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Compromising chaplain castigates creation

Published: 2 October 2010 (GMT+10)

When CMI approached a prominent grammar school in Albany, Western Australia, about a visit from Rod and Nancy Walsh and their Ark Van, the liberal chaplain’s replies revealed considerable hostility to creationist science and theology. First we print his main letter in full, as well as his earlier correspondence, as he requested, then a point-by-point response by New Testament scholar Lita Cosner and Ph.D. scientist Jonathan Sarfati.

I have been asked about your ark van visiting our school. I am trusting that your van explores both the judgment and faithfulness of God to all creation which are the lessons of the Noah story. However I must explain why I have hesitancy about inviting your van.

I have a deep seated opposition to so called “Creation Science”, which I believe is neither faithful to the Bible nor the nature of God’s world investigated by Science. I think the Creationist movement’s misinterpretation of the Bible and misrepresentation of science does great damage to the Christian Faith. In my experience as a Chaplain I believe that it is not “godless” Science that breeds atheism amongst students, but a non Scriptural opposition to Evolution which puts students off putting their faith in Christ. That is what students tell me.

Because your ark van appears to be sponsored by Creation ministry, I am hesitant to ask you to visit. If there is any promotion of the ideas that either evolution is inherently godless or a six day creation is Biblically faithful, I would not want you to visit. I trust you won’t find any of my blunt speaking offensive, but rather a way of avoiding either offence or difficulties in our school.

Yours sincerely

Rodney M.

One of our Ministry Co-ordinators, Ross Dennett, responded, making it clear that CMI is a biblical creationist organization. Rev. M replied:

Thank you for your email. It clarifies your position greatly. I appreciate this because I think that without making yourself clear about your stand on Creationism, you could be adding an accusation of entering a school under false pretences-which would certainly damage our Christian stance.
Image from wikipedia Physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne basically has God’s only role as lighting the fuse for the big bang.
Physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne basically has God’s only role as lighting the fuse for the big bang.

I myself, regretfully, cannot see myself sponsoring a visit. This is because of my considered views on Science and Christianity. My views are roughly in line with John Polkinghorne’s books if you are interested. After much thought and prayer, I have reached the position that Creationism [is] one of the major factors for the ridicule in which the Christian Faith is held in many secondary schools and Tertiary Institutions. No one has provided more ammunition for Richard Dawkins’s views than Creation Science. Students know that a six day creation is a ludicrous, ridiculous idea and therefore they think that to believe in the Bible or a Creator (as I do) is just not tenable (This is a church—please leave your brains at the door). I think this is a tragedy which can only be remedied by Creation Scientists (so called) backing down from their misinterpretation of the Bible and their opposition to Science.

I think “young earth Creationists” have to believe that:

1. There is a giant conspiracy of scientists aiming to interpret evidence and data to conclude that evolution is true (and so Gen 1–11 is false). This is false, there is no giant conspiracy, we are just discovering more wonderful things about God’s great universe.

2. The overwhelming evidence for evolution (see Dawkins’ book “The Greatest Show on Earth”) is false. In the light of the real evidence this is just not tenable. If you don’t like to read Dawkins read Francis Collins (a Christian & Head of the Human Genome Project) The Language of God, for irrefutable genetic evidence for evolution.

3. God has left a great trail of evidence with the purpose of misleading people away from believing in a Creator and in evolution. ie: In my opinion Creation Scientists are forced to proclaim that God is the Great Deceiver, who has deliberately laid a trail leading people away from him and his truth. The opposite is true. God still bears witness to all through what he has made. It is a false blasphemy to think that God uses nature to ensure scientists believe he doesn’t exist. It is equally untrue to imply that “real believers” believe in a six day creation.

I myself, like most other Christian scientists, see no conflict in believing in a loving Creator God and evolution.

Image from wikipedia Now a luminary in the theistic evolutionary organization BioLogos.
Francis Collins: now a luminary in the theistic evolutionary organization BioLogos

I also believe that “young earth Creationists” also are anti Biblical because:

1. To read Gen 1–11 as history and or science is to miss entirely the reason why God breathed this portion of Scripture for us (neither history nor science can tell us about God who breathes his Spirit into all life, nor about the love and evil that lies in people’s hearts, nor about how God cares for his world, nor about justice, ambition, sex, and the manifold other messages of Genesis).

2. I know Creation Scientists support many of these ideas in Genesis, but because they are arguing these events happened in history, and many people conclude that a six day creation is neither historical nor scientific, then people proceed to throw out the baby (the true reasons why Gen 1–11 was written) with the bath water (Genesis 1–11 as history or science). Hence I firmly and strongly believe that an immense and incalculable amount of harm is being done to the Gospel and the Church by sincerely minded, but greatly deceived people in the Creation Science (whether they have PhDs or not).

3. I wrote “I am trusting that your van explores both the judgment and faithfulness of God to all creation which are the lessons of the Noah story” because I think that emphasizing “this is history”, Creation Scientists actually destroy the God intended idea of the story, and give people “an out” so they need not trust the faithfulness of God nor worry about the judgment of God.

I am sorry, but neither my beliefs nor my conscience are compatible with a visit to a Christian School by Creation Science. Creation Science badly distorts the Bible, and how and why God made the universe and humans. Creation Science teaching flouts my conscience because, as I have said, it leads students away from Christ and faith in him. To use the “Kansas” defense “education is about exposing students to different ways of looking at the world”, does not change my mind, because, as a teacher, I do not have any responsibility to teach, when teaching sexuality, things like “the stork brings babies” or “you were found under a cabbage patch”, and I must admit, I regard Creation Science as having as much credence as the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas (these analogies supply the very reason why Dawkins is an atheist and the reason why Creation Science is causing such disregard for faith in Christ). I trust for the good of the Gospel and the Church you will prayerfully consider what I have written.

yours in the fellowship of Jesus Christ,

Rodney M.

And when asked for permission to reproduce his letter with a response from one of our scientists, he wrote:

You are welcome to use my letter on your website, but

1. I suggest that the issues are not primarily about Science, but about how we interpret the Bible (in particular Genesis) and how (or it) the nature of God is to be seen in the examination of the natural world, and perhaps a theologian of some sort ought respond.

2. I ask also that the letter be reproduced in full so the context of my statements can be seen.

Cheers

Rod

Dear Rodney,

Ross Dennett asked us to respond, along the lines of your request that a theologian respond (the first author (LC) is in the final stages of receiving an M.A. in New Testament; the second author (JS) is a Ph.D. scientist as our Ministry Coordinator suggested, and is relevant since objections to a straightforward understanding of Genesis have been the result of intimidation by ‘science’). Of course, as above, your letter is printed in full; we (unlike many of our opponents) believe accurate representation is important.

I myself, regretfully, cannot see myself sponsoring a visit. This is because of my considered views on Science and Christianity.

But what formed these “considered views”? Evidently, as will be shown, neither the Bible nor real science, as opposed to a materialistic philosophy masquerading as science.

My views are roughly in line with John Polkinghorne’s books if you are interested.

But his theistic evolutionary stance has considerable problems. For instance, how does one reconcile death and suffering for billions of years before man was ever around to sin, if God declared His creation to be“very good”? This is one of the key problems with all compromise views, and you made not the slightest attempt to address this. See for example Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?—this is one of the commonest questions raised, but the long-age view entails that these were always with us, and God called them “very good”.

Another baneful effect of evolutionary/uniformitarian compromise is making God’s inspired Word subject to man’s ever-changing fallible opinions. See for example Some questions for theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists .

After much thought and prayer, I have reached the position that Creationism one of the major factors for the ridicule in which the Christian Faith is held in many secondary schools and Tertiary Institutions.

There is no point praying for confirmation about something that God has already written against in Scripture. E.g. there is no point praying, “May I commit adultery?”, when God has clearly commanded us not to. We do not have to be emotionally blackmailed by Mormons asking “Have you prayed about the truth of Mormonism?”, since the Bible entails that it’s false. Similarly, God would not answer you in prayer in a way that contradicts what He has already revealed. So, if in your praying you found confirmation that you should disbelieve the Bible, that confirmation did not come from God who inspired the words of the Bible.

As the example of BioLogos (founded by the Francis Collins you cite) shows, seeking the esteem of academia leads to compromising on more than creation. They might tolerate you a bit more for throwing out the miraculous stuff in Genesis, but still regard you as an idiot for believing the miraculous stuff in the rest of the book. You’re not winning atheists over by abandoning Genesis; they have already largely won you over! They can hold out and wait for you to throw out more and more of the Bible, while they haven’t moved an inch. Could it be that the ridicule is a symptom of a larger problem—that large sections of academia are actively hostile to Christian faith, and that they will not be happy until one discards that faith entirely?

No one has provided more ammunition for Richard Dawkins’s views than Creation Science.

Yet Dawkins is no authority on theology—even many atheists were embarrassed by his forays into this and philosophy. He’s not written in his very narrow area of specialty for decades. And he does not view compromisers kindly—see what Dawkins really thinks of people like you who deny a historical first man Adam against what the text so plainly teaches—“barking mad” was his verdict.

Students know that a six day creation is a ludicrous, ridiculous idea and therefore they think that to believe in the Bible or a Creator (as I do) is just not tenable

Students only think that six-day creation is a ludicrous, ridiculous idea because they’ve been taught over and over that billions of years is a fact, and that evolution is more than a hypothesis, it’s a reality. After hearing it over and over in school, in movies, even in advertizing, and sadly often from the pulpits of compromising churches (or compromising chaplains in schools), of course they’re going to dismiss six-day creation.

(This is a church—please leave your brains at the door).

You really ought to check out our DVD called Leaving Your Brains at the Church Door? The power of logic in defending your faith. The real problem is that the compromising church leaders tell people that they can throw out or ‘re-interpret’ any part of the Bible that conflicts with modern uniformitarian/evolutionary ‘science’.

I think this is a tragedy which can only be remedied by Creation Scientists (so called) backing down from their misinterpretation of the Bible and their opposition to Science.

Most biblical scholars before the rise of long-age geology accepted Genesis as written, including Josephus and later Jewish scholars, most church fathers including Basil the Great, the medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, and all the Reformers including Luther and Calvin. You have yet to offer an argument from hermeneutics, or from logic for that matter, to show that we and they were wrong.

I think “young earth Creationists” have to believe that:

1. There is a giant conspiracy of scientists aiming to interpret evidence and data to conclude that evolution is true (and so Gen 1–11 is false). This is false, there is no giant conspiracy, we are just discovering more wonderful things about God’s great universe.

This is one of the many places in which you make false claims about us, as our readily available writings make plain over and over. If you were bearing such false witness knowingly, it would be a breach of one of the 10 Commandments. But then, what would that matter, logically, given that the Fourth one explicitly cites the Creation Week in Genesis 1 as its reason (Exodus 20:8–11)? Your evolution-champion Dawkins admitted that if evolution were true, there is “a moral vacuum, in which [our] best impulses have no basis in nature.”

As indicated above, we don’t believe that there is a conspiracy, rather, that evolution has simply become entrenched as holy writ within the scientific community, despite the fact that real science is performed happily without it. To question it means risking one’s scientific career, so people just don’t (see for example Not too old to be Expelled.)

We agree that science is about “discovering more wonderful things about God’s great universe”; these discoveries point even more to a Master Designer.

2. The overwhelming evidence for evolution (see Dawkin’s book “The Greatest Show on Earth”) is false. In the light of the real evidence this is just not tenable. If you don’t like to read Dawkins read Francis Collins (a Christian & Head of the Human Genome Project) The Language of God, for irrefutable genetic evidence for evolution.

Actually, the second author (JS), not only read Dawkins’s book, but refuted it in detail in his book, The Greatest Hoax on Earth? including on genetics. We commend it to you. We have also reviewed the Collins book, showing the pretzelization of Scripture and weak science to support his theistic evolutionary faith. To see how this biblical compromise leads to an emasculated Christianity, see our article on his beloved Biologos.

3. God has left a great trail of evidence with the purpose of misleading people away from believing in a Creator and in evolution. ie: In my opinion Creation Scientists are forced to proclaim that God is the Great Deceiver, who has deliberately laid a trail leading people away from him and his truth.

But theistic evolutionists have to say that God chose the most oblique (even seriously misleading) way possible to proclaim the way He actually created, and that Jesus and Paul were actually wrong when they referred back to Genesis and a 6-day creation as historically true. They also have to affirm that God’s revelation is dependent on scientific sophistication, because no one saw these long ages before science proclaimed that the earth was billions of years old. Furthermore, as we have pointed out, the earth does not ’look old’, since it didn’t before the rise of modern uniformitarianism caused this interpretation of the data. See The earth: how old does it look? Even many of those who believe that the earth is young think that it looks old. But does it? Nor does life look evolved; rather, it looks like it has been designed by a master Designer, just as Romans 1 tells us.

The opposite is true. God still bears witness to all through what he has made.

We believe this, but creation does not consist of objective statements which can be said to be true or false. If you and I have a dinosaur bone in front of us, you might interpret it as a relic, millions of years old, which was slowly buried and fossilized, while I might interpret it as evidence of a catastrophe which buried it quickly before it could undergo the normal process of decay. The dino bone doesn’t tell us who is correct, although the existence of blood cells, blood vessels, soft tissue and collagen in a T. rex thigh bone are strong evidences against millions of years. That is why we argue that we must interpret God’s general revelation revealed through creation in light of the special revelation that is given to us in the Bible.

It is a false blasphemy to think that God uses nature to ensure scientists believe he doesn’t exist. It is equally untrue to imply that “real believers” believe in a six day creation.

Nature reveals God’s power (Romans 1), but in such a way that it condemns people. Saving knowledge can only come through Scripture (see also Design is not enough! and Caged Lions). It’s more blasphemous to assert that God couldn’t get His story straight in His written Word, so that the church was misled for 1800 years, until the rise of deistic uniformitarians and atheistic evolutionists taught them the truth. We’ve affirmed over and over that someone can be an evolutionist and a Christian; they are saved through ‘blessed inconsistency’. E.g. see:

I myself, like most other Christian scientists, see no conflict in believing in a loving Creator God and evolution.

How is death the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26) that will be destroyed at the Restoration if it was present from the beginning of creation? The Restoration will be the return to the Edenic state of things (with some important differences—i.e. we won’t be able to sin, and we won’t reproduce); if death and disease was in Eden and/or preceded Eden, will there be death (and cancer) in the New Heavens and Earth? Many atheists, such as philosopher David Hull and biologist Jacques Monod, have likewise argued that it was absurd that a loving God would use such a wasteful and cruel process as evolution, with its death of the unfit, as His means of bringing about a “very good” creation (Genesis 1:31).

I also believe that “young earth Creationists” also are anti Biblical because:

1. To read Gen 1–11 as history and or science is to miss entirely the reason why God breathed this portion of Scripture for us (neither history nor science can tell us about God who breathes his Spirit into all life, nor about the love and evil that lies in people’s hearts, nor about how God cares for his world, nor about justice, ambition, sex, and the manifold other messages of Genesis).

We believe that Scripture is primarily God’s revelation to us about Himself and His actions. But God’s actions take place within history. So God’s revelation has to touch on the area of history, and when it does, we believe that it is accurate. We believe Genesis is primarily history, by the way, not science; it doesn’t attempt to tell us the precise scientific details of creation, rather, it tells us that God created and the time frame (and sequence of events) for creation. See “But Genesis is not a science textbook”.

But if we ‘miss entirely the reason’, then the same charge must be laid against the other Biblical writers who did take it as history: the events including the creation of Adam and Eve, the Fall, and the globe-covering Flood; timeframe, people; and even the order of events. In fact, The New Testament has a total of 60 allusions to Genesis 1-11 specifically, and when we widen the search to include all of Genesis, the number grows to 103—see The Use of Genesis in the New Testament.

2. I know Creation Scientists support many of these ideas in Genesis, but because they are arguing these events happened in history, and many people conclude that a six day creation is neither historical nor scientific, then people proceed to throw out the baby (the true reasons why Gen 1–11 was written) with the bath water (Genesis 1–11 as history or science).

Yet apparently we had to wait for people like you to explain what these “true reasons” were, since the New Testament authors, the Lord Jesus Himself, and most of the Church through the centuries obviously missed them. Those who are throwing out the whole Bible are just treating it in the same way as you treat Genesis. After all, ‘science’ shows that virgins don’t conceive and dead men don’t rise …

Hence I firmly and strongly believe that an immense and incalculable amount of harm is being done to the Gospel and the Church by sincerely minded, but greatly deceived people in the Creation Science (whether they have PhDs or not).

The letters on our file show the opposite: that much damage is caused by church leaders who don’t believe their own book, since they wonder at which point in the Bible they can remove their magic decoders. See for example:

3. I wrote “I am trusting that your van explores both the judgment and faithfulness of God to all creation which are the lessons of the Noah story” because I think that emphasizing “this is history”, Creation Scientists actually destroy the God intended idea of the story, and give people “an out” so they need not trust the faithfulness of God nor worry about the judgment of God.

Under your theory, why should they? All doctrines of Scripture, including judgment of sin, began in the very book you tell them they can’t believe as written. It’s all very well to say that Noah’s Ark illustrates certain truths about God, but does it really if it never happened? Can a fairy story tell us about what God is really like?

I am sorry, but neither my beliefs nor my conscience are compatible with a visit to a Christian School by Creation Science.

One’s conscience is useful only if properly informed. 1 Timothy 4:2 warns of people “having their conscience seared with a hot iron”. It seems pious to reject a visit from us on grounds of conscience, but by doing so you are actually denying at least some parents the education they want for their children, since you indicated you initially contacted us because a parent asked you to do so. Do these parents know how strongly you object to creation science?

Creation Science badly distorts the Bible,

Yet you’ve not produced one argument so far to defend that statement.

and how and why God made the universe and humans. Creation Science teaching flouts my conscience because, as I have said, it leads students away from Christ and faith in him. To use the “Kansas” defense “education is about exposing students to different ways of looking at the world”, does not change my mind, because, as a teacher, I do not have any responsibility to teach, when teaching sexuality, things like “the stork brings babies” or “you were found under a cabbage patch”,

Of course: they go against actual observation and eye-witness reports—like certain people who refuse to believe God’s eye-witness report of His creation, in favour of circumstantial evidence interpreted under a materialistic philosophy.

and I must admit, I regard Creation Science as having as much credence as the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas (these analogies supply the very reason why Dawkins is an atheist

Dawkins hates creationism, but he also has contempt for compromisers.

and the reason why Creation Science is causing such disregard for faith in Christ).

What really causes “such disregard for faith in Christ” is the existence of priests and chaplains who don’t even believe their own book! See also Who has an answer? Providing real answers may arrest the hemorrhage of young people from the church once they leave home and Why is the church losing its young people?

I trust for the good of the Gospel and the Church you will prayerfully consider what I have written.

Again, there is no need to pray to God for confirmation about what He has plainly revealed in Scripture; the Bible testifies to the truth of God as Creator, and tells when He created and in what order.

In Christ Jesus, through whom all things were made (John 1:3)

Lita Sanders and Jonathan Sarfati

CMI