Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Science, Faith, Genesis and Compromise

Did you know that the one who was most influential in forming the modern scientific method was a Biblical creationist? Yes, it was Sir Francis Bacon. Although he has been called a great man of faith, he actually did damage to our understanding of science. He wanted to leave God out of science and be strictly secular with it.

He had an unscriptural belief that God's revelation was expressed in "two books". One of those is the Bible, the other is nature. When "interpreted correctly", they are in harmony. (Frankly, this sounds cultic, smacking of the Mormon claim that the Bible is true "as far as it is translated correctly".) Compromisers like Hugh Ross will give priority to the current understanding and beliefs of modern science trends, interpreting the Bible to fit with those preconceptions.

Christians gradually surrendered science to the secularists. Then, they began sacrificing their belief in the authority of Scripture.

There are two parts to the following article, linked after the introductory excerpt:

About 400 years ago, there lived an English nobleman, philosopher and lawyer by the name of Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who is regarded as the father of the ‘scientific method’. As did many other great men of science, such as Sir Isaac Newton, he professed faith in God and the Bible. However, his writings, which have had a profound influence on the whole Western world, have achieved much harm as well.
Bacon’s main objective was to free up ‘natural philosophy’, as science was called back then, from any and all impediments which would hinder its proper development for the common good of mankind. The obstacles, as he saw them, which hindered scientific progress were so offensive that he called them ‘idols’ and he urged his readers to banish them completely from their minds.

‘Leave the Bible out of it’

Near the end of the list of ‘idols’ which Bacon said must be ‘abjured and renounced’ were any systems of natural philosophy which were built on Genesis 1, Job, or any other part of the Bible. This wilful and untrue presupposition, that the Bible has nothing to teach us about understanding the workings of nature, is the ugly root which has influenced some of the greatest scientific minds from Bacon onwards. The mindset among scientists to set aside the Bible did not commence with Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) nor prior to that with Lyell’s 3-Volume Principles of Geology (1830–1833). The trend had been firmly launched more than 200 years earlier in Sir Francis Bacon’s works. The scientific method, we were told, allowed no room for divine revelation. Bacon wrote that man ‘understands as much as his observations … permit him, and neither knows nor is capable of more.’
Read the rest of "Part 1: Culture wars: Bacon vs Ham, The story behind the modern-day separation of faith and science", here. You can follow the link at the end of the article to Part 2, or come back and click on "Part 2: Culture wars: Ham vs Bacon", here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Learning from Past Mistakes in Defending the Faith

And whoever is so bold that he ventures to accuse God of fraud and deception in a single word and does so willfully again and again after he has been warned and instructed once or twice will likewise certainly venture to accuse God of fraud and deception in all His words.
— Martin Luther

In a previous brilliant article (oops, almost forgot that this is not the "with attitude, in-character" Weblog), I discussed Fundamentalism and anti-intellectualism, and the errors made regarding the defense of the faith. Now I have learned something else that runs parallel.

One of the fundamentals of Fundamentalism is the inerrancy of Scripture. (I am not a Fundamentalist, but I hold to this position, as do many other non-Fundamentalist Christians.) Although Christians had been instrumental in the development of sciences through the years, we surrendered to the secularists. The Bible came under assault from Darwinists, uniformitarianism and "Higher Criticism". Instead of adhering to their presuppositions that God's Word is true, they traded for the presuppositions of secular science philosophies. When people are enamored with "science" and impressed with the results of practical science, it becomes difficult for many people to resist the allure of historical science philosophies: "The world is billions of years old, science proves it". Actually, the opposite is true, but that is beyond the scope of this Weblog.
William Jennings Bryan

Although Fundamentalists in the 19th and early 20th Centuries generally did not compromise on evolution, they did compromise on the plain teachings of Genesis. That meant fanciful "explanations" like Lucifer's Flood and the Gap Theory. They wanted to believe the Bible, but were unskilled at refuting the science philosophies. By compromising and adding "deep time" to Genesis (including nature or "general revelation"), they actually hurt their own position on the inerrancy of Scripture.

The following article is a bit long and it's not "fluff", but extremely informative and (to me) very interesting:
The Christian fundamentalist movement in America played a key role in defending and promoting the importance of biblical inerrancy. While often ridiculed and mocked, early American fundamentalists withstood the tide of theological liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nevertheless, many of these staunch advocates of biblical inerrancy failed to understand the importance of defending the traditional view of Genesis. This mistake led to some of the movement’s greatest failures, and ultimately contradicted the central doctrine for which fundamentalists so fervently stood. This article will survey the history of Christian fundamentalism in America along with its strengths and weaknesses, victories and defeats. The significance of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will also be examined.
I hope you finish reading "The Rise and Fall of Inerrancy in the American Fundamentalist Movement", here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Resource: OEC Compromisers

It seems that Old Earth Creationists (OECs) who use atheistic methods and interpretations of science and then add huge amounts of time into the early chapters of Genesis are more extreme than I thought. No, I am not saying "extreme" as in "blowing up buildings belonging to Biblical creationists". What I mean is that they have to keep twisting Scriptures and forcing excuses to justify their compromising positions.

From Ken Ham's Weblog:
After watching what turned into a two-hour debate between Hugh Ross and me on TBN television last week, AiG board chairman, Pastor Don Landis, gave an address to the AiG staff yesterday morning titled “Contending for the Faith” (Jude 3). Jude 3 states “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
His powerful address focused on challenging the staff to understand that compromising with millions of years is really an attack on the work of Christ — it is an attack on the Cross.
I really urge you to listen to this very powerful and moving 40-minute presentation. You can do that by clicking below:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dealing with Arrogant Atheists

Thank God that the modern obstreperous atheist movement is fading. Ironically, this fundamentally flawed worldview has helped modern Christianity by forcing questions and issues into our faces that were sidestepped and ignored. (I think some of the questions were also in the minds of believers as well, but we did not bother to ask.) One reason that people have abandoned their faith is when they would ask questions about the very first book of the Bible and receive scolding or pious non-answers.

Apologists have been becoming more skilled, more knowledgeable and more plentiful. The same with apologetics ministries. I have been encouraging Christians from the beginning of this Weblog to know what and why we believe (2 Peter 3.18) so that we can share the gospel effectively (1 Peter 3.15, Jude 1.3 NASB) and be on guard against false teachers and compromisers (Matthew 7.15 ESV, 2 John 1.7, 2 Cor. 11.13-15).

This includes the so-called "New Atheist" movement. (It has been pointed out that there is not much "new" in it, just an increase in loud hatred of God and his servants.) The "Logic Lessons" are useful in defusing the intimidation of atheists when we learn that they make a tremendous number of logical fallacies.

One resource I provided here before was a set of links to a talk by Andy Bannister on dealing with atheists. Another recommendation is for True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism (only 2.99 USD at Amazon, free Kindle book software is available if you need it). My recommendation is qualified, however, because authors of the book did not take the Apostle Paul's approach in Acts 17 of going back to Genesis. I offered to remedy that in a future edition if the editors are interested. Still, there is a great deal of philosophical and rational information that dismantles the atheistic worldview.

I have a similar qualified (that is, I noticed the lack Genesis or creation) recommendation for the following article by Alan Roebuck. It's called, "How to Deal with a Supercilious Atheist", and definitely worth your time:
Not all atheists are supercilious, of course. Many are content to live and let live, and some even grant that religion (which, in America, basically means Christianity) does some good.  But atheism as an organized, evangelizing movement has been on the offensive lately.  Witness the "New Atheists" such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, with their aggressive stance against God and their bestselling books attempting to debunk religion. So, assuming you are a theist, what do you say to the atheist who asks, "You don't (chuckle) actually believe in God, do you (snicker)?"

The natural response would be to start giving evidence for God: the origin of the universe in the Big Bang requires a cause that is beyond matter, energy, space and time, the design of life requires an intelligence to account for the information that it contains, the many accounts of miracles and the supernatural cannot all be fabrications, and so on.  Entire libraries have been written on the evidence and arguments for God.
I encourage you to finish reading the article here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Are Old Earth Creationists Heretics? Part 2

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Part 1 of this 2-part series is here.

Interesting... I was attacked three times in three days by OECs (Old Earth Creationists). I should not be surprised, I suppose. People love their pet doctrines, and get very passionate, even unchristian, in promoting them. The OEC in the previous post was banned for being obstreperous, illogical and judgmental, and had to continue fussing at me in e-mail correspondence. Also, there was another OEC who pulled similar nonsense and was extremely condescending. He met Mr. Banhammer as well.

As I discussed in the previous linked post, OECs essentially use current trends in science and science philosophy to tell God what he meant in his Word. Although this kind of compromise (that's right, I said it) does not guarantee that the person disbelieves the Bible or is not really a Christian, their lower view of Scripture causes a domino effect on theology, with further compromise and excuses as a result. Liberal theology has a slight resemblance to Biblical Christianity. The rampant compromise and intellectualis (which I believe has a basis in wanting to look clever to the world instead of pleasing God), emotional man-pleasing teachings, New Age ideas (2 Timothy 4.3-5) make OEC beliefs very much at home.Unfortunately, compromisers do not seem to care that Genesis is the foundation of Christian doctrine.

Take a look at this screenshot:

The above is from the third one who attacked me. This one had a dim view of the Bible. For claiming that the Bible is the Word of God, I also learned:
What time line are you talking about in Genesis. We know that the exodus did not happen as described in the bible, we know the conquest of Canaan was not on the scale or the time period in the bible and so forth...do this mean it is telling lies? (if you're taking it as literal yes) if you're seeing it for what it is...then NO!

I did not state the bible is unreliable, I said the opening of Genesis is not a historical account of creation. Much of the history in the early books in Genesis is not history as we would know it. It's very plain to see this. 
Actually, no, it is not "very plain to see this". This person was ignorant of history, archaeology, theology and a proper understanding of the Bible. I was also told, " I am here answering some questions that I have seen atheists put forth, I am not here to tell them what to believe or how to believe."

Further, I was chided for taking the Bible "literally". That is a loaded term, and I declined to answer. For an excellent article on "Should Genesis Be Taken Literally?", click here.

I keep maintaining that the whole question is Biblical authority. If the Bible is not our foundation, then what do we have? Why are we here?

Image credit: Answers in Genesis

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Are Old Earth Creationists Heretics?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This should be interesting, because I consider this a collaborative effort. From a Facebook exchange in one Page (taken from screen shots) to other forums with people offering some very insightful comments, and I am putting this together.

From the outset, I have to repeat some things that I have stated before regarding Old-Earth Creationists (OECs):
  • Many are caught up in the evolutionary propaganda and simply assume that the Earth is millions of years old
  • Some have not thought through the theological implications of adding huge amounts of time to the Creation account
  • Some have been deceived by OECs who misrepresent Young Earth (ie, Biblical) Creationists (YECs)
Although I am reluctant to claim the label "YEC" because it is not complete, I use it. But instead, I prefer to be faithful to what the Bible teaches, and that is my final authority.

Image credit: Answers in Genesis
In fact, the whole thing seems to come down to Biblical authority. There are OECs who are teaching some off-the-wall stuff that compromises, and some of them are in educational apologetics positions. The arch-compromiser Hugh Ross has some strange views and has affected many people. One of the beliefs that he and his disciples have is that there are two kinds of revelation, "general" and "special". Ross and others believe that "general revelation" (the natural world) is authoritative in its own right. Since both "books" came from God, they cannot contradict each other.

Sounds good at first. The problem is that "general revelation" has to be interpreted. So, the ever-changing whims of current science philosophies are chosen over what is revealed in the Bible. Bad idea (2 Tim. 3.16 NIV, Isaiah 40.8, 2 Peter 1.19-21 NASB). Current science philosophies will not tell me what God said and meant in his Word.

Here is where this gets personal, and rather distressing to me. Highlights of a "discussion" follow. It may get tedious, but please keep going because this is important.

I posted a link (which will appear at the bottom of this article) to a kind of debate on TBN's "PTL". (Yes, I know about TBN, but I have to be prompted to watch that network). Hugh Ross, Ken Ham, Eric Hovind, John Bloom, Sean McDowell and Ray Comfort were on the show.

"Charlie" (last name withheld, but he can identify himself in the comments if he wishes), said:
The more I see of Hugh Ross the more I wonder 'how can he be so blind?" He says so many right things, but mixed right in there is something that makes me go...what? Really? And he is so convinced he is right, he can't see it. And his fallacy starts by considering nature to be equivalent to Scripture. He describes here that God wrote two books: the Bible and Nature. He equates nature with Scripture on the authoritative level. He clearly missed this verse: "Heaven and earth shall pass away by my Word shall never pass away." I do hope he really is a believer but I pity both those whom he teaches and him when Jesus asks him to make an account for what he taught.
Enter M.R, who bills himself as "Education Director/Apologist" at an apologetics network, took exception to my remarks and started with, "Are you trying to say that Dr. Hugh Ross is an 'arch compromiser?' On what objective basis do you make such a statement?" I told him, "'Objective basis?'" This isn't a laboratory. He [Ross] doesn't believe what the Bible plainly says, and forces it to say what is not there. He tap dances around the plain meanings and insists on millions of years despite what Scripture says." My "objective basis" was my opinion that Ross manipulates the Scriptures to fit his own viewpoints. Wonderful beginning for an apologist, is it not?
M.R.: "So if we remove the idea of the 'objective basis,' we are left with the idea that he has a different interpretation than you." Me: "'Different interpretation'? No, he's doing violence to the Scriptures." I also furnished a link to Christian Answers dot net. I did not realize that he was a devotee of Ross.

M.R.: "
You said 'violence to the Scriptures.'. Would you tell me specifically what you mean by that." Me: "He denies the global flood, force-fits millions of years into the Bible, believes in some kind of 'progressive creation'. Do you want more to read?" I also furnished him with a link to an article on the false claims of Hugh Ross.

I also said, "In the interview, Ross said that we have the Bible and the book of creation (nature), and we use them together. In other words, man-made science philosophies (which are ever-changing) are used to interpret the Word of God."

M.R.: "
Asserting billions of years is not a 'force fit.'. It is a valid interpretation based on the Hebrew word "yom." Me: "It is a valid interpretation based on the Hebrew word 'yom.'" Absolutely untrue." I gave him a link to this article on the days of Genesis

Later, M.R. said: "Why is it untrue? Yom has four meanings in the Hebrew. One of those is a long, but finite period of time. So, as scholars such as Gleason Archer and Walter Kaiser say this allows for the interpretation. Ultimately, we are dealing with differing interpretations." I countered with, "That is not true. When "yom" is used with an indicator such as "evening" or morning", it means a literal day. When it's used with a number, it means a literal day. In Genesis, you have "evening and morning and [number] day". God nailed it down, there is no room to make millions of years. Hebrew scholars say that Genesis 1 was intended to be taken as literal days.
From Answers in Genesis [Click here for the excellent article that I referenced]:
A number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used with each of the six days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with a number 359 times, and each time it means an ordinary day.9 Why would Genesis 1 be the exception?

Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with the word “evening” or “morning”11 23 times. “Evening” and “morning” appear in association, but without yom, 38 times. All 61 times the text refers to an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception?

In Genesis 1:5, yom occurs in context with the word “night.” Outside of Genesis 1, “night” is used with yom 53 times, and each time it means an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? Even the usage of the word “light” with yom in this passage determines the meaning as ordinary day.
"So again, I'm asking why you MUST have those long ages. And caution you with this: 'Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar'. (Prov 30:6, NKJV)"
M.R.: "You questioned the interpretation by questioning the motivation as being pleasing to secularists. I know that AiG interprets it this way. Hebrew scholars, such as the ones I mentioned, say that the twenty four hour is not demanded by the text. 'Evening and morning' is better interpreted as 'ending was and beginning was." ... "As to dual revelation, God is the Creator of the universe and author of the Scriptures. Since both have God as their author, they will not contradict each other when correctly interpreted."

There you go! "Since both have God as their author, they will not contradict each other when correctly interpreted." This smacks of cultism. Mormons say that the Bible is true as far as it is translated correctly, but we need their special books for the whole truth. Here, we interpret the Bible by man's current understanding of science. In fact, I told him so: "'I know that AiG interprets it this way.' Straw man, or genetic fallacy? Hard to tell. 'Hebrew scholars, such as the ones I mentioned, say that the twenty four hour is not demanded by the text.' What, did you dredge up some oddball liberal ones? [Actually, he was clinging to the old Earthers that he cited before.] Most Hebrew scholars, even those who do not believe it, accept that Genesis is intended to convey literal days. 'Evening and morning' is better interpreted as 'ending was and beginning was.' In all my years, I've never encountered that silly thing. [Apparently, CMI and AiG are aware of it.] 'As to dual revelation, God is the Creator of the universe and author of the Scriptures. Since both have God as their author, they will not contradict each other when correctly interpreted.' Not only is that a fallacy of composition, but you sound like a cultist! 'The Bible is true as far as it is correctly interpreted. And it is interpreted by man's opinions of science'. Yep, you and Ross belong together. [I was getting irritated.]

To counter his scholars, I trumped with, "
One leading Hebrew scholar is James Barr, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University and former Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University in England. Although he does not believe in the historicity of Genesis 1, Dr. Barr does agree that the writer's intent was to narrate the actual history of primeval creation. Others also agree with him.
"Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; . . . Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the "days" of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know."
Sometime later, I gave him a link to the numbering pattern of Genesis.

Back to another comment from Charlie on the TV debate:
I found it interesting how Sean McDowell and John Bloom always took 'neutral' sides. It seems as though John Bloom was used to mediate between Ken Ham, Eric Hovind, and Hugh Ross. I do agree that all sides believed that it is not a salvation issue, but I am very much on Ken Ham's side in the Biblical authority side. And I like his approach in that he doesn't see himself as a YEC, but as one who holds the Bible as the ultimate authority. And that's the real issue with the debate. What is the ultimate authority. Hugh Ross claims that nature is on par with Scripture, but in practice, he actually holds science ABOVE Scripture. And that is where the compromise is. That is the root of it all. And anything held above God and his Word is an idol. That includes science (and yes, it can include Facebook too :)).
M.R.: "If I believed that Dr. Ross and RTB sacrificed the Scripture, then I would reject him. However, I have found that RTB upholds Biblical inerrancy and attempts to interpret both the general and special revelation responsibly. Again, both general and special revelation are authored by God and will not contradict one another." Me: "'‎Again, both general and special revelation are authored by God and will not contradict one another.' He chanted his unscriptural mantra."

M.R.: "
Why is that statement unscriptural? On what objective basis do you make such a statement?" Again with "on what objective basis" stuff. Here's the objective basis: It's unscriptural because it's unscriptural! In fact, the concept that God revealed himself in "two books", the "general" and "special" revelations, was an idea by Francis Bacon in 1605! Yes, it is unscriptural.

Charlie had some remarks that make this article stronger than ever:
I posted this above. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall never pass away." Hugh Ross insists on using ALL of Scripture to interpret Genesis. And so I shall. Here is a verse that says we CANNOT use 'nature' as a 'second book' next to the Bible. If Nature and Scripture were two equal 'books', this verse would never have been said. Nature will be gone and the Bible will remain. The whole heart of Hugh Ross's arguments and his position is tied to the very thing Ken Ham pointed out in OP: Scriptural Authority. The moment you put science and Scripture on the same level, you actually put science ABOVE Scripture. And Hugh Ross puts his entire philosophy on this foundation. He claims to support Scripture first and foremost, but the moment he puts science on par with Scripture, his claim fails.

Bob, since he kept harping on the "yom" issue, ask him this: if it is open to interpretation, could he consider a literal 24-hour meaning? Hugh Ross doesn't. He insists it HAS to be periods of time. Where's the context that supports it? His entire argument is "it has four interpretations". I've heard him several times and read several of his articles. Hugh Ross NEVER says WHY he picks periods of time. We do. And in a way, I'm surprised Kent Hovind, Eric Hovind, Ken Ham, have not brought that issue up. They always go to the 24-hour defense. Why use periods of time when there are three other interpretations to us? Why not use 12-hour periods which is another literal interpretation? Why long periods of time? I have not heard Hugh Ross state that step. And the only reason I can think of, is he has a pre-conceived mindset of millions of years. It is a compromise. The idea of millions of years (before Darwin made it popular) was always there to not counter creation but to counter Christianity. Because after all, if you can't trust the Bible for what it says in Genesis 1, how are you going to trust it in Matthew 27-28? Or anywhere else? There is no logical place for the line to be drawn.
"Chris" had this to say:
Its funny that Ross uses nature as equal to scripture, As i often talk about evo's as being pantheist not atheists. . . . . "The natural man is spiritually discerned he cannot know the things of God". Any belief of a unified nature is a compromise to pantheism. He seems to be an evolutionist appealing to nature's most important supernatural prop, . . . which is . . . time.
"Ross" reminded me that OECs use naturalistic foundations that they have in common with atheistic interpretation of scientific data:
Sadly they can't understand that the OEC belief is based on atheistic/naturalistic foundations which are nothing but shifting sands! What gets me is that, as Christians, they don't seem to understand that the Word of God is more solid than man's machinations! It boggles my mind that Christians would place the word of man higher than the Word of God! I just don't get it! :-/
Why M.R. is in a position of teaching and directing apologetics escapes me, because he supports some dubious theology put forth by Hugh Ross. Also, I found his logic to be sorely lacking. And what kind of a message is this for any apologist to give? "We trust the Bible, it is inerrant. But don't trust Genesis, we'll have to tell you what it means". Outrageous!

I try to save the science aspects for my other Weblogs, but I have to make something clear. We are not talking about the Bible having a conflict with actual, observable scientific facts. Instead, the conflict is with what is called historical science. This is inference about the past using scientific methods. It is not practical or observational science. If we read something odd, like, 3 Peter 3.16 says that things fall sideways on the full moon, then yes, we'd have a scientific or biblical interpretation problem. So, this is not about choosing the Bible above actual scientific facts.

The whole thing is about our submission to the Word of God. Do we trust God and his Word, or do we need to mix man-made science philosophies with it, or use them to interpret the Scriptures? Doing so is a bad idea, and heading toward heresy.

Edit: Charlie had this to say after he read the article, and he pointed out something important:
The only thing I would have added to that is the link between the fautly OEC claims to the effectiveness of the redemption of Christ. I pointed that out in my paper. OEC leads to heresy of what Christ's sacrifice actually covers. Those that believe accurately about Christ and believe OEC have a conflict in what is covered. Romans 5 is critical to WHY we must interpret Genesis 1-11 literally as YEC does. Hugh Ross wants ALL of Scripture. I can give it to him and he will put up more hoops to jump through.
Click here for the two-hour video that got this discussion rolling if the embedding below fails. A sequel to this article appears here.