A Reader Responds to the Creationism/Waltke Debate

Note to Lynn: Today we felt it important to postpone our post on the significance of the palm fronds on Palm Sunday due to a  significant comment. We will answer this question next Friday. For our readers, we now post Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.On Fridays we deviate from our typical posts and answer questions about the Bible and faith. Today, we interrupt this schedule for the following.


Yesterday we discussed the "Neanderthal" (sorry, I couldn't help myself) response of Reformed Theological Seminary's acceptance of Professor Waltke's resignation. The mere fact that he felt obliged to submit it is ridiculous and will subject evangelicalism to needless criticism and derision. Already anti-Christian blogs are gleefully proclaiming the stupidity of Christians in regards to this action and what it represents about Christianity's viewpoint on scientific evidence.

Here is one such comment from freethinker.co.uk which was posted on April 12 entitled Hell Hath No Fury Like Fundies Scorned:  "It was Dr Waltke who wanted the video removed, Janstince. The reaction was so hostile that he has been forced to recant. Who says the Church has moved on since Galileo’s day?"

"Orion's Belt" posted a response to one comment on our blog post from yesterday. This response was not meant to be a criticism of the commenter. We are acquainted with Orion's Belt and we can assure you that he is a kind and humble person. He merely used the comment to respond to common concerns that some have for the vast majority Christian scientists who are theistic evolutionists or believe in an Old Earth.

We respect the comments of "annonymous" and hope (s)he will continue to comment. In fact, we greatly hope (s)he will respond to the comment. Your comments are valued and respected.

However, Orion's Belt, now to be called OB, wrote an amazing response and we did not wish it to be buried in a comment section.We are also including a correction he made to Dee's response to carbon dating. Please refer to yesterday's post to read the surrounding comments. OB-you have a God given talent in explaining this stuff to us lay people. TWW prays that one day you will have a platform to debate this in a less obscure forum.


    • Orions Belt says:

      Hi anon, some of your points make a certain amount of sense, but many do not and represent the kind of reasoning that creates much of the problem we see in this debate. As I respond, please keep in mind I am not singling you out: I see these kinds of arguments all the time. I only ask you and others to think carefully about my response:

      1) The big bang is a name for an event that is the best explanation for the data we see. However, the BB is not an ‘explosion’. It is essentially ‘creation ex nihilo’ An infinitely dense singularity suddenly and for no known reason (God decided it was time to create the universe) left that state and began the process of forming this universe. It began is a quantum quark soup of impossible to imagine heat and energy, and from it formed (magically, inexplicably to the naturalits) just the precise balance of properties, characteristics and dimensions so as to allow this universe to be. IOW, the big bang, if one understands it, is almost a perfect map to the openning verses of Genesis 1.

      2) you said “I have always said that this issue is just like the resurrection. The naturalist denies the resurrection and says that bodies die and science doesn’t allow for bodies to come back to life. So, the case is closed.”

      The issue of YE/OE is nothing at all like the Resurrection scenario you list. It is really the inverse. Here is why. The issues that surround the YE/OE debate are not issues that relate to the belief in miracles. YE/OE/TE Christians for the most part all believe God can, has, is, and will do miracles. A Miracle is a breaking of natural law, God stepping in and causing to happen that which would not normally be possible by natural processes. Science only tells us about what can happen as the result of natural processes. So then, science has nothing to say about if a Miracle is possible. Thus, when a scientist who is a Naturalist in philosophy says the Resurrection could not have happened, he is speaking philosophically, not as a scientist.

      What science can do is tell us if a claimed miracle is consistent with the evidence. So if a fellow walks into a room and tells us he was blind but now can see, science can examine his former medical records and see that he once was blind, and can conduct tests to see if he now can see. If he can’t see, well then, the data conflicts with his claim of a miracle. But if he can, then the data is consistent with his claim of a miracle.

      With the Resurrection – the data is consistent with the claimed miracle. There is no body, no bones. The Roman gaurds were very unlikely to have let his disciples steal the body, the stone was too heavy for them to quietly roll it away. Christ was too badly wounded to have freed himself or likely recovered. Science cannot say anything about the Resurrection, except that if it happened, it was a Miracle.

      OTOH, this is NOT the case within the YE/OE debate. Some Christians claim as certain reading of Genesis 1 is the correct one, and that reading says that God created the universe in just 6 days, 6000 years ago. Yet the evidence is without exception NOT consistent with that claim. The only consistent explanation then is that God made the universe with an almost infinite amount of misleading history so as for it to appear so perfectly like it had formed over billions of years by natural processes as to be indistinguishable from a universe that did form over billions of years by natural processes. That is, in the case of the Universe being 6000 years old, we have a blind man claiming he was miraculously healed but who can’t see the broad side of a barn.

      3) You said “but because we believe in a God who created a natural process and can and has transcended it, we have to say that we don’t know how He did that.”

      And I would point back to my comments above and remind you that God is a God of truth, and that the scripture tells us that the Heavens declare his glory, and that the natural mind can from creation draw natural revelation of certain of His basic attributes.

      If the history we see in the universe itself is a fiction, then the God who made the universe is a fiction writer. This would not be a very good thing. For example, far away and apparently long ago in our neighboring galaxy a star exploded. Now as we observe the light radiating away from that star, it is traveling at the very same speed we observe light traveling here. Further, as we observe the outworking of natural processes like radioactive decay in the gas cloud created by the explosion, the progress at the very same rates we observe here. But this star in this neighboring galaxy is 168,000 light years away. Which means the light from the explosion, which reached us in 1987, left over 168,000 years ago! If the universe is 6000 years old, that explosion never occurred. The light that we see echoing through the surrounding gas clouds never made the journey we see it making. The radioactive elements formed in the explosion and decaying before our eyes never existed. Its all a fiction.

      And this story is repeated over and over again, across the universe, and in our backyard where the scars of massive meteor impacts are found all over our planet and our moon. For the YE to be true, these all never happened. For them to have really occured in the last 6000 years (and geological constraints relative to the sediments the penetrate and are buried in relative to a theory of a global flood imply they all must have occured in that time frame in the YE hypothesis), we simply would not exist. The largest of these is almost 200 miles across and in South Africa no less.

      Basically – all of these major impacts simply can’t be the real leftovers of a real event if the world is only 6000 years old. They too are fictions.

      But I could go on for page after page, ALL the data when properly understood is only consistent with the conclusion the Earth is old. And so God wrote a fiction when he made the Earth, or we don’t understand what He is really telling us in Genesis 1. There is no middle ground of ‘maybe we just are not interpreting the data correctly’ – not if you know what the data really is.

      An example I use is that of a puzzle being put together. At first, sure, you might not know what the puzzle is about. But there comes a point where enough of the pieces are in place that the only thing additional work does is fill in the details. We are far, far, far past that point in terms of determining how old the Earth and Universe are.

      4) you said: ” It had to be myth. It had to be man’s way of trying to understand God.

      Problem is – that “myth” was carried from Genesis 1-12 eventually all the way through the NT and the claims of Christ, himself. All the Bible is a story. It’s all myth based on man’s understanding. Jesus’ ethical teaching is about all we have left in Christianity after the “husk” of the Bible is discarded.”

      This will be my final point. No, the early chapters of Genesis being different that what we thought they were does not in any way imply they are merely man made myth, devoid of the truth of God.

      Remember, Professor Waltke is a believer in the inerrancy of scripture. Yet he is a Theistic Evolutionist! How can this be??!!

      The way this can be is if We have misundertood God’s mode of revelation. We certainly have done this before. Take yourself back to the time of Christ. Everybody is looking for the coming Messiah King. They’d read the scriptures, over and over, yet they’d missed the parts about the suffering servant. And many missed Messiah when He came. Take next time of Galileo, when mens knoweldge of the cosmos was such that many thought the scripture taught that the Earth was fixed, that the sun stars and planets where in a fixed dome above the Earth which rotated about it. Indeed, if you read in the Hebrew the text, there is nothing there to counter such a notion – unless one knows enough about the creation to see that these words may just be phenomenal descriptions of sky and earth. Which is what the church later concluded was the case. But Galileo spent the rest of his life in house arrest because Men were so convinced their understanding of scripture could not possibly be wrong that some even refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

      It God’s revelation in Genesis 1 is not a technical description of how he made the world, but rather a polemic against the gods of Egypt written in common language, then we have spent an awful lot of time making fools of ourselves trying to prove this first chapter is something God never intended it to be. Further, if we have once again based our reading of scripture on the Idea God overrides the natural knowledge of the writer in all areas when teaching spiritual truth, then we once again fall into the trap the produced the Galileo affair.

      Even Calvin understood God spoke through the prophets in the common language, in ways that could be understood by those listening. For example, Peter’s crude greek is not fixed to look like Luke’s almost perfect, educated greek. Neither are references to the common notion of the day the sky was a firm dome removed when Job’s friends ask if he can beat out the sky making it like a cast mirror.

      The Early Church Father’s could be forgiven this mistake as they argued what form the ‘firmament might take to prevent the waters from rolling off (Basil). Perhaps even the RCC could be forgiven the arguments they had of the fixity of the Earth, or its centrality. But do we, who can look at Palsm 90:4 where it tells us straight up time for God is not like time for us (a thousand years is as a day, or even a watch in the night), we who can see the mistakes of Augustine and Basil on the firmness of the sky, or the bishops of Rome on the fixity of the Earth, do we still really think we can derive from scripture a correct understanding of the history and structure of the universe when that is NOT its purpose, and when every human attempt to do so without first understanding what the reality of nature was has failed – to the shame of the church?!

      I know what the answer to that question is for me. And I also know that the scripture is true, it is the word of God, given us so that we can come to understand Him. But let us “rightly divide” that word. Let us be humble in our approach, realizing we are but flesh. And most of all, let us learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before us.


  1. Orions Belt says:


    A small correction for future reference. Carbon dating is actually a very useful dating method, and with modern calibrations and AMS detectors more accurate than ever. But Carbon dating has always had a limited dating range – right now to about 40,000 Years before the Present.

    What has gone the way of the dinosaurs is the need to make assumptions about initial parent/daughter ratios in methods like Uranium/Lead. Scientist now use what are called ‘isochrons’ which is simple terms allow the determination both of the suitability of a sample for dating and what the initial parent/daughter ratios were, removing a great deal of the uncertainty previously associated with those methods.


    Please join us Monday as we look at a Liberty University Theological Seminary President  who lied about his past and is still the President. Such a witness, guys!


A Reader Responds to the Creationism/Waltke Debate — 15 Comments

  1. Speaking of Neanderthals, I am reminded of one of my favorite “Deep Thoughts”, by Jack Handy:

    I bet when the Neanderthal kids would make a snowman, someone would always end up saying, “Don’t forget the thick, heavy brows.” Then they would all get embarrassed because they remembered they had the big hunky brows too, and they’d get mad and eat the snowman.

  2. Orion’s Belt:

    Thanks for the substantive response, and congrats for being selected as a post.

    I did not take your response in any way as a put down to me, and I did not take Dee’s and Deb’s posting it as a criticism of me.

    I wanted to respond, but it’s taken me a while to get back to you.

    Thanks for the clarification of the big bang and the absence of any need for oxygen. I am better informed on that. I have been meaning to read Hawkings (sp?) book on the universe, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

    I hope that you did not think that I subscribe to a young earth. I do not. I was trying to state what I suspect some who believe in a young earth believe.

    I do not disagree with the things you said about the speed of light, the age of rocks and other hard data that shows the earth is much older than 6 or 10 thousand years, or whatever the claim is. The scientific facts clearly show that the earth is old.

    I am not up to date on what the young earth proponents say.

    To the extent they are looking at the earth, the universe and evidence, they are off on many things.

    The only point that I was trying to make was that no one believes what he or she believes solely on objective evidence. We like to think that we do. Naturalists like to think that they do, but they do not. Because the explanations for the universe and origins are not complete based on scientific evidence alone.

    The only point that I was trying to make was that young earthers and old earthers both believe in creation ex nihilo. The difference, as I see it, is that the old earthers believe the scientific evidence, as you have described. But they believe that God intervened and created the world or else it would not exist. The scientific evidence is insufficient to explain the existence or development of the universe or the earth.

    Now, maybe the young earthers completely disregard the scientific evidence. Maybe they say it is unreliable. Maybe they say it is made up. I don’t know.

    But I suspect (and could be wrong) that some young earthers simply believe that God intervened in ways that make what would otherwise make reliable scientific evidence – untrue. I don’t subscribe to this, but is it any less or more illogical to say that just as God created everything ex nihilo, or to also add that God also transcended laws that we now observe (the speed of light etc.) I mean, if God created light and it has a certain speed, is it impossible for God to alter the speed of light. Can a person believe that God can do that, even though the person believes in the scientific truth of the speed of light.

    I do not agree with young earth and old earth proponents fighting one another or naturalists. I agree that the old earthers have the better argument. I read Francis Collins’ book and agree with it in many respects.

    But, I have a hard time being too dogmatic about things if we don’t even know where the first matter came from.

    Now, the resurrection is related to this, again, because while I believe in science and basic truths, I believe the resurrection, which is completely unscientific. God transcended scientific laws that he created. The testimony of the Bible and the witnesses in the Bible are not objective facts. It is the record written by Christians 2000 years ago. We have no way of determining, even with the most basic cross examination, that the testimony is true. But we believe it, and I believe it strongly. But the testimony is no more objective than the testimony of other religious believers about other facts of that era. True, it is better than many stories and testimonies, but we can’t “prove it” in any scientific or objective sense.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in apologetics either.

    I do not believe that Genesis is myth. I believe it can be interpreted in different ways, but that it is still God’s inerrant word.

    But many theologians go further and say it is myth. And some of those theologians are Baptist. For them, it’s not a question of how to interpret Genesis.

    Their perspective on the Bible is not that it’s God’s inerrant word. It’s that it is a record of man trying to understand what God has done. Some of it is God’s word. Some of it is not.

    That perspective, in many cases, leads to the unravelling of Christian doctrine, as the myth theory is brought from Genesis through the OT and on to the NT.

    I hope that this makes sense.

    Thanks for your great thoughts.

  3. Anon,

    What a wonderful reply to my post! I would that all discussions of this issue could have a back and forth as gracious as the one you have supplied here.

    In terms of general principles I would have to say we are very close to being in agreement. Unfortunately, this debate tends to hinge more on specifics than generalities, which is one thing that perhaps makes it a hard debate to come to terms with for the general audience, the average Christian with a basic knowledge of scripture and/or science, or the person highly specialized in just one or the other.

    A point you make I find especially good is this:

    “young earthers and old earthers both believe in creation ex nihilo.”

    The idea that it is God who created, God who is behind it all, God who is in charge of how it has, and how it will unfold, is what distinguishes the Christian from the Naturalist in this debate. It does not matter if that person is YE, OE, or PC/TE/EC (Progressive Creationist – a la Hugh Ross, Theistic Evolutionist/Evolutionary Creationist a la Francis Collins to Professor Waltke) We all believe God did it. And that He has sent His son to seek and to save that which is lost.

    If we can realize this common ground we have, rather than taking a purist mentality where we fight amongst ourselves over secondary issues, we will have a much stronger message to the world at large. The Dawkins and Meyers, the ‘new’ atheists vocal in their evangelism for a lack of faith, they find ANY faith offensive in a scientist. So we really are in that sense, in the big sense of wanting the world to come to faith in Christ, on the same team.

    Hopefully, if the larger part of Christendom can approach these issue with calmer voices, ears to hear, we can perhaps come closer to positions of agreement and thus amplify our collective voice to the world.

    Unfortunately, the article that started this shows that at least in some circles the opposite is taking place. Some are becoming all the more polarized, and solid men of God with much to teach our rising pastors and Biblical teachers, much that would be real and solid and would help them stand in a world with real challenges to aspects of our faith, are unable to hold to their convictions on secondary issues without strong consequences.

    Hopefully this will change.


  4. Orions Belt:


    I am hopeful that in the years ahead Christians will be able to articulate beliefs about Creation that acknowledge scientific findings, or if they don’t, at least have some respectful, logical argument to explain that. We don’t want any more Gallileo situations.

    There are obviously 2 errors to avoid here. One is ignoring basic scientific facts (e.g. the earth orbits around the sun) and the other is concluding that the Bible is a story book because it isn’t written as a science book or because it claims supernatural things have happened (e.g. Jesus was born of a Virgin and rose from the dead).

    The church needs to avoid both of these errors. But the intersection of the truth in these areas is ill-defined and unknowable. That makes articulation difficult.

    Take care. See you around the blogs.

  5. The timing is uncanny.

    Another example of this is the Virgin Birth. Virgins don’t conceive. It’s scientifically impossible.

    Yet, Christ was born of a virgin. I believe that. But I still believe in science and reproduction and the whole bit.

    As an example of what can happen, however, when we become too afraid to believe in miracles, I would recommend that everyone go and read Albert Mohler’s blog about the passing of Cecil Sherman.

    In that blog, Mohler recounts what Sherman said about the Virgin Birth. I remember when Sherman said this because it caused such a stir.

    Sherman said that while he believed in the Virgin Birth, some other person who did not believe the Virgin Birth should not been seen as theologically out of bounds.

    These “other” people (not Sherman himself) embody the error we are seeking to avoid. Science so captured their thinking that they could not believe in miracle like the Virgin Birth.

    That’s basic to Christian teaching about Christ.

  6. Whoa, I have never heard of this and shall look it up. Paul said that, if the resurrection did not occur, then we are all fools.

  7. Junkster
    Have you read that blog? I took a moment to do so.They are a little bit dicey on some issues. Read their Caner apologetic. Also, could not God have created beauty without deception? I really appreciated you leading me to this blog. I want to read it more in depth tomorrow.

  8. Dee,
    I’ve read some articles on it. The author, Bart Barber, is a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Most of what he says is pretty standard Southern Baptist stuff, and supportive of SB leadership.

    I wasn’t saying I agreed with his post; just thought you might like to see it. I’d never heard of the c-Decay theory he mentioned in passing, so I looked it up and found it to be more interesting than his main point. Apparently c-Decay isn’t accepted by mainstream science any more than other YE theories, but it is a more creative approach than some I’ve seen and at least tries to interact with the evidence instead of just denying it. 🙂

  9. HI Junkster

    Hey, Orion’s Belt or DC….can you answer this question c Decay. Junkster, I will make sure one of them answers this. Thank you for the web site. I really like to see what others think. I bet they won’t be pleased about what I write tomorrow.

  10. Oh my – that article on it being ‘ok’ for God to create what we see for the sake of ‘beauty’ is … well hard for me to swallow. What we see ‘out there’ is a perfect example of how the natural laws of the universe ‘should’ have played out over billions of years. It is perfect in every way. There are literally trillions of stories out there – stories of collisions, explosions, formations, planets orbiting stars, magnetic fields, relativistic shifts that tell us about frame dragging and how matter behaves at extreme temperatures and pressures – and everything from 6000 light years away to 13.7 billion light years away is a fiction – something not real. How can ‘the heavens declare the glory of God’ if they are a fiction? Is God a fiction?

    Another side effect is this. Everything we see is in the past. A few nano seconds for the computer you are looking at to 8 minutes for the sun, or an hour or so for jupiter or 4.25 years for the nearest star. If the universe ‘out there’ is a fiction, how do you know 5 minutes ago is not a fiction. How do you know anything is real and not just something God made up 3 seconds ago?

    As for c-decay – the problems with this are legion. First of all, looking at e=mc^2, we see there is a direct correlation between the the energy in matter and the speed of light. You change the speed of light and either the energy goes up, or the mass goes down. Consider, if the speed of light was higher in the past, the mass of the sun would need to be lower to retain the same energy in the fusion reactions. But if the mass was lower, there would not be enough gravitational pressure to keep the sun from blowing itself up, unless the gravitational constant also changed. On the other hand, if the energy went up then the sun would also be producing much more energy than it is now, and the Earth would fry (even if the gravitational constant changed to keep the sun from blowing itself apart). Keep in mind the necessary change is over 1,000,000 times its current value!

    But God could play all the games with the constants to keep things together I suppose, only that would have other measurable/observable consequences. One aspect of a shift in the speed of light is a measurable shift in the fine structure constant. This can be ascertained through the careful observation of starlight. To this date no measurable change over time has been observed. Another problem is that as light changes speed of transmission it covers less distance per unit time, so the time between observation of those events appears to increase.

    One of the most regular natural events in the universe are the radio pulses we get from neutron stars, or pulsars. They are very small but extremely massive objects that spin about their axis from a few tens to hundreds of times per second. A typical neutron star will be a star with 1.4 times the mass of the sun crunched into a sphere a mere 20 miles in diameter. Careful measurements show no change in their rotation interval that can’t be accounted for by the measured losses of energy due to normal physical processes. Nothing like the kind of change that could be expected with the shifts in speed required to get light from the most distant corners of the universe. There is also no change in the distribution of measured rotational velocities of neutron stars with changing distance.

    Back to the required changes in magnitude of the speed of light. For the light from the farthest observed galaxy over 10 billion light years away to get to us in 6,000 years, the speed of light had to be more than 1,000,000 times faster in the past. That means m in e=mc^2 needed to be 1 trillion times smaller (c is squared – 1,000,000 squared is 1 trillion).

    Another issue of course is radioactive decay – which also ties directly to the speed of light. Million fold changes in radioactive decay rate also produce million fold increases in the amount of heat the decay produces. Those who have done the calculations point out the heat thus released would have melted the Earths crust – and it would still be molten.

    But from a data standpoint, few know that there is actually a naturally occurring nuclear reactor in the Earths crust: the Oklo mine reactor in Gabon, Central Africa. Careful examination of that reactor shows no measurable change in decay rate for its entire existence – which appears to be about 2 billion years.

    Finally, when we observe stellar explosions like Super Nova 1987a which occurred over 168,000 light years from here, we can see light propagating then at the same speed it is now. We can see the relative speed of decay for certain elements created in that explosion – and the decay rate is also the same as it is now. That means that 168,000 years ago is when the explosion happened. for that light to have gotten here in <6000 years, we'd need to see light zipping across the void at a minumum of 28 times the speed we observe, and it would have had to maintain the speed the entire time.

    To summarize then, there is literally no real evidence for a changes in the speed of light. The speed of light is one of the most fundamental constants to our universe, it is key to how the universe works, from the small to the large. It is then no wonder Genesis begins with its creation. There is no reason then to presume that against all evidence it has changed, unless one believes there is absolutely no possibility one could be mistaken in understanding scripture.

    With over 20,000 protestant denominations on the Earth, the Catholic Chuch and Russion orthodox churches, AND 3 different varieties of Judaism all hoding to varying understandings of the Bible – does that postulate make any sense at all?


  11. OB

    We now declare you TWW’s “Knower of All Things Astrophysical” henceforth to be referred to as “KOTAP”.