Category Archives: bible

Can a Christian believe the earth is billions of years old?

For nearly sixty years now Young Earth Creationists have been trying to convince the world that the earth is only a few thousand years old and evolution never happened.

Science Confirms The Bible

The book which started it all.

The_Genesis_Flood

Most stop short of saying that if you accept deep time and evolution you cannot be a Christian. However, I’ve been told that many times.

The result is that Creationists, and especially Ken Ham have been successful in convincing both Christian and non-Christian that to be a Christian you must believe in a young earth.

Ham and other believe there were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden.

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I prefer this!

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Recently Ken Ham has been asking this question and then answering it

Can a person believe in an old earth and an old universe (millions or billions of years in age) and be a Christian?

It’s was on Facebook on 28th September 2019, with the following introduction and a web reference.

https://www.facebook.com/BiblicalCreation/

and

https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/does-the-gospel-depend-on-a-young-earth/?fbclid=IwAR0T1vGnkR6NLHSBl6aJrdjhJp23ow5ChqEAb6q7QG37Jy2reHIR2uM6FCY

 

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
~Romans 10:9

Numerous other passages could be cited, but not one of them states in any way that a person has to believe in a young earth or universe to be saved.

And the list of those who cannot enter God’s kingdom, as recorded in passages like Revelation 21:8, certainly does not include “old earthers.”

Even though it is not a salvation issue, the belief that earth history spans millions of years has very severe consequences. […] The point is, believing in a young earth won’t ultimately affect one’s salvation, but it sure does affect the beliefs of those that person influences concerning how to approach Scripture. We believe that such compromise in the Church with millions of years and Darwinian evolution has greatly contributed to the loss of the Christian foundation in the culture.

https://answersingenesis.org/…/does-the-gospel-depend-on-a…/

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https://answersingenesis.org/age-of-the-earth/does-the-gospel-depend-on-a-young-earth/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=1-banner-cta&utm_campaign=20190928&mc_cid=3778e71b84&mc_eid=e396ad77f1

So here it it in its full glory and unexpurgated.

I’ve included it all and put my comments in quotation form

like this. Anything in a grey background is yours truly.

Chapter 1

Does the Gospel Depend on a Young Earth?

by Ken Ham on September 28, 2019

 

Can a person believe in an old earth and an old universe (millions or billions of years in age) and be a Christian?

A typical Ham question where the answer is “yes” but really “no”.

First of all, let’s consider three verses that sum up the gospel and salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:17 says, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” Jesus said in John 3:3, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Romans 10:9 clearly explains, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Numerous other passages could be cited, but not one of them states in any way that a person has to believe in a young earth or universe to be saved.

I think I second him on this

And the list of those who cannot enter God’s kingdom, as recorded in passages like Revelation 21:8, certainly does not include “old earthers.”

 

Elsewhere we can find more as in Galatians 5 vs 20

Many great men of God who are now with the Lord have believed in an old earth.

This is rather patronising to say the least. In fact it is most since geologists started hammering the earth.

 

Some of these explained away the Bible’s clear teaching about a young earth by adopting the classic gap theory. Others accepted a day-age theory

What Ham doesn’t seem to realise is that these interpretations of Genesis weren’t “made up” to make geological time palatable , but go back hundreds of years earlier and right back to the early Fathers.

See my chapter in Myth and Geology, Geol soc Special Publications 273 2007.

sp273-39

 

or positions such as theistic evolution, the framework hypothesis, and progressive creation.

This is rather sweeping and dismissive of the many who have considered Genesis in the light of science

My chapter (in English from Streitfall Evolution

Evolution and religion in Britain from 1859 to

Scripture plainly teaches that salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ, with no requirement for what one believes about the age of the earth or universe.

In many ways I agree with that, but Christians can put others off beleif in Christ by holding silly beliefs themselves or rejecting science. St Augustine sums it up

Augsutine

Now when I say this, people sometimes assume then that it does not matter what a Christian believes concerning the supposed millions-of-years age for the earth and universe.

 

Now we are getting to it! I disagree with Ham as rejecting “billions-of-years” makes the Gospel absurd. I find this rather duplicitous  as the diagram shows what Ham really thinks as his honest answer is that you cannot.

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Even though it is not a salvation issue, the belief that earth history spans millions of years has very severe consequences.

Having softened his readers up, he nows let rip.

Let me summarize some of these.

Authority Issue

The belief in millions of years does not come from Scripture, but from the fallible methods that secularists use to date the universe.

 

As the Bible was written some 2 to 3 thousand years ago, this is not surprising. Neither do the following come from Scripture; heliocentrism, genetics, DNA, periodic table, but according to Paul in I Corinthians 15 seeds actaully die before they germinate. That is simply untrue!!

To attempt to fit millions of years into the Bible, you have to invent a gap of time that almost all Bible scholars agree the text does not allow — at least from a hermeneutical perspective.

Here Ham is alluding to the Gap Theory, which suggests a gap of time between the initial creation in vs1 and the final re-ordering in vs2, which was the most common view of conservative evangelicals up to about 1970 to accommodate geological time. Here Ham implies it was invented/concocted as an adhoc response to deep time.

That is not the case. Some in the early church held it. In fact before 1800 most western Christians reckon God first created chaos and then later re-ordered it after a period of time. Before geology opinions differed on the duration of Chaos. Ussher nobly allowed a few hours, but others allowed much more. Thus in 1801 Thomas Chalmers took this “Chaos-Restitution” interpretation and allowed most geological time to be in this period of Chaos.

Hence it was not invented but an old interpretation modified. OK it was rejected by most in later years.

Or you have to reinterpret the days of creation as long periods of time (even though they are obviously ordinary days in the context of Genesis 1).

 

Again this is not another invention but a modification of an ancient interpretation which was held by some in the early church. It was not as widely held as the Chaos-Restitution

See my chapter in Myth and Geology and also this paper in The Evangelical Quarterly

Genesis of Ray

In other words, you have to add a concept (millions of years) from outside Scripture into God’s Word. This approach puts man’s fallible ideas in authority over God’s Word.

Sorry, Ken. You misrepresented this “alternative” views and failed to acknowledge they were common before any geologist wielded his hammer.

As soon as you surrender the Bible’s authority in one area, you unlock a door to do the same thing in other areas.

Ken would do well to read John Calvin on accommodation in his commentary on Genesis, on chapter one!! Here Calvin stresses the Bible is about God and not scientific detail. In other words

the Bible tells you how to get to heaven

Not how the heavens go.

Ancient-Hebrew-view-of-universe

Once the door of compromise is open, even if ajar just a little, subsequent generations push the door open wider. Ultimately, this compromise has been a major contributing factor in the loss of biblical authority in our Western world.

Ken loves the word compromise, possibly because it puts those he disagrees with in a bad light. It implies we all lack integrity, which is very offensive

It is not compromise, but striving to understand the world around us in the light of Scripture.

The Church should heed the warning of Proverbs 30:6: “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

Not a kindly remark. One should not weaponise the Word of God.

Contradiction Issue

A Christian’s belief in millions of years totally contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture. Here are just three examples:

Thorns. Fossil thorns are found in rock layers that secularists believe to be hundreds of millions of years old, so supposedly they existed millions of years before man. However, the Bible makes it clear that thorns came into existence after the Curse: “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because. . . you have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: Cursed is the ground for your sake. . . . Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you’ ” (Genesis 3:17–18).

Nope. Gen 3. 18 does not say thorns came into existence at the so-called Curse.

Disease. The fossil remains of animals, said by evolutionists to be millions of years old, show evidence of diseases (like cancer, brain tumors, and arthritis). Thus, such diseases supposedly existed millions of years before sin. Yet Scripture teaches that after God finished creating everything and placed man at the pinnacle of creation, He described the creation as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Certainly calling cancer and brain tumors “very good” does not fit with Scripture and the character of God.

It’s odd that Christians in previous centuries did not have this problem with “very good”. Why should “very good” mean the absence of death?

Diet. The Bible clearly teaches in Genesis 1:29–30 that Adam and Eve and the animals were all vegetarian before sin entered the world. However, we find fossils with lots of evidence showing that animals were eating each other — supposedly millions of years before man and thus before sin.

To be pedantic this does not preclude meat in one’s diet.

  Death Issue

Romans 8:22 makes it clear that the whole creation is groaning as a result of the Fall — the entrance of sin. One reason for this groaning is death — the death of living creatures, both animals and man. Death is described as an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), which will trouble creation until one day it is thrown into the lake of fire.

Th is is eisegesis on eisegesis. Paul is not clear at this point – hence the diversity of opinion among commentators. Paul neither says or implies “One reason for this groaning is death”.

Romans 5:12 and other passages make it obvious that physical death of man (and really, death in general) entered the once-perfect creation because of man’s sin. However, if a person believes that the fossil record arose over millions of years, then death, disease, suffering, carnivorous activity, and thorns existed millions of years before sin.

 

Again Ken his selecting his preferred interpretation.

The first death was in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal as the first blood sacrifice (Genesis 3:21) — a picture of what was to come in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world. Jesus Christ stepped into history to pay the penalty of sin — to conquer our enemy, death.

 

This depends how you consider Genesis 3, but nowhere does it say animals did not die before this point. Most importantly it does not say god offered a sacrifice to make those clothes. This is ingenuous.

By dying on a Cross and being raised from the dead, Jesus conquered death and paid the penalty for sin. Although millions of years of death before sin is not a salvation issue per se, I personally believe that it is really an attack on Jesus’ work on the Cross.

Well, this is not an argument, but what he personally believes! It is better to follow Scripture and look to all commentators to see how we should understand it. One person’s personal views do not count for much.

Recognizing that Christ’s work on the Cross defeated our enemy, death, is crucial to understanding the good news of the gospel: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Far more important is to see that through the cross Christ forgives us and that the resurrection opens the way for new life.  (Could write much more here.)

Rooted in Genesis

All biblical doctrines, including the gospel itself, are ultimately rooted in the first book of the Bible.

This is universal Christian belief.

  • Marriage consists of one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:24).

I won’t challenge this as the ideal, but it is a pity many Creationists don’t follow it!!

.However you read Genesis, sin started with humans

  • From the beginning God promised a Messiah to save us (Genesis 3:15).

Not all Christians accept this “bruised heel” argument

Genesis 3 16-19 does not actually say this. It is a popular interpretation which owes to John Milton than the Bible

paradiselost

Not the best biblical passage on this!!

I think all Christians would agree, but prefer to look elsewhere in the Bible and especially Jesus’ teachings.

Agreed. I reject the views of Creationists in Apartheid South Africa and the Confederate States who used Genesis to support racism.

 

False Claims

The New York Times on November 25, 2007, published an article on the modern biblical creation movement. The Creation Museum/Answers in Genesis received a few mentions in the article. However, I wanted to deal with one statement in the article that the writer, Hanna Rosin, stated concerning the Creation Museum:

The museum sends the message that belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation. The failure to understand Genesis is literally “undermining the entire word of God,” Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, says in a video. The collapse of Christianity believed to result from that failure is drawn out in a series of exhibits: school shootings, gay marriage, drugs, porn, and pregnant teens. At the same time, it presents biblical literalism as perfectly defensible science.

“Note particularly the statement: “belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation.” Had the writer done just a little bit of homework, she would have found that not to be true! Even if Christians believe in an old earth (and even theistic evolution), they would know that such a statement is absolutely false.

 The Creation Museum avoids saying this explicitly, but it is implied in everything Ham, AIG and the Creation Museum say.

The Bible makes it clear that, concerning Jesus Christ, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30 asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas (in verse 31) replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

He’s on stronger ground here, but reflects standard Christian belief

In Ephesians 2:8–9 we are clearly told “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” And Jesus Christ stated “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6).

Creation Museum/Answers in Genesis Teachings

As one walks through the Creation Museum, nowhere does it even suggest that “belief in a young earth is the only way to salvation.”

Not so, Maybe it does not state it, but the whole approach of the Creation Musuem and AIG, not only suggests it, but makes it to be the only conclusion.

In fact, in the theater where the climax of the 7 C’s walk-through occurs, people watch a program called The Last Adam. This is one of the most powerful presentations of the gospel I have ever seen. This program clearly sets out the way of salvation — and it has nothing to do with believing in a young earth.

As I often tell people in my lectures, Romans 10:9 states “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” By confessing “Jesus is Lord,” one is confessing that Christ is to be Lord of one’s life — which means repenting of sin and acknowledging who Christ is. The Bible DOES NOT state, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead — AND BELIEVE IN A YOUNG EARTH — you will be saved”!

You protest too much!!

Concluding Remarks

So it should be obvious to anyone, even our opponents, that this statement in the New York Times is absolutely false. Sadly, I have seen similar statements in other press articles — and it seems no matter what we write in website articles, or how often we answer this outlandish accusation, many in the press continue to disseminate this false accusation, and one has to wonder if it is a deliberate attempt to alienate AiG from the mainstream church!

I was not aware that AIG was part of the mainstream churches !

I believe that one of the reasons writers such as Hanna Rosin make such statements is that AiG is very bold in presenting authoritatively what the Bible clearly states. People sometimes misconstrue such authority in the way Hanna Rosin has. It is also interesting that people who don’t agree with us often get very emotional about how authoritatively we present the biblical creation view — they dogmatically insist we can’t be so dogmatic in what we present! It’s okay for them to be dogmatic about what they believe, and dogmatic about what we shouldn’t believe, but we can’t be!

In my lectures, I explain to people that believing in an old earth won’t keep people out of heaven if they are truly “born again” as the Bible defines “born again.” Then I’m asked, “Then why does AiG make an issue of the age of the earth — particularly a young age?” The answer is that our emphasis is on the authority of Scripture. The idea of millions of years does NOT come from the Bible; it comes from man’s fallible, assumption-based dating methods.

Here we go again. The false questioning of anything connected to geological or cosmological dating.

That has been dealt with so many times.

 

If one uses such fallible dating methods to reinterpret Genesis (e.g., the days of creation), then one is unlocking a door, so to speak, to teach others that they don’t have to take the Bible as written (e.g., Genesis is historical narrative) at the beginning — so why should one take it as written elsewhere (e.g., the bodily Resurrection of Christ). If one has to accept what secular scientists

i.e atheistic scientists. Ken will not admit how many Christian scienitsts have been involved in all this old age stuff, whether those geologists like Sedgwick and Buckland

buckland

 

in the early 19th century or Fr leMaitre, the Belgian astrophysicist and priest who put forward the idea of a Big Bang.

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say about the age of the earth, evolution, etc., then why not reinterpret the Resurrection of Christ? After all, no secular scientist accepts that a human being can be raised from the dead, so maybe the Resurrection should be reinterpreted to mean just “spiritual resurrection.”

This is plain deceptive as he wishes to imply all non-creationist scientists are atheistic and deny the resurrection.

Perhaps he has not heard of Francis Collins,

250px-Francis_Collins_official_portrait

Sir John Polkinghorne and a whole galaxy of greater and lesser scientists throughout the world , who see no conflict between faith in the resurrection of Jesus and acceptance of the vast age of the universe, and those things which go along with it.

The point is, believing in a young earth won’t ultimately affect one’s salvation, but it sure does affect the beliefs of those that person influences concerning how to approach Scripture. We believe that such compromise in the Church with millions of years and Darwinian evolution has greatly contributed to the loss of the Christian foundation in the culture.

You have not proved your point!!

However you have shown  that you are prepared to misrepresent other Christians, history  and science to make your claim.

Your approach is deficient both in the Ninth Commandment and our Lord’s Second great commandment and rather replete with what Paul warns us about in Galatians 5 vs16-21

I think I prefer Adam Sedgwick’s ways two hundred years ago. We should do the same today . Here it is;

sedgwick

 

Dinosaurs and Dorset Knobs

This week a local somerset paper published an article on the discovery of an ichthyosaur in about 1850. It turns out the man’s forbears dug it up in about 1850 and then buried as it upset his Christian faith.

The story of unearthing it again is fascinating, but toe comments on the religious issues almost suggests that the reporters had possibly drunk too much of Mr Temperley’s cider brandy.

To me, this story is interesting as it is an example of how so many people think that the church opposed every branch of science in the past and especially the most ungodly study of all – fossil dinosaurs.

Hence I scrape away the choss and other deposits from their historical howlers. and apologies for a not very accurate title, but the title in the paper is not attention-grabbing

Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News

 

Somerset cider firm boss who unearthed century old family secret has put it on display for first time

26th September 2019

ON DISPLAY: Julian Temperley with the fossil

Read the original article;

https://www.burnhamandhighbridgeweeklynews.co.uk/news/17930223.somerset-cider-firm-boss-unearthed-century-old-family-secret-put-display-first-time/?action=success#comments-feedback-anchor

A MAN whose Victorian ancestors buried a stunning fossil because it threatened their religious beliefs has had it dug up and put it on display for the first time ever.

Cider brandy maker Julian Temperley knew that a 90 million-year-old ichthyosaurus fossil was buried in the garden at his family’s home in Thorney, Somerset.

His god-fearing ancestors had kept it hidden away for years after its discovery in 1850, worried they would be ‘denying God’ by flashing it around.

I’d like to know on what grounds he says this. He says it was about 1850, when the vast ages of geology and exciting fossils like dinosaurs were known to the “common man” and accepted by most Christians, except for some belonging to separatist chapels.Few in the Anglican , Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist or Congregational Churches would have had a problem. In fact in Dorset you’d have to be aware of them through the work of Mary Anning and others.

Image result for mary anningImage result for mary anning

But flooding forced Julian to dig it up for good recently and after paying £3,000 for it to be cleaned he’s now having its image printed on his bottles of cider brandy.

He said: “Whenever we visited Somerset as kids, we dug it up and were generally amazed.

“But after the flooding of 2013-14 we realised it was not a good idea to leave it buried and I thought we ought to look after it.”

He said he had seen a TV programme about David Attenborough digging up an ichthyosaurus with professional fossil collector Chris Moore at Lyme Regis.

He added; “So we took our fossil down there to be cleaned and Chris said it was one of the best he’d ever seen.

“The teeth are still there in the enamel form after 90 million years, which is pretty good.

“We will now keep it on the wall of our cider brandy bond where it will be part of the family history.

“An image of the Temperley ichthyosaurus will also go on the label of our next 20-year-old cider brandy.

“Putting it with ageing spirits seems like the right thing to do.”

Julian said the amazing relic – worth more than £15,000 according to eBay – was first discovered by his ancestors.

This is simply not so. Mary Anning first discovered it three decades earleir and got leading geologists like the Revs Buckland and Conybeare to look at it.

BucklandImage result for william conybeare

 

He said; “It was found either by William Philosophus Bradford or John Wesley Bradford – my great-great-grandfather or his father – in around about 1850 in their lime quarry at Pitsbury near Langport.

“Not only were the two men founders of the now well-known Bradford’s builders’ merchants but they were also ardent Christians back in times when Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’ had yet to hit the streets.

See what I said above. In 1850 most ardent Christians would accept ancient dinos and believe the Bible!! This is especially so among educated Christians and all the popualr edifying science and Christianity books of that time.

Here are 7 papers dealing with this at length

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/does-geology-destroy-god-genesis-and-geologyseven-papers/

“They dug up sedimentary rock and burned it for the lime – and it was while they were digging in the quarry that they came across the ichthyosaurus. They took it home and buried it.

“You have to remember that fossils weren’t really explained until Darwin came along.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Darwin was a genius but not that much! Fossils were first explained at length by Hooke  and many others in the 17th century. By 1800 many fossils were known and understood. The next fifty years saw an explosion in knowledge of fossils and Charles Darwin, simply joined in the fun as he did with megatherium in Brazil in 1832.

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megatherium

 

“Up until then, if you believed in fossils you were denying the Bible saying God created Day One, and so on.

This is the standard diet of those who imagine Christians had a problem over fossils. A handful did, but tried to explain them as being deposited by Noah’s Flood.

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(This is not quite true!!)

“It’s not the sort of thing you’d have flashed around because your local vicar wouldn’t have been that educated and wouldn’t have understood what it was.

Many local vicars were very well-educated, like Henry Moule a vicar near Dorchester and the inventor of the dry-earth closet. In the 1850s his care of parishioners suffering from cholera was heroic. He is immortalised in Thomas Hardy’s Under The Greenwood Tree as the new vicar who insisted on baptising with water and not his spittle.

“No sooner had he got here than he found the font wouldn’t hold water, as it hadn’t for years off and on; and when I told him that Mr. Grinham never minded it, but used to spet upon his vinger and christen ’em just as well, ’a said, ‘Good Heavens!  Send for a workman immediate.  What place have I come to!’  Which was no compliment to us, come to that.” (Chap II Meeting of the Quire)

Across the border in Devon was Henry Lyte who spent so much time in dank caves looking for fossils that he gave himself a mortal illness and awaiting death wrote “Abide with me”.

That’s ignoring all the clergy who came to see Mary Anning at Lyme Regis for her fossils, notably William Buckland and William Coneybeare.

In fact if many clergy were not looking for beetles or other natural history they were into rocks and fossils and many papers in the Proceedings of the Geological Society  in the middle decades were by clergy. With the professionalisation of both clergy and scientists that had stopped by 1900 and I don’t think the Geological society published anything by a vicar  (i.e. in charge of a church) until 2007.

 

“So, I can imagine that for the Bradfords it was an interesting thing that you buried and kept to yourself.

“Eventually, Darwin came along and convinced people that fossils weren’t anything to do with Satan.”

This is an old chestnut! It is often claimed that Christians thought the devil had planted fossils to deceive them and lead them away from Christ. I have never found an example of this or an actual reference to it. They may just possibly be one example. I consider it just a silly story made up to ridicule Christians and then used as such by those to lazy to do any historical research.

The ichthyosaurus was a marine reptile which lived approximately 200 million years ago during the Jurassic period.

At least they are right on this and corrects the original 90 million years, so I’ll conclude by giving them credit for this.!!!!

So I’ll finish here.

ararat_or_bust

 

 

N.B. A Dorset knob is a hard dry savoury biscuit which is now produced by only a single producer, for a limited time of the year. Dorset knobs are made from bread dough which contains extra sugar and butter. They are rolled and shaped by hand. They are baked three times. They are made in Morecombelake near Lyme Regis betweeen Chideock and Charmouth on the Jurassic Coast. We spent many holidays there as a child and always bought a few large tins of them!

N.N.B. Knob has many different meanings , but here I mean the reporters have taken the biscuit!

Should Creationism be taught in Welsh Schools

Yes, but no!

YES! that will annoy some. Surely I should just shriek “NO”! We need more than a knee-jerk reaction.

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In context, Creationism cannot be taught in England and Wales has yet to formulate its position, as new teaching guidelines do not mention creationism and could open the floodgates. As a result the British humanist Association have jumped and have got 50 leading scientists to sign , including at least three Christians – Prof Tom McLeish, Rev Prof Michael Reiss and Simon Barrow. I signed it but don’t think I’ll join the BHA.

Here’s the substance of the letter

https://humanism.org.uk/2019/09/05/uks-top-scientists-tell-the-welsh-government-teach-evolution-not-creationism/

The letter says:

‘As scientists and educators we believe that good science teaching is vital to the education and development of all children, wherever they live in the UK. We note the Welsh Government is currently consulting on a new national curriculum that will drastically overhaul education in Wales, including science education. The new Science and Technology Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE) doesn’t explicitly prohibit presenting creationism and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, and evolution is only mentioned once (and only at secondary level at that).

‘Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. It is a fundamental concept that describes and explains the development of the diversity of life on the planet. Pupils should be introduced to it early – certainly at primary level – as it underpins so much else. What’s more, without an explicit ban on teaching creationism, intelligent design, and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, such teaching may begin to creep into the school curriculum, when it is vital children in Wales are not exposed to pseudoscientific doctrines masquerading as science.

‘State schools in England, including primary schools, are already required to teach evolution ‘as a comprehensive, coherent, and extensively evidenced theory’, and ‘must not allow any view or theory to be taught as evidence-based if it is contrary to scientific or historical evidence or explanations’. We urge the Welsh Government to introduce the same requirements in Wales.’

So often evolution is called a belief and thus people may say “I believe in evolution”. That is unhelpful as evolution is a scientific theory it should not be dependent on belief but evidence. In that, it is contrasted to creationism which is a belief based on a particular reading of the Bible. I, for one, do not believe in evolution but accept the arguments and evidence for it.

I consider that this petition is too focused on biological evolution and ignores cosmological and geological evolution. In school, both at primary and secondary level, the concept of Deep Time must be taught. Yes, the universe IS 13.4 billion years old, the earth 4.64 billion  and the first life was between 4 and 3.5 billion and so on. The succession of life (call that evolution if you will) needs some treatment even at primary level.

I have taken part in teaching rocks and volcanoes to Years 3 and 4 (ages 7 and 8). Having climbed Mt St Helens I show slides of that  and the 1980 eruption and then ask “Where is the nearest volcano?”

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That stumps them and then I tell them “in the Lake District, 450 million years ago.” Wow! Of course, they will soon forget the 450 million and if asked will just say “millions”, which is fine. Dinosaurs are a must and again their great age can be stressed. This gives an open door for evolution.

However my observation in schools (mostly Anglican primary) is that some teachers are unsure about it and fearful of either what they think the church believes or an awareness of fundamentalist parents. With many evangelical churches teaching creationism this can inhibit schools in their teaching.

Above all, YEC and Intelligent Design need to be excluded from the science curriculum.

What is creationism?

It may seem superfluous asking this question as most think they know what creationism is. Many, including those in churches, assume it is simply traditional Christianity.

Creationism, or more accurately Young Earth Creationism (YEC) holds that the bible, especially Genesis must be taken literally and that God created in 6 24-hour days. They further claim that before the Fall – when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit – there was no death, suffering or disease including among animals and that most of the strata were laid down during Noah’s Flood. I could deal with at great depth but this gives the outline.

On certain things there are variety of understandings but all coalesce on the above.

At times ideas get a bit far-fetched as with the suggestion of fire-breathing dinosaurs, described in this blog.

http://tetzoo.com/blog/2019/9/8/philip-j-senters-fire-breathing-dinosaurs-the-tetzoo-review?fbclid=IwAR3L8wzLxgcs8KkejkqurBA8j9HW_oUz4srdFVKkDFWM8FZ38zJYCAbOF0Y

 

The Bible specifically states that the first few books of the Old Testament are not meant to be taken literally. Despite this, a number of Young Earth creationists promote a view of the ancient world where people lived alongside allosaurs and pterosaurs and so on. If you’ve seen a version of this page mentioning lemonade and homosexuality, it’s a spoof (the original text does not include that section of text). Image: (c) Ken Ham,  Dinosaurs of Eden .

Here is a recent tweet by a creationist. That shows the problem.

More than likely the dinosaurs died out after the flood due to large dietary requirements. After the centuries after that they were hunted to extinction by mankind due to their terror of dragons.

I would have thought most would baulk at that, but these views are held in many churches, especially independent evangelical ones. That includes some Anglicans. i have had some heated discussions with Anglican clergy on YEC.

This, briefly, is what they affirm but they also argue that scientists have got so much wrong, especially geologists, who have wrongly argued for an earth being millions or billions of years old for 300 years. When you dig into their writings you find they take an odd position on evolution  and thus claim that creatures evolved rapidly after the Flood, so that all cats from moggies to lions evolved in a few hundred years after landing at Ararat from the Cat-kind Noah took to sea!

I presume all intelligent people will find that nonsense, but that IS what  creationism (YEC) is. It is what I’ve read and heard from YECs for half a century.

My introduction to YEC was thrust upon in the Swiss Alps. After three years as an exploration geologist in Africa I felt called to the Anglican ministry and in preparation for that went out to study for a month in 1971 under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri above the Rhone Valley. On arrival Schaeffer’s son-in-law, Udo Middelmann suggested I should read a host of YEC books. I was reluctant but did so. At first I was baffled and began to read The Genesis Flood. 

The_Genesis_Flood

At first I felt they were incontrovertible, but then I started to discover the sheer dishonesty of the arguments and their systematic misquotations. The book was cleverly argued and those without geological knowledge would probably not identify the flaws. After that, I often muttered “bloody liars” under my breath as I read The Genesis Flood  and other YEC books. However few in Britain were concerned about YEC in the 70s as it only came to the fore in 1981.

The problem of dealing with YEC is that one needs skills in all branches of science and my skills become limited beyond geology. Even so, YECs continually present new killer arguments which appear plausible and not amenable to quick refutation. I and many others have done slow hatchet jobs on these arguments and without fail they always turn out to be based on bad science and misrepresentation (aka lying). Thus in the early 80s a certain Woodmorappe (alibi!) wrote an article on how so many radiometric dates were wrong and gave a list of 700 dodgy dates. Many came from the 1964 Geological Society of London tome on The Geological Time scale of which I had a copy. So laboriously I checked these out and there were about a hundred.  In every case the literature was misquoted. I could not reconcile that with the Ninth Commandment.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/a-geologist-looks-at-creationism/

There are myriad examples of this , or at a popular level by Prof A Mcintosh, formerly of Leeds. I cannot see how a D Sc in anything could get things so wrong. McIntosh gives talks in various places and works alongside Ken Ham. He wrote a popular book Genesis for Today which has an appendix on why geology is wrong. The errors are horendous.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/creationist-nonsense-on-geology-the-odd-case-of-prof-mcintosh-d-sc/

It is difficult not to get angry about this type of thing.

creationist binjgo

Yet YEC persists.

As well as that a fair number of Christians are fearful that this is the orthodox and traditional view of the churches and are initially bemused when I say it is not. I have found this for over 40 years in my ministry and consider it is because clergy have failed in their teaching and left the subject to one side. (My own policy has been to deal with creation and science , when the lectionary suggests a reading on creation, slip it out at Harvest as an aside, rather than hammer away. Most know of my being a geologist and often of my interest in Darwin.)

DSCF2350

No, YEC is not the traditional view of the churches. Yes, Christians in the past did believe the earth was thousands. not billions, of years old, but that was before geologists had discovered the earth was ancient. Thus Archbishop Ussher who in 1656 argued for creation in 4004BC, was reflecting the best scholarship available and not rejecting and rubbishing science. It was 20 to 30 years after that some began to realise the vast age of the earth.

The historical relation of Christianity and science would require volumes, but suffice it to say that many early geologists were devout Christians. a good number were Anglican clergy, like Sedgwick, who taught Darwin geology, Henslow, Buckland and Coneybeare. Sedgwick was an inspiration, not only as a geologist, but for the way he tackled wrong ideas, as I show in this chapter/blog. (It was fun writing it!)

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/how-to-deal-with-victorian-creationists-and-win/

As for evolution, that was accepted in most churches within 20 years of the publication of The Origin of species (see https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/evolution-and-religion-in-britain-from-1859-to-2013/ for the last 150 years)

but is Creationism being taught?

The answer many in education will give is that it is not. That is what some educationalists have said to me – including within the church. However over the decades a few instances have come to light. I, and others, are sure there are many more.

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, Bristol, England, UK

Some Bristol schools have taken pupils to this creationist zoo.

I lift this from another blog of mine. I just love the cart pulled by a dinosaur!!

 

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The most public face of creationism has been in education, mirroring the American experience. This became apparent in 2002 after the Emmanuel Gateshead affair. It is difficult to estimate how much creationism is taught in British schools, but apart from independent (creationist) Christian and Islamic faith schools, creationism is taught as science in some state schools. It remains largely hidden because one cannot go round schools and ask the question outright and also a teacher teaching creationism would be wary of disclosing the fact.

First, the fifty independent faith schools do teach creationism as science for religious reasons. They often use American creationist material like Accelerated Christian Education. Secondly, several state secondary schools effectively teach creationism but claim to follow the National Curriculum. The first state school to teach YEC was probably Emmanuel College, Gateshead, a Christian foundation formed in 1992. In April 2002 Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (the leading creationist organisation)[35] led a meeting at the school. As it was a case of hiring out the school hall it was not relevant, but it took on a media-life of its own. However it became clear that creationism was taught as science. Richard Dawkins, the Bishop of Oxford and others called for a review but a government inspection supported the school. Some indications had appeared on the Christian Institute website. The head McQuoid made his support of YEC clear and in 2000 The Christian Institute had hosted a lecture series on Christian education, mostly by teachers at Emmanuel Gateshead. Stephen Layfield, head of science lectured on “The Teaching of Science; A Biblical Perspective”. He suggested that the “Principal evidence [for the Flood] is found in the fossil-laden sedimentary rocks, the extensive reserves of hydrocarbon fuels (coal, oil and gas)…”[36]. This article can be considered a manifesto for creationist teaching of science by arguing that science teachers should question evolution or geological time at every opportunity, and teaching an alternative Creationist opinion. Thirdly, there are examples of creationist teaching within the state system, in a covert way. Numbers of teachers are creationists but short of surveillance one cannot find out what they teach. To teach creationism would be contrary to both government guidelines.

The pressure to teach creationism comes from many different groups, mostly from independent churches, which are involved in groups like Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International. However much writing on creationism appears in evangelical magazines, like, Evangelical Times, Evangelicals Today and in Evangelicals Now. The sheer weight of articles over many years has convinced many evangelicals that evolution is bad science and, at the very least, creationism or design should be taught as an alternative.

In September 2006 the group Truthinscience[37] began a public campaign to encourage ‘the critical examination of Darwinism in schools’ and the teaching of “design” schools. They claimed:

We believe that a critical examination of Darwinism and the controversy that surrounds it will enable students to fulfill some of these objectives. …We consider that it is time for students to be permitted to adopt a more critical approach to Darwinism in science lessons. They should be exposed to the fact that there is a modern controversy over Darwin’s theory of evolution and the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and that this has considerable social, spiritual, moral and ethical implications. Truth in Science promotes the critical examination of Darwinism in schools, as an important component of science education.[38]

http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/tis2/index.php/home.html

Figure 7 Screenshot of the homepage of Truth in Science http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/tis2/index.php/home.html The DVD Set in Stone presents arguments fro a young earth and the website gives the impression of being “good” science

 

Their website scarcely touched on a young earth or Noah’s Flood but the board of advisors were Young Earth Creationists including Prof McIntosh of Leeds and an Anglican vicar. They claimed to be presenting Intelligent Design as an alternative to “Darwinism”. Design is used by creationists today as it is less threatening to the general public than creationism. They declined to affirm their belief that dinosaurs were on the Ark. One cannot determine how successful truthinscience has been in Britain. However, since September 2006 there have been many responses to the teaching of creationism. The concerns of creationists may be seen in Paul Taylor’s book entitled Truth, Lies and Science Education[39], written for the general reader. Taylor claims much science taught in schools is wrong and based on atheistic assumptions. The book is scientifically inaccurate and asserts much science teaching is actually scientism and gives radiometric age-dating as an example. That is simply absurd.

In 2010 another organisation Centre for Intelligent Design (C4ID) was formed with Alistair Noble as the Director.[40] This claimed that Design was a scientific position and thus ought to be taught. The website material is very ambivalent on the age of the earth, but it is difficult not to see it as a YEC front. C4ID has attracted much criticism especially from the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE)[41]. C4ID has attempted to influence scientists and teachers and have had lectures presented by American creationists.

Groups like Truth in Science and C4ID appeal for fairness and to encourage “critical thinking”. However in the push for fairness, there are no demands to teach a flat earth or phlogiston in chemistry. “Critical Thinking” sounds fine, but it is impossible to do that with the misrepresentation of science which is the hallmark of all creationism.

Over the last few years, there have been several official responses. On the official teachers’ website the document GUIDANCE ON THE PLACE OF CREATIONISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN IN SCIENCE LESSONS [42],  emphasized that neither Creationism nor Intelligent Design are scientific theories. Shortly after this in September 2007 the Association for Science Education published a similar statement on Science Education, Intelligent Design and Creationism[43] and stated that it agreed the consensus of science expressed in the Interacademy Panel statement[44]; a global network of the world’s science academies, which gave a statement on the unquestionable scientific consensus of the universe being billions of years old, the earth younger and the evolutionary succession of life, in contrast to creationist opinion that the universe and earth are less than 10,000 years old. This demonstrates that Creationism has minimal support in the scientific community, in fact, a fraction of one per cent.

However there are misunderstandings, as in September 2008 when Michael Reiss resigned as Director of Education at the Royal Society, after some Fellows of the Society protested about his views on tackling creationism in science teaching. At a meeting of the British Association in September 2008, Reiss argued that creationist pupils needed to be treated with respect and that simply attacking creationism was futile as creationism was part of a wider (religious) world view.[45] Reiss is a University Professor and chief executive of the Science Learning Centre in London, who has a Ph.D. in biology. He is also an ordained priest in the Church of England, which some atheists see as compromising his science. It seems that Reiss was misunderstood in his appeal to understand why some students are creationist as he made the obvious statement that understanding the students rather than criticizing them makes better educational sense.

Education and creationism have been in the news in 2011, and these type of issues have continued. In March2011 (and again in March 2012), Philip Bell of Creation Ministries International was invited to St Peter’s Church of England Aided School in Exeter to speak to GSCE students in which he gave ‘scientific’ arguments for creationism resulting in a protest by a Christian parent, Laura Horner, a geologist, who set up the CrISIS petition[46], followed by a letter of concern to Gove from several atheists and Christians, asking for clarification. In his reply on 7th July 2011 to Hugo Swire M.P. the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, replied with reference to St Peter’s School, explaining the government position on the teaching of creationist in science lessons;

‘Creationism does not fit with the scientific consensus…: nor does it employ the scientific method. As such it should not be taught as a scientific theory or body of knowledge as it is neither of those things.’

This is one of the few examples where attempts to introduce creationism into schools has come to the public’s notice. It highlights the situation in that teaching creationism is contrary to Government policy, yet it is occurring in British schools

The second case was as a result of the present government’s initiative in the setting up of Free schools, whereby a group can sponsor a new school, which will be independent of the Local Education Authority. A fundamentalist church in Newark, the Everyday Champions Church, was seeking to set up the Everyday Champions School, as a free school in Newark with a creationist basis. The application was turned down in October, as it would have contravened government policy.[47] As of April 2012 there are further applications for creationist Free Schools.

In 2013 a Lanarkshire school sent creationist books home for children. There was an outcry from parents and the BCSE was involved resulting in 18 months of controversy in Scotland and not yet resolved.

TruthBeTold (2)Cart pulled by dinosaur

See also https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/roll-over-nessie-dinosaur-alive-and-well-in-scottish-parliament/ Paul Braterman has several blogs on Scottish creationism.

Throughout the period from April to September 2011, articles on the issue of creationism in schools appeared in major newspapers and in publications like The Times Educational Supplement and the New Scientist. Possibly as a result of this, on 19th September 2011about 30 scientists, including David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins and Michael Reiss wrote an open letter to the government insisting that creationism should not be taught in schools.[48] Responses have been variable with positive reports in leading newspapers and Ekklesia[49] and strongly negative ones by Creationist groups like CMI[50] and AIG[51]. So far there has been no response from the mainstream churches and little from politicians. It appears that only interested groups , either “evolutionary” scientists or creationists, are concerned about teaching creationism in schools, and that opposition is confined only to those who have an interest i.e. scientists, rather than of concern to a wider society. The fact that such eminent scientists made such an appeal, indicates how seriously they take what they consider to be the threat of creationism to science education and are trying to persuade the wider public. Yet, the teaching of creationism in schools is not considered a serious problem among most people, including church leaders and politicians.

(see https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/evolution-and-religion-in-britain-from-1859-to-2013/ for the last 150 years)

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As well as these I found one church secondary school where parents were leaning on the head over creationism, and I felt the head was reluctant to offend them. This is a soft way in. It needs to be watched.

And then some teachers lean to YEC or are fearful to deal with subject.

In England it is not permissible to teach YEC whether in county or church schools, but I pick up instances of teachers leaning to YEC, but not too overtly. After all you can raise doubts about evolution., without actually teaching YEC. You can hint at doubts about Darwin or geological time. Others have found the same thing. However the evidence is anecdotal rather than systematic.

However teachers , of any faith or none, must deal with creationists pupils with respect and understanding.

BUT there is another side to this, both in the teaching material and by teachers. It can be, and is, presented that Christianity is actually YEC with the implication that a science student cannot be a Christian. I can give examples.

SHOULD Creationism be taught?

In a word “No”.

YEC as I presented above is simply not science and is a hotch-potch of odd ideas cobbled together to discredit science. Further I does not have roots in either traditional church teaching nor the science of past eras. (Yes, I know science has changed and that some ideas have been long rejected, but these were ideas put forward by wise scientists trying to make sense of the world. I could give loads of examples from geology, and itemise where geologists like Sedgwick, Buckland and Darwin got things wrong! Each were superb geologists.) BTW I have published on Buckland and Darwin’s geological work, especially on Welsh glaciation.

YEC dates back to the 19th century. First, in England with the anti-geologists who tried to overthrow the geology of Buckland, Sedgwick and Lyell with an odd mish-mash of ideas. They were effectively silenced by Buckland and Sedgwick among others. The church was wiser back then – and less polite.)

buckland

This is Tom Sopwith’s painting of Buckland looking for Welsh glaciers in 1841. Yes, he was a bit nuts.

We then move to the USA with the ideas Ellen White of the Seventh Day Adventists, who wrote a rambling work claiming all strata were laid down i the Flood. This was taken up after 1900 by McCready Price with his “New Geology”. The new ideas simmered in the USA until Morris and Whitcomb  published The Genesis Flood in 1961. After that YEC slowly took off in the USA, becoming the default view of evangelicals. It spread to Britain by 1968 and gradually took root.

There is no way YEC should be taught as SCIENCE in SCIENCE lessons, but inevitably it will come up and teachers need to find a way of dealing with it in a sensitive fashion.

It is clear that YEC cannot be on any science curriculum, but its existence needs acknowledging.

However, if a teacher does teach it, then that has to be a disciplinary matter

The reasons for that should be obvious from what I have written.

YEC simply is not science.

Worse than that it is full of untruth, not in the sense that they get their science wrong, but by systematically distorting and misquoting standard science.

Beyond that it undermines a good understanding of so much science, especially geology and biology, which are needed both to understand  and deal with the pressing issues of today.

In a time of environmental crisis we must get our science right.

We cannot say with Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance that all fossil fuels were laid down a few thousand years ago when Noah was in the ark! This chapter from Religion in Environmental and Climate Change  deals with Beisner and YECs on Climate Change

9781441169297_Ch07_Fpp_txt_prf

If we do we cannot understand geomorphology and thus cannot make good judgments on how to deal with issues of flooding , earthquakes, climate change etc.

The same applies to more biological matters like medicines and medical methods etc.

The same for agriculture and forestry.

And so on, ad infinitum.

What should the churches do?

YEC has been present in the UK for nearly half a century and the churches have done little about it. It has taken over most independent evangelical churches, especailly with the activities of Answers in Genesis. I felt the Church of England has tried to look the other way , when their bishops could have spoken out decades ago. Some years ago Dawkins argued the Anglican bishops should have been forceful. I wrote to The Times agreeing with Dawkins and saying our bishops could have done more. A few days later I got an irate e-mail from my bishop criticising what I wrote! He’d sent it at 6 in the morning, so he must have been up all night fuming at me!!

Most mainline churches are not YEC, but they are a significant presence (at least 5% of clergy) in most, including the Church of England. There are several such vicars in my diocese!

Often in the churches teaching and preaching issues on creation , and thus of evolution, are sidestepped. This allows members to unwittingly think YEC may be true.

In recent years churches have, at long last, emphasised the care of the environment, which needs to be backed up by good simple science on geology, biology and evolution. Churchmembers do not need to know that the base of the Upper Bowland Shales is the Cravenoceras Ieion Marine Band, which was about 325.2 million years ago, but need a general awareness of deep geological time e.g. Ice Ages ended 10,000 years ago etc. YEC says the Ice Age took place after Noah’s flood!

Above all, there must be an insistence on integrity and rigorous honesty. Thus the churches must criticise YEC. I fear this will not happen.

 

Conclusion

YEC is  simply Untrue

The main reason why YEC should not be taught is simply that it is untrue.

That cannot be stressed too strongly whether it upsets anyone or not.

YEC twists and misrepresents science to produce a complete parody of science and such that one begins to question whether leading creationists are not deliberately lying. After half a century of reading creationist writings I would find it very difficult not to say that.

It is also very bad science

If you follow bad science, pseudoscience or untrue science, this has serious implications on science -based projects  in society whether for environmental work, medical improvements, agriculture, technology etc

And finally, as a Christian, I find YEC makes Christianity seem utterly false and dishonest.

Last of all to give a Welsh twist, William Williams (Pantycelyn)  who wrote Guide me, O thou great redeemer made it very clear in Golwg ar Deyrnas Crist that he thought the earth was much older than Ussher’s 4004BC.

P.S. I was asked to write this for the Geol Soc of London book  Geology and Religion. It brings out my position on geology and creation

339lgscreation

 

The Tragic Case of Ernst Lohmeyer

A challenging account of a brave Christian under Nazis and Soviets

Larry Hurtado's Blog

One of the books I’ve read during outpatient visits to the hospital over the last few weeks is a newly published book on Ernst Lohmeyer, a celebrated NT scholar who will be known to anyone in the field.  Among his numerous publications is his little monograph, Kyrios Jesus:  Eine Untersuchung zu Phil. 2, 5-11 (Heidelberg:  Carl Winters, 1928), in which he pioneered an analysis of the passage that treated it as having hymnic qualities.

The new book in question:  James R. Edwards, Between the Swastika and the Sickle:  The Life, Disappearance, and Execution of Ernst Lohmeyer (Eerdmans, 2019).   Lohmeyer opposed the Nazis, defended Jewish colleagues (especially during his time in the University of Breslau), was a member of the Confessing Church (who opposed the “German Christians” allied with the Nazis), and all the while produced some important scholarly publications.

The Nazi sympathizing leadership in Breslau gave him a disciplinary transfer…

View original post 254 more words

Losing Sleep Over Michaela – why children aren’t coming to church

An interesting blog on the dumbing down of teaching in schools and in church.

In the latter we’ve been told for years to keep it simple, but should we?

Quodcumque - Serious Christianity

One of the small pleasures in my life is the ticking and chiming of the eighteenth century grandfather clock, made by John Darke of Barnstaple, which stands in the hall. The 5am chime is the signal for me to get up and if I hear 10pm (or later) I have stayed awake too long. Early on Wednesday morning this week I heard the clock strike twice. I know exactly why I was awake then. The third Wednesday in August is the day schools can download their GCSE exam results. For the eight years I was a Headteacher my long-suffering deputies would stay up late that night, download the results as soon as they were able to after midnight and collate the figures. They would ring me in the early hours and I would ring the equally long-suffering Director of Children’s Services to tell her the news. Even now, as Director…

View original post 887 more words

The ultimate root of Creationism, not science but a fundamentalist worldview

This is an excellent blog on how Creationism is supposedly a defence of Christian Morals which they see undermine if you believe in an old earth.

It trace the root back to a reaction against Bernard Ramm who wrote an excellent book on science and Christianity in 1955.

One odd thing, creationists have a moral crusade but do seem rather lax on the ninth Commandment.

AIG fortress cartoon

 

https://iloveyoubutyouregoingtohell.org/2019/08/09/radical-creationists-fall-into-the-poetry-trap/?fbclid=IwAR1igfy9qOQISMam3DLSasffHYxtpyfRklYeJ3UOADVjzdQf4ATzGFIzwPg

Radical Creationists Fall into the Poetry Trap

Want to understand American creationism? Then don’t dig into Charles Darwin or even Bill Nye. The key to American creationism isn’t science, not even its peculiar “zombie” science. No, to understand radical American creationism, we need to look instead to poetry and the fundamentalist impulse.

Here’s the latest: today’s leading radical creationist Ken Ham recently defended his young-earth position against charges of flat-earthism. As Ham bemoaned,

now it’s not just atheists arguing the Bible teaches a flat earth—it’s some Christians, too, who’ve sadly fallen for flat-earth arguments and now believe that’s what the Bible teaches. But does it?

No, it doesn’t. Now, flat earthers will frequently bring up poetic passages, such as verses from Psalms or Job, and say those verses teach a flat earth because phrases like “ends of the earth” or references to a setting sun appear. But those passages are poetry—by definition poetry is filled with literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and figures of speech. The biblical text is meant to be interpreted naturally, according to the genre. And poetry is clearly intended to be understood within the context of abundant literary devices that are not meant to be taken so woodenly and literally (i.e., God does not literally lie us down in green pastures as per Psalm 23:2).

For those who know the history of American creationism, Ham’s use of the “poetry” defense must seem either brutally cynical or woefully ignorant. Here’s why: Back in the 1950s, fundamentalist Protestant scholars tried to move away from Ham’s preferred sort of radical young-earth creationism. They wanted to remain creationists, but they didn’t want to be bound to scientifically outlandish notions such as a 6,000-year-old earth or a literal world-wide flood.

How did they interpret the creation passages in Genesis? You guessed it: as poetry.

Most influentially, Bernard Ramm argued in his 1954 book The Christian View of Science and Scripture that simple young-earth creationism made a huge theological mistake. As Ramm wrote,

If the theologian teaches that the earth is the center of the solar system, or that man first appeared on the earth at 4004 BC, or that all the world was submerged under water at 4004 BC and had been for unknown millennia, he is misinterpreting Scripture and bringing Scripture into needless conflict with science.

When the Bible describes creation, Ramm argued, it was speaking poetically, in popular, accessible language. Such language, Ramm thought, did not “theorize as to the actual nature of things.” Rather, it explained God’s role as a personal, engaged Creator in poetic language that people everywhere could understand.

AIG fortress cartoon

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The modern American radical-creationist movement was born as an attempt to directly refute Ramm’s ideas. John Whitcomb Jr. and Henry Morris set out in their blockbuster creationist hit The Genesis Flood to prove that Genesis was not poetry, but history.

As always, though, poetry is in the eye of the beholder. How were conservative evangelicals supposed to choose where to draw the line? How were they supposed to decide if talk about a flat earth was meant to be read poetically or literally? Or passages about a world-wide flood? Or the age of the planet?

In the end, the answers came down to something besides science or even theology. For Whitcomb and Morris in the 1960s and 1970s, or Ken Ham today, insistence on a literal young earth and literal world-wide flood is not a scientific decision or a theological one, but rather a very popular kind of draw-the-line-ism, a fundamentalist promise that traditional beliefs must be protected at all costs.

For example, when John Whitcomb Jr. and Henry Morris made their first case for radical young-earth creationism, they insisted that there were only two ways to see the world—young-earth creationism or “evolutionism.” On the creationist side stood Jesus and the Scriptures. On evolution’s side were only “ancient idolatries or primitive animism or modern existentialism or atheistic communism!”

AIG foundations

Throughout his long career, Henry Morris insisted that only a rigid, literalistic, radical creationism stood between true religion and a host of pernicious ideas. In The Long War Against God, for example, Morris warned that a poetic reading of Genesis would mean an endorsement of “premarital sex, adultery, divorce, and homosexuality” as well as ”Unrestrained pornography. . . . [and] Prostitution, both male and female.” Don’t forget, Morris warned, that “evolutionary thinking” lead to “abortionism.” And the Holocaust. As well as, presumably, cannibalism, not to mention “the modern drug crisis (rock music, peer pressure, organized crime, etc.)”

When Henry Morris insisted on reading Genesis as literal rather than poetic, he wasn’t making a theological statement. He was not making a scientific statement. Rather, Morris was appealing to America’s fundamentalist impulse, the desire of many conservative Christians to draw the line somewhere.

For Morris and his erstwhile protégé Ken Ham, the threat of evolution isn’t really theological or scientific. Rather, as Ham never tires of repeating, evolutionary thinking is the foundation of a host of modern social ills, from abortion rights to LGBTQ rights; from youthful disrespect to internet pornography.

I can’t help but wonder if Ham is aware of the long history of his poetry defense. Does he know that Bernard Ramm used the same argument against his mentor’s radical young-earth beliefs? Does Ham just not care? Or, rather, does he understand that his followers don’t really care about science or theology, they are just looking for someone to tell them where to draw the line, where to take up a fundamentalist defense of traditional values?