Biblical Creationism

I have had a lot of casual discussions this week surrounding the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate from a couple of weeks ago. Included in this time frame was a formal panel discussion at LeTourneau University (LETU). While the formal discussion was centered on the debate, the other discussions focused on the areas of what does the Bible say about origins, what do Christians believe about origin, and what do churches teach about origins.

As I mentioned last week, in my opinion the debate was not a true debate (formal debate style based on public education), but it did bring up some interesting points and evidences about the creation/evolution controversy. Yet in many of the web responses and in my casual discussions, the general public seemed to be on a different page with their questions and understanding.

Most people utilized information received  from the denomination of their childhood, and there was a tendency to only know one viewpoint for origins with little knowledge about other competing Bible-believing, God-fearing theories.

I would like to present a brief summary of 3 theories of origins that are held by Bible believing Christians around the country. This is not an exhaustive list of theories or web sites about those theories, just a sample with places to look for more information.

  • Young Earth Creationism (YEC)

This is the position that Ken Ham believes. His web AIG logosite, Answers in Genesis, and the website of the Institute for Creation Research are two places to gain more information about this position. icr-home2This position holds to a literal reading of Genesis with the age of the earth determined by piecing together the genealogical accounts in the Old Testament.  Creation occurred around 6,000 years ago during a 6 day event. The days were actual 24 hour days. The geology of the earth was developed from the flood of Noah. Many in the YEC camp believe that without this interpretation, you cannot believe the Bible, and therefore, it is foundational for belief in Jesus.

  • Old-Earth Creationists

This position holds that the Genesis account of creation is correct, but the timing is not 24 hour days. A good website for this is Reasons to Believe. reasons-to-believeThe account uses day-age definition which means that the Genesis day was describing an amount of time. The age of the earth is accepted as 4.5 billion years. The Big-Bang is accepted as the origin of the cosmos. The creation of life is not attributed to evolution, but God’s intervention. Especially when humans are concerned, God created man in His image and distinct from other animals.

  • Evolutionary Creationists

This position holds that evolution is God’s means of creation. God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. A website for this view is BioLogos. BIOLOGOS  This view rejects the idea that God started the universe and has no active participation in it. God is still active in the natural world and in human history.  While the evolutionary process is what drives life, it is not a purposeless process, God still functions in the process.

Within each of these positions there are different levels of belief:

  • Each view has conservative to liberal participants.
  • Each has arguments for its interpretation of the Bible.
  • There are supporting evidences given from science and history for their viewpoint.
  • None of them accepts the notion that there is no God.
  • Each of them acknowledges that it is the God of the Bible in control.

One thing I would like to see at ETBU is a chance to discuss these and other ideas about origins. Maybe in a discussion forum like LETU held last Monday. Maybe just sitting around the tables at the Student center or in lobbies of dorms.

As long as the environment can be nonthreatening so those who disagree can feel safe in discussing their concerns, I think we can get some stimulating dialogue that will help strengthen our faith. Then we will be better equipped to answer the agnostic/atheist when asked about our belief system.

dsb

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

I was asked about my response to the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. I will admit I had mixed feelings about the debate which apparently is what most of the web felt. You have some that loved it, some that hated it and many that were ambivalent about it.

My initial response was wow, what a setup. It was an elaborate stage with a wonderful technology and a professional setup. But looks aren’t everything…

My response quickly changed to one of disappointment.  A definition of a debate is “a structured argument.  Two sides speak alternately for and against a particular contention usually based on a topical issue.” The topic at hand was “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

Neither side seemed to focus on the topic. And while the debate seemed structured, the arguments were not.

Mr. Ham started in a good way by putting forth a definition of the term “science”. He posited two kinds of science, observational and historical.  Observational is the current method of exploring the universe. Historical then takes the observational and extrapolates it back to origins. He continued by speaking of secularists hijacking the word “science”. They define science as naturalism and outlaw the supernatural. Ham then defined “origins” as creation vs. evolution. And that was what the debate was really about.

Mr. Nye opened with a story about his family and bowties.  Entertaining but completely unrelated to the topic.  Then he brought up science as shown on the popular TV show, CSI, an entertaining show, but with little to do with real-world science. He continued with a series of disjointed statements about the flood and billions of non-Christian’s religious beliefs about creation. This debate quickly became unstructured.

What followed were both sides giving good decent presentations of their particular model of origins.

Mr. Ham had the more cohesive presentation.  He started with the need for defining science and evolution and stayed with that mostly.  He strayed a bit with questions to Mr. Nye about where naturalism gets logic, and which technology requires a naturalist belief. He came back around to his two kinds of science argument from his opening. Then he focused on “evolution” as another hijacked word.  The definition of evolution has changed over the years. He finished by stating that naturalism and evolution are just another type of religious worldview. In the middle, he had teasers of evidence of creation origins (see his website for more information).

Mr. Nye’s presentation was at best disjointed and, at worst, very confusing.  Even when he had valid scientific points, he put them together in an awkward way. His arguments centered on the short time frame in the creation model. He went from layers of ice to tree rings to number of species to working at Boeing to large boulders lying around the state of Washington. This jumping from point to point was hard to follow.  Then he talked about how Noah’s ark wouldn’t work and they wouldn’t be able to feed the animals based on the National Zoo which was imaged from a satellite in space which would baffle his grandfather (more head scratching). If you could hang with his line of thought, there were some evidences given that should be considered as one has time.

Now to be fair, this is a very difficult topic to debate.  There are a lot of complexities involved with origins that can’t be explained adequately in one or two hours. That is why many people think it is a waste of time trying to debate topics of creation/evolution.

You see, creation as defined by Ken Ham has the earth created in 6 literal 24-hour days about 6000 years ago with God guiding the entire process. Bill Nye defines origins as about 4.5 billion years ago with evolution guiding allowing life’s changes from slime to humans (and everything else alive today).

Let’s just look at the timing.  How long is 6000 seconds?  If you do the math, 60 seconds per minute and 60 minutes per hour you get just under two hours (actually 1.667 hours).

Now how long is 4.5 billion seconds? Continuing with the math, it comes out to be just under 143 years.  This is the difference you’re trying to make scientists believe.

Two hours compared to 143 years.

If I hold to the young earth model, I cannot even come close to discussing spiritual needs and how God’s love works with most scientists. The young earth model becomes a stumbling block for them hearing the gospel. So in my circle, I steer towards spiritual discussions and the gospel rather than origin debates.

dsb