Showing posts with label young earth creationism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label young earth creationism. Show all posts

Varieties of Scientific Creationism

This article is reprinted from the Spring 86 ish of THE JOURNAL OF FAITH AND THOUGHT. Other articles in that ish include A.J. Mattill's Jr.'s "A Zoo-Full of Monsters" --examining inerrantist explanations of Scripture, and Richard Tierney's "Giants in the Earth?" -- another look at the Paluxy footprint evidence. For a copy of that particular issue, contact FAITH AND THOUGHT, First Baptist Church of Montclair, Church Street and Trinity Place, Montclair, New Jersey 07042.

Concentric Creationists
In Dante's Inferno the Poet told of his journey deep into the bowels of the earth, past a number of circular terraces, each encompassing the next, and each deeper than the one before, viz., the "circles" of hell. The torments suffered by the sinners in each circle increased with the depth of their habitations. ("How deep is my suffering" took on a surprisingly literal meaning in Dante's eyes.) "Scientific" creationism is like Dante's Inferno in that it has many levels capable of accomodating a variety of "heretics" vis-a-vis scientific orthodoxy, who willingly choose to "suffer" for their "unbelief". Some, of course, suffer more than others. . . .

Beginning at the bottommost circle lie the flat earthers (The International Flat Earth Research Society of America) who view the Bible as a textbook that supports only "flat earth science". The president of the Flat Earth Research Society, Charles K. Johnson, denounces modern scientists as "witchdoctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales. . .and Pathological Liars", and refers to ordinary fundamentalist Christians as "atheists"! On the other hand, his society is so sensitive to rebuke that to receive their literature you must sign a statement that affirms your aim is "not to harm, degrade, or defame this Society".

The circle above the flat earthers contains the immovable earthers (The Tychonian Society), who view the Bible as a textbook of "geocentric astronomy". They, at least, are on dialogue terms with their heliocentric creationist cousins (see below). In fact the latest creationist convention, held in Cleveland, Ohio, 1985, was hosted by two geocentrists! In their opinion, visualizing the sun as lying at the center of the planets is an echo of ancient pagan sun worship and denies the clear words of Scripture that depict the earth's primacy in creation, its immobility, and the sun's movement.

The circle above the immovable earthers contains the young earthers (Institute for Creation Research, etc.), who accept the sun's central status, but deny that the earth could be much more than ten thousand years old. These creationists, like their immovable earth cousins, enjoy denouncing the paganistic, atheistic, humanistic errors of modern man, and his lack of trust in that revealed scientific textbook, the Bible.

The circle above the young earthers contains the old earth creationists. They accept a sun-centered system of vast astronomical age and thus do not deny modern science's view of man's place in space and time. However. they are quick to point out that evolutionary connections between major forms of life are theoretical, not proven, and therefore modern science must be adjusted to the teaching of that scientific textbook, the Bible, at this point. This group appears to be the most congenial; at least they are able to dialogue with modern scientists without using as many heated adjectives as the previous groups.

To sum up our gallery of anti-evolutionists: flat earthers believe in a flat earth, only a few thousands of years old, and at the center of the universe. Geocentrical or immovable marchers simply drop flatness from this cosmology. Young earthers drop flatness and geocentricity. Old earthers drop even the recent date of creation, and only maintain that over however long a period, the various species of life were discretely created, not evolved from one another. The circles of creationism end here because to rise any farther out of the pit of modern scientific "perdition" requires that you view the Genesis creation account "mythically", or "allegorically", and thus, no longer as a scientific textbook.

A Book that Speaks "Clearly" about Creation
All creationist groups appeal to the Bible as their chief source of scientific data. Flat earthers quote from it. So do immovable earthers (geocentrists), young earthers, and old earthers. Further more, they all quote from it with equal authority and equal dignity, being equally unconvinced by competing interpretations. Yet how can all of these creationist interpretations come from the same book?

To answer this question, let us journey back to when ancient man had no telescopes, skylabs, or even Newtonian laws of gravitation to lead him. He had his eyes. And he looked out at the horizon, and it appeared flat. He looked up toward heaven and it appeared stretched out above the earth, meeting the earth at the far horizons. We know from a Babylonian map of the world, inscribed on an ancient clay tablet, that the Babylonians pictured the earth as a flat disc surrounded by water ("the bitter river"). Above this disc, according to the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish lay a solid heavenly dome. Ancient Egyptian iconography agrees in depicting a round, flat earth surmounted by Nut (the firmament) whose fingers and toes rested, respectively, on the far eastern and western horizons. The ancient Greek poet Homer agreed with this flat earth view, but imagined the giant Atlas bearing the sky on his shoulders.

It is the opinion of modern biblical scholars that flat earth passages in the Bible reflect the equally ancient conceptions outlined above. Later, when science rejected flatness in favor of sphericity, theologians began to explain away and "reinterpret" Bible verses implying flatness. However, verses referring to the earth's "firm foundation", and the sun's movement were interpreted literally since they supported the earth-centered astronomy of the Middle Ages. Subsequently, when geocentricity fell prey to heliocentricity, the earth-centered verses, too, were explained away. This left only young earth creationist verses, which, of course, old earth creationists explain away. How this explaining away process works in practice is the subject of the following sections.

How to Explain Away Flat Earthism
Example 1: Daniel 4:10, 11 tells us that there was a tree in the midst (or center) of the earth, and its height was great. . . it reached to the sky, and was visible to the end of the whole earth". Obviously, such visibility implies a flat earth. However, this verse may be explained away as depicting a "mere dream" of Daniel's, viz., a "metaphorical image" of the extent of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom. (However, the fact that flat earth imagery surprised no one, least of all, Daniel, also implies that it was taken for granted.)

Example 2: Isaiah 42:5 tells us that at creation God "spread out the earth"--the Hebrew verb for "spread" being used elsewhere in Scripture to depict a "flattening" or "pounding". Also, if the earth was not "spread out", but "rolled up tightly like a ball" at creation, the writer could have said so. We find the requisite Hebrew construction in Isaiah 22:18, where a man is "rolled up tightly like a ball." Round earth creationists at this point usually change the subject by concentrating their "scientific" attentions on another verse of Isaiah, "He who sits above the circle of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22), which they say implies a spherical earth. (It doesn't. Isaiah's "circle" more than likely reflects ancient notions of a flat circular earth, outlined above. Read Isaiah 40:22 in complete context, and study these other verses: "Who stretched out the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth" (51:13). "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars" (14:13). Thus the earth has "foundations", the heavens are stretched out", a heavenly throne may lie "above the stars", and God sits above. . .the earth". That is not spherical-earth language. Moreover, there is an obvious link between Isaiah's "circle of the earth" and the "circle" inscribed at creation on the flat surface of the waters in Job 26:10 and Probers 8:27.)

Example 3: Isaiah 11:12 declares, "Gather (them) from the four corners of the earth", and Revelation 7:1 adds, "I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth". Young earth creationist Henry Morris suggests that rather than "corners", a more precise translation of the Hebrew is "four quarters of the earth", which "simply means the four directions". This of course, begs the question of why four (presumably flat) directions (North, South, East, and West) remained the norm for the ancient Hebrews, even to the extent of a psalmist rejoicing, "He removes our transgressions from us, as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12), which, on the globe, is not very far.

Example 4: Matthew 4:8 tells us that "The devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory." One could see all the kingdoms of the world from a very high mountain--if the world were flat. This verse has been explained away as a "vision" of all the world's kingdoms, received on a very high mountain. However, such a "vision" would have been received equally well on the plains, so why did the devil "take Jesus" anywhere special?

Example 5: Throughout Scripture the shape and construction of the earth is assumed to resemble that of a building, having a firm foundation: and a roof or canopy: "He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter, forever and ever" (Psalm 104: 5). "The world is firmly established, it will not be moved." (Psalm 93: 1). "For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he set the world on them" (I Samuel 2:8). "It is I who have firmly set its pillars" (Psalm 75:3). "Who stretched out the heavens. . .and established the world" (Jeremiah 10:12). "Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in" (Isaiah 40:22). "Stretching our heaven like a tent curtain" (Psalm 104:1,2). "In the heavens. . . . in the true tabernacle (tent), which the Lord pitched, not man" (Hebrews 8:2-3). "The One who builds his upper chambers in the heavens, and has founded his vaulted dome over the earth" (Amos 9:6). "Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament" (Psalm 150:1). Creationists other than flat earthers view these verses as "metaphorically" true. However, that begs the question of why the Bible's authors relied exclusively on flatness "metaphors". Why no roundness metaphors, and no plain declarations that the earth's shape and construction was that of a sphere?

As readers may have noticed by now, it is impossible to demonstrate the superiority of a "spherical" interpretation in any of the above cases. Indeed, those who reject flat earth representations focus their biblical attention elsewhere, a favorite verse being Job 26:7 "He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing"-the Hebrew means literally, "without anything", or "on nothing", and thus may be paraphrased, "without support other than God himself". Foes of the flat earth emphasize the difference between this verse and ancient Hindu cosmology wherein a flat earth was supported on a turtle's back, which swam on the back of an elephant, which stood on the back of something else, ad infinitum, proving that a flat earth requires supports ad infinitum. However, leaving Hindu mythology aside, the ancient Egyptians, who were also flat earthers, did not feel the need for supports ad infinitum. An ancient Egyptian ideogram actually portrays a single eye, connected with two hands and feet--representing ka a personal power--directly supporting a flat earth disc. i.e., without further assistance. Other Egyptian texts speak of divine power as the support of all things", and an Egyptian god claims, "I laid the foundations of all things by my will". Khepra, another Egyptian god, "conceived a place to stand . . . he uttered its name, the standing place at once came into being." Thus, Egyptian flat earth notions only differed from Job's verse in answering the question of Who. . . .hangs the earth on nothing, or without anything! Cf. Proverbs 30:4 "Who has established all the ends of the earth?" "He (Yahweh) . . . hangs the earth, without anything, on nothing!" (Job 26:7). "He established the world by his wisdom; and by his understanding he has stretched out heaven" (Jeremiah 10:12).

Notice that Job 26:7 neglects to mention the earth's shape while other verses from Job declare, "(God's) measure is longer than the earth" (11:7, 9); "Who stretched the line on (the earth)?" (38:5) and "He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens" (28:24), all of which imply a flat earth.

Ancient Notions of the "Circle Of The Earth"

Babylonian World Map
Babylonian World Map and its Reconstruction

Babylonian World Map

Above the earth disc (which is drawn is seen from on high) lies the firmament (a pair of wings, and a goddess with outstretched arms, Nut). Both earth and firmament are overshadowed by the gargantuan body of Nu, who was the prototype of the great world-ocean which later ancient nations believed to surround Creation, as indeed she does in this pictograph. The earth disc is upheld by a sign whose feet and eye identify it as a personal power, ka. This earth disc is composed of three major rings -- the two outermost rings contain symbols that represent 'desert,' 'jackals,' 'subdued foreign lands,' and 'tomb,' while the innermost ring is filled with forty-one signs (standards) of the Egyptian nomes. It therefore signifies Egypt, lying at the center of the earth -- Othmar Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World
(The Seabury Press: 1978), pp. 37-39 & 42.
"Poseidon, the world-circler. . . We had attained the ends of the earth and its encircling river of Ocean. . . Here an endless night is spread over its melancholy people" --Homer, The Odyssey "I smile when I see many persons describing the circumference of the earth, who have no sound reason to guide them. they describe the ocean flowing round the earth, which is made circular as if by a lathe, and make Asia equal to Europe." -- Herodotus (Ancient Greek Historian and Explorer), Histories IV, 39 (Circa 500 B.C.)

Egyptian World Map

But one fact that defeats all efforts to use Job 26:7 to prove sphericity is that Job was rebuked by God for opening his mouth in the first place! Compare the verses below:

Job Spouting Wisdom to His Friends

(Chapter 26)


(5) The departed spirits tremble under the waters and their inhabitants.

(6) Naked is Sheol before him and Abaddon (place of destruction) has no covering.

(7) He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth without anything, on nothing.

God Later Rebuking Job

(Chapter 38)


(16) Have you entered into the of the sea? Or have you walked in the recesses of the deep?

(17) Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

(18) Have you understood (or examined) the expanse of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this!

Other questions God asked Job were, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth's (38:4); "On what were its bases sunk?" (38: 6) (Cf. "If the . . . foundations of the earth (can be) searched out below, then I will cast off . . . Israeli (Jeremiah 31:37).)

Obviously, Job 26:7 is a questionable proof of sphericity. Yet that is the key verse quoted by opponents of a flat earth interpretation of Scripture! Further attempts to discover spherical passages in the Bible are even less convincing. For instance, creationist Henry Morris asserts that another verse in Job implies the rotation of the earth: "(The earth) is turned as clay to the seal" (Job 38:14--King James Version). Morris says, "The figure, in context, is of a clay vessel being turned on a wheel to receive the design imprinted upon it by a seal or signet, like the earth as it turns into the dawning sun, gradually revealing the intricate features on its surface." Of course this "rotating earth" interpretation of Job 38:14 is very modern (neither Luther nor Calvin, nor Mediaeval scholars in general knew of it). Moreover, Morris relies on the KJV translation without acknowledging that other translations do not fit his interpretation:

*It is turned as clay to the seal"--King James Version
"It is changed like clay under the seal" --Revised Standard Version

And, in context. . .

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal:
And they stand forth like a garment
And from the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken
(--New American Standard Version of Job 38:12-15)

According to these translations the earth is not turned like clay to the seal (KJV), but changed like clay under the seal (RSV and NASB), the clay most likely being in the form of an ancient writing tablet whose contours were changed under the seal of some magistrate, and not a clay vessel (cf. Morris) turned to the seal. Furthermore, there is evidence that in those days the Babylonians used cylindrical seals rolled on stationary clay. Either way, Morris' unique interpretation of Job 38:14 appears far from proven.

Another argument of Morris' is that Luke 17:34-36 implies "both the roundness and rotation of the earth." Speaking of Jesus' second coming, the passage states, "In that night, there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women will be grinding together. . . Two men shall be in the field". "In other words", says Morris, "this great event will take place instantaneously at night, in the morning. and in the afternoon. Such a combination would be possible only on an earth in which day and night could be occurring simultaneously, and that means a rotating earth suspended in space". what Morris fails to notice is that Jesus' dictum that "No one knows the day or the hour" inspired Luke's bedtime illustration. The point is, depending on when it happens, it might be like this, or like that. Besides, Morris' argument was not proposed as such till after the rotation of the earth became an accepted fact. If here as elsewhere on Morris' reading, the biblical texts teach modern cosmology, why did the church never notice it until the era of modern astronomy?

In conclusion, a flat earth interpretation of the Bible is not easily explained away. It remained popular even as late as A.D. 548 when a Christian monk, Cosmas Indicopleustes, composed one of the first "Bible-science" textbooks, Christian Topography, the first chapter of which was dedicated, "To those who, while professing Christianity, believe like the heathen, that the heavens are spherical". (Cosmas, by the way, quoted Job 26:7 in his manuscript in favor of a flat earth!) Even today. the International Flat Earth Society continues to publish its newsletter, which includes Bible quotations similar to the ones discussed above. plus "scientific" reasons why people are fooled into believing that the earth is a sphere. They remind readers that believers in a flat earth have existed for over six thousand years, the extent of recorded history, and that the basis of the Real Christian Religion is that Jesus died, was resurrected, and then ASCENDED UP to HEAVEN ABOVE. But if the pagan idiocy. the 'Grease Ball' theory is true, then there is no UP, no HEAVEN, no ABOVE! And what interest could God have with a speck of dust among billions of bigger and better specks?"

How to Explain Away Geocentrism
Geocentrists get around flat earth interpretations by assuming beforehand that the Holy Spirit did not mean to teach flat earth science. How you answer the flat earth question thus depends on how much modern science you are willing to accept, and not on which biblical interpretation is superior. Geocentrists quote from the same Bible, a flat-earth-centered book, but explain away the flatness verses as metaphors, accepting only the earth-centered ones literally.

Example 1: Ecclesiastes 1:5 tells us that "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose". So, according to Scripture, the sun moves. Read the Ecclesiastes verse again; it couldn't be plainer. Scripture also asserts that the earth stays put, or as John Calvin commented on Psalm 93 verse 1, "By what means could it (the earth) maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it? Accordingly the particle, aph, denoting emphasis, is introduced--'Yea, he hath established it (the earth)".

Or take another passage. Joshua 10:12-13 states, "Joshua . . . said in the sight of Israel, 'O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O
moon in the valley of Aijalon'. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their
enemies. . . So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about the whole day". One of Martin Luther's wily comments is appropriate here, "This man (Copernicus) wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but the sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth." Quite true! Joshua even commanded the sun to stand still at Gibeon, and the moon, in the valley of Aijalon, which suggests that he may have viewed them as diminutive bodies passing over specific valleys or geographical regions on earth!

Or take yet another passage. Psalm 19:4-6 depicts the sun "coming forth as a bridegroom from his chamber. . . rejoicing as a strong man to run its course. Its rising from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them". Notice that Scripture does not similarly depict the earth's movement, except during an earthquake, during which all creation shakes, both heaven and earth! Job's earth "hanging on nothing" also appears to sit quite solidly in place.

In view of the fact that the ancients did indeed believe that the sun moved across the heavens (e.g. the Egyptian "boat of the sun", or pictures of the Babylonian sun god rising from his mountain chamber and vaulting into the sky, and the ancient Greeks' astonishment when Anaxagoras suggested that the sun passing overhead may be as large as the Peloponnesus) it is not surprising to discover echoes of these beliefs in the Bible. The question is, how do nongeocentrists explain this away? Well, they explain them away the same way that geocentrists explain away the flat earth passages in Scripture, as "metaphors", or descriptions for "appearances' sake", and not to be taken literally. This of course disturbs the geocentrists who report "The only way one can know for sure whether or not geocentricism is true is to leave the universe, look back, and then return to report what's happening. Since only God's knowledge is of such immense scope, what the Bible says must be ultimately true. . . For if God cannot be taken literally when he writes of the rising of the sun, then how can he be taken literally when writing of the rising Son?

Example 2: Besides the sun's movement, the Bible also depicts the stars' movement: "From heaven fought the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera" (Judges 5:20). Of course to an earthbound observer the stars appear to follow wide circular courses through heaven each night. But another verse makes it clear that we are not dealing with mere appearances: "Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth (a constellation of stars) in their season (i.e., at the time of year they become visible, rising above the horizon), or can you guide the Bear (another constellation) with its children?" (Job 38:32). This is no mere appearance, for this verse states that God leads forth and guides the constellations (just as God is spoken of elsewhere as firmly establishing the earth). Leading and guiding are therefore actions that God performs. If God were teaching us that the earth moves, he would not have asked Job if he could lead forth or guide these constellations (in their season), but rather, if he could lead forth and guide the earth (in its season).

Again, speaking of a star's movement. Matthew 2:9 tells us that a star "went before (the wise men), till it came to rest over the place where the child was". This is the tiny traveling star of Bethlehem. (It should be noted tangentially that attempts to make Matthew's star a conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn would, contrary to the aims of apologists, tend to show that Matthew's account is mistaken, since he plainly viewed it as an actual star. And planetary conjunctions can no more move over the Judean countryside than stars can.)

Speaking further of the size of stars, notice what Mark 13:24-25 (Matthew 24:29) and Revelation 6:13-14 add: "The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken" (Mark); "And the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of heaven fell to earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale, the heavens vanished like a scroll that is rolled up" (Revelation). I've read that these verses depict meteorites (or atomic missiles!) and not stars falling to earth, since modern astronomy declares that even the smallest star is immensely larger than the earth. But if you explain away these verses that way, their power vanishes. For the point is not that the earth, a tiny planet, is being bombarded by meteors or bombs, but that God's creation is collapsing, the cosmos is coming to an end. This is precisely why God must create a new heaven (Revelation 21:1, 5). If anyone further disagrees that stars falling to earth cannot mean stars, he must also explain away Revelation 12:4 "His tail swept down a third of the stars," already visible, and not meteorites, which become visible only as they enter the atmosphere, in which case "one third of" has no meaning.

So the Bible speaks of the end of the cosmos in tiny-falling-stars language, exactly as it speaks of the beginning of the cosmos, i.e., the tiny sun, moon, and stars "made" on day four, and "set" in heaven for the earth's light, seasons, and days (Genesis 1:14-18). Indeed, what can be made of a creation account that has the earth created ahead of the sun, moon, and stars? It certainly does not favor notions of the earth's movement. For what might the earth have orbited while it waited for the sun to be made? The obvious conclusion is that the Bible favors geocentricism (or flat earthism).

In conclusion, a geocentric interpretation of the Bible is not easily explained away--Martin Luther and John Calvin remained strict geocentrists even during the advent of Copernican astronomy! Geocentrism remained popular as late as 1650, when the scientific consensus shifted to heliocentricity. And today it lives on in the form of the Tychonian Society. According to them, "Historians readily acknowledge that the Copernican Revolution spawned the bloody French and Bolshevik revolutions . . .set the stage for the ancient Greek dogma of evolution . . . led to Marxism and Communism . . . and is thus a small step to total rejection of the Bible and the precepts of morality and law taught therein". (Of course flat earthers' memories go back even further. For them, the evil was spawned once Christians accepted the ancient Greek dogma of a spherical earth.)

How to Explain Away Young Earth Creationism
Naturally, young earth creationists get around geocentric interpretations by assuming beforehand that the Holy Spirit did not mean to teach geocentric astronomy, just young earth geology. They quote from the same bible, a flat earth centered book, but explain away flat and earth-centered passages as "metaphorical", accepting literally only those dealing with time. For in their opinion the creation of all the various planets and stars in the cosmos revolved conveniently around man's weekly time schedule, measured to six earth-days. What young earthers do not seem to realize is that this opinion fits ancient flat earth centered interpretations of Scripture better than modern Copernican ones. A day or even week on earth is no longer of any central value since the earth no longer occupies the center of the cosmos. It is merely one of nine planets whose "days" (as they spin on their axis around the sun) all vary considerably in length, with earth days no longer being centrally important for the measurement of cosmic time. Indeed, more modern and acceptable forms of time and space measurement are the speed of light and radioactive decay constants, which are true no matter what planet you inhabit.

Creationists are always trying to show how these scientific constants vary, but such efforts do not avoid the laughter that their own belief in a precise six earth-day creation generates. earth-day creation generate. For daytimes or weekly times (i.e., approximately one quarter of the lunar cycle) experienced on earth naturally appear central to earth dwelling beings (but obviously not to the cosmos at large); just as the earth's situation in space appears central to earth dwellers gazing at celestial "movements" overhead, and the earth's flatness appears obvious to earth dwellers gazing at the horizon. In each case who is to decide which interpretation is of cosmic significance, or only of "apparent" significance? Was the cosmos--sun, moon, and stars, earth, etc.-created in six earth days? Did God really spend five of those days setting the earth in order, its waters, land, vegetation. animals, etc.. and spend only one earth day making the sun, moon, and stars? He didn't waste much time on the rest of the cosmos, did he?

Anyone who has studied young earth creationist interpretations of the Bible has noted that they, in turn, are just as difficult to explain away as flat earth and geocentric interpretations.

Example 1: Genesis chapter 1 states that God completed his creation in "six days", each consisting of "an evening and a morning", after which God "rested" on the "seventh day". Moreover, "God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation" (Genesis 2:3). Exodus 20:8-11 adds, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God. . .For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and sanctified it." The point of dividing the creation process into days, a feature that could easily be omitted without affecting the sense of the story, is to reinforce sabbath observance. These days of creation were therefore accepted as normal days of the week by the ancient Hebrews.

Old earth creationists, dissatisfied with such an interpretation, point out that the Hebrew terms for "day" and days are also used in scripture to depict indefinite periods of time, as in "the day(s) of" a particular king or patriarch, or the "day" in which God created The heavens and the earth (Genesis 2:4). Other verses declare that a "day" in the Lord's eyes may be a thousand years in man's (Psalm 90:4; Peter 3:8). So who knows how long one of God's "days" may be? Speaking of the establishment of a sabbath "day" of the week, old earthers add that God also established a sabbath year (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:3-7), and a jubilee sabbath--every seventy years (Leviticus 25: 8-17), which suggests that the emphasis on the sabbath is rest instead of the strict interpretation of days. In fact, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of entering into God's "rest", viz., the "seventh day" of creation, adding, "Since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he sets a certain day, 'Today'" (Hebrews 4:6-7a). So, the author of Hebrews employed an allegorical interpretation of the "seventh day" of the Genesis account.

Other questions raised by old earth creationists are (1) Since the sun was not made till "day four", and the length of a "day" on earth depends on its axis spinning in respect to, sun, how can we on its axis spinning in respect to the sun, how can we be certain of the length of the three pre-sun "days" in Genesis? And (2) since each "day" in the creation account is not a traditional Hebrew "day" measured from evening to evening, but from "evening to morning" (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), it could be that the account represents seven daily awakening or visions granted the author of Genesis. Thus, the "days" may have nothing to do with the duration of creation so much as with the "evening to morning" periods during which the visions were received. Moreover, the "evening and morning" in Genesis make a night, not a day, if one wants to press the literal interpretation of these two items.

Nevertheless, the attempts of old earth creationists to squeeze out an old earth interpretation from Scripture remain less convincing than the plain interpretation accepted by the ancient Hebrews themselves, as in Exodus 20, cited above. For the days in Genesis 1 are numbered, consecutive periods of light and darkness that add up to man's work week. That one of the Lord's days may be as one thousand years for man is true insofar as God stands above time, but this adds nothing to the plain interpretation of "days" in Genesis. Notice that on the fourth day the meaning is obvious literal, since the very purpose of the sun and moon is said to be to rule the "day" and "night". Old earth creationism would only appear reasonable if the Hebrew word olam (meaning "long, indefinite time") appeared in place of the Hebrew word for "day". And, though the author of Hebrews did cite the "seventh day" allegorically, this does not conflict with a literal belief in a "seventh day" of creation, nor does the existence of a sabbath year, or jubilee sabbath. These are all obviously intended as secondary applications of a literal original. And finally, there are no hints within the text that it is referring to a revelation received over a period of seven days.

A young earth creationist interpretation of the Bible is not easily explained away. And there are further difficulties with old earth creationism.

Old earth interpretations of Genesis 1 are of two major types, the Gap Theory and Day-Age Theories. According to the Gap Theory, the description of the "waste and void" earth in Genesis 1:2 is of an earth that "became" that way. This earth was God's first creation, which grew to be very old (as modern geology demonstrates), then was made "waste and void" by Satan. Gap theorists say that verses after Genesis 1:2 tell of the earth's recreation, which took six literal days. and occurred a few thousand years ago. This is quite a "gap" in the creation account; it is based primarily on an alternate translation of a single Hebrew verb: Gap theorists insist that Genesis 1: 2, on their reading, does not say that the earth "was" waste and void, but that it "became" waste and void. Notice, the gap between creations also swallows the entire geological past including Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon men found in the fossil record. Yet scripture says that Adam was the first man, and not a recreation of man (Genesis 2:4-7); Mark 10:6; Romans 5:12-14; I Corinthians 15:45; et al. And since the Gap Theory does not call into question the vast cosmological age and geological evidences of the "first" creation, we must suppose it took shape over vast ages of progressive creation, none of which the Bible mentions. However, the Bible has much to say about its "recreation" which took only six days!)

Recently, among old earth creationists, the Gap Theory has become less popular than Day-Age Theories. The first basic Day-Age Theory the Overlapping Day-Age Theory, assumes that the "evening and morning" of each days in Genesis 1 are purely symbolic of the "beginning and end" of vast creative periods that overlap in geological time. The "days" are thus interpreted as vast ages in which were created the earth, sun, moon, and stars (day 1), the earth's atmosphere and oceans (day 2). the earth's dry land and vegetation (day 3), the clearing of the earth's atmosphere to see the sun, moon, and stars (day 4), the earth's air and sea animals (day 5), the earth's land animals and man (day 6). (Obviously, even accepting such an interpretation, billions of years of cosmological time, and the formation of billions of stars and galaxies zip by on "day 2". And God's attention appears to be focused purely on the earth.)

The second basic Day-Age theory, the Modified Intermittent Day Age Theory, assumes that each "evening and morning" refers to an actual day that introduces a vast period of creative activity, till the next "introductory" day. The Day-Age sequences of this theory do not differ from those outlines above. (Notice that Day-Age theorists cannot admit that the "sun, moon . . .and stars" were "made" and "placed" in the heavens on "day four" (Genesis 1:16-17) since modern astronomy teaches that most stars and galaxies evolved far earlier than the midpoint of the earth's geologic ages. Besides, modern geology teaches that the sun and moon are certainly as old as the earth. Therefore, day-agers explain God's activity of "day four" as a "clearing of the atmosphere" to see the sun, moon, and stars, which they say were created on day one. However, the perspective behind the creation account is not that of an earthbound observer, i.e., one who sees the sun, moon, and stars through a "clearing atmosphere". Rather, the perspective is God's. He announces, let there be lights . . ." and God made the two great lights. . . the stars also, and God placed them in heaven, etc.)

Day-Age theorists also have to face difficulties caused by God's gift of green plants for food for every living creature. For the creation account states that after God made the beasts of the earth and man on day six, he gave man "every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food" (Genesis 1: 29-30). Thus, God's (land and sky) creatures were all vegetarians! Modern geology, on the other hand, teaches that flesh-eating creatures of land and sky have existed for hundreds of millions of years. For instance, fossil dung of prehistoric land animals, preserved because of the relative stability of its components, contains fragments of bone, teeth, and hair. Moreover, we know that the amount of strontium incorporated in the bones of vegetarians will be higher since the strontium concentration in the plants they eat is relatively high, while in carnivores the amount is lower, since they eat the vegetarians who have already concentrated the strontium in their bones (and no place else). Therefore, carnivores do not absorb as much strontium in their bones, even after chewing the vegetarian's bones, which are simply eliminated. By comparing levels of strontium found in fossil (bone) remains of sharp-toothed-clawed creatures (presumably carnivores) with flat-toothed-husky creatures (presumable vegetarians), we can clearly see that carnivorous animals long antedated man. Prehistoric tools like spear points, axe heads, etc., also support the contention that prehistoric man hunted live game. What then becomes of the Genesis statement that every green plant was given to every land and sky animal for food?

Perhaps the most untenable aspect of Day-Age Theories is their acceptance of the antiquity of man, plus the genealogical record in Genesis tracing man's ancestry to Adam. They suggest that gaps exist in the list of names of Adam's descendants, gaps that accommodate the geological date of man's earliest appearance on earth. This is a difficult accommodation since modern geology teaches that Archaic forms of Homo sapiens first appear about 500,000 years ago (the term covers a diverse group of skulls which have features of both Homo erectus and modern humans), while the genealogy in Genesis (chapters 5 and 11) contains only twenty names, i.e., from Adam (the first man), to Abraham ("historical" man). That’s an average "gap" between names of at least 25,000 years! But what conceivable purpose can there have been in carefully recording the age of each father at the birth of some unknown son who was then to be merely the remote ancestor of the next individual named on the list some 25,000 years in the future? Who ever heard of such a "genealogy?" Obviously, minor gaps may occur in the lists, such as we later find in Matthew’s selective genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17). But it is significant that the reliable historical records of ancient civilizations begin only a few thousand years ago (even as the biblical chronology of Genesis 5 and 11) and hence read without such lengthy "gaps." This would suggest by analogy that the genealogy in Genesis intends to chronicle a cosmos that is only a few thousand years old, going right back to Adam.

Thus, old earth creationism fails to satisfy both the Bible and modern science and falls into an unbridgeable "gap" of its own.

Bible-science? Or Concessions Made to Modern Science?
As we have seen, the Bible contains no unequivocal verses depicting the earth's sphericity, its movement, or its non-centrality in terms of cosmic time. Rather, the young earth's flat firm centrality is affirmed throughout the Bible. The arguments employed to explain away young-flat-earth-centered verses reflect increasing concessions made over the ages to advances in our knowledge of astronomy, geology, etc., rather than adherence to biblical teaching. Typically, the arguments for a spherical earth, a moving earth, and an old earth were "discovered" in Scripture only after each of those facts had been first established by scientific means. I hope to have demonstrated to my readers that only two consistent choices face Christians embroiled in the creation/evolution controversy: slipping down to the bottommost circle of pseudoscientific "hell" to join the flat earthers, who allow the Bible to speak for itself; or recognizing with theistic evolutionists that the prescientific cosmology of the Bible forms no part of its message of salvation.


Flat Earth
Cosmas Indicopleustes. ca. 550 A.D. Topographia Christiana.
Trans. J. W. McCrindle. London: Hakluyt Society (1897).

Flat Earth Newsletter. Lancaster, CA

Gerardus D. Bouw. Every Wind of Doctrine.
Bulletin of the Tychonian Society. Cleveland, OH

Young Earth
Henry M. Morris. The Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984.

Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA

Old Earth
Pattle Pu. Evolution: Nature and Scripture in Conflict?
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984.
Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute. Hatfield, PA

Theistic Evolution
Conrad Hyers. The Meaning of Creation Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press. 1984.

Theistic Evolutionists' Forum, Greenville, SC

Cosmologies and Cosmogonies of the Ancient Near East
Ed Babinski. Does the Bible Teach Scientific Creationism? 1984.

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Old Earth Creationism and Scientific Journey from Faith

"Did you pass through an extended 'old-earth' Progressive Creationism stage? If so, what OEC/PC books did you read during that stage, and what were your main problems with them?"

"I went from young-earth to old-earth, and accepting common ancestry." I did change from young to old-earth, and also went from special creation to accepting evidence for common ancestry.

Glenn Morton was someone I knew who had struggled greatly over the age of the earth question for over a decade, along with ways to still interpret Gen. 1 in a scientific fashion. Glenn mentions in his testimony that his faith in the Bible was saved when he ran across the "Proclamation Day" concordancy explanation in a book by old-earth creationist Alan Hayward, CREATION AND EVOLUTION. Even today Glenn continues to argue for a concordancy between the Bible and history, as in the link he clams exists between the flood story mentioned in Genesis and the flood that geologists say catastrophically filled the Mediterranean basin. In fact his views in FOUNDATION, FALL, AND FLOOD "are much different from anything published by either theistic evolutionists or progressive creationists. The most important thing about my current views is what they offer to the young earth creationist. They can accept the entirety of modern science and still have what they want : an historical Bible." [from Glenn's "bio" sent to me via e-mail 10/1995]

Glenn Morton claims he is neither a theistic evolutionist, nor a progressive creationist, but remains a believer in a concordancy between the Bible and history.

"how long was it (i.e., a day? a week? a month? a year? that you went through an 'old-earth stage', i.e. believed in Old-Earth *Creation.*"

Speaking seriously, my "old-earth stage" (to again use your words) wasn't a "stage" at all, neither did it "drag on" (as I already admitted ironically), but it WAS part of my "intellectual journey."

I first pondered old-earth creationism and its attendant concordist hypotheses when I was a young-earther, at which time they made little sense, since there seemed little necessity for harmonizations between the Bible and modern geology if the earth was young and the items mentioned on each day were specially created. The Bible spoke of six distinct days, and told us in plain words what was made on each one. In my creationist studies I did run across and read old-earth creationist books by Dan Wonderly (his first book, God's Time Records in Ancient Sediments discussed his harmonization of the Bible and science in the rear). Alan Hayward's "Proclamation Day" view is one I learned of later. I already knew about "day-age" and "gap" hypotheses. I also recall having read a book by old-earth creationist Pattle Pun, and I subscribed to the ASA journal (containing articles by Christian old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists). But my ponderings did not lead me down either the Stephen-sian, nor the Morton-ian roads to concord between Genesis 1 and science. Here's what happened along my intellectual journey, I ran across articles by "creationist-watcher" Robert Schadewald who alluded to "flat earth" verses in the Bible (If you type both Robert Schadewald and flat earth into google you'll find that several of his articles have found their way onto the web). I focused my studies on the questions Schadewald had raised (I mentioned this part of my intellectual journey in LEAVING THE FOLD in the text and in a lengthy footnote). I focused on the meanings, derivations, context and usage of the Hebrew words for "firmament" and "circle " along with verses that implied either a flat-earth and/or a geocentric one. I was surprised to learn from Schadewald about a Bible-believing preacher of the truth of the earth's flatness who lived in Zion, Illinois during the 1920s, who broadcast daily against the evils of "modern astronomy" from one of the largest radio transmitters in America at that time and who also attended the Scopes Trial! Schadewald's articles even altered me to the existence of modern day geocentric creationist Christians and their arguments from the Bible. You can find THEIR articles on the web if you look under Geocentricty and Dr. Bouw (a modern day Christian creationist geocentrist with a Ph.D. in astronomy from Case-Western).

It dawned on me after quite a lot of research that the Bible's creation account appeared at the very least geocentric, and even closely resembled Babylonian and Egyptian accounts that spoke about the earth being the flat firm foundation of creation, created before the sun, moon and stars, lying beneath a holy heaven that had been raised via a splitting of waters which were held back by a solid dome. More and more of my readings in ancient near eastern creation accounts, word meanings, and iconography led me to that conclusion. (I wrote DOES THE BIBLE TEACH SCIENTIFIC CREATIONISM at that time, and sent it off to three scholars of different faiths who were authorities on Genesis. And they each congratulated me on my research and admitted they had learned something from my work.) At that point it seemed to me that a concordist approach would not impress anyone who was familiar with the Bible's connections to ancient cosmologies/cosmogonies. It appeared that "concordists" were too busy matching what they thought modern cosmology/geology/biology "really taught," with what they thought Genesis (chapter 1) "really taught," all the while ignoring WHAT GENESIS MIGHT HAVE MEANT TO THOSE WHO LIVED NEAR THE TIME OF ITS (ASSUMED MOSAIC) AUTHORSHIP. So concordism came to appear like an ingenious match game to me, stretching a word, a verse, a verb form, and seeking some correspondence with modern science until "matches appeared" seemingly "miraculously" in the eyes of the concordists who found them, yet who took no credit for their ingenuity in coming up with their ever new matches and concordist hypotheses.

For an idea of what Genesis 1 and 2 might have meant to ancient Hebrews living in Moses' day, I suggest Professor Conrad Hyers's book, THE MEANING OF CREATION. It's written for the general public and also for evangelical Christians, since Hyers remains a moderate Christian. I had run across Professor Hyers's previous book, THE COMIC VISION AND THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, along with several of his other works, and wrote him a letter of admiration after which he wrote back and told me he had begun to write a new book called THE MEANING OF CREATION, excerpts of which I wound up featuring in my zine "Theistic Evolutionists' Forum." I even got him a speaking gig during "Preacher's Week" at Furman University where I worked. And his testimony later appeared in LEAVING THE FOLD (because Hyers, oddly enough, had been a fundamentalist and had attended a fundamentalist university in his youth, the same university in the town where I live).

That is pretty good going getting "a Bachelor of Science in biology" while also studying "all the Christian apologists I could get my hands on ... everything by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton (about thirty books in all), all of Francis Schaeffer,some Os Guiness, Josh McDowell, and some Reformed Presbyterian writers too". Either Ed is a genius or "a B.S. in biology" was an easy course in those days. I am studying for "a B.S. in biology" full time now, and I barely have time to read my textbooks and set readings!

ED: You're just jealous. I never had trouble in school or college, studied little, but almost always made the Dean's list. I was young, sober, curious. I was also single, living at home, commuting to college. No wife, no kids, and fewer chores and interruptions than most, and as I said a driven curiosity. I began reading Lewis and Schaeffer's works while a sophomore in high school since they were for sale off a bookrack in the first church I began attending, where I was rebaptized, Jacksonville Chapel in Pequannock, New Jersey. Later I had access to university libraries including the one at Fairleigh Dickinson and before that the Princeton Theological Seminary library that I visited while commuting back and forth to school in Trenton. Though I also bought a lot of books through the mail and in Christian bookstores. In pre-Zondervan days Christian bookstores were more interesting, even more appealing. I got to know the owners, talked and prayed with some of them. Speaking of the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, I had an evangelical friend who went to seminary there and introduced me to the campus including the library where he told me I could use it (he was at first just as on fire for the Lord as I was, we had prayed together when we were both freshmen at our different colleges, but after a few years at Princeton he started to learn things about the Bible and about the variety within Christianity and he became more ecumenical, in fact I could sense that something was different about him, his faith was no longer exactly like mine, by that I mean he didn't take as great delight in the same Bible phrases I quoted to him, nor take as much delight in my stories about sharing Jesus to this or that perons and "saving souls" like I still did at college. Now that I think back on it, I would undergo a similar change years later.) I have always been a reader and I loved the way I could find whatever books I was seeking, though at that time they were almost always young-earth books. I've been haunting libraries and bookstores since I was in high school. Still do, and have gone to Bob Jones to read creationist mags every so often. And work in a university library now. About the quantity of books I read between my sophomore year in high school and my senior year in college, I can't recall all their names, mostly books I picked up at the Mustard Seed bookstore in Ramsey, N.J. a big Christian bookstore with a first floor and basement filled with evangelical books for sale, and also a Christian rock music listening room featuring records by Larry Norman, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Love Song, Honeytree, Michael Omartian. I think Christian music sounded better back then 1974-79 than it does today. I also spent loads of time at the Lamplighter Christian Bookstore in Princeton, a shop with a Narnian theme and lots of books by "Word" publishing. They had a reading room where we prayed. Let's see, the authors and titles I recall foremost off the top of my head included, Os Guiness -- at that time he had only published a few Intervarsity tracts and his first book, THE DUST OF DEATH. I read Lewis's PILGRIM'S REGRESS, PROBLEM OF PAIN, MIRACLES, GOD IN THE DOCK, REFLECTIONS, THE FOUR LOVES, SURPRISED BY JOY, along with his sci-fi trilogy and the CHRONICLES. and a few others I can't recall, essay collections I believe. I read Francis Shaeffer's THE GOD WHO IS THERE, ESCAPE FROM REASON, HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT, and some others I can't recall. I read Chesterton's ORTHODOXY, THE EVERLASTING MAN, ST. THOMAS, ST. FRANCIS and many of his novels, notably THE BALL AND THE CROSS (a thinly veiled semi-autobioraphical novel about his intellectual bouts with his good friend and metaphysical sparring partner, George Bernard Shaw), and many of G.K.'s essays, including his debate with Robert Blatchford on religion in the British press. In fact I read the author Martin Gardner's book, THE WHYS OF A PHILOSPHICAL SCRIVENER, and wrote him especially since he had a B.S. like me, but became an author (puzzle columnist for Sci Amer. and also columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer) and found out he was also a G.K. fan and lived in a nearby town and he loaned me two rare books by Chesterton, one was G.K.'s play, MAGIC and the other was MANALIVE. Josh McDowell had only published the first edition of ETDAV. (See my review of chapter 12 of that book on the Secular Web.) And the Reformed Presbyterian writers included Cornelius Van Till (two prolegomenas by him and one tract by him, "Why I Believe in God"), Rushdooney (THE ONE AND THE MANY, THE MYTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE), and a Gordon Clarke intro to philosophy, and oh yes, another book published by that same Reformed Publishing House that argued for a literal interpretation of Genesis. I read some of the Reformed Presbyterian writers AFTER my four years of college, during which time I was working at infrequent part time jobs but mostly staying home, watching Pat Robertson (to whom I donated a weekly amount of money, becoming a 700 Club member) and read and went to some job interviews. That was for a year or more, then the family moved down south (from New Jersey) and I had more time on my hands settling into a new state and a new town. In fact, I visited a friend at Nebraska State for over a month and used their library there to do research into the historical background of the Bible's creation verses.

You do not mention any conflict he had with your "young-earther" beliefs while getting his "B.S. in biology". Maybe you will elaborate on that?

ED: You obviously want to hear the whole unedited version of my story. I evangelized all of my college teachers. I gave away copies of Weston-Smith's MAN'S ORIGIN AND MAN'S DESTINY, and Gish's THE FOSSILS SAY NO! I introduced a film on creationism (a poor film, I'm sorry to say, that was also poorly attended) that was shown on my college campus. I obtained copies of slides of Gish's presentations from ICR and used them to make a presentation of my own to Ph.D. chemists at a major pharmaceutical company, Hoffmann-La Roche, that I worked for during the summers between semesters. I handed out Gish's tracts in the parking lot at my school. I did two colloquium presentations in which I lectured fellow science students on young-earth ideas indirectly -- what I did was review the evidence for evolution, like human evolution, and stressed problems in interpretation, and would suggest in the end that maybe there is no fossil evidence at all for human evolution. My Sociology professor allowed me to speak to the whole class telling them about my belief in a super-personal reality (taken from Lewis). I held a free Christian book and tract table three times on campus at Fairleigh Dickenson in which I gave away many evangelical books and tracts. My professor of comparative anatomy and physiology, and comparative embryology, Emile Zebenyi, taught his courses from the perspective of evolution, always mentioning the way this or that cell layer in the embryo or organ in one kind of creature got used in a slightly different but similar way in the next kind of creature. But I questioned him. He was a kind and knowledgeable person, but unable to sway me from young-earth creationism. He didn't try to sway me, he just wanted me to learn the material and get through his intensive courses. My Sociology professor was also a kind person, and we studied all sorts of ideas and cultures in his course. He got leukemia a year later and I sang him a Christian song at his bedside, and visited him once more before he died. He was moved by my visits but didn't make a profession of faith. Still, we got along well and were close, as close as I also was with my philosophy professor who wrote me into one of his essay questions, involving a crowded boat that would sink with all aboard unless somebody was chosen to leave it and drown. My character, whom he named, "Ed," was an "evangelical Christian. When faced with the "boat dilemma" I told him and the class that it wasn't a dilemma at all, since I would simply volunteer to leave the boat, knowing that death held no fear for me, and so that the others might be spared longer lives in which to find Christ. I even spoke to my Calculus teacher about becoming a Christian. His response was, "You pays your money you takes your choice." But of course the people I was closest too were fellow Christians, whom I saw daily and met weekly, and stayed over each other's houses, and prayed, and evangelized other people on campus together. It wasn't a large college that I spent my first two years at, I transferred after that to a college in Rutherford New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickenson, where I met charismatics and sang and prayed with them, along with meeting priests who were leaders in the burgeoning nationwide Catholic Charismatic movement of the late 1970s. By the way, during my first two years of college I was elected president of my campus group, the most evangelical on campus. It was called, Chi Alpha, "Christ's Ambassadors."

Have you ever work as a biologist? I notice that you are a "Serials Acquisitions Assistant" in the library of Furman University, South Carolina

I never claimed I worked as a biologist. I worked summers as a lab assistant at a newly built advanced molecular biology lab at Hoffman-La Roche and was offered a full time job there during my third semester in biology at Fairleigh Dickinson, but I declined (dohh) to finish my biology degree in a more timely fashion. I've followed the evolution of the creation debate since the mid 1970s in ICR Impact articles, CRSQ, ASA articles. When Creation/Evolution newsletter and Creation/Evoultion Journal appeared (replies to creationist arguments) I began reading that too, as well as its later incarnation, NSCE Reports. And just as you were a member of the Calvin Reflector, I later became a member of a list of Christian theistic evolutionists and atheistic evolutionists who all specialized in studying and discussing creationist arguments, and later, I.D. arguments. I have exchanged letters and emails with participants of this debate over the years, from Henry Morris and Duane Gish (I knew one of his secretaries fairly well, we would even exchange Christmas cards since I had her copying articles from Gish's files for me and sending them to me), along with Mark Hartwig (one of the original editors of Origins Research -- founded with seed money from ICR -- which later became Origins and Design), Paul Nelson (of Origins and Design), Kurt Wise, Glenn Morton, Robert Schadewald, Conrad Hyers. A few other writers, all Christian, whom I have exchanged personal correspondence with over the years include Gary Habermas, Paul Seeley, Dan Wonderly, Alan Hawyard, and Robert Farrar Capon. Phil Johnson even sent me one or two brief responses over the years.

In my job I see the latest science magazines as they arrive. And I can order as many interlibrary loans as I want. To someone like me it's a genuine gas. And two years ago I moved across the street from the biggest satellite branch of the county's main library, and last week I borrowed ten of the latest books on evolution and some on religion. I also have professor friends in the science departments on the campus where I work. The biology prof is someone I know and I have seen him debate creationists in an event that was held here on campus about five years ago. An I.D.er also came to speak here on campus and I went to see that, and stood up and asked questions afterwards. Though he wasn't a big name I.D.er, he was I think local. His name escapes me though he had a book table and was selling books by leading I.D.ers. Some of the Christian groups on campus brought him to campus to speak. I've also debated Kent Hovind, the young-earth creation evangelist, in a church in Georgia. That was about five years ago. I still have loads of slides that I made to facilitate my points during the debate. (I've come quite a ways from using Gish's slides to present young-earth creationism to Hoffman-La Roche Ph.D. chemists.)

Johnson says on one of his tapes regarding his conversion from atheism/ agnosticism to Christianity that it is the decision to seriously consider a view that is the real turning point. While the person may not realise it, embracing that view is after that just a matter of time.

Ironic isn't it that according to Johnson himself, if you begin taking me and my testimony and arguments "seriously" you too may be at a "turning point," and "it's just a matter of time." But don't worry too much about it, because we both have "seriously considered" many views in our lifetimes, but neither of us has embraced them all did we? By the way, both G.K. Chesteron and Robert Ingersoll agreed that seriousness was not necessarily always a virtue. Chesteron used to say that Satan fell by force of gravity, he took himself too gravely. And he added that a good religion was one that could laugh at itself. Ingersoll used to say that preachers of all religions/philosophies want you to remain serious because that's the first step to accepting wild stories and rumors as fact. There's one fellow on the web however, who is a religious icon of sorts who does not take himself or his beliefs seriously, his name is Swami Beyondananda. Check him out via google, he's pretty funny. By the way, simply by putting more than one word, like a name, in quotation marks in the google search box, will get you to all matches containing that exact name. Mine of course is "Edward T. Babinski." But you seem to have found out all about me with ease. So I guess you don't need further hints.

So your decision to begin and then continue "corresponding with two former evangelical friends, both of whom had left the fold in college" tells me that you had (whether you realised it or not) already made up your mind against Christianity and was just, as you put it, "think[ing] my way out".

What have you demonstrated? Only that you "(whether you realize it or not) have already made up your mind" concerning my intellectual journey. (That's O.K. though because I've made up mind about yours too. * smile *) So let's skip the cheap psycholoanalyzing. My friends might still have some of the hundred or so lengthy letters I sent them during the five years we corresponded. I know what I wrote, and I was not trying to convince myself to leave the fold. It was agony for me to see them risking hell, to doubt the holy word of God. I cited Lewis, Chesterton, McDowell, and others, using arguments very similar to those in a book I ran across recently, LETTERS TO A SKEPTIC or a similar title that I saw at Barnes and Noble. I found the book interesting because that's exactly what I sounded like when I wrote my friends years ago. My letters were like that author's, utilizing the "Liar, Lunatic or Lord," argument and other concerning the Bible's trustworthiness, the meaning of dogmas, Christian history, psychology, etc. I also loved studying my faith and knowing why I believed and sharing it with my friends, I daresay I believed more fully in my faith after the first few years of my letter debates/conversations with them, I even felt inspired writing those letters, in a Lewisian way, in a Sheldon Vaunaken-ian way (Sheldon was a student of Lewis who wrote an inspiring autobiography about his own journey toward Christianity). What changed me in the end was stepping off the path of "acceptable Christian reading" and reading far more widely (widening my roots which were already deep into Christian soil, but I began to spread out side roots into other soils by reading "the opposition?" I'm trying to use your analogy) and thinking about my beliefs in ways I formerly had not. Hence, I "thought" my way out rather than those who complain that the church or the pastor wronged them or showed too much hypocrisy. I liked Christian worship and Christian friends. I still have Christian friends, like Artie Silver, from that time period. The worst thing I could say about churchgoing in the end was that it was getting boring, repetitive, and I didn't think that rhetoric and raising one's voice was superior to quiet study and thinking. My thinking during the ending years of my letter debates with these highly intelligent friends of mine was accompanied by anguish, the pain of change. I think that people basically remain the same until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of changing. And it grew more painful for me to assume I knew all the answers after a while, than to admit I no longer was as sure of them as I once was. If I didn't have long time correspondents, perhaps I might not have ever changed. It's possible that simply their ability to read and listen to me and treat me kindly had something to do with my dawning realization that they were like me in more ways than either of us were different. In the end I suppose that the division between the "damned and the saved" grew less clear in my mind, my appreciation of persons as individuals was growing instead of viewing each individual as a theological abstraction that one could place in neat tidy categories based on their answer to the question, "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?"

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Creation Science: How One Former Creationist Evolved

I was once a devotee of Biblical creationism. I challenged my college professors and fellow biology students; corresponded with the Institute for Creation Research in California; conferred with the head of one branch of that movement in Philadelphia where I attended an annual conference; lectured before professional chemists (at Hoffmann La Roche); and utilized my time and money to distribute literature advocating “creationism.” However, after years of study I reversed my opinions on the subject. The questions that proved decisive in my case were not merely ones of scientific importance but also of Biblical import: I could not help wondering, “Does the Bible teach scientific creationism?”

An examination of the Bible’s depiction of the cosmos and its creation (along with similar depictions found in ancient Near Eastern records) convinced me that the Bible does not depict the structure of the cosmos in scientific terms at all. To name just one instance of what I found, the Bible (in Genesis, chapter one) has the earth arise in the midst of primeval waters after those waters have been “divided” and a “firmament” created to keep those waters separated. Only after the earth has arisen are the sun, moon and stars “made” and “set” in the firmament above the earth to “light the earth.” But that is the opposite order of creation according to modern astronomy. Furthermore, since the sun, moon, and stars lay “in the firmament,” and the Bible speaks of waters “above the firmament” then there must be “waters” above the sun, moon and stars. That was exactly what Martin Luther, the Father of Protestant Christianity, pointed out, based solely on taking the Bible at its word. Below are relevant passages from the Bible followed by Luther’s summation:

“God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,’ and God made the firmament, and separated the waters which were below the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament…Then God made the two great lights…(and) the stars also. And God set them in the firmament to light the earth.”
-- Genesis 1:7,16-17

“Praise the Lord!…Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him stars of light! Praise Him highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens!”
-- Psalm 148:1,3-4

“Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters…It is likely that the stars are fastened to the firmament like globes of fire, to shed light at night…We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding.”
-- Martin Luther, Luther’s Works. Vol. 1. Lectures on Genesis, ed. Janoslaw Pelikan, Concordia Pub. House, St. Louis, Missouri, 1958, pp. 30, 42, 43.

I wish to add that information concerning the Bible’s pre-scientific cosmology has not only been pointed out by “liberals” and “atheists,” but also by Protestant Bible-believing Christians. I have mentioned Martin Luther above, but the authors of two concordances of the Bible often praised by Evangelical Protestants, namely Cruden (author of Cruden’s Concordance), and Strong (author of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance), were both aware of the firmness of the Hebrew “firmament.” Other conservative Christian commentators who recognized the pre-scientific or non-scientific nature of cosmological statements found in the Bible include the famous conservative Protestant theologian, B. B. Warfield, along with contemporary Evangelical Protestants, John H. Walton, Gordon Wenham, David C. Downing, Paul H. Seeley, and Stephen C. Meyers:

B. B. Warfield wrote that an inspired writer of the Bible could “share the ordinary opinions of his day in certain matters lying outside the scope of his teachings, as, for example, with reference to the form of the earth, or its relation to the sun; and, it is not inconceivable that the form of his language when incidentally adverting to such matters, might occasionally play into the hands of such a presumption.” [B. B. Warfield, “The Real Problem of Inspiration,” in The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948) 166-67.]

John H. Walton is past professor Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute and now teaches at Wheaton Theological Seminary. He is the author of Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 2001) that takes the ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis seriously.

Gordon Wenham is the author of Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word, 1987) that takes the ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis seriously.

David C. Downing is the author of What You Know Might Not Be So: 220 Misinterpretations of Bible Texts Explained (Baker Book House, 1987) in which he addresses a verse in Isaiah (40:22) that speaks of the “circle” of the earth, a verse that many Evangelical Christians believe refers to a spherical earth. Downing explains that the original Hebrew does not support such an interpretation.

Paul H. Seely is a graduate of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, and the author of numerous articles in The Westminster Theological Journal and in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, including:

The Three-Storied Universe,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, No. 21 (March 1969)

“The Firmament and the Water Above,” Part I, Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 53 (1991)

“The Firmament and the Water Above,” Part II, Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 54 (1992)

“The Geographical Meaning of ‘Earth’ and ‘Seas’ in Genesis 1:10, Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 59 (1997)

“The First Four Days of Genesis in Concordist Theory and in Biblical Context,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, No. 49 (June 1997)

Stephen C. Meyers’s master’s thesis in theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1989 was titled, "A Biblical Cosmology." After that he went on to co-found the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies and speak out about how seriously the Bible’s ancient Near Eastern context must be taken when discussing its creation accounts:

Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies

Genesis 1:7 -- “The waters above the firmament”

Isaiah 40:22 -- “The circle of the earth”

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From YEC (Young Earth Creationist) to Evolutionist

Ed Babinski

From: Ed Babinski

Date: 5 Jul 95

Subject: ED B's story

O.K. folks, here's my former fundie story in a nutshell...

I was confirmed Catholic, stopped going to mass, then was "born again" after reciting the "sinner's prayer" with my best friend at the time (we were in high school). And I began attending an independent fundamentalist church in town that was known for having a great preacher, Pastor Earl V. Comfort. I was rebaptized.

In college I was elected president of the most evangelical group on campus. I got into the charismatic scene, living room meetings, and Anglican charismatic prayer meetings. I also studied all the Christian apologists I could get my hands on, to try and convince fellow students and professors of the truth of Christianity. I read everything by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton (about thirty books in all), all of Francis Schaeffer, some Os Guiness, Josh McDowell, and some Reformed Presbyterian writers too (who believed in the strictest "presuppositionist" apologetics). So, it was difficult for me to think my way out after having "thought my way in" so deeply.

I began corresponding with two former evangelical friends, both of whom had left the fold in college. One had opened up to a more mystical universal belief, and the other had read about two hundred or more volumes of historical criticism and was getting his Ph.D. in N.T. Theology. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. We exchanged probably over three hundred letters at this time, and about halfway through our discussion I began to read some of the books both of them suggested. My eyes were opened. Slowly at first. I tried holding onto a more moderate and liberal evangelicalism, a al Robert Farrar Capon and Alan Watts (the books written when he was still an Anglican minister), and Conrad Hyers (the humorous spiritual writer). But to no avail. One of the final breaks occurred after reading Thomas Paine's little monograph on the prophecies, and reading a Jewish scholar's book that also pointed out that the early Christians were lying about what the Old Testament plainly stated, in order to make it conform to "Jesus' life."

From: Ed Babinski

Date: 5 Jul 95

Subject: RE: Leaving the Fold

[Toronto Blessing]

Isn't the "Toronto Blessing" the "laughter blessing?" Just wondering. I was a charismatic for a while, and can still speak in tongues whenever I wish. I believe Rob Berry can too. Just a note to let you know that there's two books written by a former Pentecostal minister, one of which is called Don't Call Me Brother, which discusses a lot of the different "blessings" in the charismatic/Pentecostal genre which made the rounds at Jim and Tammy's Bakker's religious amusement park. An edited version of Don't Call Me Brother is found in my own recent book, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, by Prometheus Books, copyright 1995, hardcover, 460 pages, acid free paper, photos, index, retails for $32.95 (USA)

Leaving the Fold includes over 30 testimonies by former fundamentalists who are now either moderate evangelicals, liberal Christians, ultra-liberals, Wiccans, mystics, agnostics, or atheists. They tell their own stories, just as they wish, explaining how they entered into fundamentalist Protestant Christianity, and why they left it. It's a book for anyone seeking to understand their faith more and struggling with it, be they Christians, atheists, or members of other religions.

One testimony is by Charles Templeton, Billy Graham's best friend during the Youth for Christ years, and a former fellow evangelist. Today, Templeton is a "reverent agnostic." And there's Sam Keen's story (he is the author of Faces of the Enemy, which was also a PBS special), and some historical figures like America's "Great Agnostic" (Robert Ingersoll), and H. P. Smith the Presbyterian biblical scholar who was booted out of his denomination in a famous "heresy" trial, and modern figures like the moderate evangelical Christian editor of The Door (a sort of Christian National Lampoon), Mike Yaconelli (who went to the fundamentalist institution, Bob Jones University), and Farrell Till, former Church of Christ minister and now editor of The Skeptical Review. There's a big bibliography with lots of other places to look for further testimonies, an appendix of quotations regarding fundamentalism, an extensive index, and a section on the history of fundamentalism which explains how liberal fundamentalism has grown over the centuries!

Phone Prometheus Books for a free catalog, at 1-800-421-0351 (24 hours).

Best, Ed B

I would be interested in hearing more about Ed's "intellectual journey". In particular if he went fairly directly from YEC to "liberal evangelicalism", or did he pass through an extended "old-earth" Progressive Creationism stage? If so, what OEC/PC books did he read during that stage, and what were his main problems with them?

LOL (at "extended" old-earth stage -- an unwitting pun perhaps?) I'm afraid that my old-earth stage did not drag on as long as that of say, Glenn Morton who went from young-earth to a "middle-earth" stage(no, not Tolkein's middle earth but his compromise with the fact the he wanted an earth was young as he could get it, but honestly couldn't find arguments that would bring it down under a couple hundred thousand years old), which he maintained for a while before finally becoming an old earther (an earth billions of years old)

Source: Glenn Morton

Edward T. Babinski

I was still a young-earther after I graduated from college with a B.S. in biology, after which a moderate/liberal Christian friend (he was moderate but grew more liberal over time) lent me Bernard Ramm's book on The Harmony of Science and Scripture to read, and also lent me the special "Noah's Ark" issue of Creation/Evolution journal (I think that the National Center for Science Education on the web still has copies of them for sale). I read both of them, and recall being affected by Ramm's admission that more and more early ape and hominid skulls were being dug up every year. Ramm proved correct about that prediction, even though he wrote it in the 1950s. The "Noah's Ark" issue of Creation/Evolution was my introduction to questions being asked of the Noah's ark story and of Flood geology. Prior to that I thought all the questions were being raised concerning modern geology. With the aid of those books I began to understand that my own side contained "difficulties" rather than simply all the difficulties lying on the side of old-earthers and evolutionists. I can't remember all the old-earth books I read, but two by Dan Wonderly stand out, his early work, God's Time Records in Ancient Sediments, and also his later work, Neglect of Geologic Data (taking the young-earthers to task, Wonderly built his old-earth arguments on phenomena that take a lot of time to form, like fine clay particles that requre still water and a lot of time to settle and yet there's shale deposits from clay many feet thick sandwiched in places in the geologic record. And the time it takes microscopic organisms to form microscopic calcium-rich "shells" and then die and have their shells settle on the water's bottom and form limestone many feet thick, even pelletized limestone from the fecal pellets of fish who ingested the microscopic organisms and then their fecal pellets collected in layers many feet thick. And the time it takes corals to grow and where they are found in the fossil record in situ, and other such arguments. Dan's evangelical committment and reasonable arguments even somewhat moved Henry Morris the young-earther because in Morris's early works, Dan's books are the only "old-earth" books Morris mentioned in his bibliographies. Of course at that early time, when Morris's book, The Genesis Flood was just catching on in the mid-60s and early 1970s among conservative Christians, there were not a lot of geologists who thought it seemly to devote time to answering Morris's arguments. Dan was one of the first to point out that Morris assumed trilobites were heavy creatures and hence sunk to the bottom of the Flood's "geologic column" very fast, but Dan corrected Morris and pointed out that paleontolgists actually assumed that trilobites were probably as light as today's sandcrabs. (I wonder if Morris assumed that a fossil of a creature was as heavy as the creature itself in the case of trilobites? Quite a blind spot I'd say, whatever Morris's reasons.)

I have also read some other old-earth works, including one by Pattle Pun, and Alan Hayward's book, Creation and Evolution, and John Weister's book on Genesis 1 and science.

What problems did I see with old-earth books? None concerning the old-earth science they contained. It was their attempts at a scientifically accommodating theology that I began to have a problem with. I knew the young-earth reasons for assuming that the creation account spoke of six literal earth days with evenings and mornings, even linked to man's work week in a verse in Exodus. And although I had read a number of attempts to harmonize the Scriptural account of creation with an old-earth, none of them seemed convincing. I mean, fruit trees created a day before the sun moon and stars? (Yes, I knew of the old-earth harmonization attempt that declared the sun, moon and stars "appeared" on day four as seen by an earthly observer through a sky in which the clouds had just broken, so it was argued, they were not "made and set" as it literally says in Genesis on day four. But to make the harmonization work you have to neglect the plain words that they were "made and set into the firmament above the earth." And you have to delegate day four of creation as a day when God did little, a day of "rest" in the MIDDLE of the creation week when He simply let the clouds roll by.

I also began to research the comparative ancient near eastern history of the Genesis creation account (writing a manuscript, "Does the Bible Teach Scientific Creationism?" that I sent to Dr. Henry Morris my former young-earth hero), to tell him that I had found nothing scientific in the Genesis account, nor in a lot of other verses in the Bible where I had previously seen "modern science in the Bible." Instead, I began to see the creation week as a reflection of the ancient notion of the earth's primacy, everything created in earth days, in earth evenings and mornings, everything created for the earth, with the sun moon and stars as light bulbs made and set above the earth only after the earth was brought forth first, and to light the earth and for signs and seasons on the earth below.

Then came the creation of the fish and birds a day before the creation of land critters. Fish and birds together? This was apparently done to fill the two regions created after the waters were divided on day two, the sea and the sky "and the birds flew across the face of the firmament." So Day Two of Creation parallels Day Five. But it seemed to me a poetic parallel having little to do with the actual order of appearances of creatures in the geologic record with fish first, then land animals, and birds later. And what about creating fruit trees and seed-bearing plants three days before creeping things (including the pollinating insects that such plants required).

Those are some of the problems I began having with the Biblical creation account, it was strictly a miraculous account with the earth being primary in creation with everything created for it alone, and in six earth days. The parallels between the Bible's account and other ancient near eastern accounts were stunning and striking, especially in the ways they all assumed a flat earth and the earth's primacy in all of creation with the heavens created just for the earth and after it, and animals created by divine fiat out of the ground.

Such realizations led me at that time to abandon trying to harmonize Genesis with modern science, though I had read a number of attempted harmonizations. And there was the added difficulty of harmonizing the sequence of Gen. 1 with Gen. 2, since Gen. 2 seems to reverse certain sequences in Gen. 1.

The articles of the evangelical Christian Paul Seeley have served to convince me further that Genesis is not dealing with science at all. Seeley's articles questioned a lot of old-earth attempts at harmonization, like his article on "Concordism and Genesis 1." He is a member of ASA, an evangelical group of Christians who work in scientific fields, and his articles have appeared even in the conservative Westminster Theological Journal (Seeley's alma mater). His best and longest articles are not presently on the web, though a number of them are available at the ASA website.

(You can also google search using) "Paul Seeley" creation (keep the quotations around his name)

Paul also sent me e-copies of his non-web published pieces for me to distribute to whomever is interested in what the Bible says concerning creation, its shape, age, and mode of creation. He has also researched what the church fathers taught (in his article on "Concordism and Genesis 1"). And written a new article on the Tower of Babel (that I also have an e-copy of). Even Biblia Sacra, the Dallas Theological Seminary publication couldn't fault him for his historical research though they disagreed with his conclusions. And at least one Christian homeschool group has altered their cirriculum based on the impact his articles have had.

Paul revealed to me recently that "Evangelicals now have a commentary on Genesis available which not only takes the ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis seriously, it's stance on the relation of science to Scripture is very much in line with a lot of ASA thinking. It approvingly cites and quotes Howard Van Till, Glenn Morton, and myself, and perhaps others of the the ASA; and, it speaks specifically though not in an extended way against creation science. It is Genesis, The NIV Application Commentary by John H. Walton (past professor of OT at Moody Bible Institute, and now at Wheaton), published by Zondervan, 2001. Although it is not a technical commentary like Gordon Wenham's, it is a solid scholarly piece of work. 759 pages, nearly half of which deal with Gen 1-11."

I found out about Paul and his articles soon after writing "Does the Bible Teach Scientific Creationism?" and advertising it in my first zine in the mid 1980s, Theistic Evolutionists' Forum. The zine contained articles by old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists and covered both the creation account in the Bible and evolutionary science and critiqued various young-earth views. I sent free copies of the first few issues out to a number of creationist organizations. So I have as I said read, interacted with, and exchanged info with old-earthers. One issue of the zine also highlighted evidence for an old-earth and for evolution. There was a sister zine as well, Monkey's Uncle. I did not argue for atheism in that zine, and don't argue for atheism today, despite all the questions I have regarding the "Design" hypothesis. After editing Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists in 1995, I couldn't resist editing a new zine, Cretinism or Evilution for about two and a half years. It was originally in paper, but some readers contacted me via email and asked permission to post them at the Talk.origins archive.

The increasing visibility of the Intelligent Design movement is interesting. I think it evolved because there was a niche for it, Darwinially speaking. There never was such a clearing house of theists before, YECs, OECs, TEs, who sincerely want science to prove the certainty of God's existence, indeed, His necessity, and wipe the smiles off of every "presumptuous" atheist on earth. Seems to me like the theists who proudly declare themselves I.D.ers are doing it for the same reasons that people moving west would draw their wagons in a circle when Indians attacked. Science is universal now, people of all religions and non-religions the world round practice radiometric dating, dig for fossils in geologically appropriate areas and keep finding more interesting ones in the right places, and there are journals and institutes that study genetics, pseudogenes, retroviral genes, geology, paleontology, etc., that simply study the earth without mentioning "God" at all in journal after journal, conference after conference, article after article. They seem to get along pretty fine, those scientists, even atheists, agnostics, and all religious believing scientists. But I.Ders want more that this vast enterprise that doesn't highlight faith or religion, and they are highly sensative whenever an agnostic or atheistic scientist spouts his views in essays or books about how he didn't find God in the details, but instead found natural connections. They are sensative to their theism not being written into scientific treatises like Newton used to do. They want to make some noise for God in science. And they have an institute of their own, and talk scientific jargon, and claim they are going to uncover proofs of the truth of the Ages, of God, but right now they are simply gnawing on Darwin's trousers, attacking the "icons" of evolution. Do they have any genuine goal except to gnaw on Darwin's trousers together and Darwin-bait until their hearts content? Doing it all for a "God" who won't help them out a bit even though some I.D.ers claims He popped millions of new species into existence over geologic time, or massively magically changed one species after another over geologic time. Still, this same God won't put on a show right before modern day scientists and magically design one more new thing so they can see something pop or massively change right before their eyes? (He did it for Elijah and the prophets of Baal, a "show" that proved his point.)

Behe tries to gnaw Darwin's trousers too, mentioning how irreducibly complex many things in nature seem to him. But then Dr. Doolittle comes along and starts to show how the blood clotting mechanism could have evolved. Oops, Behe didn't know THAT! Behe's Empty Box.

Denton comes along and does some gnawing, trying out his "typological model" and boasting that there is no geneological connection whatsoever -- "no functional continuum" -- between major "macro-evolutionary" groups. Oops, Denton admits to an interviewer he didn't know the full story about the mammal-like reptiles in the fossil record. And he says he would have written his book differently had he known that! He also discovers that his cytochrome-C arguments were wrongfully employed. He goes back to the drawing board and comes out with a second book advocating a Deistic anthropic principle. According to his latest view accepts a "tree of related [genomic] sequences that can all be interconverted via a series of tiny incremental NATURAL [my emphasis] steps." So Denton appears to have done an "about face." He now accepts something that he insisted before was utterly impossible, i.e., "a functional continuum" of common ancestry including "macroevolution."

Berlinski, the philosopher cum mathematician cum theologian of the I.D. crusade gnaws on numbers. Mathematicians and computer scientists and statisticians are not impressed by Berlinski's arguments and complain about his elementary errors, inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and lack of knowledge of the relevant literature, even literature stretching back over 40 years ago: A review of William Dembski's "Intelligent Design" by Gert Korthof

William Dembski. No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. Rowman and Littlefield. 2002 A Review by Jeffrey Shallit. Department of Computer Science. University of Waterloo. Waterloo, Ontario.

Personally, I have trouble with the fact that I.D.ers never defend any particular age of the earth or even manner of the Designer working. He could have popped new kinds into existence anytime anywhere, or massively changed one species into another kind, anytime, anywhere. Instead, he kept to the standard evolutionary script:

1) Employed evolutionary-like jury-rigged "designs" that seem less than perfect and less than wonderful. In fact some seem not only unimpressively awkward but also hideous.

2) Employed massive extinctions (creating new designs just to watch them die out, then designing new ones just to died out again and again -- dinosaurs gone -- marsupials mainly gone except in Australia and small populations found elsewhere on earth -- millions of other species wiped out over geologic time either singly or in massive extinctions -- all long before man arrived on the scene).

3) Employed ever escalating "arms races" (increasingly more hardy designs to DEFEAT other designs, from the microscopic world to the macroscopic world)

4) Designed feather-like scales and/or feathers on bi-pedal dinos before creating winged dinos. Designed the first winged dinos far less impressively than later dinos, i.e., the earliest winged dinos had small keel bones, thick triangular reptilian skulls with teeth, solid bones, long boney tails (that create drag), unfused metacarpals, and other traits that made the first feathered fliers less adept than modern fliers with their smooth helmeted skulls, hollow bones, pigyostyle tail stumps, fused metacarpals and enormous keel bones. Also designed apparently designed the lung and even the first simple boney feet in fish before he Designed the first amphibians. And even left ventral fish-like tails on the earliest fish-like amphibians.

5) The Designer didn't clean up the genome either, allowing pseudogenes, along with viral and even bacterial DNA to accumulate in genomes over time -- the same genomic junk being found in critters that evolutionists believe shared common descent based on the fossil record and comparative anatomy. Didn't clean up the chromosomes either as can be seen by comparing man's with his closest living relative, the chimpanzee. Man has evidence inside chromosome no.2 that shows it was probably the result of two chimp chromosomes that fused at some point. You normally don't find telomeres inside a chromosome but at its ends. You normally don't find the remnants of centromeres above and below the central centromere of a chromosome unless of course it came about via the fusion of two separate chromosomes each with it's own centromere. A sloppy fusion by a sloppy "Designer."

6) Life is fecundant beyond what I'd expect in a harmonious balanced design, in fact life is fecundant to the point of over abundance, perhaps to the point of obscenity, creatures always moving into new niches, taking them over, new species found in isolated caves in Yugoslavia, or creatures living near deep sea vents (creatures not apparently necessary to life above the deep sea level since they live off of bacteria that live off of sulpherous chemicals emitted by those vents). Perhaps we'll discover simple life forms living on other planets or the moons of other planets (again serving no designed purpose, especially for life on earth, indeed, not even being mentioned in the Genesis creation account which only mentioned life on earth). Why so many seeds and sperms and eggs and fertilized eggs, etc. produced by each creature (the majority of which simply die)? If multiplicity is so essential to the Designer's plan does that mean the Designer was unable to Design things to have a relatively smaller number of healthy offspring instead of this huge scattershot approach toward providing for each new generation? Here's point #6 in a nutshell: Even WITH the enormous potential of life to reproduce way beyond its means, most creatures STILL go extinct over geologic time to be replaced by new designs! (Sound fishily like Darwinism to me.)


I've spoken many times with the prominent I.D.er Paul Nelson, and he assures me that unless I.D. comes up with some universally recognizable positive evidence for I.D. along with some genuine research program of its own (instead of just gnawing at Darwin's trousers) it will wind up going the way of the Dodo. I corrected him and pointed out that man's mind was more flexible than the Dodo's, and that I.D. fills a niche that unites a lot of trouser gnawers.

Do I think that Darwinism holds all the answers? No. But the evidence for common descent, along with the six catagories mentioned above do raise questions that I think I.D.ers lack satisfactory answers to, UNLESS they are willing to compromise and consider their "Designer" to be more of a "Tinkerer." *smile* In which case, they would come eerily close to Darwin's views.

Best, Ed

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