Does the Bible trump all evidence?
Should creationists stick with their views no matter what the evidence says?
K.C. from the U.S. wrote in with a concern about creationist paleontologist Dr. Kurt Wise’s approach to the evidence:
If Dr. Wise states that he will never change his views no matter the amount of evidence against them; why bother refuting this evidence? It seems ludicrous to attack evidence with evidence when in Dr Wise’s thinking evidence does not really matter. I think he would have to admit that he takes his evidence to fit his preconceived interpretation of Genesis. So, the matter revolves around ones interpretation of Scripture. Yet, this ministry barely steps into the high waters of Biblical hermeneutics. Wise’s method is in fact bullet proof-The Bible says so, I believe it regardless of any evidence against it. Is this a good practice in any discipline? Surely God would have us exercise our minds in a much better fashion then this? The real issue for Wise then would be simply a matter of interpretation not evidence. In Wise’s mind Scripture is the authority. Yet, authority is not really the issue.
CMI’s Keaton Halley responds:
Thanks for the question. You may be writing under the false impression that Dr. Wise works here, so I recommend that you write to him if you want his opinion. But I will try to address your concerns anyway, from my point of view.
To begin with, I’m not sure that Dr. Wise intended his statements to be taken in the way you read them, but even if that is precisely his view not all creationists would share that opinion. Also, it is unclear to me what exactly you mean by "evidence", but in the broadest sense evidence is simply grounds for believing something. At CMI, we certainly think that we have good grounds for believing the Bible. Neither we nor the Bible advocate a ‘blind faith’ approach. Instead, we show how Christianity makes better sense of reality than any other worldview.
Still, once we are firmly convinced that the Bible is the Word of God and that Genesis teaches six days, etc., it is appropriate to use that knowledge to test other truth claims. When new apeman claims are trumpeted by the media, for example, we do not immediately question our entire worldview, but ask how the facts themselves might be better interpreted within a creationist paradigm.
Those committed to an evolutionary paradigm do the same thing. Notice how, when evolutionist Mary Schweitzer found soft tissues, blood cells, proteins, and DNA within dinosaur bones, she did not question the 65+ million year age of the bones, but assumed that there must be some mechanism to preserve soft tissue for all that time. So while you are right to say that our interpretation of the Bible is crucial, the Bible isn’t the only thing being interpreted. Evolutionists and long agers often try to sell their interpretations as facts, but we’ve often shown how they smuggle faulty assumptions into their reconstructions of history.
Of course, the Bible often gives us a clearer picture of history than the study of nature because (1) the Bible contains propositional statements, whereas nature doesn’t literally say anything, and (2) the Bible gives us eyewitness testimony from an infallible source.
For these and other reasons, I do think it is appropriate to trust the Bible even when I don’t have all the answers about a particular evolutionary claim. After all, the Bible itself tells us to "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:5–6). But no, this does not mean that if Jesus’ bones were discovered, for example, that we should keep believing the Bible anyway. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "if Christ has not been raised… your faith is in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14).
Now, if I’m reading you right, you also say that biblical authority is not the issue because the argument really depends on whether we’re interpreting Genesis correctly. Certainly, our case for six days, etc. does depend on us getting our interpretation right, but I still think the controversy is fundamentally about biblical authority. That’s because we are not only claiming that our interpretation is correct, but also that it is clear. There are objective rules for proper interpretation, which (contrary to what I understand you to say) we actually write about extensively in our published materials. But our detailed exegesis only serves to reinforce what should be obvious to every student of the Bible, that God created in six days, that death entered the world after Adam sinned, that Noah’s flood covered the globe, etc. While these doctrines are clear in the text, people don’t want to believe them because they have been influenced by the ideas of millions of years and evolution. But when we allow outside influences to run roughshod over proper exegesis, it’s no longer merely a matter of interpretation, it’s about failing to take God at his word.
I don’t mean that to sound harsh, because I respect many Christians who do not share my convictions about Genesis. However, we all have feet of clay. I’m not sure where you stand on these things, but if you have doubts about Genesis I encourage you to look at our arguments from Scripture and read our articles that expose many of the assumptions in the evolutionary and long-age paradigms. You might start with Did God create over billions of years? and Did God really take six days?