Four Misconceptions About Biblical Creation

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Recently blogger Mike Lehman wrote about “4 Things Bill Nye Should Have Said to Ken Ham.” He states that Bill Nye “The Science Guy’s” approach during our debate in February was a disappointment to him. He argues that Mr. Nye should have taken a different angle and, instead of addressing so much “science” (or what should be called “historical science”—unobservable, unrepeatable, and untestable assertions about the past), he should have focused on my “underlying assumptions.” He then goes on to state four things that Bill Nye should have addressed.

1. “Young-earth creationism is, uh, young.”

The first thing Lehman claims is that “young-earth creationism is, uh, young.” He states that the young-earth, or biblical creation, model is a recent invention beginning with the scholarly works of Archbishop James Ussher in the 17th century. This, however, is simply not true. The belief in a six-day creation only a few thousand years ago has been the prevailing interpretation throughout all of church history, as well as the teaching of ancient Jewish rabbis, until the last two hundred years and the advent of uniformitarianism and old-earth geology. Also, even though some of the church fathers promoted allegorical interpretations of much of Scripture, this was by and large an addition to a historical understanding of the text—not a replacement of historicity. It is the idea of millions of years and an old earth that is a recent invention!

2. “Young-earth creationism is incredibly arbitrary.”

Lehman then goes on to state that young-earth creation is “incredibly arbitrary.” He claims that those who interpret Genesis literally do not apply this hermeneutic throughout the rest of Scripture. He calls this “selective literalism.” But are we really just arbitrarily picking and choosing what to take literally? Not at all! Scripture is made up of different types of literature, called genres. Each of these genres has different rules of interpretation. It’s the same as the different way that you read a newspaper article and a love poem—you won’t read both the same way! Different rules of interpretation apply. It’s the same with Scripture. Historical passages are meant to be understood in a literal, straightforward way, but poetic literature (like the Psalms) uses a lot of figurative language (much like we do in English—similes, metaphors, personification, figures of speech, and so on). When we read Psalms differently than Genesis, it isn’t because of self-serving, arbitrary reasons—it’s reading Scripture how Scripture was meant to be read. When people ask me “do you take the Bible literally?” I reply, “Well, I take it naturally—according to the type of literature.” Taking it naturally is what I mean by taking it literally.

3. “Do any non-Christians believe that the earth is young?”

Next Lehman claims that non-Christians don’t believe in a young earth because it is simply a theological conviction, not something that comes from the scientific facts. Here he displays a misunderstanding of science. No scientist approaches the evidence as an unbiased seeker of the truth. Every person has a worldview, or glasses, from which they see the world. A scientist who has been trained and conditioned to see millions of years of evolution is going to be blinded to the evidence that falls outside his worldview. But the evidence—when properly interpreted through the lens of God’s Word—actually confirms what the Bible says. And, contrary to Lehman’s claim, many intelligent, well-trained PhD scientists, when presented with the compelling evidence, have rejected the old-earth model to embrace the biblical worldview.

4. “Embracing evolution does NOT require embracing atheism.”

Lehman concludes by stating that Bill Nye should have emphasized how evolution does not necessarily entail atheism—that you can join the ranks of many Christians who embrace God and evolution. Now, of course it is true that the creation/evolution issue is not a personal salvation issue—I’ve stressed that multiple times. But what you believe about Genesis has a big impact on how you view the authority of God’s Word! Evolution compromises God’s Word because it puts death, suffering, disease, and extinction before the Fall in Genesis 3. But Scripture makes it clear that the original creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and that death and disease are the result of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12). This is just one of the many, many problems with trying to harmonize man’s word with God’s Word. The real issue is whose word to trust—man’s fallible changing opinions or God’s infallible, unchanging truth?

Summary

Sadly, the blog I quoted simply highlights many of the common misconceptions that I constantly experience when I talk with Christians and church leaders who have chosen to accept man’s teaching on Earth’s history over God’s Word. We need to pray that the church will return to its foundation—the infallible Word of God—beginning in Genesis!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

 

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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