This is my first “formal” debate. An agnostic challenged me via Twitter to defend my position on Christianity. Any constructive criticism is appreciated.
We agreed beforehand to answer the question:
Does Christianity or Naturalism Better Account For Reality?
But right from the start, my opponent waffled on defending the position in an attempt not to be cornered. But as you can see, he really didn’t arrive with any position or defense.
The format of the debate was to have a 5 minute closing, but since there was a debate scheduled right after ours, the moderator chose to end our debate prematurely. This was my prepared closing:
“As we have heard hear tonight, naturalism is unable to account for reality. Because we have heard no consistent justification for the 8 necessities for explaining reality, it is a worldview that is insufficient for determining truth.
But my purpose for being involved in this debate is to share the gospel of Jesus the Messiah. All of mankind has rebelled against God’s holiness. God’s perfect creation is perverted by sin. We see the effects of the curse of sin all around us: Lying, stealing, adultery, murder are not just pragmatically wrong, socially wrong, or wrong because they cause harm…although they do harm. They are ultimately wrong because they lie about the character of Almighty God. God, who revealed himself through creation, the Bible, and in Jesus is truthful, content, faithful, and kind. His judgment for rebellion is based on righteousness. But God made a plan to redeem those who would repent of their rebellion. In fulfillment of prophecy God became man as Jesus and took on the punishment for sin that each one of us deserve. By his grace, those who repent of their rebellion, will be forgiven and live the abundant life that Jesus promised. He is worthy of all praise.”
For years Matt Walsh has been an outspoken conservative commentator and blogger on politics and abortion. He has amassed an ardent audience through his multiple media portals. I’ve enjoyed reading many of his opinions.
With the release of his YouTube video, Why I am Not A Young Earth Creationist, this past week, he took a bold step into an area of theology for which he appears to be completely unprepared.
Walsh brings to the discussion monumental misunderstands of what biblical creation teaches …and not much else. Here are the glaring misunderstandings that he attributes to biblical creationists:
- Biblical creationists take every single thing in the bible completely literally. Poetry, parables, exaggerations, symbolism are all held the same as history, doctrine and the words of Jesus.
- This is a ridiculous view. Biblical creationists take the genre into consideration when reading God’s revealed word. Walsh’s opening point is very polemic and unhelpful to the conversation. Genesis is written as history. The author’s intent was to to convey to his readers that the events in Genesis are part of the history of God’s interactions with humanity and specifically the origins of the Hebrew people. The rest of the old testament and dozens of times in the new testament, Genesis is quoted as having actually happened. Genesis regarded by Moses, the other old testament authors and the new testament authors as history. Should Walsh want to believe that part of Genesis was metaphor and part history, where does this switch happen?
- Biblical creationists demand that Genesis be a scientific encyclopedia that explains all fields of science in the greatest depth.
- Again, this polemic misrepresentation adds nothing to the discussion. Nothing in scripture is intended to be a scientific treatise, but where scripture covers something scientific, it’s never incorrect. The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 is not concerned with teaching humanity about profound scientific principles. It is God’s revelation of his miraculous acts of creation. Since creation was supernatural acts involving his supreme power, why do old earthers, like Walsh, expect naturalistic explanations for these miracles but not the other miracles in the Bible? Virgin birth? Resurrection from the dead? These things are scientifically impossible. Why do old earthers specifically segregate the miracle of creation as impossible?
- Biblical creationists demand that the word day means 24 hours every single time it is used throughout scripture without exception. According to Walsh, a day can be measured on earth, Pluto, or Saturn because God was not clear in his revelation, so he can take whatever frame of reference he wants a day to be. Walsh: “We have no reasons at all to assume that the days in Genesis 1 were 24 hours long.”
- Biblical creationists agree that the Hebrew word “yom” can be translated in many ways. The key to understanding what it means in each passage, and specifically Genesis 1 is called exegesis. Look at the context and where scripture talks about this event in other places to see what the word means here. Each of the days of Genesis 1 are denoted with an ordinal (THE 1st day, THE 2nd day, THE 3rd day…), and each of the days is bounded by evening and morning. Looking at Exodus 20 (which is a passage that NO ONE says is poetry), God says your weeks should be like my creation week. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…For in 6 days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” So, by exegesis we have 100% verification that God intended his people to work for six 24-hour days and rest on one 24 hour day…just like He did during the creation week. So if old earthers want to change the definition of a day in this context they have to overcome the direct command from God about the course of a week and the ordinals and familiar boundaries of evening/morning.
- Biblical creationists hate science and they think that all scientists in all fields of science are lying about their conclusions of long ages.
- Again, more straw-man arguments that are not true. Most branches of science were started and developed by biblical creationists. There are axioms and assumptions in all scientific research. Biblical creationists forsake the naturalistic assumptions that the modern paradigm relies upon for their old earthism. If Walsh wants to accommodate old earth cosmology because the vast majority of scientists believe it, he is bound to accept the biological origins of humanity as well, which is also untenable from a biblical perspective.
Walsh starts his video with this friendly sounding quote: “We should be able to discuss an important and interesting issue without getting angry and without getting offended.”
But the more you watch his video, he is not interested in rational discussion. He is clearly not trying to be persuasive but is instead purposefully mischaracterizing those with whom he disagrees as morons.
Walsh gets his arguments mixed up at one point by saying there are days prior to there being an earth…except the first sentence in the Bible says that God created the earth at the beginning. He then misunderstands the definition of a day saying that there must be a light source or days mean nothing. This is not true. The definition of a day is 1 rotation of the earth on its axis. No light source necessary. But for his old earth position, he has a HUGE shortcoming in his foundations since a year is defined as the time is takes the earth to revolve around the sun. What are the units of time prior to the sun and earth coalescing from primordial space dust and how is that calibrated? They would say it’s 9 billion years, but what is a year prior to the calibration of a year existing?
Watching his video once was bad enough, but going back through it again to highlight his misunderstandings is nearly unbearable. So, while there are more strawmen arguments and lazy analysis of biblical creation, it is sufficient to say that Walsh could use a serious re-adjustment of his perspective regarding God’s revelation in Genesis. Our understanding of science is based upon God’s revelation from the Bible; not the other way around.
Should he want to do his due diligence (and he doesn’t care for Ken Ham) there’s more than enough information to learn what real biblical creationists teach from these resources:
I’ve listened to Shermer debate several different Christians, and his debate style has grown tiresome.
In this debate, Shermer declared victory in the opening paragraph and spent the rest of his time “killing” straw men, showcasing red-herrings, and refusing to provide justification for his assertions. It was terribly frustrating to hear Shermer, who failed miserably at defending atheism, declare victory in the closing remarks when Hernandez chose not to join Shermer outside the debate boundaries. His entire argument (as Hernandez correctly pointed out) was “I don’t like God.”
It’s time for Shermer to retire from debate. He was never able to understand the depth of Dr. Hernandez’s transcendental argument. Shermer continued to “argue” against tired classic Christian apologetics, which Dr. Hernandez never employed.
I find similar responses from atheists with whom I interact. They do not understand the depth of their philosophical dilemma, and they resort to scientism (“we have evidence….you don’t”), wild accusations (“stone adulterers and children!”) and vicious circularity.
In many ways, Christians must do better at framing the debate, so that atheists can at least try to tackle the real philosophical problems rather than fighting on the surface. But it’s certain that those outside the church who continue to suppress the truth will bring on themselves the “futile thinking…with foolish darkened hearts.” (Romans 1)…and thus never be able to understand the freedom of Truth (John 8:32).
It comes down to authority. The atheist chooses dirt (material) as the eternal authority. The follower of Jesus chooses the revealed Creator (and his Word) as his authority.