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Sunday, September 26, 2010

New series! Why Christianity and Darwinism cannot mix. C.S. Lewis edition.

This post will be peppered with C. S. Lewis quotes, all from Brainy Quotes and all in boldThey will require no additional attribution as all will be from the same source.

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
C. S. Lewis
 
Much to the doubtless disgruntlement of some of my commenters I am taking on an important subject that I believe is the next one to face.   It is the dichotomy that must exist in the mind of someone who is willing to give his mind to both Christ and Darwin.   My hope is to persuade people that Darwinism and Christianity cannot coexist and in fact repel each other like two positive or two negative magnets.   Perhaps as a child you used to play with magnets and observe their ability to grab onto metal but you probably also discovered that two magnets with the same charge would repel each other and it could be quite difficult to force two of them together.   Christianity and Darwinism are like this.   Late in life, the great writer and apologist C.S. Lewis expressed one regret, one thing that made him wish he could go back to his younger life and change - his belief in the possibility of Theistic Evolution.   Lewis changed his mind and became a strict Creationist in his later years.   Why?  Because they are opposing points of view from beginning to end.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

C. S. Lewis 

I urge you all to consider the next few posts on this subject and then choose your side, just as Joshua urged the Children of Israel as they prepared to finally claim their homeland in Joshua 24:14 & 15 -

"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." 

I hope you choose wisely and I hope you choose God.   But I do intend to make it clear that a belief in salvation through Jesus Christ depends upon a belief in a literal Genesis and, without that belief, is sheer nonsense.


If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

C. S. Lewis

Allow me to turn now to the INSECTMAN, Karl Priest.   This is a soliloquy delivered to both school board members and the public during a textbook dispute.   I appreciate the eloquence, so with no further ado:




Thank you, Karl.   A full description of the events is available here.

If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

C. S. Lewis 

Now I would like to present a post concerning a well-known Big Dog of Christianity, RC Sproul:


Famous evangelical apologist changes his mind

RC Sproul says he is now a six-day, young-earth creationist

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Bible
For many years RC Sproul publicly advocated a non-literal reading of the opening chapters of Genesis. But not any more. 

RC Sproul is a well-known evangelical scholar who has authored some 60 books and produced an enormous selection of other resources such as audio tapes and videos. According to Ligonier Ministries, founded by Dr Sproul,  he has degrees from Westminster College, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam. Further, he has an extensive teaching career at seminaries and colleges, including Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and Jackson, Mississippi, and Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale.

Recently RC Sproul published a three-volume layman’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith entitled Truths We Confess.1
 
His treatment of creation within the first volume especially caught my attention because he says he has changed his position from what he held for most of his teaching career. He says that he is now a six-day, young-earth creationist.

Creation is vital

Creation is foundational for the Christian church with every major Christian doctrine coming out of the events recorded in the first chapters of Genesis. Among these are: 1) the nature of God, including his power and goodness, 2) the nature of man, created in the image of God but fallen because of his sin, 3) the nature and consequences of sin, 4) the nature of marriage, 5) the origin of death as a penalty for sin, and an enemy, 6) the need for a Saviour to redeem man from sin, 7) the origin and meaning of work and the weekly day of rest, and 8) the relationship between man and the rest of creation, which is now cursed because of sin, 9) and much more.

This is why the doctrine of creation is vital, but unfortunately this doctrine is denied today, both outside and inside the church.

Dominant scientific view denies creation

Sproul is clear about the reason for this. He says that evangelical academics have denied six-day creation, as Genesis describes, because of ‘science’:
In our time a considerable number of theories have arisen denying that the creation, as we know it, took place in six twenty-four-hour days. Common to these theories is the acceptance of the dominant scientific view that the earth and life on it are very old. Many consider the biblical account to be primitive, mythological, and untenable in light of modern scientific knowledge. (p. 120)
I like his term ‘dominant scientific view’. I also like his graphic use of the word ‘denying’.
Sproul discusses the four main approaches that evangelical academics have taken concerning Genesis: 1) the gap theory, 2) the day-age theory, 3) the framework hypothesis, and 4) six-day creation. (p. 122)

Creation compromises

Concerning the gap theory Sproul says:
However, Scripture nowhere explicitly teaches that the original creation was marred and then after many years, reconstituted. The broader context of the whole of Scripture militates against the gap theory. (p. 123)
Neither does it solve the conflict with ‘science’. He also dismisses the day-age theory:
However, the day-age theory, like the gap theory, ignores the immediate context, as well as the larger biblical context. … From a literary, exegetical, and linguistic perspective, the day-age theory is weak. As a Christian apologist, I would not want to defend it. (p. 123)
The day-age theory does not resolve the conflict with ‘science’ either. Regarding the framework hypothesis, Sproul says:
[T]he framework hypothesis allows one to step into a Big Bang cosmology while maintaining the credibility and inspiration of Genesis 1–2. This is not history, but drama. The days are simply artistic literary devices to create a framework for a lengthy period of development. (p. 127)
‘For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one.’—R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess, 2006.1
 
It’s an attractive idea for those who think Genesis is untenable in the light of modern scientific knowledge. It avoids the issue. But Sproul concludes:
For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four–hour periods. According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of Genesis 1–2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days. [emphasis in original, indicating these words are part of the Confession] (pp. 127–128)
Note his use of the words ‘traditional’ and ‘escape’. Why try to escape the plain meaning of Scripture as traditionally accepted? As Sproul previously indicated, it is to avoid conflict with the dominant scientific view of evolution over millions of years, which is mistakenly regarded as fact. Significantly, Sproul includes some important scientific evidence for a young earth to dispel this misconception.

Return to orthodoxy

It is very encouraging to learn that Sproul has accepted creation in six days as written. As well as the days of creation, he discusses the age of the earth and again he clearly identifies science as the problem:
We have a problem not only with a six-day creation, but also with the age of the earth. Is the earth a few thousand years old or billions of years old (as scientists today insist)? (p. 121)
On a preliminary reading RC Sproul would appear to be non-committal about the age of the earth.
Although the Bible clearly says that the world was created in six days, it gives no date for the beginning of the work. It would be a mistake to become embroiled in too much controversy about the date of creation. (p. 121)
However, he goes on to make it plain that he rejects the view that the earth is billions of years old.
If we take the genealogies that go back to Adam, however, and if we make allowances for certain gaps in them (which could certainly be there), it remains a big stretch from 4004 BC to 4.6 billion years ago. (pp. 121–122)
‘A big stretch’! Yes, it would be a big stretch to take the genealogies back just 10,000 years, let alone one puny million. Even then we would be nowhere near 4.6 billion years. RC Sproul makes it clear from this statement that he believes in a young earth. (And there is a good biblical case that the genealogies are complete and without gaps.2)

Biblical authority in the church

With the development of naturalistic science in the west and the acceptance of evolution and millions of years, evangelical scholars have generally stopped defending the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis. They have tended to distance themselves from six-ordinary-day young-earth creationists, perhaps not wanting their academic standing to be tainted.

Within the church it is rare to find an evangelical academic commentary that will take a stand on a six-day, recent creation.3 Many Bible timelines produced by biblical academics will avoid earth history prior to Abraham.4
 
We have seen the disastrous effect of such timidity and compromise as the church has lost much support in the west. Why should people listen when they think the church has no answers in this scientific age?
So it is particularly encouraging to see a scholar of the stature of RC Sproul prepared to take a stand on the Word of God as written—and defend it. I was especially impressed that he could admit he no longer believed what he had taught for most of his teaching career. He has set a courageous example of integrity, scholarship and commitment to biblical authority.

May RC Sproul’s example embolden more evangelical academics to seriously consider this controversial issue, examine the scientific evidence and refuse to be intimidated by the dominant, anti-biblical, scientific view within our culture that opposes the gospel. May our Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian universities be encouraged to declare together ‘In six days’—and give a reason for the foundation of our Christian faith.

Related articles

Further reading

Recommended Resources





References

  1. Sproul, R.C., Truths We Confess: A layman’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Volume I: The Triune God (Chapters 1–8 of the Confession), P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2006. Return to text.
  2. See Sarfati, J., Biblical chronogenealogies, Journal of Creation 17(3):14–18, 2003. This makes the case for an earth of about 6,000 years, as Archbishop Ussher calculated, very strong. Return to text.
  3. For example, the New Bible Commentary by InterVarsity Press (1994 edition) advocates the framework view and recommends avoiding issues of science. Previous editions of the IVP Bible Commentary in the 1950s advocated the gap theory and the day-age theory, but scholars now recognize these as untenable, as Sproul says. Arnold, B.T., in his book Encountering the Book of Genesis (Baker Books, 1998) recommends the day-age theory and also of avoiding questions of science. Return to text.
  4. For example, the chart of Old Testament scholar Payne, D., formerly of London Bible College, in his Bible Timeline (Candle Books, 2002 edition) begins at 2100 BC (about the time of Abraham) and shows nothing earlier. It’s almost as if it has been guillotined. Return to text.
Published: 21 May 2008(GMT+10)
Amended 22 May 2008
~

The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

C. S. Lewis

Much, much more to come! 

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

A new series!!!!

Still waiting on the answer to this claim in your "Dating Series":

"All dating methods thought up by Darwinists and Naturalists ignore the idea of the Flood and all of them have major flaws and questions. One will find this out if one studies the evidence presented by both sides (all three sides, depending on how you look at it). For every method that presents old ages there is another method that shows a very young earth. Creationists have been very successful finding dating methods that are not likely skewed by a Flood event and those methods give us young ages."


lava

Jon Woolf said...

C.S. Lewis was many things, and very good he was at some of them, but he was not a scientist. Why are you quoting him as if he was?

Oh, and why would a Christian fundamentalist be quoting someone whose books have been banned in some Christian circles because they involve magic?

radar said...

Anonymous, the RATE I and II projects were mentioned extensively in my writings, including the evidence provided by polonium radiohalos, helium found within granitic zircons and carbon-14 found resident in bedrock supposedly formed by secular dating hundreds of millions of years ago.

Woolf, this series is about religion and, as since both Darwinism and Christianity are religious viewpoints I am making it clear that they do not coexist logically. Specifically, a good Christian cannot believe in both an inerrant Bible and evolution while a good Darwinist cannot believe in either the existence or need for Christ.

Jon Woolf said...

since both Darwinism and Christianity are religious viewpoints

Since this is false, your argument fails. The fact that you think it's impossible to reconcile Christianity and evolutionary theory is a problem with you, not with either of those concepts.

Render unto Science that which is Science's, and unto God that which is God's.

Jon Woolf said...

the evidence provided by polonium radiohalos,

Explained by conventional geology.

helium found within granitic zircons

No such thing as a "granitic zircon." Zircons can form in many types of igneous rocks, and those that form in granite are no different from those that form in other rocks. And anyway, conventional geology can explain them too.

and carbon-14 found resident in bedrock

Got a cite for this one? It's new to me.

Chaos Engineer said...

Sigh, I found a really great article on the "Where does information come from?" topic, but it looks like we've moved off of that.

I guess I'll post the link anyway, in the off-chance that the "Information" series comes back someday: A tabby with top marks for spelling.

Obviously the question this raises is, "Does the word 'cat' in the photo count as information? If yes, then where did the information come from? If no, then how can we tell whether an appearance of the word 'cat' is information or not?"

AmericanVet said...

Chaos, your cat falls into the same category (har har) as the YoYo Loach, waterstains that look like Jesus and seeing the clouds make cows and hawks and faces.

http://www.loaches.com/species-index/botia-almorhae

No, the markings that look like "cat" are interesting and rare but are not information. And Jesus is not blessing the underside of a bridge along the I-5 in Puyallup, either.

AmericanVet said...

Jon, after that comment you should simply give up discussing geology at all. No such thing as granitic zircons? I suppose there are no such things as freshwater trout, either. Good grief!

Jon Woolf said...

Radar, you need to talk to your priest. Your demon twin has escaped his binding again.

Anonymous said...

So, you mean that the dating series is done? Really, you came nowhere close to substantiating any of the claims you made in that quote above. Also, you never addressed any of the comments in that "series".

It's hard to illustrate simply how you did not address any of these things, so if anyone has any doubts, just go to Radar's April posts of this year and read the "series". Don't worry, it isn't long. As far as I can tell it was only 3 posts. Creeper summed it up well in one of this comments in that "series": 1. What are the methods (plural) that indicate a very young Earth? So far we have a grand total of none. 2. Why are all the results indicated by all dating methods that do indicate an old Earth interpreted falsely, and how should they have been interpreted and why?

And I'm guessing now that you've finished this series that whenever someone brings up dating methods you'll say that has been addressed and direct them to search you past posts? That's your basic modus operandi, right?

lava

radar said...

Lava I have got to figure you are simply a hit and run reader so you do not know what I have posted about dating methods. That ignorance is perfectly okay, since no one expects you to have read every blog post I make. Other than me I doubt that ANYONE has read them all...perhaps my wife?

In any event this mini-series is about a specific subject that is entirely logical/metaphysical/philosophical in nature. It is about why a Christian cannot allow for Darwinism and I suppose conversely why a Darwinist cannot accept Christ without a tremendous dichotomy.

Don't get me wrong, Jesus will accept illogical believers but such illogic is bound to be taken off the back burner at some point. Why not address it directly, and now?

Jon Woolf said...

It is about why a Christian cannot allow for Darwinism

This kind of thinking is dangerous, Radar. By such absolute thinking you create a binary choice: either Christianity is true and evolutionary theory is false, or evolutionary theory is true and Christianity is false.

Since all the known evidence says evolutionary theory is true, logic forces the conclusion that Christianity is false. Is that really the message you want to send? Is that the message you think your God wanted to send: a boolean choice between your faith and your God-given reason?

Anonymous said...

Lava I have got to figure you are simply a hit and run reader so you do not know what I have posted about dating methods. That ignorance is perfectly okay, since no one expects you to have read every blog post I make. Other than me I doubt that ANYONE has read them all...perhaps my wife?

You figure wrong Radar. I read most every post. I comment little- creeper and Jon do such a nice job of tearing up your posts.

I read your "dating series." I found three entries for that series. You never came close to establishing the claims you made in the quote above. Don't act like you did now Radar. If I'm missing some part of the series, beyond the three posts in April, please let me know.


lava

Anonymous said...

Radar, are you seriously contending that you backed up your claims that Lava quoted in the first comment above? And you're accusing Lava of simply having missed it?

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I forgot to add: it isn't hard to keep up with all of your writing. That's the easy part. I'll fully admit I haven't read all of the cut and paste stuff- that is a much tougher task to keep up with.

lava

Anonymous said...

Radar, are you seriously contending that you backed up your claims that Lava quoted in the first comment above? And you're accusing Lava of simply having missed it?

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

... and of course Radar can't confirm that.

Because it didn't happen.

Despite all his bluster, Radar was unable to back up his claims:

"All dating methods thought up by Darwinists and Naturalists ignore the idea of the Flood and all of them have major flaws and questions. One will find this out if one studies the evidence presented by both sides (all three sides, depending on how you look at it). For every method that presents old ages there is another method that shows a very young earth. Creationists have been very successful finding dating methods that are not likely skewed by a Flood event and those methods give us young ages."

Brave Sir Radar ran away.
Bravely ran away away.
When Knowledge reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir Radar turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.

Bravely taking to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat.
Bravest of the braaaave, Sir Radar!


-- creeper