Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stumbling Apologists

Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.


Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Prov. 30.5-6, NKJV

Here is something else that I cannot understand: Willful ignorance. At least, it looks like willful ignorance to me.

There are some apologists for the Christian faith who are utterly brilliant and have taught me a great deal. There are also some that are brilliant philosophers of theology that I do not try to understand because I find the depths of philosophy that they practice to be tedious and impractical, and I do not want to expend the mental energy in following what they're saying. Then there are the philosophers that do great work, and I do need to expend the mental energy to learn from them.

How is it, then, that a layman like me can spot flaws in their work?

I mentioned one time that a certain apologist said that he would not let science tell him how to view Scripture, and so he rejected evolution. Then, he promptly said that young-earth creationism is wrong because of what science has shown! Wait — the same facts, methods, techniques of science that support the belief that the earth is ancient are also used to support evolution, are they not? Why the inconsistency? More importantly, why the reluctance to accept a plain reading of Genesis at face value?

What baffles, irritates, irks, flusters and befuddles me is why these apologists (as well as knowledgeable laypeople) who proclaim the inerrancy of Scripture will keep trying to make the unnatural stretch of turning the days of Creation Week into some huge amount of time. There are a few possibilities of which I am aware:
  • Compromise. To them, the Bible does not mean what it says because they want to accommodate scientific philosophies. "Theistic Evolution" is an escape for people who believe in evolution but want to appear religious, and deny the Bible. "Progressive Creation" also denies important aspects of the Bible, and its adherents should consider well the words of Proverbs 30.6. There are other variations of compromise, but these two cover a great deal of ground and require extensive theological gymnastics of tampering with the Bible.
  • Not thinking it through. Some people just have not thought about the ramifications of their position, and how they are letting the latest whims of man-made science philosophies dictate their understanding of the Word of God.
  • Bad information. Young-earth creationism has been badly misrepresented. (I'll be blunt: There are people who claim to be Christians that have actually lied about young-earth creationists and their beliefs, and also called us liars because they do not agree with our views!) People who reject young-earth creationism have often only heard from its opponents, and have not bothered to seriously investigate the framework of the young-earthers. It seems a bit hypocritical to criticize atheists and "skeptics" for getting their information about God and the Bible from sites like "I hate God even though he doesn't exist and his book is wicked too dot com", and yet, ignore the material presented by Bible-believing scientists.
  • Bandwagon theology. This is simply a herd mentality. "Everyone in my church believes in an ancient earth and universe, I will too", or, "Dr. Philos Offy has two earned doctorates and 144 honorary doctorates, and he believes the universe is old and accommodates evolution, he's my hero, so he must be right".
  • Some other biases or presuppositions.
When debating with old-earthers, I point out that the word yomיוֹם, translated as "day", has several meanings [1,2]. The obvious meaning is a literal day, another meaning is an indefinite period of time. (There are, unfortunately, old-earthers who misrepresent young-earthers' views on this, saying that we insist that it can only be a literal day. Examining, say, Answers In Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research or Creation Ministries International will show that such claims are disingenuous at best.) For the most part, "day" means "day".

Cannot locate original source to give credit. Wish I could, I really like this humor that makes a point.
Several times, I have come across people who point out the few exception to the general rule of yom with an ordinal number meaning a literal day (such as Hosea 6.2), and they make the exception into the rule; that is, since "day" with an ordinal is not always read that way, other ways of reading the text must be allowed. This is horrible thinking, especially since if God wanted to say that creation happened in huge amounts of time, he did not need to have the author use yom.

What do they do with Exodus 20.11, by the way?

One analogy that I have used is dominoes. If you compromise in Genesis, which is foundational to the gospel, you have to continually compromise all through the Bible. Let me show you.

I was very disappointed when I read an apologist put forth the view that it was perfectly acceptable to think that at some point during evolution, God suddenly granted consciousness or enlightenment to a male and female, and they were made into Adam and Eve! Adam was considered a real person in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3.38), Paul said that Adam and Eve were real people (1 Timothy 2.13-14), Jude called Adam a real person (Jude 1.14). Death entered the world because of Adam's sin (Romans 5.12), but "progressive creationists" and "theistic evolutionists" require death before sin. But worse for this view is that it is an insult to Jesus, since Paul referred to Jesus as "the last Adam (1 Cor. 15.45). What does that mean? Was Jesus the next stage of evolution?

Why do they do this? There is no valid reason for such extreme eisegesis!
Many Christians have conceded to uniformitarian dogma by imposing theories on Genesis like the day-age view, gap theory, and the framework hypothesis. Christians taking on names—progressive creationist, theistic evolutionist, or even young-earth creationist—implies Genesis 1–11 does not have one clear interpretation. [3]
Now look, nobody is saying to put "our" view of the Bible over your daily experience or observable science. If the Bible said that things fall upward when dropped, we would have a problem to deal with, and I would expect that the context would indicate that this was figurative or allegorical. The science used for evolution, the age of the Earth, the age of the universe, all of that is not observational science. In fact, such historical science is in a state of constant change. (For scientific evidence against evolution and for a young earth, I have a site called "Evolutionary Truth by Piltdown Superman".)

People disagree about models and mechanisms all the time. Evolutionists themselves are not unified about evolution itself [4]. Creationists also disagree, and put forward their own models to interpret the evidence and see if the data fit. Great! That is what science is about! The real question is, "Who is your authority? Is it the ever-changing whims of man-made science philosophies of the day, or the unchanging Word of God (Isaiah 40.8)?" If you disagree about, say, the age of the earth because you have given honest consideration to the available evidence (including evidence from young-earth creationists), well, fine. That's your prerogative. But watch your presuppositions and make certain where your final authority lies. You don't want God calling you a liar because you added to his Word.

My work here is done for now. Is anyone up for a game of dominoes?

Addendum: I wrote a follow-up to this article, here.