‘Mainstream science’, theology, and Genesis
The folly of theologians favouring the ‘science of the day’ over biblical foundations
Published: 16 July 2011 (GMT+10)
Dear Dr Wieland
In a recent Systematic Theology class discussion on Chapter 4 (creation) of the Westminster Confession of Faith my professor said that “a 6-day creation was regarded as an impossibility by mainstream scientists, no more credible than a flat earth.”
I subsequently met with him today and asked that he would acknowledge before the class that highly-respected, highly-qualified scientists examining the same data could conclude that it was possible to hold to a literal 6-day creation.
He is reluctant to do this because he believes that, “from the standpoint of mainstream science, there were no highly respected creation scientists whose argument for a 6-day creation had been peer-reviewed.”
Would you agree with his claim or not?
Thank-you in anticipation for your help with this matter.
I think your theology professor has been very ‘clever’ in his wording. Because ‘mainstream science’ generally means ‘the majority of scientists’, i.e. views of the current establishment—nothing to do with the quality of the science of any alternative views, nor the qualifications of the person holding them. Such views will inevitably favour evolution and reject divine creation.
Furthermore, he reinforces this by his wording, in which it matters not whether a scientist has published on all sorts of ground-breaking science that has been peer-reviewed, he wants that person to have published an argument for creation in a ‘peer-reviewed’ journal, which he will no doubt require to be ‘mainstream’, hence controlled totally by evolution-dominated thought.
By definition, such a paper would be rejected. This has been documented repeatedly. Even people in the Intelligent Design movement, who do not all hold to 6-day creation by any means, have suffered severely. This was documented in the movie Expelled, and in Dr Jerry Bergman’s book Slaughter of the Dissidents. Some journals have made no secret of their contempt for six-day creation, making it clear that papers from those who accept this are very unwelcome, i.e. ‘don’t waste your time and ours by sending them in’ is the clear message.
Furthermore, a scientist can be ‘highly respected’ in a particular field, but the minute he starts to publish his conclusions supporting 6-day creation, he loses the respect of his peers, even though nothing has changed. This happened to Robert Gentry, a world authority on radiohalos, who was able to publish his findings in Science and Nature, but when it started becoming obvious that the conclusions were intended to support young-earth, that door slammed shut. He even lost his job at Oakridge National Laboratory. This is not some persecution complex, this is such a clear reality that creationists have been forced to set up their own journals for peer review. But then the argument will be that this is not ‘mainstream’ peer-review. See the Catch-22?
Another argument that is often used is that when such scientists voice an opinion on creation, they are publishing outside of their field. Or else it will be said that the work for which they received acclaim and respect had nothing to do with 6-day creation (ignoring the fact that the work for which most of the ‘mainstream’ scientists obtained respect almost always can be shown to have nothing to do with the truth or otherwise of either evolution or 6-day creation).
The professor concerned is clearly regarding ‘the science of the day’ as his authority, rather than Scripture. And that is extremely dangerous for the faith.
What is really happening is that the professor concerned is clearly regarding ‘the science of the day’ as his authority, rather than Scripture. And that is extremely dangerous for the faith. For example, take the Galileo affair (as highlighted in Galileo Quadricentennial) in which the problem was the church’s compromise with the ‘mainstream’ science of the day. Consider this, too: Mainstream science also says that a Resurrection is ‘impossible’ and that ‘believing in it is like believing in a flat earth’.
Given all that, it should be clear that it would be unwise to directly enter the professor’s chosen playing field, in which the deck is already stacked. Let me however give you two current examples of scientists who are highly respected in their fields, and who are 6-day creationists. In the US, for instance, there is Dr John Baumgardner, who has spoken several times for CMI. He is a geophysicist who is widely regarded as having developed the world’s leading supercomputer model on plate tectonics, an area in which he is an expert. In the UK, Dr Andy McIntosh is a full Professor at the University of Leeds (Thermodynamics). In Australia, Dr Don Batten works for CMI, and before working for us, made research breakthroughs in the field of plant biology. So, back then he was ‘respected’ by mainstream science, now he would be shunned—yet his scientific expertise has not changed. But judging by your professor’s strategic wording (which tells me he has carefully considered the matter, made his compromises, and is used to defending it from creationists), citing these scientists would be no use, either.
In short, then, what is worth pointing out is this:
a) Science is not to be our final authority where the Bible speaks clearly on matters of history, or else we would have to deny the Resurrection itself.
b) Scientific truth is never determined by majority vote; history is littered with the remains of overthrown scientific paradigms which were once ‘the majority’. And the Bible indicates that man’s fallen nature will readily seize upon a paradigm that rejects the authority of God’s Word.
c) there are literally thousands of scientists around the world whose qualifications and research background means that they are perfectly capable of assessing scientific evidence and who believe that 6-day (recent) creation actually happened. We have a list of a tiny subset of these who have given us consent to publish their names, at Some scientists alive today who accept the biblical account of creation. This alone stands against the idea that your professor’s statement is meant to convey, that belief in 6-day creation is ‘anti-scientific’ or inimical with scientific training and knowledge.
Finally, Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s classic text Refuting Compromise is absolutely ‘must reading’ in this regard, for you and others in the class. It is an exegetical and scientific masterpiece and it will arm and equip you to see through these sorts of things and similar philosophical and strategic smokescreens.
I hope this helps.
[PS from CW: Nigel indicated later that he would attempt to get his professor to read Refuting Compromise. While on this, only a few weeks ago, the head of a significant evangelical foreign mission told me that whenever he gets a challenge on 6-day creation, he says to the challenger, handing them a copy of Refuting Compromise, “Here, read this and please come back and tell me what’s wrong with it.” He knows, of course, that the arguments for a straightforward reading of the Bible are overwhelming when marshalled together as RC does it, and it has enabled him to have a ‘clear run’ when it comes to using literature he knows to be powerfully effective for the Gospel, by being unashamedly based on the Genesis foundation of true history.]
It is upsetting to know of the many Theological training institions which are on the slippery slope of making allowances for evolution, rather than sticking to the validity of the Scriptures. They are leading many astray with their duplicity and outright antogonism to the veracity of Genesis. They are guilty of leading others astray and are losing opportunity to put across a soul-winning message of salvation to those who need to hear it, by being clear in the Gospel message. These teachers of this erroneous message do themslves a disfavour, for they dig the theological and doctrinal ground of the Scriptures out from underneath themselves.
As a Presbyterian who follows the Westminster Confession, it is indeed a sorrow to hear that there are teachers out there who attempt to decry this Confessions’ clear enuciation of Biblical truth by denying its creation message and its upholding of Genesis’ statement of the six day creation.
The Westminster Confession, when clearly and properly taught and followed, provides fertile ground for great faith and works in the name of our Heavenly Father. It also clearly sets out theological and doctrinal truths, that can be very hard to understand without Godly clarification.
These professors who deform this Confession, foul their own nest and slur the name of Christianity, for those who seek to uphold the truth of the Scriptures in the face of opposition that is encouraged by them.
Good science is like good theology... when taught well, by good teachers, without any interference from alien sources (including each other), it's easy to understand and extremely difficult to misunderstand.
So when we learn our theology from the ultimate theological Teacher, Jesus (without any interference from fallible men), who as the all-powerful Creator capable of making stars, planets and life from scratch, could without the slightest difficulty have ensured His words would be recorded accurately for eternity, we know all we need to know (for now at least) about God. "His words are spirit and life, and we'll never be disappointed".
Likewise, when we learn our science (and I'm talking here of real science which concerns how things work, not how they came to be, which is best described as scientific history) from people who try to make it understandable rather than irreducibly weird and counter-intuitive, we see how beautifully the world our Lord has made works. Jesus taught us little about science, He evidently preferred to leave that up to us to find-out for ourselves. But when we read Dr. Sarfati and Dr. Humphreys on quantum mechanics
When we start trying to mix science and theology, especially when we falsely categorise "naturalistic scientific history" as "science", however, that's when we run into big problems. Let's leave the two to those who can help us best. How can any scientist, however learned, tell us of God's deeds? But good science truly helps us glorify God.