Conversion, apostasy, and CMI’s approach
And why words mean the same to man and God
Published: 17 August 2014 (GMT+10)
In the first section, BW asks good questions about the reasons people leave their faith, whether Christian or atheist, and what the best approach is. In the second section, DC asks about how we can know that Scripture means what it says. Dr Jonathan Sarfati responds to both. Readers should also check out the Related articles section for much more.
Having read many wonderful articles on your website, I get the sense that when a believing scientist switches camps from creationist to evolutionist, it is usually not evidence in favor of evolution that persuaded them to switch. It would seem that an overwhelming attraction to sin is the persuader in such a scenario.
In contrast, when an evolutionary atheist switches camps from evolutionist to creationist, it almost always has to be attributed to the overwhelming evidence for design that persuaded them.
There is a persuasion factor in each instance; people are either persuaded by the overwhelming power of sin and embrace godless evolution accordingly, or they are persuaded by the evidence of design, which makes them a prime candidate for being captured by the beauty and reality of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for writing to CMI. You raise some interesting points, and it’s interesting that I tried to address some of the same things in a recent newsletter.
You are on to something for sure. One astute observer of creation compromise wrote about many ‘deconversion’ accounts he knew of, “Half the time (or more), it has later come to light that the person’s original ‘doubts’ were related to a moral struggle.” (See “Some observations about apostasy”, well worth reading in its entirety1). It also reminds me of an article, “With a Little Help from Your Friends’”, by Dr J. Budziszewski, professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and author of How to Stay Christian in College, where he relates the following:
I will never forget a young woman who told me during office hours that she felt she was losing her faith. Her radical feminist teachers could see nothing in Christianity but “patriarchy”, and she couldn’t find Christian replies. It didn’t take long to discover why she couldn’t find them. She wasn’t looking. And it seemed to me that she wasn’t so terribly attracted to radical feminism either. She pictured herself as struggling to hold on to her faith despite superior arguments against it. The truth was that she was looking for an excuse to lose her faith, exposing herself exclusively to the most anti-Christian influences she could find.
It reminded me of how I had used various ideologies to rationalize my own flight from faith at her age. I was so sure that I was intellectually convinced by the case against Christ, but the reasons that convinced me had little to do with the intellect.
The reasons students find it difficult to keep faith in college are much the same as the reasons other Christians have found it difficult to keep faith in other times and places. These temptations are endemic to a fallen world, and the university is no exception.
With all that, there are some cautions about going in the opposite direction, “Evolution was just an excuse; the real problem was sin.” However, if that’s all there is to it, then this is like explaining an airplane crash with, “A mechanical fault or pilot error wasn’t responsible; gravity was.” True but useless, because gravity, like sin, is universal. It doesn’t explain why this particular plane crashed while so many planes avoid crashing. Similarly, blaming the universal sin condition of all Adam’s descendants for a particular apostasy doesn’t explain the strong correlation with evolutionary indoctrination.
Your point about the reverse switches explains the power of creation evangelism. This is also important to explain to pastors and parents who see no need for CMI ministry in their churches: “We believe all this; why would we need your ministry?” Another important rejoinder is, Yes, you may believe it, but can you defend it? And do your children believe it?
I’m a Physicist and Mathematician who believes that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob created everything. I think that Darwin’s hypothesis is invalid. I believe the big bang is based on observational evidence, but has a number of unanswered questions. Although the Bible isn’t a science book, there’s an interesting reference in the Book of Job about God expanding the Universe. I believe it’s very possible that mankind has existed for less than 7000 years. I make no claims of being an etymologist, so if I do accept that the six days of creation in the King James Bible is a correct English translation, why should I be compelled to believe that the reference for this time frame is humanistic and not Godly? What speed was God traveling at when he created everything? What was the gravitational field of God’s location on each day of creation? What if God is expressing Genesis time in literal hours and minutes, but from a location other than your collective assumptions?
Thank you for writing to CMI.
The six days of creation don’t depend on the KJV (even though it’s supported by nearly all other English translations), but the original Hebrew language, as shown for example in The numbering pattern of Genesis: Does it mean the days are non-literal? and The days of Creation: A semantic approach.
About the time frame, if the Bible is to teach us anything, words must mean the same to God as man, and God’s logic must be man’s logic, or there is no revelation! Otherwise, why just stop at days? Maybe God meant something different by “For God so loved the world”? See further discussion in Why is CMI so dogmatic on 24-hour creation days? and especially the section The days were ‘God’s days’ not ‘man’s days’.
But there is something in the different time frames, though not what you think. The days of creation were measured by earth clocks. This combined with God stretching out the heavens (in other places besides Job) has led to interesting creation cosmologies. See for example the outline in our Creation Answers Book ch. 5.
Since your questions have been addressed on our website, may I request that you spend some time using our search button on the top right of every page (we have over 9,000 articles) and our Q&A pages. I.e. it’s better that I teach you how to fish than give you a fish ;) An especially important issue is that all long-age ideas place death—both human and animal—before sin. So this disconnects the consistent biblical teaching that death is the wages of sin. And if consistent, then the question must arise: How could Jesus’ death pay for our sin?
References and notes
- See “Some observations about apostasy”, well worth reading in its entirety, teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/04/apostasy.html, first posted 27 September 2008. Return to text.
Just a question about the underlying text the Hebrew is taken from … which texts or fragments specifically, & do they agree across the board: the Masoretic compared to the other minority texts? Thank you.
In response to Terry P.: I would like to suggest that D.C’s questions are from that person’s heart and a struggle, to which the individual is putting voice too.
It is important that one not be dismissive of another’s struggle, even if it may seem inconsequential. Much of Job’s friends advice was actually valid wisdom, but their main sin was a lack of discerning.
If a rich man were to comfort a poor man who is concerned about not having enough to eat, by saying, that is not really a big thing to be worried about (because he himself is beyond that concern). If the rich man were to further say, please worry about the bigger things, without doing something to address the needs of the poor man, it will be the rich man who needs comfort most.
Directed to D.C.: it is important to note how many times the text mentions day and the emphasis on there was ‘day and there was night’ on the xth day. I found the recent article on time dilation to be a very interest framework for understanding the universe as we see them. It also shows the recent developments in Creation science. I would encourage you to review that article.
Also, I believe that in part the statement ‘the Bible is not a science book’ probably has some origin in the fact that the church mistreated Galileo. The Bible is said to be many things, but it is God’s Word. If we struggle with reconciling what we see with God’s Word we have to understand that the only thing that was required to create was God’s Word (God spoke and it was so). From this perspective the Bible can be useful in science, and scientific exploration can be useful in maturing our faith. God’s Word is complete, our understanding is not, just like the Catholic church of yesteryear, we have many things yet to learn.
re ‘deconversion &rlsquo;:
(from nearly 40 years of creation-related personal discussions, including some with several grievously ‘deconverted’ people)
Factors include but go beyond the mentioned sin (nature) and topical moral struggles factors.
An additional factor is a falsely informed integrity. This involves wrongly informed consciences, shaped by wrong speculation wrongly identified as hard fact. Included within this factor are wrong definitions that produce caricature. (E.g., evolution-proponent fallacious arguments and equivocation, that caricature non-evolution.) Such faulty ‘integrity’ can lower spiritual immune-system resistance to moral struggles currently being faced.
An additional ‘betrayal’ factor seems to occur within particularly intense individuals. Sometimes that intensity involves loyalty to early authority figures such as parents or pastors. (Creationism can be held to, blindly, in this earlier phase.) A later authority figure (falsely) ‘refuting’ earlier teaching produces this sense of betrayal, leading to radicalism in the other direction. Betrayal doesn't always have to be creation-related. One man, having submerged doubts since college days, went into personal crisis while ministering, and was deeply failed by people within his ministering network. He ended up as a near-atheist. In such cases, moral struggle (and anti-creationism) can follow, not precede ‘deconversion’.
Another factor, very powerful, involves the sudden realization that a non-saved loved one or deep friend is headed toward hell. Rather than seek conversion of the other one, the first person moves away from God.
The exact sequence within ‘deconversion’ can be a complicated mix of these factors.
Let’s please pray for these individuals to escape these bondages.
In addition to the important answers Jonathan gave to #2:
[… why should I be compelled to believe that the reference for this time frame is humanistic and not Godly? What speed was God traveling at when he created everything? What was the gravitational field of God’s location on each day of creation? …]
The important thing is that Genesis 1 was clearly written for man, as opposed to let’s say some group of angels guarding a distant galaxy, and thus, primarily at least, it relates to the perspective or vantage point (an important issue when used rightly, as Einstein did) of a man standing on the surface of the earth as he is looking up, … or swimming on the surface ('face') of the waters (the deep).
Also, a day is clearly defined on day 1 as a night period followed by a light (day) period (an evening/morning cycle = 1 day! it’s a clear definition). Obviously, we know now that a day on earth is not the same as a day on any of the other planets, but again, the account was written to give the understanding God wanted to impart to man who was on the earth’s surface, not on Venus’ surface (thank God! that’s a hot place). So again, the chief relative vantage point of Genesis 1 is an earthly one (not a Venus or Andromeda one, etc).
So I would say, the issue of relative vantage points still is an incredibly important issue. Where the questioner goes wrong is by non-critically applying the issue of (simple) relativity (no offense). Relative considerations can’t be used as a magic wand to change the text’s vantage point to just any perspective.
Psalm 115:16 הַשָּׁמַיִם שָׁמַיִם לַיהוָה וְהָאָרֶץ נָתַן לִבְנֵי־אָדָם
The heavens are heavens that belong to Yahweh, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.
Arguments against the truth about God or the Bible are often so persuasive to many people not because of hard evidence but because it is what they want to believe. I find it very arrogant to assume that the people who wrote the Bible being inspired by the Holy were somehow not as intellegent as we are. If “and there was evening and morning the first day” does not describe a normal day then what about “early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to tomb and found it empty.” Using the same assumption should we conclude that Jesus’ ressurection was spiritual rather than physical. I am not trying to pick a fight with anybody but think about it whose opinion should we trust agnostic or atheistic scientists or Biblical God fearing pastors, teachers, scientists etc.
Honestly, these questions are inconsequential.
“What speed was God traveling at when he created everything? [Speed relative to what? to nothing?] What was the gravitational field of God’s location on each day of creation? [Location? God is omnipresent, to the farthest bounds of the universe and beyond.] What if God is expressing Genesis time in literal hours and minutes, but from a location other than your collective assumptions? [Where is the universe relative to God? Since God is omnipresent, there can be no other assumed location of God.] — D.C.”
These questions are inconsequential, because God obviously created every force of nature that holds the universe together, including the laws of gravitation and of time and motion. For this is what the LORD asked Job…
“Did you [Job] proclaim the rules that govern the heavens, or determine the laws of nature on earth? — God— Job 38:33”
And if God decided to pull the plug, as it were, we would all simply vanish into nothingness…
“Who but he [God] established the whole world? If he [God] were to turn his thoughts inwards and recall his life-giving spirit, all that lives would perish on the instant, and man return again to dust. — Elihu — Job 34:13-15”