Compromising chaplain castigates creation, round 2
Rodney M., the chaplain of a prominent grammar school in Albany, Western Australia, wrote in reply to our first response to him published on our site. His letters are printed in their entirety with interspersed responses from Lita Sanders, Jonathan Sarfati and Gary Bates.
Come let us contend together…
Dear Rev. M.,
Nice little allusion to Isaiah 43:26. Yet any real contention should be based on what God has revealed propositionally in Scripture.
I am the infamous author of the letter attacking CMI.
We wouldn’t call you ‘infamous’; that indicates a degree of notoriety that you simply don’t have. For example, as we asked before, how many parents at your school know that you dogmatically reject biblical creation?
May I make the following points:
1. I believe in God is the Creator of all, and I am not a naturalist. There is only one source and upholder of all things.
Many religions believe that God is the Creator and upholder of all things. There is nothing distinctly Christian about that. The demons also believe in one God—and tremble (James 2:19).
2. Science, evolution are not necessarily materialistic naturalistic understandings of Creation, though Dawkins (speaking as a naturalist) would like us to think so.
But evolution was explicitly an attempt to explain origins without appealing to a divine Creator. Darwin himself—the father of modern evolutionary theory—rejected the idea that evolution and the Bible were compatible. Like Darwin before them, this is what all leading evolutionists believe (see A Who’s Who of evolutionists), we find it therefore paradoxical that Christians, thinking that the science of evolution is so strong, need to find a way to ‘squeeze’ it into the Scriptures. Theistic evolution is like having a horse pull a tractor, and most evolutionists know it, as we documented!
But real science doesn’t use evolution, as we have amply documented. In fact, most of the theories of real (operational) science were invented by creationist scientists trying to “think God’s thoughts after Him” (see The biblical roots of modern science: A Christian world view, and in particular a plain understanding of Scripture and Adam’s Fall, was essential for the rise of modern science).
3. I believe God reveals his nature as creator and sustainer of all though a correct understanding of science (Rom 1:19)
We agree, as did the creationist founders of science. What we disagree about is what constitutes a correct understanding of science. For us, anything which contradicts the Bible (as reasonably interpreted by its original audience) by definition cannot be correct, because we believe that the Bible is inerrant. This is called presuppositionalism.
4. I believe the Bible is the word of God, authoritative in all it asserts.
But you disbelieve that the earth was created in six ordinary-length days; you disbelieve the chronogenealogies which give an age of the earth of around 6,000 years; and you disbelieve the testimony of Jesus Christ and the apostles in the New Testament regarding the historicity of the Old Testament’s account of creation.
You would never derive millions of years and goo-to-you evolution if the Bible, rather than ‘science’, really were authoritative. Respectfully, sir, secular science appears to be your authority as you are placing more store in a materialistic interpretation of the world, rather than a biblical one. Creationists and evolutionists have the same facts and the same world to discover. We come to different conclusions because of our starting assumptions. Please read It’s not science. As Old Testament scholar E.J. Young put it:
“Whenever ‘science’ and the Bible are in conflict, it is always the Bible that, in one manner or another, must give way. We are not told that ‘science’ should correct its answers in light of Scripture. Always it is the other way around. Yet this is really surprising, for the answers which scientists have provided have frequently changed with the passing of time. The ‘authoritative’ answers of pre-Copernican scientists are no longer acceptable; nor, for that matter, are many of the views of twenty-five years ago.”
5. I think that ‘evolution’ is no longer a ‘theory’ but a fact about how the world came into being. I mean by a ‘fact’ a view that best explains observations in the same way the model of the atom best explains matter.
You are using theory in a way for which creationists have been castigated by evolutionists (although we have advised against it in our most-read web page Arguments we think creationists should NOT use—an article praised by Dawkins of all people). In science, a “theory” is a very well-attested model, like the atomic theory of matter, while a less sure model is called a hypothesis.
We find it curious that you proclaim evolution to be a fact at just the point when genetics is showing life to be so much more complicated than we thought it was (see Splicing and dicing the human genome: Scientists begin to unravel the splicing code by Ph.D. geneticist Robert W. Carter). Indeed, at just the point when more and more scientists are abandoning the idea, and at just the point when more and more people are seeing that the Bible and evolution really are fundamentally incompatible.
6. I think “evolution” is no more or less godly or ungodly than other well accepted scientific models.
But evolution, unlike most other scientific theories, was a specific attempt to explain the origin of life without God’s involvement. This is directly contrary to Genesis which shows God to be directly involved in every stage of creation—by means that He is not using currently to uphold His creation. Moreover, we fail to comprehend how you can think that evolution would be a godly process. Would a moral and just God used a wasteful, and cruel mechanism of death and suffering, survival of the fittest over millions of years to create. This would have included some sort of humanoid-type creatures that supposedly pre-dated human beings. This doesn’t quite sound like the “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world” dissertation that was given on the mount by Jesus (the Creator).
7. Genesis 1–11 was not written to give modern believers a model for belief in how Creation was made, but to teach us that God is the author of all and humans are responsible to God.
Genesis 1–11 was not written to modern believers at all (although it is for all believers, and is useful for teaching, exhorting etc as is all of Scripture); it was written to the Jews at the time of Moses (or at least Moses acted as the editor of pre-existing documents to give us what we now call Genesis or the first book of the Torah or Pentateuch). You put the two purposes at odds with each other, but we fail to see how they are mutually exclusive. Indeed, we can’t see how Genesis could teach the latter if it wasn’t correct about the former. As we put it in Genesis: Bible authors believed it to be history: ‘The important thing is that God created, isn’t it?’:
Ever had someone tell you, ‘You’re missing the whole point! The purpose of Genesis is to teach that God is our Creator. We should not be divisive over the small details. Genesis teaches the theological truth of “Who?” and “Why?” not about the “How?” and “When?”‘ Or else they say that the Bible is a book for faith and morality, not history.
An obvious answer is, why should we trust Genesis when it says God created if we can’t trust it on the details? After all, Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’ (John 3:12). So if Genesis can’t be trusted on an earthly thing, such as Earth’s age, the sequence of creative acts upon it, or the Flood that covered it, then why trust it on a heavenly thing such as who the Creator was? Also, if Genesis 1 were merely meant to tell us that God is creator, then why simply not stop at verse 1, all that’s necessary to state this?
The Church didn’t go far wrong over thousands of years believing in a six day creation or a flat earth (on the basis of their interpretation of revelation), but now we have more information we dare not separate what God has joined (viz. what we learn about God through nature and the Bible).
We are not sure if you are aware of what you just said, but this comes across as a very arrogant statement, reeking of chronological snobbery and bigotry toward some of the greatest minds of the last two millennia that we have yet read—and it actually comes from a Christian minister!
It is not only the Church that believed in six day creation; Jesus did too, as did Paul and Peter and John and the rest of the New Testament authors, as cited above in the article. Are you going to claim that they were only men of their day, too? See The use of Genesis in the New Testament.
You vastly over-estimate the evidence in favor of evolution, and too quickly give up on the Bible’s accuracy, and are obviously not aware of the wealth of scientific evidence that supports the Bible’s account of origins. This site contains over 32 years worth of such research and much of it by creationists scientists who as just as highly qualified as the evolutionists.
And you should be embarrassed that you’re propagating the long-debunked flat-earth myth, promulgated by discredited 19th century antitheists, and by Washington Irving’s fable that Christopher Columbus fought flat earth belief. In reality, all the leading church writers who mentioned the shape of the earth asserted its roundness, including Augustine, Bede and Aquinas. Medieval kings were presented with an orb, representing the earth, as a symbol of their power, which shows that they believed the earth was round. All the skeptics find is a handful of obscure writers who state the contrary, e.g. Cosmas Indicopleustes (the last name means “voyager to India”). This myth should have been put to a long-deserved rest when historian Jeffrey Burton Russell published Inventing the Flat Earth in 1991, especially as none other than even the late atheist and Marxist Stephen Jay Gould (who, having died, actually now knows there is a God) reviewed it so favorably, saying:
“There never was a period of ‘flat earth darkness’ among scholars (regardless of how the public at large may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the earth’s roundness as an established fact of cosmology.”
Another relevant article comes from a historian specializing in the Ancient Near East, Dr Noel Weeks, Does the Bible really teach a three-storey cosmology?
8. Clearly you are not going to convince me (nor I you probably), but I think CMI is whole bunch of people talking to themselves and not the world whom God loves.
This is somewhat hypocritical from one who denies us the chance to talk to the students, who God also loves, at his ostensibly Christian school. It is also very ignorant, as mentioned before, of what CMI does, represents, and has produced. And given the wealth of information that is available these days, ignorance, quite frankly, is no excuse. You are actually censoring the flow of information and do not trust your own students’ judgment enough to make a fully informed decision after hearing both sides of the argument. If you think the evidence for evolution is so strong then you should have nothing to worry about. But I suspect that you’re like the atheistic anticreationist activist Eugenie Scott, who admitted that hearing our side might cause students to reject evolution! In fact, the overwhelming majority of scientists at CMI were former evolutionists who became convinced about the truth of biblical creation after hearing arguments for both sides, something that you are not allowing to happen.
Of course, many of the great tragedies and dictatorial regimes in human history came about because leaders wanted people only to think the way that they wanted them to think. See Genocide, evolution and the Bible on how evolution turned people into atheistic killers. We actually believe they were being consistent with their belief system whereas you are not.
CMI “talks” primarily to the Church, as the function of apologetics is to strengthen the faith of those who already believe, and as the “immune system” to defend the Church from the attacks of non-believers (and non-believing believers such as yourself). But God has also used our ministry to convert unbelievers who saw evolution as a stumbling block to faith, until they heard the evidence for creation. Here is an example resulting from Refuting Compromise, even though that was a book addressed to Christians.
9. I further think that CMI continues to unnecessarily create a stumbling block for little ones, and subject the faith in Christ to ridicule.
This is an old and long refuted canard. Our years in ministry have shown that creation teaching is actually one of the most effective methods of reaching people with the Gospel, because it actually removes the stumbling blocks that people have about the authority of the Bible. If people are confused about origins then we should engage the culture and answer the questions they are asking. What you are suggesting is actually a watering down of the Gospel, which means that people are free to decide which parts to believe or not. Such a tactic can lead people to a slippery slope of unbelief. It is very rare that someone comes to faith because they think the Bible supports evolution, for example.
There will always be people who ridicule and reject the Gospel of Christ. The answer is not to keep watering it down in hopes that the mockers will be satisfied. As our response to BioLogos shows, the atheists often have a keener sense of what compromise does to the Christian faith than the compromisers themselves realize. The compromise creates a stumbling block, because if the miraculous stuff in Genesis 1–11 can’t be trusted, why trust the miraculous stuff in the Gospels, and if the Bible gets it wrong on earthly things which can be verified, who in their right mind would believe it when it tells us how to be saved (John 3:12)? For example, BioLogos’ leader Francis Collins ardently supports the fraud of embryonic stem cell research, although that destroys innocent human embryos and has yet to produce a single cure, and despite the many proven treatments from somatic (‘adult’) stem cell research.
10. I am a Biblical Creationist.
No, you’re demonstrably not, and we say this without malice as simply a statement of fact. But it does demonstrate a huge ignorance of the subject matter, which is all the more reason why you should allow a specialist organization like ours a hearing so you can actually find out what it is creationists believe and why. You are a theistic evolutionist. If Jesus and Paul were biblical creationists, then you’re not one. They believed in six days and a short timescale. They believed in a literal Adam who was literally the first human being, created from actual dust by the hand of God (and Eve from his rib as the “mother of all living”). This Adam’s actual sin was the basis for the introduction of physical death, disease, and all types of suffering, which did not exist in “soulish” creatures (Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה (nephesh chayyāh)), whether in man or beast, before Adam’s sin. You cannot be an evolutionist and believe this; therefore you are not a biblical creationist.
It is essential that true faith says “I believe in God, creator of heaven and earth”
Muslims and Jews also say that God created, and even Aristotelianism says that there is an unmoved mover. What makes your creationism Christian?
but those who align that with a six day creation cannot claim to be Biblical Creationists, because they do not believe what God has revealed through science.
How ironic: a biblical creationist according to you is one who rejects the Bible’s teaching about creation!
You glorify science too much, and you beg the question that God has revealed the truth of evolution, in contrast with the propositional revelation of the Bible. This means that we need to rely upon a mechanism or interpretation that is derived by mainly secular atheists (who need evolution to help them explain the world without a creator) to help us interpret God’s Word. Evolution in any case is not science, but one interpretation of the scientific evidence, which after all is not propositional (see also Scripture and general revelation). The Ph.D. scientists at CMI and other places develop models interpreting the same evidence within a creationist framework. If you look at the evidence with an open mind we think you would be surprised to see how much better the data fit with a creationist interpretation. E.g. instead of reading only the side of the rabid atheist Dawkins in The Greatest Show on Earth, read the response, The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
11. Nothing can refute my experience that Creationism is a barrier to faith in many young people. I think it is an irrational and unnecessary barrier, you, a true necessary barrier. My conscience and mind are clear that I stand in the better place.
The argument from experience is notoriously weak; we have exactly the opposite experience in our ministry. We would suggest that you see it as a barrier, because of your overconfidence in the science, and that you have not taken the time to avail yourself of necessary answers to show that the Bible’s history can actually be supported by true science. That's why specialist organizations like CMI exist. We could reword your paragraph to assert that we stand in the better place, and it would have exactly the same validity or lack thereof and the debate would not progress one bit. In reality, experience must be judged by Scripture, not vice versa. We encourage you to open your mind and enquire more about this subject. Researching and understanding the philosophical nature of evolution would be a good place to start.
Lita Sanders, Jonathan Sarfati, and Gary Bates.
Creation Ministries International
Rev. M. also sent the following comments in:
The articles does not deal with the main issues:
1. What justifies insisting on a literal, “historical” and “scientific” interpretation of Genesis 1–11, when the Bible itself does not require or even allow such an interpretation for that genre of Biblical writing (cf Gen 12:1–4 which does require a “space time” approach).
The break between Genesis 1–11 and 12–50 is entirely arbitrary. Genesis itself shows no such clear break in style. Furthermore, passages such as 1 Chronicles 1, Luke 3 and Hebrews 11 cite individuals from both sections without the slightest hint of “now the characters after this point, but not before, were real people.” Genesis 1–11 uses grammatical constructs that are indicative of historical narrative, as we have explained in detail.
2. Why, in just one area of science (viz. evolution) do almost all scientists (Christians or not) interpret the data to strongly imply evolution as the most satisfactory model about how what is came to be? Can all be deceived? Why aren’t all scientists just as deceived about other areas (eg: the structure of the solar system)?
If you were familiar with our materials, you would know that we differentiate between origins and operational science. And of course, it is certainly possible for a majority to be deceived, which is why Jesus spoke of the broad way that leads to destruction.
3. The observations of life in genetics, paleontology, geology, biology, embryology all appear to support the idea that all life is connected and humans came to be as part of this connection.
That’s quite an assertion, but you’ve given no evidence. We believe they support the creation model better.
If a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1 were correct, then those who believe in a literal six day creation must also believe that their god is also the great deceiver who has cleverly laid out this trail in nature with the intention of deceiving humans into believing the lie of “evolution” and so disbelieving in him. I do not believe in such a God and I accept no division in believing in a loving Creator and an evolutionary interpretation of how life came to be.
The natural evidence must be interpreted. You cannot accuse God of deceiving when He has told us, in His inspired Word, how He created! Indeed, if the earth is billions of years old, He must be deceiving when He tells us that He created in six days only thousands of years ago. It’s hard to think of something more diametrically opposed to goo-to-you evolution than the straightforward teaching of Genesis 1. So in reality, people are deceiving themselves by ignoring this clear eye-witness teaching, much like Lucy in the Parable of the Candle.
And once again, you fail to address the biggest problem of long ages: that they place death before sin, contra the biblical teaching that death is “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26) and “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23).
4. I repeat, why do CMI insist on alienating millions of young people by a belief that is not part of the Gospel? Don’t misunderstand me, belief in God as creator is part of the Gospel, but a literal interpretation of Genesis is NOT. This is just a human and totally unnecessary stumbling block.
Why do you insist on asking such leading questions? If you’ve listened to us at all, you will know that we don’t say that a straightforward interpretation of Genesis is essential for salvation. But we do point out that the Apostle Paul’s teaching of the Gospel, the good news , was predicated on the bad news of a literal Fall of a literal first man, Adam.
Lita Sanders, Jonathan Sarfati and Gary Bates