CMI whining about everyone going downhill theologically?
Published: 23 January 2010 (GMT+10)
Many readers have responded to Adrian Bates article “Evangelical Christian leaders promote evolution”. The latest is this one from Zachary A in New Zealand.
I appreciate much of the work that CMI does in producing materials which aim to honour God our creator and his Word. Christians should not be afraid to be seen standing against atheistic materialism, including in the highest echelons of our universities. However, I believe that TANSAA also does good work in bringing believing scientists together to discuss the relationship between their faith and professional lives and also in challenging students to reconsider the materialism that is so often simply assumed to follow from science.
CMI has elsewhere been clear that 6-day YEC, as strongly as it is held by many, is not a Christian essential and I would hope for constructive dialogue rather than, with all due respect, whinging about how everyone else is going downhill theologically. Unlike many who lead western churches, I believe far more than ‘God exists’; and yet there are real difficulties with the YEC approach which many believe are insuperable.
This engagement with the evidence does not make them non-Christians. It is not easy being a Christian studying biology etc; students should be aware of the positions conscientious Christians can take on the first chapters of Genesis while, I believe, rejecting materialism as unsound and unfounded and accepting Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer.
CMI’s Dr Tas Walker responds.
Thank you for your feedback.
This issue is not primarily about rejecting atheistic materialism. Otherwise we could join with the Islamists, the pantheist, and the New Agers and say that we are all on the same page. We are about upholding the authority of Scripture, which is the revelation from the one, true Creator God. And we would expect other Christian academics, especially those in seminaries and theological institutions, to have a similar approach—to be in the business of defending the Christian faith. Without Scripture we cannot even explain why Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer.
Yes, we say that belief in 6-day creation is not essential for salvation but we have always maintained that six-day creation about 6,000 years ago is essential to a consistent and logical Christian worldview. In fact, every major Christian doctrine comes out of the historicity of Genesis. Accept the idea of millions of years and you say goodbye to any chance of a consistent, sensible defence of the Christian faith.
I’m not sure what you mean by “it’s not easy being a Christian and studying biology”. If you mean the science, then I think that there is a wealth of scientific information available now that provides answers to most of the scientific questions as well as direction for ways to find other answers. Check the Q&A topics page or type the key words into the Creation.com search box. There are other creationist databases available free on-line that provide peer reviewed articles on the science. Do you subscribe to Journal of Creation? That is one of a number of creationist journals now available and you should be a subscriber. There is no excuse for Christian academics these days to be uninformed. It should not be difficult being a Christian from the scientific point of view. As a matter of fact, a scientist working from the Christian worldview should be in the lead because they would have insights that others do not have.
However, I suspect that you are referring to the discrimination, hostility, and peer pressure that is applied to anyone in academia who holds a theistic worldview. This is documented in the film “Expelled” and in Jerry Bergman’s book “The Slaughter of the Dissidents”. Are you familiar with these? Discrimination, isolation and bullying are entirely different reasons for things not being easy. Christians who do their science and are open about the biblical worldview would find it hard to be promoted, to get research funds, and to be accepted by their peers. From the many Christian academics that I know I suspect that this is the reason. Those who don’t subscribe to a 6-day YEC position won’t talk about it. It is impossible to engage them or hold a conversation with them on this issue. They won’t defend their position, likely because they don’t have one they feel they can defend. I suspect they have adopted this compromised, confused and indefensible position because of the conflict they anticipate they would encounter with their work. Cornell University genetics professor (recently retired) John Sanford, who became a YEC only recently, said he was terrified of how he would be treated by his peers.
You spoke about the insuperable difficulties with the YEC position but did not give any examples. I would like to know what you are thinking of. I’m not aware of what could be an insuperable difficulty. Better still, it would be good for you to search Creation.com with some of those difficulties and then come back to us if you have not found an answer. The point is that all worldviews have difficulties. They are called “research projects”. If all difficulties were solved then there would be no need for further research.
And think of this. If you can’t trust Genesis because of the insuperable difficulties then why should you trust the Gospels either, with the insuperable difficulties of the Virginal Conception, the supernatural miracles and the Resurrection?
We would welcome constructive dialogue. I am sure that TANSAA do a lot of good work. Perhaps you could arrange for one of our scientists to meet some of the folk from TANSAA and make a presentation with Q&A next time they are in NZ.
Once again, thank you for your response.
Scientist, Editor, Speaker
Creation Ministries International (Australia)
The reason 6-day YEC is not an essential to salvation is because there is only one essential to salvation: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, having believed in Him, it necessarily follows that we are to also believe everything He believes. What He believes encompasses, well…, everything He believes, both revealed and unrevealed. As omniscient, He knows what that encompasses. We as finite individuals, know only that which He has revealed to us and that only by degrees, since we can assimilate only a little at a time. By believing in Christ we are put on the road leading to a complete Christian worldview.
Eventually we run across the fact that He is the Creator and that by faith we understand that the universe was made by Him speaking everything into existence in the space of 6 days. And there is more and more to understand in the matter of who He is and what He believes, but we can learn only what He has revealed, and that (as I said) only by degrees, and we die knowing only a portion (usually) of what He has revealed, and even if we die knowing everything He has revealed (which I doubt) we still only know a fraction of the total (revealed plus unrevealed) and so we have eternity (which is just short of long enough) to comprehend the rest.
In the meantime, we learn principally from the Bible which interprets for us the world around us, not to mention some pretty salient comments on the nature and attributes of God and Man, but (I emphasize) that the Bible interprets for us the world around us, because the Bible is the word of God and it is inerrant in all its facets even to the smallest point (of Bible chronology, for example), and any disbelief even in the smallest point is disbelief in the Christ we claimed to believe in in the first place.
I am still very surprised that ‘Christians’ still cannot identify their God. (They still do not know who He is.)
Anyone who claims to be a Christian and does not believe in creation is not a Christian!
For example, we definitely know that Jesus was a plumber in Nazareth while he lived amongst us! Right??
No he was a carpenter with his earthly father Joseph!
Now before that and after and forever He is the Creator of heaven and earth with his real Father God!
I have not seen Jesus resigning this position and are unaware that the Father has fired him! So I believe that Jesus is God the Creator of Heaven and Earth!
So Christianity can’t be divorced from creation (in any way)!
Anyone who claims to be a Christian and a non-believer in Creation MUST be asked to decide which one they are!
If they are ignorant of this then they must be labeled as not quite Christian yet! (or a traitor)
How can one follow Someone you don’t know (who they are)? Following a stranger will get you into trouble normally!
A Christian is a follower of The Creator God. If you don’t follow Him then you are not! How can I say it any simpler????
No wonder I am still surprised by Dummies!
Don’t report on theistic evolutionists, just call them traitors! Call a spade a spade!
I think Zachary A., and Christians like him, are missing an important point, which the Intelligent Design movement very clearly understands.
Although the ID movement is willing to take a strictly empirical and uniformitarian approach, leaving religion and the Bible out of it and accepting billions of years, they still find hostility, censorship and discrimination.
The lack of “constructive dialogue” is not the creationists’ fault, but the result of discrimination by materialists and the Christians who help them.
And money is a big factor: materialists get billions of tax dollars to research things like the Big Bang full-time, while creationists have to self-finance the research they do in their spare time. You can’t get a Ph.D. in Design Inference, much less in Flood geology.
So as Christians we are paying tax and giving donations (to private Christian universities) to finance materialistic research, while research that is consistent with the Bible is not done.
Many of the best YEC models are very recent (e.g. those explaining distant starlight). How much more would we discover if professional creationist scientists would have the academic freedom and funds to do fundamental research?
So even if you think the current arguments for evolution are more convincing than the current arguments for YEC, it is your Christian duty to stand up for academic freedom and non-discrimination. And if you do that, you will find the exact same hostility that both the ID movement and the YECs encounter. Hence, the absence of constructive dialogue.
I myself am trying to get a scholarship for a Ph.D. For this reason, I never allow CMI to publish my name, because if it were known among my peers that I was a YEC, I would certainly not get it. Realistically, I think I’ll only be able to publicly advocate Orthodox Christianity once I leave academia. For now, I don’t deny that I am a Christian, but I also abstain from evangelizing, since I know, from experience, that discussions about the faith within academic circles always boil down to evolution/design. Compromise with evolution and you lose them because of the inconsistency. Advocate design and they’ll debate you until they realize they can’t win and then you’re just an unreasonable ignoramus, unworthy of attention, no matter how good your academic performance.
Tas (as usual) does a fine job of answering the points raised.
I would like to see the biggest question answered also: “Why?” This question yields a sense of purpose, & the basic info needed to make decisions.
It always entails the supporting question “How?” This provides enough detail to carry out the decisions made, & is also a cross-check against the “Why” answers.
This is a symmetrical process: if it works forwards, it works backwards.
If the answer to “How” is “Through a colossal chain of extremely unlikely accidents” then there is no matching “Why” question it can support, beyond “Because I wish it to be so,” hardly a sustainable answer.
So it happens that CMI is not “whining” as Zachary puts it, but making the crucial point that the basis for alternatives simply does not exist.
Without any basis, there is no purpose in any of the actions being undertaken.
Step Zero in one’s plan then becomes “Find a purpose” or in other words “Ask a non-broken Why question.”
CMI documents out many broken “How” answers, so enormously simplifying the range of useful “Why” questions.
If the answer to “How” is “Because He personally made it so” then a suitable “Why” question is “Why do we exist?”
Then, our purpose is derived (entirely derived) from God’s purpose.
This also opens many other “How” answers, one of which at a simpler level of detail is “through Christ,” entailing “Christianity.”
Quite simply, I am a YEC because I believe this world-view is necessary to be consistent with the Bible as a whole. As some scientists are “sure” the earth is on the order of billions of years old, while other scientists are “sure” the earth is only on the order of thousands of years old, I do not find it logical to accept or reject the Bible based on any scientific “conclusion” (although the amount of science I am familiar with in my mind points best to a YEC model). I do not find it profitable to believers or non-believers for Christians to debate such topics amongst themselves, as it only appears to create a rift within the Church. However, I am very thankful for ministries such as CMI that provide scientific answers to the Creation/evolution debate. I believe that this material can go a long way towards reaffirming the faith of a Christian on the brink of denial because of what “science” says, as well as arming firm Christians with the information necessary to witness to their evolution-believing friends. On that front, I try to stay up to date on CMI articles and common Creation/evolution topics for the benefit of those I may come in contact with. However, if someone says to me that they have accepted Christ as their Savior and that they think that if the big bang and evolution really are true that that’s just how God did it, I see no reason to argue with such a person. I can spell Christian with Creation and you can spell Christian with evolution, as long as we both spell Christian with Christ.
Yes, heated argument is counterproductive. And yes, the YEC is essential for a consistent biblical worldview. So I always take the opportunity to discuss this issue with people but do it in a friendly way. If they start to get upset I back away. And I regularly give one-year gift subscriptions to Creation magazine, which they always appreciate.
It is absolutely right that no-one ‘needs’ to be a believer in YEC to be saved. If that were so, then Jesus would not be the only Way (Salvation would be through faith in Jesus YEC-ism; an absolute nonsense.)
Once we start adding to God’s clear Word that we are saved by grace through faith, we are on the slipperiest of slippery slopes. Baptism is a good thing, but we do not need to be baptised to be saved. The Lord’s Supper is a commendable sacrament, but we do not need to take Communion to be saved.
Only faith in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross for the remission of our sins is essential. The problem that then arises is how we can believe in the efficacy of what Jesus did, yet ignore what he said?
A couple of verses that swayed me to embrace YEC many years ago are, John 5:44–47, directly quoting Jesus:
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
And the Apostle Paul’s explicit doctrinal exposition of the very mechanism of Salvation in Romans 5:11–18:
“More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
“Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
We are told that God can forgive us even if we blaspheme Jesus, so we can still be saved despite calling him a liar. The question is whether we would value our Lord so lightly that we would want to.