God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…The perfect surrender and humiliation was undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man." -CS Lewis
One of the gratifying things, for me, about having a blog, is that I get to rant about my favorite hot button issues. So, today I plan to do that again in light of the “nones” post on Monday.
Many years ago, I knew a couple in a Bible study who got into the Y2K stuff. These were true believers. The husband carried a briefcase with him everywhere he went so that he could “prove” that Y2K would mark the end of civilization as we know it. One day I tried to convince him that he might be wrong. He actually started to cry, convinced that I was going to die. He quit his job, packed up a truck with a generator, along with the best seeds money could buy and took off for a remote area of the north in order to go “off grid. ”As I bid him adieu, I quipped “Well at least I know where to come if civilization implodes. “ He looked at me sadly and said “This stuff is only for the provision of my family. We will shoot anyone who tries to get our stuff.”
A couple of weeks ago, we received an email from another “true believer.” This man is a Young Earth fanatic. I have written about my run in with the YE calvary when I attempted to have a reasoned discussion of this issue in a Sunday school class. This was in a church that so believed in YE they had mandatory 6 weeks of classes every year for all of the kids in Sunday school.
I have also written about my profound disagreement with the YE “true believers.” Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will understand that, although I believe people can believe in YE, I do not. Yet, even though I left that church, made my feelings well known and endured the ill-mannered, boorish people who invaded my discussion, he sent my husband an email last week, with another link to an article on evolution just being a theory. I started to fume but then I remembered my Y2K friend. He truly thought I was going to suffer greatly. I believe this misguided individual also believes that I will most likely suffer God’s final disapproval if I don’t buy YEC. I accept that. But, let this serve as a warning. If YE fanatics miff me off, I will write another post and another until they stop.
To catch any new readers up to speed on this issue please refer to the following posts. There are many more. In fact, the first link is to the post that generated over 500 comments, the most ever received at TWW.
- The Earth Is Fixed and the Sun Moves:Real Christians Believe It Link
- The Flintstone Doctrine Link
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and (ken)Ham Link
Before I begin, let me reiterate. I believe that one can be a YE proponent and still be a Christian. But, I believe that when one becomes a YE proponent and makes it a salvific mission, he is hurting the cause of Christ. We believe this issue is contributing to the growing numbers of “nones.”
A Barna Study Indicates that teens leave the faith due to the creation/evolution debate here
The question that must be asked by people of faith is this. “Is my stand on Young Earth creationism so basic that it is worth losing kids over it?
“Churches come across as antagonistic to science. One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.”
Is Intelligent Design Dead?
Here is an article titled "Intelligent Design Is Dead: A Christian Perspective" byPaul Wallace link It is important to first determine the definition of intelligent design? According to Intelligent Design.Org here
“Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system's components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof.”
In the Paul Wallace article we read:
“In October 1604 Johannes Kepler was living in Prague and was deeply into his work on Mars that would later reveal the planets' elliptical orbits. He was sidetracked from this study to comment on a new star, or nova, that appeared that month a few degrees north of Scorpius. In his short work De stella nova, published in 1606, he wondered what could have caused such an event. He considered a number of possibilities, but on this question his own astronomical theory was silent.”
“He began to consider special creation: a deliberate, separate act of God unconnected with any other natural event, direct and special tinkering by the divine hand. But in the end he withdrew from that conclusion, writing "before we come to [special] creation, which puts an end to all discussion, I think we should try everything else." Over 400 years ago, Kepler understood that to claim special creation is to put an end to scientific inquiry.”
Let me try to explain this as a Christian who believes in God as Creator. Some claim that ID is not simply the belief that the universe appears designed by an intelligent being. It also proposes “special creation” which, as stated above is a deliberate, separate act of God unconnected with any other natural event. It is a direct, unique tinkering by God, kind of like a miracle.
Wallace goes on .“Looking upon the new star in September 1604, could Kepler have envisioned stellar evolution, mass-transfer binary stars, and explosive carbon fusion? No, and so he remained silent. His humility, his belief in the richness of creation, and his expansive faith allowed him to admit ignorance while leaving the door of causal science wide open.”
This next paragraph is of vital importance in order to fully understand this debate. “
Kepler did not reject special creation because he put limits on God. Nor did his rejection flow from a desire to push God out of his work. Instead, it sprung from his conviction that God's creation is not founded in obscurity, darkness, and confusion. He believed, in a way that far outstripped his contemporaries, in the comprehensibility of God's creation, because it was God's creation. Kepler's fundamental axiom may be stated: 'The universe has been designed; therefore it must be comprehensible.’
The author is making the following point. When we don’t understand how something works, do we assume that God is, in some way, miraculously intervening in the process? Or do we wait to see if we can discover if God has created a natural process that allows for the event to occur? Of course God is behind everything. But, is it a process or a specific intervention? In Kepler’s case, the process was complex, involving many God-created natural occurrences.
Now, it is important that I be clear. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, He is the designer of the processes that guide the natural universe. He is the author of the trees, the oceans, and the supernovas. The basic miracle for me is that God created something from nothing and ordained, in the process, the creation of all that we see and don't see, including the specific creation of man. It is He who imbued man with an immortal spirit and with the intelligence to explore this marvelous creation.
It is also imperative to point out that many of those who propose Intelligent Design do not carry it into the area of “specific tinkering” choosing, instead, to say that the systems that are observed show a marvelous complexity that point to a Creator. One can read more about this over at Hugh Ross’s Reasons to Believe here.
In centuries past, illnesses were blamed on witchcraft or as a direct punishment from God. However, as time has gone on, we now know that bacteria cause infections and we have discovered antibiotics with which to treat them. A hundred years ago, we could not have imagined DNA, let alone mapping of the human genome(which, by the way, was done under the guiding hand of Dr Francis Collins, a self-identified Christian and Southern Baptist). In so doing, man is discovering all sorts of treatments for genetic diseases.
Science can help us understand the natural process. Our faith can explain why there is pain and suffering. The Bible can point to our future hope but it does not explain the complexities of DNA or black holes. The Bible can tell us of the miracle of the Resurrection and the intervention of God in this world outside of natural processes, such as the healing of the blind man and the prophecies that pointed to a coming Messiah. The Bible tells of the pain and sorrow of lepers who were rejected by society. Faith caused brave men and women to work amongst the lepers before there was a cure. Science has discovered the natural process that causes leprosy and has found the cure.
As Christians we can rest assured that nothing will ever be discovered that will disprove the essentials of the Bible. Jesus lived, died and was raised from the dead. One can observe our world and understand the problem of sin and man’s inability to overcome the consequences of that sin such as violence, wars and poverty. The Bible explains why.
Way too many religious people in the past have been “sure” of certain supposed Biblical truths, For example they believed that the sun revolved around the earth because that is what the Bible appeared to say.They were so sure that they incarcerated astronomers for saying otherwise. Could it be that we are making the same mistake now? Hundreds of years ago, we believed the earth stood on pillars because the “Bible said so.” Instead, we now know the Bible was speaking metaphorically. Are we willing to put an artificial barrier to the faith based on the age of the earth?
David Attenborough- Evolutionist and Naturalist declares he is an agnostic.
Attenborough caused a bit of a stir in the atheist community when he told BBC here that "he is now agnostic and believes that faith in God does not preclude belief in evolution.”
“I don't think an understanding and an acceptance of the four billion-year-long history of life, I don't think that is any way inconsistent with a belief in a supreme being," Attenborough said. "I'm not so confident as to say that I am an atheist, I would prefer to say I'm an agnostic."
“Back in 2008, Attenborough said the following, “People write to me that evolution is only a theory. Well, it is not a theory. Evolution is as solid a historical fact as you could conceive."
Why is this important? Years go, Hugh Ross founded Reasons to Believe because, as a published astrophysicist, he became alarmed that scientists were not exploring the Christian faith because some Christian activists claimed one had to believe in a young earth in order to be a Christian. Since the vast majority of scientists believe that the earth is very old, they could not, in good conscience, become Christians. Ross's ministry has been effective in removing this barrier. So, now, as Attenborough considers the faith, he understands that evolution and faith are not inconsistent. That, folks is a remarkable breakthrough! However, can YE Christians allow him the possibility of faith with his understanding of the scientific evidence for an old earth? Christians often blame scientists for their agendas. Who is the most dogmatic in this particular instance?
James Emery Wright: A Pastor With a Potential Solution to the Debate link
Dr James Emery Wright wrote a fascinating article on this subject. Quoting from a survey by Lifeway he states “But here is what stood out to me: 1 out of every 5 pastors surveyed admitted that most of their congregation believes in evolution.”
When he surveyed his own church he discovered that “our church (which experiences well over 70 percent of its total growth through the unchurched) were interested in evolution and God — second only to heaven and hell.”
So, he bravely decided to address this controversial subject. He here are the questions he wanted to address.
- What does the Bible specifically say about the creation of human beings?
- What is the relationship between science and religion?
- What is the heart of the tension between evolution and belief in God?
- If evolution is true, does it automatically disprove God?
Here are some of the conclusions that he reached. You can read the entire article at the above link.
- The Bible is unambiguous in its declaration that we were created by a Creator. Whatever the creative process entailed, it was supernaturally generated and guided by God.
- Genesis 1 and 2 tell us that God did it, but not how. It is not, nor does it pretend to be, a scientific treatise.
- In terms of the age of the earth, whether young or old, the Hebrew word for day ("yom") is not overly specific. And the text itself would seem to be more phenomenological than literal. As many have pointed out, it would be difficult to assume precise, twenty-four hour solar days when the sun and the moon were not even created until the fourth day.
- You can believe in an old earth and not embrace evolution.
- You can certainly be a Christian and believe in theistic evolution — meaning that God created, and chose evolution as the means (or at least as part of the means). People who believe in God simply point to the idea that naturalistic evolution — meaning an evolutionary process not helped along by an outside and guiding force — is highly improbable.
- You can embrace theistic evolution and a literal Adam and Eve at the end of the process, or as an addition to it.
- If evolution is ever proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to even the most skeptical of minds, it does not disprove God. Instead, in many ways, it would be a significant pointer toward the necessity of God. Evolution, by itself, doesn't explain the intricate design of the human body, much less the "humanness" of humans. The process also has what can only be called God-sized gaps that cry out for an intelligent Designer guiding and helping the process.
- The real "age" issue isn't whether the earth is young, but how a naturalistic view interprets the age of the universe. If the age of the earth is about 4.6 billion years, which is the current, best estimate of science, and we have evidence of abundant and complex life 3.5 billion years ago (which we do), then that means that there was only about 170 million years for the earth to cool from its initial formation and all of evolution to have taken place. That simply isn't enough time apart from some form of external intervention.
- Whether you believe in hominoid evolution or not, there is no ultimate need for concern. However it happened, God was in it, through it, directing it, and guiding it. The real problem is with those who say He didn't. People who get very hot over creation vs. evolution make a tactical mistake. It's not creation vs. evolution, because God could have used evolution to create. It's theistic creation or non-theistic creation — it's either God as Creator or "Time + Chance."
It is my prayer that more churches will allow for a divergence in opinions on some issues such as the age of the earth as we approach the Bible, not as a science text but as a primer for understanding the story of God and His people. The Bible, in the end, provides an answer to man's ultimate question: "Who am I and does anyone care?"
Lydia's story: Jeremiah 28:1-29:32 1 Timothy 1:1-20 Psalm 86:1-17 Proverbs 25:17