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 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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The Hubris of Dawkins

I just finished watching this video, so you don’t have to. Contained in it is a motley collection of unsubstantiated claims, irrational homage to ignorance, and an impressive display of hubris by one Professor Dawkins

 

Watching the video, I tried to take some notes for discussion. While I captured some of the quotes from Dawkins, there’s more than enough irrational rubbish spouted by the good doctor to fill up a shelf at the local library with his contradictions. Dr. Dawkins’ words are highlighted in red.

As you read through this (or watch the video) keep in mind Dawkins signature quote,

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference

It is a bold and unsubstantiated claim, but THAT is his epistemic foundation. From this purposeless universe, Dawkins somehow conjures up purpose. From this amoral universe, Dawkins somehow judges religion as arrogant. From this pitiless universe, Dawkins manages to create meaning in empiricistic efforts, and from the indifferent universe, he produces eloquence and courage and a TON OF MONEY from his speaking fees.

Interesting note, one can join the Dawkins’ groupie cult with an annual donation of a cool half million American greenbacks $$$$$$$$$$$

Dawkins begins his diatribe by lumping all theism into a single category and throughout the video calls them “arrogant, hubristic, full of presumptuous precision“.

An understanding of modern Darwinism should arm us with courage to fight (what I shall demonstrate) is the hubris of faith

During the Q&A time, I would have loved to have asked Dr. Dawkins, “For the accidental aggregation of stardust in a purposeless universe, with no good, no evil, just blind pitiless indifference, WHAT is arrogance? What is hubris?” There’s just no coming back from his starting point to him giving a rational answer.

We don’t yet have an agreed theory of how the evolutionary theory began in the 1st place.

No kidding. Yet throughout, he tells us the science is settled…and “Those questions have now been definitively answered once and for all by Darwin and his successors

Nobody knows how the universe must have began

He follows up these quotes with “Theologians invoke the God-of-the-gaps at every opportunity” without realizing how he was firing blanks from his own naturalism-of-the-gaps firearm.

Without letting up on the hypocrisy, Dawkins mocks Islam from 4:40-9:10 and with the sweeping generalization fallacy declares all religion as pointless

How can people bear to live their lives bound by such insanely specific and bossy yet manifestly pointless rules?

Those were magnificently rich words coming from the guy who says the universe is purposeless.

Dawkins then leaves his perceived area of safety, biology, and stumbles blindly into philosophy and morality by saying

It’s not hubristic to state known facts when the evidence is secure. Yes, yes, philosophers of science tell us that a fact is no more than a hypothesis which may 1 day be falsified, but which has so far withstood strenuous attempts to do so. Let’s by all means pay lip service to that philosophical incantation. But muttering at the same time in homage perhaps to Galileo’s [LATIN] the sensible words of Stephen J Gould “In science fact can only mean confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional ascent.”

So, what is a fact? He claims it to be like phlogiston, and flat earth, and blood letting, and geocentrism…the current best guess. It’s clear that Dawkins does not understand that science is built upon the philosophy of logic, truth, morality, and induction. These foundational entities are unchanging, abstract, and universal. If like Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever will be” then how does the naturalist justify unchanging abstract absolutes? They cannot. To do so, they would have to reject their own presuppositions and argue like a Christian, who can substantiate unchanging abstract absolutes with the immutable, transcendent, absolute Creator. Continuing, Dawkins quotes Gould, who invokes the idea of perversity. How does one determine something to be perverse in a universe with no good and no evil? The contradictions are building up!

But that does not stop him from declaring, without reservation, irrefutable facts:

The universe began between 13-14 billion years ago

Really? What calibration techniques (besides presumptuous extrapolation) can one use to verify this claim? What about recent claims that the universe is now over TWO billion years younger than Dawkins’ FACT claim? Uh-oh. Now that there are competing FACTS. To which arbiter of truth do these naturalists turn in order to solve their 2,300,000,000 year disagreement?

The sun and the planets orbiting it (including ours) condensed out of a rotating disk of gas, dust and debris about 4.5 billion years ago

Really? What calibration techniques (besides presumptuous extrapolation) can one use to verify this claim? What about all of the evidence that limits the earth to being younger than 100,000 years?

We know the shape of the continents and where they were at any named time in geological history and we can project ahead and draw the map of the world as it will change in the future

I’d be very interested in hearing how he would confirm this claim? He speaks of the hubris of religion, but verifying a claim of this magnitude reeks of…what did Dawkins say earlier? Presumptuous precision. It was easy for him to cast this judgment on those with whom he disagrees, but when he invokes presumptuous precision in his own claims, he feels irrationally justified.

As a reminder, Dawkins claims

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference

But he persists on in his inconsistency and word-smithing with:

Yet somehow the emergent power of our evolved brains has enabled us to develop the crystalline edifice of mathematics by which we accurately predict the behavior of entities that lie under the radar of our intuitive comprehension

Emergent power? Is that science or story-telling? What mechanism drives and fuels emergent power? Why does Dawkins expect the discovered properties of mathematics to be unchanging, abstract, and absolute in a constantly changing chaotic cosmos made only of matter? Adding to the irrational difficulties of the evolved brain which Dawkins praises, Charles Darwin (in his autobiography) was much less trusting of the reasoning power of the brain if it did indeed evolve from non-reasoning of the “lowest animals”

DarwinAutobiography

We are not arrogant not hubristic to celebrate the sheer bulk and detail of what we know through science. We are simply telling the honest and irrefutable truth. And honest as I’ve said is the frank admission of how much we don’t yet know

Whoa! Dawkins, you’ve straying outside your naturalistic boundaries again into the uncharted waters of philosophy and morality.  “Honest and irrefutable truth” ????!?!?! Didn’t you remind us earlier that facts are simply the best guesses or today that will undoubtedly be panned by future scientists? And what is honesty for the evolved descendants of algae? He’s now singing the praises of ignorance, but he irrationally has said in other speeches that Christians are the ones, who should be mocked.

What are the DEEP Problems for us:
How does the brain physiology produce subjective consciousness?
Where do the laws of physics come from?
What set the fundamental constants and why do they appear fine tuned to produce us?
Why is there something rather than nothing?

Those are deep problems for naturalism indeed. For those with a Christian worldview, these issues are not problems at all, because God has revealed Himself in creation, in the Bible, and in Jesus. So since the One, who know everything and is eternally faithful, has revealed some history to us, we can be certain of the answers to the questions that his revelation answers. No interpretations of modern paradigms have higher authority that God’s revelation.

The human mind (including my own) rebels emotionally against the idea that something as complex as life and the rest of the expanding universe could have just happened. It takes intellectual courage to kick yourself out of your emotional incredulity and persuade yourself that there is no other rational choice…Which is more probable, the impossible has really happened or that he conjurer has fooled you. You don’t have to understand how the trick was done in order to take the courageous leap of reason and say hard as it is to swallow, I know it’s only a trick. The laws of physics are secure.

The human mind rebels in several ways:

  • The human mind rebels against the Creator. Being born into sin, the human mind wants very much to be its OWN authority in the rightful place of the Supreme Monarch, Jesus! But through humble repentance, the human mind can instead embrace reality and worship the Creator rather than the created.
  • The human mind does indeed rebel against the idea that the universe, life, and consciousness emerged from nothing. Dawkins joins Richard Lewontin in refusing to accept the mountains of evidence for God and instead choosing philosophically to suppress the knowledge of God. Confirmation of Romans 1

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door – Richard Lewontin

Finally, Dawkins claims that even though he cannot justify the very foundations of science, scientism is the ONLY means for answering deep questions:

If science…can’t answer the deep questions, then nothing can

If you interact with atheists long enough, and you’ll hear them say, “Atheism makes no claims. It’s not a worldview. It is simply: a lack of beliefs in a God.”

To that, I have a few things to say: A rock as a lack of belief in God. Algae has a lack of belief in God. So, it means nothing to say that atheism is a lack of beliefs in a God.

Secondly, Romans 1tells us that everyone has knowledge of the Creator, but in their unrighteousness, they suppress the truth.

And thirdly, the high priest of Darwin, Richard Dawkins claims atheism to be a worldview:

The contrast between religion and atheism: I want to argue that the atheistic worldview has an unsung virtue of intellectual courage. 

Now, he still cannot account for courage, intellect, or the laws of logic by which he could contrast religion and atheism, but he understands that atheism is a worldview. It’s just a bad one.

 

Dawkins has heard the gospel of Jesus, but he has rejected it. He now leads the deception of others that naturalism can account for reality in the rightful place of the Holy One. He is to be pitied.

Since we can trust what God has revealed to us about history (and HE has confirmed his historical revelation in the person of Jesus), we can be sure of what God has claimed about the future: hope, peace, and rest for those who humbly repent of their rebellion against the Holy One. Praise God for his amazing grace!!!

Why Old Earthism Divides

The debate on the age of the earth has been ongoing for epochs…or at least for 150 years since Charles Lyell worked to “free the science from Moses.” I’ve addressed this particular issue many time before, and while not an issue of salvation, it has great importance for Christians in the area of biblical interpretation. So, while people can still be redeemed and not understand the intricacies of biblical hermeneutics, it is still important for maturing Christians to learn to correctly understand the revelation of God as intended.

hermeneutics

So, if the age of the earth is not an issue of salvation, why does it seem to bring such division? The division comes from how to interpret the Bible. If the Bible is the Word of God, then it should be the epistemic authority. Typically, it is those that are identified as youth earth creationists or biblical creationists that take this view. The Bible is authoritative, and outside sources are subject to what God has revealed. If the Bible is just a collection of loosely-affiliated religious writings then there can be other authorities (culture, scholarly paradigms, other historical documents) that can OVERRULE biblical texts. This is typically how old earth believers tend to view the Bible. They typically say, “We believe the Bible to to true” but then they immediately say, “Genesis needs to be interpreted differently than written because science proves it to be wrong.” See what happens there? They hold interpretations of evidence in authority over scripture, so that the Bible gets re-interpreted when the materialist assumptions of the foundation of the current scholarly paradigm. Below is an example.

Recently, I came across a blog that attempted to build a case that God’s Word can somehow accommodate billions of years and even evolution.

Sadly, this blog post starts out with an equivocation fallacy, and it’s a very common one, so the author, Candice Brown (CB hereafter) is probably just quoting from someone else who uses this particular mantra.

I remained convinced that science and religion were not compatible

The equivocations are that
1) science = old earth or evolution
2) religion = young earth

Bart_Conflate_Science_Evolution

However, science is the systematic study of nature through observation & experiment. So, science is a method, not an entity. Science measures evidence. Evidence is analyzed by people with presuppositions. The combination of presuppositions and science can be used to make conclusions. Someone who has the presupposition that the universe is old will use the tool of science to conclude that the universe is old. How would someone get the assumption that the universe/earth is old? For the last century, all universities have taught that the universe is old because of the work of Lyell, whose stated purpose was to “free the science from Moses”. This quote is a mutiny from the clear teachings of the Bible, which Lyell hated. So, all of today’s professors have been taught that the universe is old. Should someone raise doubts about this, they are figuratively and well as (sometimes) literally expelled from employment and teaching/learning at university.

The forensic scientists at Creation Ministries International, The Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis understand from God’s revelation in the Bible that God intended for the audience to see his handiwork in history, and the scientific studies seen today confirm this in every respect.

CB continues in her blog post with the idea that the Earth appears to be very old. She’s not wrong. It does look to be thousands of years old. That is a REALLY long time, and the maximum time that can be historically verified. Were the earth to be millions of years old (or older), the mountains would, at the very least, be rounded smooth by wind/water erosion. And if the earth were more than 10 million years old, the continents would have been ground into the sea by wind/water erosion based on current erosion rates.

A common response to the erosion problem by old earthers is “Well, you forget about the concept of continental uplift. As continents collide, the continents are being continually recycled up.” There are reasons that show why this does not help the old earther:

  1. This concept has already been factored into the erosion rates
  2. The fossils are still there. Since the rate of continental erosion limits their age to (at most) 10s of millions of years, then the fossils would have long ago been eroded along with the rest of the sedimentary layers if the recycling of uplift has renewed the continents. Since there are still fossils, the continents are young. Old earthism is falsified.

CB also quotes Reasons To Believe (an old earth organization) saying that humans emerged somewhere around 150 thousand years ago. This number is counter to the biblical genealogies in Genesis 5, against the population growth statistics, and against the latest research in genetics, which show an increase in entropy. The latest work in genetics confirms exactly what the Bible revealed in the biblical genealogies that have been repeated in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3. The human genome accumulates hundreds of mutations in each generation that natural selection cannot remove since natural selection works on the phenotype level and not the genetic level. Since humans have not gone extinct, old earthism is falsified.

CB continues with:

In order to dispute this evidence, Christians must make several leaps, such as believing dinosaurs and humans co-existed

The evidence is strongly in favor of humans co-existing with dinosaurs, but most people are unaware of the evidence. The links below are not comprehensive, but provide strong justification for the facts that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in the past.

  1. Dinosaur cave paintings
  2. Brass Dinosaur on Bishop Bell’s tomb
  3. Stegosaurus in Cambodia
  4. While not necessarily man with dinosaur, soft-tissue being found in dinosaur bones falsifies the mantra that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 millions years ago. At most, the bones are only a few thousand years old. The link of this text shows over 100 “ancient” bones that contain soft tissue. Old earthism is falsified again
  5. Historical accounts

MarcoPoloDinosaur

CB goes on to dispute the clear teaching of the days in Genesis to be of the 24-hour variety.

Much like the English word love has five meanings in ancient Greek, the Hebrew word yom יום (translated day in Genesis) has four meanings, one of which indicates not a twenty-four hour period, but an age of time

Biblical creationists are well aware of this meaning of the Hebrew word yom, and there are several reasons why the context of Genesis 1 demands they be literal days, and not figurative ones.

  1. The author intended his audience to see the Genesis days as literal days
  2. The days have boundaries (ordinals and morning/evening)
  3. Other scriptures confirm literal days
  4. God spoke to Abraham using analogies for incredibly large numbers, so it’s not that Hebrews were simple people and could not understand numbers greater than 10 as old earthers would contend. Gen 22:17 “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.” To describe a more consistent way that God would have communicated the many epochs of days, were old earthism to be true, would be for Him to have used language where He already shows His intention to communicate large numbers. But He did not. God instead chose to perform his creative works in 6 days as He said.
  5. There are contexts (plurality, modifying words, suffixes) in Hebrew for yom to mean more than a day, but none of these contexts are present in Genesis 1.
  6. There are 2 Hebrew words (zeman – H2165 and eth H6256) for epochs or long indefinite period of time, BUT THESE WORDS ARE NOT USED IN GENESIS 1

The biggest obstacle that old earthers must overcome to inject their biases into the biblical text is to somehow justify the curses of sin (death, suffering, and thorns) as being present in creation PRIOR to the rebellion of mankind. When they insist on this, it becomes an issue about the gospel. Invariably, when I ask old earthers to justify their position on this, I get either “well, it’s only spiritual death” or “I just interpret the Bible differently than you.”

  1. God declared his creation “very good.” Since creation is very good, there could not have been disease, bloodshed, and harm. Isaiah 11 and 65 confirm this. Harm, disease, and bloodshed prior to sin is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified
  2. In Genesis 3:17-19 God said to Adam “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree…to dust you will return.” The curse of sin resulted in both spiritual and physical death. Both Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 are strong confirmation. So the debate is: Did death bring mankind into the world (old earthism) or did man bring death into the world (YEC). The Bible clearly answers that man’s sin brought death into the world. Death before sin is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified
  3. One of the curses is thorns. Jesus took the crown of thorns upon Himself at the cross to complete taking the curses of sin as our punishment. But if thorns existed prior to mankind as old earthism demands, then what was the curse of sin? There are fossil thorns buried in layers that old earthers “date” as having been made prior to mankind. This view is unbiblical and therefore old earthism is falsified

Biblical interpretation is not an arbitrary function. When people interpret the Bible to mean whatever is popular in culture (homosexuality, old ages, contrary historical documents), then the body of Christ is divided and suffers.

Christians should be united. And the unity should center around God’s revelation in scripture and its fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus confirmed the testimony of Moses (Luke 16) and confirmed the historical nature of Genesis (Mark 10:6). So, God’s people should not be divided about the age of the earth. They should be united around a healthy understanding of the Bible, so that Jesus can be glorified.

We can trust God with our future because we can trust his revelation about the past.