Category Archives: fundamentalism

Easing the way for Young Earth Creationism; the case of J W Dawson and G F Wright in 1900

History always has its twists and turns, some of which are unexpected.

Two leading Christian apologists for geology in the late Victorian period were Dawson and Wright. Both were very competent geologists. Dawson was THE leading Canadian geologist. His books on geology and faith are good, but he could not accept evolution. Wright from the USA was a league below and slowly rejected his earlier acceptance of evolution.

THE ANTIQUITY OF EARTH AND HUMANITY
Since the discovery of Deep Time in the eighteenth century, no geologist
could give dates for the age of the earth. Throughout the early
nineteenth century geologists tried culminating with the Rev. Samuel
Haughton’s estimate for the base of the Cambrian as 1,800 my in 1860.
The work of the physicist William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) in the
early 60s soon reduced the maximum age of the earth to 100 my and
then to 24 my. Most geologists, including Charles Darwin, capitulated
to these estimates though it mitigated against evolution. Kelvin’s dates
were widely accepted until the first attempts of radiometric age-dating in
1905.

Image result for kelvin
Of more concern to evangelicals were arguments for the antiquity of
humanity put forward from about 1860. Before then evidence was too
scanty to give any firm date. So long as humans had only existed for
only some 10,000 years, one could adopt a chronology similar to Ussher’s.
Lyell in The Antiquity of Man (Lyell, 1863) concluded that humans first appeared
100,000 years ago,which was unacceptable to most evangelicals, as
it challenged any semblance of history in Genesis 4–11. Van Riper (1993)
groups responses from 1855 to 1880 as Lyellian (100,000 years), Prestwichian
(20,000 years), and traditional (Ussherian?) (6000–8000 years).
The first group included Darwin, Huxley, Lubbock, and Wallace, and
the last were confined to religious publications. The Canadian geologist,
J. W. Dawson (1820–1899)

Image result for j w dawson

 

who reckoned he had discovered the oldest fossil-form and named it Eozoon canadense in 1864. He thought it was a   sponge or giant micro-organism. His ideas were challenged and in 1894 geologists found similar rocks in material at Vesuvius.  What was a sponge was in fact limestone altered by magma.

Image result for Eozoon canadense

continually argued for a traditional date and
at his death was the only leading scientist not to accept evolution. From
1860Dawson published many books reconciling geology and Christianity,
with titles like Archaia (Dawson, 1860) and The Story of the Earth (Dawson,
1874). These exude geological competence, but he always favored Kelvin’s
shorter timescales (Burchfield, 1976) and a low human antiquity, which
was music to evangelicals as they could retain the traditional chronology,
which Schofield put in his Reference Bible of 1909.
Another evangelical geologist, George F. Wright (1838–1921), a Congregationalist
minister who was encouraged to take up geology by Asa
Gray, was persuaded against his earlier Darwinian views by considerations
of geological time. From his early years he took an intermediate
position between Lyell and Darwin on one hand and the heirs of Ussher
on the other.

Image result for The Ice Age in North America: And Its Bearings Upon the Antiquity of Man George Frederick Wright

In the 1870s and 1880s Wright was Darwinian as expounded
in Studies in Science and Religion (Wright, 1882), but retained the special
creation of humans, as did Wallace. After he returned to Oberlin College,
Ohio, in 1881 he began an intellectual drift to the right but continued his
fieldwork on glacial geology. He began to question evolution partly because
the materialism of Spenser and Huxley. He also was worried by the
Higher Criticism of C.A. Briggs.When he first heard Briggs in 1891 he was
convinced that Moses did not write the Pentateuch. On reflection he reacted
against Brigg’s liberalism and became more conservative and began
to associate evolution with higher criticism, a position still put forward
today.
In 1892 he published Man and the Glacial Period (Wright, 1892) which
is a useful compendium on the state of glacial studies. I found it useful as a source for victorian glacial studies, but it has drawbacks.

Image result for Man and the Glacial Period

 

Wright hoped
for a favorable response. That was not granted him, as he insisted that
there had been only one period of glaciation, and rejected the findings
of recent glaciologists, who had unraveled a series of Ice Ages rather
than one as was originally thought in 1840. Wright concurred with Joseph
Prestwich, that the one Ice Age had lasted 25,000 years, but by the 1890s
few geologists accepted that and Wright was taken to task by the geologists
Chamberlin and McGee, the latter calling him as “a betinseled charlatan.”
Dana regarded McGee’s dismissal was “a disgrace to American Science,”
but Numbers is correct to state that Wright’s “theological convictions had
undoubtedly colored his scientific conclusions” (Numbers, 2006, p 44).
In The Origin and Antiquity of Man (Wright, 1913) he reiterated his case
and refused to accept “Man’s origin by purely naturalistic agencies.” He
argued that the earth was less than 100 million years old and that life,
that is the base of the Cambrian, began some 24 million years ago. These
conclusions, drawn from Kelvin, allowed him to accept a short 25,000
year Ice Age. Even so, he followed Flinders Petrie’s dating of the first
Egyptian dynasty at 4777 BC. On geological time Wright was restrictive.
He objected to Lyell’s “unlimited” geological time with the base of the
Cambrian 500 million years ago (close to today’s 550 million years). He
commended Darwin for downsizing his almost limitless time in 1859 to
some 100my and favored Walcott of Burgess Shale fame and a Presbyterian
for allowing only 27.5 my. It is difficult to be certain why Wright changed
from a thoroughgoing evolutionist to a skeptic who took a limited view
of geological time, which hardly gave time for evolution. Numbers (2006,
pp. 33–50) gives some pointers.
Time, they were a-changing! A few years before in 1905 the English
physicist John William Strutt, later Lord Rayleigh (1842–1919) began to
apply radioactivity to date rocks and showed that a mineral containing
radium was 2 billion years old because of its helium content. In the same
year Bertrand Boltwood suggested that Lead may be the end product of
the decay of uranium and calculated the ages of forty-three minerals from
400 to 2,200 my. The radiometric dating game had begun and by 1913
Arthur Holmes (1890–1964) in The Age of the Earth reckoned the base of the
Cambrian to be 600 my and the age of the earth to be 1.6 by. Geologists
would never again talk of less than billions. The immediate effect was to
render untenable any suggestion that humans had been around for less
than 50,000 years. The loose agreement with “biblical chronology” which
Dawson and Wright claimed was consigned to history. From then on the
choice was, either to accept billions of years for the age of the earth and a
100,000 years or more for humans or to accept that humans are recent that
is less than 20,000 years and to REJECT all radiometric age dating. As we
shall see that first occurred in the 1930s and became a major thrust of YEC
after 1961.

******

To insist as Wright did for a single Ice Age only 20,000 years ago and that humans are of the same antiquity is to open the way to reject radiometric age-dating and thus for Young Earth Creationism. Thus enabling Henry Morris to flourish

It is sad that two competent scientists left a questionable legacy which has done harm both to Christianity and science.

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.

Image result for ken ham image51gBlHMEfwL__SS500_

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

 

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.

168946_477433586556_727651556_6500443_8206770_nararat_or_bust

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 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?

Young-Earth Creationism Leads the Short-Necked Okapi to Identify as a Giraffe

Creationism has so many inconsistencies and absurdities. They are virulently anti-evolution, but more and more they argue for evolution in a matter of years rather than millions of years.
In defending the bible and the gospel they simply destroy it.

Naturalis Historia

The Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky is filled with signs and displays that promote young-earth interpretations of geology, astronomy, biology, archaeology and theology. I have critiqued many of these interpretations before (e.g. My Trip to the Ark Encounter and Depicting a Real Flood with Unrealistic Images). Today, I want to talk about one sign. A sign that explains the young-earth understanding of the origin of giraffes.

A sign on the Ark Encounter posted next to cage containing a pair of short-necked giraffe-like animals. Photo: Joel Duff

It is hard to read so here is the text from that sign:

“Why is the Giraffe’s Neck so Short?

Giraffidae is a family of large mammals currently represented by only two species. They have split hooves and re-chew their food, indicating they qualify as “clean” animals according to the dietary laws described in Leviticus.  This means that up to seven pairs…

View original post 2,343 more words

Is Genesis History? Well, nope

 

Image result for is genesis history

Is Genesis History? is a DVD to show that early Genesis is “history” and that the earth is a few thousand years old, God talked the universe into being in 144 hrs, the flood was worldwide and most of the strata were laid down at that time. Evolution is a big no-no.

It has the support of most creationist groups and many of their “experts” have contributed to this beautifully flawed production.

P1010414

More can be found on their website. https://isgenesishistory.com/ 

The introductory page makes it clear.

“Will strengthen confidence in Scripture, clarify understanding of the relationships of revelation, science, history, and faith, and enhance understanding of difficult questions all while being both beautiful and entertaining.” – E. Calvin Beisner, PhD

Is Genesis History? features over a dozen scientists and scholars explaining how the world intersects with the history recorded in Genesis.  From rock layers to fossils, from lions to stars, from the Bible to artifacts, this fascinating film will change the way you see the world.

The film’s goal is to provide a reasonable case for Creation in six normal days, a real Adam and Eve, an actual fall, a global flood, and a tower of Babel. Dr. Del Tackett, creator of The Truth Project, serves as your guide—hiking through canyons, climbing up mountains, and diving below the sea—in an exploration of two competing views … one compelling truth.

This says it all, but who are the experts?

Experts Interviewed

Many people don’t realize just how many scientists and scholars see Genesis as the key to understanding the world around us. Each of these experts has spent decades working in his respective field to better understand how it relates to the history recorded in the Bible.

 

Those who fllow Young Earth Creationism will recognise most of these names. It’s true that they have Ph.D.s and have worked for years in their chosen fields, but…..

I’ve met five of them, but none have more than a few academic papers to their name – which, in the case of geology, do nothing to refute “old earth ” geology. At times their treatment of standard science is duplicitous.

And so another page deals with their answers to “questions”.

https://isgenesishistory.com/category/questions/

I’ll focus on one – the theologian Douglas Kelly

 https://isgenesishistory.com/when-did-the-church-stop-reading-genesis-as-history/

Dr. Douglas Kelly explains the history of the church’s relationship with Evolution and the Bible.

DEL: Where do you see all of the sudden the thought beginning to work its way in, that there is something less than historical record found in Genesis?

DOUG: Dr. Nigel Cameron, who did a book a number of years ago which unfortunately it’s out of print, Evolution and the Authority of the Bible, in which he shows convincingly to me after serious study on his part that the whole church as far as commentators and creeds on into Protestant confessions held straight six day creation, until the European enlightenment. And particularly two things happen, well many things happened in the European enlightenment but two things particular reference to creation. One is there was the introduction of the thought of vast geological ages being evidenced by geological structures. That was happening largely in the 18th Century, late 18th Century. And then in the 19th Century of course we have Charles Darwin. It was not that theories of evolution were totally novel. They weren’t, because if you go back to certain pre-socratic philosophers, Democritus, Lucretius and others, they held some kind of evolution, but that Christianity had purged that out and said it’s ridiculous and it goes way underground.

DOUG: It’s able to come back to the surface by the European enlightenment. Geology first and then with particularly Darwin and his grandfather was teaching Erasmus Darwin but Charles Darwin’s major work came out in 1859 and sold out in about two days because people were so desperate to find an intellectual alternative to divine creation. Well Cameron shows that when about five years, five or six years after Darwin’s book became popular i.e. by the late 1860s there was scarcely a protestant commentator, a protestant commentator that didn’t accept some form of evolution or at least say this is a matter best left to the scientists. Let’s deal with the spiritual.

DEL: It happened that fast.

DOUG: It happened that fast within six or seven years. Now there were exceptions. Good Bishop Wilbur Force resisted it, but that’s how quickly it happened.

I facepalmed at the last sentence “Bishop Wilbur Force”. It clearly they meant Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, son of William Wilberforce.

1869_Wilberforce_A504_001

Wilberfoce was competent in science and attended geological lectures by William Buckland for three years while at Oxford. His 1860 review of the Origin of Species was competent though rejecting evolution.

Kelly studied for his Ph D in Edinburgh under T F Torrance, the leading 20th century Scottish theologian, who had a sound view of science and theology!

In 1999 he published a YEC book supporting a six day creation , full of poor theology and worse science.

The quotes by Kelly here are weak. He is wrong to say theologians held to a six day creation until the Enlightenment. See my chapter here; Genesis 1 & geological time from 1600-1850 Until there was geological evidence for an ancient earth theologians took varied opinions but after 1780 few opted for a young earth. What Kelly does not say is that after 1800 very few theologians, Protestant or Catholic accepted a 6-day creation. That includes conservative protestants and evangelicals on both sides of the pond. By 1870 most accepted some kind of evolution.  This is just for Britain, the situation in the USA was similar  – at least til the Scopes trial. Evolution and religion in Britain from 1859

So lets get on with this blog  on

6 Reasons Christians Should Embrace 6 Day Creation

Watch the film

https://isgenesishistory.com/6-reasons-christians-embrace-6-day-creation/

The blog  has a clear purpose – to give 6 reasons why Christians must accept a 6-day creation.

When Is Genesis History? opened in theaters last year, we had no idea it would be the top grossing Christian documentary for 2017. We were even more surprised when our distributor said they were bringing it back to theaters on Feb 22, 2018 for an Anniversary Event.

Why did this film resonate so much with audiences?

Perhaps it demonstrated that it’s intellectually reasonable for Christians to embrace 6-day creation.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world.

I recognize that among some Christians this is not a popular view of history. Instead, some have adopted the framework hypothesis, analogical days, or the cosmic-temple model to interpret Genesis 1.

They then accept the conventional chronology of universal history. This includes the slow formation of everything over billions of years starting with a Big Bang, the corruption and death of trillions of creatures before the arrival of Adam and Eve, a Fall that introduced death only to mankind, and a local flood during the days of Noah.

It is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

I realize that intelligent and godly Christians hold to this model of Earth history. Nevertheless, many seem unaware of the actual events they must inevitably adopt when affirming a 13.8 billion-year-old universe.

After all, one cannot extend history for billions of years without attaching new events to it. Those events have theological consequences.

This is why thinkers like Geerhardus Vos, Louis Berkhof, and D. Martin Lloyd-Jones embraced 6-day creation. They understood it is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

Note that included is not only a 6-day creation, but also a Fall which brought death into the world. This latter is a plank for YEC as the death of Christ is often presented as reversing the effects of the Fall, thus giving more plausibility to YEC. Note how the expression “corruption and death” is put forward in contrast to a “good2 and “very good” original creation.

Then Six theological reasons for YEC are considered.

Here are six theological reasons worth considering:

N.B. Here I give the blog in “quotes” , the rest are my comments

1. God’s Goodness Must Be Reflected in the Original Creation

Ligon Duncan observed in an interview for ‘The Gospel Coalition’ that affirming the goodness of the original creation is non-negotiable. As the Westminster Confession states, the goodness of the original creation is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)

 

If the expression “original creation” was not used, most , if not all Christians subscribe to this. Creation,( however it came about, however old it is), “is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)”. However the use of “original Creation” is used to imply that creation took place in a matter of 144 Hours. That most Christians disagree with.

they then ask;

What does that goodness look like? It is full of life-giving power and bounty.

I find this photo an odd one to show the earth without corruption 🙂 In fact it shows beauty and tranquillity and so much of our scenery and wildlife shows the beauty and wonder of Creation. Here are two taken from near home I quickly found at random . It is difficult to see it as “not good”. I try hard to see the corruption here.

DSCF5863DSCF8789 (1)

 

This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).

Yet this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation.

 

P1010028.JPG

I’d be very surprised if any reader does not see this as a “picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world”. Just look at the colours and delicacy of the plant’s structure and the exquisite tiny flowers coming into bloom. Many will recognise it as sundew (drosera rotundiflora) which is common in boggy areas. I found this ten miles from my home in a gorgeous boggy lake full of drosera and surrounded by Bog asphodel.

P1010023

Beautiful though it is, the sundew is  – er  – um -” a product of the Fall and Curse” as it is a  carnivorous plant and gains some sustainence from catching insects with those tentacles in the leaves. as well as that the boggy area is a morass of dead plants and animals in varying stages of decomposition. So if the sundew and bog asphodel are beautiful they are the result of the Fall and Curse!! This rather contradicts the claim that “this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation”.

Further they are right to say “This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty …..” We see this good and very good all around us, and especially if we are tuned to see the wonder of creation in both large and small things.

DSCF1153

But then they say “It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).” Well, we see a world of plenty and beauty WITH corruption and animal death. We must ask how the Fall and Curse changed creation. The photos I chose all show a world of plenty and beauty with carnivory present! Gen 1 vs 30 has to be squeezed very hard to make it affirm carnivory. I’ll deal with Romans 8 later.

If one adopts the conventional chronology, one must accept that the Earth was absent from the universe for its first 9 billion years. After a galactic cooling event, the Earth slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments. God eventually created the first complex marine life, then progressively created or evolved different types of organisms. These experienced death and massive extinction events that led to the destruction of trillions of living creatures.

All this happened long before the appearance of Adam and Eve.

I realize that some Christians may not be interested in these sorts of details. Yet anyone who chooses to accept an old universe implicitly accepts the historical events that go with it. It is a history filled with lifelessness and death, not the goodness of God.

This flight of fancy begs some questions. Yes, we have a long evolution over 13.4 billion years and during most of that there was no life – but why is that bad? To correct an error of emotive appeal, the earth was not “slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments”. Yes, earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago, but life was almost certainly there by 4 billion. There has been life ever since.  But even “lifeless creation” has beauty and wonder.

119

Now this is the “lifeless” view from the present summit of Mt St Helens taken in October 2009. The foreground is “lifeless” lava and glacier! Behind the area was wiped clean of most life in May 1980, but is now regenerating.

2. Adam’s Sin Resulted in Universal Corruption and Death

According to the conventional chronology, corruption has always been a part of the universe. This can be seen in the fossil record which supposedly represents 540 million years of animal suffering and death. It provides snapshots of a world often full of thorns and thistles.

It’s a funny use of corruption, when it is used to denigrate the endless cycle if the universe changing over time. The universe has a history of stars being born and dying, but why is that corruption? The next sentence is rather inaccurate. The fossil record goes back 4 billion years, not 540 million!!

In this view, Adam’s sin could not have been the ultimate cause of universal corruption. As an historical event, his disobedience occurred long after “corruption” was present. Of course , their assertion is that the earth is young and geological and cosmological ages are wrong. But no evidence for that is given. Neither do they point out that arguments for these vast ages go back 300 years or so, so cannot be laid at the door of Darwin.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world.

Where does it say the Fall brought “corruption”  to the universe. It is simply not in any version of Genesis 3. Yes, Genesis 3 speaks of thorns and thistles (vs18) but not animal death, earthquakes or anything else. They really need to show that DAY must mean 24 hours. For 2000 years Christians have varied on this and though until about 1680 most reckoned the earth to be young, a significant number did not on theological grounds as they had no scienitific evidence to guide them.

Further the popularity of their view of corruption stems from Milton’s poem Paradise Lost, rather than a theological consensus.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/why-the-apple-didnt-kill-adam-and-eve/

However animal pain and death is a problem to all who beleive in a benifient God. As Darwin asked about the Ichneumon fly and a cat playing with a mouse

ichneumon

 

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/parasitic-wasps-and-the-death-of-jesus-with-hat-tip-to-darwin/

Ultimately there is no resolution and either the Curse or “billions of years of suffering and death ” does not get God off the hook!! It is a hard thing to accept that God created a world with death and suffering, but equally hard if God introduced death and suffering because a pair of nudists went scrumping.  It is irresolvable.

Or even more starkly 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1158800625775206400

This is what Paul affirms in Romans 8:21. It is what Christian theology has always affirmed: Adam was given dominion over the entire creation at the beginning; when he sinned, the entire creation was subjected to corruption as a consequence of its unique relationship to him.

Here we have the usual appeal to Rom 8 vs21. It is the standard interpretation but not unanimous. This turns on the translation of several Greek words. The word translated creation is ktisis, which can mean humanity in both parts of the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers. Few accept that today, but it was the view of the 18th century commentator John Gill and the 17th century John Lightfoot, who dated creation to 3926BC, making him more young earth than Ussher.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/mis-reading-romans-chapter-8/

Too many “orthodox” (i.e old earth) theologians seem to go for a Fall in creation as did the commentators Sanday and Headlem and also NT Wright  in Evil and the Justice of God p 117 and p109.

There is a lack of clear thinking in this area, but it must be said that if the earth is even a few million years old, then death is of the order of creation and not due to a Fall. Creationists cash in on this lack of clarity. Perhaps I spent too long in scorching temperatures in the Namib Desert sorting out the geology !!

3. The Pattern of Creation-Fall-Redemption Culminates in the New Creation

If the universe contained death and corruption that wasn’t the result of Adam’s sin, what does that mean for Jesus’s redemption of both man and creation?

This is a superficially appealing argument, BUT it shifts the emphasis of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross from the atonement of human sin to sorting out the mess of the Fall and Curse.

Consider His miracles: He was re-forming the world according to the goodness of the original creation. Whether Jesus was healing the sick, raising the dead, or feeding the hungry, He was showing that redemption results in tangible bounty to actual people. It is a goodness that culminates with the new creation. Passages in the Prophets and Revelation suggest a return to the space-time goodness of the original creation.

Yet it is only the chronology of 6-day creation that provides the historical framework for this pattern to have meaning.

If the original creation was not good, or if the Fall did not transform that creation into something evil, then what is the real nature of our redemption? And what is the real potential of the new creation?

For the bookends of creation to match, they must be mirrors of each other. This is only possible with 6-day creation.

This is a bit rambling.

4. Scripture Must be Used to Interpret Scripture

In the Odyssey, when Penelope wants to prove her husband’s identity, she requests he shoot an arrow through 12 axe handles placed in a row. She knows he is the only one who can do it. In the same way, although different interpretations claim to be accurate, only those which pass intact through the entirety of the Bible are true.

This is what we see with the events associated with 6-day creation: they are affirmed throughout the entire Bible.

Whether it is Moses connecting creation week with a normal week in the fourth commandment; or Isaiah affirming God created man at the same time He created the heavens and the earth; or Jesus explaining the global destruction of the Flood in light of His second coming; or Luke tracing the history of the world through a single genealogy; or Paul relating the work of Adam to the work of Christ; or Peter showing the relationship between the creation, global flood, and judgment to come, there is only one historical sequence that consistently fits: 6-day creation.

This is not what it says as it is an appeal claiming that THEIR interpretation is correct and the others wrong. To interpret Scripture one must use other parts of Scripture, but alway consider the context and genre and use extra-biblical information, especially on the cultural context.

5. Essential Doctrines are Embedded in History

Last year, I had lunch with a friend who takes a more liberal view of the Bible. As he heard what was in the film, he said, “if there really was a global flood, that changes everything.” This is similar to the line of thinking we see in Acts: if a man really rose from the dead, that changes everything.

Paul establishes the necessary connection between the events of history and Christian doctrine in 1 Corinthians 15. Peter does the same in 2 Peter 3 with creation, the flood, and the final judgment.

Yet it is only within the historical framework of 6-day creation that all these events cohere to the fabric of time.

For instance, if the thick fossil-bearing rock layers are the result of a global flood, they are a physical reminder of God’s global judgment on the earth in the past—as well as in the future.

If, however, one adopts the conventional chronology, those huge layers are merely a testimony to millions of years. God’s judgment is erased from the earth—and perhaps overlooked in the future.

This is based on an obvious assumption  and that is that the history of the New Testament is the same as early Genesis. It is hard to say they are. This overlooks so many differences. I note that they look to God’s judgement in the Flood as if this were a proof of a young earth.

6. Presuppositional Thinking Helps Us Understand the Discipline of Science

Finally, what about science itself?

When I started researching our documentary, I came across a book entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Although there is much that could be said about Kuhn, his method is easy for philosophically-minded Christians to grasp: he applies presuppositional thinking to the discipline of science.

Anyone who has read Christian philosopher Cornelius Van Til can see the similarities between them:

Both point out that data is not “value-neutral,” but that people bring a ‘set of glasses’ toward the interpretation of the world around them. Both recognize the intense commitment people have toward certain views to the exclusion of all others. Both note that groups consistently interpret what they observe in light of their base presuppositions.

Night Sky

Now what makes Kuhn interesting is that he explores the history of science in light of this thinking. The result is that he effectively questions the absolute epistemological authority of modern science.

This is a total misreading of Kuhn. He argued that accumulated evidence changes the “paradigm” of scientists  eg geocentricity to heliocentricity. It was not a case of changing “presuppositions”. It can also be done on geological time and evolution (though Kuhn did this v badly), plate tectonics etc. People did not change their views on geological time due to changing presuppositions, but accumulated evidence gleaned from a methodologically naturalistic perspective. Thus scientists gradually changed their views on the age of the earth, from a few thousand in 1660 to millions in 1800 to billions by 1910. It is often overlooked that many of these geologists were Christians.

Having read both Van Til and Kuhn I cannot see the similarities, though I have to admit I’m a fan of neither!

 

In Closing

I regret the abbreviated nature of these thoughts. They are only a few of the many I arrived at during my three year process researching this film. I have explored them at greater depth in the Is Genesis History? Bible Study that accompanies the film.

In closing, it is my strongest conviction as a Christian that 6-day creation is the only longterm viable option for Christian theology. As D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “I have no gospel unless Genesis is history.”

They have not made their case!! To claim Genesis is history as we know it today is to make the Gospel incredible and thus no gospel.

Michael’s Conclusion; is Genesis History?

In the normal sense NO and it does not claim to be. To ask this question and to put it in a way that you must answer YES is to misunderstand early Genesis and the rest of the Bible.

It stems from the view that the bible is written in the same way from Genesis to Revelation and all is equally “history”. The Bible is variable on history. When we study the Gospels and Acts we find that is akin to our historcal understanding today and that of its time. It can stand alongside Caesar’s Gallic Wars as a narrative account. This, in itself, does not mean it is accurate history and Caesar was prone to massaging the facts for his own purposes. Opinions vary on the historical reliability of the New Testament, but I am persuaded that it is reliable history, and to some I take a hopelessly conservative position.

Once we consider the Old Testament things change. and its historicity and reliability  becomes less the earlier the events are. From Saul onwards i.e. after c1000BC the account fits with other contemporary accounts. But this is far less so for the Exodus and conquest, though some link it to contemporary events. For the Patriarchs – Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, the sitz-im-leben is the early Second Millenium, but there is no supporting evidence. Hence some say the Patriarchs are non- historical figures. I disagree there.

And so we come to Genesis 1 to 11, the substance of these films and blog. It is fair to say they were seen as history until the 18th century, but discoveries of an ancient earth – both geological and anthropological challenged that.

Most important is to see the historicity of Jesus Christ and not a pair of anti-diluvian nudists.

I reckon G M Hopkins gives us a better way to consider Genesis

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

Is Genesis really poetry?

One of the many creationist groups is Biblical Creation & Apologetics Ministries, which has a facebook group which mostly reprints articles from Creation ministries and answers in Genesis. Unlike many they do allow heretics like me to post on their page !!

You can read them here

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BiblicalCreation/about/?ref=page_internal

One of their latest (27/7/19)  is on whether Genesis is poetry. This question polarises conclusions to either being poetry and thus not true , or not poetry and true. This is slick and unconvincing to many, but good for the faithful.

https://www.facebook.com/BiblicalCreation/photos/a.207326895983895/2250443738338857/?type=3&theater

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Biblical Authority: Is Genesis Poetry?

The idea that ‘Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created’ is one of those vague half-truths that fails to address the specifics of either the passage or the issue that the statement is trying to comment on. To be precise, we want to know whether Genesis contradicts the prevailing ‘billions of years’ framework for the history of nature. For that, we need to know: what does Genesis 1 tell us about the history of nature, if it tells us anything? There are good reasons to think Genesis 1 does indeed refer to the past (see Genesis as ancient historical narrative [http://bit.ly/2ydR7KM]). And there are several crucial historical questions Genesis 1 does answer.

1. Who created? God.

2. What did God create? The heavens and earth in their vast array.

3. By what means did God create? He spoke, and things came to be.

4. How long did God take to create? Six days (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11).

5. When did God create? At the beginning (with no prior beginning for any class of creature explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1, which includes the earth, the sky, all forms of animals and plants, and all stars).

https://creation.com/genesis-not-poetic

And here in slow motion dealing with each point

 

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Biblical Authority: Is Genesis Poetry?

The idea that ‘Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created’ is one of those vague half-truths that fails to address the specifics of either the passage or the issue that the statement is trying to comment on. To be precise, we want to know whether Genesis contradicts the prevailing ‘billions of years’ framework for the history of nature. For that, we need to know: what does Genesis 1 tell us about the history of nature, if it tells us anything? There are good reasons to think Genesis 1 does indeed refer to the past (see Genesis as ancient historical narrative [http://bit.ly/2ydR7KM]). And there are several crucial historical questions Genesis 1 does answer.

1. Who created? God. My answer

Absolutely. This is fundamental to any theist. We may be baffled at who God is – and I am – but God is creator of all

I go further and insist on creatio ex nihilo – creation from nothing

Perhaps it is best summed up in William Temple’s equations

God- world = God

World – god = 0

You can follow this up in most Christian writers of creation

2. What did God create? The heavens and earth in their vast array. My answer

Yup, the whole lot.

But now we diverge.

3. By what means did God create? He spoke, and things came to be. My answer

Genesis and the rest of the Bible affirms that God is creator but doesn’t say how. Whichever passage you turn too in the old or New Testament, there is AFFIRMATION of god as creator, often in poeticised form, but never  a description of how God created.

To say “He spoke, and things came to be.” is a paraphrase of the refrain in genesis One and says nothing about how god did it. At worst it is parroting meaninglessness.

Calvin

calvin

in his commentary on Genesis in the 1550s realised this ( as did and do all intelligent Christian writers) when he wrote

He who would understand astronomy and other recondite arts let him go elsewhere.

For 2000 years theologians have grappled with this question and their conclusions are usually reflect the science of their day.  To my knowledge none say how God did it.

Perhaps they should have considered aspects like the nature of the firmament and the problem of Day 4

storehouse-300x165

 

He spoke, and things came to be. is simply a cheap rhetorical advice designed to convince/browbeat those of little understanding

4. How long did God take to create? Six days (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11). My answer

That is a simple answer to a complex question. We can approach it in three ways;

  1. we can look at genesis in a simple way without reference to anything else and say “ah, it is 144 Hours.”
  2. We can start from modern science with a 13 billion year old universe and the rest and say “science says this and thus Genesis is wrong and has no value.”
  3. Or we can consider how Christian theologians have considered the time factor of Creation over the last 2000 years AND consider the developing scientific understanding over the last 3000 years.

5. When did God create? At the beginning (with no prior beginning for any class of creature explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1, which includes the earth, the sky, all forms of animals and plants, and all stars). My answer

Of course god created at the beginning!!! The question which has baffled theologians and scientists for 2000 years is WHEN.

Until the 17th century there was no scientific evidence on the age of the earth or universe. Even so Christian scholars varied on the when of Creation. Many from Barnabas and Theophilus until Ussher went for a few thousand years ago, with Ussher an his immortal 4004BC.

They saw Genesis one in a variety of ways, some took each day as 24 hours, others say God created chaos first and then later ordered the chaos (e.g. Prudentius in the 4th century.)

Things began to change in the 1680s and credit goes to Edward Lhwyd for his observations of “fallen” blocks below Snowdon in Nant Peris. As only one had fallen in living memory and there were hundreds, he concluded that the earth might be a lot older.soon others found more evidence.By 1800 few educated people and fewer “scientists” thought the earth wasn’t ancient, though opinions were divided whether it was millions or a few hundred thousand!

Geology exploded after 1800 and Anglican clergy, like Buckland,

bucklandWilliam Smith's A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland (1815)

Conybeare and Sedgwick made major contributions. When Darwin went to Wales with Sedgwick in 1831 few accepted Ussher’s date.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

However the actual dates were impossible and various rough guesses were made from 20 million to several billion. That gordion knot was untied with the advent of radiometric age dating in 1907 and since 1946 the age of the earth has been known to be 4.6 billion.

 

These published papers of mine deal with aspects of this

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

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Astronomers were slower! By 1800 they knew the earth had to be millions beca=use of the distance of some stars being 2  million light years away. More came with Fr le Maitre’s ideas of the 1920s which led to the concept of a Big Bang, which superceded steady state understandings after controversies fuelled by Fred Hoyle.

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Even so the date of the formation of the universe was in question with dates between 8 and 20 billion years but by 2000 this had settled to 13.4 billion. If you wish for more on this yopu will need to follow it up elsewhere.

Yet all this science is rejected by creationists. Surely ALL geologists and cosmologists can’t be wrong!!!!

SH16DARWIN2

Is Genesis poetry? my answer

An answer-begging question with the implication that Genesis will loses its value if it is poetic. It would be correct to say that early Genesis is NOT poetic, but contains aspects of poetry in chap 1 and various imagery and old Ancient Near Eastern ideas to convey what the author intended. Psalm 8 and the end of Job are clearly poetic in the way they deal with creation. That does not make them untrue.

One of the best evocations of God as creator is the poem God’s Grandeur  by G M Hopkins. Through his poetry he brings out the Christian understanding of Creation

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

Yes, Genesis has a narrative style, but that does not mean it is historical. Scholars have discussed this for centuries. Few, if any, scholars of repute reckon it gives a historical account and see it more as a statement of faith in a creator written from the culture of the writer, rather than giving historical and scientific evidence. It is a ringing affirmation that God is the Creator. Again so much has been written on this by Christians from the perspective of catholic, Evangelical or more liberal. visting the sites of the american Science Affiliation, Biologos, Faraday Institute or Christians in Science give many good articles.

 

But with a refrain at the end of each day, genesis one has a poetical slant

 So God made the ….. And it was so.
 God called the ……………… And there was evening and there was morning, the  nth day.