When humans should have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch. CS Lewis
Dee is heading off to help with an annual spring retreat with a Christian medical group and will not be able to post as much. Many of you will remember Old John J who has written a couple of posts for TWW on the issue of creationism here and here. One of them garnered the most comments of any post in 2012! Go John!
John is a TWW reader and describes himself:
Old John J, now retired, received at Ph.D. in experimental physics from Duke in 1967 and made computer science his career."
Old JohnJ says:
I continue to follow TWW but don't comment much because of my lack of experience with the forms of abuse that are discussed. My sympathies are with the victims, not the celebrity pastors who are accused.
Before we begin, it might be helpful to new readers to explain a bit about Reformed Baptist culture. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) located in Louisville, KY and is considered by many to be the flagship seminary of the SBC. It is often referred to as The Vatican. The head of the seminary is Dr. Al Mohler is often referred to as the Pope. When he says something is "biblical," it is taken very, very seriously by the Neo-Reformed world. For some, it is as if he speaks "ex cathedra" link.
At the end of the post, I left a funny video to contemplate. Are we so entrenched in our tight Christian communities that we no longer know how we sound to outsiders? That goes for creationism as well as our lingo.
The purpose of this little rant is to point out the hypocrisy of organizations that use the fruits of science (basically all the technology that supports our current society) to claim that science is wrong in it's most basic expressions. I refer especially to what is usually referred to as The Creation by the evangelical community. While I'll use examples from the SBC to illustrate my claims of hypocrisy, the general discussion applies to any Young Earth Creationist (YEC) group or organization that uses contemporary computing and communications (the internet) to disseminate their message.
Consider just a single piece, The Theological Costs of Old-Earth Thinking by Al Mohler link published on the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) web site that includes:
Theological disaster ensues when the book of nature (general revelation) is used to trump God’s special revelation, when science is placed over Scripture as authoritative and compelling. And that is the very heart of this discussion. While some would argue that the Scriptures are not in danger, the current conversation on this subject is leading down a path that will do irrevocable harm to our evangelical affirmation of the accuracy and authority of God’s Word.
The article's concluding paragraph:
In our effort to be most faithful to the Scriptures and most accountable to the grand narrative of the Gospel, an understanding of creation in terms of 24-hour calendar days and a young earth entails far fewer complications, far fewer theological problems, and actually is the most straightforward and uncomplicated reading of the text as we come to understand God telling us how the universe came to be and why it matters. The universe is telling the story of the glory of God, the Ancient of Days.
(Note from Dee) For those of you who have not heard about ICR, it is not an organization that is objectively approaching the subject. They only subscribe to young earth creationism.I would suggest that they change their name to The Institute for Young Earth Creation Research Only (ICYERO). Here is a quote from their site link.
All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the Creation Week described in Genesis 1:1-2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development that involve evolution in any form are false.
(Note from Dee) Al Mohler is a dedicated believer in young earth creationism and clearly links it to the Gospel which I believe is unwise and disunifying.
(Back to John) The LifeWay Adult Sunday School publishes a series “Explore the Bible”, Adult Learner Guide. Winter 2007-2008 Genesis 1-27. The first six lessons in this series are based on Genesis 1-11. An unstated but matter-of-fact literal reading of the text is focused on relational and spiritual aspects in the survey of chapters 1-11. The YEC interpretation is accepted and offered without qualification or any indication that there might be alternative ways to interpret the passages.
Pope Mohler has spoken. There is no ambiguity here. There is only one acceptable way in the SBC to interpret the first 11 chapters of Genesis. That it drives numbers of very intelligent people away from our faith is apparently of no concern. Here is a link to a TWW discussion under “Nones" within Musings on Current Topics About the Blogosphere.
I interpret general revelation as nature telling us about God. As a believer I can see God's hand in many things. However, science speaks only of what it can observe and the interrelations of the various parts of nature. Science talks about the created world, not the Creator. Science, when discussing the creation, is only trumping a misinterpretation of God's word, not the actual words. Using an appropriate interpretive principle (hermeneutic) rather than forcing application of a particular one (literal reading) is a most important aspect of reading scripture. Nature/Bible differences can't be discussed without defining and justifying the Biblical interpretive principle used for a particular passage.
An alternative interpretation of Genesis 1-11, mentioned in an comment to an earlier post, is Dinosaur Religion: On Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Creation Texts, CONRAD HYERS, Department of Religion, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN 56082, From: JASA36 (September 1984): 142-148. After creating the world, Genesis 1:1, God states what is important to Himself. Worship Me. Do not worship things that I made. Do not worship things you make. Early Genesis states His claim for being the only God, monotheism. Polytheism and idolatry are not acceptable. This part of Genesis is about God, not how God created the world. The case for this interpretation is made in a way that is both entertaining and insightful.In Genesis chapters 1-11 science is not being discussed after verse 1:1. Significantly, in its treatment of the OT “Explore The Bible” details how serious a problem idolatry was for the Israelis.
Present science is an approximation to the truth in the sense of currently being the most accurate and comprehensive description of the physical world. It is based on observation and experiment, not any form of revelation. It explicitly does not concern itself with what it cannot measure and observe. Science is likely incomplete in the sense that there may still be theory that can answer open questions and predict observations yet to be made. Any such extensions will have to do as well as existing theories for existing observations. Currently, there are no (physics) observations that are unexplained to the limits of measurements by current theories.
The two basic physical theories that support all of science are quantum mechanics (QM) and general relativity (GR). These theories are predictive and have been subject to intense experimental tests with no discrepancies found between their predictions and experiment. QM is the science of the smallest parts of the physical world and its understanding underlies solid state electronics and optical communications. The large scale structure of the universe is described by GR.
Besides experiments designed to directly test them, scientific theories are predictive in another sense. The electronics and communications we rely on for the internet, entertainment and energy are based on a deep understanding of the physical world, the same science that is used to determine the age of earth and the universe. The substantial investment in state-of-the-art computer based audiovisual equipment used in many contemporary worship services also is part of the Christian community's endorsement of current technology and by implication, present science.
The SBC's Baptist Faith and Message 2000 document in Section II includes:
God is all knowing. He knows about all things in the past, present, and future.
Why would He give a description of the creation of the world to a nomadic, prescientific culture using concepts that wouldn't be understood for nearly 4000 years? Rather than waging an unwinnable holy war against science wouldn't it be better to use an interpretative method appropriate to the culture the message was originally given?
The dogmatic insistence that Genesis is describing an alternative to current science gives rise to severe problems of consistency, perhaps better called hypocrisy. The two examples that follow are both from the LifeWay Adult Sunday School series “Explore the Bible”, Adult Learner Guide.
Week of July 31, SUMMER 2011 introduction p 76:
“Technology has changed the way many travelers get directions for driving. One day I was working at the desk in my west-Tennessee campus office. As the noon hour approached, I paused to think about where I might go for lunch, 'Mmm. Pizza would hit the spot,' I convinced myself. So I searched on my computer for pizza restaurants, and in a matter of seconds located the name and directions to a fine pizza establishment – in Bismarck, North Dakota! With a few more keyboard clicks I received a listing of 25 detailed driving instructions to guide me the 1234 miles between the campus parking lot and the restaurant's parking lot. … This data is so precise that a related device, a GPS (Global Positioning System), can literally talk to me telling me where to turn, which direction to take, what street I'm traveling, and when I've arrived at my destination.” This quoted paragraph is interesting because the GPS in addition to using advanced computing and communications hardware is the only consumer electronics system that requires the use of GR geometric concepts in its calculation of positions.
Week of February 3, Winter 2012-2013 introductory paragraph p 84:
The brilliant 17th-century astronomer Galileo challenged the prevailing wisdom of the day with his support for the theory that the sun was stationary and the earth revolved around it. Believing and defending this theory – which ultimately proved correct – took courage. Many in the scientific community rejected the theory. Moreover, papal leaders branded it as heresy. An Inquisition excommunicated Galileo and sentenced him to lifelong house arrest. During this time, however, Galileo continued to write and defend his new understanding of God's universe.
The irony in this first paragraph of the lesson is obvious. In the present, the SBC and other YEC supporting groups should be identified with the 17th century Roman Catholic Church (RCC) as they are arguing against the new science. The present day mainstream evolutionists and cosmologists can be identified with Galileo. Unlike in Galileo's time, burning alleged heretics at the stake is no longer tolerated by our civil authorities. However, refusal to acknowledge the essential correctness of present science is a contributor to the increasingly common viewpoint that religion is irrelevant.
The purpose of the sentence “Many in the scientific community rejected the theory.” is ambiguous. Is it a gentle affirmation of YEC in the present controversies in spite of the overwhelming scientific support for evolution and and an old universe? Science is conservative in the sense that larger changes require more evidence. Thus all new scientific theories, especially the more profound and revolutionary ones, take time to gain acceptance. This was definitely true regarding present theories of evolution, QM and GR. Religious opposition to the heliocentric theory was foremost in Galileo's time while religious opposition to evolution is central our time. Evolution is a very slow process consequently the physics and cosmology based arguments for an old universe also come under religious opposition.
Theological disaster comes from inappropriate hermeneutics and refusal to correct them. It took nearly 400 hundred years for the RCC to acknowledge and apologize for their mistreatment of Galileo. I hope the evangelical community that opposes modern science recants a little quicker.
Explicitly and from their own publications there is severe hypocrisy between SBC interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and its use of technology. Old Order Amish could hold to a YEC interpretation of Genesis 1–11 without being hypocritical. Regarding science they would still be wrong but at least they would not be hypocritical.
Dee thought you might enjoy this humorous video on Christian lingo.
Lydia's Corner: 1 Samuel 14:1-52 John 7:31-53 Psalm 109:1-31 Proverbs 15:5-7