Share 0
Share
A- A A+
Free Email News
Refuting Compromise, updated & expanded
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati

US $15.00
View Item
15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History
by Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan D Sarfati

US $3.50
View Item
Six Days ... Really?


US $10.00
View Item
The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati

US $15.00
View Item
The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati

US $10.00
View Item
The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati

US $10.00
View Item

Feedback archiveFeedback 2014

Abandon YEC and reconcile the Bible to evolution?

Thomas Aquinas taught a young earth and 24–hour creation days

Published: 5 October 2014 (GMT+10)
Public domain Thomas-aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, leading medieval theologian/philosopher

Josh W of the USA criticizes the article ‘Just preach the Gospel!’ Or: how not to impress atheists. He argues in that we should not be defending biblical (‘young earth’) creation and should instead try to show how the Bible can be made to fit with evolution and billions of years. I.e. he implicitly argues that CMI should disband.

Josh proposes instead to substitute the ideas of Thomist philosophers, i.e. those who follow the method of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). However, Thomas himself supported the Bible–first YEC (Young Earth Creation) view on creation, as will be shown. He is just another example showing how the YEC is hardly a novelty, as many compromisers assert, but the traditional view of the church until the time of Hutton, Lyell, and Darwin. Josh’s letter is first posted in full, then followed by the interspersed replies by Dr , the author of the original article.

I agree that “Just Preach the Gospel!” isn’t a guaranteed winning strategy for evangelism. Much of the force of Christianity is its ability to provide a coherent account of metaphysics, ethics, etc. all in one.

That said, I do think the CMI strategy of fighting two battles—one against the science of evolution and the other against allowing any other understanding of scripture different from YEC—is a really bad one and will certainly hurt evangelism.

This idea that quoting atheists (and the dumbest ones like Richard Dawkins to boot) about the contradictions between fundamentalism and modern biology to help make your case is absurd. Agreeing with Dawkins’ caricatures of religious thought and leaving the scientific details of biology the only space for disagreement is about the worst way that I can see to win the arguments. Much better, I think, to argue along the lines:

“We don’t think evolution is true. But even if it were, don’t despair. Nihilism isn’t all that is left, the message of the Gospel remains intact—there are theologically sound ways of understanding Genesis that don’t clash so seriously with modern science, while also not reducing Jesus’ life and death to meaninglessness.”

Your article quotes Paul as clearly understanding original sin as the result of actions taken by a historically real human being. Fair enough, but does that preclude any other understanding of what Adam was other than the YEC account of it? I don’t think so.

Here’s a couple of articles (with all kinds of links to places where the arguments can be seen in more depth) that make a case for this different way of understanding Adam [both from edwardfeser.blogspot.com; links deleted as per feedback rules]


Caleb Salisbury Thorns-fossil
Christians who believe God’s infallible Word (no thorns before sin) cannot also believe in man’s fallible ‘word’ (millions of years of thorns before people).
I agree that “Just Preach the Gospel!” isn’t a guaranteed winning strategy for evangelism. Much of the force of Christianity is it’s ability to provide a coherent account of metaphysics, ethics, etc. all in one.

Indeed so. Hence articles like Why use apologetics for evangelism?

That said, I do think the CMI strategy of fighting two battles—one against the science of evolution and the other against allowing any other understanding of scripture different from YEC—is a really bad one

But then, this is what we do, and we explain why, and we are not going to change. First, who says evolution has anything to do with real observational science, as opposed to a materialistic philosophy masquerading as science?

and will certainly hurt evangelism.

This is hardly our experience. Rather, it has been a very important help to evangelism, as we have documented repeatedly, e.g.

This idea that quoting atheists (and the dumbest ones like Richard Dawkins to boot)

They are still the most prominent ones. So we have to deal with them. For example, see the articles under Richard Dawkins, the ‘Apostle of Atheism’: how can he be answered? and The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on evolution.

about the contradictions between fundamentalism and modern biology to help make your case is absurd.

Who says there are contradictions between real biology and the grammatical–historical approach to the Bible (as for example taught by Basil the Great who took Genesis straightforwardly)? Ph.D. biologist Dr David Catchpoole documents the huge scientific problems of biological evolution in the overview article Created or evolved?

Agreeing with Dawkins’ caricatures of religious thought and leaving the scientific details of biology

But people like Dr Catchpoole didn’t need Dawkins to explain the problems; as he realized, the problems between the Gospel and evolution/long ages were there as a matter of fact regardless of what Dawkins said (see A thorny issue).

the only space for disagreement is about the worst way that I can see to win the arguments.

Yet it has been the best way in our experience. Contrary, appeasing evolution the way Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler has been a disaster, for much the same reasons.

Much better, I think, to argue along the lines, “We don’t think evolution is true. But even if it were, don’t despair. Nihilism isn’t all that is left, the message of the Gospel remains intact—there are theologically sound ways of understanding Genesis that don’t clash so seriously with modern science, while also not reducing Jesus’ life and death to meaninglessness.”

But as shown, the theological appeasement of evolution has sacrificed a lot, including what was mentioned in my brief article. For more, see Response to the evolution appeasers.

Your article quotes Paul as clearly understanding original sin as the result of actions taken by a historically real human being.

Yes, and the citations from his epistles explain why. He clearly affirmed that Adam was a real man, made from dust (not from an ape–like creature), and that his sin brought physical death into the world (so death had not existed for millions of years).

Fair enough, but does that preclude any other understanding of what Adam was other than the YEC account of it? I don’t think so.
Wiki commons neville-chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain, whose disastrous appeasement emboldened Adolf Hitler

Yes it does, as we have repeatedly documented. For example, a common blind spot among long–age apologists such as William Lane Craig and John Lennox is human death before sin, as implied by ‘dating’ methods they implicitly accept. That is, undoubted Homo sapiens fossils have been to 200,000 years old. This is long before any plausible date of Adam’s Fall. Further, many of these anatomically and culturally modern humans were killed by sinful means such as cannibalism. You really should have searched our site before writing.

Here’s a couple of articles (with all kinds of links to places where the arguments can be seen in more depth) that make a case for this different way of understanding Adam [both from edwardfeser.blogspot.com; links deleted as per feedback rules]

I know about Dr Feser, and I have cited him before with approval, in In the beginning God created—or was it a quantum fluctuation? [refutation of Lawrence Krauss]. However, he is a philosopher, not a biblical scholar. Also, it’s ironic that as a Thomistic philosopher, he contradicts Thomas Aquinas himself.

For example, Thomas taught along with Basil that God created the plants before the sun, and that this was a refutation of sun–worship.1 It’s notable how he approached this—he listed objections, then he would often cite Scripture as authoritative, then reply to the objections:

On the contrary, The authority of Scripture suffices. …
On the contrary, It is said (Genesis 1:12): “The earth brought forth the green herb,” after which there follows, “The evening and the morning were the third day.”2

Of course, the creation of plants before the sun throws out long–age and evolutionary ideas. Thomas also clearly accepted that Genesis 1 taught normal–length creation days:

Thus we find it said at first that “He called the light Day”: for the reason that later on a period of 24 hours is also called day, where it is said that “there was evening and morning, one day.3
The words “one day” are used when day is first instituted, to denote that one day is made up of 24 hours. Hence, by mentioning “one”, the measure of a natural day is fixed. Another reason may be to signify that a day is completed by the return of the sun to the point from which it commenced its course. And yet another, because at the completion of a week of seven days, the first day returns which is one with the eighth day. The three reasons assigned above are those given by Basil (Hom. 2[8] Hexaem.).4

Thomas also denied that mankind was made from already–living creatures, because he affirmed that the first man was made from inanimate matter:

On the contrary, It is written (Genesis 2:7): “God made man of the slime of the earth.”5

The word “slime” instead of dust was following the Vulgate, “formavit igitur Dominus Deus hominem de limo [slime, mud] terrae”).

Thomas also taught that the first woman was made from the first man’s rib, again contrary to evolution:

On the contrary, It is written (Genesis 2:22): “God built the rib, which He took from Adam, into a woman.”
I answer that, It was right for the woman to be made from a rib of man.6
First, to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should neither “use authority over man,” and so she was not made from his head; nor was it right for her to be subject to man’s contempt as his slave, and so she was not made from his feet.

Thus it seems that some Thomists are more Thomistic than Thomas, by over–emphasizing the Aristotelianism in his philosophy and under–playing his frequent appeal to biblical authority.

Even much later in Feser's own Roman Catholic Church, the need for a historical Adam was realized, e.g. in Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis (The Human Race), 12 August 1950:

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own. [citing Romans 5:12]

Earlier last century, the 1909 Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) rulings on the interpretation of the book of Genesis affirmed both “The special creation of man” and “The formation of the first woman from the first man”.7

Likewise, the special creation of Adam and Eve was taught much earlier than Thomas’ time. E.g. Pelagius I (Pope 566–561) made a solemn profession of faith in relation to the Last Judgment:

I confess … that all men from Adam onward who have been born and have died up to the end of the world will then rise again and stand “before the judgment-seat of Christ,” together with Adam himself and his wife, who were not born of other parents, but were created: one from the earth and the other from the side of the man ….8

A more detailed critique of misuses of Thomas’ teachings to support evolution comes from the Catholic priest and chaplain Fr. Michael Chaberek.9,10 It’s also notable that Feser has come under fire from other Aristotelian–Thomist philosophers for his attacks on intelligent design, e.g. Marie George argued that William Paley’s watchmaker analogy is rather close to Thomas’ ‘Fifth Way’.11,12

Explanatory note

Some may wonder why we should be interested in interpreters throughout the ages in church history (and Jewish interpreters for that matter). Some may argue, “Isn’t the Bible all we need? Don’t you realize that interpreters can err?” Indeed, the correct view must be obtained from the Bible alone. But then, modern exegetes are not the first who have known about the original languages and cultures of the Bible.

The onus is on those proposing a novel interpretation to prove their case. As we have shown, many of the currently popular explanations of Genesis are novelties. If long–age interpretations had always been popular, then a case could be made for assuming that the Bible hints at this. But if they were absent until they became popular in ‘science’, it’s more likely that such interpretations were motivated by trying to reconcile the Bible with ‘science’.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae/Theologica, First Part, Question 70. The work of adornment, as regards the fourth day. Return to text.
  2. Summa Theologiae, First Part, Question 69: On the work of the third day; bold in online version at newadvent.org. Return to text.
  3. Summa Theologiae, First Part, Question 69: On the work of the third day. Return to text.
  4. Summa Theologiae, First Part, Question 74: All the seven days in common. Return to text.
  5. Summa Theologiae, First Part, Question 91: The production of the first man’s body; bold in online version at newadvent.org. Return to text.
  6. Summa Theologiae, First Part, Question 92. The production of the woman; bold in online version at newadvent.org. Return to text.
  7. The Testimony of the Magisterium from the 1909 Pontifical Biblical Commission, Catholic Origins, catholicorigins.com, 2011. Return to text.
  8. Pelagius 1, Profession of Faith in an epistle to the Frankish Merovingian King Childebert I, 3 February 557; the Profession was repeated in the epistle Vas electionis that was addressed to the whole Church soon afterwards. Thanks to personal communication from Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D., Associate Professor of Theology, Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, also in his paper Did woman evolve from the beasts? A defence of traditional Catholic doctrine—Return to text.
  9. Chaberek, M., Thomas Aquinas on Creation, and the Argument for Theistic Evolution from Commentary on Sentences, Book II, “Dominicans & the Renewal of Thomism” Conference, Thomistic Institute at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., 1–5 July 2013. Return to text.
  10. Chaberek, M., Thomas Aquinas and Theistic Evolution, Evangelical Philosophical Society, 2015. Return to text.
  11. George, M.I., An Aristotelian–Thomist responds to Edward Feser’s “Teleology”, Philosophia Christi 12(2), 2010. Dr George is Professor of Philosophy, St. John’s University, Queens, New York. Return to text.
  12. George, M.I., “Intrinsic” and “Extrinsic” Teleology: Their Irrelevance to Aquinas’s Fifth Way and to Paley’s Argument from Design, Evangelical Philosophical Society, 2015. Return to text.

Evolution is supported and endorsed by governments, the media, our major educational institutions and many big businesses. But look at this site and see how much can be achieved with a little effort from God's people in supporting such outreach. Support this site

Comments closed
Article closed for commenting.
Only available for 14 days from appearance on front page.
Readers’ comments
Hans G., Australia, 6 October 2014

Who was first, God or evolution? Who depends on the other, Josh W.?

Kenneth L., Canada, 5 October 2014

As a youngster being brought up as an atheist, I learned to despise the Bible because Genesis 1-11 contradicted the goo-to-you set of evolutionist origins stories that I had been brainwashed into believing since my youngest days of childhood.

After I miraculously became a Christian in spite of that, I experienced a steady hollowing out of my faith because of the evolutionary baggage I was still carrying, and drifted away for many years.

When I finally accepted Genesis as literal truth, my faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ rebounded and forged ahead, and I have never looked back.

Since then, I have discovered, after much investigation and with the help of YEC ministries like CMI, that science, fully considered, not only doesn't contradict YEC, it positively affirms it.

Evolutionism, on the other hand, flourishes not because of science, but it ignorance of it. This is attested to by evolutionist Stephen J. Gould's admission that the dismal lack of uncontested transitional forms in the fossil record is the shameful "trade secret" of evolutionist academia.

'Keep 'em ignorant, keep 'em believing' is the province of macro-evolutionism, not of creationism, or rather, creation science.

I challenge Josh to pray and ask the Lord to show him the truth about our origins, and consider carefully Exodus 20:11 as he ponders that. Then I challenge him to avail himself of the material available at CMI to find out what science really says about it, when the blinders are taken off.

Terry P., Australia, 5 October 2014

As it says here in Scripture (2P§1:20-21 to 2P§2:1-3):

BUT FIRST note this: no one can interpret any prophecy of Scripture by himself. For it was not through any human whim that men prophesied of old; men they were, but, impelled by the Holy Spirit, they spoke the words of God.

        But Israel had false prophets as well as true; and you likewise will have false teachers among you. They will import disastrous heresies, disowning the very Master who bought them, and bringing swift disaster on their own heads. They will gain many adherents to their dissolute practices, through whom the true way will be brought into disrepute. In their greed for money they will trade on your credulity with sheer fabrications.

So, logically, any interpretation of the Genesis account of creation by atheists, such as Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, etc., will never be devoid of prejudice and questioning of the Holy Spirit’s truthfulness.

Michael I., United States, 5 October 2014

I wonder. Do the OEC and TE views come from fear of persecution? We know there are those that don't believe because they've never seen or they were taught not to, but there are also those that don't believe because "science has proven...". If so, do we really want to adapt scripture (change it to a lie as the bible says) to avoid persecution when the bible says to rejoice for great is your reward?

Richard G., United States, 5 October 2014

If ever there were an oxymoron, it is "theistic evolution". As you have proved over and over again, Darwinian evolution was intended to be a substitute for God, and its foremost advocates have been atheists, agnostics, and anti-theists. God never needed (macro-) evolution to create the world, and the advocates of evolution certainly seem to think they do not need God to help them.

john P., Australia, 5 October 2014

Re Josh W's idea of abandoning YEC and reconciling the Bible to evolution-the fact is evolution is a myth and an old one besides, being traced to the serpent who deceived Eve ihto thinking she could be a god etc-Genesis Ch 3. Evolution has been around in many guises- Lucretius's idea was almost identical to Darwin's-since creation. It is part of the devil's scam, his lie to make people think they are just evolved pond scum but can evolve into gods.

Josh is wrong- the Bible is the ultimate authority. As Jesus says, if we don't believe Him on earthly things, how can we believe Him on heavenly things

Jesus tells us how it was done, in the Bible-starting from Genesis Ch 1v1 and if it's coming from Him, He should know- He's our Creator. That's enough for me to believe every word He says. Any compromise relegates God to a liar and this is dangerous- God never lies, it is against His nature, and any fool who calls Him thus is standing on quicksand and needs to repent immediately.

The Bible is God's Word and is an overview of history from Creation Day 1 right through to the beginning of eternity- Revelation, There is no other book like it and never will be. Every prophesy has come true, is coming true and will come true in the future. Jesus is not calling Himself I AM for nothing- God the Son- Jesus, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit- thr Holy Trinity- Always been, are now and always will be

Joseph M., United Kingdom, 5 October 2014

Those who wish to conform to the ideas of the world must understand that it’s not a creation verse evolution issue. The argument has already been won by Christ at the Resurrection. It did not take a billion years for Christ to be resurrected. It took less than three 24 hour days. The issue is the Word of God verses Man’s word. If it’s not an argument against creation, it will be against miracles, if it’s not miracles, it will be against the resurrection, if it’s not any of these it will be something else. The reason is:

Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.”

Whatever we say as Christians will be hated because of the thoughts within the carnal mind, so trying to conform to the carnal mind will be ineffectual, because it hates what you say.

John 15:18-21 “… If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. … they will also persecute you... because they do not know Him who sent Me."

What we are doing is planting a seed that grows towards Christ, so that the Holy Spirit can enter and change the thinking as the Holy Spirit gets them to know God. The seed we plant is not necessarily an intellectual argument. Just showing love can allow the Holy Spirit in.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 “6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”

James T., United States, 5 October 2014

Speaking from experience,honestly when i had my doubts about God,one of the things i did notice when i was lost,was how much atheist promote evolution.Back then i tried to accept evolution as God's way of making us,but then when this person i met told me about why God couldn't of used evolution.He showed me this site.In the end i gave it some thought and realize how evolution and the bible cant both be true.Thank you cmi for this site.

Comments closed
Article closed for commenting.
Only available for 14 days from appearance on front page.
Copied to clipboard
9735
Product added to cart.
Click store to checkout.
In your shopping cart

Remove All Products in Cart
Go to store and Checkout
Go to store
Total price does not include shipping costs. Prices subject to change in accordance with your country’s store.