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Published: 2 June 2018 (GMT+10)

Uniformitarian dogma vs the Bible


Chris L., Canada, wrote with several questions:

There are several points that do not follow logic. You are suggesting a number of ancient scientists supported creationism. The reason for that there was no scientific proof at that time to contradict the theory. In the late 1890's fossils were found to be very ancient, millions of years old. Your suggestion that these scientists contributed to creationism is therefore unfounded.

There are many conflicting passages in the Bible. I have been told the Bible and scripture were inspired by God. This suggests spiritual channeling or automatic writing was used. Surely this is a big no no in your circles. But let us say the authors were inspired, this brings us to another problem, there are many conflicting passages in the Bible not least of which is the four different accounts of the last days of Jesus. It seems that God, being perfect, would not have inspired four different accounts, surely they would all be the same. This then ponders the question, were they, in fact inspired ?

Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:

raymond-damadian
Dr Raymond Damadian with the history-making prototype of his MRI scanner. The first MR image of a human skull was made with this scanner on July 3, 1977. The prototype is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution‘s Hall of Medical Sciences.

Thanks for writing in. It was actually James Hutton’s uniformitarianism, popularized by Lyell, that first led some scientists to think that the earth must be millions of years old, and Hutton wrote in the late 18th, not 19th century. In fact, Lyell’s book, Principles of Geology, first published in 1830, which influenced Charles Darwin after Captain FitzRoy gave him a copy on the Beagle voyage. Lyell explicitly wanted to “free science from Moses”.

By the late 19th century, uniformitarianism and a millions-of-years old earth were scientific ‘orthodoxy’. We’ve answered the charge that it is illegitimate to cite scientists like Newton as creationists before: see Newton was a creationist only because there was no alternative? But more than that, what about the scientists today with real scientific achievements who are biblical creationists, like Raymond Damadian, the inventor of MRI; John Sanford, the inventor of the gene gun; Henry Richter, a pioneer of the USA space program, and many others?

Many people claim that the Bible is contradictory, but people who claim that have usually not read the volumes of literature dedicated to showing that in fact such ‘contradictions’ are misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the biblical text. Actually, in many cases, the critic doesn’t even know what a contradiction is, in its proper logical definition. In fact, I have never seen someone substantiate an actual Bible contradiction in my many encounters with skeptics.

Your comment about ‘spiritual channeling’ or ‘automatic writing’ also indicates you don’t understand what inspiration is. There are different levels of inspiration. Sometimes God tells a prophet, “Write this down”, and the prophet is responsible for writing down what he saw (in the case of a vision) or what God said. In the epistles, the author is clearly teaching from his own thoughts and vocabulary in responses to specific situations in local communities. But the Holy Spirit worked in such a way that the words that the apostle wrote were God’s own words, free from error, authoritative, sufficient, and useful for the church for all of time. Sometimes as in the Psalms, the author is writing out of the overflow of his own heart—no one thinks God told King David, “Write this: The Lord is my Shepherd … ”. Rather, King David was writing poetry based on his own experience as a shepherd and expanding that into a lovely metaphor for God’s loving care. And the Holy Spirit was involved in that process such that what he wrote was Scripture.

You mention the differences between the four Gospels’ accounts of the last days of Jesus. There are several commonalities though that run through them.

  1. Jesus had a last meal with his disciples, foreseeing His death was imminent and giving his disciples some last teachings.
  2. From there Jesus went to Gethsemane, where he prayed, and where Judas betrayed him.
  3. Jesus was arrested and subjected to trials in front of both the Jews and the Romans.
  4. Jesus was beaten and crucified, and buried in a tomb.
  5. On the third day, Jesus rose. The first witnesses to the resurrection were women who came to the tomb.
  6. Jesus appeared after the resurrection to his disciples. So regardless of what details they choose to record, there is a core consistency that we would look for when we examine different accounts of the same event.

So if there is this core consistency, why are they so different in the details? The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record the institution of the Lord’s Supper, while John records the washing of feet. The women named in the group who were the first witnesses of the resurrection differ from one Gospel to another, because different authors had reasons for mentioning particular women or omitting their names. Different Gospels record different sayings of Jesus from the cross—because they were in three languages, as we have explained.

And the accounts of the post-Resurrection appearances are also different. Luke has the Road to Emmaus account, while Matthew has the Great Commission, and John has Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples. Mark doesn’t even have the resurrected Jesus show up—the women are simply told that Jesus is raised and will appear shortly to his disciples, and Mark leaves us with a ‘cliffhanger’ that disturbed early Christians so much that they made the ending longer to include an appearance of Jesus.

But this is precisely what we would expect if four different people were writing different accounts of the same historical events. They each had their own themes that they wanted to emphasize, and if they were carbon-copies of each other, the skeptical complaint would be that they obviously colluded on the same story. So really, there would be no winning either way.

However, there are incidental details that unwittingly reinforce the authenticity, so are undesigned coincidences. E.g. why does Jesus ask a relatively obscure disciple Philip about where to buy bread before He fed the 5,000 (John 6)? There are two incidental details that explain this: John had mentioned in passing that Philip came from Bethsaida (John 1:44), but a different Gospel, Luke, mentions that the feeding was near Bethsaida (Luke 9). If there had been intentional collusion, then John would have mentioned where the feeding was, and Luke would have mentioned Philip from the region. But as it is, it looks like two authentic accounts of a real historical event where different authors mentioned different things, which together add to the credibility.1

References and notes

  1. Lydia McGrew, Hidden In Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts, DeWard, 2017, Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Evidence for the Bible
by Clive Anderson and Brian Edwards
US $40.00
Hard cover
Busting Myths
by J Sarfati & G Bates, edited
From
US $15.00
How Noah's Flood Shaped Our Earth
by Michael J Oard, John K Reed
From
US $15.00
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $17.00
How Did We Get Our Bible?
by Lita Cosner, Gary Bates
From
US $3.50

Readers’ comments

Ian B.
Re the inconsistencies in the gospel narratives. This bothered me for years. One day, when I managed a store for a chain which had 133 stores in Australia, a security presentation was done. Some 20 or 30 of us were sitting in a room, and suddenly a man burst in holding what looked like a pistol - he quickly demanded all our valuables, and then left. We were told to record in writing what we had just seen and heard. You should have seen the inconsistencies. Were we all lying? No, we were just human beings, noting what we perceived happened at that moment. As Lita points out, it is the CONSISTENCIES that we must look for. Indeed, if all the details were exactly the same, any court judge would be VERY suspicious.
James K.
Wow what an intellectually lazy criticism. This Chris L seems to be trying to raise bars rather than actually intelligently contribute to the discussion. His point about 1890 is an indication of his lack of knowledge on the evolution of secularism. Furthermore, so what if people started believing fossils were old at the time? Huxley apparently proved that mammals evolved directly from amphibians around the same time period. Simply saying something is ‘proven’ doesn’t mean it actually is. ‘Not yet falsified’ is a better description but uniformitarianism is so falsified and rejected amongst evolutionists that it’s frustrating. No informed ‘deep timer’ believes in uniformitarianism nowadays (ie. my colleagues and profs) yet they cling doggedly on the implications of uniformitarian thinking. The dogma is so strong you could cut it with a knife. Don’t follow the fools Chris. Believe the Book that predicted it all (ie. geological catastrophism). Great response Lisa Costner.
Nathan G.
Hi, Chris
Good questions. Just a few thoughts to spark some reflection. (I assume you believe in atheistic naturalism to ask such things.) How do you then explain the following:

1) If science today is so advanced compared to before Darwin's time, then why would large numbers of highly "enlightened" scientists with Bachelor's degrees to Nobel-prizes switch over from atheistic Darwinism to full-bore creationism? Wouldn't they be smart enough to see through such infantile arguments of "inspiration" by their previous inferiors?

2) Darwinists always argue the "contradictions" in the Bible, but what about their own contradictions? Darwin believers are divided in every major area of their allegedly unbeatable "theory". Some believe in punctuated equilibrium (fast evolution without corresponding fossil evidence), others believe in slow change over time (with fossils that show stasis or extinction, neither helpful to Darwin). No scientific mechnisms are offered as testable proof. Merely just-so stories.

3) Darwin's three henchmen cheated. Lyell did no empirical research on Niagara Falls (5-6 feet of erosion per year) before he selected a value of 1-2 feet). Result: Earth is over 6,000 years old. Haeckel faked embryo drawings and was tried for fraud by his university. Huxley admitted to anti-God fomenting. Gregor Mendel's genetics was ignored until the Darwinists needed something to boost slow change over time, since it didn't work. Yet today the Altenberg 15 admit that they need to replace Darwinistic diddle with something else......

4) Police, lawyers and judges will tell you that four identical accounts of an incident were evidence of collusion. Yet you argue that differences in the Gospels are glaring inconsistencies of viewpoints...

Hope this helps to spur you on...
Lassi P.
It's just sad to read comments by another misinformed critic who didn't follow the feedback rules and check the creation.com articles before writing in. I do hope he read the well written answer though.

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