Blogalogue

Blogalogue


The Bible teaches creationism

posted by kgiberson

Dear Karl,
I too am glad that we can have an opportunity to dialogue about this issue at a personal level. I do agree that this topic is an urgent and essential one–but the fundamental reason why I say this is because I believe it is a vital foundational issue that relates to biblical authority itself, as I hope to explain as we continue in this exchange.


I, like you, was raised in a Christian home. My father was a school principal, but he had spent his life studying the Bible. Being brought up in a country (Australia), with (percentage wise) very few Christians, to be an active Christian really stood out. We lived in a number of different rural areas, as my father was transferred to a different location when he was promoted. In many of those rural areas there were few (if any) churches, and we often came across Church leaders who did not take the stand on Scripture my parents did. My parents had such a burden to proclaim the gospel to all ages–they saw eternal things as more important than anything else.
My father was not one for imposing Christianity upon us as children, but teaching us logically how one could defend the Christian faith–building Christian thinking from the foundation of God’s Word upwards. He certainly taught us what it meant to understand that the Bible was what it claimed to be–a revelation from our Creator to us to enable us to have a foundation we could trust to understand the universe and the purpose and meaning of life. When a pastor of a church would preach that the plagues of Egypt, or the feeding of the five thousand (as recorded in John 6), for instance, were not miracles, but all could be explained by natural processes or other means, my father would always (in front of his family), lovingly and gently challenge this pastor with the words of Scripture itself concerning what had been taught by the pastor and what Scripture obviously stated.
My father’s favorite verses of Scripture included those with statements such as, “Have you not read…”, “It is written…”, “Thus says the Lord…” (eg: Matthew 4:7; 19:4) My father was passionate for upholding the Word of God. All six children have a similar passion for God’s Word and the spread of the saving gospel message. That is certainly my heartbeat and the reason I am involved in this ministry. I praise the Lord for Godly parents.
When I was taught Darwinian evolution and millions of years in High School, I didn’t have any of the massive numbers of resources we have available to us today to research the topic. I recognized, though, that there was a big difference between conducting experiments in a laboratory with direct observable results (such as applying acid to certain metals etc) and discussing the origin of those metals in the first place. Even as a young teenager, I understood (though perhaps not in these terms) the difference between empirical science (observable, repeatable experiments–operational science) and the origins issue (an issue concerning history, when we were not there to observe directly what happened).
My training in the Scriptures led me to understand the conflict this way: The Bible claims to be the infallible (God cannot lie – Numbers 23:19) Word of God–that it is “God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)–thus the Word of God (even though it was written by different people in different literature forms such as history, poetry, etc), was the infinite Creator’s revelation to us. Logically, the only way one can be sure of coming to the correct conclusion concerning the origin of the universe and life, is to know someone with all knowledge who can be totally trusted to reveal to us what happened. Only the God of the Bible can do and has done this. I therefore resolved the conflict between what I was taught at school this way:
1. There is a contradiction between what I was taught at school concerning how humans arose (from some ape-like ancestor) and what I understood Genesis to teach–that the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45–Adam was the first man) was made from dust and the first woman (Genesis 3:20–Eve was given that name because she would be the mother of all the living) made from Adam’s side.
2. I therefore went to Scripture to ensure I was taking it the right way. Genesis seemed to be written as history (and many scholars wrote that it was written in typical Hebrew historical narrative). To confirm this, if Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) is a revelation to us from an infinite God, it must be self attesting and self authenticating–and Scripture must interpret Scripture. I checked out the New Testament. Jesus (the Son of God–The Truth–The Word) quoted from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19: 4-6 when discussing the doctrine of marriage. Obviously Jesus (and Paul in Ephesians 5) referred to Genesis as literal history in building the doctrine of marriage being one man and one woman (and the whole understanding of one flesh–Eve came from Adam, as it also states in 1 Corinthians 11:8).
I was now sure I was taking Scripture the right way. I didn’t know the specific answer to many of the evolution arguments I learned in school–but recognized that my teachers were teaching me an interpretation of various fossils in the present, in relation to what certain scientists believed concerning how these fossils fitted into history when there was no human observer. I also understood that only God knows everything, and compared to what God knows, my teachers (and the scientists who gave them this interpretation of supposed ape-like human ancestors) were fallible finite beings–who, compared to God, knew very little.
As a Christian, my father had also shown me that the gospel message (the good news of salvation in Christ) was founded on the literal history in Genesis–as Paul in the New Testament makes obvious in passages such as Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. I therefore saw the importance of standing on the authority of God’s Word and determined there was a problem with what I was being taught at school–even if at that time I couldn’t resolve it back then. I needed to search for answers–and I did. It began a journey that has led me to where I am today.
You specifically brought up “psuedogenes.” Applying how I deal with such as per my above approach outlined in summary to you, I’d like to address your claim that the study of genetics supports common ancestry for animals and humans (assume you are including humans). From the way I take Genesis (as I did as a student), I would have to conclude there is something wrong with this interpretation (and it is an interpretation). I would also recognize that no scientist knows everything about such structures–that there is a lot we don’t know about genetics and DNA–in fact, scientists are finding new information all the time. I therefore consulted one of AiG‘s scientists–Dr. Georgia Purdom, who has a Ph.D in molecular Genetics, and interestingly, was once a Professor at a Nazarene University. She gave me this information:
“It is a form of prejudicial conjecture to suggest that pseudogenes are non-functional leftovers from past duplication events. The function/non-function of pseudogenes has been hotly debated for years. Several studies have shown that some pseudogenes are, in fact, functional. The ENCODE Project has revealed that much of the human “junk” DNA (pseudogenes fall into this category) may have a function, especially in the area of regulation. Regulation of gene expression is especially important to prevent cancer and other diseases. The psi beta pseudogene in the human beta globin gene cluster has been suggested to play a regulatory role in the expression of the other globin genes in that cluster. Another possibility is that some pseudogenes are the result of genes originally designed by God to have a function but as a result of mutation after the Fall are no longer performing this function.”
I say all this to you, Karl, because I really believe that there are at least two major differences between us that we may never be able to resolve in this dialogue:
1. Our respective approaches to Scripture
2. Our respective understanding of what I and others call “Operational Science” and “Origins Science,” and how we relate these to Scripture.
Regarding the first issue, it makes sense to take Scripture in a natural way – reading the poetic sections like Psalms as poetry, and taking the historic sections as literal history. That Genesis is historic is clearly the position of Christ and the Apostles, as I’ve mentioned above. Indeed (as is the theme of my book “The Lie” that you refer to), every major Christian doctrine can be linked back to a literal Genesis directly or indirectly.
Regarding the second issue, it is crucial to understand the nature of starting points when interpreting the evidence around us–which is why our Creation Museum starts with a “starting points” exhibit. We all have biases–both creationists and evolutionists–so we in no way wish to denigrate scientists for having biases. Indeed, certain starting assumptions/biases are necessary in order for science to be possible in the first place–such as the assumption that our senses are basically reliable. (Why bother to do an experiment if we could not trust our senses?)
When it comes to science in the present (science “proper” – empirical, testable, repeatable observation and experimentation), there is actually little disagreement between creationists and evolutionists. However, when it comes to reconstructing past events, our different starting points will cause us to interpret the same evidence differently. After all, creationists and evolutionists have a different view of history–even a different philosophy of what is possible in the past. The creationist is open to supernatural events during the creation week, whereas evolutionists largely believe that naturalism should guide our understanding of the past. The creationist embraces the history and the catastrophic effects of Noah’s Flood, whereas evolutionists largely dismiss the Flood as a global event, and embrace the philosophy of uniformitarianism (to varying degrees) instead. Our different worldviews cause us to interpret the same evidence differently.
Consider the fact that living creatures share commonalities in their DNA patterns. This is exactly what creationists would expect. All the original kinds of organisms were created by the same God, so we would expect them to have some similarities. Moreover, given that genes code for traits, it is hardly surprising that organisms with more similar traits have more similar genes. There is no rational reason to think that in all cases similarity implies common ancestry. To think otherwise, as one of my colleagues would say, is to commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent.
Karl, in order for us to get anywhere in this debate, we must get to the heart of the matter. Which method of interpreting evidence can be rationally defended? Which worldview (biblical creation or evolution) can account for human experience and reasoning in a way that is consistent, non-arbitrary, and makes sense of Christian doctrines? I would argue that the things necessary for empirical science, knowledge, and a Christian worldview are set forth in a natural reading of Scripture, and therefore a literal Genesis. It is my position that a straightforward reading (i.e. reading history as history, poetry as poetry) of God’s Word is the only rational position possible–the others being either internally inconsistent, arbitrary, or destroying foundation of both knowledge in general and Christian doctrines specifically.
Yes, there is certainly good science that confirms the Genesis account of creation. Ultimately, however, I believe in creation for the same reason I believe in the resurrection of Christ: it is the clear teaching of the Word of God (John 3:12).
Kindest Regards,
Ken Ham



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Ryan

posted October 21, 2008 at 3:27 pm


An excellent expose of the real issues at hand here. Not about the evidence, since we all have the same evidence to observe, but about our already predetermined presuppositions. It explained the issues with great clarity, just as Mr. Giberson had, and I can tell this is going to be a great debate, and hopefully will help influence those involved and those watching. I was a bit dissapointed to see hte lack of rebuttal to the claims made by Mr. Giberson in his post, but as I touched on there, maybe it was to avoid repitition? All in all, it was a joy to read.



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mahweh

posted October 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm


Great post, if by great I were to mean avoiding any discussion of the real issues.
Reading the Bible as history is the most irrational place to start. It boils down to nothing more than blind belief in the writings of a primitive group of people who thought that the earth revolved around the sun, that natural disasters were caused by deities, that supernatural beings had sex with women and produced a race of giants (yeah, sure), that the chief god for some reason had a phoboia about wearing clothes with dual fabric and the uncleanness of women during their menstrual cycle, that this god made people in his or her own image yet they are absolutely evil, that this god was satiated by the smell of burnt animal flesh, and he commanded a man to tie his son to a stake and raise a knife. And so on.
I’m sure the creationism industry is lucrative, hopefully you sleep well at night after counting the money you have stolen from the rubes.



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ZeroBomb

posted October 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm


The idea that most, if not all, teachings are linked to Genesis in no way necessitates a literal interpretation of the events. Take, for example, the “Theology of the Body” as put forth by John Paul II. He beautifully affirms many Catholic positions such as the dignity of life, sanctity of marriage, etc by drawing from a spiritual, rather than literal, interpretation of Genesis.



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Ryan

posted October 21, 2008 at 4:50 pm


Wow… Maweh, I am a bit surprised. Usually banter of such thigns are usually researched to a more extent degree. It sounds as if all hte info you recieved came off of a ill-researched secular God hating, Bible-bashing website. The multiple laws you site were merely given to the Isrealites to set them apart from te many pagan cultures that surrounded them. Those that used women for sex regardless, those that wore the furs of multiple animals as a tribute to their gods, and so on. No where does the Bible say that God created us as evil beings. Indeed, we were created in His imagee, perfect and flawless, but then we messed up, falling into the temptation of the serpent (Satan). And I imagine you meant to say that the people believed that the sun revolved around the earth, instead of the accurate assult you made. I would imagine the claim that gods mated with women is a reference to the Nephelem, but your claim holds no basis in Scripture. Yes, they were described as giants, but no where is it claimed that it was angels (gods?) that mated with the females. This comes from many misinformed fallible people that have read into Scripture what they understand to be true, rather than read Scripture as is. He commanded Abraham to do what he did so that it was known where Abraham’s loyalty and faith lied. And when you read the story, Abraham tells his son that “The Lord will provide a sacrifice.” This leads us to believe that Abraham knew that his son was in no serious danger, and because of his obediance, God blessed Abraham and spared his son.
It is obvious you hold a severe misconception of the origin and authenticity of Scripture, again, something that both those within the debate adhere to as flawless and perfect, which makes me wonder the purpose of your presence here in this debate.
As for the last, uncalled for claim, any and all money made by these organizations is donated, not stolen, and there is no money made, as these are non-prfoit organizations.
As for the concerns of the Pope, with all due respects to the Catholic church, the point is these reasons are made from human reason, not from the straight forwadness of Scripture. Just as Jesus said, “If you do not believe the writings of Moses, how can you believe me?” and “If you do not believe me when I speak of earthly things, how can you believe when I speak of heavenly things?” Jesus made it clear that if the history in the Bible is not true, niether are His words, nor the rest of the Bible.
Many blessings.



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Dan Baynes

posted October 21, 2008 at 4:59 pm


Mahweh (how do you derive your username?), your post is so jam-packed with loaded phrases and the like that it deserves a point-by-point response, albeit space is limited.
Ken Ham’s post actually does much to specify what the root issues in the debate really are. Dr Giberson’s post was certainly interesting but (for an OP) spent I felt too much time on listing various specifics rather than laying proper foundations for the debate to follow. This meant that he left himself out of space to explain just how Christians could ‘make peace with evolution’, as he put it.
Your claim that reading the Bible historically is most irrational is repeatedly contradicted by archaeological finds, such as those which turned erstwhile sceptic Sir William Ramsey into a well-persuaded Bible believer. I suggest you read up on this.
Therefore there’s no point in blabbering about “blind belief”; if anything your post betrays naked blind prejudice, and you would have been more honest to declare your motives for doing this, as earlier atheists Aldous Huxley and Richard Lewontin did.
Your remark about “primitive” people reads strangely when we think of the remarkable cultures and civilisations of that day. It also contains circular reasoning because it assumes a naive evolutionary belief that human societies only ever advance with time. In several respects (e.g. consider the present banking crisis) we actually show ourselves to be inferior to many of their time!
You have no basis for telling what they thought re. geocentrism so scratch that one. And obviously the Hebrews didn’t believe in plural “deities” so go to the back of the class there too.
Where did you get this strange sex view from? Not Genesis 6:1-4!
The true God was never the chief of many (which?) so I’ll ignore that too.
You apparently don’t even realise that Genesis says God didn’t make people evil but they became that way later. If you don’t know the controverted text enough to know even that, why bother posting?
A bit pointless, then, to try to explain to you what sacrifice was all about. Don’t bother trying to run until you learn to walk ;)
And it’s really rich taking the money tack in face of all the tax millions taken from creationists to finance one-sided evolutionary propaganda in media and museums etc. How in your terms is THAT not theft?



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Gerald McGrew

posted October 21, 2008 at 5:03 pm


In responding to Mr. Giberson’s comment about pseudogenes, Ken clearly identifies the root cause of young-earth creationism….
“From the way I take Genesis (as I did as a student), I would have to conclude there is something wrong with this interpretation ”
Exactly. Because of the way young-earth creationists read scripture, they HAVE TO conclude there’s something wrong with the pseudogene data. For them, there is no other alternative.
That is the MO of creationists: Have a rock-firm conclusion, and THEN look at the data.
Not only is that not science, that’s the exact opposite of science.
Further, Mr. Ham’s copy-n-paste regarding the pseudogene data states:
“The function/non-function of pseudogenes has been hotly debated for years. Several studies have shown that some pseudogenes are, in fact, functional. The ENCODE Project has revealed that much of the human “junk” DNA (pseudogenes fall into this category) may have a function, especially in the area of regulation.”
See how vague that is? “Several studies”, “some pseudogenes”, “much of the human junk DNA”….
All that does is give creationists who have no knowledge of the science the impression, “Gosh, there might not be any junk DNA, and the creationists are the ones discovering it”.
But in reality, there are enormous desserts that we know are composed of non-functional DNA (we can carve them out of lab organisms, and some people are naturally born missing these regions, yet are perfectly fine). And creationists aren’t the ones discovering the few functional bits among these regions; it’s the “evolutionists”.
What they’ve done is the equivalent of finding a few needles in a vast haystack, and the creationists make it seem as if the entire stack is made entirely of needles.



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Dan Baynes

posted October 21, 2008 at 5:11 pm


ZeroBomb, JP2 may have taught many “Catholic” things in his book but his (and his successor’s) views on Genesis are anything but catholic. Every single Church Father, whether Greek or Latin, who commented in relation to this question believed that the world was thousands, not billions years old. In fact I know of only two (Origen and Augustine) who weren’t six-day creationists, but even that’s a distinction without a difference because AFAIK they were one-moment creationists!
Origen: “…the Mosaic account of the creation… teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that” (Against Celsus 1:19)
Augustine: “…reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed” (City of God 12(10))
The defection of the church of Rome from catholic tradition on this matter is absolutely vast.



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ZeroBomb

posted October 21, 2008 at 5:36 pm


Dan:
But there is a reason their writing are not considered inspired, is there not? Do you think that the church fathers were valiantly “young earth” in spite of the scientific findings of the time? I wouldn’t be surprised if they also believed the sun and stars revolved around the earth, diseases were spiritual afflictions and lightning was some divine effect. They represented the prevailing views of the time, nothing more. To say they used scriptures to find the age of the world is only to say they had no other way to do it.



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ZeroBomb

posted October 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm


ooo! I have a question!
I thought of a good one!
Certainly young earth creationists cannot deny conservation of mass. If there was a global flood, the water would have to be higher than the earth’s highest point, it would also have to be roughly spherical. Taking the earth to have radius 6,378.1km (distance from center to sea level–rsea) and the highest point being 8.848km above sea level (everest) we have rmax = 6,378.1km + 8.848km
4/3*pi*(rmax^3-rsea^3)=1.1*10^12km^3
now taking the density of water to be 1*10^12kg/km^3 we end up with:
1.1*10^12km^3 * 1*10^12kg/km^3 = 1.1*10^24kg
the current estimate for the mass of the earth is 5.9742*10^24
therefore if the creationists are right, the earth should be over 1/6th water by mass! (after all, the water in the oceans, lakes and rivers was all still there)
Where did all the water come from and go? Not into the atmosphere, that only weighs on the order of 10^18kg, and is composed mostly of nitrogen.



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Gary Hurd, Ph.D.

posted October 21, 2008 at 6:35 pm


Ken Ham cited an article in Nature magazine as “proof” that pseudogenes have functions. He wrote, “Several studies have shown that some pseudogenes are, in fact, functional.” He used this to support the conclusion that science is bunk, and the earth is mere thousands of years old.
I can assert with total confidence that Ken Ham cannot understand the article he cited, and I must even question the ability of Dr. Purdom. The article, “An expressed pseudogene regulates the messenger-RNA stability of its homologous coding gene,” begins in the title to point out some unusual features for this pseudo gene, it is expressed, but the result is an RNA molecule that is not transcribed into a protein. Interesting, but not a challenge to evolutionary theory. Next the title tells us that this particular pseudogenes has a homologous coding gene. Homology is one of the corner stones of evolutionary theory. The RNA from the pseudogenes interfered with the function of a very similar RNA produced by the “homologous coding gene.” Again, this is interesting but not a challenge to biology or any other science. If Ham or Purdom understood the paper, they would not have misrepresented it as a refutation of evolutionary biology, or even the point being made by Professor Karl Giberson.
The category of DNA units called “pseudogenes” are those which have the general structure of genes but are not transcribed into a protein. This was a reasonable category to invent twenty years ago when we were not able to regularly and cheaply sequence DNA, and when regulatory functions of micro-RNAs (miRNA) was unsuspected. The 2003 article cited was an important indicator that any transcribed DNA might have some possible effect. Throughout the paper the fundamental principles of evolutionary biology are affirmed. It didn’t mean what Ham seemed to think it meant. It did seem to have fooled some people, which I must conclude was the real goal.



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ZeroBomb

posted October 21, 2008 at 7:04 pm


Ah! I hit the buttons on my calculator over zealously, the correct mass of additional water is 4.53*10^21kg
not as breathtaking as before, but still objectionable. After all, there was water in the lakes and oceans before and after the flood.
The current amount of water on the planet is only 1.26*10^21 kg so we are missing 3 times as much water as there currently is on the whole planet.



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Ryan

posted October 21, 2008 at 7:32 pm


*sigh* Wow, this is bad. We seem to have turned this debate between Mr. Ham and Mr. Giberson about evolution and creation into a debate between me and…it seems like everyone else with a computer. As I am certainly not the expert here, and as is clearly shown by many of the already debunked and refuted arguments presented here. It seems you all do not enjoy really seeking answers. who am I to give them to you? All I can say is God bless, and I hope maybe the debate will prove at the very least entertaining for you, and at most, maybe show you a thing or two.



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Steven Kippel

posted October 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm


Ken makes the startling claim that, “every major Christian doctrine can be linked back to a literal Genesis directly or indirectly.”
Honestly, if you go through any of the creeds, none of them have any bearing to Genesis. Christ’s divinity, the virgin birth, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension, soteriology, eccliseology, none of these have anything to do with Genesis.
And clearly the earliest Christian writings, and the Hebraic scholars of the first century, teach Genesis as allegory.
Christ doesn’t reference Genesis for its historicity but to make a metaphorical point. This is a huge chink in your argument because Christ used Genesis as allegory in the very instance you refer to, Mr. Ham.
St. Augustine, to whom much of our protestant theology owns a great debt, actually wrote volumes on Genesis as allegory.



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MC

posted October 21, 2008 at 8:43 pm


Zero bomb, what evidence do you have the everest was nearly as high during the flood, and not that high BECAUSE of the flood? Why do people assume Creationists think the world looked the same before and after the flood? This shows a complete lack of understanding of what a GLOBAL FLOOD would do. Things like carrying sediment from Pennsylvania to Nevada, carving the Grand Canyon, breaking apart the continents, and CREATING ocean trenches and mountain peaks. Level the ground and raise the ocean flood, melt the polar ice caps which surely developed in the single ice age that followed the flood (read anything by Michael Oard), and there’s more than enough water to cover the entire earth by thousands of feet. Where did the water go? Check your globe.



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Buho

posted October 21, 2008 at 10:19 pm


Gary Hurd: Ham did not use the article to “support the conclusion that science is bunk, and the earth is thousands of years old.” He said, “there is actually little disagreement between creationists and evolutionists” regarding operational/experimental science.
The cited article was not supposed to be “a challenge to evolutionary theory” or “a refutation of evolutionary biology.” I’m fairly sure Ham and Purdom understood the paper, for even I (a non-biologist) understand why they cited it. It appears you misunderstood their intent and drive. If it could help, remember the bit I quoted Ham in the last paragraph.



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bobxxxx

posted October 21, 2008 at 10:33 pm


Wow, Ken Ham, the world famous liar and ignorant fool.



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Your Name

posted October 21, 2008 at 10:49 pm


ZeroBomb: The Antediluvian world did not have the tall mountains that we know today. It had a very smooth landscape.



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Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.

posted October 22, 2008 at 12:51 am


Steven Kippel
“Honestly, if you go through any of the creeds, none of them have any bearing to Genesis.”
Why would they? Creeds were statements designed to rebut heresies like Arianism. There was no need to explain Genesis because this was undisputed. Arguments from silence are crass.
“And clearly the earliest Christian writings, and the Hebraic scholars of the first century, teach Genesis as allegory.”
Not true. Allegorizers were a small minority. Josephus, Theophilus, Basil, Chrysostom, Ephraim the Syrian, John Damascene, Ambrose of Milan, taught a literal Genesis.
Josephus: “Accordingly Moses says, that in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made.” in book chapter “Containing the interval of three thousand eight hundred and thirty-three years
From the Creation to the death of Isaac.”
Basil the Great: ‘“And there was evening and there was morning: one day.” And the evening and the morning were one day. Why does Scripture say “one day” not “the first day”? Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first which began the series? If it therefore says “one day”, it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fill up the space of one day—we mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as though it said: twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or that, in reality a day is the time that the heavens starting from one point take to return there.
Ambrose of Milan: ‘Scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night, should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent’
“Christ doesn’t reference Genesis for its historicity but to make a metaphorical point.”
Come off it. Jesus relied on the *history* of the creation of man and woman to teach on marriage (Mt. 19:3ff) and the *history* of Noah’s Flood to teach on the coming judgement.
“St. Augustine, to whom much of our protestant theology owns a great debt, actually wrote volumes on Genesis as allegory.”
Augustine didn’t know Hebrew, so his interpretation is hardly authoritative. All the same, he was a young-earth creationist!
In his most famous work, City of God, he has a whole chapter, Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past, where he says:
‘Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. … They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.’



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Pseudonym

posted October 22, 2008 at 2:37 am


I can’t see how Ken concludes that Genesis 1 is written like literal history. Does he speak Hebrew? Has he researched ancient Hebrew literature himself? Which “scholars” did he base his conclusion on?
Genesis 1 is highly structured. It very closely resembles the literary form found in Icelandic sagas. It’s prose, but it has six stanzas, and a refrain at the end of each (“there was evening, and there was morning”). The parallelism between the first three stanzas and last three are obvious to all readers, a feature commonly seen in Hebrew poetry.
I really don’t see how it’s possible to conclude that this isn’t a prose poem. It has everything you’d expect from one.
I guess this is my main frustration with Mr. Ham and other anti-evolutionists: They will not allow the Bible to be what it is.



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Pseudonym

posted October 22, 2008 at 2:39 am


Oh, one more thing. I live in Australia. According to the last census, 75% of people are Christians, and according to the NCLS, 15% regularly attend a Christian place of worship at least once a month.
In other words, we’re still a majority, just like when Mr. Ham was growing up. The assertion that Christians are rare percentage-wise is simply untrue.



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Dan Baynes

posted October 22, 2008 at 4:52 am


Steven Kippel: I suggest you take another look.
The doctrine of the Trinity (whence comes Christ’s divinity) is foreshadowed in the uniplurality teaching of Gen. 1, both in the choice of name for God and places like “let us make man…”, “the man is become like one of us” (ch. 3).
Christ’s virgin birth is about his incarnation, and Eve understood that the promised Redeemer would be divine and human when she said, literaly, “I have begotten a man, Jehovah”. The mention of the woman’s seed without any mention of man’s seed is also strongly suggestive.
His atoning death was foreshadowed when God made the first animal sacrifice to get the skins to clothe Adam and Eve after they first sinned. Moreover Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s precisely because he understood the need for blood atonement and expressed this understanding by his choice of offering.
Resurrection and ascension are of course inevitable aftermaths of Christ’s battle with and victory over death.
Soteriology, i.e. salvation by the atonement made by the divine-human Saviour, as above.
Ecclesiology is hardly a vital Christian doctrine for Protestants! But even there we have reference, insofar as Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord”, having therefore been in it (i.e. the ‘visible church’) up to that point.
I don’t understand what you’re saying about Christ’s use of Genesis. In any event it’s perfectly clear from several places that he believed in a recent creation. See Terry Mortenson’s masterful essay on this and the dismal failure of modern evangelical writers to ‘deal with’ it.
You’ll have to do better than claim the early fathers taught Genesis as allegory, since to my knowledge all but two whose views we can ascertain were six-day creationists. (Using a history text as allegory doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t believe it really happened – witness what Christian writers have said about the story of Joseph!)
And the two who weren’t? Origen and Augustine were really one-moment creationists. Augustine said that “reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed” (City of God 12(10)).



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Dan Baynes

posted October 22, 2008 at 4:58 am


Pseudonym: If Genesis 1 is a case apart, does that mean you accept the historicity of Gen. 2-11?
Adam from dust – Eve from his side – their fall bringing death and affecting the natural world – patriarchs living close to 1000 years – a global flood – division of languages at Babel….
I’m not holding my breath ;)



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KJH

posted October 22, 2008 at 8:25 am


Mr. Kippel,
Concerning Literal interpretation of Genesis: I don’t know much about first century Hebrew scholars, and I don’t know Hebrew myself, but I will include a quote from a current Hebrew scholar. This is taken from the Answers in Genesis website:

Professor James Barr, Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford, has written:
‘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 (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. 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.’9.



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mahweh

posted October 22, 2008 at 10:31 am


Dan:
Nobody misreads Biblical texts more than Christians. The Trinity is a perfect example. Not a single reference to God in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament has anything to to with triune nature. But anyone who is creative can make up something.
What evidence do you have that the poetic “us” in Genesis equals 3, and not two or 10 or 10,000? Why didn’t God just tell Abraham and Moses he has three parts? For that matter, why didn’t Jesus say he was part of the Trinity? Because it’s a ridiculous idea that was invented in the fourth century to settle a dispute. One side said Jesus was God, the other said he was man (and others had various views in between), finally someone had the brilliant solution to say that he was everything all at once. God and Man. Created and begotten. Problem solved. But it ain’t logical or true.
You think the Hebrews didn’t believe in multiple deities? The Pentatuch is filled with the idea that YHWH was the chief God, the most powerful one, not the only one. “You shall have no other Gods before me” implies that there are other Gods. How did the Egyptians’ sorcerers get their staffs to turn into snakes that were eaten by the staff of Moses? They had Gods, just not as powerful as the one employed by Moses.
I did read Ramsey’s book, so what? At the time I was a believer, but the facts do not support a literal reading of the bible. A thousand other scholars did the research and lost their faith, why not listen to them?



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Mark Sasscer

posted October 22, 2008 at 12:03 pm


ZeroBomb,
You are RAPIDLY getting your calculations closer. How much did you subtract from your ring of water for land mass? And what about all the water below sea level? And what about the assumption that Mt Everest was that tall before and during the flood? (It’s still changing height.) Point is that it is easy to make miscalculations and maintain false assumptions, and thereby create new “truth” that has no foundation in reality. In truth, the best human faculties are so very limited that even large groups of the smartest people have vast potential for getting it all wrong.



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Steven Kippel

posted October 22, 2008 at 12:03 pm


Mr Ham,
Your self-referencing is a dishonest form of intelligent conversation. You did it in your article and in response to mine.
Mr Baynes,
None of those points you make have anything to do with a literal interpretation of the creation story.
When God said, “Let us make man” it certainly points to a plurality in a singular God, but it doesn’t point to a literal creation story.
Eve’s statement also has nothing to do with a literal creation story.
Abel’s sacrifice is also not reliant on a literal creation story.
Clearly you must also not be aware that Justin Martyr, the first Christian apologist, said “For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ is connected with this subject.”
Origen did indeed find those who took Genesis literally were foolish. “What intelligent person will suppose that there was a first, a second and a third day, that there was evening and morning without the existence of the sun and moon and stars? Or that there was a first day without a sky? Who could be so silly as to think that God planted a paradise in Eden in the East the way a human gardener does, and that he made in this garden a visible and palpable tree of life, so that by tasting its fruit with one’s bodily teeth one should receive life?”
And he speaks of “we”, meaning it wasn’t just his idea, “we have treated to the best of our ability in our notes upon Genesis, as well as in the foregoing pages, when we found fault with those who, taking the words in their apparent signification, said that the time of six days was occupied in the creation of the world.”
Augustine found it terrible that a Christian might speak of science wrongly and be scoffed at as a result, “It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he 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.”
He went on to say these things had nothing to do with salvation, “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.”



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Oliver Elphick

posted October 22, 2008 at 12:20 pm


Stephen Kippel says, “if you go through any of the creeds, none of them have any bearing to Genesis. Christ’s divinity, the virgin birth, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension, soteriology, eccliseology, none of these have anything to do with Genesis.”
The Trinity, and therefore Christ’s divinity, is hinted at in the first chapter of Genesis: elohim is a plural word, “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’…So God created man in his image…”
The virgin birth makes more sense in the context of Genesis 3′s teaching about the fall. The NT expounds this: “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” We inherit a sinful nature from Adam, but Jesus did not, because he had no human father.
The resurrection demonstrates the power of God over death, which came on the human race in consequence of Adam’s sin. If (theistic) evolution were true, death would be the intended means of development and “creation”; how then could it be described as an enemy? How could it be the result of sin?
In truth, you need to understand and believe Genesis in order truly to understand the gospel.
The atheist, Aldous Huxley, recognised that marrying evolution to the bible was contradictory. It is a pity that so many Christians have allowed themselves to be deceived about this.
You go on to say, “And clearly the earliest Christian writings, and the Hebraic scholars of the first century, teach Genesis as allegory.”
I think this is entirely wrong. Which earliest Christian writings?



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M.B.

posted October 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm


Ken,
Be encouraged brother. Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
This entire debate can be boiled down to starting points. And everyone interprets the evidence based on their starting point (as Ken mentioned above). If you can’t believe the first book of the bible, why believe the rest of it? If not Genesis, why John, Romans, Hebrews, or any other book for that matter?
This is a debate about foundations. What’s yours?



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KJH

posted October 22, 2008 at 2:07 pm


Sorry, I did not intend to be deceptive with my screen name, but I am not Ken Ham, and do not claim to be nearly as intelligent or well versed as either of the debaters.



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John

posted October 22, 2008 at 5:35 pm


The way I see it, the big question is one of consistency. The Bible CLEARLY says Creation in six days, (Genesis ch 1, and Exodus 20:11 ‘For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.)
Jesus spoke of the Scritures as true. Therefore, if you believe Jesus, then six day creation.
A consistent Christian would believe the Scriptures first, as does Ken Ham. An inconsistent Christian would believe man’s fallible ‘science’ first, as does Karl Giberson.



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Teresa

posted October 22, 2008 at 7:50 pm


I have read widely in both creationist literature and anti-theist literature (talkorigins, Panda’s thumb, NCSE, etc.), and none of the debates on evidence are convincing. The only arguments that are in fact convincing are those from a viewpoint standpoint. From a historical perspective (for those who are willing to look at a historical perspective), the progression from a historical Genesis to somehow fitting billions of years and evolution into the Bible is obvious. Christians are to blame for this problem. Our forefathers in the faith (though some always stood for a historical Genesis), in an attempt to avoid appearing childish or foolish to the world, accepted the world’s interpretation of origins and/or the age of the earth.
I am delighted at the resurgence of creationists who have decided that they care more about standing on the Word of God than they care about what anti-theist scientists think of their intellect. They (fully-credentialed and highly intelligent scientists at AiG and ICR, for example) are doing great operational science (as biblical creationists have historically done), and they are building scientific models based on the physical evidence on the earth to support a historical Genesis. Though I did not need this evidence to see the flaws in the assumptions, inferences, and creative writing done by evolutionists, I am glad their testimony is being heard and that, as a result, people are turning to Christ, their Creator and Redeemer.
In my opinion, this is what the ministries of AiG and ICR and other creationist organizations are all about: standing on the foundation of the Word of God regardless of what the world thinks. While I do not doubt Mr. Giberson’s Christianity, it is my opinion that those who accept billions of years and evolution from slime to scientist are laying aside God’s truth and reason in order to agree with the world so that they are not viewed by the world as fools.
The Bible is very clear that Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God. I would rather be considered a fool by the world than to put aside God’s wisdom for that of feeble-minded Man.



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Pseudonym

posted October 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm


Dan Baynes:
“If Genesis 1 is a case apart, does that mean you accept the historicity of Gen. 2-11?”
If by that you mean do I think it’s _literal_ history, then like the majority of Christians in the world, I don’t. Genesis 1 just happens to be more obviously non-literal to a non-expert than the rest of Genesis.
Ken is absolutely correct that the debate is about foundations. The questions are: Is the Word of God static or living? Is the Bible is meant to be read in context or without context? Does the study of nature illuminate the Bible or deny it?
As the old hymn goes: “The Lord hath yet more light and truth To break forth from His Word.”



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Micah

posted October 23, 2008 at 12:11 am


Hey all,
I have a pretty sincere question regarding this debate that maybe some of you could help me with. I, like both debaters, was raised to believe a literal 6-day creation was the only faithful interpretation of Genesis and was therefore the only faithful interpretation of science.
While I no longer approach Genesis 1 as Mr. Ham does, I can’t help but wonder what the point of the creation account was. In other words, what is the author(s) of Genesis getting at by laying out these details? Now, Mr. Ham is definitely wrong when he says that Genesis 1 is history and not poetry. You’ll notice that in most of your Bibles, this passage is formatted as poetry (though it may be hard to discern since the column is divided into two texts, thereby clouding the poetic layout). By the way, I don’t hold this against Mr. Ham since his training is not in Old Testament studies.
Anyway, all that to say, what is the referent/purpose of the creation poem? If Yahweh didn’t create humans out of dirt and ribs, then why say this? Is it just flowerly language used to describe some action on the part of Yahweh? If so, what was that action?
I hope that makes sense. Thanks in advance!
micah



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CD

posted October 23, 2008 at 1:49 am


I would like to gently say not to be so sure that Ken is “definitely wrong” about Genesis 1 being history, based on text formatting of this chapter in most Bibles. The format that you speak of in Genesis 1 is not indicating it is poetry. The formatting is used to show lists of several things or to show order. Genesis 1 is a list of the days of God’s creating work – and order is important. Each day is numbered. Take a look at Numbers 26 for example (just one of many) and you will see similar formatting. Numbers 26 is hardly poetry. I can think of many cases where I format my writing with special indentations and such, to show an ordered list of things I am doing or have done. And the last time I wrote anything resembling poetry (sadly) was in elementary school.
Ken, great post. God bless you!



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John

posted October 23, 2008 at 3:12 am


Something else to add:
My God can do anything He wants, in as little or as much time as He wants to do it. My God doesn’t fit in a man made ‘box’. My God is the creator of the universe, all powerful, all knowing.
My God said He created in six days. If He said He created in five or fifty, or fifty million, I would believe Him. But He said six days, therefore I believe six days. Jesus believed it too. No greater authority than that.
Guess I have to agree with Ken.



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Chad

posted October 23, 2008 at 3:40 am


The creation account of Genesis is of such overwhelming importance, that to read it without a literal interpretation is to deny the sin of Adam, and thereby the very reason and purpose of Christ’s coming and death. It is mind-boggling that people can describe themselves as both Christians and evolutionists based on this fact alone. There is simply no such thing as a Christian evolutionist, as the very term is fundamentally contradictory. If one accepts the Biblical mandate of belief in Christ and his redeeming work on the cross, then one cannot also accept the idea that there was nothing to redeem. Call it fundamentalism if you will, but this is very simple logic.



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John

posted October 23, 2008 at 4:42 am


On ya Chad!



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MItch

posted October 23, 2008 at 11:16 am


Time to add my two cents. I agree with Ham that we do not know as much as we think we know. The common view in Old Testament times was that the earth was supported by something. Be a turtle, a man, or some other deity but the Bible in its truthfulness states in Job 26:7, “He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.” No other religion stated this at this time, that the Earth was suspended in space. Also, we once believed that life wasn’t in the blood. However, Leviticus 17:11 states, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Another scientific fact, in Job 28:25 it says, “When He imparted weight to the wind and meted out the waters by measure,” Wind was only proven to have weight about 300 years ago, and its the balance of these weights that keep the water cycle going. Another fact, in Job 38:16 it says, “Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep.” And sure enough, we discovered that there were springs in the depths of the oceans. So how can the Bible not be considered to be scientifically accurate, when these scientific facts are found in it?
Also, if you look at the Hebrew, the “day” (Yom) used in Genesis and the “day” used Exodus are the same yet in Exodus 20:8-11 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Without bias, how can one insert millions of years into that? Just reading it plainly one can have no doubt that it meant 6 literal days. It is impossible to assume otherwise.
So using these facts, millions of years is incompatible with the Bible. Also, the fact that each creature was created separate from
each other also shows that things did not “evolve”.
If you want physical proof of that. There is unique pottery in Mexico that has pictures of men and dinosaurs on it. Don’t believe me? look here: http://www.bible.ca/tracks/peru-tomb-art.htm. I know that for those who are stuck in their ways won’t be convinced, but this is for
those of you who are in the middle and don’t know which way to head.
If you are confused, just read the Bible as it is, without any preconceptions. This will lead you to the truth of God’s Word.
We all have the same evidence, it is just whose glasses one views the world through, fallible man’s evolution, or God’s creation.



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MMarcoe

posted October 23, 2008 at 1:29 pm


Ken sets forth a number of biases that prevent him from looking at evidence objectively:
1. “… if Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) is a revelation to us from an infinite God, it must be self attesting and self authenticating–and Scripture must interpret Scripture.”
This is the classic circular argument. Besides, Scripture interpreting Scripture need not necessitate a “literal” reading.
2. “I also understood that only God knows everything, and compared to what God knows, my teachers (and the scientists who gave them this interpretation of supposed ape-like human ancestors) were fallible finite beings–”
This is a kind of argument from authority, and it adds nothing to a debate between two mortal human beings.
3. “From the way I take Genesis (as I did as a student), I would have to conclude there is something wrong with this interpretation.”
Standard creationist bias.
I get nothing out of what he says.
Furthermore, the creationist claim that Christ’s redemption only makes sense if Genesis is taken literally is nonsense. It also makes perfect sense from an evolutionary standpoint. We developed the level of self-awareness that made possible the ability to act in either “good” or “evil” ways. This is what is meant by “the Fall.” It was a natural part of our development. The purpose of Jesus coming along was to guide us through this phase of our evolution.
From an evolutionary standpoint, the Fall makes perfect sense, and so does Jesus.



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Steven Kippel

posted October 23, 2008 at 2:28 pm


Mr. Elphick,
As I have already explained, none of those references rely on a literal reading of the creation account.



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Olorin

posted October 23, 2008 at 4:41 pm


Ken Ham: “1. There is a contradiction between what I was taught at school concerning how humans arose (from some ape-like ancestor) and what I understood Genesis to teach….”
There’s your mistake Ken. The part about “what I understood” Genesis to teach. The people who first wrote and heard Genesis would think you horribly naive to interpret Genesis literally. Historians today call this fallacy “whiggism.”



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Tom

posted October 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm


“The creation account of Genesis is of such overwhelming importance, that to read it without a literal interpretation is to deny the sin of Adam, and thereby the very reason and purpose of Christ’s coming and death.”
The author’s intent (whether or not to convey actual historical fact or the use of allegory as a literary tool) would be key in determining what message he was trying to get across in regards to original sin. A couple of sources below might help to reconcile Christianity and evolution.
http://www.kofc.org/un/eb/en/resources/cis/CIS348.pdf
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/interevo.HTM



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Micah

posted October 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm


John and Chad,
Thanks for your feedback. And John, I definitely felt the gentleness and appreciate the civility. As everyone has been pointing out, it seems like (at least) two different starting points have been embraced in regards to reading the Scriptures. And, it seems, it’s extremely difficult to discuss these starting points because they come down to which path do we choose. Do we take the literal approach or the anything-goes approach (which is, of course, a blatant caricature)?
Anyway, as a former adherent to the literal/historical/grammatical approach, I’d like to offer a few comments:
1. Humans don’t, and have never, spoken literally. If you go out on the street and listen to the way people talk, they use all sorts of word pictures, metaphors, illustrations, innuendos, euphemisms, etc. So, why do we hold the biblical writers to a standard that is non-human?
2. Why do we assume that the biblical writers were having the same conversations that we’re having now? For arguments sake, let’s assume that Genesis was _written_ by Moses and let’s assume that he conveyed these exact words (Genesis 1-2) orally to Israel sometime during their wanderings. If this is the case, what about their situation demands that they need clarity on the details and mechanics of the act of creation? Imagine Moses is standing before all of Israel and someone raises their hand as says, “Listen Moses, I’d like some clarity on the whole evolution issue. What really happened at the beginning?”
Of course this didn’t happen, but we tend to read these passages as if this were the primary conversation going on the the writer’s head. We tend to ignore the historical and cultural occasion for much of the Bible, reading in conversations about evolution, Calvinism and other modern debates wherever convenient even though the writers had no such thing(s) in mind.
In our efforts to make the Bible relevant and to maintain that God is transcendent (both of which I believe), we’ve sacrificed its humanness, its history, and, God help us, its purpose. I often hear people saying, “What does the Bible have to say about homosexuality?” or “What do the Scriptures say about predestination?” The Bible is not an answer book. It’s a story written by several authors in different situations over hundreds of years. And, instead of ignoring all the historical/cultural baggage that comes along with this sort of project, we’ve got to dig in to the minds of the authors (and yes, I know that some consider this to be an impossibility) to understand what God has done in order to understand what he is doing in order to understand what he will do. And, how we can take part.
Speaking to the language again, I really do believe that we need to give up on the “literal” hermeneutic precisely because the Bible was written by God and humans for humans. If humans speak literally sometimes and metaphorically sometimes and other ways sometimes, then we’ve got to allow for the Bible to speak literally sometimes and metaphorically sometimes and so on. After all, we know this occurs. Daniel speaks of bears and leopards and lions and frightening beasts, but we know for a fact that he’s not speaking of bears and leopards and so on. He’s speaking of empires. But just a few pages later (or “inches later” if your thinking in terms of scrolls), he speaks of beasts from the water and such. And, even though his established pattern is to speak of major events in terms of cosmic, there is still a group of vigilant Christians who insist that the latter half of his book is “literal” even though the first half is not. It’s a strange standard to maintain.
This is also why the prophets can describe the fall of an empire in terms of stars falling from the sky to the earth (after all, how many stars does it take to hit the earth? Only one, given their size).
Anyway, this brings me back to Genesis 1 again. I’m happy to take this as a straightforward description of the creation of the cosmos, but given its structure and the historical context of the wilderness wanderings, I can’t help but wonder if the purpose of this passage is to point to something else. What that is, I don’t know, but I very much doubt that Israelites wandering their way to the Promised Land needed to know the mechanics of the creation act simply to satisfy their curiosity or to prep them against evolution. Again, my question is, why describe the creation event and why use this language and structure to do so?
micah



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Jim W.

posted October 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm


I was an atheist before my conversion. Not long after that event I was introduced to evolutionary theism via the modernistic approach to Genesis in, of all places, a psychology class. Somehow it didn’t seem right, and I began studing the issues. Six years later and a great deal of research, I came to the conclusion that my old basis for atheism did not hold and never could have held water. In short, evolution is less scientific than the creation view. Since my field was intellectual history I eventually stumbled into the hornets nest problem, namely, that the scientific method itself is flawed. Having once mentioned this to a director of science education for a school system, I was surprised that she acted shocked. She blurted: “How did you know that?” Evidently, ministers are supposed to be dummies due to the preoccupation with feeling as the root of religion. Any study of biblical words will lay that to rest. The very first requirement of the Christian Faith is repentance, a change of mind based upon reflectionm and faith which has as its basic meaning, to be persuaded on the basis of evidence. The Bible is a dumbfounding book; it is the most intellectually challenging book I have ever read, and figure in my life time thus far I have read, examined, looked at, etc., some 30,000+ volumes. Interestingly enough, the Bible actually uses a term which clearly shows plainly that it is a cerebral work, designed to go to the heart by way of the brain. In Roms. 12:1, the word, reasonable, could be translated rational or even logical which would virtually be a transliteration of the Greek term. With degrees in history, theology, and counseling, I have found the Book a work to reckon with in the mental realm, one far exceeding any book of this world that I have ever read or studied in any of the ten colleges and universities that I have attended which range from a small religious school to an ivy league university. My prayers for 35 yrs have been for another great awakening, and I hope it is is nearer now than when I first began. My basic view of the bible is this: If it is inspired by an Omniscient Being, then it follows that it must reflect such depth of wisdom as would be normative for that reality. After 50 years as a believer who looked at the book through critical eyes, my appreciation for that reality is so deep as to be virtually painful (and I mean that in superstitious way). I have become cognizant of the fact that I am reading something that is the most subtle of all works. When I think I understand it, I can almost guarantee that my comprehension is sorely limited. A most humbling state of affairs!



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Chad

posted October 23, 2008 at 11:10 pm


To address the comment that “the creationist claim that Christ’s redemption only makes sense if Genesis is taken literally is nonsense”, the Bible is quite clear on this issue and approaches it from many diverse angles. For one, the Bible contains many genealogies in both the New and Old Testaments (Genesis, Chronicles, Ruth, Luke) that maintain a lineage from Adam to other Biblical figures (Noah, King David, Jesus, etc.), some of which are very detailed in their scope. This seems to give great credence to a literal interpretation of the creation story of Genesis, unless one believes that the genealogies are also “poetry” and not a historical record. Christ himself makes reference to the creation story of Genesis in both Matt 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-8. Additionally, there are many other New Testament references to Adam as a historical figure, including Romans 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:14, and Jude 1:14 among many others. Many of these references come directly from the Apostle Paul. Having been a Pharisee and teacher of the Law prior to his belief in Christ as Messiah, It is almost certain that his understanding of Scripture, and specifically the creation account as revealed in Genesis, was in line with traditional Jewish thinking on this subject.
The inference that the Bible teaches that “We developed the level of self-awareness that made possible the ability to act in either “good” or “evil” ways… this is what is meant by “the Fall,” is a long-shot to say the least. As the Bible describes it, the first occurrence of sin was a willfully disobedient act, in opposition to the command of a loving God, who had provided for His creation’s every need. Therefore, the ability to commit evil had to exist prior to “the Fall”, and was not a byproduct of it. If you are implying that “self-awareness” came as a result of evolution, there is simply no coherent argument for morality being formed “in a vacuum”. Furthermore, the implication of the statement is that “good” and “evil” are arbitrary and ethereal machinations created out of some random evolutionary process, which is the polar opposite of a Biblical understanding of “good” and “evil”. To reiterate my original statement, if there is no universal law by which “good” and “evil” are defined, then there is no such thing as sin, other than that which is imagined by the individual in response to a feeling of guilt (which is also non-actual and imagined based on this criteria). If there is no sin to be redeemed, then there is no need for a redeemer, rendering Christ’s work on the cross totally irrelevant. Even atheists will agree with this line of reasoning based on their disassociated understanding of the Bible. It is strange to me that self-proclaimed Christians will not.



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John Heeler

posted October 23, 2008 at 11:53 pm


Teresa, there is also Creation Ministries International (CMI). They list a dozen Ph.D. scientists on their Who we are webpage. They have also been publishing Creation magazine for the last 30 years.



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Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.

posted October 24, 2008 at 2:46 am


John Heeler is right. In fact the vast majority of the articles of substance on the AiG site were written by the scientists who remain with CMI. We also still publish “Creation” magazine and “Journal of Creation” (formerly “TJ”), which as AiG states in the article :
“To keep up with the latest creation views on the Oort cloud and other critical developments, go to the source! Creation and TJ are preeminent publications in the creation debate today, and the source of most of the information-packed (and in the case of TJ, in-depth) articles on our website—including all the AiG articles cited in this article!”
The good news is that these publications, which so enrich the AiG site by its own admission, are still available from the above URL.



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Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.

posted October 24, 2008 at 2:49 am


Above link: AiG article “Plomet Invasion” that admits that CMI publications are the primary source of much of the intellectual content of the AiG site.



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Teresa

posted October 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm


Thank you, John and Dr. Sarfati!!! I do visit and read on CMI as well. Dr. Sarfati, I so appreciate the great work you do to uphold the truth of Genesis. I apologize for my omission.
God bless,
Teresa



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Your Name

posted October 25, 2008 at 1:04 am


Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” –Gen Ch3, v22
‘Therefore, the ability to commit evil had to exist prior to “the Fall”, and was not a byproduct of it.’
If man didn’t know what was good or bad prior to eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then it’s a logical absurdity to assume that he committed evil (an inevitable consequence of interpreting the Book of Genesis literally.) He hid himself from God when his eyes were opened to the sinfulness of the act (hence he was naked, ie his sin was transparent.) The implication is NOT that “good” and “evil” are arbitrary and ethereal machinations created out of some random evolutionary process. Logic dictates that one cannot commit evil without foreknowledge that the act itself is wrong.
The implication is that man decided for himself what is good and what is evil rather than just obeying God. Because of this relativism evolved in subsequent generations with people making up their own rules instead of appealing to a higher authority, and death has multiplied because of it. No one is arguing against the doctrine of original sin; we’re simply stating that it’s possible that original sin wasn’t literally Adam eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.



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Michael

posted October 25, 2008 at 4:09 am


Nice post of Ken Ham’s letter. He is indeed right about the Bible proclaiming creationism and not the evolutionary hypothesis. I noticed Jonathan Sarfati is in here. Loved the “By Design” book you have written, and I think you also did a presentation which comes from the same book, at the Seattle Creation Conference if I’m not mistaken. I also liked many of the other videos from that conference.
Evolution is evolving, it’s hypothesis includes such terms as “alternative strategies.” Since when does an unthinking process have any strategies or goals at all? Let’s put it this way, a computer needs a code to function, without the code it can’t function. Only a programmer can create a code (specified complexity). When a computer program needs a patch to fix various problems, a programmer is needed. Now evolutionists claim that a natural cause can do all that and more, which is not possible. An unthinking process could never perform such duties and have strategies along with those duties, only an intelligent designer can. And that intelligent designer is God.



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Thanx Michael. Glad you like the Design book, available from the URL above. I had written the first draft just before the Seattle Creation Conference, and the final version was published earlier this year.



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Chad

posted October 25, 2008 at 8:16 pm


“Your name”, there is a fundamental problem with the statement that “Logic dictates that one cannot commit evil without foreknowledge that the act itself is wrong”, that problem being that the Bible states explicitly that Adam committed a sin, and that it was this sin that made it necessary for Christ to redeem us (Romans 5:12). The Bible is very clear on this, and many other important topics. If we claim to be followers of Christ, then it is very important to allow our worldview to be shaped by His teachings, first and foremost. When we attempt to forcibly reshape the words of the Bible to fit philosophies and teachings of men, we show ourselves to be double-minded at best, and non-believers at worst. I would encourage any Christian struggling with the issue of evolution and it’s relation to the teachings of the Bible to start with the Scriptures, rather than Darwin’s theory.



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Kevin Butterfield

posted October 26, 2008 at 9:44 pm


Chad, what you’re saying is true, but YourName’s statement, “Logic dictates that one cannot commit evil without foreknowledge that the act itself is wrong” is not invalid. There is a fundemental error though in YourName’s logic. It is simply that God said to not eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge. God gave Adam the foreknowledge of such disobedience, so Adam knew it was sin to eat the fruit beforehand. The idea that YourName may be trying to make valid is that the very thought of doing wrong should necessitate that evil existed in a “very good” world. However, the knowledge that something is forbidden does not indicate that Adam understood the actual consequence of death. Adam may have thought and thought about what death is, and finally came to the conclusion to gamble since he knew that God was a merciful and powerful God. That is, so much so as to rescue Adam from whatever death turned out to be. We’ve all done this in some form or other, because we simply knew it that our trifling sin would be forgiven by a merciful God, and unfortunately for us because God is Holy we are unable to stand before Him so long as we have any dept whatsoever.



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Chad

posted October 27, 2008 at 11:25 pm


Kevin, I would only add that the laws of good and evil exist regardless of whether they are known. Biblically, good and evil are defined by their comparison or contrast to God’s own nature, which does not change. Therefore, that which is good may be defined as “godly”, while that which is evil may be defined as “ungodly”. Since God is ever-present, the fundamental nature of good and evil must also be ever-present.



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Kevin Butterfield

posted October 30, 2008 at 11:44 pm


Though, I can’t remember the exact path at the moment, it occured to me that you are right in this. However, I wonder what it means, but in an attempt to say something positive I think that these debates between Creationists and Thiestic-Evolutionists must revolve more on the coming together in Christ, and not necessarily the clash of orthodoxies, even if with civility. This dichotomy of Good and Evil being present as a concept before Sin entered into Creation makes me think that God has purposely left the interpretation in the heart of the believer, so long as it is given the same quality and quantity of integrity and attention. Though I am a Creationist because I feel the view is more compelling, and in fact, amazing I think that it needs to be seen, at the very least in hindsight, that these debates are only in the name of knowing each other as Christians, not opponents. I know the stigma surrounding the effect of Evolution on the world, and I believe it to be true, but it seems that Evolution must be perpetuated, otherwise, what would the world come to when the Bible’s view becomes worldy? Or, perhaps, more specifically while mortal men are in control? Perhaps, it is necessary for God to have theistic-evolutionists in order to reach athiestic-evolutionists? I’m not sure if this seems to blur the lines, whatever those lines are, but maybe we need a debate to find the common things first?
For instance, someone mentioned before about YEC’s deciding the Bible to be literally true before they open it. Although, this is meant to be an unfair attack, and I even objected, I now find that it is true. T-E’s also open the Bible with a presumption about how they will interpret the data, the Script. My presumption before I read the Bible is that it is everything, or nothing (note, I did not say “what it says it is”.). Maybe, what needs to be considered is what is God’s Holy Word?
A scenario I’ve considered before is that in which Adam and Eve never gave in to temptation. A world without sin. In this world the Holy Word of God would necessarily be the same, however we would find that history places a coincidental role. No Noah’s Ark, No Babel, and yet God’s Word would be the same. Even Christ bringing “division” may be seen as coincidental to history, so it begs the question, What is God’s Word. Considering this, I believe that between Creationists and Theistic (Jesus Loving) Evolutionists a concesus should be sought about God’s Holy Word.



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Stephen

posted November 13, 2008 at 3:16 pm


Zerobomb you posted the following:
Taking the earth to have radius 6,378.1km (distance from center to sea level–rsea) and the highest point being 8.848km above sea level (everest) we have rmax = 6,378.1km + 8.848km
Do you see the underlying assumption that you have made here? You are assuming that the highest point of land at the time of the flood is the same as it is now. Upon what do you base this assumption?



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Chip W

posted November 16, 2008 at 8:51 am


The presupposition is that the Bible is true.
But why choose to believe in the Bible?



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J T

posted January 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm


Zerobomb, Mt. Everest did not exist at the time of the flood. In fact, no tall mountains did exist. The landscape was very smooth.



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Pingback: New Book by Nazarene-Affiliated Scholars Slams Biblical Creationists | Around the World with Ken Ham

Ken Ham

posted October 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm


This past week our ministry’s library received a copy of the new book The Anointed,1 authored by Drs. Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens and published by a division of Harvard University Press. Dr. Stephens teaches history at Eastern Nazarene College; Dr. Giberson is a former science professor at the same college.

We noticed right away that Answers in Genesis and president Ken Ham were featured prominently in the book. However, based on the fact that Dr. Giberson (a theistic evolutionist) has been a frequent critic of AiG, we realized we would probably not be treated in a flattering way. We can accept such prominence in the book as something of a badge of honor. After all, the authors recognized AiG as going against the grain of the secular academic establishment while we stand on the authority and trustworthiness of God’s Word from the very first verse (as opposed to word of finite, fallible man).
The Anointed

In fact, the first chapter of The Anointed is devoted to Answers in Genesis. Throughout their book, Giberson and Stephens took swipes at AiG as well as other ministries and Christian leaders. In our modern “academic” world, the authors deemed us to be intellectually unrespectable and an embarrassment to Christianity. Multiple Christians were called “amateurs,” and other derogatory words pepper the book.

The authors argued that when Bible-believing Christians engage the culture in controversial areas like creation vs. evolution, believers should trust a highly educated PhD theistic evolutionist and evangelical like Dr. Francis Collins over someone like Ham (who has the Australian equivalent of a master’s degree).

What follows is a summary of the many problems with this highly pretentious book.
Outright Factual Errors

This is a book that attempts to be a scholarly look at “unscholarly” Christian leaders of prominence in America. It is, after all, published by the prestigious Harvard Press. Yet we were surprised to find several mistakes in the introduction and first chapter alone—plus a generally snide tone that is unbecoming of a scholarly work. For example, the authors gave the wrong month for our Creation Museum’s opening (p. 11); they mistakenly claimed that Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, is a young-earth creationist (p. 19); the year given for the first “Back to Genesis” seminar is incorrect (p. 41); and the name of our daily radio program is incorrect (p. 11).
Misrepresentations

Also, we found many exaggerated misrepresentations in The Anointed, including the claim that the late Dr. Henry Morris of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), the founder of the modern creationist movement, supposedly drew significant inspiration from a “mentor,” George McCready Price (p. 23). This is simply incorrect and was most likely regurgitated from the book The Creationists by historian Dr. Ronald Numbers. In addition, the authors asserted that Bryan College in Tennessee is “a leader in the young-earth creationist movement” (p. 213). In reality, it is not committed to the young-earth position at all—many of Bryan’s professors reject it outright.
A Major Logical Fallacy

In the beginning of the chapter on AiG, the authors commit the logical fallacy of reification.2 In the opening passage, the authors declared that people driving to the Creation Museum are probably oblivious to the “successive layers of rock [that] tell the tale of life in the Ordovician era: one species giving way to another” and that “motorists … have little interest in the story told by the rocks outside their car windows” (pp. 21–22).

They stated that the very rocks outside our Creation Museum bear testimony against what is taught inside the museum. But rocks, of course, don’t have the capacity to “tell a story.” Their formation must be interpreted by people. The rocks don’t have stickers on them that speak for their age or how they were formed, nor do we observe in the rocks a sea-floor environment with creatures living and dying. There is only one empirical conclusion we can make with certainty from observing the fossils in these rock layers—this is where the once-living marine creatures are now buried on the continent.

Dismissing the Two Kinds of Science

In the opening passage and then again later in chapter one of The Anointed, the authors failed to differentiate between historical science (like a possible interpretation of rocks, which were formed without human observation) and observational science in the present.3 Furthermore, as Ken Ham shared with The Anointed co-author Giberson in a 2008 online debate, the researchers’ biases and presuppositions about the unobservable past influence their interpretation of the evidence in the present. Ken wrote the following:

It is crucial to understand the nature of starting points when interpreting the evidence around us–which is why our Creation Museum starts with a “starting points” exhibit. We all have biases–both creationists and evolutionists–so we in no way wish to denigrate scientists for having biases.

When it comes to science in the present (science “proper” – empirical, testable, repeatable observation and experimentation), there is actually little disagreement between creationists and evolutionists. However, when it comes to reconstructing past events, our different starting points will cause us to interpret the same evidence differently. After all, creationists and evolutionists have a different view of history–even a different philosophy of what is possible in the past.

The creationist embraces the history and the catastrophic effects of Noah’s Flood, whereas evolutionists largely dismiss the Flood as a global event, and embrace the philosophy of uniformitarianism (to varying degrees) instead. Our different worldviews cause us to interpret the same evidence differently.4

Does Evolution Really Cause Social Ills?

The authors also asserted that ICR and AiG argue that evolution is “responsible for much of what’s wrong with the world” (p. 36). Answers in Genesis has never stated or implied this. We have both—in countless articles and even in the 2008 online debate between Ham and Dr. Giberson—declared instead that the teaching of evolution has caused many to doubt or disbelieve the Bible.

Thus, the more we see people not believing the Bible, the more we will witness morality being seen as relative, and thus people can justify all sorts of moral ills. For example, if a person wants to be a racist, evolution can be (and has been) used to justify racist beliefs or even fuel racism. But evolution does not cause racism. Sin is the cause of racism.
Hyperbole

In alarmist ways, the authors often resorted to hyperbole as they attacked the credibility of several Christian leaders in an effort to turn them into societal boogeymen. They call several small creation ministries “large” (p. 33) when they are not at all. The authors even described AiG as a “media empire” (p. 45) and then a “juggernaut” (p. 59). However, our annual budget is dwarfed by even the smallest cable TV networks. For example, our yearly revenue is a mere 1/60th of the cable network Home & Garden Television (HGTV), which is hardly a media empire compared to the big TV networks.

The authors of The Anointed also fatuously claimed that creationist groups have access to considerable funding to proclaim their biblical authority messages. However, when put into perspective and compared to the billions of dollars in revenue received annually by public schools, science museums, and public television across America (which proclaim the anti-biblical message of evolution and millions of years), the creationist funding is the proverbial drop in a media financial bucket.
Credentials Lacking

The authors brought up the tired charge that creationist groups like AiG and its leaders not only lack credentials but are “at war with science” (p. 11). Again, much of this stems from not differentiating between historical science and observational science. We uphold and applaud science. Ken Ham wrote the following in his 2008 online debate with co-author Giberson:

I love science. In fact, AiG employs a number of scientists (and works with others), all of which obtained their doctorates from secular institutions. Across the hall from me, for example, is Dr. David Menton, who earned a PhD in biology from an Ivy League school (Brown University).

As we both know, the etymology of the word “science” has the basic meaning of “knowledge.” Today, when the word “science” is used, we are usually referring to observational science.

Science is a wonderful tool that God has given us. But because science is imperfect, and changing, and because different scientists disagree on what the evidence really means, science cannot serve as an ultimate, infallible standard.5

Are the Authors Out of Their League Themselves?

The Anointed authors extolled Darwin as the most famous scientist of the 19th century (p. 43), but we must note that Darwin did not have the much-vaunted doctorate set as the gold standard for academic respectability. Interestingly, Giberson pointed out that a medical degree is only “marginally relevant” (p. 56) to the field of evolution. Yet as someone who holds a PhD in physics, which we would argue is largely irrelevant to the field of evolution, Dr. Giberson felt confident that his assertions about evolutionary biology and geology are valid.

We must point out that six of the full-time Answers in Genesis faculty members have doctorate degrees in their fields, including genetics, astrophysics, geology, biology, the history of science, and medicine. This fact is conveniently omitted in a book that pretends to question the scholarship of our staff. And apparently for the authors, Ken Ham’s 35-plus years of research, writing, and speaking on apologetics don’t quite measure up to the knowledge level of a student leaving a university with a PhD in science.
Ken Ham in the Crosshairs

As the authors frequently singled out the AiG president for criticism, they demean him with terms like a “pied piper” (p. 45) of the seemingly uneducated masses of Christians. His views, the book argues, have “transported [him] into a scientific Land of Oz” (p. 59). Ken is said to have a “pandering anti-intellectual presentation style in his talks and writings” (p. 45). Furthermore, the authors bizarrely contend that the last time Ken “brushed up against science” was during the Cold War (p. 58).

Ken has surrounded himself with PhD colleagues for the past 25 years, as well as doing his own extensive research and writings. When he and another creationist debated two evolutionists over ten years ago at Harvard, Ken acquitted himself quite well. At least The Anointed authors managed to muster the word “affable” (p. 45) to describe Ken, though he was also called “stern” (p. 11) earlier in the book—so which is it?

The authors’ shining example of a Christian scholar who runs counter to the supposedly unscholarly Ken Ham is evolutionist Dr. Francis Collins, who is the only alternative for “the educated wing of the evangelical world” (p. 51).
Conclusion

If Drs. Giberson and Stephens are wrong in both small things (like incorrect dates) and large matters (falsely accusing ICR and AiG of blaming evolution for many social ills, implying they lack credentialed staff, etc.), then the book’s very premise that “amateur” evangelicals are to be taken as untrustworthy is called into question. The book’s manifest poor scholarship casts a revelatory spotlight on the authors’ own failings and biases concerning biblical Christianity.

As we expose the poor scholarship of a book that appears under the Harvard banner and is meant to be taken as a scholarly work, we will mention another irony. While Giberson and his historian co-author (acknowledged as an expert in American Pentecostalism6) reviled ministries like Answers in Genesis for speaking on topics for which they are not credentialed, the two authors themselves frequently dwelt on topics for which they were not academically trained to address in their doctoral programs.

These include theology, political science, psychology, and sociology. Furthermore, as we indicated earlier, Giberson is trained as a physicist, yet he felt qualified to critique AiG in areas far outside his specialty, such as biology and geology. All this raises the question, if the authors are not academically trained in these areas, who decided to anoint them to critique evangelicals who hold views different from their own?

As Christians, our authority rests with the clear teachings of the Bible, starting with its very first book. The authors have made their belief clear that science trumps Scripture. “Many educated evangelicals, informed by biblical scholarship, have thus concluded that the Genesis story of Creation is simply not literal history” (p. 49). They added that “the modern scholarly approach to Genesis transforms the story into a myth in the best sense of the word—a story with a powerful meaning that may or may not be tenuously rooted in history” (p. 49). What the authors failed to recognize is that the Bible’s history in Genesis is foundationally important to the gospel. Even some atheists realize this connection, as seen in this quote from the anti-Christmas campaign of the American Atheists organization.

No Adam and Eve means no need for a savior. It also means that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source of unambiguous, literal truth. It is completely unreliable, because it all begins with a myth, and builds on that as a basis. No Fall of Man means no need for atonement and no need for a redeemer.7

If Genesis is merely a myth, then it nullifies the purpose of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and as the apostle Paul wrote, “”If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty”” (1 Corinthians 15:14). This is why the issue of biblical authority is so vital to Christianity. It’s not just about Genesis; it’s about the person and work of Jesus Christ.



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