Christianity Today writer says it’s time to attack creationist views!

by Michael Matthews

Published: 1 September 2004 (GMT+10)

The September issue of Christianity Today calls on leaders in the Intelligent Design movement to cool down their attack on evolution … and to open a second front against young Earth views.


ID troublemakers

Christianity Today, with an article written by John Wilson, acknowledges that the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has had great success in pointing out the flawed logic and philosophical assumptions of biological evolution.

But the article—mockingly titled ‘Unintelligent Debate’—chastises ‘ID troublemakers’ for their ‘confrontational’ tactics and calls on them to ‘cool the rhetoric.’

Three ‘suggestions’

The article follows with three suggested changes in the ‘evolution debate.’

Suggestion 1. Under the heading ‘What we all share,’ the article suggests that ID thinkers drop their ‘acrimony’ against theistic evolutionists and focus on what they share in common—‘God made us.’

Our differences ‘must be seen as subordinate to the affirmation that unites us, the recognition of the source of our being.’ (But should we seek unity at the expense of errors that undermine the authority of the Bible? See Facing the issue.)

Suggestion 2. Under the heading ‘The need for intellectual honesty,’ the article blasts ‘the strategic refusal of the ID movement to engage in constructive criticism of the Young Earth view.’

‘What is needed from the ID movement is principled disagreement,’ the author declares. ‘They are virtually silent about the egregious intellectual errors that abound in Young Earth literature.’ (Incidentally, the author does not name a single error.)

The article then praises Hugh Ross, president of Reasons to Believe, who ‘has been more forthright’ in his attacks on the young Earth. The author believes ‘his work could serve as a model in this respect.’ (In reality, Hugh Ross has followed a destructive pattern of twisting Scripture and sloppy science to promote his own antibiblical bias—see Exposé of The Genesis Question.)

The stuff of science

Suggestion 3. Under the heading ‘Fleshing out the design,’ the Christianity Today article argues that ID is long on rhetoric and short on actual scientific work. It’s time to get down to ‘the stuff of science,’ the writer argues.

This section of the essay is devoted to an article in Nature magazine on the evolution of the immune system in lampreys (a jawless, parasitic fish). Mr. Wilson argues that this is the real stuff of science, which ID leaders need to begin doing. The problem is, the writer does not seem to understand what science is. (See ‘It’s not science.)

If you look closely at the article in Nature, the debate is not at all about the sort of science we are generally familiar with and which has been so immensely successful—operational science, how the world works. For example, immunology studies the immune systems in modern animals, based on laboratory work and repeated experimentation. But the Nature article is about the origin of the immune system in lampreys—supposedly millions of years ago. This leaves the realm of operational science and involves origins, or historical science.

No scientist was present to observe the origin of lampreys. When scientists write about history, they are forced to make assumptions about events that can never be seen, tested directly, or repeated. So their conclusions are only as sound as their assumptions. If their assumptions are wrong, their conclusions must be unsound.

Evolutionary scientists assume that lampreys and all other creatures on Earth arose from a single-celled organism over hundreds of millions of years. We know that this is false, however, because God’s Word tells us so. According to His infallible eyewitness account, the Creator says He made different ‘kinds’ in the beginning to reproduce ‘after their kinds’ (Genesis 1); moreover, Jesus Christ Himself believed that all these kinds—including Adam and Eve—were present ‘from the beginning’ (Mark 10:6).

It’s instructive to see what can happen when evangelical Christians exalt man’s changing, fallible beliefs above God’s infallible Word—they end up defending the enemies of God’s Word and attacking its defenders!

Your bias is showing

The author of the Christianity Today article is an editor-at-large. Mr. Wilson puts on a veneer of cool-headed neutrality, calling on the ID warriors to ‘step back from the fray.’ But he is clearly sympathetic to theistic evolution. He scolds Christians in the ID movement for making too much of their differences with theistic evolutionists because ‘we must remember our limitations, the fallibility of our knowledge, even as we forcefully argue our case.’

But at the same time, his words betray a passionate desire to defend his own antibiblical assumptions about history (see Evolution & creation, science & religion, facts & bias).

‘Common ancestry [is] hard to deny, it seems to me, though most of the ID people disagree …’ (p. 66).

Mr. Wilson is clearly biased against those who defend the history in Genesis against direct attacks on the integrity and accuracy of its Author. Even though most in the ID movement are unwilling to stand up for the truthfulness of the history in Genesis, and many are actually hostile to that position, that is not enough for Wilson. He would like to see more work done to undermine the influence of young-Earth creationists, i.e. those who see how vital it is to let Scripture speak for itself.

‘Neither Intelligent Design nor theistic evolutionism, alas, is the most influential position among the evangelical rank and file, where Young Earth creationism still holds sway’ (p. 64).

Note the ‘alas’—Wilson thinks it is a pity that people should believe the history of the universe given in the Bible. The real sadness is contemplating this sort of article in a major Christian magazine. The issue is not some vague shared belief in ‘the source of our being.’ New Agers, Muslims, Hindus can all nod assent to that. The real issue is the authority of the Bible. Genesis history was taught and believed as factual by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator Himself. Undermine the truthfulness of that foundational history, and what is left of the Gospel? Why should we expect a decaying culture to believe and accept the Bible’s statements about morality and salvation, if they can’t trust it about science and history? This is what the battle is all about.

Published: 8 February 2006