answers in genesis

This tag is associated with 19 posts

Really Recommended Posts 7/11/14- Inerrancy, Men, a young earth?, and more!

postI’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!

Really Recommended Posts 9/6/13- Dystopia, Poetry, and Creationism (+more!)

postAnother look around the internet this week, as we investigate young earth creationism from a few angles, intelligent design, some dead guys, and dystopian fiction. Let me know what you think!

Christian Virtues in Dystopian Fiction– Look, if you read my blog much you’ll know I am an absolute sucker for science fiction. One recurring theme in sci-fi is that of a dystopia: attempts to make a perfect world gone wrong. Most recently, The Hunger Games is a great example of the genre. In this post, Garret Johnson explores Christian Virtues found in this genre. It is a truly fascinating post, and I highly recommend you follow the blog to see more of the like.

Dead Guys, a poem– A very clever poem with a comic about the need to look at the works of the past in order to understand the present more fully. We stand on the shoulders of giants. I have written about the need to read more of the classic defenses of Christianity and theology, along with several ways to direct reading in my post, “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

A Horse is a Horse According to Answers in Genesis– An analysis of a recent attempt to present evidence for the young earth paradigm, this post looks at the genetic lineage of various species of horse. It is pretty awesome.

Stephen C. Meyer debates Michael Ruse about intelligent design and evolution on NPR– A “snarky” summary of a recent debate between Intelligent Design theorist Stephen Meyer and atheist Michael Ruse. Check out the review and listen to the debate.

Compromising Christians Don’t Like “Evolution vs. God” Film– I am “recommending” this post not because I endorse its contents, but because I think it shows how not to interact in “in-house” debates with other Christians. Ken Ham constantly uses the scare word “compromise” as a descriptor for other Christians. Compromise on what? Ham’s preferred interpretation of the text. It is a word he uses as a weapon time and again. As for the film itself, for some other perspectives (both positive and negative), check out my previous RRP.

**As always my linking to a post does not imply I endorse all or even part of that site**

Gregg Davidson vs. Andrew Snelling on the Age of the Earth

eps-ccI was recently at the Evangelical Philosophical Society conference (see my thoughts on every talk I attended) and one of the sessions was a debate between Gregg Davidson of Solid Rock Lectures and Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis on “Scripture, Geology & the Age of the Earth.” A number of readers requested more information on this talk, and I found it very interesting myself. Here, I’ll touch on the highlights of this dialogue as well as my own thoughts.

Davidson- A Biblical Worldview and an Ancient Earth

Gregg Davidson, a geologist who authored When Faith and Science Collide, and is a lecturer for Solid Rock Lectures, began the dialogue by noting several themes in the young earth/old earth dialogue. First, he noted a tendency to present young earth creationism (YEC) as the only Biblical worldview, while also presenting evidence for a young earth as exceptionally strong in contrast to weak evidence for an old earth. Unfortunately, Davidson pointed out that many people get to schools where they learn geology, astronomy, and more in the sciences and discover that the evidence for the young earth is actually fairly weak, while that for an old earth is quite strong. And, because YECs often link young earth creationism to being the only possible Biblical worldview, they begin to view the Biblical worldview as a whole as extremely weak. If the evidence for YEC was so weak as to falter, then because it is inherently tied to the Biblical worldview, that wolrdview must itself be extremely weak.

Another problem is that YECs fail to recognize that their position itself is an interpretation of Scripture. Their view is not Scripture itself. There is a tendency in debates about theology to view one’s own position as what the Bible teaches, but that fails to take into account the possibility of fallible human interpretation.

Davidson argued for an approach to Scripture that takes note of the fact that God often deigns to make use of “the knowledge of the day to communicate truths about the nature of God.” As an example, he referenced Jesus saying that the mustard seed is the smallest seed of all the plants on earth, despite the fact that it is not (Mark 4:30-32). The point was not the size of the seed, but rather the power of faith. Thus,we must be careful not to make Scripture teaching something it does not claim for itself. He pressed that to read into the Genesis text specific dates and time periods is to make the text teach something that it is not claiming.

Turning to the science, Davidson noted that there are any number of evidences for an ancient earth, but that he chose to focus upon just one area from a number of evidences in order to show how interdisciplinary and cross-confirmed the age of the earth is. He focused upon the Hawaiian Islands and their formation and age. There are multiple, independent ways to investigate the age of these islands. The islands were formed by a hot spot–a place where magma shoots up from underneath the crust and bubbles to the surface. This eventually would form islands when enough of the lava cooled and hardened. The islands are on a moving continental plate and so as they move away from the hot spot, the expectation is the islands get progressively older. Thus, in a series of 3 islands arranged thusly: 3-2-1-0 (0 being the hot spot), 3 would be the oldest island.

Davidson first noted the ages that were found by testing the age of the volcanic rock with radiometric dating. These ages yielded millions of years. Now of course most young earth creationists hold that radiometric dating methods are deeply flawed, but Davidson noted that this procedure can be tested for accuracy with independent methods. Before turning to that, he showed a picture of what the estimate for the movement per year of the plate over the hot spot would be based solely upon the radiometric dating. Basically, this works by just taking the distance of 3-2-1 and measuring how far each is from the hot spot, then dividing the radiometric date by that distance to see how far the islands move per year. The estimate yielded movement of 2.6-3.6 inches per year.

Recent technology has allowed us to utilize Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to actually measure the rate that the islands are moving. These measurements yield approximately 3.1 inches per year, which is exactly in the middle of the estimate given by the radiometric dating. Given the measured rate, scientists can extrapolate how many millions of years old the islands are based upon their distance from the hot spot. It’s kind of an inverse way to get the date. They simply divide the measured distance of the islands from the hot spot by the measured rate of movement per year. Of course, this way of measuring is not dependent in any way upon radiometric dating. Thus, there are two independent sources showing the date in millions of years for the Hawaiian Islands.

The coral growth around the Islands was a third confirmation of the ancient age of these formations. This argument was more complex than the first two. Basically, it seemed the argument was that because different corals form closer to the surface, we can look at the coral reefs formed around the islands as they are farther out and see how much the coral has moved up the island as it subducted (moved under the water with the continental plate). Thus, as the islands move farther away, and therefore sink into the water, the coral that can only survive at certain depths is submerged too far for it to get adequate sunlight, and it dies. One can then measure radiometrically the age of rings of corals. When one measures the coral on the islands, they can correlate that with the ages of the corals and the islands themselves. This measurement also lined up with the previous two.

Davidson concluded that the problem with the YEC paradigm is that they will often focus upon rebutting multiple, independent claims. While this may work for each claim individually, the problem is that all of these types of evidence add up to form one cohesive picture. When they are cross-referenced and they all hit on the same age or date range, they all show the same predictions of distance, and the like, it becomes extremely implausible to say that every single way to find the age of the earth is faulty. They form a full picture. Furthermore, Davidson critiqued YECs for often presenting a selective picture of the evidence–only showing the evidence which favors their position.

Snelling- A Biblical and Geological Defense of a Young Earth and the Global Flood

Andrew Snelling is a well-known proponent of YEC, the author of Earth’s Catastrophic Past, and his presentation was perhaps the best defense of his position I have ever seen.

Snelling began by offering the common argument that Jesus taught the global flood and young earth creationism. He argued that the Hebrew word used in Genesis 7:17 is only used for this event, which hints at the incredible devastation.

local-flood-aigFurthermore, the language in Genesis states that the mountains were covered. Snelling’s slideshow had the image shown here on the right, which is becoming pervasive in discussions about the extent of the Flood. The argument is that if the Flood were local, it makes a mockery of the Biblical text. (See a different perspective on this issue with Hugh Ross’ “In the Days of Noah.”)

Snelling outlined several things we should look for if there was a global flood. Among these expectations are:

1) Marine fossils in strata for terrestrial creatures- Snelling named a number of places these could be found. This is an expectation because the Flood covered the whole earth, so the creatures should all be mixed together.

2) Rapid burial of creatures and plants- Snelling noted a number of places where fossils show rapid burial. This is expected because the Flood would have suddenly come upon these creatures.

3) Fossil graveyards- The Flood would have killed huge numbers of animals, so we should expect to find huge fossil graveyards, which we do.

4) Evidence that the ocean flooded the continents- if the Flood were global, we would expect to find its sedimentation upon the continents, and we do.

He argued that these are all evidenced in Earth’s catastrophic past, and he pointed to the Grand Canyon as evidence for a number of these evidences.

Snelling also looked at various geological features he said were evidences for a global flood and a young earth. Among these were several layers of sedimentary rock which are bent. He argued that this can only occur when the rock is liquefied like cement–otherwise it cracks–so this sedimentation had to happen during the Flood.

Discussion- Q+A

Next, there was a dialogue between Snelling and Davidson in the form of them asking each other questions. The highlights were a few specific questions:

Davidson asked Snelling about the Grand Canyon: specifically, he noted that the terrestrial fossils were found in similar strata, but never in the same layers, which instead suggests an ebbing and flowing of the water; not a global flood. Furthermore, he pointed out the lack of any pollinating plants in an entire mile of sediment. He asked how Snelling’s account lines up with this data. Snelling responded by arguing that the fossils are indeed mixed together and that we even find footprints in the wrong layers. He argued that due to “devastating tsunamis” which would have swept the earth, some of this could be undone and/or specific types of creatures/plants might have been swept out of the layers.

Snelling gave a brief outline of problems with radiometric dating giving divergent ages and asked Davidson to comment on the difficulties he pointed out with radiometric dating. He argued that often, old earth proponents and “secularists” simply assume an age for the rock and interpret the tests to get that age. Davidson responded noting that he worked with radiometric labs for quite some time and that there is mixing in the chemicals which can be accounted for. He showed a picture showing how some of this can work and how labs have to account for certain elements contaminating the rocks. However, he pointed out there is a margin of error to account for some of these difficulties.

Rock_StrataDavidson then brought up a slide with images of bent rocks. One was a “bench” at a graveyard in which the middle had sagged despite being made of stone. He argued that with enough pressure/time rock can sag under its own weight or (as the picture showed) even no weight at all. Given this evidence, he asked why bent rocks should count in favor of YEC. Snelling responded by saying that hard rock can be bent by pressure but that if the pressure is sufficient the rock will crack.  He continued to emphasize that in the Grand Canyon one can observe rocks bending without fracture.

Evaluation

I have to say I was struck by how much this interaction turned on the scientific aspects of the debate. I had thought that Snelling would focus more upon an attack of Davidson’s interpretation of Scripture, and while he did some of that, the majority of his responses were related to scientific arguments. Davidson followed suit and kept hammering examples that showed how the YEC interpretations Snelling gave of various natural phenomena failed.

Davidson’s scientific presentation in his paper was extremely strong. It would be very hard to explain away the fact that three completely independent methods for dating the islands lined up so clearly to point towards an ancient earth. If I had been on the border between young earth or old earth going in, I would have come out as convinced of an old earth. I actually did go in as one who holds to an old earth, having been convinced by the evidence a few years ago, and I came away utterly convinced that YEC is false.

Snelling’s talk was a great defense of the YEC position, but it demonstrated the flaws that Davidson was quick to capitalize on. I was really impressed by the fact that Davidson had a number of slides ready to respond to both Snelling’s presentation and his questions. Davidson’s critique of the “bent rocks” was particularly devastating.

Davidson’s critique of YEC: that they focus upon independently repudiating various dating methods, came to fruition in this discussion. He really showed how the YEC paradigm is utterly dependent upon a selective presentation of data at the exclusion of pieces that do not fit.

One thing I would have liked to see was more debate over the Flood and the Bible passages in general. I was surprised by how much the talk focused on the science–though that was extremely interesting.

Let me know your thoughts on the topic. Have you any insights on any of these issues?

Links

I have written on other talks that I attended at the ETS/EPS Conference in 2012. Specifically, check out my post on Caring for Creation: A discussion among evangelicals. I have also written briefly on every talk I attended. See my post on the ETS/EPS Conference 2012.

There are a great many posts on creation issues on my site. You can access them by checking out my page on the Origins Debate.

Naturalis Historia is a site that focuses primarily on the scientific evidence for an old earth. I highly recommend it.

For the theological aspects of the debate (and also more of the scientific discussion), check out The GeoChristian as well as Geocreationism, two fantastic sites.

Finally, for a comprehensive Biblical and scientific old earth view, see Reasons to Believe.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

My Trip to the Evangelical Philosophical/Theological Society Conference 2012

Last weekend I had the supreme pleasure of attending the 64th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society (there’s a mouthful!). I took over 80 pages of notes (43 front/back) and enjoyed the entire time immensely. I’ll be posting in the upcoming weeks and months on a number of these topics, so for now I’m just going to very briefly outline the talks I went to and give one or two comments each. I encourage readers to browse through these and let me know which ones they’d be interested on me writing on in a bit more depth. Feel free to ask questions as well.

Scripture, Geology, and the Age of the Earth

Readers know that I am very interested in the controversy among Christians over the age of the earth. I’ve written quite a bit on the topic. This session featured Gregg Davidson (University of Mississippi), a geologist, facing off against Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis. I have to admit that I was surprised by how much this debate focused on the science. Specifically, Davidson presented two very thorough evidences for an old earth, while Snelling rebutted these and argued that a catastrophic interpretation was perfectly consistent with the record. It was a fascinating back-and-forth. You can read an extended outline/review of this talk in my post: Gregg Davidson vs. Andrew Snelling on the Age of the Earth.

Bioethics – Genetic Enhancement 

Gary Alkin(? his name wasn’t in my program) presented a paper on genetic enhancement and whether it is morally permissible. Essentially, his argument was that while as Christians we are obligated to heal diseases and help others, we are not obligated to try to become superhuman, and indeed are perhaps prohibited from doing so. He countered numerous arguments for the notion that we should continue to try to ‘enhance’ humanity. It was an interesting paper. I have since written an extended examination of his paper here: Genetics and Bioethics: Enhancement or Therapy?

Whose Moral, Which Axiom- The Transforming  Virtue of Sub-Creation in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mythology

Thomas Provenzola presented a mind-stretching paper on how Tolkien’s use of myth helps us to think about care for creation. It was a fascinating look into philosophy and literature.

The Metaphor of Divine Repentence

Rob Lister of Talbot School of Theology presented a paper in which he argued that we must understand language about God both literally and analogically. He argued that open theists often err too far towards creating an anthropocentric concept of God, rather than understanding passages about God’s repentance in light of clear statements about His being. I was so fascinated by this talk that I went and got his book on the topic afterwards. I look forward to reading it.

Other Voices in Interpretation Panel Discussion: An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity, Part 2: Application to the Ongoing Discussion on the Trinity

Kevin Giles (Victoria, Australia), Steve Tracy (University of New Brunswick), Mimi Haddad (Christians for Biblical Equality), and David Malick (CBE) participated in a panel discussion on the evangelical statement on the Trinity. I was surprised to see how contentious this talk was, but unfortunately there are people who are undermining the Trinity by eternally subordinating GOD the Son. This discussion went beyond an egalitarian/complementarian debate and essentially touched on how we must not distort the Trinity for our own purposes.

The Stars Will Fall From Heaven: Cosmic Catastrophe in the Synoptic Gospels

N.T. Wright, who needs no introduction, presented a paper arguing that the cosmic language used for the destruction of the temple is not so much due to an end of the space-time universe as it is because the Temple was the center of the universe for Judaism.

The Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity

Kevin Giles presented a paper arguing that orthodoxy on the Trinity does not subordinate the persons. Rather, the distinctions made between persons according to the orthodox faith are made according to generation (the Son is begotten by the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son). He stressed the importance of drawing implications of the Trinity from the Godhead and not from humanity.

An Examination of Jesus’ View of Women through Three Intercalations in the Gospel of Mark

David cogently argued that we can look at the narratives in the Gospels to see what Jesus’ view of women was. Because we can see with clarity how Jesus elevated women’s roles to that of equal to men, he argued that we should interpret hard passages in light of the clearer passages. This paper was very clearly argued and extremely compelling. I hope more work is done in this area, because the argument was very tight, and there is much development to come from it.

Complementarians, Egalitarians, and Unicorns: What are they, and do they exist?

Walker argued that the categories we are using to identify people in the gender debate reflect a genus/species fallacy which essentially drains them of all meaning. It may be helpful to develop new terms to make the distinctions more clear.

Biblical Theology and Creation Care

I must confess that I only went to this one because there weren’t any others going on. I’m very pleased I did, because this plenary talk proved to be one of the most interesting discussions that I attended. Moo argued decisively that we must not cause Christianity to lose credence due to clinging to faulty science. Furthermore, he argued that it is our duty to take care of creation. He traced an interpretive strategy through Scripture and argued very convincingly for the use of the hermeneutic he was pressing for looking at Christianity and the environment. I wrote an extended post on this paper and the following panel discussion: Caring for Creation: A dialogue among evangelicals.

Panel Discussion on Creation Care

Following Moo’s plenary talk, there was a panel discussion with Moo, E. Calvin Beisner, Russell Moore, and Richard Bauckham. This panel discussion was highly contentious and the audience clapped for their favored party numerous times. Beisner seemed to be the odd man out, as he did not deny climate change, but rather argued that we don’t yet know conclusively that it is anthropogenic (caused by humans). The other panelists argued that the science is convincing and that we do cause people to look with wariness upon Christianity. It was a very invigorating debate.

Body-Soul Interaction and the Theism-Naturalism Divide

Ryan West presented a paper arguing that many of the arguments raised against substance dualism are essentially faulty once one grants theism. He further argued that naturalistic dualists (of which there are few!) would be better off embracing theism, for their view is in extreme tension given the arguments he presented. It was a brief paper that was very well argued. The Q+A was great.

How Much Evidence to Justify Religious Conversion? Some Thoughts on Burden and Standard of Proof vis-a-vis Christian Commitment

The great apologist John Warwick Montgomery presented his paper on religious conversion. Essentially, the argument was that given certain benefits and a low price of commitment, people should commit to Christianity assuming the standard of proof has been carried. It was a fascinating paper, and Montgomery’s presentation style was both engaging and endearing. It was a huge pleasure to get a chance to talk to him briefly after the talk.

Taking a Stand Against Rand: A Biblical Evaluation of Ayn Rand’s Capitalism

I’m not very interested in Rand, but this paper by David Kotter was interesting enough to get me interested in the topic. He noted both good and bad portions of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and argued that ultimately, her perfect man has come to fulfillment in Christ. He presented a critique of a number of her views, while arguing that some things are worth looking at for Christians and the government. A truly engaging paper.

Miscellaneous Extras

Throughout the conference I had numerous pleasures of running into fellow bloggers, friends, and huge names in philosophy and theology. I enjoyed lunch with Matt over at Well Spent Journey and stayed with Kurt over at Real Clear Apologetics.  I was so delighted to meet Holly Ordway from Hieropraxis and engage with her in some great discussion. Other examples include running into Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe, socializing with William Lane Craig, however briefly, and bumping into numerous others (Jerry Walls, David Baggett, Nabeel Qureshi, and more). I also enjoyed interacting more with David Malick of CBE. What a blast!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Ken Ham, honesty, and AiG’s Reformation- A lesson in careful reading and hermeneutics

I recently responded (Ken Ham on “Compromise” and Stand to Reason) to a blog post–really a rant–by Ken Ham, young earth creationist. Well, Ken Ham apparently took issue with my own posts (and others’–see links at the end), and has offered another response. All block quotes are from Ken Ham’s post “To Help Bring Reformation” and all credit goes to him for the writing of said quotes. For a shorter response to Ham’s latest post, check out  Unrecognized Agreement and Unity.

First, it is worth noting that Ham doesn’t cite any specific sources for the views he attacks, so it may be difficult to draw out all the points. To be fair, it seems that at least a few of his points respond directly to my own blog post. I will try my best to draw out Ham’s points while offering another critique.

In my initial post on the topic, I pondered the notion that AiG is seeking to start a reformation. I mean, Ken specifically stated such in his blog. To whit:

Thus, as part of the mission of AiG, we believe we have been called to challenge the church to return to taking God at His Word from the very first verse—we liken this to helping bring in a new Reformation. -Ken Ham

Leaving aside the hidden assumption that any view which is not exactly the same as AiG’s position is, by implication, not “taking God at His Word”… I wondered what exactly it was that Ken Ham and AiG is seeking to do with a reformation–is it a reformation simply pressing YEC or is it a comprehensive, whole-church reformation. Ham responded:

A few Christians reacted to my comments with blogs falsely accusing me (and AiG) of equating such “Reformation” as getting people to believe in young-earth creationism.  That is not our motive—and never has been (despite the numerous times we have been accused of such).  Really, believing in a young earth is a consequence of believing God at His Word in Genesis.  In other words, our efforts are not directly to get people to believe in a young earth, but to get God’s people to take God at His Word in Genesis. -Ham

That’s fair. Ken Ham–and many other young earth creationists–tend to argue that if one takes the Bible at “its Word,” then one will end up as a YEC as well. But how is it that Ham and others assert their position is the position at which one will arrive if one takes the Bible as true? Well, clearly, it is through a specific hermeneutic. In fact, Ham cites it himself as part of the AiG mission statement:

We relate the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and the world today with creativity. -AiG Mission statement as cited by Ken Ham

Right! Well then it is part of the mission of the group to endorse, legitimize, and put forward as the truth the hermeneutic of reading a “literal Genesis”–by which it is meant a Young Earth view. But of course others read a “literal Genesis” and have no problems with old earth positions and indeed see absolutely nothing in the account as contradicting an old earth position. So, it seems that if YEC is supposedly a consequences of the position AiG holds, then YEC is absolutely part of the “reformation of the church” that AiG is trying to bring about. It is a consequence of their hermeneutic.

But then there is the question of whether or not their are readings of Genesis which allow for or even call for an old earth position. Other inerrantists like C. John Collins or G.K. Beale argue that the passages do not necessitate a young earth position. Thus, it seems like, without argument, we once more have a YEC dismissing other positions as against “believing God at His Word.” This is the kind of subtle ad hominem attack that people who can sense logical fallacies will react against. Notice the dichotomy that is set up: if you “believe God at His Word” you will hold the same position as AiG; but if you don’t hold the young earth position, you therefore do not believe God at His Word. One can’t make a worse accusation against other evangelicals than this.

But hey, why stick with subtlety?

These bloggers and others who falsely accuse us of being focused on young earth creationism are themselves undermining the authority of the Word of God, for which they will be held accountable before the God of creation. -Ken ham

Yes, that’s right. Apparently I (and others) falsely accuse a group named “Answers in Genesis” which actively promotes young earth creationism through books (including children’s books), a magazine, a research journal, and even a VBS program [image on right all credit to answersvbs] (notice that the entire curriculum is focused on Young Earth Creationism: day 1 is in six short days, everything was made; day 2 is the bible says it, that settles it [and note that in Ham’s other post he argued we should teach our children how to think, not what to think–or at least in addition to ‘what to think’]; day 3’s main question is “Can your view of creation affect your view of the gospel?”; day 4 is on intelligent design [admittedly this doesn’t specifically mean young earth]; day 5 is going to teach children there are dinosaurs in the Bible) of focusing on a young earth.

Seriously, you did read that right. I and others are accused of falsely stating that Answers in Genesis is focused on young earth creationism.  

Look, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have your ministry focused on a specific area. In fact, I think that Christians who are strong in science, the arts, philosophy, and other areas of knowledge need to step up and do what they’re best at for the glory of the Lord, whether that means making new discoveries in a lab or going and working at a retail job. Do it well! The problem is that Ken Ham is saying we’re falsely accusing Answers in Genesis of being focused on young earth creationism. Sorry, but they are.

Moving on:

Thus it is obvious that millions of years is incompatible with God’s Word.  And one does not get millions of years from the Bible—it comes from fallible man’s interpretation of the past.- Ken Ham

Honestly, this has to be the favorite line YECs use: “man’s fallible __________” or some variant. Again, all it does is subtly poison the well. Isn’t it equally possible that man’s fallible interpretation could lead to a young earth view? Let me answer the question: YES. People are fallible, and they make hermeneutical mistakes, science mistakes, and other mistakes. Thus, one could equally say: “It is obvious that the young earth position is not necessitated by the text. To say that it is necessitated is to use man’s fallible interpretations of Scripture.”

Suddenly YEC looks like it is the evil “compromiser.” But I’m not going to take that route. Rather, I want to consider arguments, not attacks on character; I want to consider the text, and not bring eisegesis into it by assuming my position is the only possible interpretation.

Moving on:

I would also be prepared to say that those church leaders who condone “gay” marriage will have compromised Genesis! – Ken Ham

Another classic YEC scare tactics. I pointed it out in my last post responding to Ken Ham. Basically, you take the position you want to refute and then associate it with anything people who already agree with you will think is bad. For example, you could say “Hugh Ross believes in an old earth, just like evolutionists.” Suddenly, the people who read things like AiG’s website know that Hugh Ross is evil.

Here’s the problem: Hugh Ross isn’t evil. The statement is no argument. It’s guilt by association. It’s poisoning the well, and it’s unChristian.

Hey look, he does it again:

Those in the church who compromise Genesis with millions of years and evolutionary ideas are really saying that man’s word is infallible, and God’s Word is fallible!  It is the other way round!- Ken Ham

Scare words abundant throughout. No argument, just assertions.

So no, the “Reformation” we are calling the church to is not (as some critics have been recently claiming) to get people to believe in a young earth— it’s having them accept the full reliability of the Bible. Believing in a young earth is a consequence of accepting God at His Word in Genesis.- Ken Ham

Honestly, this is the best piece of the entire blog post. It sums up Ham’s position well. Basically, he goes in with the assumption that the young earth is the only possible reading of Genesis. Thus, if anyone does not hold to a young earth position, they do not “accept God at His Word.” Now, what he’s saying is that it’s not that the reformation is young earth creationism; rather, the reformation is to re-evangelicalize the church: sola Scriptura! Amen!

Here’s the problem: a young earth is not the only possible reading of Genesis, and by putting it forth as such, and explicitly stating that it must be a consequences of “accepting God at His Word,” Ham and others who make similar claims have therefore put their views as God’s views. Their view is, in fact, a consequences of an ultra-literal hermeneutic which they espouse. The text itself does not warrant it. The fact that there is almost limitless reading from authors who argue that the Genesis account is Ancient Cosmology; or that it lines up with one week as part of creation; etc.; alone speaks to the fact that AiG’s position is not necessarily a consequences of the text, but of their hermeneutic: it’s a consequences of their method, not the source.

Bottom Line: Let’s focus on the issues involved in Genesis and the world that God has revealed to us, which is a reliable guide to truth (Psalm 19). The only reason I spend time responding to Ken Ham and others like this is because I do not want such statements to go unchallenged. When a Christian goes around accusing other Christians of being “compromisers” or other scare-words simply because they differ in their interpretation of a passage of Scripture, that Christian needs to carefully rethink the issues and realize “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty.” Stop throwing out the accusations. Focus on the issues.

Frankly, I pray this will happen, but I doubt that it will. As long as one holds one’s own methodology and hermeneutic is the only way to do it, there can’t really be thoughtful dialog. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope that maybe Ken Ham and AiG will be willing to work with others who have different views but still hold to inerrancy of Scripture in order to bring about a whole-church reformation towards inerrancy. But that would require AiG dropping the position that only they are right.

Links to Other Responses to Ken Ham’s “Compromise” Posting

Ken Ham on ‘Compromise’ and Stand to Reason– my response to Ham’s initial post.

Compromising the Kingdom– Faithful Thinkers offers a really in-depth critique of Ham’s use of emotional and ad hominem attacks.

A Brief Word on Ken Ham, Stand to Reason, and the OEC/YEC Debate– two really good points raised in this post. How do our attitudes drive people away?

SDG.

Ken Ham on “Compromise” and Stand to Reason

Ken Ham recently released a rant about compromise in the church. Rather than evaluating any single point, I’m just going to go through a short, point-by-point response. Quotes from the article are in block quotes.

…a big part of our mission is to bring reformation to the church, so of course we expect opposition to our efforts. Sadly, the worst opposition from my perspective is from within the church, since we should expect opposition from the world.- Ham

I would like to know what the “reformation” is that Answers in Genesis (hereafter AiG) hopes to bring about. I suspect it is a reformation of young earth creationism, but that seems to be a fairly major position within the average church anyway. A “reformation” is never restricted to just one point, however, so one must wonder what theology it is that AiG hopes to bring to the forefront.

Stand to Reason states its mission as teaching people “not just what to think, but how to think.” Sadly, their supposed teaching people “how to think” is actually teaching them to think in terms of millions of years and evolutionary ideas. -Ham

Ken next turned to an attack on the ministry group, “Stand to Reason.” Note that the reason it is under attack is because the group is teaching “to think in terms of millions of years and evolutionary ideas…” I found this quote particularly strange, considering that Stand to Reason is a specific and vocal advocate of Intelligent Design. The group goes so far as to offer Intelligent Design as “a scientific alternative to evolution.” As far as “millions of years,” one may say that this is indeed part of teaching people “how to think.” Let’s investigate the evidence. Let’s come to our own conclusions. Let’s think about it.

It seems particularly strange to see an AiG person complaining about others teaching “how to think” because anyone who disagrees with the AiG position on the age of the universe is labeled, ironically, a “compromiser.” Only if you hold the position AiG desires you to hold are you someone who knows “how to think.” Seems like a very strange way to teach “how to think,” doesn’t it?

 Hugh Ross believes in an old earth and promotes the day-age and progressive theories of creation. He says God created over millions of years in the same basic order as the secularists claim life evolved (in reality, this is a form of theistic evolution). -Ham

Hugh Ross is a favorite target of groups like AiG. Why? I suspect it is because Ross doesn’t focus exclusively on scientific evidence (which young earth creationists tend to reject as  “a different interpretation of the same evidence”) but instead offers alternative theological interpretations.

That aside, this quote from Ken Ham is factually incorrect. It makes me wonder whether he has interacted with Ross’ works on a thoughtful level. Ross certainly doesn’t hold the position outlined above. Ross does believe the timeline science has uncovered matches up with the Biblical account. The important distinction is that Ross leans towards progressive creationism (in the writings of his I have read); in other words, God created species over time. When one species passed away, God brought forth a new one. Initially it may seem that this is how Ham described Ross’ position, but note the last clause in which Ham says this is a form of theistic evolution. That is absolutely incorrect. I know of no theistic evolutionist who would agree that God brings forth new species over time in special creative events. None. Rather, it seems Ham is just using the scare word “evolution” and associating it with any position he disagrees with (see Stand to Reason above).

[Skipping over a number of point-counterpoint rebuttals in Ham’s post.]

They [Stand to Reason/other groups like them] can try to modify things all they want, but what they are doing is compromising man’s ideas of millions of years with the Bible and reinterpreting the clear text of Scripture, thus undermining the authority of the Word of God. They do believe in evolution—it’s just that they just don’t accept the naturalistic neo-Darwinian view but modify their beliefs to suit their purposes of having God create but over millions of years. -Ham

Another juicy quote. Let me break it down. First, Ham is tugging the standard YEC line that anyone who disagrees with their interpretation of Scripture is “compromising” by using “man’s ideas.” Essentially, if you are a Christian who doesn’t believe the universe is 6000-10,000 years old, you are compromising Scripture. Never mind a huge amount of exegetical evidence to the contrary (one thinks of C. John Collins’ study of Genesis; Hugh Ross’ own theological work; Sailhamer; Walton’s important study of Genesis in light of ANE cosmology; etc.), if you disagree, you can’t possibly take Scripture seriously. I have run into this personally a number of times. If you disagree, your position simply cannot even have any merit. Never mind if you offer a reading of Genesis which more closely matches the theological/cultural/historical aspects of the text, you’re just wrong.

Moving on, Ham, in baffling fashion, wrote that Stand to Reason does “believe in evolution.” Again, this is a simple misrepresentation of STR’s position. In fact, Young Earth Creationists “believe in evolution” in the abstract too. What? It’s true. Consider the research YECs do in journals of their own publication. Not only that, but even the “Answers in Genesis Research Journal” does a study of “kinds” in the Bible and asserts, “the Bible’s description of created kinds implies an information model which uses variables. The findings in this paper show that a model which uses variables forms a stronger basis for true scientific understanding of biology and, by implication, the Bible provides a superior foundation for scientific investigation.” Wow, looks like AiG believes in microevolution through variables too! I should therefore reject the site as “compromise.”

The problem is that, as is typical in these types of discussions, such a rejection would be an unfair reading of the opposition. Ham and others put scare words like “evolution”; “compromise”; and “man’s ideas” in the context of their opposition. The tactic is highly rhetorical and has little, if any, substance. The fact remains that Ham is cherry-picking ideas from the opposition, putting them in context with scare words, and then declaring victory.

Overall, one must wonder about a few things based simply upon this recent article. 1) What kind of theology is a group like AiG trying to “reform”? Is their perspective limited only to the age of the universe, or do they have a broader vision? 2) Did AiG inaccurately represent their opposition? 3) No matter what side we take in this debate, should we not try to be fair and honest about the other side’s view? 4) Was Ken Ham fair and honest?

Source: “Compromise Being Spread” Ken Ham, http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2012/05/08/compromise-being-spread/.

Adam, Animals, and the Fall: A response to ‘Defending Genesis’

I recently argued that Young Earth Creationism makes a theological blunder in that its picture of God is morally impermissible. Please read the full post here, as well as my response to the Answers in Genesis critique here.

The post has generated a large amount of discussion and a number of critiques. I am thankful for numerous thoughtful responses and while I can’t respond to all of them I’d like to at least answer a few more criticisms.

First, let me restate the argument:

1. If animals did not die before the fall, then their death must be the result of sin.

2. Animals are incapable of sinning (they are not morally responsible agents)

3. Therefore, animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin.

From this, I concluded that because God kills animals due to Adam’s sin, and not their own, this would make God unjust. As  I noted in my response to Answers in Genesis, “The argument as it stands contains a few assumptions which I’ve found in YEC literature. 1) Animals did not die before the fall; 2) Death is inherently a bad thing; 3) all physical death is the result of sin. Now a denial of these assumptions can undermine my argument; I grant that. My point is that if one holds to these three assumptions, my argument shows that YEC is morally impermissible.”

Now, the post has received another lengthy critique from “Defending Genesis” over at http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/. The post in question can be found here.

I’d like to thank Rev. Tony Breeden for his thoughtful criticism of my post, but still offer my response and hope that any dialog that continues can ensure that iron sharpens iron.

One criticism that has been repeated, and Rev. Breeden continues in this vein, is “At no point does his [my, J.W.’s] argument start with the Bible because he is supposing he can simply use Young earth Creationism’s presuppositions against us. So he’s not asking if Young Earth Creationism is Biblically correct but whether it will stand up to his rational critique. In this regard, his objection is more philosophical than theological.”

Others, like Elizabeth Mitchell at Answers in Genesis, have stated the objection more simply, “He cites no Scripture…”

Again, I must reiterate that in no way is exegesis the limit of theology. Those who wish to discredit my argument by this subtly veiled ad hominem seem to be unaware of the entire practice of analytic theology. I can’t help but think that these two examples are much less an attempt at getting to the issues as they are an attempt to discredit me personally because I did not use a passage from Scripture in my argument. Let me point out something: if someone’s theological background leads their position to paint a portrait of God that is unjust, that is very much a theological problem.

Moving on, the Rev. Breeden writes, “In any case, we can firmly establish that he’s not starting with the Bible as his ultimate authority.”

I’m very curious as to where this statement comes from. Clearly, God is my ultimate authority. The Bible, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is God’s inerrant word. I can’t help but think that this quotation is a not-so-subtle ad hominem. Perhaps it’s not, but one can’t help but wish that those criticizing my argument had stuck to the premises rather than going off on tangents and speculation.

Unfortunately, that is not the only tacit hint at my lack of Christian fortuity hinted at in the article. The Rev. proceeds to say, “In his rebuttal, Wartick admits that he remains oblivious [to Romans 8:20-22]…” Of course, in the post to which he is referring, I do not say anywhere that I remain oblivious. Rather, I pointed out that the verses do not establish that which Answers in Genesis (and apparently Rev. Breeden) want them to.

Thankfully, Rev. Breeden does turn to the arguments eventually. He agrees with my contention that animals are not moral agents (he says that it is “true enough”). Yet the Rev. does not believe that God’s character is called into question despite the notion that if YEC’s contentions are true then God would have apparently decided to start killing animals due to Adam’s sin. Rather, he turns to Romans 8:20-22 and a bit of exegesis in order to draw out this point.

Writes Breeden, “The passage referenced [Romans 8:20-22] notes that all of creation has come under the bondage of corruption. It also admits that the whole of creation was not made subject to this futility willingly, which admits the point that it suffers but not of any decision it made itself. So why was it made bondage to decay, so that the whole of creation groans and travails in pain until now?”

Again, as I read this, I note that there is nothing here which states that animals did not die before the fall. Rather, as will be seen shortly, it seems the YEC control belief that animals could not have died before the fall forces this interpretation of the passage. Note that Rev. Breeden’s own words say that creation is subject to bondage and decay. There is nothing which mentions the explicit death of animals suddenly starting to occur post-fall.

Moving on, he writes, “The answer is found in Genesis 1:28, where God gave dominion over all creation to Adam. This is the answer to Wartick’s objection and to the more common atheist objection that God is unjust for making the rest of us culpable for Adam’s sin: just as when a kingdom suffers for the actions of its king, all of creation [including animals and humanity itself] suffered for the sin of the one who had been given dominion over them.”

Now this is the exact response one astute reader of the original post gave, and I admitted that this does seem to have some plausibility (of course my admission to plausibility was translated by Rev. Breeden into “So it appears his argument is refuted by his own admission…” which is hardly the case–again it seems that I am refused a fair hearing. But what is the problem with this interpretation? Let’s look at the verse in question, Genesis 1:28:

 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (NIV)

Does this verse establish a link between Adam’s death and animal death? I do not see how it does, at all. In fact, one could just as plausibly read it in conjunction with Romans 8:20-22 to show that mankind’s fallen state has lead to a misuse of man’s dominion over the earth which has indeed subjected it to decay and ruin–as anyone who does research on our impact on the environment could attest to. Such a reading does no damage to the text. Adam’s fall led to the corruption and decay of the earth due to Adam’s subjugation and dominion over it.

As pointed out by GeoChristian, the passages YECs cite to support their  contentions only lead to this support if one assumes YEC is correct to begin with. And here again we see that the reading of Genesis 1:28 in conjunction with Romans 8:20-22 is linked to animal only by the control belief that animal death is the consequence of the fall. The verses don’t say anything about animal death; that is simply read into the text.

Thus, it seems to me that despite my initial nod to the potential plausibility of this response, the texts that YECs use to support it do not offer anything near the robustness of the link between Adam’s dominion and animals’ death that is required for their position.

Moving on with the ad hominiems, we find that:

“For example, he [I, J.W. Wartick] suggests that a traditional orthodox reading of the text is incorrect and must be modified. This impugns the doctrine known as the perspicuity of Scripture, for he suggests that the traditional reading of Genesis is unclear; it also suggests a form of neo-Gnosticism, for it suggests that the Scriptures cannot be understood without an understanding of 21st century science.  While he claims that his argument shows that the traditional Biblical interpretation of Genesis is morally impermissible, he admits that his argument is partly a reaction to [dare I say, rebellion against] the point that a compromise with extraBiblical millions of years requires pre-Fall animal death, and that, as he notes, ‘animal death before the fall makes God morally questionable.'”

I would like the Reverend Breeden to point out where I made these assertions. Nowhere have I suggested that a “traditional orthodox reading of the text is incorrect” (unless one assumes that the YEC reading is the traditional, orthodox reading, contrary to evidence that as far back as Augustine, this has not been the required reading). Further, I do not suggest that reading Genesis is unclear. I have nowhere done this. Nor do I endorse neo-Gnosticism.

I noted on his blog that there seemed to be at least one subtle ad hominem in his post (and one seemingly can’t deny the string of unestablished claims about my Christian character above) and the Rev Breeden responded, saying “This is not an attack on you personally, but on your presuppositions, which begin with man’s fallible ideas rather than the Bible…”

I must object and point out this is simply false. One can’t help but notice several points throughout the post where Rev Breeden poisons the well regarding my character. A quick survey: “If you’re reading that from an orthodox Christian worldview [contrasted with my worldview]…”; “we can firmly establish that he’s [meaning me, J.W.] not starting with the Bible as his ultimate authority”; “if he were to examine the consequences of his own worldview, he would come to some troubling conclusions” [again suggesting that I am not an orthodox Christian]; “your [my, J.W.’s] presuppositions, which begin with man’s fallible ideas rather than the Bible” [in other words, I am accused of not taking the Bible as authoritative (again)]; “I would expect an apologist to recognize the difference between an ad hominem and a critique of one’s starting points” [a not-so-subtle hint that I am an inadequate apologist].

I’ll let the reader decide here. Read through my site, and notice that I defend the inerrancy of the Bible; that I argue for the existence of God; affirm the deity of Christ; have defended the Trinity against errors; have continually attacked naturalism; etc. Contrast that with Rev Breeden’s comments, in which he implies repeatedly that I am not orthodox, that I am “oblivious” to the Bible, and that I do not use Scripture as a starting point for my theology.

Frankly, I’m insulted, but I’m here going to publicly offer my forgiveness to the Reverend Breeden for his hopefully unintentional poisoning of the well in regards to my character. If he wishes to continue this dialog, I’d be happy to do so… but only provided he abstains from insulting my character in the process.

Conclusion

To sum up my answer to this criticism. First, my argument clearly has not been answered by “Defending Genesis.” As I pointed out, the majority of the criticisms were in fact just thinly veiled (if at all) insults, for which I have offered forgiveness. The substantive part of the critique focused upon a few verses for which I’ve pointed out at least one alternative, and which I have noted do not, in fact, establish the point that “Defending Genesis” attempted to make. I pointed out that only with the assumed truth of the control belief that animal death is the result of the fall will those verses be read as YECs do. I noted that the case for linking animal death to Adam’s dominion is not nearly as robust as it would have to be in order to establish the link YECs hope to establish.

Thus, it seems my argument has not been refuted. It still seems that if we grant the YEC control belief that animal death is inherently bad and link it to the fact (granted by “Defending Genesis”) that animals are not moral agents then we find that according to the theological tenants of YEC, God unjustly punishes animals.

Finally, I have made an appeal to those in this debate to stay away from personal attacks. I have demonstrated that I have already weathered some of these, but have offered my forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ for these  personal attacks. Going forward, I hope these can be avoided.

Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:R%C3%B8d_r%C3%A6v_(Vulpes_vulpes).jpg

Animal Death?- A Response to AiG Critique of My Argument

I recently wrote a post called “A theological argument against young earth creationism.” In it, my stated claim was “YEC is morally impermissible…” Why? Because “on YEC, animals died because of Adam’s sin…” not because of anything they themselves did. This argument is intended to use the YEC assumption that animal death is an inherently bad thing against them. Let’s outline the argument:

1. If animals did not die before the fall, then their death must be the result of sin.

2. Animals are incapable of sinning (they are not morally responsible agents)

3. Therefore, animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin.

The argument as it stands contains a few assumptions which I’ve found in YEC literature. 1) Animals did not die before the fall; 2) Death is inherently a bad thing; 3) all physical death is the result of sin. Now a denial of these assumptions can undermine my argument; I grant that. My point is that if one holds to these three assumptions, my argument shows that YEC is morally impermissible.

Now, Answers in Genesis has provided a critique of my argument, and I must say that I’m very appreciative of their interaction on this important topic. Elizabeth Mitchell wrote the entry, check out her critique, in its entirety, here (under the “And don’t miss…” section). Let me examine the criticism below. (I recommend reading my entire post prior to this one in order to have proper interaction with it.)

First, Mitchell wrote, that my post “…attempts to show young earth creationism is wrong by demonstrating death documented in the fossil record preceded human sin and was unrelated to it.”

I admit I was a bit befuddled when I read this, because nowhere in my post did I try to “demonstrate death document in the fossil record preceded human sin…” I’m not sure where this claim was made in my original post. I don’t mention the fossil record anywhere in the original post and so I’m a bit concerned by this apparent misreading of my article.

Then, she wrote, “He cites no Scripture…” Indeed, I did not cite a single Scripture passage. However, the argument is directly based upon the assertions that some YECs make. But what kind of rebuttal is it to say “He cites no Scripture…” anyway? An argument must be dealt with whether it has Bible passages in it or not.

The argument itself is based upon the logic of the YEC argument against old earth positions. The picture to the right here demonstrates pictorially the view most YECs present of old earth positions–that animal death before the fall makes God morally questionable (image credit to AiG, accessed here). For example, premise 1 is backed up by this quote from the AiG critique: “the connection between Adam’s sin and animal death…” Premise 2 is indeed mostly an assumption, but I think it is one that most Christians would grant. Animals are not on the same level as humans; they are not moral agents made in God’s image. Three is again backed up by the quote I put above; the AiG (and more generally, YEC) argument assumes that all death is the result of Adam’s sin.

Now, AiG does claim that the Bible backs up this position. They wrote, that I “[seem] oblivious toRomans 8:20–22, which explains the connection between Adam’s sin and animal death” (Mitchell, cited below). Well no, I’m not oblivious to Romans 8:20-22, which makes no mention of animal death. In fact, the word “death” is not even used in the passage. Thus, it looks like this an inference from Scripture, not an obvious connection. And an inference is subject to presuppositions. The YEC presupposition is that animals did not die before the fall, so of course their inference will lead to a reading of Romans 8 in light of that presupposition.

Mitchell argues in regard to my statement, “The post on Answers in Genesis hints that it is because animals are cursed due to the serpent’s deception of Adam and Eve,” that “…we [AiG] teach no such thing” (Mitchell, cited below). That’s fair, and I appreciate the clarification. The reason was that I read the following quote on the original post I was working from: “The first recorded death and passages referring to death as a reality came with sin in Genesis 3 when the serpent, Eve, and Adam all were disobedient to God” (Hodge, cited below).  The wording here does seem to at least “hint” at a connection between the serpent and the rest of animal death, but I could be mistaken here and I’m fine with that.

To sum up, my argument was based upon rather firmly established YEC assumptions. That animals did not die before the fall is argued throughout YEC literature, and both posts I cite have this idea in them. That animal death is due to the sin of Adam is demonstrated in the AiG response to my post. That animal death is somehow inherently bad is shown in the picture above as well as throughout YEC literature. For just one example, Bodie Hodge wrote, in the article I was originally linking (cited below), “God gave the command in Genesis 2:16–17 that sin would be punishable by death. This is significant when we look at the big picture of death. If death in any form was around prior to God’s declaration in Genesis 1:31 that everything was ‘very good,’ then death would be very good too—hence not a punishment at all.” But just from these three theses I can construct my argument (as above) which leads to the conclusion:

“Animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin…” (on the YEC position).

And, as I argued in my original post, this seems to undermine the goodness of God on YEC, for “the animals didn’t do anything. One day, they were happily living potentially infinitely long lives, eating plants, and doing their animal things. The next day, Adam sinned, and so God decides to start killing them all… not because they themselves sinned” (here).

So, given the assumptions that YECs make, I have constructed an argument that shows their own position is morally impermissible. What does this entail? I suggest it entails that the reading of the texts that YECs present is incorrect and must be modified. I suggested a few ways to do this in the original post, so I won’t repeat them here. Ultimately, it seems my original post has not been refuted.

Sources

Bodie Hodge, “Biblically, Could Death Have Existed before Sin?” Answers in Genesis. 2010. Accessible here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/03/02/satan-the-fall-good-evil-could-death-exist-before-sin

Elizabeth Mitchell, “News to Note, March 17, 2012.” Answers in Genesis. Accessible here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/03/17/news-to-note-03172012.

J.W. Wartick, “Animal Death?- A Theological Argument Against Young Earth Creationism.” 2012. Accessible here: https://jwwartick.com/2012/03/12/against-yec-theology/.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Animal Death?- A Theological Argument Against Young Earth Creationism

[Answers in Genesis recently posted a critique of this article. I have responded here.] I have explored extensively the varied positions within Christianity about the origins and diversity of life. I come from a background in which I was a young earth creationist for quite some time, but my research has caused me to reject this position in favor of another. Those reading this article, please understand I do not wish to denigrate or devalue those who are young earth creationists (hereafter YEC and YECs). I appreciate that many who are YEC are doing their work in the field because they feel it is closest to the Biblical position and that they often believe science supports their view. That said, I cannot agree. In the following, I present a theological argument against the YEC position.

One of the theological arguments YECs use against other Christian positions (such as Intelligent Design or Theistic Evolutionism) is that it would imply death before the fall. I tried to track down an explicit syllogistic form of this argument and couldn’t find any in the literature with which I am familiar, however the argument is everywhere presented. For example, Ken Ham writes in The New Answers Book 1:

The book of Genesis teaches that death is the result of Adam’s sin… and that all of God’s creation was ‘very good’ upon its completion… But if we compromise the history of Genesis by adding millions of years, we must believe that death and disease were part of the world before Adam sinned… How could a God of love allow such horrible processes as disease, suffering, and death for millions of years as part of his ‘very good’ creation? (36)

Elsewhere, we can find statements like this: “The Bible tells us very clearly that there was no death before sin from many passages. In fact, there are no Bible verses indicating there was death prior to sin.”

Now it is not my point in this post to cite every disagreement I have with such arguments (there are a great deal of them), but rather to show that the implications of an argument like this are absurd. One immediate problem with the argument is that it begs the question in the opening sentence by smuggling in a hidden premise. Namely, the notion that all death is the result of sin, as opposed to the death of mankind or a kind of spiritual death. Further, note the conflation of the terms in the second quote–just because there are no Bible verses which show there was death before sin, it does not follow that the Bible teaches that there was no death before sin. But those parts aside, I wish to show that this argument from YECs actually works against their position.

Suppose we lay out the argument:

  1. Death is the result of sin.
  2. If YEC is false, then things died before sin.
  3. Therefore, if YEC is false, God is unjust.

Now I know this is not the full argument. There are many premises I have left unstated, but it seems that is the gist of the passage cited from Ham. Why do I find this problematic? Well, it seems that the logic is that if death happened because of sin, then animals would not have died before the fall. But if that is the case, then why do animals die after the fall? The post on Answers in Genesis hints that it is because animals are cursed due to the serpent’s deception of Adam and Eve (cited below). One is still forced to wonder why all animals are cursed because a serpent–Satan–deceived Adam and Eve. Thus we are led to the following argument:

  1. If animals did not die before the fall, then their death must be the result of sin.
  2. Animals are incapable of sinning. (They have no culpability.)
  3. Therefore, their death would have to be the result of morally culpable agents’ sins.

But this argument, it seems, shows that YEC is morally impermissible. For on YEC, animals died because of Adam’s sin. The animals themselves didn’t do anything. One day, they were happily living potentially infinitely long lives, eating plants, and doing their animal things. The next day, Adam sinned, and so God decides to start killing them all, putting countdowns on their lifespans. But why? Because Adam sinned, not because they themselves sinned. Thus, animals, through no culpability of their own, suffered the punishment of death for Adam’s sin. This seems to be morally impossible.

Now it seems the YEC position could be modified to get around this argument, but it would have to drop the argument against the other positions that death could not have happened before the fall. The modification would essentially have to hold that animals were part of the natural world which lived and died. Or, the YEC position could charge that animals were moral agents, but that would seem absurd. Finally, the YEC position could hold that, somehow, the serpent’s culpability transferred to all other animals, but that would seem extremely difficult as well, particularly because the serpent is Satan.

The argument,  therefore, has been that animals are not morally culpable because they are not moral agents. Because that is the case, if they died due to sin, it was through not fault of their own. This would make God seem unjust if He caused animal death due to Adam’s fall. I’ve noted that YECs can avoid this injustice, but only by dropping the argument that Ham and others use against other positions.

There have been some interesting reactions to this article, and some of them are confusing my argument. What I’d like to note is this post is written from a perspective inside of YEC. In other words, I’m using the presuppositions of YEC against itself. What I’m not doing is personally saying that the death of animals is a morally impermissible state of affairs. What I am doing is saying that, on YEC, they assert it is morally impermissible, and so they have to accept the consequences of that argument.

Finally, I’d like to note that even if readers are unconvinced by this argument, they still must contend with other theological problems with YEC. For example, the notion that YEC makes God a deceiver. For this and other reasons I am no longer a YEC.

But what of the argument itself from YEC? What of the argument that there cannot be death before the fall? I urge readers to check out the following post over at geocreationism: Death before the fall — an old-Earth Biblical perspective. See also Luke Nix’s phenomenal post on the topic, “Cartoons, Animal Death, and Theology.”
Image Credit- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:R%C3%B8d_r%C3%A6v_(Vulpes_vulpes).jpg image by Malene

Sources

Answers in Genesis, “Biblically, Could Death Have Existed Before Sin?” – http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/03/02/satan-the-fall-good-evil-could-death-exist-before-sin

Ken Ham, The New Answers Book 1 (Green Forest, Arizona: Answers in Genesis, Master Books, 2006).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,718 other followers

Archives

Like me on Facebook: Always Have a Reason