The Skeptics and their ‘Churchian’ Allies feedback
ISCAST responds; reply by CMI
ISCAST, not surprisingly, protested against my article The Skeptics and their Churchian Allies from Nov. 1998 Prayer News (Australia). Dr Allan J. Day, Exec. Sec. of ISCAST (Vic), asked for a response to be published in Prayer News. Since the next available issue was May 1999, and more importantly because Prayer News is not a debate forum, we offered to publish an expanded version of Dr Day’s response on this website.
We have assured Dr Day: ‘It will not be truncated or altered in any way’. We also advised him: ‘As is normal journalistic practice, the author of the original article will be given the chance to reply if he sees fit to do so’. Thus Dr Day’s unedited response follows, with my comments interspersed with his in normal email fashion. His comments are coloured, indented, and marked AD; my response is in normal format and marked JS. Ellipsis points at the end of one of Dr Day’s paragraphs indicate where I have responded to one of his points in mid-sentence, not to indicate any omission.
The response by Dr Day in isolation can be found in the next chunk (below), for comparison.
The May 1999 Prayer News will inform readers that Dr Day’s response and my reply are on our website.
AD:In response to your article "The Skeptics and their Churchian Allies" (Nov. 1998 Prayer News). Firstly, we like the label ISCASTians used by Sarfati. We are already using the term and feel that we will look back to the fact that "ISCAST Fellows were first called ISCASTians in Brisbane in 1998".
JS: Fine. Since they like the term ‘ISCASTians’, they will presumably also appreciate the term ‘ISCAST-speak’. By this, I mean, how ISCASTians use language to try to persuade evangelicals that ISCASTian doctrines are really evangelical, and hide their radical departures from Scriptural authority. Some examples from their writings follow:
|‘We hold a high view of Scripture’
|Scripture reflects the primitive scientific views of the time, so it contains errors.
|‘We take Scripture seriously’
|We must reinterpret or even disbelieve Scripture when it conflicts with the general theory of evolution (i.e. ‘from goo to you via the zoo’) and billions of years.
|‘is not anti-Christian’ [of the anti-creationist book Telling Lies …, by one of Australia’s leading humanists]
|It lampoons the Bible, and says that belief in life after death is evidence that ‘people have not been taught how to think’.
|We worship Christ and believe His teachings
|Except where we know better than He, because we have the light of science, while Jesus was a child of His time.
|‘Neutral on religion’ [of the Australian Skeptics]
|The Skeptics frequently publish articles attacking the Bible, Christianity and God; and frequently promote rabidly atheistic speakers and books.
|‘Desirous of good science’ [of both ISCASTians and Skeptics]
|We overlook egregious blunders in books like Telling Lies …, because it’s all for a good cause (attacking biblical creation).
Perhaps ISCASTians will look back to the fact that ISCASTian communications were first called ISCAST-Speak in Brisbane in 1999.
AD: The fact that ISCAST—to quote from the article—"has been able to gain the confidence of reputable evangelical organisations (see box)" may easily be read as a criticism of the credibility of [Creation Ministries International] and an affirmation of the integrity of ISCAST in evangelical circles.
JS: More likely, many of these organisations haven’t yet learned how to translate ISCAST-speak. Many would be horrified to know about the radical departures from biblical orthodoxy by some of their members.
AD: The Creation Science Movement seems to have very transparent "emperor’s clothes"—their lack of credibility, not only with regard to the scientific community …
JS: not because of the evidence from real science, but because of the a priori commitment to materialism in the scientific establishments—see The Rules of the Game.
AD: but also the theological community is being revealed.
JS: Again, not exactly independent. In all cases, it’s not the Bible that convinces any theologians that evolution/billions of years is fact. Rather, it is the alleged findings of ‘science’ (really the uniformitarian assumptions masquerading as science) that form a Procrustean bed, on which the Bible is mutilated to fit.
AD: The article lists only a small number of Evangelical organisations with which ISCAST cooperates. There are in fact many others not mentioned. Many of our Fellows have been active personally in such organisations for many years. We are of course more than happy both as individuals and as an organisation to be associated in ministry and fellowship with them. It seems that far from condemning ISCAST the attempt at denigration has a rather flattering ring about it.
JS: The purpose of the box was to alert these officially Bible-believing organisations as to the logical implications of theistic evolution/long ages, especially as exemplified by many ISCASTians themselves. I.e. ISCAST is a Trojan Horse—with an outward covering of ‘academically respectable science’, but after it is allowed into evangelical institutions, it turns out to be concealing the enemy soldiers called ‘materialism’, ‘biblical errancy’ and ‘errancy of Jesus Christ’.
Note also, we know that some people have written to the organisations involved, and they tried to distance themselves from ISCAST (letters on file). For example, Ridley College claimed that they merely provided a venue, and some of the other colleges claimed that participation in conferences with ISCAST doesn’t necessarily mean support for their views. However, in some cases one must wonder if they are hiding their true beliefs from donors and supporters— Ridley College has Allan Day lecturing for them. The apostate Ronald Numbers, in his book (recommended by Day) The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism, University of California Press, 1992, exposes the ‘strained efforts’ of re-interpreting Scripture to fit evolution, and the deceit of some theistic evolutionary college professors ‘[s]tretching the truth to the breaking point’ (p. 182) when trying to hide what they really believed from conservative parents and donors.
AD: ISCAST is not as claimed in the article "a vocal theistic evolutionary organisation………that spend much time attacking biblical creationism and creationists".
JS: A strange claim, considering how much of their newsletter space is devoted to just that.
AD: Nor does the claim "The major purpose of ISCAST seems to be to promote the teaching of theistic evolution" bear much resemblance to our aims which are clearly stated in our literature.
JS: Evidently ‘aims’ and ‘practices’ are different.
AD: We have a much wider agenda concerned with the integration of science and theology—seeking to explore ways in which science might inform theology and theology provide a context for science.
JS: In practice, as I pointed out in my article, whenever there is a conflict between ‘science’ (uniformitarianism/evolutionism) and Scripture, it’s always Scripture which is re-interpreted to fit ‘science’. I.e. the Word of the infallible God is judged by the theories of fallible people.
AD: It is true however that ISCAST, in contrast to [Creation Ministries International], would consider that scientific investigation of origins should be pursued by appropriate methods of rational inquiry and that such investigation should be approached without any presuppositions of the truth or falsity of scientific theories based on particular interpretations of Scripture.
JS: I.e., ignore what the infallible God (who was there, knows everything and cannot lie) has told us in His written Word. Instead, we should investigate origins by presupposing that God (if He even exists) has never intervened supernaturally to create anything directly. That evolutionists cling dogmatically to their materialistic faith, regardless of how absurd it might seem, should be abundantly clear from the astonishing admissions by the agnostic anti-creationist philosopher of science Michael Ruse and the Marxist geneticist Richard Lewontin. It’s completely inexcusable for professing Christians to adopt their materialistic philosophy (‘methodological naturalism’).
AD: We should not feel threatened by truth determined in this way since God is the author of all truth.
JS: This is grossly misleading, although dressed in pious-sounding ISCAST-speak. As shown above, evolutionary theory expressly rejects/ignores God as author of creation or of the propositional revelation in Scripture. Stephen Jay Gould and others have shown that Darwin’s purpose was to destroy the idea of a divine designer—see Darwin’s real message: Have you missed it?
These views relate to cosmological and biological evolution as well as to other aspects of scientific inquiry.
AD: It is also true that ISCAST would consider that the interpretation of the Biblical creation accounts espoused by "Creationism" to be neither consistent with appropriate exegesis nor consistent with the expressed role of the Bible.
JS: In this case, ISCAST is contrary to most modern Hebrew scholars and nearly all exegetes of the past before billions of years/evolutionary views became fashionable. As the long-ager Pattle Pun wrote:
It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all [sic—creationists would say ‘most’] fossils were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith. (Pattle P.T. Pun, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:14, 1987)
That is, a straightforward exegesis of the biblical text as it stands could give no other view than what CMI claims. The reason that Pun (and ISCAST) disbelieve this is that uniformitarian ‘science’ disagrees—it has nothing to do with the Bible. If Day disagrees, then let him deduce billions of years and one kind changing into another from the Bible alone.
AD: The latter is given not as a source of scientific information but rather as an authority on matters of faith and conduct.(2 Tim 3:15).
JS: Let’s analyse this in context to see if Day’s ‘limited inerrancy’ view holds water. 2 Timothy 3:15–17 reads: 'and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.' (NIV)
While one key purpose of Scripture is to instruct us in faith and conduct, v. 16 makes it clear that all Scripture is God-breathed, not just some. That is, its inerrancy is not restricted just to those verses deemed to relate to faith and conduct. After all, doctrine is inextricably linked to history and science, so that whatever Scripture affirms on scientific or historical matters is also true. For example, the key doctrine of the Resurrection is linked to the historical fact that Jesus’ body had vacated the tomb on the third day. It also impinges on science, because naturalistic scientists assert that it is impossible for dead men to rise. And the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection is tied to the historical accuracy of the event recorded in Genesis (1 Cor. 15:21–22).
As I pointed out in my original article, there’s no end to the apostasy demonstrated by Allan Day. Day hasn’t responded to Jesus’ question to Nicodemus in John 3:12: ‘I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’ (NIV). Nor has he addressed the question of what to do if a Scriptural teaching on conduct conflicts with ‘science’, e.g. the Bible’s prohibition on adultery or homosexual acts vs ‘scientific’ assertions that such behaviours are ‘in our genes’.
AD: We do not consider Creation and Evolution to be alternatives.
JS: Funny, people like Darwin, Huxley, Mayr, Futuyma and many others believed they were.
AD: God’s creative activity is not compromised by an understanding or investigation of the mechanism of such activity.
JS: Even if it conflicts with the Bible, which must then be ‘re-interpreted’ (an ISCAST-speak euphemism for ‘disbelieved’?)? And despite the fact that the proposed evolutionary mechanisms involve huge amounts of death and suffering before sin?
AD: We would therefore also take issue with scientists such as Richard Dawkins, who while agreeing with [Creation Ministries International] in setting creation and evolution up as alternatives, seek to dismiss the concept of God as creator on scientific grounds. This is a clear misuse of science, which does not bear philosophical examination as has repeatedly been brought out in debate with Dawkins by Christians who are scientists (See e.g. The Poole/Dawkins debate Science and Christian Belief 1994 6(1) 1995 7(1))
JS: The fact that Skeptic/Atheist/Humanist groups don’t bother too much with such compromisers like Poole and the ISCASTians shows that they consider such craven capitulation to materialism as no threat to their atheistic faith.
AD: Fellows of ISCAST would all subscribe to an orthodox Christian position as expressed in the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed, with their affirmation of God as Creator.
JS: Note that Day cannot affirm that ISCASTians affirm the same view of Scripture that Christ held, i.e. completely authoritative on all matters it touches upon.
AD: Espousal of a literal 6 day account of creation would not be considered an essential of the Christian faith.
JS: CMI also makes it clear that it doesn’t regard a literal Genesis as essential for salvation. But it is essential for a consistent, integrated Christian world view.
AD: The statements attributed to me re Genesis need some comment. They need to be quoted in context however—an exercise that is often lacking in A in G quotes.
JS: Pure assertion. This ‘quoting out of context’ is a common fetish repeated by Skeptics and their churchian allies. The silliest thing of all is to write to the author and ask whether he had been misquoted. Of course, all you need to do to demonstrate is to compare the quote with the original. Not surprisingly, Day has failed to do this.
AD: The first re Biblical inerrancy is taken from a circulated paper.. The principles of interpretation are discussed fully in the paper. The limitation of the Biblical authors by the primitive science of the day expresses a fundamental principle in relation to the "humanity" of Scripture and is restated constantly by biblical Scholars.
JS: Perhaps the next step is that the biblical authors were limited by the primitive morality of their day too.
AD: I am in good company.
JS: If Day believed my proposition above about morality, he could also find secularized biblical ‘scholars’ to back him up too, unfortunately.
AD: The second gives no reference other than "when confronted with…Day claimed…" By whom and when? [Referring to Day’s statement that Christ was limited by His time, and that we now know better thanks to ‘science’—JS]
JS: By several CMI supporters (we have the biblically-required plurality of witnesses). Note that Day doesn’t deny he said what we ascribed to him, but raises other smokescreens …
AD: I can only imagine this as part of a three hour discussion with Carl Wieland in March 1998.
JS: Then Dr Day’s imagination has failed him. Dr Wieland was merely asking Dr Day to confirm what he had previously been reliably reported as saying—which he did.
AD: Dr. Wieland was at pains to insist that none of our discussion should be quoted publicly because of difficulty with accuracy. I have been at pains to adhere to Dr Wieland’s stipulation and have made no public statements about his statements. He and his colleagues have apparently not been so meticulous.
JS: This is not accurate. Dr Day wrote to Dr Wieland with his (AD’s) detailed version of events that transpired at their meeting. Dr Wieland wrote (27 March 1998): ‘I … request that you do not regard any of your statements in the letter of March 24 as being either ‘approved’ or ‘not denied’ by myself. No commitment was ever given not to quote anything from the meeting. So we did nothing wrong by quoting something, which as pointed out, didn’t originally come from that meeting anyhow. But the main point is, why is Dr Day worried that what he said at a meeting was quoted? Could it be that evangelical organizations might be reluctant to invite ISCAST if they knew that one of their leaders thinks that Christ was wrong about some things?
AD: As with the previous quote the issue needs to be seen in context
JS: OK, since Day is so taken by the idea that we quoted him ‘out of context’, I challenge him to sign a statement to be given to all the evangelical bodies he courts, saying ‘I believe that some of Christ’s statements reported in the Gospels were mistaken’ —and he can put it in any context he likes!
AD: and in relation to the humanity of Christ, an orthodox doctrine that appears to be poorly understood or even implicitly denied in Creation Science circles.
JS: This is absolute nonsense. It is particularly inexcusable, since Day’s response was written after the article First Adam; Last Adam was published in Creation magazine 21(1):37–39, December 1998–February 1999.
But what has humanity to do with error? It looks like Day subscribes to the facile ‘proverb’: ‘to err is human’. But Christ was also fully God, and God never makes mistakes. Day and other biblical errantists confuse several concepts:
Adaptation to human finitude vs accommodation to human error: the former does not entail the latter. A mother might tell her four-year-old ‘you grew inside my tummy’— this is not false, but language simplified to the child’s level. Conversely, ‘the stork brought you’ is an outright error. Similarly, God, the author of truth, used some simplified descriptions (e.g. using the earth as a reference frame, as modern scientists do today) and anthropomorphisms, but never error.
Limitation vs misunderstanding: while the Second Person of the Trinity was incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, He voluntarily limited His omniscience (Phil. 2:5-11). I.e., in His humanity, He did not know all things. But this does not entail that He was mistaken about anything He said. All human understanding is finite, but this doesn’t entail that every human understanding is errant. Also, what Jesus did preach, He proclaimed with absolute authority (Mt. 24:35, 28:18), because He was speaking with the full authority of God the Father (John 5:30, 8:28), who is always omniscient. So if Day wishes to maintain his charge that Christ was mistaken because of His humanity, he must logically charge God the Father with error as well.
These issues are well covered in Norman. L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody Press, Chicago, Revised and Expanded, 1986; pp. 62–64.
AD: These issues were discussed with Dr. Wieland.
JS: But Dr Wieland still prefers to believe Christ and the Scriptures rather than Dr Day or other evolutionists/long-agers.
AD: The crux of the matter seems to be an unwillingness by the leaders of [Creation Ministries International] to include as acceptable any interpretation of Genesis which does not incorporate a “young earth, flood geology” …
JS: Of course, because all alternative interpretations are not based on the biblical text, but by imposing the ideas of methodological naturalists upon Scripture. Also, according to the chief apostle Peter, denial of the global flood is a characteristic of the ‘scoffers’ (2 Pet. 3:3–7).
AD: even though such an interpretation would be espoused by few Biblical scholars, of whatever persuasion.
JS: Truth is not decided by majority vote, although a majority vote among Hebrew scholars would actually say that the writer of Genesis intended it to mean what it says! And as shown above, it is not the Bible itself that convinces anyone that it can’t mean what it says, but the desire to fit in with evolutionary/uniformitarian ‘science’.
AD: Perhaps [CMI] would be better served by a critical examination of their position …
JS: By this, AD means allowing the fallible theories of materialistic scientists to tell them how to understand God’s infallible Word.
AD: than by a somewhat desperate criticism of ISCAST, …
JS: Actually a purely factual criticism of ISCAST’s faulty theology and demonstrating that apostasy often results from compromising Genesis. I pointed out that disbelieving Genesis can lead even to disbelieving the words of Jesus Himself, as shown by Day himself. I also pointed out that Day defends Plimer and the Skeptics, and even condones his fellow ISCASTian Ken Smith co-authoring a book which mocked the Bible.
AD: in relation to its acceptance by the established Christian community.
JS: I close by repeating my challenge—for Day write an official statement to ‘the Christian community’ stating explicitly that he believes that some of Christ’s statements were wrong.
AD: I am
Allan J. Day
Exec Sec ISCAST (Vic)
JS: Reply by
Jonathan D. Sarfati
Research Scientist and Editorial Consultant CMI (QLD)