ad literam, 2:9″

    Yeah, let’s all shun that compromiser with paganism!

    • Martha, I was surprised and pleased when I read Augustine’s Confessions recently to find out what a “modern” type of thinker he was. After all, he was able to become a Christian himself ONLY after hearing Bishop Ambrose saying that Christians did not have to view all of Genesis as being literal.

      I do LOVE his: “It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters.” I have to agree with him there. I don’t want to be an idiot.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Yeah, let’s all shun that compromiser with paganism!

      He’s Romish Papist, remember.
      Satanic Death Cookies and all.

      • Shhh, Headless! I was trying to sneak that one past the Truly True Sole Unique Christians who might be lurking!


  12. ATChaffee says

    Interesting you mention Ellen White. The Seventh-Day Adventist church has been in the news recently regarding the purported teaching of evolution at one of the denominational schools. As far as I can tell from casual reading, a student who got a C in a paper that was supposed to explain evolution (it was posted on the internet and was apparently pretty bad) retaliated by “outing” the professor. Conservative critics are apparently angry that the university is supporting rather than firing the biology department. There is a strong emphasis on health sciences in the denomination and thus any number of high-performing Adventist students who want to go on to professional school need a comprehensive biology background.

    Apparently George McCready Price, an Adventist, was responsible for Young Earth Creationism as a theory.


    • The theory was around long before him. However he was a big “popularizer” of it.

  13. Let’s not be too naive. Macro evolution doesn’t provide a stitch of scientific evidence and is really based on as much blind faith as any mythology I’ve seen, and is pure religion, with its unchallengeable high priests and such. Chaplain Mike, I was surprised at your rank attack on Creationists. Very regrettable and uninformed, I’m afraid. Now, do keep in mind that Ken Ham is not the best rep for creationism, IMO, but the large majority of Christians hold to creationism.

    • Deb W wrote, “but the large majority of Christians hold to creationism.” I don’t know if that is so, Deb. Is there a survey somewhere?

      • I will take that as a challenge to find out JoanieD

          • That’s a good chart showing the randomly selected American adults’ opinions of evolution, Michael. It shows 51% believing in some kind of evolution and 45% in creationism in 2004. But Deb is specifically referring to what Christians believe so we would need an even more detailed chart.

            Well, further down that page it says the Christianity section of About.com did a survey of their readers and it came down to 27% Creationists and the others believing in some kind of evolution or would like to see it studied more. So that’s even higher on non-creationists than the other “random” adult survey! Interesting too, further down the page it says, “A British survey of 103 Roman Catholic priests, Anglican bishops and Protestant ministers/pastors, perhaps conducted in 1999 showed that: 97% do not believe the world was created in six days. 80% do not believe in the existence of Adam and Eve.”

          • I will look at a post to pull all the chart stuff together.

        • Quick Google found this attempt at charting European attitudes from 2005:


          12. Human beings, as we know them today, Sci True False DK/NA

          developed from earlier species of animals (T) 70% 20% 10%

          So, at least back in 2005, 70% of the respondents accepted evolution in some form, 20% didn’t, and 10% were ‘don’t know’. Now, you could say that’s because we Europeans are all godless heathens – but wait! that was also taken into account by this gentleman when sifting through the data:

          “WEST vs EAST EUROPE

          There is also some big surprise. You’d suppose that former communist-materialistic East block countries would accept evolution more easy than more freely religious West block (most NATO) countries. I categorized 12 countries as “East” and rest 20 countries as “West”.

          Eastern former communist countries had less acceptance of human evolution in June 2005. Two-sample pooled t-test showed significant difference p=0.013.

          Only 60.6% of East Europeans accept human evolution when 69.1% of West europeans accept it.

          I speculate that reason is that those eastern countries are mostly dominated by orthodoxian churchs. Already 1994 gallup poll showed critical attitude to human evolution in east side. So I think it is herited from parents and grandparents. Some polls in USA etc have shown that evangelical protestants(US) and orthodoxians(Russia) have much more negatice attitude to human evolution than catholics and jewish people.

          Still it could be some kind of swing effect to former tyrannic Soviet Union philosophies, too. (They still may not swallow just like that any kind of western evangelical missionaries messages who often resist evolution ..eastern citizens are get used to recognize propaganda as such, I think). “

    • Are you a scientist, Deb? Would you be willing to debate someone like Francis Collins on your assertions?

      BTW, the “large majority” of Christians do not hold to creationism. All Christians “believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” That does not equal creationism.

      Don’t miss my point. This is not a commercial promoting evolutionary theory. I’m no expert either way. It’s a rant against commitment to culture war Christianity, sloppy thinking, scholarly mediocrity, ignoble tactics, and a spirit of divisiveness.

    • It depends on what you call “creationism”.

      Is the only thing needed by a belief to be called “creationism”, that at some point God created the universe ex-nihilo?

      If so, then I would agree with you.

      Is “creationism” only referring to the belief that the universe was created 6000 years ago?

      If so, then you are very demonstrably incorrect – a small minority of Christians believe in that definition of creationism. Less than half of American Christians believe in a less-than 10000 year Earth. A FAR smaller portion of Christians in other countries (<10% in Europe) believe in a 10000 year old earth.

      • As more and more respected voices, both speakers, pastors, and scientists, refuse to be pidgeonholed in a very narrow defintion of the term “creationist”, then more and more people will reconsider their own exact position. It helps to know that some very smart people have thought about this, done thier homework, and then we honestlyl see a VARIETY of conclusions, from YEC all the way to theistic evolution. I thank GOD for IMONK’s earlier posts that opened my eyes to the POSSIBILITY that maybe the theistic evolutionists had a better explanation ot things, and that I could stop stuffing thim into some kind of “weak on the bible, weak on science, shoebox”.

  14. Put the Bible and any sort of faith in a creator aside for a moment–no theistic theory whatever. The playing field is strictly macro evolution: true or false. You can’t skip off to your theistic whatever without stating it thumbs up or down. It’s macroevolution, baby, mano-a-mano: does it happen, is it reality? Prove it.

    I still say macro evolution is simply untenable. It has not been proven and can’t be proven. It is *not* scientific fact; it is not *fact*. From nothing to molecules to man is wildly, unimaginably ludicrous. It requires blind faith in the power of random chance to produce order and ever increasingly complex useful information and systems that interact positively and cooperate. I say, no way. Not in a billion trillion years in an infinite number of parallel universes. Fish don’t become amphibs or reptiles, nor reptiles into mammals. Wolves don’t become whales. If/when you can reconstruct the simplist life form in a test-tube of goo, it would only prove that a preexisting superior intelligence is required. Variation, adaptation, no problem there.

    • Are you a scientist, Jonathan? Would you be willing to debate someone like Francis Collins on your assertions?

      All you have done here is repeat the mantra. What I’m saying in this post is, no matter where you ultimately come down, that ain’t gonna cut it.

    • Why should I stay the debate? Even putting aside the faith, what’s to debate about macroevolution? It is an unproven, untenable theory, not *fact*. So why should any Christian stay in the debate? On the *chance* that someone could actually *prove* macroevolution? Not bloody likely.

      • Jonathan, let me see. On the one hand I have your mantra. On the other hand, I have almost universal consensus from the scientific community, which includes a large number of very fine Christians who are convinced that the evidence points to the opposite of what you’re saying.

        Should this not at least make one pause?

      • I don’t want to debate him on theory. I want him to show me *demonstrate* macroevolution. I say, they can’t–because it doesn’t happen. Not in a million-billion years.

        • Jonathan, just keep putting your fingers in your ears, crying “False! False!” If you really cared about the evidence, and learning, you would not start off by stating your conclusion before you’ve even begun.

          I’m not saying it’s important that everyone study this. But if you are going to make categorical statements and take a stand, you damn well better know what you are talking about.

          • False? Naw, just incredibly, highly unlikely. To go from nothing to what see and experience to today in just billions of years of pure, unadulterated random chance. It simply boggles the mind. Horsefeathers! (As if horses could turn into chickens.)

          • I very much agree with most of your major points, maybe all of them. Sermons on this topic tend to be bullet point shout fests to the already believing, and VERY short on science (though I’m assessing this as a non-scientist, I admit). We tend to hear slogans and outright malarky (there is absolutely no evidence for macro-evolution….blah, blah, blah….. This MIGHT work on Sunday morning, depending on your church, but it doesn’t fly at all in the marketplace, and if you take your slogans out on the web, some very smart scientific types will serve them up for you and make you eat them. A very close friend of mine preaches at a bible study and is fond of throwing out there that the laws of thermodynamics slam the door shut on any kind of evolution…….well, I’m not a physicist , but I think that’s the kind of slogan slinging you are talking about, and it’s not really a credible argument, even to ME, let alone the ‘other guys’.

            We need to at least TRY to not talk past each other and a good place to start is at least hear and understand the other side before you butt in with THE ANSWER. On a personal note, I’ve found that many (not all) of my personal and family relationships have improved GREATLY since not talking about these things at all , or sparingly. I know that’s not how Ken Ham rolls (unintentional…….I swear…..) but it’s working for me.

          • to WebMonk:

            How big of a change does something need to make before it is considered macroevoltion?

            this would be a very important question; and OF COURSE, what satisfies one person as “enough proof” probably ain’t gonna cut it for the next (opposing) guy; but we might gain a little ground by at least conceding what it would take to convince us. whether we choose to see what’s there in a way that shoots us down……well……..

            like your post
            Greg R

        • “Scientists” have their mantra as well–macroevolution is a fact oooohmm. Prove it! Show me the monkey, Jerry!

          • My ears are open, my eyes are too. Still waiting for the proof, not an interpretation wrapped in a mantel of “scientific community” superiority. I’m a doubting Thomas. Unless I see it, touch it, experience it I can’t have faith in it as a theory of random chance. It will remain un-fact.

          • How about Dr. Todd Wood, top geneticist who does a lot of work with ICR and has written lots of articles for AiG too.

            He has stated several times that the evidence for macroevolution is very solid and convincing. He does not believe it is insurmountable or incontrovertible, but he has stated numerous times that it is solid, valid, and strong.

            There, a person on “your team” who has had decades of study in genetics, is active in research currently, an expert in the field, and is a young earth creationist. He disagrees with you – “macroevolution” is a well-supported, strong, theory with lots of evidence to back it up.

            He rejects it because of theological reasons, because he doesn’t think it is the only possible answer, and he thinks there are some scientific possibilities that could come to support the young earth position.

            Go yell at him for his silly statements about “unprovable”, “untenable”, and “not in a million-billion years” Evolution.

          • The fact you think that proof must be shown in the form of “show my the monkey!” demonstrates that you don’t understand what the theory of evolution is, what a scientific theory is, or what evidence for such a theory would constitute. If you are interested in this issue, you need to do some reading on the topic so that you understand what the evidence is — and what attracts scientists to the theory.

            You make it sound like they just enjoy repeating a random assertion over and over. They’re scientists. They’re using the theory because it explains a lot of data and is useful in answering certain questions.

          • I don’t want a well-supported theory. Right now I am not in any “camp” right now for the sake of argument, remember? We are talking macroevolution: thumbs up/down– does it *happen*, yes/no? Can you show it to me? One organism changing into a completely different *kind* (ok not in the biblical sense, that you think I mean)? And I’m not talking about variation by natural selection. Got any dogs becoming porpoises?

          • Yes, macroevolution is thumbs up.

            Tiktaalik is a prime example of an animal which everyone agrees (YEC, OEC, naturalistic, atheistic) was “in between” two different types of respiratory systems. (fish to amphibian)

            That’s “macroevolution” which everyone agrees on. There. Easy.

            The obvious rejoinder (and one that is put forward by YEC scientists) is that it is still “within kind” even though its respiratory system is in between.

            How about a more common, everyday example? The llama and the camel. Everyone agrees that they had a common ancestor, and they are great examples of macroevolution. They came from a common ancestor, which split out to include things like Cainotherium too.

            There, another example of macroevolution that everyone agrees on.

            You might disagree with those examples, but that is more a problem with the definition of “macroevolution”. How big of a change does something need to make before it is considered macroevoltion?

            It’s not just sexual compatibility. Apparently it’s not just size and shape either since Cainotherium was rabbit sized and moved by hopping and camels … well, camels definitely aren’t like that. 🙂

            And yet, everyone, young earth creationists included, agree that the modern camel, the modern llama, and the Cainotherium all came from a common ancestor.

            If those aren’t examples of “macroevolution” then the definition of the term is pretty screwy.

          • Tiktaalik not a missing link: see here


            and here


            As for the Cainotherium, variation within species is not macroevolution.

          • Isn’t that what atheists are saying when we say we believe in God? “Prove it!” they say, and doesn’t that help the conversation along.

            This kind of “Prove it!” debate is not helpful. There’s a difference between saying “Prove it,” and “Tell me why you believe this to be true.” One does not allow for a relationship and the other does. I don’t think we have anything to fear from respectful conversation.

      • I know the theory of macroevolution Danielle–random chance, mutations, adaptation long periods of time, change from one form of life to another by common descent. You have not shown that it happens–you cannot replicate it so that it can be seen, can you? You have an interpretation that *appears* very convincing, but you have not been shown that macroev happens. Microev-sure-adaption natural selection no prob. Funny, Mendel always ended up with fruit flies after how many generations?

        • Jonathan, are you going to reply about the camel – llama – Cainotherium bit of macroevolution?

          Everyone agrees that they came from a common ancestor. YEC believe that the common ancestor was on the Ark, and diversified into those (and others) HIGHLY different creatures in less than 500 years.


        • Drahmadaries are drahmadaries, always have been always will be. What you are pointing to is speciation, natural selection adaptation between camels and llamas. Big deal, that is not macroevolution. Hey, they look similar to a giraffe. Show me a camel turning into a giraffe, now that’s macro evolution. Tiktaalik fossil, now what ever happened to that creature? Got any *proof* it went on to be anything other than what it was? Maybe a lungfish is a lungfish is stil a lungfish? Show me a lungfish today that’s becoming anything but a lungfish.

          • Maybe it died off because it wasn’t a very good fish. Maybe it got naturally selected out because it couldn’t use its *legs* to climb the ladder.

          • What IS macroevolution?

            llamas and camels and Cainotherium are not all in the same species, and they aren’t even in the same genus or even family!!!

            They’re in the same SUBORDER – Tylopoda! Do you really not understand the difference that I’m talking about and what you’re talking about with dogs/wolves? Dogs and wolves are all in the same family.

            If you really wanted to make a proper comparison, you should use the suborder Caniformia.which includes dogs, bears, skunks, weasels, otters, etc.

            What you’re saying is that something that can (did, even according to YEC people) evolve into a dog, a bear, a skunk, a weasel, and an otter isn’t an example of “macroevolution”.

            If dog to bear to otter isn’t macroevolution what is?
            If camel to llama to Cainotherium isn’t macroevolution, what is?

            You answered the question – giraffes to camels.

            I’m glad you used giraffes as an example of something that “disproves” macroevolution. You said:
            “Show me a camel turning into a giraffe, now that’s macro evolution.”

            Funny you should say that! Because guess what, they did! The YEC position put forward by AIG and ICR is that the animals on the Ark were equivalent to the ORDER. Guess what! The giraffe and the camel are in the same ORDER!

            You said that a camel turning into a giraffe would be macro evolution. Congratulations, you just pointed out an example of macro evolution that even Answers in Genesis and Institute for Creation Research say came from the same ancestor on the Ark.

            There you are. By your own words you have pointed out an example where macro evolution happened.

        • The problem with your argument, Jonathan, is that we are discussing the evidence for changes over vast period of time. You are acting like it is some sort of problem for evolutionists that they can’t demonstrate the evolution from one species to an entirely new one before your very eyes. Of course they can’t: they aren’t arguing that anything changes that quickly.

          Since we are discussing natural history, and changes that may (or may not) have taken place over that history, we have to go to other evidence that monkeys who morph before their spectators. Scientists are going to evidence in the fossil record and in DNA as clues into natural history, because that is what we have access to. And they are finding lots of data that is intreguing, at the very least. They assert evolution because it has tremendous explanatory value for the evidence that exists in these two sources. Scientifically speaking, the explanation that best accounts for evidence and helps us to understand the world around us right now, and that allows us to “get things done,” is the explanation that is accepted. There is no such a thing as demonstrated beyond the shadow of all doubt, just discussion of what is the best explanation we can come up with, given the data we can gather.

          You throw disdain on this. But it is how science is done, and it is important. It is not blind faith, it is not mantra repeating, and it is not religion. Its a method and that is about it.

          And a great deal of science is, quite simply, “well-supported theory.” Gravity, for example, is a very useful explanation for the physical behavior of objects. Its a useful theory. That’s it.

          And what are you offering in exchange for the rigorous study of scientific evidence and the construction of a good explanation for it? “Trust my ancient text?” Does that offer an explanation of the data? Does it pose or answer any scientifically useful questions? If YEC cannot offer this, then it is bringing much less to the table, scientifically speaking, than is evolution. This makes your call for irrefutable morphing monkeys particularly stunning. If evolution is a fragile theory, YEC is even worse.

          Don’t get me wrong, I am not ultimately committed to a viewpoint either. More than one possibility seem at least dimly plausible to me. I am merely saying that in terms of scientific evidence, most the chips are on the other side right now.

  15. Brother Bartimaeus says

    This whole creationist/evolution war is yet another example of evangelicalism going off into the wilderness.  As Michael would likely ask, “Where’s the Gospel?”
    To me the gospel exposes the truth of evolution, because Jesus came to save us from it.  It’s not from the natural process of evolutionary biology that He saves, but from modeling our lives on how the natural world works.  He came to save us from getting tangled in the Deuteronomic code; to save us from thinking that good things happen only to the Just and Righteous; and to save us from mistreating those who are less fortunate because we assume they must be unjust and unrighteous.  To show us that the good news of God’s grace is for the just and the unjust through the faith of Christ!
    In the natural world, does the wolf live with the lamb or the leopard lie down with the goat?  Of course not!  The stronger associate with the strong and consume the weak.  When it comes to the future survival of the species, the stronger mate with the strong; the weaker are shunned and die out. 
    When we live by the take, take, take; when we live by the me, me, me; when we live by the survival of the fittest, we deny the gospel and the Resurrection of Christ.  By protecting the poor and widow, and by embracing the alien and the enemy, we understand the gospel.  By not pursuing a satisfactory (i.e. wealthy and comfortable) end to our own lives, but on how others might get to live life free from death and poverty, we understand the Resurrection.  If we embraced the gospel and the Resurrection, we all might actually find a life together in the kingdom, here, as it is in Heaven.  Thanks and praise be to God!

    • Amen Brother!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Brother Bartimaeus(whose name brings back a chuckle re the worst Christian Apocalyptic novel ever written):

      Today “The Gospel” has been redefined to mean:
      1) Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles
      2) Pin the Tail on The Antichrist
      3) Culture War Without End, Amen

      That’s it.
      Christ got thrown under the bus and run over a LONG time ago.

      • Issue is macroevolution: true or false. No fair running into the Gospel safe house.

        • macro evolution = true by your own words above.

          You said camels to giraffes would be macro evolution.

          Guess what – AIG and ICR say both the giraffe and the camel came from the same pair on the Ark.

          Macroevolution is true. You have said so.

      • Brother Bartimaeus says

        Yeah, I know, but I still have a duty to proclaim it… even on a Christian blog. Sigh.

  16. This is difficult to write, because I don’t want to be unnecessarily contentious, especially during this time, but I feel that something should be said.

    I’ve read enough (and agreed with enough) here over the past couple of years to realize that part of the post-evangelical wilderness is to challenge some of the voices of the “fundamentalist” evangelical world which aren’t compatible with a thoughtful inclusion across the identifiable Christian tradition. Admittedly, such challenges are occasionally (often?) necessary. But it seems when a plea is made to “stay engaged in the discussion” about creation, that invitation does not extend to Young Earth Creationists. As one who is not settled on everything about the creation question, but tends towards YEC, the tenor of this “conversation” is that I am not welcome unless I first reject YEC, as if that could not possibly be a reasonable explanation for creation. In just the main post, I was essentially called lazy, close-minded, fear-mongering, illogical, a propogandist, ignorant, uncivil, and willing to follow cultic teachings because I find some credibility in the YEC position. The comments tend to get worse. This strikes me as a far cry from a peaceful call to conversation and to fight battles with “humility, love, and service.” Instead, it strikes me as using the same type of intolerance and bomb-throwing that the “other side” is accused of here.

    Admittedly, many an evangelical has grabbed onto the arguments of YEC to wield them as a sledgehammer and foreclose any consideration of other points of view. That does not mean that there aren’t YECs doing plenty of work to advance thoughtful explanations for their positions. For example, I think Dr. Russell Humphrey’s work on reconciling the problem for YEC of distant light from stars if the world is only thousands of years old, is the exact opposite of laziness or propoganda (it is pretty consistent with theistic evolutionist Gerald Schroeder’s work on the same/similar issue). I’m willing to engage in the conversation, do the study, and consider the arguments of Francis Collins, William Dembski, Hugh Ross, and John Walton (for example). Are YECs not welcome to the same consideration here?

    • Rich,

      Very good word.

    • Look at Jonathan above, for the typical statements of YECs when they interact on this question.

      It’s not that all YEC people are what you described them as being described, it’s that most of the public statements being put forward by the YEC defenders are exactly the way you described. The statement by Ken Ham being a perfect example.

      The essay here isn’t condemning YECs as an entire group, it is condemning the “bomb-throwing” (as you mentioned) that seems to be so widely used by the YEC side against other Christians who disagree. (eg. Ken Ham, Hovind, etc.)

      (as for Dr. Humphrey’s work from Starlight and Time, it is being abandoned and is no longer supported by anyone I know on the AiG side of things, though they do still sell the book. All of their most recent DVDs and conferences which touch on it describe it as a “possible” theory, but one with “major challenges to overcome”. You won’t find any of the AiG scientists, such as Dr. Chaffin, defending that book. I wouldn’t suggest you follow it too closely either as it seems to be heading for the “discarded ideas” pile.)

      • I think it’s fair to say that all of the purported theories we develop are to help us understand exactly how God created the world and us have “major challenges to overcome.” I wasn’t necessarily endorsing Dr. Humphrey’s conclusions–which may very well wind up fully rejected, just as many other evolutionary/creation/cosmological theories have been before it–as much as I was trying to show that the work is being done to try to answer the tough questions (just as BioLogos is doing) to show that all YECs aren’t just putting their fingers in their ears and crying “False! False!”

        • Ok, I get what you mean now, thank you.

          When it comes to things like Dr. Humphrey’s book, and production of things like the RATE study … well, I’m not much convinced that they’re much better. Yes, technically they’re a response other than “False! False!”, but quite a few of those responses are so bizarrely ridiculous that I have a hard time seeing their proponents as any better than the false-false people.

          I mentioned the RATE study, the Starlight and Time book, but there are lots of other ideas that have been put forward that are so glaringly, obviously wrong that I can only think that their proponents are no better than the others because they ought to know better. (moon dust, vapor canopy caused the Flood, Paluxy tracks, sparkplug-in-rock, etc)

          Don’t get me wrong – not all YEC scientists are like that, and things are getting better on the scientific front. Dr. Todd Wood, who does work for ICR and AiG is an example of a great YEC scientist who honestly works with science, and there are plenty others.

          It’s just that people like Hovind and Ham are so LOUD, and there are too many people like them to easily hear the people like Chaffin, Wood, and others.

      • I’m not a YEC here for these purposes. I’m a blank slate. I want you to prove *show* me macroevolution and all you give me is microev-speciation, adaptation, natural selection. You have a very nice just-so theory that can’t be reproducibly proven.

        • Ok, you said above that an example of macroevolution would be camels to giraffes.

          Funny thing – AIG and ICR both say that the animals on the Ark were around at Order level. Guess what, giraffes and camels are in the same Order – they came from the same ancestor.

          According to your very own standards (camels to giraffes), macroevolution has happened.

        • Donalbain says

          OK.. how do you define “macro evolution”?
          What is a kind?

          • “Macroevolution” is a YEC-only word. In general it refers to “large variations from evolution” compared to “small variations”. Dogs are something trotted out to demonstrate “microevolution”. Variations in beak size and shape in birds is another example.

            Where exactly the dividing line is between micro- and macroevolution is not defined.

            The differences between a camel and a llama are WAY more than the differences between a Shitzhu and a Great Dane, and I would have thought they would have qualified as an example of macroevolution. But apparently they don’t, according to Jonathan and JT.

            Fortunately Jonathan provided an example of something that would be considered macroevolution – the giraffe and camel.

            It’s interesting that he picked those things because those are also things that come from the same source on the Ark, at least according to AIG and ICR. So while he thought they would be examples of macroevolution which can’t possibly happen, apparently AIG and ICR disagree and say that the camel-giraffe evolution did happen.

            Macroevolution would probably be defined as evolution across the boundaries of “kinds”. There has been some work to try to figure out what those “kinds” were, and there has been some progress, but it is still very much in a state of flux with different animals still being shuffled between classifications.

            So, right now, there really isn’t any definition of what “macroevolution” actually means. If there is ever a solid classification of what the “kinds” are, then the term will probably come to mean evolution across those kinds. At this moment though, it’s an empty term.

    • Rich, of course YECs are welcome. That’s the whole plea. However, folks like Answers in Genesis don’t think there’s a conversation to be held. When someone like Bruce Waltke has to lose his job because of the pressures of being in the conversation, that shows me that a lot of folks don’t want to have one. To them, it’s not about science. It’s not even about the Bible. It’s about the culture war.

  17. Yes, Christians can’t put their head in the sand and be “happily ignorant. At the same time, we shouldn’t be morons and believe that dogs came from whales.

    There is a balance, people. Full-blown, atheist driven macro-evolution has in no way been “proven” and it should not be accepted as true.

    Yet, for me, I hold to the “Literary Framework” view of Genesis and I too, get quite annoyed at many “creationists” as they do the things you(Chaplain Mike) pointed out.

    • Other way around Matt – whales came from land animals.

      Careful about the statements about macro-evolution being in no way proven. No historical science can be “proven” in the “recreate the experiment in controlled conditions”, technically the existence of Abraham Lincoln can’t be “proven” in that manner, though we all believe he actually existed.

      The term “proven” is one of the things that sort of gets confused in these discussions.

      Dr. Todd Wood, one of the top scientists who does work for ICR and AIG who is a geneticist with decades of experience, is quite clear in saying the evidence for “macroevolution” is very strong, solid, and valid. He doesn’t believe it’s a true description of what happened, but he doesn’t deny the strength of the evidence. (he believes there must be an even better explanation which meshes with a YEC view)

      By the standards of historical sciences (which are different than laboratory science), the evidence for the happening of macroevolution is indeed “proven”.

      • Dr. Todd Wood, one of the top scientists who does work for ICR and AIG who is a geneticist with decades of experience, is quite clear in saying the evidence for “macroevolution” is very strong, solid, and valid. He doesn’t believe it’s a true description of what happened, but he doesn’t deny the strength of the evidence.

        this is EXACTLY the kind of thing I wished we heard more often: an honest portrayal of what the other guy has going for him/her. this kind of humility is just too rare. IMO

      • I can’t recreate Lincoln in a test tube. But I have reliable eyewitness testimony that says he existed. But I also don’t have any proof that Lincoln morphed into Andrew Johnson. That’s the problem with macro ev–nobody was there, and and yet you take similar looking things and claim one morphed into another. ‘Ida’ existed, so did t-rex and tiktaalik. No proof t-rex is now my chicken dinner or that I pet tiktaalik or flipper the dolphin when I get home from work.

        • We have reliable testimony given in fossils. It’s impossible for fossils to show every single step that happened in the evolution of various species, so we have to go from snapshots along the way.

          The snapshots are pretty good, and we’re getting more and more of them.

          For example we have some very nice series of dinosaur fossils showing a progression from scales to feathers. In other places we have some good fossil snapshots showing the progression of animals that developed in both the camel and the giraffe from a common ancestor.

          How do we know Lincoln, Julius Caesar, and Hammurabi existed? Records left behind.

          How do we know the some dinosaurs developed feathers over time and other animals split into things as different as the camel and the giraffe? Records left behind.

          One set of records is made up of writings, and the other set is made up of fossils.

  18. I think this link will work (part 1).


  19. “Maybe we’ll find out it’s the real source of the designated hitter rule.”

    I enjoyed that line in the original post the most. 😉

    I want to correct a significant fallacy that is repeated above — that there is no evidence for “macroevolution”. Today that term is mostly found within the “creationist/evolution” debate, but it lies at the core of speciation. Contrary to the assertions above, there is certainly quite a bit of evidence supporting that process. Purely on the genetic level, I’ve helped my father in the past with raw data analysis and data entry for statistical analysis for different projects determining whether or not speciation had occurred in specific populations. (Lots of reasons for that.) Sometimes it had and sometimes it hadn’t, but it was certainly measurable. And that’s just from specific studies of modern populations from a purely genetic perspective. That doesn’t take into account all the other field of studies.

    However, from my perspective, I find that most expressions of “theistic evolution” that I’ve encountered are also lacking. They seem to often treat evolution as a “natural” process that God directed, intervening as needed to produce the desired result. I think that goes to far toward accepting the divisions of reality as somehow natural/supernatural, secular/sacred, etc. I think the more proper Christian perspective on the divisions of reality is between the created and the uncreated. Basically, there is God and then there is creation. When we say that God created “ex nihilo” where did the “nothing” come from? From the very beginning there is a sense of God “making room” for creation.

    We also claim that God is everywhere present and filling all things. We hold that not only has the Word created all that is, but that reality is such that creation is contingent on Jesus moment to moment for its very existence. Fortunately, God begrudges existence to none of his creation.

    Within that framework I think it’s misleading to say that God “guided” evolution as if evolution were a “natural” process and God was intervening to keep it on track. And, especially in surveys, that seems to be a popular understanding of “theistic evolution.” I think the more Christian response is to hold that all “natural” laws, constants, and processes are also created, sustained and contingent moment by moment on God.

    In such a reality, most of the action of God would be indistinguishable from what we might otherwise call a “natural” process. The process of evolution, then, is the perceptible action of God. And we say that is the same personal God we see revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.

    I understand why Christians would have an issue with the various purely materialistic perspectives. I don’t understand the often vitriolic reaction in this arena. And why specifically evolution? Astrophysics, for example, also contradicts YEC. So does geology. And a host of other disciplines. What is it about evolution specifically that seems to push so many hot buttons for a lot of people?

    • As a person who was once steeped in the more dynamic versions of evangelical Christianity (the kind that gets on television and sells books), I believe it is the idea that if a Christian reads scripture and cannot trust what it says, then their faith is founded on myth and not truth. If they cannot believe scripture when it says God created the world in six days, then they ask, how can they believe scripture when it says that Jesus rose from the dead?

      I would also guess part of the issue is centered on the idea of divine inspiration of scripture. If God wrote it then it must be true and if it’s not true, then either God is a liar or God had nothing to do with scripture. At least that may be part of the panic concerning creation and evolution.

      I confess that believing in something as rational as evolution while believing in something as irrational as a resurrection is a contradiction I have no answer for.

    • one obvious possibility is the role and place of man OVER creation. If man is just on organism among many, how can there be a claim that he is to be the steward of the garden, so to speak. what is the theological fix for this ?? and I’m not taunting here, but this might be the weakest point of the theistic evo argument (to me at least).

      Greg R

  20. Christiane says

    ““”…methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.

    The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”
    ( from Gaudium et Spes)

  21. I am a little amazed at how one post can both decry narrowness in outlook and also be completely dismissive and condemnatory against creationists. It often seems, from my conservative perspective, that you are calling for openness, as long as it does not extend to creationists.

    • Dave, you misunderstand. This is not a call for openness. It’s a call for sanity, reasonableness, abandonment of the culture war mentality and program, and a new commitment not to divide the church of Jesus Christ using propaganda. And yes, it’s passionate.

  22. Does a person have to have a PhD in science to discuss evolution? Does a person have to have a PhD in Theology to discuss God?

    Sometimes I think common sense gets lost as people point to their degrees like medals on their chests or pound their megaphones concerning the end of life as we know it. I’m not a highly educated man (B.A. in Communications), but I’m not an irrational moron. I think a cup of coffee and kind questions among friends over issues can hold much more meaning that the Hamm-Hawkins Heavyweight Championship.

    • I’m with ya, man. Cut the “we’re scientists” stuff. Just show us common folk the one-eyed monster if ya really got one. We’re no dummies who will take just-so answers. Show us the next generation flying superman if macroevolution is real.

      • I remain unconvinced of Theistic Evolution, but I can see the importance of not having an “us vs. them” attitude between Christians and scientists. Even if I should take the six day creation account as poetic myth, it does not mean that six day creation is an impossibility. God could have used evolution and He could have made everything in six days. So the debate goes on.

        I sure do sense a tremendous amount of passion from supporters of Thevo (Theistic Evolution) and even a little hostility towards Creationists as there is hostility towards the Evolutioinists.

        So it looks like we’re back to being people who profess Christ and yell at each other over scripture and science. Drama with a diploma.

        I’m going back to loving God and loving my neighbor over a cup of coffee.

  23. I’m posting under a different name than usual, in case the people I’m going to mention will read this — I don’t want to upset my family (not that they’d read this kind of thing — this is far too liberal for them 😀 ).

    I have a relative who married an extremely militant conservative woman and her children. Her kids are from a prior marriage, which she left due to abuse (while condemning others who did the same — it’s okay when I do it, you know). She had committed to homeschooling her kids before they got married, and I watched them grow from bright, inquisitive children to unlearned, ignorant young adults. Upon “graduating”, the oldest could barely write a readable sentence. Mom couldn’t spell, so why should they have to learn?

    Anyway, my relative and his wife eventually had a child together. When the child was about a year old, my relative came home from his part-time retail job to find his possessions on the porch and the locks changed. “God” had told her that he wasn’t any good for her. He, in his 40s, moved back in with his parents. The custody battle was short — she had her own house and a steady income (alimony from her previous marriage), plus the mother is always at an advantage in custody disputes.

    When their little boy was three, I got the chance to see him for the second time since he’d been born. Daddy and Baby came up to see the family with a box of toys for baby, a couple of Veggietales and Caillou DVDs to keep Baby busy, and Ben Stein’s movie in defense of creationism. The family turned down Daddy’s offer to stick Baby in the corner with a toy train so we could all watch and learn from Mr. Stein’s video in order to play with Baby. I asked Daddy how much time he was able to spend with his son, and he answered about an afternoon every two weeks.

    I love my family. I really do. But I was honestly angry that day. I couldn’t reconcile the thought of the joy of being a father and of finally being able to share my child with my loved ones with the thought of proselytizing some doctrine that makes no difference in what is obviously a broken life. I couldn’t reconcile a faith in God that would think so strongly that this debate makes a difference that it takes a father away from loving his son on the few chances he gets to do so. I felt so sorry for that little boy.

    That was the event which formed my opinion on this issue. And it’s one that I have to say agrees heartily with Chaplain Mike, and I would supplement that agreement with the statement that any argument, no matter how important or fundamental or absolute or crucial, is completely invalid and totally irrelevant if it takes away from the holy love of one human being for another. Without exception. And so I refuse to argue it.

    And, so that you don’t hate my relative, I will tell you that the next year at Christmas, both Baby and Daddy were with us and fully immersed in the day — we had a blast with his remote control cars and toy trains and stuffed monsters, and Ben Stein was nowhere to be found.

    • MOD: post deleted

      • That’s not even close to what I said.

        What I said was an anecdotal story that helped me form an opinion on the issue. Namely, that when the argument gets in the way of being a loving, nurturing human being, you’re placing too much importance on the argument. In that context, I agree with Chaplain Mike. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    • @Gluux:
      You wrote: [A]ny argument… is completely invalid and totally irrelevant if it takes away from the holy love of one human being for another. Without exception. And so I refuse to argue it.

      Clear thought like this will be what saves my faith, if it is to be saved. If God is there, and if Jesus was resurrected, then this is the purpose. Love will save us. Otherwise, “This bickering is pointless.”

  24. All the statements are from the writer of this post and all the bold is mine:

    I. Name Calling

    That means being able to talk to other people without getting all defensive and calling them names.

    Creationists are propagandists.

    That a propagandist like Ken Ham, neither a Bible scholar nor a scientist, should have the chutzpah to call Dr. Waltke to repentance over issues of Biblical interpretation is laughable.

    II. Debating Room

    Creationists have politicized this issue to such an extent that it is nearly impossible in many places to have a civil and thoughtful discussion about the subject. They have made this a zero sum game. There is no room for debate. If you’re not for us, you’re against us.

    “They build creationism apologetic centers. No science. Just their own narrow interpretations of the Bible and imaginative recreations of what it must have been like “in the beginning.”

    Of course, this is patent nonsense.

    III. Humility, Patience, Love, Service

    First, if you think science presents important issues for Christians and you want to sound off about those issues, get a sound science education. Read deeply and broadly, be humble and patient.

    Let’s learn to pick our battles, and when we identify them, let’s fight them with the Lord’s own weapons of humility, love, and service.

    Ditto his condemnation of the scholars and scientists at BioLogos.

  25. “as for Dr. Humphrey’s work from Starlight and Time, it is being abandoned and is no longer supported by anyone I know on the AiG side of things, though they do still sell the book. All of their most recent DVDs and conferences which touch on it describe it as a “possible” theory, but one with “major challenges to overcome”. You won’t find any of the AiG scientists, such as Dr. Chaffin, defending that book. I wouldn’t suggest you follow it too closely either as it seems to be heading for the “discarded ideas” pile”.

    This comment reminded me of a BBC documentary I watched a few years ago on the last days of Albert Einstein. It focused on the fact that he could never accept Bohr’s work on quantum theory, and how, to his dying day, he was working on a way to refute this.
    At present, of course, within the mainstream scientific consensus, Bohr’s theories appear to have triumphed, but every now and then, a piece of study will pop up, usually in New Scientist magazine, which ‘hints’ that maybe, just maybe, there was something right in Einstein’s rejection after all. I suspect, as Einstein himself did, that there really is more to all of this than what meets the eye (the basis of scientific study), which is no doubt why he himself referred to science as a ‘theater of the mind’. Perhaps such considerations have more bearing than is often the case when discussing the role of our present understanding on matters such as the one raised here.

    • Possibly something like that could happen in Humphrey’s case too, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. The mistakes in his book are pretty darned fundamental (ie. effect of gravity in a bounded sphere vs an unbounded space – that’s basic math. Not quite making a mistake on the order of 2+2=5, but pretty close to it)

      That, and even if all his calculations and theories were correct, it still doesn’t explain anything closer to us than a few billion light years, it would only work WAY out at the edges, and even by his own measurements the effects wouldn’t be enough to explain what we see happening. If we take his calculations at face value (and fudge around the parts that are wrong), they would cause about a 15% difference in the passage of time between the earth and the outer edges – they wouldn’t cause the 100000000% difference he requires it to explain.

  26. Michael,

    Well, I don’t think Mike has lived up to his own standars in this post.

    He talks about not engaging in “name calling” and yet he calls creationists “propagandists” and specifically Ham a “propagandist”.

    He criticizes creationists about allowing “debating room” and yet he seems to not extend a lot of debating room for creationists as he speaks absolutely [with the tone of a judge] about “No science” and “just their own narrow interpetations of the Bible” and ” imaginative recreations” in reference to their museums. And I’m not sure there is much room for Ham to debate with Mike’s pronouncement of “patent nonsense” in relation to Ham’s statement. Is there really debating room for creationists or is the issue pretty settled according to what Mike says? Also, could Mike’s tone be considered “civil and thoughtful discussion” [something else he advocates for]?

    Mike calls for humility, patience, love and service and yet he says “Ditto his condemnation” towards Ham. Is this humble and patient and loving and servant oriented.

    It seems to me that Mike is rather passionate about the subject of creation and evolution. Axe to grind like.

    • But what if Ham really is a propagandist? He isn’t a Bible scholar. He’s not a scientist. He is a public speaker who uses a LOT of extreme statements in his speeches and publications. “Propagandist” is almost a dictionary definition of what Ham does.

      As far as “no science” – have you ever been to AIG’s Creation Museum?? There is almost nothing in the way of science being taught or explained – it is almost entirely an apologetic tool. Even other YEC groups have made statements about how the museum “doesn’t promote a scientific learning environment.”

      Granted, “no science” is a bit of hyperbole, but not much at all, even according to other YEC groups.

      Likewise with “narrow interpretation”. Have you kept up with the in-fighting between the various YEC groups? There have been quite a few splits, and AIG’s view is a very narrow view even within the YEC community.

      And if I remember correctly, “imaginative recreation” is something that the museum uses to describe itself! Should we not describe the place terms which it uses to describe itself?

      Did Ham indeed condemn Waltke? Yes, there’s no question about it. So what’s the problem with pointing it out when Mike said “Ditto his condemnation” about Ham’s condemnation of Waltke?

      How else would you like to phrase it? “Ditto his criticism”? “Ditto his denouncement”? I’m not sure what other words could have been used – what Ham said was a condemnation on Waltke. What other term would you use?

      I’m not sure what your issues with this post are based on.

  27. BiggieBigs says

    I ran into a book predating Darwin and for the life of me cannot remember the title. I saw it at used book store and should have gotten it. It was a Christian discussing the quandary of geological evidence up against the book of Genesis. I believe it started with an “O”

    If anyone has any clue what this book is please post it, I have been looking for it since for a while now.

  28. Michael,

    Also, how does the desire for “civil and thoughtful discussion” harmonize with coming under the “rants” category that is listed at the bottom of the post?

    Personally, however, I’m glad Mike has come out on this subject so passionately instead of pretending to be “neutral”. According to Paul, we can’t be neutral on this subject anyway. No one looks at nature with a “blank slate” mind. People have a deep seated commitment one way or the other and that commitment will determine how folks interpret the “evidence” [Romans 1:18-23].

    Either nature is the creation of [the] God and controlled by [the] God or it is not. That is why an athiest and someone like myself don’t even agree on what a stick is without qualification.

    • Benji, are you new to Internet Monk? One of the things that impressed me about the blog’s founder, Michael Spencer, is that he was never shy about pointing out craziness in the Christian world that he felt was alienating people from the church and hurting our witness in the world. This post is in that same spirit.

      As I wrote in a comment above: It’s a call for sanity, reasonableness, abandonment of the culture war mentality and program, and a new commitment not to divide the church of Jesus Christ using propaganda. And yes, it’s passionate.

      • Yes, I am familiar with Imonk and have commented on this website. Personally, I think what you are doing is divisive and necessraily undercuts the need for Jesus Christ. Debunk the first Adam and the last Adam goes down with him. I would actually have more respect for you if you would denounce the Christian faith instead of trying to have a Darwin and Jesus swirl ice cream cone.

        There is a sense in which the rise of atheism is refreshing to me.

        As for your call to “reasonableness”, who gets to “define” reasonableness? Me? You? A majority of academics? And what will that definition be based on?

        • Benji, maybe you have not had a chance to read some of my other comments. This post is not about what I believe concerning evolution, etc.. If you read the post, you will see that I don’t state my own positions, because that is simply not the point. Frankly, I would say the same thing about the creationists if I agreed with Ken Ham 100%, because what I’m ranting against is the culture war mentality and program, not a particular view of science and the Bible.

          “Reasonableness” means if someone is going to make a categorical statement that “My position is 100% correct and you are absolutely wrong,” or “Our interpretation of the Bible is the only acceptable interpretation,” you better have done the study, hard work, and interaction that is necessary to back your claims. Don’t you think that’s a reasonable expectation? Not to do so pushes one into the realm of “propaganda,” which is the other word I used.

          • Mike,

            Ok, I understand what you are saying I think. However, you are still at least leaving room for the “possibility” of evolution. And I do not believe the “Framework” of Christianity allows for that opening. That’s like allowing room for the “possibility” that Jesus did not die on the cross. That would undercut Christianity. No “one” and “first” Adam [to use New Testament language] would undercut Christianity as well.

            I think to try and say that it doesn’t leaves one in the position of merely asserting that it does not without being able to give a justifiable reason as to why it does not.

            If no first Adam by which sin came into the world, then no need for the last Adam for deliverance from sin. The two are theologically tied together.

            Because I think God has spoken clearly on the matter of an historical Adam, then I do not believe it is honoring to God for you to leave the slightest door open for evolution.

            Also, when it comes to what you said concerning interpretations, I don’t think you yourself can live with the very standard you think should be applied to others.

  29. Well, this thread has been enlightening.

    Jonathan: Your understanding/perception of science in general, and paleontology/evolutionary biology/geology etc is decidely… off. Think of it as an episode of CSI: There are no eyewitness accounts, nor any video evidence. So, we dissect the scene, and find traces of DNA, fingerprints, pieces of clay, pebbles and linen fibres. In the end, we can state with some / a lot off certainty, depending on the evidence, what happened and who did it. sometimes we can’t say at all. As a geologist, the evidence leans very, very heavily in favour of approx 4.5 billion years of earth history. Yes, there are gaps, there are assumptions etc – but the weight of evidence is very clear. Is that absolute truth? No – there is no video evidence or eyewitness account. To jump up and down as you did here, ignoring the examples given to you by Webmonk and others, only strengthens the perception that (some) creationists are patently uninformed and willfully ignorant. It does your cause nothing good. And the “blank slate” argument is very clearly a smokescreen…

  30. Radiometric dating (somebody is going to bring it up): I’ve personally dated rocks (Ar-Ar), and have been involved in radiometric dating of various types (Rb-Sr, U-Pb SHRIMP, U-Pb ion microprobe). The articles written by various creationists on the matter (Snelling etc) are drivel. Ignoring good principles of geochronology will lead to nonsense results. Not every result is usable – one has to look for repeatability, variance and all that. I’ve seen lots of data that is entirely useless, because of many factors: One is that the grain had experienced alteration or partial resetting – but a good geoologist/geochronologist can spot that. The arguments that are generally used by ICR and co fail to recognise these facts.

    Way back in this thread somebody commented on the fundamentalism of Ham and Dawkins being quite similar. That is very true.

  31. A smoke screen for what? People bring commitments to the data. Therefore, there is no such thing as a person who brings presuppositions to nature verses someone who does not. All bring presuppositions. All think within a framework. All think within their box. The clash comes because people do not look at nature with the same box. But don’t deceive yourself–there is no such thing as a “boxless” person.

    Hence, the issue is finally settled on the question as to which presuppositions can make sense of the facts and which presuppositions conflict with each other, etc. The issue is not settled by a direct appeal to the facts for there is no such thing as uninterpreted facts in the first place.

    • Benji – and according to what do you determine that the issue isn’t settled by direct appeal to the facts?

      If you just say there’s no such thing as uninterpreted facts (false) and toss your hands up in the air on this issue, you logically ought to do the same thing for just about everything else – distance to moon, circumference of the Earth, speed of light, etc.

      Let’s just not go down that path. So how does one determine if the facts are settled?

      Have you done the “hard work” Chaplain Mike mentions, to become knowledgeable on topics like geochronology, astronomy, biology, genetics, etc?

      Most people don’t reach that point where they are experts/knowledgeable in all the fields, so most don’t know enough to make a direct appeal to the facts.

      Well we might be an expert in one field and know the facts are settled in that field, and so if we see theories in other topics out there that contradict what we know of our own area of expertise, then we can dismiss them even without being an expert in that area.

      We can look to those who are experts in the fields, realizing that they aren’t infallible, and looking for fundamental disagreements between the experts. If there is lots of argument over the fundamentals of a theory, then we ought not trust it very much.

      We also need to realize that there will almost never be total and complete agreement by ALL the experts in a field on even the fundamentals – we should expect at least a little bit of disagreement even on the basics, but there shouldn’t be much if the facts are solid enough to be settled.

      What do we see in geology? There are a VERY small number of experts who claim a young earth. Those few are all within a very narrow range of view – Christians supporting a YEC. The number of Christian geologists who are not YEC FAR outnumber the YEC geologists. The non-Christian geologists are all universally of an old-earth position. The ratio is like 10,000 to 1 among geologists in determining the age of the earth.

      Let’s use a doctor’s opinion as an example. I go to a check-up and find out I have cancer. I don’t trust just the one doctor, so I go to another – cancer is the reply. Let’s say I go to 10,000 doctors and each and every one of them comes back with a diagnosis of cancer. They vary a bit – some say liver cancer and some say pancreatic cancer – but they all say definitely cancer. All except for one – he says I just have a long-lasting cold.

      Which should I trust? I’ll trust the 10,000. Does the opinion of the 10,000 determine the absolute truth of whether or not I have cancer? No, but it does give a REALLY solid thing to trust.

      Same thing for geology – when the geologists are saying 10,000 to 1 that the rocks do NOT show a giant, worldwide Flood, then you can be pretty safe in trusting that they’re right.

      • Yes, “experts” can disagree amongst themselves. Now, upon what basis may one expert in one field reject what the expert says in another field? And who should the “majority” of folks who are not experts in any field do when they see the experts disagreeing with each other?

        Your faith in “majoritarianism” is based on what?

        In fact, how can a finite person justify knowing anything since there may be “facts” out there that contradict what a person thinks they know with certainty.

        The truth of the matter is that one must know everything in order to justify anything. And the only one who knows everything is God and therefore when a finite person trusts the infinite God on any particular, then that person can be certain since no unknown fact is going to catch Yahweh “off guard”.

        You said “and according to what do you determine that the issue isn’t settled by direct appeal to the facts?”

        Romans chapter 1 where Paul reveals that folks either honor the God who created all things or have an axe to grind against Him.

        Your example of “cancer” cannot compare with this since a doctor does not have hardly anything to lose when it comes to whether or not a person has cancer.

        However, when it comes to whether [the] God revealed in the Bible created all things or not, then the stakes are as high as they possibly can come. No one is “neutral” concerning judgment/salvation.

        Accordingly, if one wants to “convince” themselves that that God does not exist, then they might work really, really, really hard in the field of “science” to try and convince themselves of His nonexistence. They are not working with nothing to lose.

  32. Ben Wheaton says

    I don’t think that Ham and company had anything to do with Waltke’s resignation. RTS is fully accepting of Framework Theory, Old Earth Creationism, etc.; even Waltke’s position on Theistic Evolution did not cause waves until his video on Biologos. Accusing the administration at RTS of building a “culture of fear” and excluding everything except young-earth creationism is wrong. Never mind that the reason why Waltke resigned (he was NOT kicked out, whatever you lot may think) was to spare RTS criticism.

    You want a civil discussion, Chaplain Mike? Start with yourself. Making accusations like you did will only make people defensive. Follow Waltke’s lead on how to deal with this.

    • No one said Ham had anything to do with Waltke’s resignation. In his recent “State of the Nation” speech, Ham did, however, cite Waltke as an example of a “compromiser” who is undermining the foundations of Biblical authority.

      Nor did I say that RTS excludes everything but YEC. In fact, I reported that they too fell under Ham’s condemnation.

      Nor is RTS responsible for “creating” the culture of fear. I merely stated that this whole case is a good example that one exists.

  33. Benji, all I can say is that there are and have been many Christians who do not think that there is any incompatibility between believing in Biblical Christianity and accepting evolution as the model that best explains the scientific evidence for biological development.

    You will have to come to your own conclusions. If this is an important issue for you, please realize that you won’t have a leg to stand on if you hope to convince a genuine scientist or well educated layperson with only theological reasons for rejecting his position.

    On the other hand, such reasons may be enough for you, and that’s OK. But in my opinion, going that way with integrity should lead you to choose that this will be an issue about which you will not make categorical pronouncements.

    • Mike,

      I think that is about “all you can say” for I don’t think you can give a reason for their compatibility. And if you cannot give a reason, then you are being arbitrary. And arbitrariness is not justifiable.

      You brought up the idea of “genuine scientist” and “educated layperson”. So, I’m assuming you have talked to everyone of them. And even if you have, how do you know that they will believe the same way in the future as they have believed in the past? And even if they do, then upon what basis can you know that they are right?

      Integrity? Please explain to me how a belief in the possibility of evolved man can be integrated with the certainty of salvation from sin by the God-man?

      I think you need to be honest about where evolution, if granted for argument’s sake, would necessarily take you.

      • Benji, no, “I” don’t need to explain anything, because you don’t know what my position is. But I would suggest that you read, study, and talk to those who give reasons for why they think Biblical faith and evolution are compatible, if it means that much to you.

        Listen to me. There is nothing wrong with you holding your position. Simply admit that it is based solely on theological grounds and your understanding of the Scriptures. When you talk to others, make your case based on your theological convictions and Biblical evidence. That’s fine. I would just recommend avoiding getting into extended discussions about evolution, because it’s clear that it is not your area of interest. If someone challenges you on the basis of scientific evidence, be humble enough to just say, “I don’t get into that, and I think the teaching of Scripture is clear enough that I will stand by that.”

        • I don’t think you understand where I am coming from. If you did, then I don’t think you would have any question as to whether or not I would “admit” that I base what I believe concerning creation/evolution on “theological grounds”. Of course I base it on theological grounds. I’m a New Covenantal presuppositionalist.

          I think I do understand enough of where you are coming from to know that you are “open” in some sense to the compatibility of evolution and Scripture.

          I believe that the Bible is the presuppositional starting point for not just theology but science and every other field of knowledge.

          The Bible sticks its fingers in every area because the Bible touches on everything that exists–God and his creation. That does not mean that I believe the Bible is a textbook for every area as if the Bible gives highly detailed info concerning science.

          However, I do believe that it provides the necessary framework for “doing” science. I think its pretty hard to do science without the belief in the uniformity of nature [for example]. Kick the Bible to the curb and you have kicked the foundation for believing in the uniformity of nature out the door. There is no basis for believing that the future will be like the past if the Bible is debunked.

          Yes, I understand that scientists “do science” who reject the Bible and they do it with the belief in the uniformity of nature. However, that is what they cannot justify. They can do science, but they cannot justify the science they are doing.