Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 4

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Wisdom of the Ages

In this chapter, Dr. Ross laments the idea that biblical creationists have published saying that for the balance of church history, the church has taught and believed in a recent creation. Dr. Ross gives examples of scholars from the 1st – 4th centuries that had doubts of the six day creation.

  • Philo – “It is quite foolish to think that the world was created in six days or in a space of time at all.”
  • Justin Martyr- Dr. Ross mentions Martyr, but not why he believes Martyr questioned the teachings of scripture.
  • Hippolytus – from Dr. Ross “most of his writings have been lost. What scholars have recovered gives no explicit indications of what he believed about the duration of the creation days or about the dates for creation beyond his statements that humans have resided on Earth for only several thousand years”
  • Eusebius – from Dr. Ross “However, nowhere did Eusebius address the universe’s or Earth’s creation dates or the length of the Genesis days.”
  • Ambrose – “Scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night of one day should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent.”

If those are the scholars upon which Ross is relying to build a case that the church has historically held an old earth view in contradiction to the “young earth” view, he is sorely lacking in having built a case to favor his view. Instead of constructing an airtight case that the church has historically held to an old earth view, his outliers didn’t really help his case. 

In deafness to his own plea from chapter 1 not to be disrespectful to those Christians with whom he disagrees, on p42 Dr. Ross is disrespectful to those with whom he disagrees:

Now what man of intelligence will believe that the first, and the second, and the third day, and the evening and the morning existed without the Sun, Moon, and stars?

For an astronomer and astrophysicist, I would have expected Dr. Ross to know that the definition of a day is simply “a single rotation of the Earth on its axis”, but instead he mocks biblical creationists for their understanding of scripture’s teaching that there were days prior to the creation of the sun. This is not a problem at all for biblical creationists. From looking through scripture (2 Cor 4:6, Isa 60:19, Micah 7:8, Rev 21:23), it is not a stretch to say that God provided the necessary light until on day 4, He placed his created light sources in the heavens to bring Him glory. 

The problem is for the old earthers, who must account for billions of years prior to the sun/earth standard for defining a year.

  • How do the old earthers calibrate a year without the emergence of the sun/earth pair that defines a year?
  • What were time units called before the sun/earth combination?
  • How do they know there were almost 10 billion years…or ambiguous time units prior to the stellar objects necessary for the definition of a year actually existed?
  • They have a genuine problem with time, whereas the biblical creationist does not. 

A few pages later on p45, Ross continues his analysis of the early church fathers when he writes:

They wrote long before astronomical, geological, paleontological evidence for the antiquity of the universe, Earth, and life had been discovered.

Since he is trying to build a case that the universe is old instead of young, rather than actually building a case here, he simply states it. This is the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

Chapter 4 was both short in length and short on compelling arguments for Dr. Ross.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 3

The Clouds Burst 

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In this chapter, Ross attempts to plant the idea that “young-earth creationism” is a modern day cult. On p30 he writes

By 1980, nearly every American evangelical church and the school had been swayed by young-earth creationist teachings…Societies along the lines of the CRS (Creation Research Society) and ICR formed in more than two dozen nations.

Simply by reading God’s word, one sees the that “young-earth creationism” is the logical conclusion. With deeper and more comprehensive Bible study, a Berian finds that the “simple” reading is confirmed. It’s even a fabulous bonus that organizations committed to the authority of scripture in their scientific research (Answers In Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and the Institute for Creation Research [ICR] ) find that the evidence is in perfect alignment with both the simple reading and the comprehensive study of God’s special revelation.

In an inset on p33, Dr. Ross inadvertently destroys his only basis for knowledge when he ridicules presuppositionalism. He writes:

According to some of its advocates, presuppositionalism says all human reasoning and interpretation of scientific evidence must be subordinate to a “biblical” interpretation of reality.

 

It might have sounded hyperbolic to say that presuppositionalism is the only basis for knowledge. Much has been written on this topic, and you can see an example of this apologetic method here, but I will provide a short primer below

 

  1. Since all of humanity suffers from the influence of sin, even our reasoning and senses are subject to the curse of sin. (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 1:18-23,Romans 8:18-27). So, trying to place one’s epistemological foundation on human reasoning or scientific observations of a corrupted creation is insufficient for true knowledge. By the gift of grace, when a person repents of their rebellion, a person can have an epistemology that is uncorrupted (Pr 1:7, Isa 33:6, Ps 111:10, Col 2:3).
  2. God has revealed Himself in creation, which has since been corrupted by the curse of sin. God has revealed Himself in his special revelation, which is the eternal Word of God. God has revealed Himself in Jesus
  3. God is the foundation of truth, morality, induction, knowledge & logic, which are immutable, abstract, & absolute. All of these things are necessary for empiricism. Empiricism works because these absolutes are unchanging. (Prov 1:7, Isa 33:6, Psalm 111:10, Col 2:2-3)
  4. God is immutable, transcendent and absolute, so He provides a sufficient and necessary justification for truth, morality, induction, knowledge & logic.
  5. Presupposing God is necessary to know anything, and because God has revealed Himself in the uncorrupted person of Jesus and His Word, we can be certain of everything He has revealed in his word. If outside sources (corrupted) have authority over the interpretation of God’s Word (uncorrupted), then the perfect epistemic foundation is no longer the highest authority but subject to those outside sources.

From pages 32-34 the “appearance of age” theory is panned by Dr. Ross. The “appearance of age” theory was a model introduced by a few biblical creationists in the early 1970s.  Dr. Ross quotes Dr. Gary North, who pushed the model:

The Bible’s account of the chronology of creation points to an illusion…The seeming age of the stars is an illusion…Either the constancy of the speed of light is an illusion, or the size of the universe is an illusion, or else the physical events that we hypothesize to explain the visible changes in light or radiation are false inferences.

Today, most creationists reject this model because there are too many time-limiting “clocks” that limit the age of the earth to under 10,000 years…just like the Bible says.

Also in this section, Dr. Ross quotes Dr. Marvin Lubenow who said, “There is no general Bible-science conflict if one recognizes the domain of science to be primarily in the present and involving the investigation of present-day phenomena.”

I agree with Dr. Lubenow on this point. Scientific concepts can assist with finding out about past events, but not at the expense of eye-witness testimony from the Almighty…which Dr. Ross tries to do time and again.

On a side note, I highly recommend Dr. Lubenow’s book, Bones of Contention. It has been one of my favorite books. If you have an interest in fossils and completely refuting the old earther’s story about human evolution, you will appreciate this book too.

On pg35 Ross introduces the idea that young-earth creationism drives people away from God.

Many people who have never looked into the matter for themselves assume that Scripture clearly says God created everything in 144 hours, just 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Given the scientific implausibility of such a position, many people reject the Bible without seriously considering its message.

  1. Ross pans biblical creation because of its “scientific implausibility”. Can anyone else think of other things (besides creation) recorded in scripture that are scientifically implausible?
    1. Exodus 14:21-22 The waters of the Red Sea parted at God’s command (scientifically implausible)
    2. 2 Kings 6:6 Axhead floats (scientifically implausible)
    3. Matt 1:18 Virgin gives birth (scientifically implausible)
    4. Luke 24 Jesus rose from the dead after 3 days in the grave (scientifically implausible)
    5. There are many other examples of “scientifically implausible” events that God brought about for his glory. So for Dr. Ross to hinge his argument on the “scientifically implausible” account of creation, brings his unbiblical old earthism into serious question.
  2. If one cannot trust God’s account of creation, why should they trust his ability to forgive rebellion? The same Creator, Jesus, provided his own body as the vessel to take on God’s wrath for sin, so that salvation for mankind could be achieved. Trusting the Creator (even if that account of creation seems implausible) is faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.
  3. Ross gives an example “One physician I know, though hungry for spiritual truth, ignored the Bible and the Christian faith for years because he couldn’t get past some believer’s insistence that the Bible’s first page taught a recent 144-hour cosmic creation.”
    1. Could this physician get past a virgin getting pregnant?
    2. Could this physician get past complete & instantaneous healing of a quadriplegic man?
    3. Could this physician get past the resurrection of a body after being dead for 3 days?
    4. The problem for this physician and with others who reject the miracles of the Bible (including creation) is not miracles, but the God of miracles. If miracles could be explained naturally, they wouldn’t be miracles that bring glory ONLY to God. God revealed his great power over nature, and by having faith in God’s revelation, we praise Him. 

To close chapter 3 Dr Ross says: 

Now is the time to make every effort-short of compromising either the words of the Bible or the facts of nature-toward a peaceful resolution.

As I spoke about in my review of the Introduction, Ross again erroneously claims that the “facts of nature” have the same authority as God’s eternal Word. All facts are interpreted according to one’s worldview. So, if Ross assumes modern academic paradigms are the highest authority, he will use that framework to interpret scripture. But as I’ve already said, nature has been subjected to corruption (Genesis 3, Romans 8), and so any interpretation one gets from observations of nature are also subject to that corruption. Trying to elevate the corrupted “facts of nature” over God’s eternal Word is an exegetical no-no!

 

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Presuppositional Apologetics Grounds Acumen

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#PAGA

You think this hashtag will begin trending? Probably not 

When I first started hearing about presuppositional apologetics several years, ago, I’ll admit, it took me a while to get the concept. It’s not a way of thinking that I was taught growing up.

I was first introduced to the philosophy by Jason Lisle’s book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation. Dr. Lisle builds a strong case for the layman to understand, but I was unsure how or when to ask questions. I watched videos from Sye Ten Bruggencate, James White, Jeff Durbin, and Greg Bahsen. Each time I learned a little more, and after practicing with in my own interactions online, I feel more comfortable with sharing the gospel through presuppositional apologetics.

How does one start? Ten Bruggencate puts it this way: “Read your Bible and believe what it says.”

Recently, I had an interaction with a skeptic on twitter, and I want to play it out here to help those who may be working to better understand how think biblically and speak the gospel with the authority it deserves.

I want to do it in 2 parts to show why I think presuppositional apologetics is such a powerful tool for the gospel. 

  1. Expose the irrational/arbitrary/inconsistent thinking of the skeptic since their epistemology (theory of knowledge) has no logical foundation
  2. Build a positive claim for the truth of God’s revelation in scripture, so that people will face the decision to repent or continue in their rebellion

 

Expose Skeptic Thinking

About a year ago a skeptic with the username, Haywood and I interacted for a few days. Haywood is friendly and has not resorted to mockery or ad hominem attacks in our interaction, so I have continued to discuss with him.

This past week, he accused me of cognitive dissonance and failing to back up my claims. So, let’s walk through the process of showing how Haywood’s claims (step 1 from above) are impotent since his theory of knowledge (epistemology) is insufficiently justified.

SkepticEpistemology

Haywood explains that his epistemology or worldview needs only reality, his senses and his reason. This is where as an apologist, we can check to see if the skeptic’s worldview has either internal or external consistency. So, we ask questions about his claim to see if his worldview makes sense.

  1. How do you know what is real?
    1. “What my senses and reasoning tell me is real.”
      1. How do you KNOW that your senses and reasoning are valid?
      2. It is inconsistent to assume both that humans progressed from non-reasoning stardust to reasoning human beings via natural processes AND that reasoning is then trustworthy.
    2. “I don’t know. I could be trapped in the matrix.”
      1. This is a retreat into absurdity. Haywood chose this retreat instead of answering the question. This is the point, when the apologist can say: You can put your trust in Jesus or retreat into absurdity (solipsism)
  2. Why do you think your senses are reliable?
    1. “That’s all I have to work with”
      1. Fallacy of assuming the consequent
    2. “What my senses tell me is in agreement with what other people’s senses tell them”
      1. Fallacy of ad populum
      2. One would still need their own sense and reasoning to determine that other people’s senses and reasoning are in agreement. So, that argument is also the fallacy of vicious circularity
    3. “I don’t know”
      1. Fallacy of ad ignorantium
      2. Then, it is not knowledge since knowledge is justified true beliefs
  3. Without God, you’re left to conclude reasoning came about by natural causes. What reason do you have to trust your reasoning if it came from a non-reasoning source?
    1. “I don’t know”
      1. Are there people who reason incorrectly? How could you know if you were one of them?
      2. Fallacy of ad ignorantium
    2. “Because it works”
      1. Fallacy of assuming the consequent

I want to spend some time on his last comment: “the Bible is still wrong.”

Here, Haywood assumes at least four things:

  1. There is an objective standard by which something can be shown to be wrong
    1. How does the purposeless, blind, pitiless, indifferent cosmos produce standards whereby something could be determined to be right/wrong?
    2. Is-ought fallacy
  2. That standard has greater authority than the Bible
    1. Why do you think such a standard has higher authority than the Bible, which God revealed as true? As an example of this, Author A could say that based on historical documents the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt. Author B claims that based on historical documents, the Hebrews were not enslaved in Egypt. Which author or historical documents have the highest authority by which something can be said to be true. In the worldview of any skeptic, all knowledge is provisional and leads to an infinite regression of necessary provisions. In the case of claims against the Bible, there are no standards that have higher authority than revelation from the One who knows everything and is eternally faithful.
  3. There are unchanging, abstract, absolutes like laws of logic, morality, and induction by which to determine truth
    1. How does a chaotic cosmos made only of matter produce unchanging, abstract absolutes?
  4. The Bible is not revelation from God
    1. To know this for certain, one would need to have all knowledge

 

Later, I asked Haywood what he knew for certain, and this was his reply:

Certainty

So by claiming that he cannot be certain of anything, it follows that he does not KNOW anything. His worldview lacks the pre-conditions of intelligibility. Anything that could conditionally be known is just tentative. For Haywood (or other skeptic), some future discovery could be made that would refute any current provisional evidence. So, any claim that the skeptic makes can be refuted with “but since you are only tentatively knowledgeable about this and don’t know anything for certain, you could be wrong.”

The Christian is not burdened with this cumbersome epistemology. As we will discuss in the next section, God (who has all knowledge) has revealed some things, so the Christian can have certain knowledge of those things. 

That section exposed the impotence of skeptics to refute Christianity because of their deficient worldview. In this next section, I want to show how we can build a positive case FOR The truth of Christianity

 

Build a Positive Case

Haywood made a recent claim that presuppositional apologetics doesn’t present a positive case for Christianity.

PositiveCase
Is this true? Let’s see.

The Christian theory of knowledge (epistemology) is built on God’s revelation. God has revealed Himself in creation, in the Bible and in Jesus. 

  • Creation: Romans 1:18-20 says “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Part of the revelation of God is that there is sufficient evidence in creation for everyone to know that God exists.
  • Bible: All throughout scripture, we see the claim that the Bible is the Word of God. These claims include prophecies that were foretold hundreds or even thousands of years prior to their fulfillment
    • Genesis 12:3 “all nations on earth will be blessed through you.”
      •  2000 years later Jesus fulfilled this prophecy as someone from Abraham’s line that brought salvation to all nationalities
    • Psalm 22:16,18 “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they pierce my hands and my feet…They divide my garments among them and case lots for my clothing.”
      • 1000 years later Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced on the cross while soldiers cast lots for his clothing
    • Isaiah 44:28 “who says of Cyrus ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jersalem “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’
      • 150-220 years later Cyrus (prophesied BY NAME) released Hebrews from Babylonian captivity and declared that Jerusalem and their temple be rebuilt
  • Jesus: Jesus is the ultimate revelation as God. Jesus is the Creator, so creation confirms his divinity. Jesus claimed to be God several times and his claims were confirmed when He rose from the dead (as prophesied in Psalm 16:10). Lastly, these self-authenticating revelations are confirmed in Jesus by Colossians 2:3 “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus.”

The things God has revealed in the Bible can know for certain because they were revealed by the One (Jesus) who knows everything and is eternally faithful. 

  • Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”
  • Proverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”
  • Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”
  • Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”
  • Isaiah 33:6 “The LORD will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.”
  • Colossians 2:2-3 “Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”

A common objection to the Bible being a justified source for knowledge is that it contains contradictions. Sadly, nearly all skeptics do not know what a contradiction actually is and have only read in online memes that the Bible is full of contradictions. But there are no contradictions in the Bible, because it is from God. 

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/frequent-mistakes-skeptics-make-with-alleged-bible-contradictions/

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/collection-of-posts-responding-to-bible-contradictions/

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/100-alleged-bible-contradictions-answered/

So, when the skeptic accuses God or a Christian about injustice or foolishness or contradictions in the Bible:

  1. Test the claim of the skeptic, to see if his theory of knowledge can account for justice, logic, truth, reason, or induction. Undoubtedly, any attempt to explain will be inconsistent, arbitrary and/or irrational
  2. Give them the gospel of Jesus, because it is true as shown above

Here’s how I would answer some of the recent accusations from Haywood

ProvisionalTheory

Haywood had claimed that he had refuted by epistemology, so I had asked him, “what provisional theory makes you think you have refuted by epistemology?”

So, putting PAGA into effect:

  1. Test the claim
    1. Skeptics cannot justify knowledge, so I questioned his provisional theory and why he thinks it can refute what I am saying
    2. He has previously mentioned a hypothetical situation (how can you prove you’re not in the matrix?) which he thinks refutes Christianity…or at least presuppositional apologetic. I’ve responded to him, that this hypothetical is a retreat into absurdity, because if he is in the matrix and nothing is real, then his question does not even make sense. It’s ridiculous, so the choice of the skeptic is repentance or absurdity
    3. He also makes the claim that “it was incorrect.” Any “it” he might be talking about would have to be compared against absolute truth, which his worldview cannot justify. So, any claim he might say that was incorrect, cannot be justified.
  2. Give them the gospel
    1. So, a good response to this claim (after exposing it’s impotence) would be “Your thinking and your future can be redeemed by repentance for your rebellion against the Creator. Jesus paid the penalty for the crimes of those who repent.”

ZeroPhilosophers
Test the claim:

    1. “We are debating…” – How do you know what is real? You’ve already admitted that you could be in the matrix or that some future knowledge could change what you think you know now. So, you can’t claim to know anything
    2. “Validity of your version of Christian presuppositionalism, which is held by approximately 0% of professional philosophers.” Again, testing his claim of knowledge to show, that he cannot justify it as knowledge. It is also the fallacy of ad populum: the fallacy that says something is true because most/all people believe it. 
  1. Give the gospel
    1. Truth is not determined by percentage. Truth is determined by revelation from God. 

WrongAboutEverything
Test the claim:

    1. “I can…randomly spit out a hypothetical that shows your epistemology is invalid.” Remember, all “knowledge” from the skeptic, is provisional, so his claim cannot be justified. He makes a particularly grievous claim there, that is clearly false, since because of his epistemology, he could never know or justify such a claim.
    2. Since Haywood cannot justify his own epistemology, he cannot show that any other epistemology (specifically Christianity) is either right/wrong
  1. Since my epistemology is true, we do not have to retreat to absurd hypotheticals or “random spit outs”. Jesus came to redeem reasoning along with creation

 

Many times, the skeptic wants to know from the Christian “Give me proof” or “What proof validates Christianity”

This desire from the skeptic assumes that there is some authority (usually scientism) that has higher authority than revelation from the Almighty. But there is no higher authority than God and his eternal word. Have scientists ever been monumentally incorrect? How could the skeptic be certain that their faith in the current academic paradigm isn’t going to be mocked as ridiculous in the future? Since they cannot be sure of this, why do they insist on bludgeoning Christians with their provisional beliefs?

As Christians, we know there is no higher authority than God, so that desire of the skeptic to try to validate God’s revelation with a higher authority is irrational. But as expected, all evidence does indeed is in accord with what God has revealed in the Bible and in Jesus.

We can trust God with what He has revealed about history, so He is trustworthy with our future.

 

P.S. Please be polite to online skeptics (and skeptics face-to-face). Give the gospel rather than trying to win “debates”.

Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 2

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The Gathering Storm

In this short chapter, Ross attacks who he thinks is responsible for the conflict between biblical creationists and old earthers.

In the mid-seventeenth  century, however, two British scholars, John Lightfoot and James Ussher, produced commentaries that seeded the clouds of dissention. In their zeal for exactitude (and personal competition), they inadvertently opened the gates for a drenching dogmatism that divided Christian from Christian, and faith from fact, for centuries to come.

 

  1. Why would Ross use the term dissension? Ussher was reading his Bible and making use of his reason to learn about history. It is only dissension if someone disagrees with the Bible, and Ussher is in direct agreement with the Bible.
  2. “Zeal for exactitude” Should we not all desire to be zealous for truth? Ross is being pedantic here by criticizing a biblical scholar for wanting to be studious and careful in his research
  3. It’s hypocritical that Ross would criticize these biblical scholars for their “exactitude” because Ross is routinely quoted online and even in this book (p150) “the age of the universe is 13.79 billion years +/-  0.06 billion years”. It’s not ok for 17th century biblical scholars to propose an age of the universe with 4 significant digits, but Ross can do it?!?!?! 
  4. Ross builds this up as if Ussher created a schism within Christianity, but is that really the case? The Hebrew calendar year is 5780 in January 2020 when this blog was written. Interesting that the Hebrew calendar is set to have begun at creation and is counting forward in time. So, is Ross’s claim that Ussher created a schism within Christianity, or have the old-earthers like Ross created the division to accommodate the modern academic paradigm? Given the evidence of the Hebrew calendar year, it appears as if Dr. Ross is the one who has diverged from the biblical teaching in order to be acceptable to modern academic scholars.

On p22 Ross writes

Both Lightfoot and Ussher ignored Hebrew scholarship and assumed no generations were omitted from the biblical genealogies. They assumed the Genesis 1 creation days to be six consecutive 24-hour periods.

While Ross’s book is filled with citations (92 pages), nowhere does he cite why he thinks Lightfoot and Ussher “ignored Hebrew scholarship”. Should Ussher be alive today, he might consider that accusation something of a slight…especially when Hebrew scholars confirm over and over the interpretations that Ussher used.

Which generations does Dr. Ross assume were missing? He doesn’t say and there’s no citation to investigate why he thinks such a strange thing.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 1

Flash Point

Ch1

In his first chapter, Dr. Ross describes a few encounters with biblical creationists where Dr. Ross felt insulted and identified with derogatory names. I have to agree with Dr. Ross in this area that Christians should not use derogatory names to define those with whom we disagree. As thinking Christians, we should instead be able to identify the specific areas of disagreement and then go to our authority (the Bible) to correct those Christians, who are in error. This is the primary purpose for this book review.

Some might point to my blog post from 9/8/17 where I referred to the disciples of Dr. Ross as Rossians and accuse me of being hypocritical for having written the above sentence. But in the same way that those who follow the teachings of John Calvin are called Calvinists, and those who uphold the teachings of Martin Luther are referred to as Lutherans, so it is not unfair to name the disciples of Ross’s teachings as Rossians. It is not a pejorative but simply a collective description of the ideals that his particular brand of old earthism espouses. 

In the same vein, but from the flipside, have not the old-earthers referred to biblical creationists as “science-deniers”, “knuckle-draggers”, and “ignorant morons”? Criticizing those with whom one disagrees using pejoratives rather than reasoned arguments based on God’s Word is unhealthy and against Jesus’ command for Christians to love one another. We can all do better by thinking critically rather than letting emotions lead.

On page 14 Dr. Ross says

I was overjoyed to meet many Christians, even fellow scientists, who were convinced that the Bible is completely true.

Again, I agree with Dr. Ross that the Bible is completely true. So, why do Dr. Ross and I disagree so strongly about the age of the earth when we both believe the Bible to be completely true? Because to accommodate his old earth assumptions, he must re-interpret many words and passages. We will get into many more of the specifics as this book review continues, but the following chart is a very brief summary of the re-definitions of words that allows Ross to say “I believe all of the Bible” but still hold onto his old-earthism.

 

There are also several other groups who have claimed to believe the Bible to be completely true, but all the while holding onto grievous theological errors.

This is not to say that Dr. Ross is a heretic, but just because he claims to believe the whole Bible does not exempt him from poor exegesis and serious error.

On p14, Ross says

The solidity if the scientific evidence for both Earth’s origin (a few billion years ago) and the universe’s beginning (a few more billion years ago…

Three things with this comment:

  1. Before the sun/earth (as Ross would say) coalesced from dense clouds about 5 billion (MOYBOY) years ago:, what is a year? How do you calibrate a year before the “timepieces” that define a year cosmically evolve? And how do you estimate billions of those time units?
  2. He has conflated ‘interpretations of observations’ for ‘scientific evidence.’ We find this particular conflation throughout the book – including in the next page when he says “Evangelical leaders who believe the Bible is true and that the universe and Earth are as old as the stars and rocks…” We find this particular conflation throughout the book. Interpretations of observations ≠ evidence
  3. What he has attempted to prove in his book (that the Bible teaches a very old universe) he has simply assumed to be true. This is the fallacy of assuming the consequent or circular reasoning.

Later on p15 he says “Now the hurricane of controversy whirls around a peripheral point – the age of the universe and the Earth.”

If it is a peripheral point and he is dismissive of the reasons it is a controversy, why then did Dr. Ross write a 389 page book about it? The age of the earth, in and of itself may be a peripheral issue, but the way that a Christian comes to the conclusion of the age of the earth is not. The age of the earth is a question of authority and biblical interpretation. Does God’s eternal Word have authority over modern academic paradigms, culture, political, and historical jurisdictions or can those disciplines bring force over the interpretation of the Bible?

Biblical thinking rejects those other disciplines as having authority over God’s Word, but we see over and over that Ross allows modern academic paradigms to re-interpret the eternal Word of God. It is called eisegesis, and Ross appears to be an Eisegesis-ninja

On p17 Ross uses the strawman fallacy to construct an easily defeatable caricature of biblical creationists, so that he can mock it

These comments expose the widely held assumption that all evangelical Christians reject the integrity of science and accept young-earth creationism.

Biblical creationists do NOT reject the integrity of science. Biblical creationists reject the old earth assumptions that precede evaluation of evidence, which result in old earth conclusions. Science has integrity because the Bible is true. For science to work, there must be pre-conditions of intelligibility that are immutable, abstract, and absolute. Some of these pre-conditions are laws of logic, math, truth, morality, and induction. The God of the scriptures is immutable, transcendent, and absolute, so He is the only sufficient justification for the pre-conditions of intelligibility, thus making science both possible and trustworthy. Since the Bible is true, we know that the Eternal Creator, who knows everything and never lies, has revealed some things, so that we can know them for certain. Part of what He has revealed is the historical creation of the universe.

On p19 Ross makes an interesting claim:

In the past I’ve called this difference between young and old-earth proponents trivial, referring only to mathematical terms. My intent was to indicate that young- and old-earth creationists are mathematically much closer to one another than they are to any form of naturalism. Thus, the controversy seems largely unnecessary.

The main reasons why the controversy is necessary is because:

  1. Ross uses modern academic paradigms to re-interpret scripture. Nothing has authority to interpret scripture but scripture itself.
  2. Ross teaches that death/suffering/destruction/predation/thorns (the very curses for sin) all existed for hundreds of millions of years prior to the sin of mankind. That makes the difference between Rossian beliefs and biblical creationists both necessary and a gospel issue.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Introduction

Dr. Ross begins his book by explaining part of the reason for his book:

Debates over the age of the universe and earth and the length of the Genesis creation days have-for the past several decades-deeply divided the evangelical Christian community…This impediment to Christian unity appears to be heightening into a storm of ferocious fury.

He is correct here. He is attempting in his book to provide a rebuttal to those who hold a young earth position, so that the “unity” for which he longs is really the eradication of the ideas of the other side. There is significant division on this point, but he seems not to understand the totality of the division when he writes, 

What could generate such tension and divisiveness? One simple word: ‘day’.

While the word day is the catalyst for such division, the totality of the argument is better understood to be ‘biblical interpretation.’ What things can be used to interpret the Bible? How much does context matter when interpreting words? Where there appear to be tensions between the Bible and interpretations of observations, which side of the tug-of-war maintains authority in interpreting the other. 

I’ll come back to this point repeatedly since throughout the book Dr. Ross echos that modern interpretations of observations that he calls ‘nature’s record’ and ‘scientific facts’ are authoritative over scripture. Being familiar with his arguments, he calls nature the 67th book of scripture or the “book of nature”. He cites passages like Romans 1:20, which says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” as confirmation of the book of nature. While I do believe every word of the text, Ross’s interpretation of the passage is that instead of the revelation of God in creation being sufficient for a person’s judgment, that modern paradigms that interpret creation can be used to re-interpret special revelation. However, Genesis 3:17 (God-”Cursed is the ground”), Romans 8:20-21 (“For the creation was subjected to frustration…hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to corruption”) and nature CANNOT have the same authority as God’s special revelation in the Bible. 

Proper biblical hermeneutics maintains that only scripture can interpret scripture. When there appears to be tension between the Bible and some competing jurisdiction (scientific paradigm, cultural, political, historical…), SCRIPTURE must be the authority. Competing ‘authorities’ must be submissive to God’s eternal revelation. Throughout the book, Dr. Ross tries to build the case that interpretations of fallen creation can interpret God’s eternal Word.

hermeneutics

Dr. Ross (and other old earthers) takes liberty with the Hebrew word for ‘day’ (yom), which he is able to stretch the meaning from 12 hours to billions of years. With a range that large, where day can essentially mean ANYTHING, does it have meaning at all? Using the same ranges would it be fair to use the word ‘puddle’ for both a body of water that is 

8,000,000,000 feet deep and 8,000,000,000 feet in diameter

AND

2 inches deep and 2 inches in diameter?

 

As the word puddle would lose all meaning if it could describe everything from a splash to a body of water twice the size of the sun, so the world ‘day’ loses all meaning if abnormally forced to include both “all time” and 24 hours.

Having said this, biblical creationists do recognize the Hebrew word (yom) has some flexibility. Like its English counterpart, yom can be daylight hours, 24 hours, or a season of time. But nowhere in scripture does yom have the pliability to accommodate billions of years as Ross suggests. To get this definition, he is forced to bring his outside assumptions into the scriptural text. This process is called eisegesis, and when interpreting the Biblical text, eisegesis is a NO-NO.

 

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Book Review: A Matter of Days 2nd Edition by Hugh Ross

AMOD_Cover

Writing a book is indeed a huge and trying undertaking. Reviewing a book is, by comparison, far easier and is rather painless. So, I will begin my review of A Matter of Days by Dr. Hugh Ross by recognizing the tremendous effort and time that he and his staff put into publishing a high quality book.

For those interested in the topic of biblical creation, theology, origins, science, and biblical interpretation, you will probably appreciate the book. It is 389 pages long including the appendices, notes, index, and biography. It contains 23 chapters.

The overall theme of the book is Dr. Ross building a case for old earthism in contrast to young earth creationism (henceforth to be referred to as biblical creation).

My plan for this review is to take each chapter as a separate blog post and keep track of the entire review in a “table of contents” format for easy navigating. I have purposefully not read any other reviews of this book, so that the contents of this review are entirely of my own reasoning. However, I will link to many outside sources to validate points and allow readers to further investigate points throughout the review. The exception to “other reviews” is part of the analysis of chapter 17. The reason for this is that I am not a practicing professional astrophysicist, and most of that chapter deals with astrophysics. Many of the points Dr. Ross makes in this chapter will need outside resources for proper reviewing.

My hope is that this review drives Christians back to God’s Word to study and grow…so that the believer knows God better and can thus worship Him in spirit and in truth with a fuller understanding of His greatness!

Introduction – Dawn of a New Day

Flash Point

The Gathering Storm

The Clouds Burst

Wisdom of the Ages

The Creedal Climate

Toward Better Interpretations

Anchored in Scripture

Guided By Theology

Good God, Cruel World

Peace Through Paradise

Young-Earth Darwinism?

Faith, Morality, and Long Creation Days

Big Bang: The Bible Said It First

Scientific Signs of Old Age

Challenges to an Old Cosmos

The Reliability of Radiometric Dating

The Scientific Case for a Young Cosmos

Physical Reality Breaks Through the Fog

Narrow Time Windows

The Significance of Man

A Clear “Day” Interpretation

Councils Attempt to Bring Calm

Tranquility through Testing