I’m pretty excited about this latest round-up of posts which I have gathered for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think in the comments. If you liked someone else’s article, be sure to drop a comment, because those keep we bloggers going! Thanks for reading.
The Bad Boys, The Secret, and Apologetics Teams in Churches- A post that combines NBA with apologetics? One which encourages specialization of apologetics-oriented sites? Sign me up! This is a fantastic post and well worth your time to read. Check it out.
“What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You”: Is this book telling the truth about men?-A review and critique of a book which alleges some pretty heinous things about men and women.
Was the crucifixion a matter of child abuse?- It has been alleged more than once that the crucifixion was a kind of divine child abuse. Was it? Check out this brief post showing that this allegation is a farce.
“Best Evidences for a Young Earth” – Andrew Snelling and the Salty Seas- Does the amount of salt in the oceans provide evidence for a young earth? Check out this analysis of Andrew Snelling’s–of Answers in Genesis–argument that it is.
A Response to James White on “Defining Inerrancy”- An interesting post showing that maybe we, as Christians, should desire a place at the table such that we can offer an internal critique of non-Christian thought. Check out this thought-provoking read!
I recently visited the Science Museum of Minnesota to check out the exhibit “Ultimate Dinosaurs” which features a number of dinosaurs which aren’t typically displayed in North America. I heard one other museum-goer talking about how they always thought that dinosaurs just were dinosaurs–that they were the same all over the Earth. But they weren’t! In fact, there is great diversity in the types of dinosaurs found in different parts of the world. Some are found all over North America; others are restricted to small parts of Africa or South America.
That got me thinking on creationism. A standard young earth creationist account of the history of the world would state that dinosaur fossils are found where they lay because the Flood put them there. Many YEC accounts are catastrophic in nature, arguing that the Flood recreated the surface of the Earth and left most or all of the layers of sediment we now observe. The dinosaurs (and other creatures) we find were swept up in the Flood and then laid down once the water had settled.
Pictured above and left, there is a fossil of a Suchomimus. Suchomimus was a fish-eating dinosaur which has only been found in Niger, Africa. According to standard scientific explanations, it lived in the Early Cretaceous period, about 121-112 million years ago. According to a young earth creationist account, this dinosaur died either during the Flood or migrated to the location it was found after the Flood. Either way, this was no more than a few thousand years ago. Pictured below and to the right, there is a fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It lived in the Late Cretaceous period, about 66-67 million years ago and ranged across what is now North America. Again, a young earth creationist account would have it dying during the flood or going extinct afterwards.
The young earth creationist (YEC) account is once more generally based upon the notion that the Noachian Deluge deposited these fossils where they are now found. The Flood is to explain how these fossils ended up in their present locations.
The fact that dinosaurs are found in different parts of the planet–and only in those parts–suggests an interesting problem for YECs: How is it that such a catastrophic event managed to destroy the surface of the Earth and then remake it through layers while creating the illusion of localized ecosystems at different points in history?
Such a challenge should not simply be dismissed. YEC literature sometimes suggests that the fossilized ecosystems which are proposed in different parts of the world at different (millions of years ago) times are merely products of the Flood depositing the fossils where they now lay. For example, according to YEC literature, many scientists believe that there was an ancient sea over North America merely because the Flood happened to deposit a bunch of mosasaur fossils and other marine life in a certain layer of the sediment it laid down.
The observed evidence, however, goes against this notion. Consider the Suchomimus (pictured above, left) once more. It has been found only in a localized area in what is now Africa. It is nearly certain it was a fish eater. This notion is not a mere product of accidental laying down of fish fossils near and around where Suchomimus has been found. Instead, it is based upon observational evidence. First, its large claws seem perfectly adapted to snagging large lungfish along the shore (large lungfish fossils have been found in the same area). Second, its narrow skull lined with extremely pointy teeth suggest a fishy diet, as it is once more adapted to eating them. Third, and most telling, fish fossils have been found with tooth marks from Suchomimus on their bones.
So what? How does this bring up a problem for YEC? Well, to put it simply, it demonstrates that the localized ecosystem found near and around Suchomimus is not a mere random product of fossils being jumbled together and then deposited during the Flood. Instead, predator and prey are found in a localized environment with other fossil specimens that fit neatly into the same ecosystem. But on the YEC account, how could this happen? Surely it would be an astounding happening if an entire ecosystem were swept away by the Flood, jumbled up with others along with sediment and the like, subjected to tidal waves across the surface, and then neatly deposited in a localized area, preserving that same ecosystem.
Some YECs (such as Kurt Wise) have instead suggested that the Flood did not destroy the whole surface of the Earth but was rather providentially brought about by God along with catastrophic plate tectonics. On this scenario, water rapidly rose and covered the face of the Earth, bringing with it sediment and the like which rapidly buried such localized ecologies.
Setting aside difficulties with such a scenario related to the means by which it would have allegedly occurred, it should be clear that this explanation is at least somewhat more palatable. It doesn’t turn ecosystems into mere fictions. However, this scenario doesn’t solve everything. For example, why are there separate and distinct ecosystems, one atop the other, in the same place? Going to North America, Tyrannosaurus Rex has been found across much of what is now North America. Again, we find prey with T-Rex tooth marks in their bones and the like. We have preserved ecosystems from this time. But different places (like the inland sea I discussed here) feature what appears to be a marine environment. Moreover, different layers, like those exposed through glaciation in the upper Midwest, show entirely different (and seemingly more primitive) marine lief. This raises a number of issues, most of which are relevant for any alleged Flood scenario.
First, if the Flood was a sudden event which covered the face of the Earth and thus preserved ecosystems in place, how did it manage to kill off and bury so much marine life? It seems like it must have been gentle enough to preserve the fossil evidence, so why did the marine life not simply swim away and get scattered across other layers as it died? Second, how do we have distinct and separate ecosystems preserved in different layers, one atop the other? Again, the suggestion was that ecosystems were preserved in place–so why do some places have different ecosystems above one another? Third, why are the types of sediment laid down distinct for each ecosystem? If the sediment was all due to one event, then why does the sediment type match the ecosystems which it buries?
At this point, I think we must remember that we may evaluate such claims from a number of angles. First, the YEC explanations seem very ad hoc–that is, they are invented by adjusting the Flood scenario (or some other device like distant starlight moving faster)–in order to explain away the difficulties rather than pursuing the evidence. It is reactionary rather than investigative. [I edited this line after some insight from a comment below.]
Second, realistically, which portions of the YEC explanation might be found in the Bible, if any? Having read the accounts of the Flood and Creation many times, I have to say I have never once spotted a place wherein it discusses the distribution of dinosaurs, the way the Flood laid down sediment, or any number of things put forward by YECs.
Third, when YECs and others are offering alternative scientific explanations–i.e. an explanation for “how did this [dinosaur] get here?”–they must deal with the fact that we’re looking for the most likely explanation. As I discussed in another post on dinosaurs and creationism, the proposed alternative YEC explanation is very clearly more complex and less likely than that of the one already offered–that the dinosaurs simply existed at different times and/or in different places over the course of history. We should be honest in our evaluations of evidence and look to see which explanation is more likely. Remember, we should be investigating the evidence while trying to stay free of any a priori assumptions about what must have happened and instead look at the evidence to see which explanation best fits. As I pointed out in the post linked above, proposing a global catastrophic Flood as the alternative hypothesis demands an enormous burden of proof.
“Oceans of Kansas,” Unexpected Fossils, and Young Earth Creationism- I discuss the alleged findings out out-of-sequences fossils in the fossil record and how YEC explanations fail to show they are attributable to a global catastrophic Flood.
What options are there in the origins debate? – A Taxonomy of Christian Origins Positions- I clarify the breadth of options available for Christians who want to interact on various levels with models of origins. I think this post is extremely important because it gives readers a chance to see the various positions explained briefly.
The photographs in this post were taken by me at the Science Museum of Minnesota with permission. Any use of these pictures should be only with express, written consent. The map is an image created by BBC and I do not claim any rights over it but use it through fair use.
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I read all kinds of awesome posts this week and have gathered them here for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think in the comments, and be sure to tell them too! This week we have alcohol, Handel, asteroids, embryology, and young adult fiction. How’s that for an assortment of topics!?
How Evangelicals Lost Their Way on Alcohol- How should Christians think about alcohol? Here, Thomas S. Kidd argues that some have lost their way in the debate over Christianity and alcohol. What are your thoughts on this topic?
George Frideric Handel- Things you may not know- Handel is one of the most amazing composers of all time. I know I have benefited greatly from his “Messiah.” But there are some things you may not know about the man himself. Read this post to test your knowledge, and maybe learn something new.
Rewinding the Clock: An Asteroid Family History- Interestingly, asteroids give us a lot more information than one might think. Some of this information is a challenge to a young-earth paradigm. Check out this post to see how the development of asteroids shows that our universe is very old.
Did Washington Post Check the Science?- Clinton Wilcox comments on a recent opp ed over at the Washington Post which claimed to check the science to see if life begins at conception. Wilcox’s commentary is enlightening. Check it out.
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)- Anthony Weber’s site, Empires and Mangers, provides readers with numerous reviews of YA literature and movies from a genuinely insightful Christian perspective. Check out this post to see his look at a recent (and popular) piece of YA lit, and follow his site to see much more where this one came from.
I am very pleased to serve these links up to you, dear readers. I found a very diverse array this week and I think you’ll really enjoy them. One post analyzes the story behind Tom Cruise’s latest movie from a Christian perspective. Another talks about Bart Ehrman’s worldview problem. Yet another analyzes the concept of femininity. Oh yeah, and there are more! Tell me your own thoughts in the comments here, and be sure to tell me which you liked! If you liked their post, be sure to let the author of that post know too! There’s nothing like having a new comment on your site. Thanks, readers!
All You Need Is Kill/Edge of Tomorrow- Tom Cruise’s latest flick, “Edge of Tomorrow” is based upon this graphic novel. Check out Anthony Weber’s excellent review and critique of the graphic novel from a Christian perspective. I really recommend you follow his blog as well. It’s in my top five must-read blogs.
Femininity- A short title for an extremely important post. What does it mean to be feminine/female? What do we say to women when we say they need to be more feminine? Most importantly, where is that found in the Bible?
Bart Ehrman’s Worldview Problem- Frequent critic of Christianity, Bart Ehrman, has a problem. It’s a problem of worldview. Check out this post from noted theologian Michael Kruger analyzing Ehrman’s work in light of this problem.
Kirkdale Cave Hyena Den: A Young Earth Challenge Since 1821- What can a cave teach us about the age of the Earth and the extent of Noah’s Flood? Quite a bit, it turns out. Check out this excellent post.
Does 2 Maccabees “Expressly Disclaim Inspiration”?- Although I do not accept the Apocrypha as authoritative Scripture, I think it is important we are accurate when we discuss the canon and the extent of Apocryphal authority. This post analyzes a claim made that 2 Maccabees disclaims inspiration. Check it out.
I’m really itching for a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Seriously, can the snow please melt? Anyway, this week I’m presenting for your reading pleasure a slew of high quality posts on the (non-)tasks of the apologist, submission, “street epistemology,” presuppositionalism, and young earth creationism. How’s that for a lineup? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I love to read what you think. Have a link to share? Drop it here with your own thoughts on it, and I may include it next time!
What an Apologist’s Job is NOT- Melissa Cain Travis offers some extremely sound advice on things to avoid as an apologist. This is a very practical post and a most read for those of us involved in apologetics. Read it!
On Submitting to One Another- What does it mean to submit? How does the notion of submission to one another play out in the church? Check out this thoughtful post by Paul D. Adams on these topics.
On Interacting with Street Epistemologists- Nick Peters has spent some time interacting with “street epistemologists” trained by atheist Peter Boghossian. Here, he shares some of his insights gained from this task. If you’re unfamiliar with the Boghossian, I highly recommend you check out “Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician.”
Picture Charades: Do you know your presuppositional apologists?- A fun activity of identifying key presuppositional thinkers. I take an integrative approach to apologetics, so I think it is important to read evidentialists, presuppositionalists, classical apologists, and yes, even fideists.
An Ancient and Alien Forest Reconstructed: A Challenge for young earth creationism- How might the forests of the past present difficulties for young earth creationism? Well, read the post to find out! It’s well worth it.
I have a nice range of posts set up for you. First, we look at the “God’s Not Dead” flick. Then, Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf! From there we survey the interrelationship between nature and Scripture, men and women as images of God, and young earth creationism and animal mimicry. I hope you enjoy them. As always, drop a comment here to let me know what you thought!
An Apologist Reviews “God’s Not Dead”- The movie “God’s Not Dead” is drawing a lot of interest from Christians. How does it hold up with it’s seeming purpose: to show that God is not dead? Check out this review by Nick Peters, a Christian apologist.
JRR Tolkien’s Translation of Beowulf: Bring on the Monsters- A translation from Tolkien of Beowulf may seem pretty ho-hum. After all, there are already English translations! But the book is going to be published not only with the translation, but also Tolkien’s notes and a couple essays. This is, of course, not to mention Tolkien is a renowned scholar of linguistics and so his translation is undoubtedly fantastic. I wait with barely contained glee for this one. Check out this post for reasons to get excited about the book!
Are Nature and Scripture Compatible?- Here, Luke Nix analyzes a number of ways to evaluate nature and Scripture alongside each other. The post has helpful flow charts to visualize this reasoning throughout. I highly recommend the read.
Male and Female: One Image, One Purpose- Men and women are both made in the image of God. What does that mean? How does it play out in our view of men and women? Check out this post by Mimi Haddad on the topic.
The “Good Creation” – Mimicry, Design, and Young Earth Creationism- How do creatures which mimic others (or the environment) reflect upon God’s creation? Check out this post which analyzes the question against the backdrop of young earth creationism.
Testing The Creationist’s Hyper-Evolution Orchard: Canines, Felines, and Elephants- Young Earth Creationists appeal to the Flood to explain the rock strata and fossil record. Yet in order to fit the animals onto the Ark, they are forced to posit a kind of hyper-evolution wherein only two of each “kind” were brought aboard and later diversified into the life we see now. Here is an in-depth analysis and critical response to this argument.
Off their noodles: The tedium of Pastafarianism- An insightful, thoughtful discussion of the New Atheist trend for comparing deity to the “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” Here, there is extensive analysis of the alleged analogy and its “adherents.”
Russia Launches Armed invasion of Crimea region of Ukraine- Some interesting analysis of the foreign policy issues at play here. The development of this has implications for people of faith, and we should be praying for those in the region, whatever our political affiliations or thoughts. The acting President of the Ukraine recently spoke of seeing God’s hand in the events in the region. As Christians, we should be seeking for God’s aid and intercession on behalf of the innocent; we should be praying for peace and the freedom of the oppressed.
Dear Sam Harris, It doesn’t matter if others made claims similar to the New Testament authors- It is not enough to say there are parallels to the Gospel claims and thus dismiss them historically. I made a lengthy argument against the notion that parallels can dismiss historical claims as well: Method or Madness?
Maybe Young Christians Leave Us Because They Were Never With Us in the First Place- J. Warner Wallace offers this powerful call to youth education in the faith.
Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
The Source of Light: A Desperate Bid?
One of the heated questions about the age of the Earth of course concerns the meaning and length of the days of creation. Of the questions related to that, one which persists is where from and why, on a literal reading, is there light before the bodies which produce light (stars, sun, etc.) are apparently created (though this is also debated) on day four? In Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation, Tremper Longman III offers the following comment on one path that some creationists take to explain the light prior to the sun:
The counterargument [to the fact that the solar bodies were not created until day 4] that God could provide an alternative light source is an act of desperation. Of course, God could provide light and darkness in some other fashion in a twenty-four-hour period, but that would still not constitute a literal evening and morning that is defined by the setting and rising of the sun and the movement of the other celestial bodies. (105, cited below)
Although I’m not sure I would qualify this move as “desperate,” I do still wonder how, exactly, one is to define the days of creation and a “literal” evening and morning without the actual solar bodies. I mean, realistically, what does it mean to say there is “evening” without such a reference point? Interestingly, some concordist positions (concordist meaning views which seek to explain the Bible in light of science or vice versa–and would encompass both young and old earth creationists of various types [see my taxonomy of positions]) actually take this to show that the days are not indeed 24 hour periods.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you see this move as desperate or do you think its perfectly reasonable? Somewhere in between? Why?
Tremper Longman III, “What Genesis 1-2 Teaches (and What It Doesn’t)” in Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation edited J. Daryl Charles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013).
I am really excited about the lineup I’ve put together for you, dear readers, in this latest iteration of my Really Recommended Posts. Whether you’re interested in literary apologetics, archaeology, paleontology, world religions, or atheism, I have something here for you! As always, be sure to drop a comment and let me know what you thought!
Camels in the Ancient Near East- Winfried Corduan, a noted scholar of world religions, provides an extremely important look into the question of camels in the Bible and the Ancient Near Eastern context thereof.
Vampire Academy- Anthony Weber has taken the time to read a number of pieces of YA fiction. Vampire Academy is the latest, and a film is in the works based on the book. What can a Christian say regarding its content? Check out his post on the book.
Juvenile Dinosaurs Found Huddling in a Nest: A Local or Global Catastrophe?- Here’s an extremely interesting post on the finding of dinosaurs in a nest. Does it provide evidence for young earth creationism? Also, be sure to check out my own post, “Oceans of Kansas,” Unexpected Fossils, and Young Earth Creationism, which examines another evidence alleged to show a global Flood.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus- Daniel Wallace is pumped about the recent book from Nabeel Qureshi about how the latter came to Christ while practicing his Muslim faith. I can’t wait for my own copy to arrive! I had the privilege of taking a class with Qureshi through Biola, so I’m extra excited for this one.
Book Plunge: A Manual for Creating Atheists- Boghossian’s book has created a stir, as he is actively trying to deconvert Christians in particular. Check out this interesting review and examination of the work.
Every Sunday, I share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Does Reading Genesis Require a PhD?
One of the topics of major interest to me is the debate within Christianity over the means and timing of creation. Recently, a friend sent me a copy of Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. I started it immediately and I’ve been working my way through the views before I go back to read the responses. One interesting quote came up in the portion from the scholar advocating a “literal” reading (Todd S. Beall):
Genesis 1 should be read… as historical narrative that is meant to be taken literally. This is the normal reading of the account… It does not require a person with a PhD to unlock the key to these chapters by appealing to A[ncient] N[ear] E[astern] literature or a special genre or some other special figurative approach. (48)
The quote is in context of Beall’s discussion of various evangelicals “coming out” as not reading the text literally for various reasons, such as ANE context, notions of genre, or the like. Basically, Beall’s point seems to be that we can (and should?) just read the text straightforwardly without having to study all kinds of topics to understand it. What do you think of this notion? What might this say about the cultural context of Genesis? Does that context matter? Should we be concerned with possibilities regarding such a context, differing genres, or the like?
Interestingly, a later author in the same work, Tremper Longman III, confronts Beall’s allegation regarding the PhD:
…isn’t the Bible equally clear to everyone, even those who have not studied the Bible and its cultural background? The simple answer to that question is no, it is not. After all, unless you have studied Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic you cannot read the Bible at all without scholarly help. (121)
Todd S. Beall, “Reading Genesis 1-2: A Literal Approach” in Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation edited J. Daryl Charles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013).
Tremper Longman III, “What Genesis 1-2 Teaches (and What It Doesn’t)” in Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation edited J. Daryl Charles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2013).