In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the idea of a long age (millions of years) for the earth was being popularized by deists, atheists, and other non-Christians.1 They were attempting to use a so-called “scientific investigation of the world” to justify their rejection of God and His Word. At the time, their primary target was to undermine the plain reading of the Bible concerning the Flood of Noah (and its consequence of rock layers and worldwide fossil deposits) and a young age for the earth. It was really their attempt to undermine the authority of the entire Bible.
At that time, there were church leaders who adopted these ideas (millions of years) into Scripture (e.g., Thomas Chalmers with gap theory, Hugh Miller with day-age ideas, etc.). This was no different from today, and really no different from what happened with the religious leaders in the Apostle Paul’s day, and also no different to what was happening with the priests and false prophets in ancient Israel.
Fallible, sinful man, ever since Genesis 3, has had the propensity to believe the fallible words of humans rather than the infallible Word of God. That is really our nature. At heart, because of sin, we are against God and what He teaches. People will go out of their way to trust in man rather than trust what God has clearly revealed.
In the early 1800s, there were church leaders in England who began to reinterpret the days of creation and the Flood account in Genesis to fit in the millions of years. Some advocated the idea of a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, like Chalmers. Others said that Christians could interpret the creation days as long ages, like Hugh Miller. Others realized that if one interpreted the fossil layers as representing millions of years, then how could one believe in the global Flood of Noah’s day? Such a flood would destroy those layers and deposit more layers with fossils. Thus, it was postulated that Noah’s Flood was only a local (regional) flood in the Mesopotamian Valley (modern-day Iraq).
As the 19th century progressed, Darwin popularized his ideas of biological evolution, which built on the ideas of geological evolution. There were church leaders who then reinterpreted Genesis to fit into evolution, even human evolution. When the idea of the big bang (astronomical evolution) was popularized in the early 20th century, in the same manner many church leaders then adopted this into God’s Word.
Over the past two hundred years, many different positions regarding the creation account of Genesis have arisen in the Church, such as the following:
- Day-age idea
- Gap theory
- Local flood
- Theistic evolution
- Progressive creation
- Framework hypothesis
There are other positions or variations on those listed above, but they all have one thing in common: trying to fit man’s ideas of millions of years into the Bible.
A number of Christian scientists actually opposed these compromise positions. Various books and articles were written to challenge the Church to stand on God’s Word and not compromise with the fallible ideas of man that, intentionally or unintentionally, seriously undermined the authority of the Bible.
Biblical-creation scientists and theologians have been able to conduct tremendous research and have provided many answers in geology, biology, astronomy, anthropology, archaeology, and theology, which have equipped Christians to stand uncompromisingly on Genesis. The several thousand articles on the Answers in Genesis website2 are a good example of providing such answers, as well as the hundreds of books, DVDs, and other resources now available there.
The modern biblical-creation movement has been highly successful at informing Christians of the numerous inconsistencies that try to add millions of years and evolution into the Bible. Many articles on the AiG website (or in the Answers magazine) deal with this issue.
Even with this wonderful research and its dissemination, the spiritual battle is intensifying. We don’t fight against flesh and blood but “principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:12). As more and more answers have been given and inconsistencies pointed out, the arguments against God’s Word in Genesis move on to different topics. This is why we continually need to be on our guard as we “contend for the faith” (Jude 3).
Word-twisting, truth-skewing newspeak is happening in the debate over the creation account in Genesis. Dr. William Dembski says that he believes in the inspired inerrant Word of God and in a literal Adam and Eve. But what does he really mean by this?
Dr. William Dembski (Southern Baptist)
Because he believes in billions of years and evolution (which means death, disease, and suffering before sin), consider what he does in an attempt to convince people he believes in a literal Adam and Eve, with death, disease, and suffering coming after sin. Here are some quotes from one of his latest books:
For the theodicy I am proposing to be compatible with evolution, God must not merely introduce existing human-like beings from outside the Garden. In addition, when they enter the Garden, God must transform their consciousness so that they become rational moral agents made in God’s image.3
Any evils humans experience outside the Garden before God breathes into them the breath of life would be experienced as natural evils in the same way that other animals experience them. The pain would be real, but it would not be experienced as divine justice in response to willful rebellion. Moreover, once God breathes the breath of life into them, we may assume that the first humans experienced an amnesia of their former animal life: Operating on a higher plane of consciousness once infused with the breath of life, they would transcend the lower plane of animal consciousness on which they had previously operated — though, after the Fall, they might be tempted to resort to that lower consciousness.4
Now when a Christian reads the above quotes, the average believer responds with, “What? This is bizarre!” But it is more than bizarre — it undermines the authority of the Word of God. But please keep in mind as I make these statements that I am not questioning anyone’s Christian faith. We are encouraged to know that many Southern Baptist leaders (e.g., the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, Dr. Paige Patterson, and others) have been standing up for biblical inerrancy, but we are greatly concerned that there are some professors in Southern Baptist schools (as well as many other schools) who are actually undermining biblical authority — contrary to what they claim.
So why does Dr. Dembski propose ideas such as those above? Let’s hear from his own words:
The young-earth solution to reconciling the order of creation with natural history makes good exegetical and theological sense. Indeed, the overwhelming consensus of theologians up through the Reformation held to this view. I myself would adopt it in a heartbeat except that nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it. I’m hardly alone in my reluctance to accept young-earth.5
Notice his admission that if one takes God’s Word as authoritative (“makes good exegetical and theological sense”), then it is obvious the earth is young. However, note the “except” word when he states that “except that nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it” (emphasis added).
So what does Dr. Dembski mean by stating that “nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it”?
He further states:
A young earth seems to be required to maintain a traditional understanding of the Fall. And yet a young earth clashes sharply with mainstream science.6
In an article, he wrote:
Dating methods, in my view, provide strong evidence for rejecting this face-value chronological reading of Genesis 4–11.7
It really comes down to the fact that Dr. Dembski accepts the fallible secular dating methods (based on numerous fallible assumptions8) and uses their results to trump the Word of God! That is the problem with many in the Church — accepting man’s words over God’s Word. And yet, he claims to believe in inerrancy.
But without even dealing with the age of the earth issue (there are numerous articles on the www.answersingenesis.org website dealing with this topic), let us compare parts of his “theodicy” with Scripture — and you can be the judge.
Consider these statements concerning his above quotes:
God must not merely introduce existing human-like beings from outside the Garden. In addition, when they enter the Garden, God must transform their consciousness so that they become rational moral agents made in God’s image. . . . We may assume that the first humans experienced an amnesia of their former animal life: Operating on a higher plane of consciousness once infused with the breath of life, they would transcend the lower plane of animal consciousness on which they had previously operated.
Could God have introduced “human-like beings” into the Garden? Dr. Dembski is saying the Garden was perfect, but because of his belief in billions of years, death and suffering existed in the world with animals eating each other, etc. What I understand him to be saying is that because God is infinite and knew man would fall, He created a world in which there would be billions of years of death and suffering — so that when God gave Adam and Eve souls and they were then made in the image of God, they would fall (sin) in a perfect Garden and then see the effects of their sin in the death and suffering outside the Garden (which chronologically existed before sin but is actually a result of their sin, as God knew they would fall)!
Let’s consider this passage of Scripture:
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Gen. 2:7).
Note the order here: God made man from dust, added the divine breath, and this caused Adam to become a living being. The Hebrew words translated “living being” are the same Hebrew words used to describe sea creatures, birds, and land animals in Genesis 1:21, 24, 30, and 9:10. So the Bible is absolutely clear: God did not make some human-like living being and then add the divine breath that became man. The Scriptures teach man plus divine breath equals living being, not living being plus divine breath equals man. Paul affirms the literal truth of Genesis 2:7 when he says (in 1 Cor. 15:45) that “the first man Adam was made a living soul” (KJV). This is further confirmed by the judgment of God in Genesis 3:19. Adam was made from dust, and when he died, he returned to dust — he did not return to a human-like or ape-like being! Also, consider these passages of Scripture:
Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it (Gen. 2:15).
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18).
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23).
Note that Eve was made from Adam (by supernatural surgery, not by any natural process) after Adam was in the Garden. Eve did not come into the Garden as some ”human-like” being and then get transformed by God into a full human being.
Note also what the Apostle Paul wrote as part of the infallible Scriptures:
For as woman came from man . . . (1 Cor. 11:12; NIV).
For man did not come from woman, but woman from man (1 Cor. 11:8; NIV).
For Adam was formed first, then Eve (1 Tim. 2:13; NIV).
These passages all quote from Genesis 2:23 and Genesis 2:24 as literal history — so the literal history from Genesis is that the woman was made from Adam after he was already in the Garden.
Also, while in the Garden, God had made the animals and brought certain land animals to Adam for him to name and to show that he was alone. Obviously these animals weren’t aggressive, so God had to have non-aggressive animals in the Garden, but outside the Garden, according to Dr. Dembski, there was a world that was “red in tooth and claw,” as the poet Tennyson stated. (Actually, Gen. 1:30 states that all the animals were plant eaters originally — not sure how Dr. Dembski handles this, but maybe he would suggest this was just for the animals in the Garden.)
Another fatal flaw in Dr. Dembski’s theodicy (i.e., the question of evil) is that he proposes that God judged the world with millions of years of animal death, disease, and extinction and other natural evil — and this judgment was because of man’s sin, which occurred after all this natural evil had been occurring for billions of years. What kind of judge would punish a man with prison resulting in great suffering for his family before he committed a crime? Dr. Dembski’s theodicy turns God into a grossly unjust Judge. But as Genesis 18:25 says, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
There are many other inconsistencies in Dr. Dembski’s beliefs. But what they show are the outrageous lengths some Christian academics will go in order to blend billions of years with the Scriptures. Yet they try to keep their belief in a literal Adam and Eve and the original sin, telling unsuspecting parents and prospective students that they believe in inerrancy.
Now many might believe we are just being divisive, or splitting hairs. Why does it really matter anyway? Let me explain by once again considering the writings of Dr. William Dembski quoted earlier. I have had interaction with a Christian leader concerning why we see the writings of Dr. Dembski as a major problem for the Church. This leader said that the world is the enemy and we shouldn’t critique someone who believes in the inerrancy of Scripture. In my response I stated:
I believe there is a misunderstanding in regard to the emphasis of our Answers in Genesis ministry and why our presenters (including myself), at appropriate times, quote scholars like Dembski, Sailhamer, Grudem, Waltke, Kline, Archer, Young, Falk, Giberson, Bohlin, Harlow, Craig, Hodge, Warfield, and others. We have never called into question these men’s salvation. And we are not attacking them personally. But we are convinced that they are making a serious and significant mistake regarding the age of the earth (and in some cases evolution, too), and thereby (no doubt unintentionally) undermining the gospel and the authority of Scripture, which seriously hurts the church and her witness.
I went on to state:
Over the years, we have written many articles (most are available on our website) to help people understand that we are first and foremost a ministry standing on the authority of the Word of God and proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not just want to see people converted to believe in creation, or an intelligent designer, but to believe in and trust the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, for salvation. Many people have the erroneous idea that our main emphasis is that of arguing against evolution and teaching a young earth. However, like you I am sure, the reason we believe in a young earth/universe and reject evolution is because of our stand on the authority of God’s Word. In other words, our belief in a young earth/ universe is part of the greater belief that the Bible is true and should be taken as written (e.g., 2 Cor. 4:2; Prov. 8:8–9). An abundance of biblical evidence in the Old and New Testament shows that Genesis is written as literal history and therefore our stand is that it should be interpreted as such. I believe you wholeheartedly agree.
I have included with this letter one of our latest publications (Already Gone) in which we detail the results of research conducted by renowned researcher Britt Beemer from America’s Research Group. This research deals with why the majority of our young people are leaving their theologically conservative churches after they graduate from high school. Actually, this research also showed that the belief in millions of years was a significant contributing factor to creating doubt in these young people about the Bible’s accuracy. We all know that churches have problems with the younger generation and their commitment to church and the Christian faith. We also observe the massive decline of Christianity throughout Europe and the United Kingdom — and we know that the USA is also moving rapidly down the same path.
This research and other studies (and our own experiences) have convinced us that a major contributing factor in the youth exodus has been the undermining of biblical authority. Of course, we all know that God’s Word has come under attack since Genesis 3, and the Apostle Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3 that Satan is going to use the same method on us as he did on Eve. That method has been used to lead people to doubt God’s Word and put them on a slippery slide of unbelief. In this era of history (beginning in the late 18th and early 19th centuries), there has been a very specific attack on the history of the first eleven chapters of the Bible.
We insist that what Dr. Dembski proposes in his book The End of Christianity is undermining the clear teaching of Scripture and thereby also undercutting biblical authority. God’s people need to be warned concerning this serious slide.
And I further stated:
If there is truly an undermining of the authority of God’s Word in a publication that is now very public, then I believe we should firmly and graciously confront this issue. Did not Paul set an example for us in Galatians 2:11–14, when he “withstood him [Peter] to the face” for compromising the gospel by his eating habits, which on the surface seemed so insignificant?
Dr. Karl Giberson and Dr. Darrel Falk (Nazarene)
We could obtain examples of “newspeak” and compromise from a variety of denominations. Here is an example from the Nazarene denomination. As you read below, keep in mind this quote about one of the founders and the first president (Phineas Bresee) of Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego:
There is a Bible on campus, encased in protective glass. This Bible belonged to Phineas Bresee. It’s opened to Isaiah 62, the chapter Bresee claimed for the school. Permanently marked with his fingerprints, it displays a double message: God’s words in Isaiah 62 and Bresee’s love for those words. It’s a message of being grounded in Scripture, of pursuing a well-rounded education and serving the poor out of a first and intense love for God and His Word. Bresee died in 1915, but his message still resonates. In fact, it defines Point Loma Nazarene University.9
Now consider the following in regard to that college and another Nazarene college. Students at Eastern Nazarene College (Boston), and Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego) who came under the teaching of ardent evolutionists Dr. Karl Giberson and Dr. Darrel Falk respectively, would not only have been taught evolution as fact, but sadly, probably came under such teaching described below and endorsed by these same professors in the roles of vice-president and president of the BioLogos Foundation:
Belief in a supernatural creator always leaves open the possibility that human beings are a fully-intended part of creation. If the Creator chooses to interact with creation, he could very well influence the evolutionary process to ensure the arrival of his intended result. . . . Furthermore, an omniscient creator could easily create the universe in such a way that physical and natural laws would result in human evolution. . . .
God planned for humans to evolve to the point of attaining these characteristics. . . . For example, in order to reflect God’s Image by engaging in meaningful relationships, the human brain had to evolve to the point where an understanding of love and relationship could be grasped and lived out. God’s intention for humans to have relationships is illustrated in the opening chapters of Genesis, where many fundamental truths about God and humankind are communicated through the imagery of a creation story. After placing Adam in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2 describes God’s decision to provide Adam with a partner. . . . The Image of God also includes moral consciousness and responsibility. Humans did not have a fully formed moral consciousness prior to the time of Adam and Eve. . . . However, general consciousness must have already evolved so that a moral consciousness and the associated responsibility were possible. . . . When Adam and Eve received God’s image, they had evolved to where they could understand the difference between right and wrong. It seems that Adam and Eve first demonstrated their new moral prowess when, using their free will, they chose wrong by eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve then knew the difference between right and wrong in a more personal way than before, having experienced the guilt and shame that accompanied their decision (see Genesis 3:1–13). . . . When Did Humans Receive the Image of God?
We cannot know the exact time that humans attained God’s image. In fact, it may be that the image of God emerged gradually over a period of time. Estimates of the historical time of Adam and Eve are varied. . . . While some literalist interpreters of Genesis argue that God created Adam and Eve in their present form, the evidence of DNA and the fossil record establishes that humans were also participants in the long evolutionary continuum, and God used this process as his means of creation. . . .
We also do not know if humanity received the image of God by the immediate onset of a relationship with God or by a slower evolutionary process. In either case, this development occurred before the fall of Adam and Eve, since moral responsibility and a broken relationship with God are both involved in the story of the fall. Perhaps God used the evolutionary process to equip humankind with language, free will and culture, and then revealed God’s will to individuals or a community so that they might then enter into meaningful relationship with God through obedience, prayer, and worship. In this scenario, the evolutionary process is necessary but not sufficient to encompass the biblical teaching on the image of God.10
This is just a small amount of the teaching these Nazarene professors endorse — certainly not consistent with orthodox Christianity.
Dr. Giberson was also the co-author of an opinion column that appeared on the USA Today website and in the print edition.11 The piece began:
We believe in evolution — and God. Nearly half of Americans still dispute the indisputable: that humans evolved to our current form over millions of years. We’re scientists and Christians. Our message to the faithful: Fear not. . . . The “science” undergirding this “young earth creationism” comes from a narrow, literalistic and relatively recent interpretation of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.12
What many parents don’t realize is these two Nazarene professors (like certain other Christian college professors) don’t just teach students evolution — it is much worse than that. The section above from the BioLogos website is just a tiny sample of the incredible attack on the authority of Scripture such teachers are imparting to students while the unsuspecting parents think they are doing a great thing in paying thousands of dollars for the children to be educated in a Christian school — but educated against the Bible!
In the USA Today article,13 Dr. Giberson (and Dr. Falk) state: “We have launched a website to spread this good news (www.biologos.org) and — we hope — to answer the many questions those of faith might have. . . . The project aims to counter the voices coming from places such as the website Answers in Genesis. . . .”
By the way, the “good news” includes the statements above from the BioLogos website,14 as well as such things as:
The Everyman Reading of the creation story provides a very different metaphorical take on the text. This view understands the Fall as an allegorical story representing every human’s individual rejection of God. In this light, the Fall was not a historical event but an illustration of the common human condition that virtually everyone agrees is deeply flawed and sinful. In this view, it does not matter if Adam and Eve were historical figures. Their deeds simply represent the actions of all humans and remind us of this troubling part of our natures.
. . . where did the wife of Cain, Adam’s son, come from? The only possibility is that she was Cain’s sister, but this conflicts with later Biblical commands against incest. Even more problematic are the people whom Cain fears when he is banished from his homeland for killing his brother Abel. It is highly implausible that the people Cain fears are also offspring of Adam and Eve; the text certainly does not suggest this. The people trying to kill Cain would have to be his extended family — siblings, nieces, nephews and so on — all united in trying to kill him. Along the same lines, Genesis mentions the city that Cain built and named after his son (Genesis 4:17). Who would populate this city or help to build it? The scientific evidence suggests a dramatically larger population at this point in history. Recently acquired genetic evidence also points to a population of several thousand people from whom all humans have descended, not just two.
So, no literal Fall, no literal Adam and Eve — so much for Christianity! And all people have descended from several thousand people, not just two — which means the Apostle Paul in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 is wrong concerning the gospel! And if that’s the case, then Jesus didn’t even tell the truth in Matthew 19 when he quoted Genesis and built the doctrine of marriage on the literal history in this account.
It seems the atheists understand theology better than these compromised Christians. They realize that if a literal Fall and a literal Adam and Eve are indeed false, then there is no use being a Christian because it undermines the very basis for the Gospel. One leading atheist claims:
Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer that died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.15
For Christmas 2010, the American Atheists sponsored a billboard for people to see as they exited the Lincoln Tunnel. The billboard read: “You KNOW it’s a Myth — This Season, Celebrate REASON!” It then directed people to their website. A statement on this website illustrates clearly that atheists do understand the importance of a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall to Christianity. They stated:
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t believe in the fable of Adam and Eve and the talking snake. You probably think it’s a story, created out of ignorance, to explain the origin of life. You probably don’t believe that Adam literally ate a fruit, resulting in God expelling him and Eve out of the idyllic Garden of Eden.
In other words, you know that’s a myth.
Right so far? So if Adam and Eve and the Talking Snake are myths, then Original Sin is also a myth, right? Well, think about it. . . .
Jesus’ major purpose was to save mankind from Original Sin.
Original Sin makes believers unworthy of salvation, but you get it anyway, so you should be grateful for being saved (from that which does not exist).
Without Original Sin, the marketing that all people are sinners and therefore need to accept Jesus falls moot.
All we are asking is that you take what you know into serious consideration, even if it means taking a hard look at all you’ve been taught for your whole life. No Adam and Eve means no need for a savior. It also means that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source of unambiguous, literal truth. It is completely unreliable, because it all begins with a myth, and builds on that as a basis. No Fall of Man means no need for atonement and no need for a redeemer. You know it.16
But atheists aside, there is so much more on the BioLogos website — I actually encourage you to read all their questions and answers. If you stand on God’s infallible Word, you will be shocked at some of the things you read. The trouble is most people in our churches do not know the reality of what is being taught at these colleges and through the books and websites! “Giberson has been on the faculty at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, since 1984, where he teaches interdisciplinary honors seminars and the history of science. He is also the director of the Forum on Faith and Science at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, codirector of the Venice Summer School on Science & Religion and a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation.”17
May God have mercy on us when one considers this is the shocking state of a growing number of seminaries and Christian colleges in this nation.
Dr. William Lane Craig (Talbot School of Theology)
Some of you may have heard of Dr. William Lane Craig, research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He says he believes in biblical inerrancy.18 However, listen to the podcast referenced to understand what he means by inerrancy. And then of course it is not surprising to hear him in this television interview as he discusses the question of the age of the earth and Genesis:19
Coren: How old is the world?
Dr. Craig: The best estimates today are around 13.7 billion years.
Coren: Now this is good, you see. This is a position I can embrace. Because there are people who will sit here and say, “No, it’s six and a half thousand years old.” That is not a tenable position?
Dr. Craig: I don’t think it’s plausible. The arguments that I give are right in line with mainstream science. I’m not bucking up against mainstream science in presenting these arguments. Rather I’m going with the flow of what contemporary cosmology and astrophysics supports.
Coren: Is there a contradiction or an inconsistency between the biblical account of the age of the earth and your statement?
Dr. Craig: That’s interesting because there isn’t any biblical account of the age of the earth. There’s nothing in Genesis or elsewhere in the Bible that says how old the universe is, so no, I don’t think it is incompatible.
Coren: We often hear the rather caricatured argument that Christians believe that man and dinosaur coexisted.
Dr. Craig: There are some creationists — they typically style themselves “young earth creationists” — who believe that. I’ve even seen children’s books where Noah takes dinosaur eggs on the ark with him. Well, all of this is reading between the lines. There’s nothing like that in the book of Genesis.
What does inerrancy really mean? This is a major problem within Christianity. The point we make over and over again is that when we teach the next generation to reinterpret God’s Word this way (i.e., by using the majority view in secular science), it unlocks a door that undermines all of biblical authority. Subsequent generations will continue to push that door open wider, which has already happened all across our Western world. After all, the majority of secular scientists also insist that virgins don’t have babies and dead men don’t rise from the dead. So should we also reinterpret Matthew 1 and Matthew 28 accordingly and just go with the flow of mainstream science?
Now I have observed an interesting phenomenon that is permeating Christian colleges and seminaries, which influences future church leaders and what they take to the pulpit, mission field, etc.
I believe many Christian academics recognize the inconsistency in trying to add millions of years and evolution to Genesis. The compromise is obvious. Many of them recognize that one has to totally change the meaning of the words in Genesis to allow such compromise. For example, creating Adam out of dust and Eve from a rib have to be changed to mean that ape-men and ape-women changed into Adam and Eve. But this ignores many details in the biblical text and ends up playing language games. Various articles on the Answers in Genesis website point out the numerous problems with such compromise.
Ultimately, of course, the result of this compromise undermines the authority of God’s Word. And in the Church today, we see two-thirds of young people leaving the Church by the time they reach college age, and it’s largely because the reliability and authority of God’s Word has been undermined (as our research for the book Already Gone has shown).
Today, the same battle rages, but we see a change in what is being foisted on the Church as the enemy continues to attack God’s Word. Remember, the attack has always been on God’s Word, as it started with the questioning of what God said to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and has never let up.
That attack just manifests itself in different ways in different eras. I have observed that more and more Christian academics, in their attempt to adopt man’s ideas of evolution and millions of years, are continuing this attack in a different sort of way. The following is a specific example from a professor at Wheaton College, Illinois.
Dr. John Walton (Wheaton College, Illinois)
Dr. John Walton is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois and is author of The Lost World of Genesis One.20
A summary of what Dr. Walton teaches is that Genesis 1 is not history in regard to the material world; it has to do with what he calls God’s “Cosmic Temple.” He basically insists that one can only understand Genesis if one has an understanding of ancient Near Eastern thinking — and surprise, surprise — this has been lost for thousands of years. Now a few academics like Dr. Walton have unearthed this thinking so now they can tell us what the writer of Genesis 1 really meant! It is an academic elitism.
Dr. Walton tries (unsuccessfully) to insist that he is not coming up with this new idea of his because of the influence of evolution/millions of years — but the clear fact is that he is doing just that! He knows that young people today have a conflict between the secular view of origins and the Bible — so his solution is to relegate Genesis 1 as having nothing to do with material origins and thus people are free to believe whatever they want — though he is obviously convinced that evolution and millions of years should be believed.
The bottom line is, it is just another way of trying to come up with a “solution” to fitting millions of years and evolution into the Bible. Because Dr. Walton knows (and admits) that the days of creation are ordinary days in Genesis 1, according to the Hebrew language, he had to come up with a way to allow for millions of years and evolution and yet agree that the days of creation are ordinary days. So his solution? Relegate Genesis 1 to mean it is the creation of God’s Cosmic Temple, and not allow it to have anything to do with material origins. Then he can say that students will have no conflict — they can believe in millions of years/evolution/or whatever — and it doesn’t matter!
And of course, the reason the Church greats of the past (whether Luther, Calvin, Gill, or whomever) never thought of this is because they did not discover how ancient Near Eastern cultures were thinking! This has now been discovered by an elite few who can now tell us for the first time in thousands of years what Genesis 1 really means. Sound bizarre? I encourage you to read the book for yourself! Following are just a few quotes from the book.
Were Adam and Eve two real people? Dr. Walton states:
This archetypal understanding applies also to Genesis 2. An individual named Adam is not the only human being made of the dust of the earth, for as Genesis 3:19 indicates, “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” This is true of all humans, men and women. It is an archetypal feature that describes us all. It is not a statement of chemical composition nor is it describing a material process by which each and every human being is made. The dust is an archetypal feature and therefore cannot be viewed as a material ingredient. It is indicative of human destiny and mortality, and therefore is a functional comment, not a material one.21
Is Genesis 1 an account of material origins? Dr. Walton states:
When we thought of Genesis 1 as an account of material origins, creation became an action in the past that is over and done with. God made objects and now the cosmos exists (materially). Viewing Genesis 1 as an account of functional origins offers more opportunity for understanding that God’s creative work continues.22
Genesis 1 would be viewed as a temple text — we gain a different perspective on the nature of the Genesis creation account. Genesis 1 can now be seen as a creation account focusing on the cosmos as a temple. It is describing the creation of the cosmic temple with all of its functions and with God dwelling in its midst.23
Was the Garden of Eden a real garden? Dr. Walton states:
The garden of Eden is not viewed by the author of Genesis simply as a piece of Mesopotamian farmland, but as an archetypal sanctuary, that is a place where God dwells and where man should worship him. Many of the features of the garden may also be found in later sanctuaries particularly the tabernacle or Jerusalem temple. These parallels suggest that the garden itself is understood as a sort of sanctuary.24
Does Dr. John Walton believe in millions of years?
The day-age theory and others that attempt to mitigate the force of the seven days do so because they see no way to reconcile seven twenty-four-hour days of material creation with the evidence from science that the earth and the universe are very old. They seek a solution in trying to stretch the meaning of yôm, whereas we propose that once we understand the nature of the creation account, there is no longer any need to stretch yôm.25
Some variation exists as to whether the cosmic origins go back 10,000–20,000 years as some would allow, or only go back about 6,000 years from the present (as promoted at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky). The challenge they face is to account for all of the evidences of great age of the earth and of the universe.26
Of course he believes in millions of years, and despite his insistence to the contrary, this is part of his ultimate motivation to relegate Genesis 1 to something other than material history.
So what does Dr. Walton say Genesis 1 means?
In summary, we have suggested that the seven days are not given as the period of time over which the material cosmos came into existence, but the period of time devoted to the inauguration of the functions of the cosmic temple, and perhaps also its annual reenactment. It is not the material phase of temple construction that represents the creation of the temple; it is the inauguration of the functions and the entrance of the presence of God to take up his rest that creates the temple. Genesis 1 focuses on the creation of the (cosmic) temple, not the material phase of preparation. In the next chapter we will track the implications of the idea that the seven days are not related to the material phase of creation.27
There is so much more. He does not believe in a global Flood and believes there was death of animals (and disease and thorns because he allows for millions of years) millions of years before man (however man came into existence.)
There is a very telling statement from his book:
This is not a conclusion designed to accommodate science — it was drawn from an analysis and interpretation of the biblical text of Genesis in its ancient environment. The point is not that the biblical text therefore supports an old earth, but simply that there is not biblical position on the age of the earth. If it were to turn out that the earth is young, so be it. But most people who seek to defend a young-earth view do so because they believe that the Bible obligates them to such a defense. I admire the fact that believers are willing to take unpopular positions and investigate all sorts of alternatives in an attempt to defend the reputation of the biblical text. But if the biblical text does not demand a young earth there would be little impetus or evidence to offer such a suggestion.28
Well he is correct here in one sentence — biblical creationists do insist on a young earth because we “believe the Bible obligates” us “to such a defense.” Of course! But notice he is trying to see his conclusion is not “designed to accommodate science” — yet as one reads the book, one finds that is exactly what it is all about.
What does Dr. John Walton teach in regard to the Flood of Noah’s day?
I will use the almost one-thousand-page Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch edited by T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker29 to document Dr. Walton’s teaching on the Genesis Flood. Starting on page 315, there is 12-page section on the Genesis Flood account written by Dr. John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois.
In the section above, I outlined Dr. Walton’s approach to Genesis, pointing out that he believes Genesis 1 is not an account of material origins, but an account of God’s “Cosmic Temple.” Dr. Walton believes that a person needs to understand ancient Near Eastern thinking and culture in order to understand Scripture. He argues that such an understanding has been lost for ages, but that academics, like himself, have been able to regain an understanding of this ancient Near Eastern thinking so the rest of us in the Church can finally (after thousands of years) understand what Genesis 1 means.
Dr. Walton certainly has a different view of inspiration to that of Drs. Whitcomb and Morris who authored the famous The Genesis Flood publication, our AiG staff, and millions of other Christians around the world. Dr. Walton, though, looks at the person(s) who wrote Genesis and the pagan cultures of the day as authoritative. Drs. Morris and Whitcomb (and Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research — two of the leading creation apologetics organizations), however, understand that it is the words of Scripture that are inspired.
I think of this passage of Scripture: “All Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
In the original Greek language, “inspiration of God” is one word and it means literally “God-breathed.” This verse clearly states that the words of Scripture are God-breathed! Every one of them came from Him as the Spirit of God worked through the prophets and Apostles. We are also told that God’s Word will stand forever. If the infinite God, who created language, cannot move people to write His “God-breathed” words so all people (regardless of culture) can understand them, then there is something dreadfully wrong. If it is only now, after thousands of years, that we can finally understand what Genesis means because of what a few academics claim about ancient Near Eastern thinking, how can we be sure we know anything? How do we know those academics like Dr. Walton have it right? No wonder Scripture cautions us that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1; NIV). We are seeing academia in the Christian world going mad as “Protestant popes” are popping up all over the Christian world.
Regarding the Flood, Dr. Walton applies the same misguided approach as he does in Genesis 1. He states the following:
The theological message of the Bible was communicated to people who lived in the ancient Near Eastern world. If we desire to understand the theological message of the text, we will benefit by positioning it within the worldview of the ancient cultures rather than simply applying our own cultural perspectives.30
Dr. Walton then discusses ancient Near Eastern mythology and relates it to Scripture and its Book of Genesis. In essence, he is using pagan, idolatrous mythology to supposedly help enable us to understand what God and Moses really meant!
But really, the whole underlying reason for what he is doing (as I noted previously) relates to the ideas of millions of years and evolution. Dr. Walton recognizes that you can’t fit millions of years and evolution into Genesis, so he is hoping to popularize an idea that Genesis is not revealing an account of material origins. Genesis chapter 1, for instance, is supposed to be about God’s Cosmic Temple and the function of the different creatures in that temple (which came into existence who knows when)!
So what does the Flood account mean then? Dr. Walton declares the following:
It has already been suggested that the boat in Mesopotamian accounts may have served as a floating shrine. In its dimensions, the Genesis ark is much more realistic for a boat, though conceptually it may also represent a sanctuary where order is maintained floating on a sea of resurgent chaos. In this sense the Mesopotamian ark appears as a physical representation of a sanctuary, while the Genesis ark appears as a functional representation of a sanctuary. Creation both in the Bible and in the ancient Near East entailed deity bringing order while pushing back chaos. . . . The forces of chaos were most consistently represented in the cosmic waters. In this sense, the flood represents a reversal of creation. This is more the case in the biblical account than in the ancient Near Eastern accounts, for in the latter there is no textual representation of re-creation.31
Now that makes sense to the average person, doesn’t it? Why didn’t any Jews or Christians before the 20th century ever think of this? Obviously, the answer to this is that they trusted the Bible as the authority, whereas today many trust man’s ideas as being greater than God’s and therefore demote God’s Word to be lesser than their own ideas (Psalm 118:8).
While Dr. Walton insists that he does not propose his views as a response to millions of years and evolution, that is exactly what his underlying motive is. It is obvious when you read his writings carefully. For instance, Dr. Walton objects to a global Flood by bringing up the same old arguments that Drs. Morris and Whitcomb were confronted with and answered in their book!
For instance, Dr. Walton makes the following claims:
- It would be impossible to cover Mt. Ararat with the waters of the Flood. Answer: this assumes Mt. Ararat existed before the Flood! This mountain is one that has undergone massive volcanism and uplift. If you were to smooth out the earth’s surface and oceans basins, there is enough water on the earth’s surface right now to cover the earth to adepth of about two miles. The oceans were not as deep and the mountains not as high before the Flood. There has been a lot of uplift — particularly associated with the ending of the Flood (as Ps. 104:6–9 tells us — and the promise in verse 9, which reflects God’s rainbow promise in Genesis 9, shows that this passage is not referring to day 3 of Genesis 1). That is why marine fossils are found near the top of Mt. Everest (and other high mountains); the mountains were not covered by the Flood but the once-horizontal sediments were tilted and raised up at the end of the Flood. One also can see evidence of this uplift at the Grand Canyon, where layers supposedly millions of years old were uplifted while they were still soft.
- Dr. Walton brings up the old accusation that there are too many species of animals to fit on the ark. Answer: First of all, God brought the animals to Noah; Noah didn’t have to locate them. Second, God sent two (seven of some) of every kind, not species. There are good biblical and scientific reasons to conclude that many species or even genera are descended genetically from each original created kind. For example, only one male and one female of the dog kind (not two wolves, two jackals, two dingoes, two poodles, two Great Danes, etc.) were needed. Far fewer animals were required than what Dr. Walton is imagining and claiming.
- Dr. Walton states, “One must also explain how the animals today found only in Australia could have gotten to that continent.”32 He needs only to purchase our New Answers Book 1 — or just go to the Answers in Genesis website — for a very plausible answer of land bridges during the Ice Age that followed the Genesis Flood. Frankly, this academic has not done his homework.
- Dr. Walton states, “How could Noah and his family and animals such as elephants and hippopotami make the trek down the mountain (Mt. Ararat).”33 First, the Bible does not say the ark landed on Mt. Ararat; it landed on the “mountains of Ararat,” which this Hebrew expert should have known. So the Bible doesn’t tell us what particular mountain it was. The Mt. Ararat Dr. Walton refers to has undergone massive changes since the Flood: volcanism, earthquakes, and uplift. Answers in Genesis’s geologist, Andrew Snelling, Ph.D., has stated that based on technical data that has been publicly available in maps and scientific papers for more than a decade, he is convinced that modern Mt. Ararat is almost certainly a post-Flood volcano, with most of its lavas having erupted during the post-Flood Ice Age. Therefore, the ark most likely landed on some other mountain in that range. And unless Dr. Walton is going to say the Flood account is a myth, then it is obvious that Noah’s family and all the animals could safely descend the mountain they landed on so that they could repopulate the earth.
There are many more problems with what Dr. Walton states. But the bottom line is that he does not believe in a global Flood, and he does believe in an earth that is millions of years old. In this section of the book, he certainly speaks positively about a possible regional event millions of years ago. He states, “If the reader finds it difficult to put the flood 5.5 million years ago, the Black Sea theory may be more palatable.”34 He really sums it up when he states, “There is presently no convincing archaeological evidence of the biblical flood.” So does he believe it was a myth? That belief would be contrary to the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 24:37–39) and the Apostle Peter (2 Pet. 2:4–6 and 3:3–7).
So the battle rages. It is the same battle Drs. Morris and Whitcomb were dealing with in their classic The Genesis Flood. These great scholars were passionate for the Word of God. In the 50 years since their book’s publication, the biblical creation movement is more passionate than ever for the Word of God. At the same time, we now see Christian academics like Dr. Walton using the argument that Genesis is not an account of material origins and that a Christian has to understand ancient Near Eastern thinking to know what Genesis really means.
Dr. Walton’s own arguments can be summed up this way; he states the following:
Some feel they are protecting theories that account of the details of the traditional interpretation of the text. Too often, however, these theories prove to be implausible and are easily discredited by the scientific thinkers whom they intend to win over.35
Let me reword this for you (my words are interspersed in Dr. Walton’s and are in brackets to help explain what I believe Dr. Walton is saying):
Some [those like Drs. Whitcomb and Morris] feel they are protecting theories [protecting the clear teaching of the text] that account for details of the traditional interpretation of the text [the interpretation that greats like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Gill, and others held because of what the text clearly states]. Too often, however, these theories [their views based clearly on the text — Scripture alone] prove to be implausible [to unbelievers, but not to Bible-believers] and are easily discredited by scientific thinkers [fallible, sinful humans whose hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” and who arrogantly claim that “science” has disproved the Bible’s account because they insist millions of years are a fact] whom they intend to win over [who need to listen to God’s Word, but instead “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18)].
Today, let’s praise God for the faithfulness of scholars like Drs. Whitcomb and Morris and for the publication of their book The Genesis Flood. In some ways, this was the beginning of a new “reformation” in the modern church, which continues to this day as organizations like Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, Creation Research Society, etc., continue to challenge the Church and culture to return to the authority of the Word of God.
Why are we seeing more and more bizarre and elitist ideas (like those of Dr. Dembski and Dr. Walton) coming out of Christian academia? I believe it is an academic pride, from academic peer pressure, because ultimately some of these people love “human praise more than praise from God” (John 12:43; NIV).
Why should we bother bringing such matters to the attention of the Church? I believe we need to be watchmen as described in Ezekiel, warning people about the teaching that is in the public arena that attacks biblical authority. We must be willing to defend God’s Word and warn God’s people of the damage some of these teachers are doing. Also, some of them must be called to return to God’s sovereign authority, and we invite any and all educators to privately dialogue with us on these fundamentally important and essential matters.
Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: “When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.”
So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me (Ezek. 33:2–7; NKJV).
I have included more quotes below from professors associated with well-known Christian colleges to help people understand the extent of such compromise in these institutions. (Of course, this is just scratching the surface of this problem ingrained in most such academic institutions across the nation.)
Calvin College, Michigan
1. Dr. Davis A. Young, emeritus professor of geology, Calvin College
The Bible has traditionally been read to imply that the universe is young; astronomy concludes that the universe is billions of years old. The Bible has been widely interpreted as saying that the Earth was created in six days; geology concludes that the Earth has undergone a long and complex history spanning 4.5 billion years. The Bible has been interpreted as implying fixity of animal and plant species; paleontology and biology conclude that organisms have developed from one another through time, that they have evolved. Some believe that the Bible teaches that all death entered the world only after human beings appeared and fell into sin; paleontology concludes that animals and plants died, and in some cases died violently by being devoured by other animals, before human beings were even on the Earth. Many Christians have a very difficult time accepting such conclusions since they cannot see how the Bible can possibly be in accord with them.36
Contrary to the view held by many Christians, we believe that historical reconstructions by modern astronomy and geology are neither uncontrolled speculations nor founded upon unbiblical presuppositions. We hold that these reconstructions are firmly grounded in a wealth of carefully gathered data and have been repeatedly tested by the respected canons of science.37
If rocks are historical documents, we are driven to the related conclusion that the available evidence is overwhelmingly opposed to the notion that the Noahic flood deposited rocks of the Colorado Plateau only a few thousand years ago or that the rocks were formed from a diminishing ocean.38
2. Dr. Howard J. Van Till, emeritus professor of physics, Calvin College
According to contemporary cosmological models, which incorporate evidence drawn from a variety of phenomena, the beginning of the universe took place about fifteen billion years ago, the exact figure depending on the evaluation of certain model parameters. We call this fifteen billion years the “age” of the universe, and we call the first episode of cosmic history the “big bang.”39
I have often suggested that the historic Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation is better summarized by saying that the universe is God’s creation than by saying that the universe was created by God.40
3. Dr. Deborah B. Haarsma, chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Calvin College
Because of this kind of evidence, by about 1840 virtually all practicing geologists, including Christian geologists, believed that the earth must be at least millions of years old. Moreover, if a flood had occurred, it must have been local, not global. The data from many locations indicated that the world’s stratified rocks and fossils could not have been deposited in a single global flood. While local floods certainly did take place here and there, a longer time period and more gradual processes are required to explain the entire picture. Scientific study indicated that the earth had long geological history before humans arrived on the scene.41
The careful structure of this passage [Genesis 1] shows that the author selected the sequence of events and number of days with symbolism and thematic order in mind rather than our modern scientific concept of historical sequence. The organization and structure of the text support non-concordist interpretations of Genesis 1, since it appears that historical sequence was not the top priority for the original author.42
Thus, if Christians today wish to interpret Genesis 1 completely literally, they must believe that:
- The earth is flat rather than spherical.
- The earth rests on pillars rather than orbiting the sun.
- The sky is a solid dome rather than a transparent atmosphere.
- An ocean of water is above the sky.
Any other so-called literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is, at best, a semi-literal interpretation in which the reader picks and chooses some pieces to view literally and others to view figuratively.43
4. Dr. Loren Haarsma, associate professor of physics, Calvin College
The Bible teaches that God can precisely select the outcome of events that appear random to us. It is also possible that God gives his creation some freedom, through random processes, to explore the wide range of potentials he has given it. Either way, randomness within natural processes is not the absence of God. Rather, it is another vehicle for God’s creativity and governance.44
5. Dr. Daniel C. Harlow, associate professor of religion, Calvin College
Roberts accuses Calvin of propounding “dangerous beliefs” that foster “misguided views” among our students on such topics as homosexuality. He then charges the Religion faculty with feeding a generation of Calvin students “the lie that what they are learning is Christian orthodoxy rather than 20th century modernism.” Our “lie” is that we deny that the Bible is inerrant. In defending my department, I am speaking only for myself and not for the rest of my colleagues, who would doubtless want to word things differently.
To begin with, the Bible itself nowhere claims that it is inerrant (free of factual errors of any sort). . . .
Mr. Roberts is also mistaken when he asserts that the doctrine of inerrancy represents “the historic position of the Church on Scripture.” The fact of the matter is that no ancient Church council ever debated the issue of inerrancy, let alone pronounced favor of it. No ecumenical creed even addresses the issue — not the Apostle’s Creed, not the Nicene Creed, not the Athanasian Creed. None of the Reformed confessions that Calvin College adheres to asserts Scripture’s inerrancy, but rather its “sufficiency.” As the Belgic Confession states, “We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it” (Article 7). The great theologians of the Church, including Protestant Reformers like Luther and Calvin, had the highest regard for Scripture’s inspiration, authority and truthfulness, and at times they used words like “infallible” and even “unerring” when affirming its truth claims. But they also acknowledged factual discrepancies and other problems in the Bible and recognized the cultural limitations of its human authors. So if inerrancy is supposedly the “historic position of the Church,” as Roberts asserts, how is it that the Church’s great councils, creeds, confessions and theologians missed the boat? . . .
When thoughtful Christians turn to the historical narratives in the Bible, they see ancient authors who wrote according to the methods and standards of their own day. By those ancient standards, which involved the use of a variety of sometimes conflicting oral and written traditions, they were very good historians. But they made occasional errors of fact in areas like geography, chronology and political history. To acknowledge this is not to demean Scripture but to accept it as it is. It’s rather like noticing one day that your beloved has a small mole or other blemish; instead of considering the feature a defect, you come to regard it as an endearment.45
Dr. Dan Harlow as professor of biblical and early Jewish studies in the Department of Religion at Calvin College stated the following in a recent paper:
Recent research in molecular biology, primatology, sociobiology, and phylogenetics indicates that the species Homo sapiens cannot be traced back to a single pair of individuals, and that the earliest human beings did not come on the scene in anything like paradisal physical or moral conditions. It is therefore difficult to read Genesis 1–3 as a factual account of human origins. In current Christian thinking about Adam and Eve, several scenarios are on offer. The most compelling one regards Adam and Eve as strictly literary figures — characters in a divinely inspired story about the imagined past that intends to teach theological, not historical, truths about God, creation, and humanity.
Taking a nonconcordist approach, this article examines Adam and Eve as symbolic-literary figures from the perspective of mainstream biblical scholarship, with attention both to the text of Genesis and ancient Near Eastern parallels. Along the way, it explains why most interpreters do not find the doctrines of the Fall and original sin in the text of Genesis 2–3, but only in later Christian readings of it. This article also examines briefly Paul’s appeal to Adam as a type of Christ. Although a historical Adam and Eve have been very important in the Christian tradition, they are not central to biblical theology as such. The doctrines of the Fall and original sin may be reaffirmed without a historical Adam and Eve, but invite reformulation given the overwhelming evidence for an evolving creation.46
In response to feedback the college has received about what this professor believes and teaches (and he is just one of many with compromising beliefs at this Christian college), the office of the president of Calvin College stated the following:
What does Calvin College teach about evolutionary biology? Calvin affirms that the one true God is the creator and designer of the universe. The Calvin College Biology Department also clearly maintains that God, as the creator and designer of the universe, brought the world into being. With this as a firm foundation, the department also accepts the biological theory of evolution (descent with modification over time) to be the best explanation for understanding the commonality and diversity seen among all living creatures on earth.47
Dr. John Collins, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
Basically, as long as you believe the human race started with Adam and Eve (whatever that means) and you believe there was a Fall (whatever that means) and believe sin entered the human race (whatever that means) and you believe God created (whatever that means) then you are being academic in the Christian world!
What you will find is what he means by “historical” is certainly not what many Christians mean by “historical” in regard to Adam and Eve. This is the typical “newspeak” discussed throughout this book as a result of the research results from the Christian institutions.
This, sadly, is an example of the typical type of “academia” being taught in most Christian colleges/seminaries across the nation.
Following are excerpts from a paper entitled “Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters,” by Dr. Jack Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri:
Quite briefly, I take the biblical storyline to imply that Adam and Eve are historical persons at the headwaters of the distinctly human kind. To say that they are “historical,” of course, lays on us no requirement of “literalism” for reading Genesis, if the material itself does not invite it. I think, for example, that the account of Cain and Abel uses “anachronism,” describing aspects of older times in terms of what the writer and his audience were familiar with. Therefore those who find that the farming and the crafts of Genesis 4 imply a Neolithic setting, are being unduly literalistic. Further, it is well established that the genealogies of Genesis 5 do not intend to list every generation; gaps are to be expected. There is no way to know what size gaps the literary conventions allow, or even if there are any limits at all; this is not the kind of information these genealogies aim to convey. Nothing in Genesis 2–4 tells us how long these events are supposed to have taken, which means the other people Cain fears could be his siblings, or their descendants. Of those who think of contemporary humans, collateral with Adam and Eve, the best are careful about what Genesis 4 does and does not imply.
From the paleontologists, we learn that Adam and Eve, if they are indeed at the headwaters of the human race, must come before such events as the arrival of modern humans in Australia, which means before about 40,000 BC. According to John Bloom’s survey, there are two important gaps in the available record of human development. The first occurs with the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 130,000 BC. The second gap occurs when culture appears, around 40,000 BC. At this point, we find that art and “the complexity and variety of artifacts greatly increases.” As Bloom observes, “At present either of these transitions seems sharp enough that we can propose that the special creation of man occurred in one of these gaps and that it was not bridged by purely natural means.”
The geneticists give us two matters to account for. First, they conclude from the genetic similarities between humans and chimpanzees that humans and chimpanzees have some kind of “common ancestor.” Second, some infer from features of the human genome that the human population needs to have been a thousand or more individuals, even at its beginning. I will not assess this DNA evidence; I do not know whether the evidence is only compatible with these conclusions, or strongly favors them. I cannot predict whether future geneticists will still think the same way about DNA as contemporary ones do. I do know that biologists’ understanding of DNA (e.g., so-called “junk DNA” now appears to have a function) has changed over the years, but I cannot say what biologists might think in the future. Hence, rather than try to say whether these inferences are good or bad, I have sought ways to allow advocates of these conclusions to stay within the bounds of sound thinking. In other words, even if someone is persuaded that humans had “ancestors,” and that the human population has always been more than two, he or she does not necessarily have to ditch all traditional views of Adam and Eve; I have tried to provide for these possibilities more than to contend for my particular preferences on these matters.
Young-earth creationists, and many old-earth creationists, commonly think of Adam and Eve as fresh creations, with no animal forebears. Others allow for God to have refurbished a preexisting hominid into Adam. While I am not making an issue of this, my first criterion (p. 159) shows why I think it is nevertheless crucial to affirm that, whatever the process, it was not a purely natural one. Regardless of where God got the raw material, we can say that humans are the result of “special creation.”48
In his book Science and Faith Dr. Collins makes this statement:
Since I am not a cosmologist, I have no way of knowing whether the technical details of the Big Bang theory are sound or not. My own reading of Genesis means that I have no problem with the amount of time the theory calls for. The conclusion from these three lines of evidence seems to be fair, so far as I can tell. As long as we recognize that it’s a theory in physics. I see no reason to reject it, I say this because this kind of theory can’t tell us why we’re here, only how we came to be here.49
It is interesting that he states he has “no way of knowing,” but then goes on to basically accept it!
Further on, he states:
I conclude, then, that I have no reason to disbelieve the standard theories of the geologists, including their estimate for the age of the earth. They may be wrong, for all I know; but if they are wrong, it’s not because they have improperly smuggled philosophical assumptions into their work.50
That’s a sad statement illustrating he accepts man is neutral — instead of the biblical understanding that fallible man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1).
Dr. Bruce Waltke, Knox Theological Seminary, Florida
Dr. Bruce Waltke, formerly a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, is now listed as distinguished professor of Old Testament for Knox Theological Seminary. The seminary website describes Dr. Waltke as one of the preeminent Old Testament scholars.
On the Biologos website, Dr. Waltke stated:
I think that if the data is overwhelming in favor of evolution, [then] to deny that reality will make us a cult, some odd group that’s not really interacting with the real world, and rightly so. We’re not using our gifts nor trusting God’s providence that brought us to this point of our awareness. Because I see all of history is in God’s providence, and I think we’re at a unique moment in history. So many strands are coming together. We’re at almost, to my mind, the pinnacle of history. We’re aware of these things, and to deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world, and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death if we stopped loving God with all of our minds and thinking about it. I think it’s our spiritual death.
It’s also our spiritual death in our witness to the world — that we’re not credible, that we are bigoted, we have a blind faith, and this is what we are accused of. So I see this all as part of the growth of the church. We are much more mature by this dialogue that we’re having, and I think this is how we come to the unity of the faith is that we wrestle with these issues.
We’re all in the body of Christ — one Lord, one faith, one baptism — and we may disagree with one other but we are really interacting in a very serious way, trusting God as truth and that we are testing what is true and holding fast to that which is good and we are the richer for it and if we don’t do that we are going to die. And I think it’s essential to us, or we’ll end up like some small sect somewhere that retains a certain dress or certain language and then end up marginalized, totally marginalized, and I think that would be a great tragedy for the church, for us to become marginalized in that way.51
In his treatise on Old Testament theology Dr. Waltke also states:
The best harmonious synthesis of the special revelation of the Bible, of the general revelation of human nature that distinguishes between right and wrong and consciously or unconsciously craves God, and of science is the theory of theistic evolution.52
Of course, many more examples could be offered. The above I consider to be representative of where the majority of Christian academics at Christian institutions across the United States (and in fact, around the world) stand in regard to what they teach and write on the Book of Genesis and their approach to Scripture. This is generally the sad state of Christendom in the academic world. It is time for Christians to take a stand for biblical authority and go forth and demolish false unbiblical views.